Sunday’s WrestleMania 32 will feature a No Holds Barred Street Fight, a seven-man Ladder Match, a Hell In A Cell match and other matches with special stipulations. So Dave LaGreca of Busted Open Radio and I thought it would be fun to look back on some of the best gimmick matches in WrestleMania history.
XXIII: Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga, Battle of the Billionaires, Hair vs. Hair match- Hair and money, that’s what this match was about. Donald Trump chose Bobby Lashley to represent him while Vince McMahon backed the late Umaga. In the best moment of the match, Trump clotheslined McMahon to the floor. Lashley won and Trump’s hair was protected, McMahon wasn’t so lucky.
Doric Sam: This match had all the ingredients for ridiculousness: a Hair vs. Hair stipulation, Shane McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin as dueling, guest referees, and Donald Trump. Of course, Trump’s hair was never really in danger, but even you have to admit you busted up when he tackled Vince McMahon.
XXI: Money in the Bank Ladder Match- The WWE’s first-ever Money in the Bank ladder match saw insane highlights and spots by all six participants. Edge, Chris Jericho, Christian, Kane, Chris Benoit and Shelton Benjamin all put on an incredible show.
Dave LaGreca: From the mind of Chris Jericho. Wrestlemania 21 was the scene and it was a spot fest for sure. Edge won but Shelton Benjamin stole the show. For years this was the highlight of WrestleMania and with that Money in the Bank briefcase, the holder kept the drama coming for months.
XVII: Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon, Father vs. Son match- Nothing screams “gimmick” louder than a father and son battling in a Street Fight. Vince and Shane McMahon pushed each other to their limits, culminating in Shane flying across the ring and kicking a trash can into his dad’s chest.
DS: Ok, this has the be the most soap opera-driven storyline the WWE has ever done. From a “medicated” Linda McMahon to Trish Stratus playing the role of homewrecker. All in all, this was a very good match, mostly thanks to Shane-O-Mac’s ability to do the unthinkable.
XXII: Edge vs. Mick Foley, Hardcore match- This marked the end of WWE’s extreme antics and the dawn of the TV-PG era. Edge and Mick Foley pulled out all the stops in this insanely brutal match that ended with Foley being speared through a table set on fire. It doesn’t get more hardcore than that.
DL: You can almost smell the burning flannel shirt worn by Mick Foley. This was Foley finally getting his WrestleMania moment. Edge gained the victory but the last memory will always be Mick Foley being speared in to the burning table lit by Lita. Pro Wrestling poetry.
XXVIII: Undertaker vs. Triple H, Hell In A Cell- The End of an Era. This match saw the lone holdovers from WWE’s golden age, the Attitude-era, engage in an epic war. Triple H and the Undertaker battled in Hell In A Cell for close to an hour with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee, and they delivered an incredibly exciting contest that saw the Deadman move to 20-0 at WrestleMania.
DS: This match went beyond wrestling as it pulled at your heartstrings with the drama of Michaels watching his best friend face ‘Taker and doing his best to call the match right down the middle. Of course, Michaels eventually got involved, but all that did was anger the Demon. All three of them walked out the ring arm-in-arm to a standing ovation.
XIII: Stone Cold vs. Bret Hart, Submission match- Bret Hart walked into this match as the hero and Stone Cold was the villain, and they both left the opposite. This battle pitted Hart’s technical prowess against Austin’s brawling style. Still, the iconic image of a bloody Steve Austin screaming while in a sharpshooter is one of the most famous images in WWE history. Austin never tapped out and passed out from pain.
DL: This is the equivalent of Y.A. Tittle kneeling bloody in the middle of the football field. The Iconic image that shot Stone Cold into superstardom. The crowd made Austin a face that day and the rest is history.
XII: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels, Iron Man match for WWF title- This was the WWE’s first Iron Man match. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels battled for a full hour with no one scoring a pin. In overtime, Michaels would get the win for his first WWF title.
DL: What will always be remembered is the real life drama between Shawn and Brett. The Montreal Screw Job will be the incident that defines this feud and that’s a shame. Two of the all-time best in the ring together. Who will forget Shawn kneeling down in the middle of the ring staring teary eyed at the title. Amazing!
X: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon, Ladder match for Intercontinental title- In the first ladder match at Wrestlemania, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon battled to be named undisputed Intercontinental Champion. Razor Ramon emerged victorious after a back-and-forth match full of highlight-reel moves.
DS: This match inspired all future high-flyers as it was the first time we saw high-risk moves on wrestling’s biggest stage. Michaels and Ramon displayed some incredible innovation and put on a show.
I: Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd, $15,000 Body Slam Challenge- Two behemoths entered the ring in a clash of titans. Andre the Giant was able to hoist Big John Studd over his shoulders for a body slam to win the match in the first installment in wrestling’s biggest event.
DL: My favorite memory of the first WrestleMania is the Body Slam Challenge between Andre The Giant and Big John Studd for $15,000. Had Andre lost, he would have been forced to retire. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was in Studd’s corner and he was at his annoying, irritating and infuriating best. Of course Andre prevailed and set the tone for the Sports Entertainment extravaganza at the mecca of Pro Wresting Madison Square Garden.
XVII: Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz, TLC match for Tag Team titles- In possibly the greatest tag team match ever, the Hardys, the Dudleys and Edge & Christian all became immortalized thanks to this match. All six competitors had incredible moments, highlighted by Matt Hardy and Bubba Ray Dudley being pushed off a ladder into four tables on the outside of the ring. Edge & Christian claimed the tag titles after this truly special match.
DS: This is one of my favorite matches of all-time because it had so many unforgettable moments. From Jeff Hardy’s Swanton Bomb into two tables, to Lita getting 3-D’d by the Dudleyz, to Spike Dudley putting Christian through a table… This match was pure chaos. But my favorite moment was when Jeff Hardy botched this spot where he was supposed to walk across three ladders to the belts, somehow recovered and winded up suspended above the ring, and Edge flew off a ladder to spear him to the canvas below. Pure Awesomeness.
In honor of WrestleMania week, SiriusXM’s Busted Open will be presenting their History Of Texas Wrestling Special on Saturday April 2nd from 2-5PM EST. Doug Mortman and Dave LaGreca talked to some of the biggest names from the Lone Star State such as WWE Superstar Mark Henry and WWE Hall Of Famers, Ric Flair, Jim Ross, Terry Funk and the legendary Kevin Von Erich to talk Texas Wrestling from the Sportatorium all the way to WrestleMania 32. You won’t want to miss it!
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