Dave Meltzer is one of wrestling's most polarizing wrestling critics. For more than three decades, his Wrestling Observer Newsletter has been one of the most popular and most sought-after "dirtsheets" in the industry. His rating system, while subjective, has been a guide to tracking which matches are good and worth watching, and which are bad and probably not worth your time.
With that in mind, thanks to ProFightDB, an Internet wrestling database tracking cards and promotions (and WON star ratings), I have done some number crunching for all the matches-all 294 of them-and ranked the Wrestlemanias from best to worst based on Meltzer's vaunted and controversial rating system. A few rules:
- Any match that got an official rating as listed by ProFightDB counts.
- Matches that receive a DUD count as zero and are calculated into the final average.
- Negative ratings count too.
- Matches that received no rating (such as the tag team main event from Wrestlemania I) do not count and do not figure into the final average.
- Dark matches and preshow matches also don't count and are not considered. We're only dealing with matches that occurred during the main show.
- The Wrestlemania XX Cruiserweight Open was rated as one single match, even though the splits accounted for in the ProFightDB listing. The same with the Wrestlemania 29 main event.
- Final averages are carried to hundredths of a point, just as Meltzer's ratings do.
Before I give you the list, here are a few nuggets on Meltzer's Wrestlemania match ratings.
- Only two Wrestlemania matches got the five-star treatment: the Intercontinental Championship ladder match from Wrestlemania X and the submission match from Wrestlemania 13.
- Seven matches came close (but no cigar) with a 4.75, including Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart from Wrestlemania X, the triple threat main event from Wrestlemania XX, and Triple H-Undertaker III: Hell in a Cell.
- Five matches got a 4.5 rating, including Savage vs. Steamboat from Wrestlemania III and Undertaker vs. CM Punk from Wrestlemania 29.
- Eight matches got 4.25 stars, including the Savage-Warrior retirement match from Wrestlemania VII, the Ironman match from Wrestlemania XII, and Angle-Lesnar for the WWE Championship from Wrestlemania XIX.
- Nine matches got an even four stars, including Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels from Wrestlemania XI, the three-team ladder match from Wrestlemania 2000, and John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels from Wrestlemania 23.
And with that, here we go, 29 to 1. Meltzer's ratings rank the Wrestlemanias.
The Bottom 10
Wrestlemania V (average score: 0.66). 14 matches on the show, and not a one manages to get three stars. In fact, the high score is the better than expected Savage-Hogan main event (2.75). Seven of the matches on the show got one star or less, including four duds and two negative-star matches.
Wrestlemania IV (average: 0.78). Another bloated show due to the WWF Championship tournament. Granted, it had the tough task of following Wrestlemania III, but the show is just a drain to watch, and Meltzer's ratings seem to reflect that. The high mark goes to the tag title match between Demolition and Strike Force (2.5). Rude vs. Roberts (the one that went Broadway) got a -2. Ouch.
Wrestlemania VIII (average: 0.89). The Intercontinental and WWF Championship matches were clearly the highlights of the evening, but everything after the world title match drags this Mania into the muck. The final three matches rated, in order -2, 0, and -2.
Wrestlemania 2 (1.06). The show as a whole was not good, but the first half as rated by Dave may be (scratch that: is) the worst first half to a Wrestlemania ever. First six matches: 0, 1, 2, -5, 0, 0. For those wondering, the MINUS FIVE STARS went to the boxing match between Roddy Piper and Mr. T. The tag match right before the main event keeps the show from the absolute bottom.
Wrestlemania XV (1.14). Or the one where RUSSO RUINS EVERYTHING. Shane McMahon vs. X-Pac was a pleasant surprise, and Austin-Rock I was awesome. Those are the only matches to clear the two-star bar. Sable vs. Tori for the women's title and the Hell in a Cell drag it down. HARD. The Brawl for All match was not rated.
Wrestlemania I (1.28). The one where Vince went all-in was in hindsight, little more than an extra deluxe MSG house show. Tito Santana and Ricky Steamboat deliver quick three-star victories, and the women's title match was decent, but most of the rest of the show did not elevate it out the bottom third of the list. The main event was not rated.
Wrestlemania 2000 (1.45). The one with EVERYBODY. Well, everybody but Stone Cold Steve Austin and Undertaker. The triangle ladder match is the clear highlight of the show. The polarizing four-way for the WWF title was rated kindly by Meltzer (3 stars). The catfight and the TNA-Head Cheese match keep the show from escaping the bottom ten.
Wrestlemania VII (1.54). Wrestlemania VII had an all-time classic with Randy Savage versus The Ultimate Warrior in a retirement match. The two tag matches in the first half of the show were also pretty good. But everything after the tearful reunion... yeah. The three matches that got two stars or better (including the awful main event) were offset by four matches that got zero stars or less.
Wrestlemania IX (1.56). And here's our first surprise on the board. The Shawn Michaels-Tatanka opener and the first world title match were kindly rated by Meltzer, but there's not much else to see. The 22-second surprise world title match got a dud rating, but Undertaker-Giant Gonzalez -1 star rating is generous to say the least. It's the ninth worst on average in terms of star rating, but just about any casual fan will not be nearly as kind to it.
Wrestlemania X8 (1.64). Rounding out the bottom ten is one with the Icon vs. Icon battle. Three matches top out at a three-star rating, but the rest of the show brings it down some, including the first hardcore title match and the women's title match that had to follow Hogan vs. Rock. Those ladies were in a tough spot to say the least. The five hardcore mini-matches were not rated.
The 9 In The Middle
Wrestlemania III (1.67). Many will still argue that the third installment was the greatest Wrestlemania of all time. So why does it rank so low? The Savage-Steamboat classic (4.5) is offset by the Hogan-Andre classic (-4). Granted, Hogan-Andre in terms of workrate is a BAD match (thus the low rating). But one should not discount the significance of it in wrestling history.
Wrestlemania VI (1.71). The Hogan-Warrior classic floats this show to the middle. In the bloated Mania era, this show probably is the best of the bunch. Still though: 14 matches? Really?
Wrestlemania XIV (1.81). The show that sparked the WWF resurgence has four matches that rate three stars or better. But the card is dragged down by the other four matches that a star and a half or less (looking at you, kinda unnecessary 15-team battle royal).
Wrestlemania XI (1.96). Ok, lemme say this: no one in their right mind would objectively say that Wrestlemania XI is better than III and XIV. NO ONE. That said, this is the first Mania to have every match on the show get a positive star rating, highlighted by Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels at 4 stars. Wait, that was four stars for the match and not the ladies, right?
Wrestlemania 13 (2.04). In terms of star rating, everything past the opening tag match was at least inoffensive. But anyone who actually sits through the show knows better. There's at best two matches worth your time: the submission match and maybe the street fight that follows.
Wrestlemania XXVII (2.16). Really, Meltzer? I bought this Wrestlemania and it was garbage. Three matches on the show get three stars or better, highlighted by Triple H-Undertaker II going 4.5 (I thought it was 4 at best), but seriously, one star for Cole vs. Lawler? That's negative star territory if you ask me. The Miz-John Cena WWE Championship match was rated as one match.
Wrestlemania XX (2.19). Both this show and the 10th incarnation, both from Madison Square Garden, by the way, got the same average score. The highest-rated match on this show got a 4.75, which puts this lower on the countdown. Also, seven of the twelve matches on the show got 1.5 stars or less.
Wrestlemania X (2.19). This show featured a match that got five stars and one that almost got five stars, but should have. But beyond Bret-Owen and the ladder match, the quality of the matches according to Meltzer's ratings take a major dive. The next highest rated match, Randy Savage vs. Crush, was rated a full two stars lower than Bret vs. Owen.
Wrestlemania XII (2.2). With just five rated matches on the show, the fact that this show finished just out of the top ten in the Meltzer ratings is stunning. Of course, having a pretty awesome one-hour Ironman match helps. The Hollywood Backlot Brawl did not receive a rating.
The Top 10
10. Wrestlemania XXVIII (2.25). This show is a tale of two halves: a first half opened by the 18-second debacle followed by three matches most in the crowd didn't care for, then a second half that's only dragged down by a six-on-six tag match that probably belonged in the first half of the show. Also has the better Rock-Cena match.
9. Wrestlemania X-Seven (2.32). Considered by many as the greatest wrestling pay-per-view in the history of everything. That many I guess doesn't include Meltzer. The good on this show is really good, but the bad... really bad. The TLC tag title and WWF title matches get high marks, but the rating is dragged down by the women's title match, six-man tag, and gimmick battle royal.
8. Wrestlemania 22 (2.34). The last of the arena Wrestlemanias was a blast. Six matches on the show got 3.5 stars or better, highlighted by a pair of four-star affairs in Money in the Bank II and Edge vs. Mick Foley in a hardcore match.
7. Wrestlemania 23 (2.47). The return to the big stadiums for Wrestlemania 23 made this feel like a Wrestlemania for the first time in a long time. The two world title matches and Money in the Bank III delivered in spades.
6. Wrestlemania 21 (2.5). Wrestlemania Goes Hollywood was a pretty damn good Wrestlemania...I mean, if you stopped watching at Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels, which was an absolute classic. The three matches that followed couldn't equal the star rating of Angle-Michaels (4.75 for HBK-Angle to 4 stars combined for the sumo match and the two world title bouts).
5. Wrestlemania XXIV (2.66). Batista-Umaga and Bunnymania did their best to drag the first outdoor Wrestlemania since Las Vegas into the mud, but the Ric Flair retirement and Undertaker-Edge carried the night. Also, Mayweather-Big Show: way better than it should have been. The ECW title match between Kane and Chavo Guerrero was not rated.
4. Wrestlemania 29 (2.69). Holy smokes, was Meltzer generous on this one. Don't get me wrong; Undertaker-CM Punk deserved their 4.5 star rating. But the rating for just about every other match can rightfully be questioned. I didn't like the show nearly as much as he did.
3. Wrestlemania 25 (2.79). And speaking of shows I didn't like, Wrestlemania 25 is absolutely a one-match show. Here's a hint: that one match isn't the divas battle royal won by a guy (which got a 0) or Rey Mysterio beating JBL in 21 seconds (which was not rated) is not that one match.
2. Wrestlemania XXVI (2.83). The sequel to the one-match show delivered on more than one match. If you had any question as to why Undertaker-Shawn Michaels II got to close the show, go watch that match again. (Should have been a 5/5, but that's splitting hairs). The Bret Hart-Mr. McMahon no holds barred match did not get a rating (and it absolutely should have).
1. Wrestlemania XIX (3.06). The best Wrestlemania ever? Probably not. The best collection of top-to-bottom ever assembled? Yup. The best Wrestlemania you've never watched? Yeah. When an Undertaker match gets the lowest rating on the show, you've either done really good or really bad. In this case, really, really good. Three matches on the show got four stars or better. The tag team catfight was not rated.
Surprised? Stunned? Other? What are your thoughts, and where do you think Wrestlemania XXX will land?