Greatest WrestleMania Moments
Once upon a time, professional wrestling was a regional attraction. Several promoters across the United States ran events, and today's "sports entertainment" maintained a carnival-like atmosphere prior to the 1980s.
When Vince McMahon took control of his father’s World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1982, he saw a bigger vision: pro wrestling standing alongside the great spectacles in all of entertainment. He reportedly almost went broke for the first WrestleMania in 1985, and again for WrestleMania 3 two years later. His gambles paid off. WWE now is one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, producing everything from television to music, movies and merchandise.
WrestleMania is WWE's flagship event. These moments put WrestleMania onto the mainstream entertainment radar and show the evolution of pro wrestling.
WrestleMania 1: Beginning of the Spectacle
Date: March 31, 1985
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.
From the beginning, WrestleMania was designed to showcase the superstars as some of the world’s biggest attractions. Vince McMahon set out to do this by bringing in celebrities from across the entertainment spectrum.
Mr. T, Muhammad Ali, Liberace, Cyndi Lauper and a host of others appeared at the inaugural showcase.
The tradition of surprise appearances has continued ever since.
*Attendance figures are provided by WWE and account for all attendance, paid or otherwise. Because of this, some figures have been disputed.
WrestleMania 2: NFL vs. WWF
Date: April 7, 1986
Locations: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.
Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, Ill.
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, Calif.
Attendance: 40,085 (combined)
This show often gets overlooked, but McMahon was ambitious in trying to orchestrate an event at three distinct locations across the country.
The highlight of the show has to be the NFL vs. WWF battle royal, featuring NFL several players, including Jimbo Covert, Bill Fralic, Russ Francis, Ernie Holmes, Harvey Martin and William "The Refrigerator" Perry.
There also were three special referees: Robert Conrad, Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Dick Butkus.
WrestleMania 3: Hogan and Andre
Date: March 29, 1987
Location: Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Mich.
This rivalry was the first great storyline of the WrestleMania era.
And it could have not have come at a better time for the WWF, with the promotion set to embark on a massive endeavor entering the nearly 100,000-seat Pontiac Silverdome.
The way Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant built their feud culminated in one of the most iconic images in wrestling history, when Hogan slammed the Giant to the mat, giving him his first loss in more than a decade.
WrestleMania 4: Ooooooooh Yeaaaaaah!
Date: March 27, 1988
Location: Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.
When Macho Man Randy Savage stood in the ring celebrating his newly won WWF title with Hogan, the moment signified the deserved realization of a childhood dream and the beginning of one of the most captivating story arcs in wrestling history.
The two formed an uber-effective alliance over the next year.
Until things changed.
WrestleMania 5: The Mega Powers Collide
Date: April 2, 1989
Location: Atlantic City Convention Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.
The Mega Powers were a tag team of Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
They collided after months of Savage seething over what he saw as Hogan’s attempts to "woo" Miss Elizabeth, their manager.
In the end, Hogan stood tall against Savage’s jealousy, beginning another championship reign.
WrestleMania 6: The Ultimate Challenge
Date: April 1, 1990
Location: SkyDome, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Ultimate Warrior was another challenger to Hogan for the WWF throne and appeared to be the most legitimate threat to that spot.
With both starring as white-hot babyfaces ("good guys," in wrestling parlance), they entered WrestleMania 6 for a title vs. title showdown. Since Hogan wanted to take a break from wrestling, Ultimate Warrior came out on top, as Hogan appeared to pass the torch.
But Warrior did not stick for long, and future WrestleManias played off this same concept.
WrestleMania 7: Elizabeth … Will You Marry Me?
Date: March 24, 1991
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, Calif.
In another twist and turn in the relationship of "Macho Man" Savage and Elizabeth, the newly crowned Macho King squared off against Ultimate Warrior in a retirement match.
Savage was, at the time, accompanied to the ring by Sherri Martel. During the match, the camera showed Elizabeth in the crowd, concerned for Savage throughout the match.
When Savage lost and was forced into retirement, Martel came into the ring to attack him, which prompted a rage-filled Elizabeth to jump the ring and beat the life out of Martel.
Elizabeth and Savage reunited in a moment afterward that brought tears to many in the audience.
WrestleMania 8: Four of the Greats
Date: April 5, 1992
Location: Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, Ind.
WrestleMania 8 was a different kind of spectacle than the previous shows. With a fairly lackluster storyline involving Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice, two matches on the undercard shine.
"Macho Man" Savage went head to head with Ric Flair, after Flair spent weeks taunting Savage about an alleged past relationship with Elizabeth.
And seasoned veteran Roddy Piper squared off with a young Bret Hart.
Both these matches are two of the best in the event's history. Hart’s fight particularly stands out as he put his name on the map by taking the Intercontinental belt away from Hot Rod.
WrestleMania 9: Hogan Must Post
Date: April 4, 1993
Location: Caesar’s Palace, Paradise, Nev.
This show is known for its special decor, mimicking that of the Roman Coliseum, but it also is a birth of fans who came to despise Hulk Hogan for alleged backstage politicking.
The close of the show saw Bret Hart go head to head with Yokozuna for the WWF title. While Hart was defeated following Mr. Fuji spraying mist in his eyes, Hogan stepped up and pinned Yokozuna in an impromptu match that put the belt back on Hogan.
Big-time fans did not like this finish, seeing it as a selfish play by Hogan to hold down Hart’s spotlight. Hart later claimed that Vince McMahon said Hogan refused to drop the WWF world heavyweight championship for Hart. Hogan, of course, disputed that notion.
WrestleMania 10: Climbing the Ladder
Date: March 20, 1994
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, N. Y.
The first WrestleMania to not feature Hulk Hogan, WrestleMania 10 marked a decided shift in eras for the company. Randy "Macho Man" Savage also wrestled his last match on this show, which meant Vince McMahon had to build new stars.
Enter Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon, who put on a clinic in the first-ever televised Ladder Match.
Michaels, Ramon and Diesel (ringside with Michaels) would play huge roles in the future of the wrestling business, with two of them (Ramon and Diesel) forming the future NWO and Michaels staying in WWF to form D-Generation X.
WrestleMania 11: Back to Basics
Date: April 2, 1995
Location: Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Conn.
Turning to the roots of WrestleMania, Vince McMahon utilized star power to draw attention to No. 11.
This show featured appearances by actresses/models Jenny McCarthy and Pamela Anderson, and was headlined by a cluster of a main event that (officially) featured Bam Bam Bigelow against NFL sack machine Lawrence Taylor, both of whom were accompanied by a variety of wrestlers and football players.
Taylor came out on top with a stiff forearm off the second rope and put on a captivating performance in the main event.
WrestleMania 12: Iron Man Michaels
Date: March 31, 1996
Location: Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, Anaheim, Calif.
This show harkened back to WrestleMania 10 from two years before.
The main event was a one-hour Iron Man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, in what was a showcase of in-ring skill and psychology. The match went into overtime with neither scoring a fall, until Michaels pulled off the victory.
Hart and Michaels have an impressive catalog of matches from their heated rivalry, and despite their differences, they always seemed to bring out the absolute best in each other.
WrestleMania 13: Blood From the Stone
Date: March 23, 1997
Location: Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, Ill.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin forced his way onto the scene in late 1996, and that momentum continued to build into 1997, when the fans were begging for a turn to babyface as his feud with Bret Hart played out.
WrestleMania 13 was a crowning moment of great storytelling for both these two, as a ruthless Hart forced Austin to pass out in their submission match.
Hart attempted to continue to attack Austin after the match, forcing special referee Ken Shamrock to toss Hart nearly halfway across the ring.
This moment also kicked off a great heel run for Hart and is lauded as a top-10 match ever.
WrestleMania 14: The Austin Era Has Begun
Date: March 29, 1998
Location: FleetCenter, Boston, Mass.
The buildup to this match was electric. Vince McMahon was tasked with getting the belt on "Stone Cold" Austin, an otherwise easily predictable outcome, in a way that captivated the audience.
Bringing in Mike Tyson as the guest enforcer was a good start, and the chemistry between him and Austin allowed for even heavier involvement on Tyson’s part.
In the end, the drama was enough to overcome a melancholy and beat-up Shawn Michaels, and the moment when Tyson punched Michaels sticks out as an exclamation point in the beginning of the Austin era.
WrestleMania 15: Rock vs. Austin I
Date: March 28, 1999
Location: First Union Center, Philadelphia, Pa.
This show was all about The Rock and Stone Cold. Although not technically their first showdown (they had run-ins on the undercard for the Intercontinental title), this event marked the first in a trio of WrestleMania showdowns between two of the biggest stars in wrestling history.
With he Rock as the hand-picked corporate champion, Austin emerged victorious after three referees, more than one Vince McMahon interference and a myriad of chair shots.
WrestleMania 16: Who Wants the Spotlight?
Date: April 2, 2000
Location: Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, Anaheim, Calif.
With the company’s biggest star on the shelf, the main event featured a brawl of sorts in a fatal-four-way match, which left the spotlight there for the taking.
A trio of young hungry tag teams stepped up to steal the show. In a match filled with wild spots and brutal crashes, the Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz saw Edge & Christian stand tall, winning the tag team titles for the first time in a brutal ladder match.
It was perhaps the most captivating tag match in history up until that point.
WrestleMania 17: Bah Gawd He’s Got a Table!
Date: April 1, 2001
Location: Reliant Astrodome, Houston, Texas
One year after stealing the show at WrestleMania 16, the trio of tag teams did it again in one of the first Tables Ladders and Chairs (TLC) matches, even stealing some of the shine off of Rock vs. Austin II in the main event.
The Hardy Boyz really stood out here, with Jeff Hardy showing little regard for his body, crashing through tables off of 20-foot ladders.
The spot of the night was Edge executing a ridiculous spear off a ladder, striking down Hardy, who was dangling from the hook holding the tag belts above the ring.
WrestleMania 18: Icon vs. Icon
Date: March 17, 2002
Location: SkyDome, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Vince McMahon’s attempt the previous month to bring the NWO into the fold sort of floundered. Scott Hall and Steve Austin had a fairly lackluster feud, and although the Rock-versus-Hogan buildup featured some of the typical dastardly deeds, the WrestleMania crowd was still dying to see Hogan, who hadn’t been at the event since WrestleMania 10.
The energy was intense as The Rock and Hogan stood face-to-face in the ring. While Austin still is a bit sour about being overlooked for this spot, it’s hard to argue with the outcome, as Hogan became relevant for the third time in his career and propelled the Rock to mainstream stardom in the process.
WrestleMania 19: The End of an Era
Date: March 30, 2003
Location: Safeco Field, Seattle, Wash.
The third and final WrestleMania installment of The Rock vs. Stone Cold feud was not as heated or classic as their two previous matchups, but it was the final match Steve Austin had in the business.
The match fittingly capped off Austin’s career, which featured seven white-hot years on top and should have been longer had it not been for some scary neck injuries.
WrestleMania 20: Boo vs. Boo
Date: March 14, 2004
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.
The 20th edition of WrestleMania featured Hulk Hogan against Vince McMahon and the crowning of underdog champion Chris Benoit in the main event.
However, what stands out from this edition is the failed attempt to book a monster vs. monster match in Goldberg against Brock Lesnar. The problem was the entire audience knew Lesnar was leaving to try his hand at football, and Goldberg was planning to depart as well.
The boos rained down upon these two, despite Steve Austin being inserted as the referee. His stunners to both competitors after the match salvaged what was otherwise a low point in WrestleMania history.
WrestleMania 21: Money in the Bank
Date: April 3, 2005
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
One of the best ideas of the last 20 years in WWE, the Money in the Bank ladder match, debuted at this show in 2005.
With big-time spots from Shelton Benjamin, Chris Jericho and the eventual winner Edge, the match provided an opportunity for lesser- known talents to pop, which most certainly happened here.
Through the years, the match also has been used to test the audience’s favor and whether or not certain wrestlers deserve a push.
WrestleMania 22: Foley Is God
Date: April 2, 2006
Location: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.
Edge wanted his own WrestleMania moment, so match was built around this idea. And his showdown with Mick Foley was as hardcore as it gets.
The biggest spot here was Edge spearing Foley through a table that had been lit on fire. Both suffered severe burns in the process.
The match was a little past its time, but it remains an iconic moment from Edge’s shortened career.
WrestleMania 23: Trump/Lashley 2007
Date: April 1, 2007
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
This one has aged in an interesting fashion. In an age where the wrestling storyline is far less compelling than the real-world one, the future U.S. president challenged the owner of the WWE to a hair vs. hair match, with Bobby Lashley representing Donald Trump and Umaga for Vince McMahon.
Lashley won, and Trump shaved McMahon’s head, leaving an image that will last for some time,
Trump also was awarded a Stone Cold stunner afterward, following in the footsteps of future mayor of Knox County, Glenn Jacobs (Kane), and future ambassador of small business, Linda McMahon, Vince McMahon's wife.
WrestleMania 24: Money
Date: March 30, 2008
Location: Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
Vince McMahon loves to create a spectacle, and he got that when Floyd Mayweather came on board to fight the Big Show in a WrestleMania showdown of size vs. speed.
The buildup to this bout featured Mayweather accidentally breaking Show’s nose for real, which added tension for those that follow backstage storylines.
Mayweather standing face to waist with Show is one of the most iconic images the spectacle has produced.
WrestleMania 25: Light Meets Dark
Date: April 5, 2009
Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
The Undertaker, an undefeated 16-0 to this point at WrestleMania, faced a new challenge in the reborn Shawn Michaels.
A born-again Christian, Michaels played on his newfound faith to combat the darkness of The Undertaker.
It was an instant classic, with several huge spots, and the streak remained intact.
WrestleMania 26: Streak vs. Career
Date: March 28, 2010
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
In part two of the Shawn Michaels and Undertaker showdown, Michaels was out for revenge and put his career on the line against the streak of the Dead Man.
In another epic clash of two of the greatest ever, Michaels fought hard but could not topple the streak and has not competed in a singles match since.
WrestleMania 27: Do You Smell What the Rock Is Cookin?
Date: April 3, 2011
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
The Rock returned to action as the new host of WrestleMania, promptly sparking a feud with John Cena, who was set to face off against the Miz in the main event.
When the time came, Rock interfered, costing Cena the match and his title.
WrestleMania 28: Once in a Lifetime
Date: April 1, 2012
Location: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
After a year of worked shoot promos and sideswipes in person and on social media, John Cena and The Rock squared off in the Rock’s hometown.
Mirroring their feud, each used the other’s signature moves throughout the match, a big slap in the face in the wrestling business. The Rock scored the pin in the end.
WrestleMania 29: Twice In A Lifetime
Date: April 7, 2013
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Don’t take that once-in-a-lifetime thing too literally. John Cena and The Rock ran it back the next year.
There are mixed reviews over this idea, and most come down on the negative side.
Cena got his win back over The Rock, finishing the feud with plenty of fans left to wonder what could have been.
WrestleMania 30: Eat. Sleep. Conquer the Streak.
Date: April 6, 2014
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
At 21-0, The Undertaker appeared invincible when he stood across the ring from Brock Lesnar, which is what made the result so shocking.
Lesnar pinned Taker for the win, and the crowd fell into a collective silence.
Silence over the whole crowd of nearly 80,000 people accentuated this iconic piece of wrestling history.
WrestleMania 31: Rollins in the Bank
Date: March 29, 2015
Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.
A rare sight occurred near the close of WrestleMania 31, as it appeared Roman Reigns (an overwhelmingly unliked babyface) would topple Brock Lesnar and begin an era of dominance, but Seth Rollins burned it all down.
With both men down and bleeding, Rollins’ music hit, and he hit the ring to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.
His win became one of the most shocking moments in history and was completely unexpected to the nearly 80,000-person crowd.
WrestleMania 32: The New Reign Begins
Date: April 3, 2016
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
The size of the venue generated a lot of buildup, but WWE's injury problems prevented much sensible booking heading into the show.
The result was an awkward Shane McMahon storyline following his return and a lackluster main event between Roman Reigns and Triple H.
Reigns won the main event for the first time and was greeted by boos all around.
WrestleMania 33: An Extreme Return
Date: April 2, 2017
Location: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
Three teams were set to square off in a ladder match for the Raw tag team titles, when the hosts of the show, The New Day, came out to tease a surprise entrant.
Then, the music for the Hardy Boyz hit, and the crowd went crazy.
A fun match ensued, and the Hardy Boyz emerged victorious after one of the best-kept surprises in recent memory.
WrestleMania 34: A Star Is Born
Date: April 8, 2018
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
The women stole the show at WrestleMania for perhaps the first time in history.
Besides a widely praised Asuka-versus-Charlotte Flair title match, Ronda Rousey made her WWE debut in a tag match, teaming with Kurt Angle to take on Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
Rousey showed remarkable in-ring skill and tossed McMahon around with ease, to the delight of those who had doubted her.
The spectacle continues for Vince McMahon and company. So what's next for WrestleMania?