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Robbo's Top 10 WrestleManias




By Mick Robson


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It's been a little while since I've done an article rather than a review, and I thought "what better time than WrestleMania week?" This particular topic was inspired by watching SantiZap's video, "Ranking EVERY WrestleMania (1985-2023)- WWE Tier Ranking". Go check him out, he puts in a ton of work on YouTube, even if we don't always see eye to eye on wrestling opinions.


I also opted to put my foot down a little this time. I've done Top 10 articles before, with my 10 Of The Best series. I always point out that the list isn't in any particular order, and it's just a random top 10 of the given category- nah, not this time! This baby is in order, from 10 to 1, 1 being the best.


Slight caveat- I started watching wrestling in 1998, which might skew my opinions on some of the early WrestleManias. I've seen them all, but I understand living through a particular time period gives a different lense and a different type of appreciation. Either way, you can fight me on my placings in the comments of wherever you see this posted.


Let's do this!


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10. WrestleMania 23



I really enjoyed this Mania. Was it perfect? Well, no, otherwise it'd be at 1. But the two title matches- Cena vs. HBK and Undertaker vs. Batista- were certifiable Mania classics. And the Money In The Bank match was epic, featuring an insane Jeff Hardy spot that would be replayed on highlight reels for years to come.


The rest of the card was a definite mixed bag. I mentioned in my recent WM30 review that I prefer my Manias to be more consistent across the board. That said, it's not so much that the rest was bad. The heavily-hyped "Battle of the Billionaires" was a fun sports-entertainment spectacle, with the involvements of Vince, Trump and Stone Cold, while Lashley and Umaga had a nice monster mash battle. Benoit vs. MVP was a low-key banger for the US title. Kane vs. Khali was never going to be a mat classic, but it served its purpose to be a nice homage to WM3, back in Detroit 20 years after Hogan slammed Andre.


So a varied show, and the highs were very high indeed. It was also great to have WrestleMania back in a stadium setting after years of them taking place in arenas, I think that helped the experience a lot. Can't defend the ECW Originals vs. New Breed, or the Divas match though.


9. WrestleMania 33



We jump forward 10 years for my one self-indulgent inclusion. This probably looks weird in a top 10 Mania list, but for context- this was my first (and to date, only) WrestleMania live in person. You can see me ringside on the show, most notably holding up my "Crossfit Jesus" sign as Seth Rollins makes his entrance.


Apart from my clear bias because I was there, I will make a case for this being a decent Mania on its own merits, although admittedly not great. In saying that, you can find some hidden or unloved gems here. Even though it was somehow left off the DVD release, Neville vs. Austin Aries to kick off the show for the Cruiserweight title was an absolute clinic! Moving to the main card, AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon start off with arguably the match of the night, and I maintain to this day is AJ's best Mania match. Jericho vs. KO I think is underappreciated- although they would do better the following month at Payback. The Raw Women's Championship Fatal 4 Way is fun, Triple H vs. Seth Rollins is a great blend of old school and new school, and Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg was a brilliant car crash, one of my favourite short matches ever, like WWE 2K come to life.


Then there's the return of the Hardyz. A truly iconic moment. The pop was loud on TV, but it was otherwordly actually being there feeling it. WM33 also probably boasts the best Mania stage of all time, that thing was immaculate! Shame Taker vs. Reigns sucked so bad though.


8. WrestleMania 10



I recently went back and watched the milestone Manias- 1, 10, 20 & 30. WrestleMania 10 happened before my time, but even in watching it back this past month, it holds up very well 30 years later.


WMX took place in Madison Square Garden, and as much as I prefer Manias in stadiums, I will always make an exception for the Garden. We kick off with Bret vs. Owen, one of the greatest Mania opening matches of all time, where little brother Owen upsets big brother and established former world champion Bret. From there, Lex Luger (who co-won the Rumble with Bret that year) faced Yokozuna for the WWE Championship. Yokozuna looked like a monster, and while that battle ended in a DQ, it would be Yoko vs. Bret for the WWE title in the main event, in a do-over of the much-maligned WM9, where Bret finally stood tall to end Mania.


Oh, and a little ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental title. I suppose that was kinda a monumental, classic match that laid out the blueprint for the amazing TLC and MITB matches to come in the years that followed.


7. WrestleMania 28



For some wrestling fans, their massive dream match, their "Icon vs. Icon" was Rock vs. Hogan at WMX8. I've never been a Hogan guy. Even if you put aside the backstage politics, the racism, even the whole "workrate" thing- I just never vibed with the Hogan character. When he's Hulking Up and flexing and posing, the whole schtick just makes me cringe and roll my eyes.


So, I was happy when WM28 gave me a better version of an "Icon vs. Icon" match. Now, Rock was in the Hogan role- although, funnily enough, still in his late 30s when this match took place. John Cena was opposite him as the man who put WWE on his back for essentially the past decade. It was a match that was built up from the moment The Rock returned to WWE in February 2011, and Cena stepped up massively in this feud, leaving behind some of the G rated persona that had put me off him as WWE as a company went PG. Then, the match itself delivered for me in all the flash, the spectacle, and my childhood hero, The Rock, flattening a cocky Cena with the Rock Bottom!


But WrestleMania 28 wasn't just a one-match show. CM Punk defended the WWE Championship against Chris Jericho in a great match. The Undertaker faced Triple H in a "End of an Era" Hell In A Cell match. Randy Orton vs. Kane was a bit of a random match, but delivered surprisingly well for that stage of Kane's career, and the show opened with the shocking 18 second title change between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan, which I was never as mad about as a lot of the Internet Wrestling Community were.


6. WrestleMania 3



Now, full disclosure, 80s WWE isn't my jam. That should be pretty clear after what I said about my feelings on Hulk Hogan. But WrestleMania 3 is an exception. I loved seeing pro wrestling in a huge stadium setting. To this day, it remains one of my biggest drawing cards for WrestleMania, seeing the thing I love most in the world on such a grand scale.


And even as something of a Hogan hater, I can't help but appreciate the spectacle that Hogan vs. Andre was. Two massive men, larger than life, battling for the most important prize in the industry. The moment of Hulk slamming Andre was really the original WrestleMania Moment (TM). Then, on the other side of things, you've also got the first real classic Mania match in Steamboat vs. Savage for the IC title, a match that I often go back and watch, just to marvel at the athleticism and fluidity.


Then up and down the card, you've got a cast of characters who are over like rover, adding to the spectacle, including Rowdy Roddy Piper, Junkyard Dog, Honky Tonk Man, Jake Roberts... if you want to see 80s WWE at its best, I think WrestleMania 3 is it.


5. WrestleMania 31



And now we're in the territory of WrestleManias that I've watched several times and consider must-see. No WM33-esque bias picks here, no sir!


This didn't look like it was going to be one of the all-time Manias going into it. We had the two guys in the world title match having a tug-of-war with the belt, for God's sake! But for whatever reason, just about everything on the show just hit when it actually took place. It also had a unique setting with over half the show occuring in daylight, as they were on the west coast in California.


The show kicked off with Daniel Bryan winning the IC title in a thrilling multi-man ladder match, a year after his WM30 triumph. Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins was a sleeper hit of a match, and that's before it was finished with the greatest RKO of all time. Triple H vs. Sting was a ridiculous clusterfuck, but man, I enjoyed it! Cena vs. Rusev was also great, and that tank entrance was immense. Undertaker turned back the clock in a match with Bray Wyatt, and we had The Rock appear in a segment with Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Ronda Rousey, who at the time was still UFC Champion and one of the biggest stars in the world.


Then the main event. Lesnar vs. Reigns was genuinely a blast as they just opted to beat the shit out of each other and things got bloody in a hurry. Then, with both men down, Seth Rollins cashed in his Money In The Bank and won the WWE title in what was called the Heist of the Century, but I'm also inclined to call it the best Mania ending of all time!


4. WrestleMania 21



First of all, the "WrestleMania Goes Hollywood" trailers that they put out before WM21 might just be the greatest hype videos WWE has ever produced. Go to YouTube and watch them. I'll wait.


Okay, this show kicked off with Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio. It wasn't their Halloween Havoc classic, but still, a damn fine opener. Then we had the first ever MITB ladder match. Then we had Undertaker vs. Randy Orton. That's 3 classic matches in a row! Then Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme. Not a classic, but I'm never mad about seeing Trish Stratus.


Back to the classics with Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels! Then we get a sumo match. I really didn't need to see Big Show's ass cheeks. That alone probably prevents me putting this show higher on my list. Then the show finishes with new main event stars crowned, as John Cena and Batista win the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships respectively. A clear changing of the guard, a new era, on a show loaded with classic, memorable matches and moments.


3. WrestleMania 39



Recency bias can be a real thing, but I genuinely think that last year's Mania deserves to be in that rarefied air of being one of the greatest WrestleManias of all time. Night 1 on its own is almost a perfect show- if we ignore the fact that Austin Theory beat John Cena in front of a bunch of Make A Wish kids.


Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio used all the bells and whistles possible for a stage like Mania, from the entrances to celebrity cameos to wild in-ring action. Speaking of celebrities, Logan Paul continued to prove he belongs in WWE, having a match with Seth Rollins that was more than worthy of the WrestleMania stage. Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair was one of the greatest women's matches to ever happen in WWE. And Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens capped off Night 1 by ending the record setting title reign of the Usos.


Night 2 wasn't quite as strong as Night 1, but still fit in a 5 star banger between Gunther, Sheamus & Drew McIntyre for the Intercontinental Championship. My personal pick for match of the year. Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes was a genuine all-time classic until the deflating way it ended. Damn Solo and his magic hoodie!


2. WrestleMania 17



A lot of people have WrestleMania X7 as their undisputed, Hall of Fame, best WrestleMania ever. And it's easy to see why- there's a lot to love on this show!


The main event was Stone Cold vs. The Rock in the second match of their WrestleMania trilogy. We also had TLC II, one of the greatest matches and spectacles ever. Vince vs. Shane in a street fight, Angle vs. Benoit in a wrestling clinic, the gimmick battle royal for some fun nostalgia. The criminally underrated Triple H vs. Undertaker, years before the later Streak matches that everyone talks about.


What keeps it from the top spot for me is some weaknesses in the undercard. Especially the ones that, on paper, look great but weren't actually in practice. Chris Jericho vs. William Regal for the IC title sounds like a banger, but it was more like a typical Raw match. Eddie Guerrero vs. Test for the European title, same thing. Tazz/APA vs. Right To Censor was a whole lot of nothing, as was the Chyna/Ivory squash.


But it's often seen as both the end and the peak of the Attitude Era and I would have to agree. WWE were firing on (almost) all cylinders when it came to WrestleMania X-Seven.


1. WrestleMania 19



WrestleMania XIX has an almost equal amount of marquee, classic matches to WrestleMania X-Seven, but with fewer weak spots. Let's talk about it.


Rock vs. Austin III was better than Rock vs. Austin II. The Rock was dialled in on his Hollywood character, Austin gave us everything that he had left, and it has the historical significance of being his retirement match. Plus, no ill-advised heel turn. Hogan vs. Vince street fight is on par with Vince vs. Shane street fight. Angle vs. Lesnar is better than WMX7's Angle vs. Benoit. We don't exactly have a TLC equivalent on XIX, but we do have HBK returning to WrestleMania for the first time in 5 years and stealing the show with Chris Jericho!


Then we look at the rest of the card. Matt Hardy has a great Cruiserweight Championship opener with Rey Mysterio, who is making his Mania debut. Taker beats A-Train & Big Show in probably the weakest match on the show, but at least they had the sense to get Nathan Jones the fuck outta there. Trish vs. Jazz vs. Victoria was the best women's match to happen on Mania by a considerable distance to that point. The Smackdown Tag Title match was fun.


The only real negative I'll say about WMXIX is that Triple H shouldn't have beat Booker T, especially given the story they told. They shouldn't have gone the racist route, they shouldn't have had the racist win, and he shouldn't have taken 30 seconds to pin him after a Pedigree. If they didn't have the racist undertones, Triple H winning would have been fine. And it was actually a pretty great match as well until that finish.


Definitely the WrestleMania I've watched the most. A lot of my attachment to this show also comes from the fact that it was the first Mania that I had the luxury of watching the weekly programming leading up to the show. So much goodness, pro wrestling in so many different styles, done at the highest level. Good thing Brock Lesnar has the strongest neck ever, hey?


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Again, let me know your thoughts in the comments. Hope you all enjoy WrestleMania weekend!


Until next time, take care.

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Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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