With WrestleMania less than a week away, we are about to enter unknown territory as not only will the event be broadcast without any fans in attendance, it was also taped beforehand. This is such a huge departure from the norm due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic that it could be a huge moment in wrestling history. Will we look fondly back on this show as something unique that provides an escape from the dreariness of our current world? Or will it go down as a failure that perhaps should have been postponed to allow for more organic reactions with a crowd?
Before we get to the 36th Mania and first of the decade, let's take one last look back at the last ten WrestleManias and rank them. So as to use a subjective measure for this review, I am using Dave Meltzer's match rankings. Yes, I know a lot of people do not like how he rates matches but it is at least uniform and removes any personal bias (because I have them). All of the match ratings from each event were averaged out and ranked in order. Any match that received a Dud rating was given a score of 0 and any match that did not receive a rating was not included.
So here is the ranking of WrestleMania events from the 2010's
10) WrestleMania 28 (2012)
Score: 2.25 Stars out of 5
Highest Rated Match: End of an Era Hell in a Cell Match - Triple H vs. The Undertaker (4.75)
Lowest Rated Match: World Heavyweight Championship - Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Sheamus (0)
Miami was the host for this show and the majority of people came for one thing: The Rock vs. John Cena. These two had shared jabs at each other for years and after WrestleMania 27, the match was made a full year in advance. This was the second Mania I attended and first of four in a row and man was that place electric for that match. It mostly delivered and the final minutes are certainly worth a watch. The other top match was also built from the previous year as Triple H and the Undertaker fought inside Hell in a Cell with Shawn Michaels as the guest referee. Those three put on a master class of storytelling resulting in the highest graded match of the night. Chris Jericho and CM Punk had a fun and exciting WWE Championship match preceding the main event. The rest of the show? Ugh. Daniel Bryan lost in 12 seconds, Kane and Randy Orton had a forgettable match, Big Show beat Cody Rhodes for the IC title in a glorified squash, Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos wrestled in front of a live audience and Zach Ryder got kicked in the balls (poor guy). After the top 3 matches all scored 3.75 or better, the rest of the card averaged a measly 1.3 stars.
9) WrestleMania 27 (2011)
Score: 2.28 Stars out of 5
Highest Rated Match: Triple H vs. The Undertaker (4.5)
Lowest Rated Match: Kofi Kingston, The Big Show, Kane, and Santino Marella vs. The Corre (0.5)
This event barely squeaks past 28 as it didn't have a zero match score but there isn't much here. The Undertaker and Triple set up the following years match with a brutal no holds barred affair which is worth the time to check out. The rest of the show? Woof. Snooki and Michael Cole had high profile matches which should tell you all you need to know about the quality of this show. Honestly, the card the following year in Miami was better. The main event was just a set up for Rock/Cena and didn't help the Miz much at all (Cena beat him the next month anyways). This show also included Edge's last match due his neck issues and is about the only other match on the card worth looking back on.
8) WrestleMania 35 (2019)
Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5
Highest Rated Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship (4.5)
Lowest Rated Match: Baron Corbin vs. Kurt Angle (1)
The last Mania of the decade really isn't that bad of a show. It was brutally long to a fault (seven and a half hours of wrestling is just too much) but it delivered the goods for the first half of the show. Everything about the show felt right all the way through Kofi Kingston finally becoming WWE Champion with a thrilling and emotional victory over Daniel Bryan. Seth Rollins conquered the Beast, the SD Tag match was a lot of fun, Randy Orton and AJ Styles had a fun match, and the IIconics won the Women's Tag Titles. Then the wheels fell off. Whether it be the crowd grew tired after Kofi's win or the lack of intrigue in the matches that followed, the final six matches felt like an eternity. It also did not help that the main event ended in a botched roll up instead of a definite tapout or pinfall in a history making women's match. For perspective, the average score for everything through the WWE Title match was 2.82 while the final six matches came in at 1.85. Longer isn't always better.
7) WrestleMania 29 (2013)
Score: 2.53 Stars out of 5
Highest Rated Match: CM Punk vs. The Undertaker (4.5)
Lowest Rated Match: Mark Henry vs. Ryback (0.5)
Mania returned to New York and featured The Rock and John Cena in prominent roles in the main event for the third year in a row. Anyone with a brain knew Cena was going over here to win back the title and it just sucked all of the excitement out of the match. It wasn't bad by any stretch but when you know is about to happen, it just wasn't great. What was great was CM Punk trying to end the Streak. That match was straight fire and the GTS into the Tombstone moment was awesome. Unfortunately, no other match scored higher than a 3. The Shield had their Mania debut in a forgettable match where Big Show turned heel again, Chris Jericho lost to Fandango (lol), and Jack Swagger got a world title match against underwhelming and good guy for some reason Alberto Del Rio. Even Triple H and Brock couldn't muster anything worth remembering in Brock's last pinfall loss for 2 years. Go back for Punk/Taker, leave the rest behind.
6) WrestleMania 34 (2018)
Score 2.67 Stars out of 5
Highest Rated Match: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Lowest Rated Match: Raw Tag Team Championship: The Bar vs. Braun Strowman and Nicholas
Talk about a peak WWE event. Vince really tried to piss everyone off with this one. However, the one thing they got right was the debut of Ronda Rousey. If ever WWE needed a home run, this was it. Ronda looked natural and in her element and the crowd was firmly behind her. Seeing HHH and Steph get beat up will always get a pop but Ronda was the star. Daniel Bryan returned to the building he won the WWE title at and the Yes Movement delivered in a big way. Then the booking decisions got weird and crowd made sure to let everyone know. Charlotte ending Asuka's undefeated streak overshadowed the fact that the match was excellent in the first shocker of the night. Jinder Mahal pinned the super over Rusev (on Rusev Day) for some reason. But the event is probably remembered for two other things. First, Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles not quite living up to the hype with AJ winning in a bizarre momentum killer for Nakamura. The second is the main event, where Brock Lesnar once again beat Roman after about a billion F5's and Spears. Another Mania that had a couple of great moments/matches but failed to keep the crowd invested for a 6 hour show.
5) WrestleMania 32 (2016)
Score: 2.75 out of 5 Stars
Highest Rated Match: Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match (4.25)
Lowest Rated Match: Tie between Ryback vs. Kalisto, Uso's vs. The Dudley's and the Andre the Giant Battle Royal (1.5)
Honestly, I had forgotten much of this show. Even going back and looking at the results, there are only a couple of matches worth going back for. The first is the Triple Threat for the new Women's Championship. Regardless of the Ric Flair interference throughout (awful), these women delivered on the big stage and proved they belonged at the top of the card for years to come. The second was the IC ladder match which was just insane. Zack Ryder getting a feel good moment still holds weight years later. The main event was the Roman coronation one year later than expected and in the end, it was fine. The biggest disappointment of this show was again the strange booking decisions. AJ Styles lost his Mania debut to Chris Jericho and the League of Nations beat the uber popular New Day only to get laid out by three legends. Shane McMahon jumped off the Hell in a Cell which was probably the moment of the night but the show as a whole was still about fan revolt over Roman being chosen as the guy.
4) WrestleMania 26 (2010)
Score: 2.83 out of 5 Stars
Highest Rated Match: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (4.75)
Lowest Rated Match: 10 Woman Tag Team Match (0)
What more can you say about HBK and the Deadman? One year after putting on one of the best matches ever, they were asked to do it again. To no ones surprise, they succeeded. While I still like their first encounter more, this match more than deserves a lot of praise. Putting it on last was also the correct call for two reasons. First, the crowd had energy left for it and secondly, it allowed for Shawn Michaels to get the send off he deserved. This marked the last time a Money in the Bank match occurred at WrestleMania as the stand alone PPV started later that year. Jack Swagger won because reasons. This show was top heavy with Taker/HBK and the two world title matches (Cena/Batista and Edge/Jericho) helping to take a lot of the attention away from the awful women's match and the Bret Hart/Vince McMahon match. Luckily the middle of the card held up its end of the bargain and helped make this show a pretty decent one.
3) WrestleMania 33 (2017)
Score: 2.86 out of 5 Stars
Highest Rated Match: AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon (4)
Lowest Rated Match: WWE Championship - Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton (1.25)
This was the definition of a good but not great Mania. Eight of the 13 matches scored at least three stars while only two matches scored below two stars. Nonetheless, none of the matches really stand out in memory as this was a show for moments. Roman Reigns beat the Undertaker in the main event which at the time looked like the Deadman's swan song as he left his gear in the ring. The Hardy's returned in the moment of the night to win the tag team championships while John Cena proposed to Nikki Bella after defeating the Miz and Maryse. The other matches on the show were fine with the lone exception being Orton and Wyatt. Bray won the title by pinning both Cena and Styles in the chamber the month before. The Wyatt Family imploded after once Randy decided to use his Royal Rumble win to challenge Bray. Luke Harper was the heart and soul of the feud and was mistakenly left out of this match which would have helped it greatly, not to mention the projected insects in the ring. Brock Lesnar won the Universal Title from Goldberg to the crowds delight (imagine saying that now) and both women's championships were defended on the main card in a show of great progress for the division. Again, this was a good show but not a great show.
2) WrestleMania 30 (2014)
Score: 2.96 out of 5 Stars
Highest Rated Match: WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan (4.5)
Lowest Rated Match: Divas Championship Invitational (1.25)
Now we get to the top two shows, both of which I attended. Going into this show, Daniel Bryan was the only story that mattered. Fan revolt led the charge after Bryan was excluded from the Royal Rumble and eventually forced Vince and Co. to correct course for one of the best moments in Mania history. Not only did he put on one hell of a match with Orton and Batista in the main event, he opened the show with Triple H in what I believe to be the superior match of the two. Mixed in between was a wonderful mix of matches that really made the show flow. It also helped this was one of the last WrestleMania's that wasn't 10 hours long. The Shield beat up the New Age Outlaws and Kane to wind the crowd down after Bryan's first win and Cesaro got his huge moment by winning the battle royal. The shocker of the night is still Brock Lesnar beating the Undertaker to end the Streak. I kid you not, people were crying. People thought the ref messed up. No one could comprehend what happened since we've been conditioned to believe Taker doesn't lose at Mania. The match was very pedestrian due to Taker being concussed early in the match but the shock of his loss had the stadium up in arms. This was a great show from beginning to end and one worth watching almost all of.
And the top WrestleMania of the 2010's is.....
WrestleMania 31 (2015)
Score: 3.4 out of 5 Stars
Highest Rated Match: WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins (4.5)
Lowest Rated Match: Triple H vs. Sting and AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bellas (2.5)
This show runs away with the top honor by almost a full half point. For as good as the previous year was in New Orleans, Mania 31 is just a tad better. Nothing was rated below 2.5 stars which is incredibly rare for a WWE event. Everything was either a great match or a lot of fun. The preshow tag title match is very much worth a look, especially for the Cesaro/Tyson Kidd team and the early stages of the New Day. The IC Ladder match for the return of Daniel Bryan was a great way to kick off the main card. Randy Orton redefined his RKO Outta Nowhere with one of his best RKO's ever to stop Seth Rollins and the authority. Even the "worst matches" by these ratings were still fun. Triple H beating Sting is still very questionable but the return of DX and the NWO had the crowd on it's feet the whole time. Rusev came out on a tank and although he didn't win, it gave us the Cena open challenge on Raw which was an incredible 2-3 month run. The main event was electric as most everyone was booing Roman Reigns because everyone still wanted Daniel Bryan to get his shot again. After an great match, Seth swooped in and cashed in one of the best Mania moments ever.
So there you have it. Do you agree? Disagree? Vote in the poll and comment below.