So what if I could pick my favorite or most memorable Wrestlemania matches and moments? What would I put on that fantasy card? There really is a host of martial to choose from. I decided that I wouldn’t have more than one of each gimmick on the card as well as limiting wrestlers to appearing in one bout only. This made things very tricky but I’m reasonably happy with my final picks. I have tried to structure the event in a way that it would build and build after each contest until a fitting finish. So, here is my ‘Fantasy Wrestlemania’…
Hardcore Championship; Kane vs Big Show vs Raven for Hardcore Championship (WM 17)
What better way of having an opener than to have a match that went all over the arena and featured some unusual spots? Raven went into this as the champion as the belts ‘24/7 rule’ was beginning to get pretty repetitive. He was dwarfed by his opponents Kane and Big Show. The match went into the crowd as soon as it began and never looked back. It quickly ended up backstage at the Houston Dome and this is where the fun really began. Cage doors being ripped off hinges, people thrown through plate glass windows and plaster walls. Raven and Kane even used golf buggies that were apparently there to transport people throughout the huge Dome. Raven somehow managed to crash his and as he attempted to get it restarted Kane came hurdling towards him. Raven attempted to get out the way but Kane ran over his leg! Raven let out a sickening cry as it happened. All three men made it back into the arena and battled on the huge WM X-Seven stage until Kane knocked Big Show and Raven off it and they smashed through a very fake and padded looking platform down below. Kane then jumped on top of them with a botched looking elbow drop and got the pin to win the Hardcore championship.
Money in the Bank: RVD vs Benjamin vs Ric Flair vs Finlay vs Matt Hardy vs Lashley (WM 22)
The second ever Money in the Bank ladder match in 2006 is often over looked. It didn’t have as many crazy spots with the ladders as later incarnations would have but this one was picked for great performances by most in it. Finaly and Flair showed they could mix it up just fine in a gimmick match they usually did not partake in. Rob got the win and would go on to successfully cash in a few months later on John Cena.
Intercontinental Championship: Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat (WM 3)
This match does not need an explanation as to why but I’ll give a quick one. Savage and Steamboat were probably at their peaks, performance wise. Savage had held the title since February 1986 and was a heel that was becoming more and more popular with the crowd. Steamboat can best be described as the ‘eternal babyface’. The bout still holds up well because they do nothing too elaborate and nothing too lacklustre. Everything had purpose and a place in the bout and was did with utter perfection. Savage was notorious for going over every single spot in a bout and this shows he was a genius in that regard as it paid off. After a hardcore and a ladder match this mat classic would be a welcome respite on any super show.
I Quit – Bret Hart vs Steve Austin (WM 13)
A match that not only had a dramatic finish but a dramatic shift in attitudes and fans reactions to both men. A classic example of ‘doing a double turn’ the bout saw hero Hart become the heel and badass Austin become the admired rebel. Credit to Vince McMahon on slowly turning Austin face – the ‘sleight of hand’ way it happened made the previous weeks of work go un-noticed. The match was also hyped for Ken Shamrock being the ref but Steve and Bret did such a good job he didn’t overshadow them until he needed too (afterwards when he challenged ‘the Hitman’ to a fight). Another element that helped was, yes, blood! Mid way in the contest Hart whipped Austin into the guard rail. He went face first and seconds later he was hauled up to reveal a stream of blood running down his forehead. For years people thought this was a ‘hardway’ cut although Hart revealed in his autobiography that it was planned. As he pulled up his fallen foe he quickly sliced him across the forehead. Fast forward to the finish and ‘Stone Cold’ is trapped in the Sharpshooter screaming as blood ran down his face and into his mouth. He ‘passed out’ and Bret would refuse to break the hold. Hart being a prick about breaking the hold while Austin refused to give up is what finished ‘the switch’.
WWE Championship; Brock Lesnar vs Kurt Angle (WM 19)
A match that may be more remembered for the badly botched Shooting Star Press by Lesnar than anything else. Angle had been WWE champion since December 2002 and Lesnar was the 2003 Royal Rumble winner. There was heat between these two from when Kurt challenged, allegedly, Brock to a shoot fight backstage at a Smackdown taping the year before. Brock easily won, rumour has it. So it would be imagined these two would have a very heated contest in an actual ring. The match isn’t a classic but it s unique due to it featuring two wrestlers of similar backgrounds at the height of their abilities. Lesnar won after knocking himself stupid with the as-mentioned Shooting Star Press.
Steel Cage – Hulk Hogan vs King Kong Bundy (WM 2)
Infamous for the blade job of Bundy, this cage bout is one of a few matches that people remember from Wrestlemania II. Bundy had been built greatly in the months leading to the event and Hulk was still hugely famous worldwide. The big solid blue bars of the cage also made it stand out more than other conventional steel cage contests. A completely hairless Bundy with blood covering his face and running down onto his chest made Hogan, the champion, look like a true monster slayer. He would hold the belt for nearly another two years after this.
Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels (WM 25)
What started out as a traditional one-on-one no-gimmick match ended up being arguably the greatest contest not just in Wrestlemania history but wrestling history. It had been teased in the previous years like when Undertaker eliminated Michaels last to win the 2007 Royal Rumble and a year later, at the same event, when they ended up facing off against each other yet again. The two old boys of wrestling stealing the show almost eclipsed the fact it was a threat to the end of ‘The Streak’. It elevated said streak to a higher level as well: no longer was it just a case of Undertaker losing but how good would the bout actually be? Undertaker winning would set the wheels in motion for other epic fights involving both men.
Mixed Tag – Goldust and Luna vs Marc Mero and Sable (WM 14)
This may be a somewhat odd choice – but here me out! After this fantasy card having the greatest match of all time just happen you can’t send the fans straight into the main event! They need to ‘cool down’ after such an epic encounter. What better way than a gimmick match what was billed as the ‘2nd ever’ mixed tag match in WWE history? Mero and Goldust were still relevant and Luna was on scary form here. But this one was to help set up Sable as the ‘lady of the WWE’ and it worked. Fans couldn’t wait to see her get her hands on Luna. The fact Sable could actually perform quite well in this made things even better. Sable and Mero get the win and within months Sable was the hottest, in more ways than one, female in WWE.
The Rock vs Cena (WM 28)
This goes in as the main event based on the hype, the fan reaction and, at the time, the uniqueness of the bout. ‘Once in a Lifetime’ in some ways lived up to the hype. The crowd were electric, of course due to hometown boy The Rock, which helped lift the match on another level. I had my sights set low for this one due to Cena yet the contest was good and believable. As a main event of a dream card this one is a great way to finish as a true ‘big time match’ that some Wrestlemania’s have lacked on occasion. The Rock got the win after a near botched Rock Bottom (he had to haul Cena into the air for the move) and a victory that would set up the rematch at this year’s ‘mania.
James Simpson (@knowyourpuro)