FanPost

Wrestlemania's Hidden Gems Part 2: Wrestlemanias 11-20

Welcome back to the Hidden Gems of Wrestlemania. The series where we look at some great Wrestlemania matches that don’t always get a mention. If you missed part one in the series covering Wrestlemanias 1-10, don’t panic! It’s available here for your reading pleasure.

This time will be looking at some Hidden Gems from Mania’s difficult teenage years – Wrestlemanias 11 through to 20. And like some teenagers, WWF may have developed a bit of an "Attitude" during these formative years.

So, in the words of Chris Jericho, let’s see who just made the list…

1. The Undertaker vs Diesel – Wrestlemania 12
This match was smack bang in the middle of the Undertaker’s ‘streak within a streak’ (streakception?) where he took on many monster heels over the course of several Wrestlemanias. He faced the likes of Giant Gonzalez, King Kong Bundy, Sycho Sid and Kane but all those matches were crap. His match with Diesel though? That was another story. You see Diesel was not your average monster heel. He was a cocksure character, convinced that he could beat the Undertaker. And in case you were wondering, Nash is a million miles better than he was as bland babyface Diesel. Big Daddy Cool does a terrific job portraying his character in the match. He hits the Undertaker with two Jacknife Powerbombs but refuses to go for the cover on both occasions. This shows off Diesel’s arrogant side which would ultimately be his undoing in this contest. Undertaker doesn’t come off looking too bad either. He even breaks out a crossbody off the top rope at one point. That’s something I never thought I’d see the Deadman do. If WWE want a template for how to book a Roman Reigns vs Undertaker match at this year’s Mania, they should have a look at one of the highlights of the early days of the Streak.

2. Nation of Domination vs Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson – Wrestlemania 13
When you think of Wrestlemania 13, the first match that springs to mind is probably Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin in that famous submission match. But don’t slouch on the match that happen right after that. In a stark contrast from the drama of Hart-Austin, this six-man street fight was pure comedy gold. It’s a thing of insane genius. There are so many weird and wonderful weapons used in this match. Faarooq used a trash can lid…on himself. Crush got out a wrench. Faarooq tried to hang Hawk with a noose and everyone got hit with road signs and sprayed with fire extinguishers. Ahmed Johnson is the absolute MVP of the match. To start, he comes down to the ring in L.O.D. spikes looking like a legit badass. Then he manages to body slam Faarooq through an announce table and hit a flying shoulder tackle over the barricade. For someone of Ahmed’s stature, that was impressive. This was a very entertaining multi-man hardcore match which is something I can’t say about some future Wrestlemania matches.

3. Aguila vs Taka Michinoku – Wrestlemania 14
WWF’s Light Heavyweight Division was considered to be the poorer cousin of WCW’s Cruiserweight Division but this match was one of its highlights. Taka and Aguila were light years ahead of the rest of the roster in terms of their work in the ring. These guys work a 2017 style in 1998 so as you might guess, there were plenty of spots on display. Aguila hit a beautiful corkscrew toupe, Taka flew off the top rope and splashed Aguila on the outside. Aguila hitssome beautiful looking moonsaults and broke out a la magistral cradle for a two count. It’s beautiful, fast-paced stuff that wakes up a crowd that were sitting on their hands at the beginning of this match. What makes this even more impressive is that Aguila, the man that would become Essa Rios, was only 19 at the time of this match.

4. Goldust & Luna vs Marc Mero & Sable – Wrestlemania 14
Guess who’s back. Back again. Luna’s back. Tell a friend. And is that Black Reign? No, it’s just Goldust. Sorry, the Artist Formerly Known as Goldust. Got to get these things right you know. This match is shockingly good which is down to two things – a) how massively over Sable is and b) how amazing Luna is at everything. Her facial expressions, her tenacity, the fear in her eyes when she sees Sable getting near her. Luna is unparalleled in her brilliance. The whole story of the match revolves around Luna trying to avoid Sable and she does this successfully for a fair amount of time. But when Sable finally gets her hands on Vachon the crowd goes friggin’ nuts! Sable’s tag partner Mero didn’t quite get the same receptionS but he give it the good college try. He broke out everything from a springboard moonsault to a second rope frankensteiner. But no matter what he still lives in the shadow of Sable in what probably has to be considered one of her best matches.

5. Hardy Boyz vs Edge & Christian vs The Dudley Boyz – Triangle Ladder Match – Wrestlemania 2000
This Triangle Ladder Match is overshadowed by the TLC matches that followed it, so it can be easy to forget at times. It also didn’t help that it was on a god awful Wrestlemania card featuring lowlights such as Terri Runnels vs The Kat. This whole thing feels like a pilot episode of TLC in this spectacular spot fest. Even though it’s only a ladder match, we still break out the tables courtesy of the Dudley Boyz. Bubba Ray plants Matt Hardy through one of them with a powerbomb. The bumps in this match are particularly insane. There’s a very dangerous looking one where Christian and Jeff Hardy fall from the ring to the outside with pretty much nothing to cushion their landing. I can only imagine that hurt like hell. It looked like these guys were willing to kill themselves to win tag team gold and at one point, I thought they almost did. TLC II is always going to be most fondly remembered but it’s worth going back to have a look at the match that started it all.

6. Jazz vs Trish Stratus vs Lita – Wrestlemania 18
Wrestlemania 18 was a strange event. Aside from Rock-Hogan, it felt like the card had been booked on WWE 2K17 Universe Mode. It features random matches such as Christian vs DDP and Kurt Angle vs Kane. However, it was also the only Wrestlemania that saw Trish and Lita share the ring in this triple threat match. Trish is still a bit rough around the edges but she puts in a more than serviceable shift along with Lita. But out of the three women in this match, I am most impressed with Jazz. She has the presence of a woman twice her size. She’s what Chyna would be like if she was a workhorse in the ring. Jazz’s strikes are stiff and her top rope Fisherman’s suplex is a thing of beauty. I loved how this match manages to incorporate all three women in most of the spots. One of my pet peeves of triple threat matches is when one person always rolls to the outside to leave a one-on-one match in the ring so it was nice that this was only used sporadically.

7. Los Guerreros vs Chris Benoit & Rhyno vs Team Angle – Wrestlemania 19
The ‘Smackdown Six’ are synonymous with great wrestling from the early days of the brand split and played a big part in Smackdown’s short lived ratings victories over RAW. Three out of six of them appear in this match along with two fantastic workers in the form of the World’s Greatest Tag Team, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. At several previous Wrestlemanias, the trend was to have a four corners elimination tag team match to decide the Tag Team Championships. These matches lacked a sense of urgency that this one fall match had in spades. Everyone is pulling out all the stops to make sure their team doesn’t lose. Eddie even uses a friggin’ frog splash at one point to break up a two count. Everyone gets their stuff in and no one looks weak coming out of the match. But the two stars of the show are Eddie and Benoit, who put on an absolute wrestling clinic when they’re in the ring with each other. After watching this, how could you have not put them in the world title matches at Wrestlemania 20?

8. The Cruiserweight Open – Wrestlemania 20
This gauntlet match started in fifth gear and stayed there for the duration. With ten cruiserweights to get through, everyone rushes to hit their signatures and get out of there. The spots on display are stellar and look dangerous. Kidman hits a Shooting Star Press to the outside and lands at the worst angle. Mysterio hit a sunset flip powerbomb off the top rope which looked as gnarly as hell. Everyone makes the most of their Wrestlemania moment, no matter how short that might be. From Ultimo Dragon’s ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ promising shift to Jamie Noble carrying the middle of the match. Despite all the spots and moving parts, there is a story running throughout. Rey Mysterio got screwed out of a one-on-one match with Chavo Guerrero so he wants to fight through the competition to face the Cruiserweight Champion in the final fall. To weave a coherent and interesting narrative into a match like this, must be considered a massive achievement.

That’s all from part two of Wrestlemania’s Hidden Gems. I'll be back for the final edition in the series where will be looking at Wrestlemanias 21-32.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.