5 Greatest WrestleMania Main Events
WrestleMania originated almost 40 years ago, in 1985 and revolutionised the wrestling business and the fledgling pay-per-view market. Four decades on and WrestleMania is secure as a pop culture phenomenon.
Over the years, ‘Mania has played host to a number of classic matches, not least in its headline attractions. This feature looks at the five greatest main event matches in WWE history.
#5 Randy Orton vs Batista vs Daniel Bryan – WrestleMania XXX (April 6, 2014)
The main event of WrestleMania XXX would not have looked out of place in the Attitude Era. Daniel Bryan, who had wrestled and defeated Triple H earlier in the night to gain entry into the World Title match, entered the bout injured after a post-match attack by ‘The Game.’ He then had to fight both Batista and Randy Orton who teamed up against him. Bryan also had to contend with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon who interfered in the contest to prevent him from winning. The Authority then introduced crooked referee, Scott Armstrong into the bout to screw Bryan. Talk about a stacked deck!
Bryan took out Armstrong, Triple H, and Stephanie with a suicide dive which the New Orleans crowd came unglued for. Bryan withstood a fluid Batista Bomb into an RKO combination to nail Orton with the running knee and force Batista to submit to the Yes Lock. The crowd erupted as Bryan captured the WWE Championship.
Excellent wrestling, stupendous storytelling, and an expertly booked conclusion, the ‘Mania XXX headliner had everything. It featured one of the most famous (and popular) results in company history. It was as close to perfection as it gets. A truly phenomenal bout.
#4 The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin – WrestleMania X-7 (April 1, 2001)
The Attitude Era peaked and many would say concluded at WrestleMania X-7. The two biggest stars of the era clashed in the headliner of the greatest WrestleMania of all time.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, who had returned from a career threatening neck injury six months earlier challenged The Rock for the WWF Championship in a No DQ match. The stipulation was only added seconds before the contest began. It would later become clear why.
The story of the match was simple. Stone Cold had been usurped by The Rock as the company’s top star during his absence and didn’t believe he could defeat ‘The People’s Champion.’ Stone Cold took every shortcut imaginable in his quest to dethrone ‘The Great One.’ After smashing the champion with a monitor and unearthing submission maneuvers he hadn’t utilised in years such as the Sharpshooter and Million Dollar Dream, the challenger could still not put The Rock away.
Cue WWF Chairman, Vince McMahon, ‘The Rattlesnake’s’ long-time adversary. McMahon broke up a Rock pinfall on Austin and distracted The Rock long enough for Stone Cold to nail the Stunner. After The Rock kicked out, Stone Cold unleashed a barrage of stiff steel chair shots to earn his fifth World Title.
Austin and McMahon shook hands and drank beer post-match as Stone Cold shockingly turned heel in front of his fellow Texans in Houston.
Bloody, intense, and heated with a stunning conclusion. The Rock versus Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania was an electrifying thrill ride from start to finish. An epic conclusion to the company’s most triumphant era.
#3 Triple H vs Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit – WrestleMania XX (March 14, 2004)
Although it is never mentioned on WWE television today for obvious reasons, the headliner of WrestleMania XX was at that point the finest ‘Mania main event in history.
The triple threat war for the World Heavyweight Title between champion Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Royal Rumble winner, Chris Benoit was and remains the best three way match-up WWE has ever produced.
The Madison Square Garden was electric throughout and all three participants held up their end in a superlative effort that featured blood, fluid chain wrestling and big bumping throughout.
The WWE fans were firmly behind Benoit’s quest to win his first WWE World Title. The excellent finishing sequence saw Benoit dodge Michaels’s Superkick attempt and reverse a Pedigree into the Crippler Crossface. ‘The Game’ almost reversed the hold, only for Benoit to hold on and force the submission for a popular victory.
In a memorable moment, ‘The Crippler’ broke down in tears as he celebrated his win with the WWE Champion, his long-time pal, Eddie Guerrero. A fantastic match forever marred by the 2007 Benoit tragedy.
#2 Edge vs The Undertaker – WrestleMania XXIV (March 30, 2008)
The Undertaker challenged for the World Heavyweight Title for the second consecutive WrestleMania in the headliner of ‘Mania XXIV. After dethroning Batista at WrestleMania 23, ‘The Deadman’ defeated Edge at ‘Mania XXIV to win his second World Heavyweight Title.
His bout with Edge was a stunning technical back and forth battle that thrilled the Orlando crowd from start to finish.
There was a succession of stunning near falls and on more than one occasion it appeared ‘The Deadman’s’ undefeated Streak was in severe jeopardy. However, The Undertaker survived and countered Edge’s attempt to Tombstone him into a Tombstone of his own.
The World Champion kicked out and ‘Taker soon had to dispose of the champion’s cronies, Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, which left him open to a Spear from Edge. The Undertaker then reversed a second Spear into his Hell’s Gate submission hold to earn a hard earned victory.
A thrilling encounter throughout its 24 minute duration, this bout is still one of the best matches ever held at WrestleMania. As a headline attraction it has only been bettered once.
#1 Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker – WrestleMania XXVI (March 28, 2010)
WrestleMania XXVI was headlined by Career versus Streak. Rarely, have the stakes been higher in a single wrestling bout. Shawn Michaels versus The Undertaker highlighted an otherwise dire WrestleMania 25 in 2009 and WWE made the shrewd decision to run the bout again the following year with Michaels’s legendary career on the line opposite ‘Taker’s famed undefeated Streak.
The stipulation made for an incredibly emotional and intense atmosphere. There were several callbacks to the previous contest such as: ‘The Deadman’ attempting the dive to the outside again but this time it was countered by ‘HBK.’ There were huge spots and a number of false finishes; notably when ‘Taker caught Michaels mid-moonsault and blasted him with a Tombstone on the outside.
After 23 minutes of sterling back and forth action, The Undertaker smashed ‘The Showstopper’ with a jumping Tombstone for the pinfall, bringing the curtain down on Michaels’s 25-year career.
Near flawless storytelling, crisp action and a crowd that bit for everything due to the amazing psychology demonstrated by two all time greats, this was unquestionably the finest ‘Mania headliner of all time.
You can watch all of these WrestleMania main events exclusively on the WWE Network.