WrestleMania is now only a few weeks away, and to say that the build has been abysmal so far would be a bit of an understatement. Instead of criticizing the company for its incompetence, let’s relive the glory days together.
Over the course of the next week or so, we are going to be looking at the ten best matches from each decade of WrestleMania. Today we start by looking at the first ten WrestleMania events.
10. The British Bulldogs vs. The Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake) (WrestleMania II)
This took place at one of the absolute worst WrestleManias of all-time, and was one of the few (if not the only) highlights of the night. Davey Boy put in most of the work for his team, showcasing his power throughout the contest.
There were multiple near-falls in this contest, with the Bulldog attempting Perfect-Plex that registered a two-count at one point. It appeared The Dream Team had the victory at one point, but Valentine foolishly pulled the Dynamite Kid’s head from the mat, and would lose mere seconds later after having his head smashed into the turnbuckle. Overall, there weren’t a ton of memorable tag matches during the first decade of WrestleMania, but this is definitely a highlight, and one that usually doesn’t get much credit.
9. Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Rick Martel (WrestleMania VII)
Let me start by saying this match was pretty cheesy. We all knew the two competitors could see each other through the bags they were sporting. With that said, they employed decent in-ring psychology and told a solid story, and it was even unintentionally humorous at times. (I mean how could one not laugh at Martel delivering an elbow to the canvas after The Snake was long gone, or the two running past one another in the most obvious manner?)
Roberts finally tracked down “The Model” and picked up the win after hitting his signature DDT. Most importantly, this was one of the first gimmick matches to be featured at WrestleMania and would lay the groundwork for the next generation, which would deviate away from the traditional wrestling style that had characterized the first six WrestleManias. For that reason alone, I feel that it deserves to be included on the list.
8. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (WrestleMania III)
The action in this one was basically garbage. One of the main selling points involved fans hoping to see Hogan slam Andre for the first time, even though he and others had already done so in the past. And on top of that, it was the main event of the biggest show of the year and only lasted a little over ten minutes. Don’t get me wrong, the feud leading into the event was money, but the match itself was rather meh.
Even though the action didn’t live up to the hype, this was the most important match in the company’s history at the time, and one would be hard-pressed to find one since that had more impact. These guys worked a lengthy feud leading into the event and had millions of eyes watching a product that wasn’t even putting on pay-per-view events just a few years prior. Not only did they have millions of eyes watching at home, they also drew a record 93,173 fans to check it out on in person.
Hogan did slam Andre and followed it up with his Leg Drop for the win. The action wasn’t memorable, but without this match, there’s a good chance the WWE would never have become the global juggernaut it is today, so for that reason alone, it has to be included in a list such as this one.
7. Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage (WrestleMania VII)
After Savage lost his title to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania V, he had tried on numerous occasions to win it back. Hogan passed the torch to Warrior at WrestleMania VI, and the “Macho King” set his sights on the newly crowed champ. After Warrior refused to grant him a title shot (instead granting one to Sergeant Slaughter), Savage interfered in the contest, hitting Warrior with his scepter and costing him the title.
This led to a feud between the two heading into WrestleMania VII, with Savage putting his career on the line. Sensational Sherri accompanied the “Macho King” to the ring but his former girlfriend Miss Elizabeth was also in attendance. After hitting a remarkable five flying elbows drops, Savage was still unable to diminish the power of the Warrior, eventually taking three shoulder block tackles that each sent Savage to the floor. Warrior would stand over the fallen King and pick up the victory, forcing Savage to “retire.”
Some of the most memorable action actually took place following the match, however, as Sherri attacked Savage, leading to a memorable reconciliation between Miss Elizabeth and Savage, with Savage once again becoming a fan favorite after holding the ropes for Elizabeth. Awesome match. Awesome story. Awesome Wrestlemania moment.
6. Bret Hart vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (WrestleMania VIII)
Widely considered to be one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, Hart and Piper battled for the Intercontinental Championship back in the days when the title was actually worth a damn.
Hart could make anyone look good, and Piper was an above average worker in his own right, so there was little chance of this contest being anything other than a stone cold classic. It really felt personal too, with stiff action that was a borderline street fight at times. The “Hit Man” bladed during the match and was covered in blood by the end of this brutal affair.
After the referee was driven into the turnbuckle and knocked out for a few minutes, Piper considered using the ring bell as a weapon, but had a change of heart and chose not to. The “Hot Rod” instead attempted to put Hart away with his signature sleeper, but Hart countered the move by propelling himself off of the turnbuckle and countering into one of the most beautiful pinning combinations fans will ever see. Piper embraced Hart and helped him to the back after the contest, earning the respect and admiration of basically everyone in attendance.