Brian Damage, John Carbery and Russ Morgan
Today we continue our WrestleMania themed Top Fives, following on from looking at some of the best matches in the history of the event in the last several weeks, by looking at the superstars whose star has shone the brightest on the grandest stage of them all.
5. John Cena
Yes, John Cena, perhaps the most hated WWE wrestler of the IWC for the past decade makes the list. Why? Simple, he generates a ton of crowd reaction to his matches whether it was against the Rock, Rusev, Bray Wyatt, John Cena always had the crowd’s undivided attention and that helps make an average match so much better. Say what you will about Cena, he works hard and always gives a 100% effort in the ring.
Y2J always had the natural abilities to take a bad match up and make it entertaining. Jericho has had some very good matches in WrestleMania history from wrestling Shawn Michaels, AJ Styles and even his match against Fandango. Jericho is the consummate performer.
Whether as a tag team with Christian or wrestling singles matches against the likes of Mick Foley or the Undertaker, Edge had some of the most memorable WrestleMania matches of all time.
The Undertaker is known for his legendary streak and that certainly generated a great deal of interest from the fans. While some of his matches were sensational against Shawn Michaels, Triple H and CM Punk, he’s also had a few clunkers in there as well. See against Giant Gonzalez, Albert and the Big Show etc. He was WrestleMania for years and for that reason alone, gets to be in the #2 position.
1. Shawn Michaels
HBK is by far the wrestler who consistently had great match after great match in WrestleMania history. Whether against the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ric Flair, the Undertaker, Chris Jericho etc., Michaels was always the most consistently on point wrestlers on the biggest stage. He was Mr. WrestleMania indeed.
One of the most consistent performers on the biggest stage, Edge shined as both a tag and singles performer. The ladder matches he took part in speak for themselves at WrestleMania 2000 and X7 respectively. On his own he produced many memorable moments. Winning the first ever money in the bank match was an important step for him and his matches with Mick Foley and the Undertaker cemented his legacy as one of the best big match performers.
He’s often called Mr WrestleMania and while he’s certainly an important figure in the show’s history I don’t think it’s fair to call him the most important overall. He’s probably had more classic matches than anybody else at Mania but I wouldn’t say he’s had the greatest amount of success to boot. His first run on top in 1996 led to a downturn in business and the companies greatest ever period only began when he was Stunnered into retirement at XIV. An incredible legacy bell to bell but I think others have done more to make WrestleMania huge than he.
3. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Austin saved the WWF, literally, at WrestleMania XIV. It’s impossible to overstate that. Austin as the headliner on the biggest show of the year made a huge difference to the WWF. He actually only main evented three Manias, but two of them XIV and X7 are probably the most important in the history of the show. His classic encounter with Bret Hart at 13 doesn’t hurt his standing either.
2. Macho Man Randy Savage
Savage was the backbone of the Hogan era. As a mid-card performer, he famously stole the biggest show of all time with Ricky Steamboat and as a main eventer he produced Hogan’s best main event of the 80’s at WrestleMania V following one of the greatest storylines ever. From there Savage produced a classic with the Ultimate Warrior at VII and had another drama-filled blinder with Ric Flair at VIII. It may be called the “Hulkamania” era but Savage was the standout performer.
1. The Undertaker
The Undertaker’s Streak is overrated. The early entries are mainly inconsequential matches that no one would remember if they weren’t attached to a bigger number. His first WrestleMania Main event vs Sycho Sid was a washout and while his subsequent feud with Kane was brilliantly plotted it failed to deliver bell to bell. The less said about his hell in a cell match with the Big Boss Man the better. Undertaker though went through a renaissance in his later years. Starting with 23 against Batista, Taker created a standard of big match quality for the next seven years that’s likely to be unmatched by any performer. The company promoted their biggest matches of the year consistently around him and he delivered for a long time. I honestly think if there were no more Mania’s Taker should be remembered as the ultimate performer on that stage.
Whether it was those memorable TLC matches or two Money in The Bank matches, he made you want to watch. His WM record isn’t great, but he put everything in and had some fantastic performances.
4. Hulk Hogan
No list would be complete without The Hulkster. Slamming Andre the Giant at WM3, losing to The Ultimate Warrior at WM6, passing the torch to The Rock at WM18 and even beating the boss Vinny Mac at WM19. Hulk built wrestling and WrestleMania, for this alone, we can all be thankful.
3. Stone Cold Steve Austin
He saved the WWF from going under in the late 90’s. Even up until his retirement, he was always over and basically injected new life into the sport and was a firm stand-out in the “Attitude Era”.
2. Shawn Michaels
Every time he was in the ring, Michaels could pull off a “WrestleMania Moment”. Nobody has ever had the consistency of The Heartbreak Kid. From a 60-minute plodder against Bret Hart, to overcoming an injured back to put over Steve Austin, Shawn is really Mr WrestleMania.
1. The Undertaker
The streak may have gone, but the legend remains. In his time, he has generally faced all the big men on the biggest stage of them all. He has had some duffers against the likes of Giant Gonzales, Sid, Diesel and King Kong Bundy, but to be fair to him, he did what he could with them. His classics against Michaels, Edge and even two wins over Triple H will cement him as an all-time great!
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.