March 13, 2009
The Best of Mania: 6-10
This is the second in a five part series here on the Double Shot counting down the top 50 WrestleMania matches of all time. Each week, I will focus on a group of five WrestleManias and pick out what I consider the top ten matches from that respective group. For last week's edition, counting down the top ten from WrestleManias I-V, click here. On to this week...
Droste's Double Shot WrestleMania Rundown, Set 2
Top Ten Matches from:
WrestleMania VI - April 1, 1990; Toronto
WrestleMania VII - March 24, 1991; Los Angeles
WrestleMania VIII - April 5, 1992; Indianapolis
WrestleMania IX - April 4, 1993; Las Vegas
WrestleMania X - March 20, 1994; New York
The Rockers vs. The Orient Express, WrestleMania VI
The first appearance on our list by the self proclaimed "Mr. WrestleMania," Shawn Michaels, here during his days as a Rocker. This was a high paced, fast matchup during a time when much of the wrestling was still slow and methodical. Watching the Rockers during this match, it's still amazing that a team that was on fire as hot as them never once held the WWF World Tag Team Titles. Well, except for that whole deal of when they won the titles at a TV taping from the Hart Foundation, but the top rope broke during the match. That title switch was never acknowledged because the match was "unfit to air" on television (although it has since been released on one of Michaels' DVD sets).
Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior, WrestleMania VI
It's an extremely rare occurrence where you can say that Hulk Hogan carried the man he was in the ring with. At WrestleMania VI, this was indeed the case. I would argue that this match was Hulk Hogan's greatest athletic match of his career, given the fact that he carried an untalented Ultimate Warrior to a 3+ star match. I don't mean to come off so harsh on the Warrior, but the fact is nearly every single one of his peers has been quoted as saying the guy didn't have a lick of wrestling talent so that is why I say "untalented." Not that Hogan was full of wrestling talent either, so both men deserve some credit for this match. I just have to believe Hogan's experience helped make this match into something special, in other words he put together and carried the match. This was one of the more memorable bouts in WrestleMania history, although Hogan did steal the limelight from Warrior when it was over, whether Warrior realized it or not.
Hart Foundation vs. Nasty Boys, WrestleMania VII
The last great stand for the Hart Foundation, one of the top five tag teams of the previous decade, before Bret went on to singles greatness and Jim hung around, popping up every so often. The Foundation was as popular as ever, and this was there one great WrestleMania match as a team. Had Dynamite Kid's back not been so broken down by WrestleMania III, that match would have been a memorable one for the team on wrestling's biggest stage, but it wasn't meant to be. The match here vs. the great new heel team of Brian Knobbs and Jerry Saggs didn't disappoint, though. A great match, with the Foundation's former long time manager (Jimmy Hart) looking on from the opposing team's corner. Watching this match takes you back to the glory days of tag team wrestling in the WWF.
Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior, WrestleMania VII
The greatest match in the career of the Ultimate Warrior. Bar none. An unbelievable emotional roller coaster of a match, which is a testament to the amazing ability of one Randy Savage. The "Macho King", as he was called at the time, made this one into something special by (not to sound like a broken record) carrying the Ultimate Warrior on his back to the peak of that mountain top we call wrestling greatness. And as a heel Randy Savage had his manager, Sensation Sherri, turn on him after losing the match (and his career, as this was a "career threatening match), the stage was set for one final wave of emotion as Savage reunited with his long lost love, Elizabeth, and women throughout the arena sobbed their eyes out. Other than the Austin/Hart double switch at WrestleMania XIII, this was the greatest heel to babyface turn in WrestleMania history.
Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper, WrestleMania VIII
To me, the promo before this match is nearly as memorable as the match itself. Piper talking about how had known Bret since he was a little kid and giving him crap about not learning to tie his shoes until he was in grade school, Mrs. Hart going cheap on the sandwiches she used to make them, etc. The promo is hilarious, and one of my favorites in history. The match itself is even better. An interesting story Bret tells in his book is that they didn't have permission to "get blood" in this match (Bret bled all over the ring), but they didn't get in trouble by Vince because they got him to believe he had legit been busted open. Ric Flair, who bladed later in the card, even believed Bret that it was a legit cut. This is saying something, as Flair wouldn't have been too happy since his match was the only match approved by Vince to have blood that day. This match also set the tone for Bret's meteoric rise as a singles star to the top of the WWF, as just two months prior he had nearly jumped ship to WCW, and many believed he was going to end up there anyway and was going to be jobbed out of the WWF until his contract expired. Well, Bret decided on staying with the company, and this match launched his singles career from what seemed like lame duck status just a few weeks prior, to being the top star in the company for the next 5 and a half years.
Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair, WrestleMania VIII
This match was the pre-cursor to what would be a great feud later on in WCW. Flair and Savage always had amazing chemistry together, and this match is no exception. Up until this point, this match was by far the most athletic WWF title match to be held at WrestleMania. Savage was on fire, having his career rekindled by his reunion with Elizabeth the previous year. That added in with Flair alleging he had a past romance with Liz made this match full of emotion. Who can forget the image of a bloody Flair planting a kiss on Liz in the corner of the ring, before being slapped silly by her. This was great stuff. Fans were dying to relive the late 80s glory days of Savage holding the title with Liz by his side, and they got their wish this night as Savage won the strap for a final time and began his last run atop the WWF.
Shawn Michaels vs. Tatanka, WrestleMania IX
WrestleMania IX was a lackluster card as far as matches that had the ability to be great, athletic contests. This match carried the show in that regard. By 1993, Shawn was arguably the best heel in the business, with Sherri Martel as his manager. Tatanka was an up and coming new star who had an 18 month undefeated streak on TV. The DQ finish slightly took away from what was a solid opening match, but then again they wanted Shawn to remain Intercontinental Champion without Tatanka losing his winning streak, so it made sense.
Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna, WrestleMania IX
Far from one of Bret Hart's greatest matches, but this was quite possibly Yokozuna's greatest match. That's a testament to the ability of Bret Hart to get a good match out of anybody. They built the whole match up around whether or not Bret could get his sharpshooter leg lock around the enormous legs of Yokozuna. The crowd went crazy when he finally did, only to have Mr. Fuji throw salt in his eyes and end his first WWF title reign. I would almost like to erase from my memory what transpired next, when Hulk Hogan came out and challenged the newly crowned champion Yokozuna, beating him in less than 30 seconds. That was damn near criminal. But it doesn't take away from the challenge that Bret answered by getting a good match out of Yokozuna.
Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, WrestleMania X
I've always felt that this, not the ladder match, was the best match of WrestleMania X. Looking back now, since ladder matches have evolved so much since 1994, the Bret/Owen masterpiece ages better and definitely comes off as the match of the show in this writer's opinion. An unbelievable display of great athletic ability. A blueprint for what a technical masterpiece should be. Not to mention the fact that it was two brothers wrestling each other, in an era where that just didn't happen very much. I once told Bret that I always though this was THE match of WrestleMania X, beating out the ladder match, to which he replied, "Shit, give Owen and me a ladder and we would have tore that place down." They already did, as is, can you imagine if they DID have a ladder in this match?! This was the beginning of a year long feud between the brothers which gave the WWF some of their best television in years. The stage was set perfectly for their feud to really take off at this show, where Owen pinned Bret in this match, yet Bret went on to win the WWF title from Yokozuna later in the show. When Owen came out to watch Bret celebrate, the look on his face was priceless. Owen didn't even have to say anything, you could see what he felt in his eyes. You knew he was thinking, "I just beat him! I should be World Champion! Not him!" As much as you wanted to hate the heel Owen, you could almost sympathize with his emotions, watching the man he defeated earlier in the show walk out with the belt. It played on the emotions beautifully, just as all great wrestling storylines do.
Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon, WrestleMania X
Now, even though I just talked about Bret/Owen being a better match than this one, there is no denying the place in history Razor and Shawn sewed with this masterpiece. This was not the first ladder match, far from it, but it was the match that set the tone for all that were to follow. There were spots in this match that don't seem like much today, but in 1994 they were unbelievably innovative. This was Shawn Michaels' first truly legendary singles match in a career that would end up being filled with them. The build up to the match was outstanding, with both men claiming to be the "real" Intercontinental Champion. Michaels had gone on a hiatus from the company in 1993 without ever losing the title, and a tournament was held in his absence to crown a new IC Champion. The man who won the title was Razor Ramon, and when Shawn returned you had two Intercontinental Title belts on the scene, around two separate waists. It was great stuff.
Honorable Mentions: Jake Roberts vs. Ted Dibiase (WrestleMania VI), The Rockers vs. Haku & Barbarian (WrestleMania VII), Shawn Michaels vs. Tito Santana (WrestleMania VIII), Randy Savage vs. Crush (WrestleMania X)
So that's it, my top ten matches from WrestleManias VI-X. Agree? Disagree? Send me an email with your thoughts at Droste@wrestleview.com or post a comment over on the blog at http://drostesdoubleshot.blogspot.com. I'd love to see some healthy debate spring up over this list. What would your own personal top ten from these five WrestleManias be? I'll see you all next week with the top ten matches of WrestleManias XI-XV!