With Wrestlemania 29 on the horizon, I thought it might be a good time to take a look back at what I consider to be the top 5 moments of the Showcase of the Immortals.
This year’s Wrestlemania may very well go down in history as a personal favourite, not because of any specific stand out matches but because for the first time I will actually be there.
Wrestlemania is an event that really does capture the imagination of more than just your average wrestling fan. It’s the one time a year that a lot of my friends, who used to be wrestling fans, come out of the closet and talk openly about what memories they have of the big event.
I do believe that if you grew up in the 80’s through to the late 90’s and were exposed to the then WWF product there is a pretty good chance you were bitten by the wrestling bug. This bug doesn’t go away it simply sits in your system dormant until someone like me, who is happy to talk freely about wrestling, mentions something like Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI or the Monday Night Raw episode before Wrestlemania XV when Stone Cold hosed down The Corporation with beer.
So let’s try and coax the wrestling bug out of you and see if any of my favourite Wrestlemania moments are good enough to get you ‘popping’.
5. Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth reunite - Wrestlemania VII
Very rarely does a ‘love’ story really mean anything in Wrestling but at Wrestlemania VII, when Macho Man Randy Savage lost in a retirement Match to The Ultimate Warrior and was then attacked by his valet at the time, Sensational Sherry, love truly conquered all. Savage’s long term in ring and real life partner Miss Elizabeth jumped from the crowd, stepped into the ring and pulled Sherry off ‘her man’.
The scene that followed will go down in Wrestlemania history as one of the most touching. When the two were reunited in the ring there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Even Bobby ‘the Brain’ Heenan exclaimed “this is better than Love Story…….if you like that kind of mush” to which the late, great Gorilla Monsoon replied “I love it”
4. When Hogan slammed Andre - Wrestlemania III
This moment is seen by many as the most important moment in wrestling history. Gorilla Monsoon described it as the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. It happened at the biggest Wrestlemania in history, in the Pontiac Silver Dome where a record 93,173 (so WWE tell us) saw THE top guy in the industry, Hulk Hogan, lift the 7 foot monster Andre the Giant above his head and slam him to the ground. It was, in Hogan’s words “The body slam heard around the world”
It was by no means a classic match in technical wrestling term but no one can deny that the image of Hogan slamming Andre has to be up there as one of the greatest moments in Wrestlemania history.
3. Coast to coast - Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon - Wrestlemania XVII
Shane McMahon got a bad rap from many wrestling purists whenever he stepped into the squared circle. In many ways this is justified. He is not a trained wrestler and the argument that he took spots away from actual wrestlers is always raised.
However Shane’s performances often left us with a ‘holy shit’ moment. His massive ‘bump’ off the Titan Tron at Summer Slam 2000 or the brutal and bloody match with Kurt Angle at King of the Ring 2001 have left lasting images that will be remembered forever.
At Wrestlemania XVII Shane literally made me leap out of my seat when he performed the coast to coast on his father.
The feud had been built around Vince wanting to divorce his wife Linda and in arguably one of the most distasteful storylines, (not including Katy Vick) Linda had a nervous breakdown and would appear on TV in a comatose state being pushed around by Vince and the woman who he was having an open affair with in front of his wife, Trish Status.
It was up to Shane to stand up for his mother and in true WWE fashion; scores were to be settled inside the 20x20 ring.
Shane’s big moment came after taking a beating from his father for most of the match. Vince rolled his wife out of her wheelchair and into the ring so she could get a better view of the beating. To Vince’s amazement, as he was about to dish out the final blow to Shane, Vince turned round to see his wife standing up!! He had been swerved, played and downright out done by the rest of his family. Shane (with a little help from Mick Foley) beat down Mr McMahon, placed him in against the ropes in the corner and wedged a trash can in front of his face. Shane then went to the opposite side of the ring, scaled the top rope and performed a drop kick to the trash can and in turn Vince’s face. Shane had leaped 20 feet from one side of the ring to the other! A sight we would see again but on that night, on that stage, Shane made his very own Wrestlemania moment.
2. I’m sorry, I love you - Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair - Wrestlemania XXIV
This was a truly special moment for so many wrestling fans. It was the last time we would see Ric Flair in a ring and it was down to Mr Wrestlemania himself, Shawn Michaels to fire the parting shot.
OK, so Flair has wrestled since for independent companies as well as TNA wrestling but in truth this was his last hurrah in the big leagues.
Shawn Michaels always states that Flair was his main inspiration for getting into the wrestling industry, the two had become true life friends and in this emotionally charged match you could feel just how much in meant to both men.
After what has to go down as one of Flairs greatest matches of all time, the moment that would echo through the annals of time, came. As Shawn ‘tuned up the band’ for that last time, a beaten and exhausted Flair begged Michaels to finish the job. Shawn apprehensively looks up and mouths the words “I’m sorry, I love you”. With that Michaels delivers sweet chine music, covers Flair and gets the victory, ending one of the greatest wrestling careers of all time.
1. Austin does not quit - Bret Hart Vs Stone Cold Steve Austin - Wrestlemania XIII
The double switch is something that is extremely hard to do in wrestling. It was however expertly executed at Wrestlemania XIII in a submission match between rising superstar Stone Cold Steve Austin and one of the biggest stars at the time Bret Hart.
The double switch is basically when both characters in the match change from either a heel to face (bad to good) and vice versa (face to heel). In this instance it was Bret who had always been one of the good guys in wrestling who would, by the end of this match, turn heel. Austin who had been portraying a heel character who didn’t give a ‘rats ass’ about anyone else, would earn huge respect and fan favourite status for a finish to a match that shepherded in the most commercially successful period in wrestling history, an ending that would make Stone Cold a bona fide star and path the way for what we now look back on as The Attitude Era.
The finish in question is a simple yet brilliant one. Have Bret attack and beat Austin to within an inch of his life. Then apply Bret’s patented sharpshooter move to a weak and bloody Austin. However no matter how much pressure Bret puts on Austin he would not submit. The pain etched on Stone Cold’s face while he wears the proverbial crimson mask is a moment that will never be forgotten. Add to that the fact that Austin doesn’t actually quit, he passes out in a pool of his own blood and you’ve got one of the most compelling stories ever told in a wrestling ring and the making of arguably the biggest star in WWE history.