Since WrestleMania is right around the corner, now is the best time to go back and look through the greatest matches in the event’s history. With hundreds of matches spanning three and a half decades, there are a lot to choose from and it’s tough to narrow it all down.
With a catalog so long, there are bound to be plenty of classics that get left off this list. Of note, we are choosing the matches we felt did the best job of combining all the aspects that make something special in the WWE. Drama, intensity, a hot crowd, athletic ability, and excitement. These are our picks for the best WrestleMania matches in history.
5. Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 21
Two of the greatest and most decorated athletes in wrestling history. In 1996, Kurt Angle won an Olympic Gold Medal and Shawn Michaels captured his first WWE Championship. Almost ten years later, they competed against one another for the very first time and it happened on the grandest stage possible. It felt like a true battle to determine the best in the world.
Angle and Michaels traded offense in front of a sold out Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. There were counters upon counters and the drama was off the charts. A storyline can often be building to a certain person winning. However, nobody really had any clue who would win and that added so much the atmosphere.
After almost half an hour, Angle trapped Michaels in his signature Ankle Lock submission. Michaels struggled for what felt like forever until he finally had no choice but to tap out. They’d go on to have several rematches later that year, but this was always the best.
4. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart – WrestleMania X
A battle between brothers is a tale as old as time. In late 1993, Owen Hart got sick of living in the shadow of his highly successful brother Bret. In January of 1994, they seemed to have mended fences only for Owen to turn on him. Bret refused to fight his little brother but finally was forced to give in, setting the stage for this contest.
To open WrestleMania X in Madison Square Garden, the two brothers collided. What followed was an incredible 20 minutes of wrestling. Owen let the world know that even though Bret was the former World Champion of the family, he was no slouch. He matched Bret at every turn and even bested him in certain aspects.
Despite the fact that Bret was scheduled to wrestle again later in the evening for the WWE Championship, it was Owen who secured the win here. He countered some of Bret’s offense and wrapped him up in a pin that earned him the most shocking of victories. Damn near perfect storytelling.
3. TLC II – WrestleMania X-Seven
Many fans consider 2001’s WrestleMania X-Seven to be the greatest event in history. Along with the massive main event pitting The Rock against Steve Austin and a clash between Triple H and The Undertaker, there was the Tag Team Title match. The teams of Edge and Christian, The Hardy Boyz, and The Dudley Boyz competed in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match.
The previous summer, these six men wowed audiences with the first ever TLC match. With the teams still vying for supremacy, the rematch was set. This was the definition of car crash wrestling and it has never been done better. They put their bodies on the line and provided fans with some of the most memorable moments in history. Who can forget when Edge delivered the biggest spear in history as he took down Jeff Hardy, who was dangling some fifteen or so feet in the air.
Bodies were broken, tables were crushed, and careers were shortened. It is easily the most brutal match on this list. Edge and Christian were the ones to pull down the titles and earn their seventh and final Tag Team Championship reign. All six men are surefire Hall of Famers and this is one of the reasons why.
2. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker – WrestleMania XXV
Shawn Michaels has the moniker of “Mr. WrestleMania” for consistently stealing the show. The Undertaker had reason to disagree thanks to his sparkling 16-0 record in the event’s history. Despite their size difference, the one thing Undertaker had never done in his illustrious career was defeat Michaels.
In 2009, they met at WrestleMania for the first time. During his entrance, Michaels, dressed in all white, descended from the heavens. Undertaker, clad in black, rose from hell. It set the tone for a match based on their contrasting styles. Everyone was on the edge of their seats and that was multiplied when Undertaker nearly paralyzed himself on a dive to the outside.
Both men survived nearly everything the other threw at him. One close call provided us with the legendary shot of a stunned Undertaker wondering what it would take to keep Michaels down. He finally found the answer and moved to 17-0 in one of the greatest matches ever. They rematched it the following year with Michaels’ career on the line, where he lost again.
1. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin – WrestleMania 13
The rivalry between Bret Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is one of the best in wrestling history. Hart was the established star, while Austin called him out on a consistent basis to prove he was better. Hart answered the challenge in November 1996 and seemed to win on a fluke. For this rematch, you could only win by making your opponent quit.
Hart had his legendary Sharpshooter submission, but Austin guaranteed he wouldn’t say “I quit.” He was too tough for that. This was a fight involving steel chairs, brawling through the crowd, and a whole lot of blood. Austin got trapped in the Sharpshooter and all hope seemed lost. With blood pouring down his face, Austin fought valiantly to break the hold. Unfortunately, he passed out from the pain and lost.
Despite the loss, Austin never actually quit. That kind of resilience and the performance he gave throughout the match propelled him into the next level of superstardom. He became the ultimate anti-hero, while Hart was turned into a villain. Everything about this was masterfully done. From the action to the intensity to the historical impact to the storytelling. It’s perfect.