Wrestlemania is, undoubtedly, the showcase of the immortals and the pinnacle of sports entertainment. As the 31st installment gets set to unfold this Sunday, I thought it was important to re-visit the greatest moments that this grand spectacle has provided over the past 30 years.
1. Hogan Slams Andre The Giant (Wrestlemania III)
As an indoor record crowd of 93,000 fans stood in awe as Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre the Giant in route to a victory that would cement Hogan as the biggest star that the wrestling business had ever seen. This feud had been built to perfection, aided by Andre’s allegiance with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and many fans believed that Andre was truly unbeatable even by Hulk Hogan.
2. A Macho Reunion (Wrestlemania VII)
One of the most emotional moments in the history of wrestling occurred in Los Angeles at Wrestlemania VII as the once-villainous Macho Man Randy Savage was surprisingly re-united with his former manager (and real-life ex wife) Elizabeth. The moment was so emotional that many fans were crying uncontrollably in the crowd as the two embraced in the ring following Savage’s retirement match loss to the Ultimate Warrior.
3. Austin and the Rock Headline 3 (Wrestlemania XV, X7 and XIX)
The two biggest stars the WWE’s Attitude Era were so popular that it took three Wrestlemania’s over the course of five years to even begin to cool this feud down. The Texas Rattlesnake emerged victorious at XV and X7 but the Rock came out on top during Austin’s final match ever at Wrestlemania XIX in Seattle.
4. The Ultimate Challenge (Wrestlemania VI)
The two biggest “good guys” in the company absolutely blew the roof off of Toronto’s Skydome at Wrestlemania VI. There had never been a face vs. face showdown at an event like this before and fans had to choose sides. The atmosphere was absolutely electric and the Ultimate Warrior left the building as the new WWE Champion after a classic 22-minute confrontation.
5. Icon vs. Icon (Wrestlemania X8)
After being away from the WWE for more than nine years, Hulk Hogan returned and was challenged by the Rock for a match at Wrestlemania. No one could have expected the fan reaction as the biggest star of all time stood in a WWE ring once again and locked horns with the Brauma Bull himself. The pro-Hogan crowd cheered wildly throughout the 30-minute classic and stayed on their feet as the two icons embraced after the match ended.
6. “I’m Sorry, I love You.” (Wrestlemania XXIV)
The career of the incumbent “Nature Boy” Ric Flair came to an end in Orland, Florida at Wrestlemania XXIV as Shawn Michaels emotionally stated that “I’m sorry, I love you,” before a brutal super-kick put Flair down for good. It was a true tear-jerking moment as most fans realized the admiration and respect that Michaels had for Flair and watching the two battle one last time was bittersweet for anyone who was viewing.
7. The Mega-Powers EXPLODE (Wrestlemania V)
After joining forces a year earlier, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage’s friendship would prove to be short-lived and Wrestlemania V in Atlantic City would be the battle ground for the Mega-Powers explosion! These were, by far, the two biggest stars in the WWE at the time and turning Macho Man heel at just the right time was the perfect move for the company. Hogan defeated Savage for the title and would begin yet another reign as world champion.
8. The Boyhood Dream Comes True (Wrestlemania XII)
It was a giant leap of faith for the WWE to trust Bret Hart and Shawn Micahels with pulling off an hour long Iron Man Match for the WWE title at Wrestlemania XII in Anaheim. The two turned in an unforgettable and gut-wrenching performance and Shawn Michaels won his first world title in dramatic fashion. It would be the match that launched HBK into mega-stardom and cement him as one of the great in-ring performers of all time.
9. The Genesis (Wrestlemania I)
It all started on March 31st, 1985 as Vince McMahon mortaged his company’s future to put on the extravaganza known as “Wrestlemania.” The event was a huge success as many celebrities and recognizable pop-culture stars such as Cindi Lauper helped bring wrestling to the mainstream. A-Team star Mr. T even participated in the main event as he teamed with WWE Champion Hulk Hogan to take on Roddy Piper and Mr. Wonderful, Paul Orndorff.
10. He Never Said “I Quit” (Wrestlemania XIII)
The Stone Cold era really began at Wrestlemania XIII as he battled Bret “The Hitman” Hart in an “I quit” match. The match was almost perfect and the storytelling was brilliant as the crowd turned on Hart midway through the match and began cheering for Steve Austin. Austin passed out from blood loss from the Sharpshooter, but the iconic image of Austin bleeding profusely while trying to withstand the hold would forever be etched in the minds of fans.