We’ve cracked the top 100, wrestling nerds!
The difference between an average WrestleMania match and a great WrestleMania match is pretty severe, and you start to feel that here. The matches ranging from 100-51 on this greatest of all-time list are all inherently solid, and begin to verge on truly great as the numbers get smaller. Every match in this chunk is something you could show a non-wrestling fan in an attempt to get them to understand the mystique of WrestleMania and it would translate (well, maybe not a certain Bray Wyatt/John Cena experiment from last year, but more on that in a bit).
The real sparks start to flare as we break into the top 100, inching enticingly closer to the best of the best. Let’s get into it.
100. Edge vs. John Cena vs. The Big Show (WrestleMania 25)
99. Vader, The British Bulldog and Owen Hart vs. Yokozuna, Ahmed Johnson and Jake Roberts (WrestleMania XII)
98. The New Age Outlaws vs. Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie - Dumpster Match (WrestleMania XIV)
97. The Undertaker vs. Diesel (WrestleMania XII)
96. Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair (WrestleMania 35)
You know a match is historic when one of the competitors arrives via helicopter! The main event of WrestleMania 35, featuring women for the first time in history, was an important and earned opportunity. It’s just a shame the match isn’t a little bit better. The expectations were almost unbearably high, but that’s only because of how revolutionary the work of these three women had been in the build-up. This was the height of Becky Lynch hysteria, Ronda had far exceeded most expectations with her in-ring ability and Charlotte was firmly on her way to establishing herself as one of the best wrestlers of her generation.
The match is serviceable, but definitely underwhelming for the moment and the big stage. It just never really kicks into high gear, and features a messy, anti-climactic finish, which is ultimately a disappointing cap to Lynch’s hero’s journey. With all of this being said, it’s impossible to overstate what an impactful accomplishment this was. When you’re in the druthers watching Playboy Lumberjill matches and Cat Fights, it’s hard to fathom that women’s wrestling would ever get the respect it deserved. On this night, it finally did.
95. Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros vs. Rhyno and Chris Benoit (WrestleMania XIX)
94. Jack Swagger vs. Christian vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Evan Bourne vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Matt Hardy vs. MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Kane - Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania XXVI)
93. The Shield vs. Sheamus, Randy Orton and The Big Show (WrestleMania 29)
92. CM Punk vs. MVP vs. Mark Henry vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Finlay vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Christian vs. Kane - Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 25)
91. The Rock vs. John Cena (WrestleMania 29)
90. Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. HHH (WrestleMania XXIV)
89. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall (WrestleMania X8)
Have you ever had the sensation of watching something that you know should feel like a bigger deal, but for a host of reasons just doesn’t? Let me introduce you to the series finale of Lost and this match between Steve Austin and Scott Hall at WrestleMania X8. The show marked the WrestleMania debut of the nWo and none of it feels nearly as momentous as it could have and, frankly, should have. The entire Invasion angle was an abject failure, and pitting together two era-defining talents in a meaningless match smack dab in the middle of a stacked ‘Mania card feels so lackluster and falls mostly flat. Austin and Hall do their best, but it makes you long for what could have been.
88. Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler (WrestleMania 36)
87. Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James (WrestleMania 22)
86. Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon - Street Fight (WrestleMania X-Seven)
I think the McMahons always overestimate how much we want to see them. Shane has competed five times at WrestleMania, while Vince has competed four times, including this singles match against one another. That doesn’t even take into consideration the previously-mentioned Battle of the Billionaires Match at WrestleMania 23, where Vince was at the heart of the storyline, or the WrestleMania 2000 main event with a McMahon family member in every corner. Story is one thing, but consistently featuring the head honchos in WrestleMania matches often feels like unnecessary overkill.
The WrestleMania X-Seven Street Fight features a little bit of everything, including appearances from the trio of Stephanie McMahon, Trish Stratus and Linda McMahon (who, in storyline, had been placed in a medically-induced coma by her husband and daughter so Vince could carry on an affair with Trish, naturally). It’s all...a lot. But it’s a circus that works! It’s a campy, insane affair in front of an absolutely rabid crowd, and sometimes that’s all you need. Shane would go on to have better WrestleMania matches, but as a complete package, it’s hard not to love this mess.
85. AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WrestleMania 34)
84. Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XI)
83. The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis vs. The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana (WrestleMania III)
82. Zack Ryder vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sin Cara vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. The Miz - Ladder Match (WrestleMania 32)
81. Mr. Kennedy vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Booker T vs. Finlay vs. CM Punk vs. Matt Hardy vs. Randy Orton vs. Edge - Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 23)
80. Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
To appreciate the evolution of WrestleMania, you have to go back to the start. The inaugural ‘Mania is, in many ways, a total disaster. There isn’t a great match on the card, but the entire show is centered around this main event. Muhammad Ali is the guest referee! God damn Liberace is the guest timekeeper! The match itself is pure and utter chaos, but it feels so important. You can literally sense a seismic shift in the way that professional wrestling is packaged and presented, and it lays the groundwork for everything that’s to come. Without it, there’s little chance WrestleMania becomes the cultural force that it is today or that I’d be afforded the opportunity to write about 356 different matches while sitting at my kitchen table in my underwear.
79. Mr. Perfect vs. Brutus Beefcake (WrestleMania VI)
78. The Usos vs. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black (WrestleMania 35)
Hey, remember when Ricochet and Aleister Black were treated like legitimate threats and were involved in a title match at WrestleMania two years ago? Hahahahahaha! Anyway.
77. The Undertaker vs. Batista (WrestleMania 23)
76. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (WrestleMania 34)
75. Taka Michinoku vs. Aguila (WrestleMania XIV)
74. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena - Firefly Fun House Match (WrestleMania 36)
Comparing this match to all of the others on this list is like comparing traditional apples to this outside-the-box orange. For my money, it’s one of the most high-risk, high-reward things the company has ever done. Is it an actual wrestling match? Certainly not. There’s not even a wrestling hold to be found. Is it a legitimately audacious, self-referential and nostalgic achievement? Yes! The entire thing is like candy for a die-hard wrestling fan, and it manages to pay homage to the past, while setting a unique standard for the future. So, while it’s difficult to compare the Firefly Fun House experience to the matches closer to the top of this list, it deserves enormous credit for giving WrestleMania one of its boldest and most pleasant surprises in recent memory. It was, indeed, “such good shit.”
73. John Morrison vs. Jimmy Uso vs. Kofi Kingston - Ladder Match (WrestleMania 36)
72. Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens (WrestleMania 33)
71. Rob Van Dam vs. Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Finlay vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Ric Flair - Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 22)
70. Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles (WrestleMania 32)
69. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley (WrestleMania 36)
68. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (WrestleMania III)
At its core, WrestleMania is about moments. 93,173 people. Pontiac Silverdome. The Slam. Is Hogan/Andre from ‘Mania III the most technical display of pure wrestling in history? No, not by a long shot. But it’s responsible for one of the most iconic, exhilarating images and atmospheres in professional wrestling history, and that counts for something, baby! It’s equal parts wrestling match and spectacle. Hell, it might be even more spectacle than wrestling match. But it’s a spectacle that helps define what makes WrestleMania special. It’s all about vitamin peddler good guy Hulk Hogan slamming the 500-pound bad guy. It’s easy, it’s obvious, but it works. This isn’t on the shortlist of best ‘Mania matches of all-time, but in terms of moments? It’s hard to find a better one.
67. The British Bulldogs vs. Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake (WrestleMania 2)
66. HHH vs. Owen Hart (WrestleMania XIV)
65. The Rockers vs. Haku and The Barbarian (WrestleMania VII)
64. HHH vs. Brock Lesnar - No Holds Barred Match (WrestleMania 29)
63. HHH vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania X8)
62. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. *Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 31)
There’s an asterisk here because Seth Rollins wasn’t even supposed to be in this match, but he ended the night twirling the World Heavyweight Championship belt above his head like a little propeller! It’s the best Money In The Bank cash-in in history and one heck of an intoxicating moment. Before Seth arrives with his cute briefcase, the match between Brock and Roman is a bit of a predictable finisher-fest. Roman kicks out of approximately 835 F5s and 263 German suplexes before the action picks up, Rollins runs out to the ring like a man possessed and eventually curb stomps his ol’ pal Roman to win the belt. It’s a legitimately surprising moment to cap off the show, which doesn’t happen often at WrestleMania. Or when it does, it’s executed so poorly that it taints the rest of the night (Papa Shango vibes). Conversely, the Rollins cash-in is executed so perfectly that it not only elevates the main event itself, it elevates the entire show.
61. HHH vs. Seth Rollins - Non-Sanctioned Match (WrestleMania 33)
60. The Rock vs. John Cena (WrestleMania 28)
It turns out that pitting two of the biggest stars in pro wrestling history in the main event of WrestleMania can make for something more surreal than spectacular. Despite being billed as “Once In A Lifetime,” Rock and Cena would meet in the main event again the following year (I don’t like being lied to, WWE), but this match is the better of the two. It succeeds at feeling big, but it lacks the juice to make it anything close to a classic. This was The Rock’s first singles match in over eight years, and while he barely misses a step, it certainly feels like more of a special attraction than something with actual stakes. The fact that they’d run it back next year enforces that point. With that being said, there are fewer things more electric than watching The Rock hit a Rock Bottom in the middle of the ring during a WrestleMania main event.
59. The Undertaker vs. HHH - No Holds Barred Match (WrestleMania XXVII)
58. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens (WrestleMania 36)
57. The Miz vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 34)
56. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs. HHH and Stephanie McMahon (WrestleMania 34)
55. The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon - Hell In A Cell Match (WrestleMania 32)
54. Kurt Angle vs. Kane (WrestleMania X8)
53. AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon (WrestleMania 33)
52. Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 31)
51. HHH vs. The Rock vs. Mick Foley vs. The Big Show - Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match (WrestleMania 2000)
You can use the series thus far to figure out the Top 50 by process of elimination:
But you’ll still need to check those out later this week to see which match lands where.
In the meantime, we’ve got plenty to talk about already. Stay excited for WrestleMania by weighing in on the back half of our Top 100 in the comments below!