WrestleMania 1-28 Ranked: From Worst to Best

29 Submitted by on Mon, 04 March 2013, 14:45

With WrestleMania XXIX fast approaching, here’s a “one man’s damn opinion” look at how the first 28 events stacked up, from worst to best.

28. WrestleMania IX (1993)

Just a colossal misfire in every imaginable way. From a shaky undercard (Crush-Doink, Razor-Backlund), to a draining Tag Team Title match, to the awful Taker-Gonzalez match, to company flagbearer Bret Hart losing the title, to Hulk Hogan usurping the title from Yokozuna right afterward, the sole positives were a couple decent openers and the debut of Jim Ross on commentary. This wouldn’t even have been a good In Your House.

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27. WrestleMania XV (1999)

The city of Philadelphia hadn’t been disappointed like this since Norman Braman let Reggie White fly the coop. Sure, Austin won big in the end over The Rock in an epic war, but the rest of the show appears to have been booked by Vince Russo during a three day cocaine bender. From nonsensical title matches to the worst Hell in a Cell match ever, Austin and Rock didn’t so much have a classic, but saved the show from total suckdom.

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26. WrestleMania IV (1988)

On the surface, a tournament to determine the new WWE Champion seems like an epic idea for a one night show. After all, there’s intrigue at who will be wearing the gold at night’s end. But a sixteen match show stretched over four-plus hours just never seemed to end. The Atlantic City crowd was dying off in the latter stages, only coming back to life to see Macho Man Randy Savage prevail as champion.

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25. WrestleMania XI (1995)

This didn’t even FEEL like a WrestleMania. The action wasn’t terrible, thanks to a great Shawn/Diesel title match, a wildly entertaining Bigelow/LT brawl, and solid IC and Tag Title matches. However, being held in a shopping complex (The Hartford Civic Center), with D-listers like Nick Turturro and baseball umpire Larry Young just killed much of the event’s luster and prestige. Though the show helped save WWE at least.

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24. WrestleMania II (1986)

Simultaneously, it’s the best Monday WrestleMania ever, as well as the worst. A pair of good tag team matches (Bulldogs-Dreams, Funks-Santana/JYD) and fun novelties with the battle royal and the Piper/T boxing showdown keep this one out of the cellar. Even Hogan/Bundy was alright. But overall, the show hasn’t aged well, and the three-cities gimmick hurt the event’s flow and momentum.

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23. WrestleMania XXVII (2011)

Whoever booked the backstage segments and the Cole/Lawler debacle has done the unthinkable: they have made Vince Russo look like Francis Ford Coppola. A great Taker/HHH war, and tremendous battles with Edge/Del Rio, Rey/Cody, and Punk/Orton can’t hold up a lousy Miz/Cena main event, Cole/Lawler for fifteen minutes, the interminable Rock ‘yuk-yuks’, and Sheamus/Bryan getting bumped.

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22. WrestleMania (1985)

If WWE put on this show in 2012, they’d be crucified. But for 1985, when wrestling was a low-expectation circus of the stars, campiness, and showmanship, it exceeded expectations. The main event of Hogan and Mr. T vs. Piper and Orndorff is at least watchable, and a warm gift to the wrestling fan’s soul. Andre slamming Studd, plus the infusion of celebrities and rock music, make it a landmark event.

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21. WrestleMania XIII (1997)

Heavily maligned as a one-match-show, thanks to Hart and Austin putting on possibly the greatest match of all time, skeptics forget that the Chicago Street Fight and the Tag Title match were both quite good as well. Yeah, Taker/Sid sucked, as did the Rock/Sultan IC title match, but this is far from the worst WrestleMania ever. Sure, it isn’t the best either, but it’s pretty watchable. Until the main event, anyway.

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20. WrestleMania V (1989)

There’s some gems in here, namely the Hogan-Savage all time classic, a forgotten Warrior-Rude classic, and some good matches in Blazer-Perfect and Strike Force-Busters. The problem is, however, that the show drags worse than Dirk Diggler with scoliosis, and the bored crowd (lotta non-fans) kills much of the energy that could have been harnessed. Then again, it isn’t their fault they had to sit through such a long event.

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19. WrestleMania XXV (2009)

Another alleged “one match show”, due to the heroics of Undertaker and Michaels. The World Title matches catch a lot of flak, but the Cena/Edge/Show one is actually pretty fun, even if it had to contend with a dead crowd. MITB and the Hardyz fight were both excellent as well. But Orton/HHH, the Divas battle royal, and Snuka and Piper’s efforts were so awful, and people tend to remember those.

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18. WrestleMania XXIV (2008)

This seemed far better at the time. Taker/Edge and MITB were both tremendous, living up to their expectations, though I think Flair/Shawn is wildly overrated, due to the rose-colored glasses of Naitch fans. Low points like Batista/Umaga, the skank brawl with Snoop Dogg, and Mayweather embarrassing Show sink this one a bit. And who can forget the fans hit by Undertaker’s pyro? That’s a bad omen.

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17. WrestleMania 2000 (2000)

WWE could do no wrong in 2000, but they kinda did here. The triple ladder match and the Eurocontinental two fall match? No problems there. But having HHH beat Rock in the end (allegedly to make fans tune in the next night, when Raw was unopposed due to a WCW relaunch) was a mistake. The first three matches of the show couldn’t open a WCW 2000 event, let alone a WWE 2000 one.

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16. WrestleMania XII (1996)

On the one hand, it’s much like the previous year, when it “didn’t feel like WrestleMania”, due to the darkened arena, dead crowd, and lack of general WWE pomp. On the other hand, there’s nothing terrible on this show. Michaels-Bret is an acquired taste classic, Diesel-Taker and Austin-Vega are both forgotten greats, and Warrior killing HHH is always good for a laugh. Most underrated Mania ever, I think.

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15. WrestleMania XXVIII (2012)

At first, I’d maligned this show, simply because of the way the Bryan-Sheamus opener polluted and skewed my viewpoint. Second and third viewings have been far kinder, as Jericho-Punk was a heated battle, as was Taker-HHH (though not a 5 star classic as some claim). Rock-Cena was a great throwback to epic showdowns of the past like Hogan-Warrior, and the like. And plus, Maria Menounos did a stinkface. Need I say more?

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14. WrestleMania VII (1991)

If V was too long, then VII was long, but at least lively. The Warrior-Savage match, and aftermath, are required viewing for anyone who dares claim to be a wrestling know-it-all. Rockers-Faces of Fear, Harts-Nastys, Perfect-Bossman, and even Hogan-Slaughter are exciting, fun matches that make up the bulk of the card. Put it this way: WrestleMania VII was more good than bad, and that’s progress.

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13. WrestleMania X8 (2002)

A step down from the previous year, WrestleMania X8 is detrimented by the lack of blowaway mat classics, but makes up for that deficiency with a nice stadium atmosphere, and a star-studded line-up. The Hogan-Rock match was jaw-droppingly surreal, and the Taker-Flair street fight is such an intense, hate-filled brawl. There’s no face-palming low points on this show; just solid from start to finish.

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12. WrestleMania VI (1990)

What is it about SkyDome that can make an average show into a great show? The 1990 cast of characters was deep, providing such moments as Andre’s last WWE match, the culmination of the Roberts-Dibiase feud, and the greatest main event ever to that point, as Hogan and Warrior showed the world how you’re supposed to do a face-face battle. Perhaps Hogan’s finest effort ever in a big match.

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11. WrestleMania XXVI (2010)

Maybe it’s just me, but this seemed like one of the few recent WrestleManias that felt like a “classic” WrestleMania. There were 10 matches, featuring a very deep roster, and many of the big matches delivered. Taker-Shawn is an all-time classic, and the two World Title matches were stellar (even if the crowd was dead for Edge-Jericho). It’s also the last show Shawn and Bret wrestled on together, so it’s historic.

 

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10. WrestleMania VIII (1992)

A better second half of the show would propel this into the pantheon of classics. As it is, the Flair-Savage bloodbath for the World Title, and the Hart-Piper can-you-top-this match for the IC Title, make it a show with good aging power. The Hogan-Sid BS in the finale was unnecessary, though Warrior’s return redeemed it. Kind of a sad show, though, as it was the end of the “first steroid era” in wrestling, so to speak.

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9. WrestleMania XXII (2006)

Call it the most surreal WrestleMania of all time. Between Vince McMahon getting his brains beat in, Mickie James helping males hit a second puberty, and HHH and Cena sporting the most laughable entrance attires ever, the show is never dull. Classics with HHH-Cena, Edge-Foley, MITB, James-Trish, and even Vince-Shawn (perversely) make this a great event. Plus it has Rey’s first World Title victory.

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8. WrestleMania XXIII (2007)

One of the all-time money champs in terms of PPV buys, this show pretty much delivered outside of the disappointing Lashley-Umaga suckfest. Michaels-Cena is in the upper level of Mania main events, MITB delivered as would be expected, and Batista-Undertaker was a startlingly-exciting brawl. That’s like three **** matches right there. Plus, Slick made a cameo appearance, so that’s just icing on the cake.

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7. WrestleMania XIX (2003)

The stories were pretty lousy at this point, as Raw was tail-spinning creatively from a year earlier. But the roster delivered one of the best in-ring WrestleManias ever. Angle-Lesnar, Jericho-Michaels, and Austin-Rock (in Austin’s curtain call) put up match-of-the-year level performances. Vince-Hogan, HHH-Booker (outside of the booking), Hardy-Rey, and the Tag 3 Way were all better than solid as well.

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6. WrestleMania XIV (1998)

So maybe it wasn’t the greatest ‘wrestling’ show of all time, but WrestleMania XIV delivered classic moments, one after another, on a flagship event, one that defined the heralded “Attitude” era. Austin won his first World Title, Shawn’s era ended for the time being, Taker-Kane warred, Sable had her coming out, and Triple H, Rock, and Foley, three Attitude cornerstones, were victorious. It was at least historic.

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5. WrestleMania XXI (2005)

“WrestleMania Goes Hollywood” fit the part of a huge entertainment gala, as the show was preceded by entertaining parodies of classic films, starring the roster. Cena and Batista were the big winners, each winning their first World Titles, even if the matches weren’t great. Angle-Shawn and the first MITB tore the house down, and Hogan’s assault of Muhammad Hassan lit the crowd on fire something wild.

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4. WrestleMania X (1994)

The first ever WrestleMania without Hogan shined bright in spots, not only with Bret Hart getting back the WWE Championship he should never have lost, but two classics were gifted upon the fans: the Bret-Owen scientific classic (best pure wrestling match in Mania history) and the Razor-Shawn ladder match that set the bar for an era of gimmicked creativity. WWE needed a slam dunk here, and they sure got one.

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3. WrestleMania XX (2004)

At five hours, it was going to be daunting task keeping the MSG crowd, and the home viewer, alive and alert. Benoit and Guerrero’s celebration at the end, both unlikely World Champions, is a tearjerker tainted only by later events. Austin giving Lesnar and Goldberg the heave ho, as well as Rock and Foley tearing the house down against Evolution, plus Undertaker’s grand return, made it a night of a million memories.

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2. WrestleMania III (1987)

What is there to say? Savage-Steamboat was the greatest match of the 1980’s, one that set a template for future main events and influenced one-day main eventers. Plus Hulk-Andre was THE biggest main event ever; it’s not even close. The slam heard round the world remains an indelible memory. Piper’s first farewell also stands out, as does the 93,000 fans in Pontiac. Overall, THIS was the perfect ‘Mania template.

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1. WrestleMania X7 (2001)

Hailed by many as the greatest wrestling event of all time, not just WrestleMania, the night came on the heels of the end of the Monday Night Wars, and boasted no less than four all time classics: Austin-Rock, TLC, HHH-Undertaker, and Angle-Benoit. There has never been an event that gave the fans everything the company had, and then some, like WrestleMania X7, making it hard to remove as the #1 choice.

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Written by

Justin Henry is WrestleCrap's inquiring newsman, thirsting for knowledge always. He enjoys the art of satire, as you'll find in many of his works here at WrestleCrap. Drop him a line on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh) and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/jrhwriting)
29 Responses to "WrestleMania 1-28 Ranked: From Worst to Best"
  1. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    Honestly, last year’s Taker-HHH match was overrated as hell. Both men are past their prime, and it showed.

  2. John Rike says:

    If one looked at WrestleMania 17 honestly, one would see that show rely heavily on every ‘cheap tactic’ that was standard of that era and that show should be further down on the list, at about 11 or 12, with everything else moving up a slot.

    • Kwan says:

      Are kidding me? No way WM17 could be moved to 11 or 12. This was an epic wrestlemania, it showed excellent matches that night also classic wrestlers from the federation era. Now if there is a wrestlemania that needs to be moved to 11 or 12 that would be WM23.

      • Matrim says:

        I’m watching it right now. I’m not overly impressed. The TLC match had some really good moments, but was pretty reliant on gimmicks. The McMahon match was stupid, the “Gimmick Battle Royale” was a joke, the 6-man tag was mediocre, the Guerrero/Test match was underwhelming, Chyna/Ivory was a squash match, I can’t remember a damned thing about the 3-man hardcore match (which is saying something considering I just saw it) and the Benoit/Angle match was merely ok (and, maybe this is just me, watching Benoit is really awkward now).

        Rock/Austin is great (still going on right now as I watch), and HHH/Undertaker was amazing, but two matches do not an event make.

  3. heavyhandedDOOM says:

    Glad to see that VIII cracked your top ten. It’s always been a personal favorite (it was my first, rented from my local video store), with Piper/Hart being one of my favorite all-time matches. It’s a match I enjoy as much now as I did when I was 8.

  4. Lyle says:

    Stopped reading after you ranked WM24 at 17th. How can that show possibly be worse than 2000, which featured a bunch of crappy tag team matches or WM20, which featured a bunch of filler matches packed with as many wrestlers as possible?

    I was intrigued by how you trumpeted some things that others consider awful, and that’s not a criticism. People tend to be very split over LT/Bigelow and its rare to see praise for the Mr. T/Piper boxing match. So while I disagree with your rankings, it’s refreshing to see someone who will go against the grain and not rate something bad because of its reputation.

    • Justin Henry says:

      For one, Michaels and Flair is horribly overrated. Two, Show and Mayweather was just awful. Three, the only joy in the WWE Championship match was Orton winning (and I despise Orton, but love irony).

      The only great matches on the show were MITB and Taker/Edge, which lacked a main event feel, mostly because Coach was on commentary. It just felt….eh…

      • Lyle says:

        Yeah, to be honest with you, I’ve never seen why that match is such a big deal either. Then again, why should an over-rated match drag down the show? It was still a good match.

        If you want to talk over-rated, look at Benoit/HHH/HBK. I think the only reason people look at it so fondly is because Benoit won and because he and Guerrero celebrating was such an amazing moment.

        I don’t understand how you can rate WM20 so highly. It had some good matches, but it also had 2 filler tag title matches, a Cruiserweight match given little time, Cena/Big Show, a Diva tag match and Undertaker/Kane (yes, the build and Taker’s return were good, but the match? Not so much). Not to mention all of the time wasting segments (Trump interview, anyone?) So that’s 6 (possibly more) bad matches in comparison to (for example) WM 27’s 3-4 bad matches.

        Speaking of WM27 (which is an induction I absolutely disagreed with)…

        I think the problem these days is that people focus too much on the backstage issues. Instead of enjoying what happens in the ring, they let things like “Sheamus/Bryan was bumped for Snooki” and “The Miz winning the WM Main Event?!?!?” and “Argh, Michael Cole won and now we have to continue to see Heel Cole” win over things like “Edge retains!” or “Austin/Rock have a cool staredown!!!” or “Wow, Trips/Taker was really good!” You shouldn’t judge a movie or TV show by what happens during production and it’s the same thing with wrestling.

        • Justin Henry says:

          1. Benoit/HHH/Shawn is beloved because it was dramatic and awesome. Period.

          2. WM27 sucked because Cole/Lawler and Cena/Miz were terrible, time-consuming matches. And yes, the backstage segments were awful as well. The show had no flow.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Personally, I think you have 24 and 28 too low and 26 and 19 too high.

    I’d also swap 22 and 23.

  6. Matt Soileau says:

    I enjoyed ‘Mania 9. I guess I’m weird…

    • TerrierChad says:

      I also really enjoyed IX. It was cheesy and have a couple of real stinker moments (Giant Gonzales and Hogan stealing the limelight) but I actually though it was a pretty good event overall. Michaels/Tatanka is one of my favourite Mania matches. It is a shame it doesn’t get more of a mention because it is a fantastic match.
      Then again I also like 16 which gets panned by everyone. Probably helps that unlike the vast majority of the IWC I don’t hate Triple H… hell, he’s one of my favourite wrestlers of all time. Perhaps why the main event is also one of my all time favourites.
      I do agree with XV been low at least. I would also have V and VI down there too. Just my 2 cents though.

  7. Matt Soileau says:

    I personally think Mania 2 was the worst…

  8. Rose Harmon says:

    You pretty much echoed my sentiments. X, X7, III, and XIV are all my top favorites.

  9. Batman666Batman666 says:

    Shouldn’t the WM3 attendance be changed to 78,000? Or are we going by kayfabe WWF/E numbers? :P

  10. John Nelson says:

    WM22 is high up isn’t it? It wasn’t a bad show, certainly better in practice then on paper. I think 7 should be up a smidge higher too, but thats me.

  11. Nick Leonarczyk says:

    wm 17 no.1 hell no shitty wm for me its its wm 28 no.1 and wm 19 no.2 yes wm 9 desvers no.28

  12. Johnny says:

    Came to this page thinking Wrestlemania 17 followed by 3. Couldn’t agree more!

  13. Sage says:

    Absolute stupidity. Most of the greatest Wrestlemanias from the golden era are ranked at the very bottom. It’s because millenial douchebags have no attention span that they can’t sit through a 4-hour epic tournament for the title without whining about the lack of chairshots. It’s idiocy like this that killed the industry.

  14. Amsonite says:

    It amazes me that you have Wrestlemania X in the top 5 of all time. Yes it had 2 incredible matches but pretty much everything else was pure Wrestlecrap. Bret-Yoko was easily the least anticipated Wrestlemania main event in history up to that point and having Bret lose clean mere hours before his first televised WWE Title win made him look super weak. Then you had two of the worst tag team matches in Mania history, one of the worst women’s matches in history, and Savage – one of the few remaining stars in the company – reduced to a throw away midcard match with rules that made no sense (a wrestler has 60 seconds to return to the ring after he’s pinned? Huh?). All in all, it was one of the WORST Wrestlemanias of all time, not best.

    • Justin Henry says:

      actually, I consider MOM-Quebecers, Savage-Crush, and Bret-Yoko to be in the **1/4-**3/4 range, as you’ve severely underestimated all three matches. The FCA rules were silly, yes, but all were enjoyable matches.

  15. Matt S says:

    “X8 is detrimented…”

    WTF? Kid, please take a few English composition classes and come back when you have a better idea of the langue.

    Good Christ, reading this was painful

  16. Spenser says:

    Ugh yet another zombie that thinks that the 17th wrestlemania is the best

    • Justin Henry says:

      orrrrrrrrrrr…….I just enjoyed it the most, and watch it most frequently, and am entitled to an opinion?

  17. Hello says:

    Wrestlemania 6?????

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