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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

The best and worst of WrestleMania


Mat Matters


Informative views and insights on the wrestling world from SLAM! Sports.

WRESTLMANIA
Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Snuka and Mr T. at the very first WrestleMania.
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling

 When I think of March it's not some university basketball tournament that fills my thoughts. Traditionally, March is WrestleMania month to me. The time when the World Wrestling federation and their talent kick it up a notch putting on their best pay-per-view of the year. Storylines climax. Long-standing grudges are settled. It doesn't get any bigger than this.

Here's a look at the positives and the negatives of the past fourteen years of WrestleManias.

Wrestlemania

The event that changed wrestling permanently. The brainchild of master showman Vince McMahon Jr., WrestleMania repackaged sports entertainment into a publicly acceptable showstopping extravaganza. A glittery rock concert, celebrity showcase and star-studded athletic competition all rolled into one, the event set the standard for pay-per-view (known as closed-circuit television then) wrestling broadcasts and the springboard for an eighties wrestling boom.

The Good

Andre The Giant vs Big John Studd

Dwarfing the main event (Hogan, Mr. T versus Piper, Orndorff) substantially, this colossal clash of the biggest men in pro-wrestling had dream match written all over it. No one had ever sized-up to the unstoppable Andre The Giant quite like this. Studd was 6-foot 11 to Andre's 7-foot 4. Andre weighed 495. Studd, 300 pounds-plus. Add the fact that Studd put up a reward to anyone who could slam him and you have yourself a true meeting of the giants.

The Bad

David Sammartino vs Brutus Beefcake

Son of the legendary WWF champ Bruno Sammartino, clean-cut babyface David never could get himself over. Perhaps that's because his style was 40 years too late. Beefcake deserved better competition than this rookie flake.

The Ugly

King Kong Bundy vs S.D. Jones

Total squash bout to push the "walking condominium", Bundy. Why even bother? Poor S.D. Jones. He was a jobber you could be proud of.


Wrestlemania 2

In his bid to top the original McMahon thought REAL big. Three cities host the matches. A steel cage bout. More celebrities than you can shine a spotlight on. WrestleMania 2 exemplified the WWF hitting its stride.

The Good

The British Bulldogs vs Brutus Beefcake, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine

Perhaps the greatest tag team match of the modern era. For a year, The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith, Dynamite Kid) tried and tried to strip the cocky Dream Team of the WWF Tag Team Titles. The crafty champs out-smarted their rivals at every turn. Anticipating a Bulldog win, fans were literally sitting on the edge of their seats. The controversial ending fueled the fire between these two teams.

The Bad

Hulk Hogan vs King Kong Bundy (Cage Match)

Okay. The match wasn't THAT bad. Bundy bladed. Hulkamania ran wild over the WWF's biggest and baddest bully. Heenan was bounced like a Ping-Pong ball off the cage. Fun stuff. However, the introduction of the family-oriented steel cage (fencing replaced by thick bars) avalanched the hopes of a rock'em sock'em WWF cage match for years to come.

The Ugly

Mr.T vs "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (Boxing Match), Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff vs "The Magnificent" Don Muraco

Both were wholesale flops. Capable of presenting a solid bout, Muraco and Orndorff are scripted to a expeditious double count out which had fans scratching their heads. Piper and T embarrass themselves throwing softball punches as the viewers were KO'd by the boredom. Yawn!


Wrestlemania 3

Top to bottom a very aggressively wrestled card. Holding it in the Silverdome added a unique feeling to the event. It looks big. It sounds big. It feels big. The crowd sets a new attendance record.

The Good

Randy Machoman Savage vs Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat (Intercontinental Title Match), Hillbilly Jim / Little Beaver / Haiti Kid vs King Kong Bundy / Little Tokyo / Lord Littlebrook

Steamboat's injury at the hands of Savage (a ringbell to the throat) sent this feud into the stratosphere. Energized by the crowd and so evenly matched to begin with, Machoman and Steamboat go absolutely haywire wrestling the bout of a lifetime. Fast and furious, it left fans breathless. A mat classic for the ages.

Bundy's slamming of Little Beaver goes down as the funniest squared circle moment ever. The follow-up elbow drop was a thing of beauty. Smash him Bundy! Smash him Bundy! Heh. Heh.

The Bad

Nikolai Volkoff, The Iron Sheik vs The Killer Bees

Two tag teams no one cared about filling up time.

The Ugly

Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant

Slow-paced because of Andre's deteriorating condition, the much-hyped encounter is a snorefest. Hogan's sloppy slam on Andre ruins the high-point. We expected so much more.


Wrestlemania 4

The Good

The WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament

Conscience that Hulk Hogan's dominant reign as champ was turning fans off McMahon tossed a curveball into WrestleMania 4. As the storyline goes, Andre and Ted Dibiase conspired to defeat Hogan. Dibiase bought off referee Hebner guaranteeing Andre's victory over the Hulkster. When Andre turned the belt over to Dibiase controversy ensued. McMahon and Monsoon stripped Dibiase putting the WWF World Title up for grabs in a tournament at WrestleMania. What a stroke of genius. Normally able to accurately guess the outcomes, fans were thrown for a loop especially after Hogan and Andre were eliminated early on.

The Bad

The Ultimate Warrior vs Hercules

Another promo match hyping The Ultimate Warrior and nothing more.

The Ugly

Notwithstanding his subsequent illustrious title run, Macho Man's triumph was tainted by Hogan's involvement in the main event.


Wrestlemania 5

The Mega Powers explode. Former best friends Hogan and Savage are torn apart by Miss Elizabeth and Macho's uncontrollable jealousy.

The Good

Randy "Machoman" Savage vs Hulk Hogan

Barring a few house show matches, Hogan and Savage had rarely met in the ring. Six months of mistrust boiled over at WrestleMania with Savage portraying the heel role. Hogan bled. Savage flew. Miss Elizabeth played her mindgames. An effective climax to an exciting feud.

The Bad

Bad News Brown vs "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan

A yawner. Two stiff grapplers brawl. Whoopee.

The Ugly

The Red Rooster vs Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

Next to Bastion Booger and Dumpster Drose, The Red Rooster has to be the lamest gimmick. It hurts to watch the talented Terry Taylor strut and crow like a complete moron. Whoever came up with this bright idea should've been piledrived into the concrete floor over...and over...and over...again.


Wrestlemania 6

Beamed out of Toronto's SkyDome, WrestleMania 6 was the first to be held outside the United States. The era of the Ultimate Warrior begins as Hulk Hogan takes a leave of absence from the sport.

The Good

The Ultimate Warrior vs Hulk Hogan

Hogan and Warrior blow the roof off the place. Fan loyalty was clearly divided between those wanting Hulkamania to forge ahead and those praying for anyone (and I mean ANYONE) else to hold the belt besides Hogan. Sure, it wasn't a scientific encounter but the meeting of the WWF's top champions had the fans and the competitors pumped. Hogan does the honorable thing stepping aside for a similarly-patterned clone.

The Bad

Hercules vs Earthquake

Mega squash not worth the ring introductions. Earthquake debuts and splatters Hercules.

The Ugly

The Hart Foundation vs The Bolsheviks

If you blinked, you missed it. Why would the WWF shortchange The Hart Foundation in The Hit Man's homeland? Who knows.


Wrestlemania 7

Exploiting the Gulf War, McMahon had the patriotic Sgt. Slaughter "align himself" with the enemy: Iraq. Hogan (The "Real American") tears a page out of Duggan's book doing his best G.I. Joe impersonation.

The Good

The Hart Foundation vs The Nasty Boys

Jimmy Hart drops the Foundation in favor of the rowdy Nasty Boys. A see-saw battle that ended ironically for the champs.

The Bad

Demolition vs Tenryu, Tatoi

Tenryu and Tatoi? Who dat? No background. No hype. No fun.

The Ugly

Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs Rick "The Model" Martel

It's hard to imagine any match below par than this. Blindfolded, Roberts and Martel stumble around the ring swiping at thin air for like ten minutes. Having pieces of bamboo hammered underneath your fingernails is less agonizing.


Wrestlemania 8

A double main event buried alive by the Hit Man - Piper dust-up.

The Good

Bret "Hitman" Hart vs "Rowdy" Roddy Piper

Batten down the hatches. Hart and Piper heave friendship out the window laying a real bloody beating on each other.

The Bad

Money Inc. vs The Natural Disasters

Two fine technical wrestlers versus two lumbering hulks? You gotta be kidding. Did anyone really buy The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon) as legitimate tag champs?

The Ugly

"The Rocket" Owen Hart vs Skinner

Two failed gimmicks flame out.


Wrestlemania 9

A pretty weak card made memorable by Hogan's out-of-left-field title win.

The Good

Yokozuna vs Hulk Hogan

Shocker of all shockers. Hogan, who isn't even scheduled to wrestle for the WWF World Title, accepts Bret Hart's blessing and Yokozuna's challenge. Hogan walks away as champ. Who woulda thunk it?

The Bad

Doink The Clown vs Crush

Doink impostors befuddle Crush killing what little of a match there was to begin with.

The Ugly

Razor Ramon vs Bob Backland

The best laid plans get laid to rest. Fans turn on face Backland and cheer heel Ramon forcing a speedy finish. Hey yo! Can you say...big-o mistake-o.


Wrestlemania 10

The WWF's rapid decent into utter cheese starts here. Losing ground to WCW, McMahon panics frantically raiding the gimmick vault. Everything is thrown out there. Nothing sticks.

The Good

Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon

Often imitated but never duplicated. Good pals Michaels and Ramon combine their skills in a heart-stopping display of precision and agility.

The Bad

Yokozuna vs Bret "The Hitman" Hart

Mismatch from the opening bell.

The Ugly

Bam Bam Bigelow, Luna Vachon vs Doink The Clown, Dink The Clown

Crap. Crap. Crap. Clowns belong in the circus not the wrestling ring. A total waste of Bigelow.


Wrestlemania 11

The very worst WrestleMania bar none. There's no effort or imagination brought to the table. The fan base scatters to the four winds.

The Good

Diesel vs Shawn Michaels

The nimble Michaels carries the technically-challenged Nash making him look soooo darn good. The only match on the card that deserves a second look.

The Bad AND The Ugly

Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow

Bottom of the barrel booking. The WWF shamelessly jobs out the accomplished Bigelow to a trash-talking pro football player. It's a disgrace.


Wrestlemania 12

McMahon tinkers with the usual set-up to highlight an Iron Man match pitting two of the best technical wrestlers in the biz.

The Good

Shawn Michaels vs Bret "Hitman" Hart

Testing their endurance and patience with each other, Hart and Michaels wrestle for a complete hour. Unbelievable effort on both sides.

The Bad

Vader / The British Bulldog / Owen Hart vs Yokozuna / Ahmed Johnson / Jake "The Snake" Roberts

Here's the plan. Instead of expending valuable time and energy in developing entertaining storylines, let's just lump our excess wrestlers into one big slobberknocker.

Sounds great! Let's go get Mr. McMahon a coffee.

The Ugly

The Ultimate Warrior vs Hunter Hearst-Helmsley

The Ultimate One fulfills his contractual obligations dusting Helmsley faster than it took him to apply the Warrior face paint backstage.


WRESTLMANIA
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin grimaces in his match against Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13.

Wrestlemania 13

Clear the track. The WWF's back! Losing the Saturday Morning Cartoon gimmicks, McMahon and company turn up the "attitude" halting their fall from grace.

The Good

Steve Austin vs Bret Hart

A brutal, in-your-face contest. Austin bleeds like a wounded animal cementing his hardcore, devil-may-care image. Hart and Austin ingeniously switch roles.

The Bad

Mankind, Vader vs Owen Hart, British Bulldog

The double count-out finish is a total bummer for fans looking forward to a hard-hitting contest.

The Ugly

The Sultan vs Rocky Maivia

That Sultan sure was one scary guy! Forced heat doesn't sell.


Wrestlemania 15

The catalyst that propelled the World Wrestling Federation to overtake the disorganized competition.

The Good

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs Shawn Michaels

Fans finally get what they've craved. Austin, the most popular wrestler to date, is crowned champ. Let the party begin!

The Bad

Kane vs The Undertaker

Two brutes sluggishly slugging it out. Nuff said.

The Ugly

Sable, Marc Mero vs Luna Vachon, Goldust

Plastic Woman and her real-life hubby scuffle with the Bizarre One and his bad-to-the-bone valet. Might as well go for a soda.




More on WrestleMania XV




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