Let’s get the Top 30 WrestleMania matches of all-time countdown kicked off.
As I stated in our introduction to the countdown, there was one tie that I didn’t want to break, so we actually had two matches tie for number 30.
(All links to matches go to the WWE Network.)
30. The Rock Vs Hulk Hogan – WrestleMania X-8
Star ratings: Duan ****1/4 | Alan ***3/4 | Big D ****1/4 | GG ***3/4
The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan was, in many people’s eyes, the last real “Dream Match” in the business and perhaps the first truly authentic “WWF vs. WCW” match despite Hulk Hogan being synonymous with 1980s WWF. It was the superstar of the past vs. the superstar of the present.
While the work rate isn’t quite at the level of Steamboat/Flair, they put a very good match together designed to get Hulk Hogan on almost the same level as Rock, but little did they know that the jam packed 68,000 in the Toronto Skydome would make Hulk Hogan the biggest babyface since Wayne Gretzky. Reports came in that people LEFT the building after this match. They cared about nothing else but seeing their hero from the past attempt to slay another dragon and cup his hand to his ear.
30. Bret Hart Vs Roddy Piper – WrestleMania VIII
Star ratings: Duan ***3/4 | Alan **** | Big D ****1/2 | GG ***3/4
This match had such a cool dynamic. Both men were loved by the crowd. Sometimes when that happens, the crowd will be split and get behind neither guy 100%. But this crowd ate up whatever these guys did.
I specifically remember two things about this match. The first is that Bobby Heenan called Bret Hart out for goldbricking a second and a half before he proved that he was. Heenan was at his best at this time, coming off his masterful performance at the Royal Rumble and he was on fire on this show as well. And second, it was so weird to see blood so early on the card.
Piper was in shape and looked the best he’d ever looked. And it was a nice passing of the torch to Bret, who outsmarted him to win the match. It was really the first time I saw Bret Hart as a singles star rather than as just a great tag team wrestler.
29. Daniel Bryan Vs Batista Vs Randy Orton – WrestleMania XXX
Star ratings: Duan ***1/4 | Alan ****1/2 | Big D ****1/2 | GG ****
See, WWE can still give you great moments even if they spend most of the year trying to educate you on why that special moment should never happen.
The moment of Daniel Bryan holding both titles and putting his arms in the air overshadows the match, but the match is very good in its own right. Bryan played the perfect underdog in a match that was closer to a handicapped match than a three-way (and it’s one of only two single’s three-ways on our list). Orton and Batista played their roles well.
If I’m being nit-picky, Triple H probably didn’t need to get involved in the match to further stack the deck against Bryan. It was thoroughly stacked enough already and he was gone very soon. And Batista is probably underplayed too much in this as well. I think he could’ve been a bigger focal point rather than played as an afterthought.
The Batista Bomb on Bryan into the RKO onto the table was the single greatest move of the entire night. And Bryan’s celebration is probably a top five WrestleMania celebration of all-time.
28. Randy Savage Vs The Ultimate Warrior – WrestleMania VII
Star ratings: Duan ***1/2 | Alan ****1/4 | Big D ****1/2 | GG ****
Randy Savage and Rick Rude have several things in common including Memphis roots, great voices, MANLY facial hair and oodles of in ring talent. But aside from all that, they are perhaps the only men to hold the key to the lock that is The Ultimate Warrior.
Nobody in wrestling got as many great matches out of Warrior as these two, and at Wrestlemania VII, Savage got perhaps the best. Built up as a Macho’s retirement match, this match saw him bump like a maniac for everything Warrior had in his arsenal. The crowd was worked into a frenzy and when they went into the finishing stretch I think everyone watching was on the edge of their seat. It was one of the most memorable finishes I’ve experienced.
Warrior quite simply shoulder tackled Savage repeatedly for at least 3 minutes until Macho was completely and utterly decimated and all that was needed to pin him was a single foot. Throw in one of the all-time great Mania moments with the reunion of Savage and Liz and you have a match more than deserving of it’s place on the list.
27. Bret Hart Vs Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania XII
Star ratings: Duan ****1/2 | Alan ****1/4 | Big D ***3/4 | GG ****
This match originally didn’t make our top 30. Why? Well, Big D was the Russian judge. D thinks this match is highly overrated and in all the years we’ve been rating this match, he stuck to his guns; except this year. This year, his heart softened and he changed his rating.
Personally, I’m fine with it in the top 30, but would be bothered if it was in the top 10. I think the match is rock solid from a work perspective. But I think where they failed is in keeping the interest of not only the live crowd, but the crowd at home.
This match is shades above Rock/Hogan and Savage/Warrior from a work perspective. But those matches seem more magical when it comes to the art form than this one does. I think this match would’ve been far better if it was cut in half from a time perspective and without the Iron Man stipulation. But again, because the work of Hart and Michaels is so good inside the ring, you can’t leave it off any list like this.
This is also one of eight Michaels’ appearances on our list. Hart is on it four times.
26. The Undertaker Vs CM Punk – WrestleMania 29
Star ratings: Duan **** | Alan ****1/2 | Big D **** | GG ****
This match is now known as the last WrestleMania match the Undertaker won before his streak was broken at WrestleMania XXX by Brock Lesnar. Personally, I was slightly disinterested going into the match for two reasons. For one, the build was completely tasteless. Second, I knew WWE wasn’t going to have Punk break the streak. As is the case in many of the Undertaker matches that are on this list, it was hard to believe that he was going to lose. Thus, creativity is the key and I thought they did a good job here, including teasing a countout finish. The suspension of disbelief wasn’t as strong as his matches with Shawn Michaels and Triple H in WrestleManias 25-28 (all higher on this list), but it was still good stuff.
What also helped this match is that Punk was over with the crowd. He was just removed from his long world title run and there was a part of the fanbase who didn’t think the Rock should’ve beat him, and in their eyes, Punk could do no wrong. He was also a fantastic heel in the match, doing all of Undertaker’s mannerisms and they did one spot with the urn that many people believed to be the finish. But the Undertaker would prevail.
On Monday, we’ll be back with matches 25-21.