The Five Greatest Shows in WrestleMania History

WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year and the fans have very high expectations for each year's event. These are the five events that exceeded fans expectations and are the benchmarks by which other WrestleMania events are judged by. These rankings are based upon several criteria. How was the show judged when it happened? Has it stood the test of time? Were there any must-see matches on the show? Did the event produce any iconic moments? Did the event change the course of wrestling history? 

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WrestleMania III (1987)

Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle at the WrestleMania XIX Press Conference
Kurt Angle defended the WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XIX. (Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Images)

This is the event that made WrestleMania what it is today. The show featured a then-record crowd for the most fans at a wrestling event and featured two matches that every wrestling fan needs to see at least once. The match between Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Championship is arguably the greatest match the company had in the '80s. ​The main event bout between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant was the most anticipated bout in wrestling history. The ending of that match, where Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant, is the most iconic moment in WrestleMania history.

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WrestleMania X-Seven (2001)

The WrestleMania X-Seven stage.
The WrestleMania X-Seven stage. (StormyXXX/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

On a match-by-match basis, this might be the best card in WrestleMania history. There are two big reasons why this event ranks second on this list, even if it is slightly better if you did a match-by-match comparison. The first is because there is only one match from this show which made ​​the list of top 10 WrestleMania matches as opposed to WrestleMania III, which featured two matches on that list. The other is that while WrestleMania III provided wrestling fans with the iconic moment of the decade; this event didn't even feature the most memorable moment of the week. That took place a few days earlier when Shane McMahon appeared on WCW Monday Nitro while Vince was in a WWE ring on Monday Night RAW and both shows were being simulcast on the USA Network and TNT at the same time. During that show, which was also the final episode in Nitro history, Shane purchased WCW.

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WrestleMania XIX (2003)

The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. (Mshake3/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

This was a solid show that featured almost everything one could want in a wrestling event. A big-time main event featuring legitimate amateur wrestlers in Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle which ended with a memorable and scary moment.  It also featured the first three-time match in WrestleMania history as Steve Austin and the Rock battled in what turned out to be Steve Austin's final match as a full-time wrestler. For fans interested in nostalgia, the most hyped match on the show was an interesting battle between Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan that featured Roddy Piper making a surprise appearance. And with all of these great things going on, a mid-card match between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels stole this show.

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WrestleMania X (1994)

WrestleMania X VHS cover
(Public Domain)

This show had a unique format. Because the Royal Rumble ended in a draw, the WWE Championship was going to be on the line twice during this event. While fans knew that the first match was going to be held between Yokozuna and Lex Luger, fans were unsure of who Bret Hart was going to fighting later on in the show. Both of those matches featured surprise guest referees in the forms of Curt Hennig and Roddy Piper. In addition to those matches, there were two great matches on this show. The opening bout between Bret and his brother, Owen, was on the list of Top 10 WrestleMania Matches until being taken off of the list to make room for the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker bout that took place at WrestleMania XXVI. However, it still remains the greatest opening match in WrestleMania history. The other bout on that list, the Shawn Michaels-Razor Ramon match, was the first great ladder match in United States wrestling history. This event, which was the first WrestleMania not to feature Hulk Hogan, showed wrestling fans that the sport was bigger than just one man.

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WrestleMania XX (2004)

John Cena
John Cena made in-ring debut at Wrestlemania, defeating The Big Show for the United States Championship. (static/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

This event might have been ranked higher except for the fact that the triumphant ending to the show is now one of the saddest moments in wrestling history. For years, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were two wrestlers that were never able to make it to the top of the sport and this show ended with the two men in the ring celebrating together as the two biggest champions in the company along with Nancy and Daniel Benoit. Tragically, all four of them are now dead and that moment of triumph was played over-and-over again by the media when covering the Benoit family tragedy.

Even if you watch this show without watching the main event, you still have an incredible show that featured the WrestleMania debuts of John Cena, Batista, and Randy Orton as well as the then final matches in the WWE for the Rock, Brock Lesnar, and Goldberg. Speaking of those two men, their match, while absolutely horrible, provided the most surreal moment in WrestleMania history as the fan reaction to this match is something that every fan should see at least once.

There was one show which came very close to knocking this off the list. WrestleMania XXX was eerily reminiscent of WrestleMania XX in that Daniel Bryan's career arc was very similar to that of Eddie Guerrero's and Chris Benoit's. Just like WrestleMania XX 10 years later, the show ended with an undersized underdog winning the biggest prize in the business. Just like Eddie and Chris, his time at the top of the mountain didn't last too long as injuries forced him into retirement less than two years later.  

The other huge similarity is that the fans had a strange reaction to a Brock Lesnar match. This time, he forced the crowd into silence after shocking the wrestling world by ending Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak at 21.