WrestleMania. The name alone can send goosebumps up the arm of a wrestling fan. That’s because we know that the show is filled with countless special memories and great matches. As I sit here just a mere fourteen days from this year’s WrestleMania I wonder what is going to happen this year that will create a memory that will last a lifetime. These memories are shaped by some special men and woman whose life’s work is to entertain us and this column is designed to honor the most special of those people. This is The Ten Biggest Stars of WrestleMania. In this column I am going to take a look at ten Superstars who left the biggest mark on The Showcase of the Immortals. I’ll countdown from ten all the way to my biggest Star of WrestleMania. In determining the list I’ll take a look at a person’s longevity at WrestleMania, how many high profile matches they had and how their overall performance at the big show was. I’ll give you a write up about their WrestleMania history. The number inside the parenthesis is the person’s WrestleMania record. Got all that? Now it’s time to start the countdown.
10. Vince McMahon (0-4)
Any list of the top stars of WrestleMania that doesn’t have Vince McMahon on it is not a legitimate list. Vince McMahon is not on this list for his WrestleMania record. He’s lost every match he’s had at WrestleMania. He’s on this list because without him there would be no WrestleMania. McMahon put everything on the line back in 1985 during the first WrestleMania. If that show would have flopped God only knows how we’d all be killing time on Monday Nights. It was Vince’s vision that allowed us to have this evening we all look forward to, our Super Bowl, our celebration of the entertainment spectacle we all love.
Vince also deserves credit for being a hell of an entertainer too, which helps cement his spot on this list. WrestleMania X-Seven saw a street fight between him and his son that capped off a long storyline of dissension among the McMahon family. His other three WrestleMania matches saw him take on three of his biggest stars in Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. While none of the three are masterpieces, they were key matches on their respective WrestleMania cards and served their purpose in being entertaining and satisfying the crowd.
9. The Ultimate Warrior (4-1)
I was a bit hesitant about adding Warrior to this list because he only wrestled at five WrestleManias but there’s no denying the impact he left on WrestleMania. His WrestleMania debut hardly made a splash at WrestleMania IV as he defeated Hercules in a quick match that served as a break between the first and second rounds of the WWF Championship Tournament. It was his next three appearances that made him a must for this list.
At WrestleMania V he defended the Intercontinental Championship against Rick Rude in the other feature bout on the card. It wasn’t a classic but it was a very entertaining bout that saw The Warrior lose his title due to outside interference. WrestleMania VI was when Warrior cemented his flag at the top of the WWE mountain as he defeated Hulk Hogan clean in the center of the ring for the WWF Championship in a great match the exceeded expectations. His greatest highlight at WrestleMania though, was when he defeated Randy Savage at WrestleMania VII in the epic career ending match.
The Warrior had a run in at the end of WrestleMania VIII and then we wouldn’t see him for four years until he returned at WrestleMania XII when he destroyed a young Hunter Hearst Helmsley. It was a forgettable ending to his WrestleMania career.
8. Edge (6-4)
A young Edge sat in the stands at WrestleMania VI and just ten years later he began to make his mark on the Granddaddy of Them All. Out of Edge’s ten Mania Matches, six of them were title matches. The beginning of Edge’s WrestleMania career saw him win the Tag Team Championships in the epic Triangle Ladder and TLC Matches. After a forgettable feud Booker T at X-8, Edge would return to WrestleMania after a two year hiatus at XXI to win the first ever Money in the Bank Match which was the beginning of Edge’s rise to the top of the WWE.
WrestleMania XXII was a big match for Edge as he proved that he could work any style as he had a classic Hardcore Match with Mick Foley. After failing to win another MITB briefcase at XXIII, he would enter the next three WrestleManias as the World Heavyweight Champion proving his longevity as a top guy in WWE and someone that deserved a top spot at WrestleMania.-
7. Bret Hart (8-6)
The Hitman has one of the longer WrestleMania careers appearing at 13 WrestleManias. The early part of Hart’s WrestleMania career saw him as a part of the Hart Foundation Tag Team even though he appeared in two Battle Royals. WrestleMania VIII was his first match away from The Anvil and he defeated Roddy Riper for the Intercontinental Championship. The next two WrestleManias saw Hart as the top star of WWF. He lost the WWF Title at IX and then pulled double duty at X by having a classic with his brother Owen and then winning the WWF Championship later in the evening.
WrestleManias XII and XIII saw Hart involved in two of the greatest matches in company history as he lost the WWF Title to Shawn Michaels in the Iron Man Match and then defeated Steve Austin in a Submission Match that helped change the course of WWF history. Hart left for WCW and wouldn’t be seen at WrestleMania for another 13 years until he returned to get revenge on Vince McMahon.
6. Steve Austin (5-2)
The Texas Rattlesnake’s ranking is hurt by his lack of longevity at WrestleMania but he may have made the biggest impact of anyone. WrestleMania XII was his debut against Savio Vega. He won a solid but forgettable match. Austin then tangled with Bret Hart in a classic at WrestleMania XIII. WrestleMania XIV saw Austin crowned the WWF Champion for the first time and it was the moment he was also crowned “the guy” by the WWF and it’s fans. He had a forgettable match with Scott Hall at X-8 but it was his epic trilogy with The Rock at WrestleManias XV, X-Seven and XIX that made him one of WrestleMania’s greatest performers. During that trilogy, he won the WWF Championship twice making him just the second man in WrestleMania history to win the WWF Championship three times. WrestleMania XIX, a loss to The Rock would be the last match of his career.
5. Randy Savage (7-4)
The Macho Man was a fixture at nine of the first ten WrestleManias. He wasn’t booked on the first one and ninth one but he was a part of the commentary team for that event. WrestleManias II and III saw him walk in as the Intercontinental Champion. He won the WWF Title at IV and VIII and was the WWF Champion at V.
He had all-time great matches with Ricky Steamboat, The Ultimate Warrior and Ric Flair at WrestleMania. He is also the author of two of the most iconic WrestleMania images. The first being when he won the WWF Title in a 14 Man Tournament and he had Elizabeth on his shoulder with the WWF Title belt and then who can forget his emotional reunion with Elizabeth after losing the Career Ending Match to Warrior at VII.
You also have to make mention of the great execution he had in his match with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania V, which was the culmination of a yearlong story.
4. John Cena (6-3)
John Cena made his WrestleMania debut at XX and hasn’t missed a Mania since. In fact he’s been in a World Title Match every single year since XXI except for last year when he faced The Rock and that was still the main event of that show. Cena won the United States Championship at XX and then his first WWE Title at XXI. Cena then picked up World Title victories at XXV and XXVI, making him the fourth person in WrestleMania history to win three World Titles at the event. He also defended his title successfully at XXII and XXIII. Cena even finds himself in the WWE Title Match this year as he has a rematch with The Rock. Cena has proven to be a big match player and is the unquestioned face of WWE. There is no doubting his spot on this countdown.
3. Shawn Michaels (6-11)
Do I even need to waste my time selling this man to you? He’s not called Mr. WrestleMania for nothing. WrestleManias V, VI and VII saw him as a member of The Rockers. He broke out on his own at VIII and then defended the Intercontinental Championship at IX. WrestleMania X was the epic Ladder Match with Razor Ramon which was the first of his nine, yes nine four-star+ matches. A number that is matched by no man in WrestleMania history. Shawn saw himself compete in five World Title Matches in which he was only successful at one, WrestleMania XII. His match against Kurt Angle and the two with The Undertaker are among the best ever with the first Undertaker match being the best ever, in my opinion. Shawn Michaels is a man that delivered on the big stage like no other. If you have not seen his WrestleMania matches at X, XII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXIII, XXIV, XXV and XXVI then you have no business reading this column. You need to find and watch those matches, NOW. It’s not a surprise to me that when I wrote my Top 25 WrestleMania Matches column last year that he dominated the list.
2. Hulk Hogan (8-3-1)
The Hulkster was the star Vince McMahon hitched his wagon to in order to make WrestleMania what it is today. Hogan was never known as the best worker but he was a charismatic marvel that people were drawn to and wanted to see. His iconic match with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III is one of the most legendary matches ever.
Hulk dominated the title scene during his WrestleMania career. He was the WWF Champion at WrestleManias I, II, III and VI. He was in the title tournament at IV and won the title at V, VII and IX making him the first of four men to win three World Titles at WrestleMania. Despite not being in a title match at VIII he was still the main event and when he broke a nine year WrestleMania absence at X-8, he had a show stealer of a match with The Rock. WrestleMania XIX saw the end of his in-ring WrestleMania career in a fun, nostalgic battle with Vince McMahon.
There’s no questioning Hogan’s star power and influence of not only WWE but WrestleMania as well. He was the perfect star to market WrestleMania around.
1. The Undertaker (20-0)
No one has wrestled at more WrestleManias and no one deserves the number one spot more than the Deadman. He is the owner of a streak that will never be matched. In a predetermined sport where wins and losses really don’t matter, he makes them matter when he’s on the WrestleMania stage. Granted, The Undertaker has been in some of the worst matches in Mania history. It’s not his fault he was stuck facing guys like Giant Gonzalez and King Kong Bundy. Despite that he also had four of the best matches ever and other really good ones with Triple H, Diesel, Randy Orton, Batista and Edge.
The Undertaker also won three World Titles at WrestleMania joining Cena, Austin and Hogan in that club. What locked down Undertaker’s spot at number one for me is how his match at WrestleMania in recent years is just as important, if not more important that the title matches. Just look at his match this year. He is facing CM Punk. Punk only had to beat one man to get a WWE Title Match but had to beat three to face The Undertaker. That to me seems that The Streak is more important than the title and when that happens, you are the top star in WrestleMania history.
Honorable Mention: Andre the Giant, The Rock, Triple H, Kane and Chris Jericho.
Wow. Almost 2,100 words. This has to be one of my longest columns ever. I really hoped you enjoyed it as I had a lot of fun writing it. It takes a special person to make their mark at WrestleMania and these men all deserve their spots on this list as their stars shined the brightest when the lights were on the brightest. Please let me know what you thought in the comment section. WrestleMania is just two weeks away. Who will make their mark this year? We’ll have to tune in to find out.
(That’s what she said.)
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