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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Greatest WrestleMania Moments
April 18, 2005 by Daniel Sundström


WrestleMania has come and gone, and if you ask me, it was a great show. The Angle vs. Michaels match was probably the best match on the card. And if that match was the best, the WWE Championship match between defending champion John Bradshaw Layfield and John Cena was the worst. But the biggest moment of them all during the show was the return of "The Hulkster", Hulk Hogan. When it comes to the best WrestleMania moments in history, that one - when Hogan cleared the ring of Hassan and Daivari - will be at the top of the list.

Speaking of WrestleMania and the best 'Mania moments, it is very easy to look back at previous 'Manias and remember all the great moments when approaching a new one. In the weeks prior to WrestleMania 21, I watched the very first 'Mania, just for the nostalgia. I also watched WrestleMania XX for the first time, since that was the most recent one at the time. It appears to me that whenever a new WrestleMania comes around, it is time to get nostalgic. The WWE wants us to. WrestleMania is all about history, and the Hall of Fame inductions is a proof of that. So I thought that I, in this column, would get very nostalgic and look back at all the previous twenty WrestleMania's and pick out some of my favourite moments. Whether you agree or not, I hope you enjoy reading it.

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (WrestleMania III):
I know a lot of people think highly of this match while others hate it. When I saw it the first time I thought it was crap. That's true. But I was about twelve years old back then and this was several years after the actual event. As I got older, I understood the brilliance of the match. Neither Hogan nor Andre could, or can, wrestle, I grant you that. Hogan had defeated everybody and had been the World Heavyweight Champion for three years. This time though, he was up for something special: Andre The Giant. The fans had never seen Hogan battle anyone the size of Andre. And to see Hogan not only win the match, but to slam the 550-pounder right in front of your eyes must have been something special. Heck, it was something special just watching it on TV. In this match, Hogan did the impossible. He defeated the Giant, retained the belt and became bigger than ever.

Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel (Blindfold Match; WrestleMania VII):
I have always been a fan of that sneaky and arrogant Martel. I found him to be funny and he could wrestle. I definitely don't have a problem with Roberts, although in my opinion, he was better as a heel during his feud with Randy Savage. Nevertheless, this blindfold match between the two was ... different. There was hardly a wrestling move at all, only Roberts' DDT on Martel, but the way these two carried the match was amusing. Both being blindfolded and thus not able to see, Roberts pointing in random directions and the crowd cheering more and more the closer he got to Martel, and Martel freaking out hearing the crowd cheer. Wrestling-wise, this match is just as bad as King Kong Bundy vs. S.D. Jones, but because of the amusement, it's one of the best. I love it!

Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock (WrestleMania X8):
When the time came for this match to take place, I had been a Hogan-fan for six years, ever since his heel turn in WCW. Before that I didn't care about him at all. I had followed his career in WCW closely and I was devastated when he had to leave the company the way he did. Needless to say, I don't rate Vince Russo at all after that. But, when Hogan, along with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, entered the then-WWF in 2002 I was thrilled to have Hogan back. I was just glad to see him again, glad to know that the Hogan-Russo-Jarrett incident in WCW wasn't the end of "The Hulkster". I didn't care about the match; I just wanted to see Hogan. I got more exited to hear the fans cheer for Hogan, who was heel, and boo The Rock, who was a babyface. Here in Sweden, Hogan isn't very popular among the hardcore fans, but to hear the people chant his name instead of the The Rock's, who was supposed to be the biggest star in WWF at the time, was a great moment for me. Hogan eventually lost the match, but I didn't care. Hogan was back and the people loved him. In fact, they loved him so much, Vince had to turn him into a babyface. The match was billed as "Icon vs. Icon", but for me it meant more: Hogan was back. Big time.

Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21):
I am not a big fan of either one of these two performers, but granted; they are tremendous athletes. I have never really liked Michaels, so I was cheering for Angle during this match, and I'd be lying if I were to say that it wasn't the best damn match I've seen in a long, long time. Both men worked their asses off and had the fans sit at the edge of their seats. In the end, the right man won when Michaels tapped out, but that really doesn't matter. When it comes to real classic matches, the matter of who won and who lost is irrelevant. When the match is an instant classic, the outcome means nothing. In the eyes of the fans, they are both winners. I may dislike Shawn Michaels, but this time he was brilliant, as was Angle.

Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (Ladder Match; WrestleMania X):
Although not the first, it was certainly something spectacular. The ladder match concept is interesting and when you've got to wrestlers with the skills of Michaels and Ramon, you just can't go wrong. When the wrestlers also happened to be best friends you know you're in for a treat, as both men will do anything they can to make their opponent look great. By the time this match took place, I had never seen neither Michaels nor Ramon take that kind of bumps before. In today's standards, it's nothing. They proved that at WrestleMania 21, but at the time it was absolutely awesome. There had been ladder matches before, but not on a stage as big as WrestleMania, so this was something new to a lot of fans - including me. When the match was over and Ramon held both Intercontinental belts over his head, you just sat motionless in front of the TV and knew you'd witnessed one of the greatest matches ever.

Hulk Hogan beating Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari (WrestleMania 21):
Just like WrestleMania X8, this is one of my favourite moments because it was the return of Hulk Hogan. I knew Hogan was in the area because of the Hall of Fame inductions and I had read certain rumours on the Internet concerning a match between Hogan and Hassan at WrestleMania. When Hassan and Daivari entered the ring, I thought, "This could be it", but I did not dare to dream. When they attacked Eugene, I thought, "This could really be it", but I did not dare to hope. Then suddenly, it happens. They started to play "Real American" and I just couldn't believe it. Hogan enters, clears the ring of Hassan and Daivari and I am in seventh heaven. This moment is one of the best considering the way Hogan left the company in 2003 after that terrible "Mr. America"-thing. The fans still loved Hogan as they cheered more for him than they did for anybody else the entire evening. I for one would love to see one more match with Hogan: a farewell match at the next WrestleMania. That way he could really go out on top, just as he deserves.

There are obviously more matches and moments that can be called "the greatest WrestleMania moments", but it would take to long to list them all. "The Ultimate Challenge" at WrestleMania VI between Hogan and Ultimate Warrior is one of them. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III is another. I am sure a lot of you have different opinions about what actually constitutes a "great WrestleMania moment", and I know that I left something out that might seem weird to some of you, but still, I hope you enjoyed reading this.

by Daniel Sundström ..


Patrick Wilson Erese wrote:
At long last, Triple H was in the side of the fans although that honeymoon was short-lived. But the point is, you saw Y2J defeating Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock during the post Invasion of the WWE. Stone Cold was the WWF Champion and The Rock was the WCW Heavyweight Champion. Then who challenged him for the Undisputed Title" Yes! No other than The Game. After 9 months of hellacious rehab after tearing his quadricep, The Game returned with a hero's welcome. Wow, that match was well fought and since many people were annoyed at Stephanie McMahon when she sided on Chris Jericho, to my point of view, at least some fans exacted revenge on her when Triple H hit the Pedigree on Vinnie's little girl. It's a history in the making as Triple H pinned Chris Jericho and raises both the WWF and WCW belts making him the 2nd Undisputed Champion.
O. Aziz wrote:
Although this may have nothing to do with WrestleMania, I'd like to point out that Andre The Giant could wrestle if he wanted to. Andre has been wrestling for the better half of his life (over 20 years), and he was trained by wrestlers and wrestling schools alike. But due to his immense size, and his poor health condition at the time (due to a a bone disorder) it was in the best interest if he did not. The fact that Andre allowed Hogan to slam him with spinal problems shows how much of an athlete he is. RIP Andre Roussimoff.
Chris N. wrote:
I personally believe that the triple threat match between HHH, Benoit, and Michaels for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XX was one of my favorites. It was an exciting grueling match, and very unpredictable. I was for Benoit for this match, but seeing the way the match was, I didn't think that he was going to win. It was a match that will one day be considered a classic.
Jim Bryan wrote:
If you are talking about great Wrestle Mania moments, how couldn't you think of the ending of the Hulk Hogan/Sid Justice match at Wrestle Mania 8" That was a match that truly gave me goosebumps and just made you be proud that you were a WWF fan. Of course we all know the ending that I am talking about where the Ultimate Warrior made his surprise return after he quit the company in August of 91, and rescued the Hulkster from Sid and Papa Shango. The celebration those two had in the ring was just phenomenal. This was in April 1992, and they were basically saying we're the reason nobody else is here. Us 2 alone did this and made wrestling what it is. When I mean nobody else I mean, Gagne, Crockett, Barnett, Owen, Watts, Von Erich, Graham, Muchnik and any other territorial promoter that the WWF ran out of business. That just really sticks out in my mind as the celebration that the WWF had even though the last territory (AWA) had already been out of business for almost 1 year at the time. Vince should had done something similar to this with WCW. A celebration with Austin and Rock would had gone real nice.
C M Latsha wrote:
You missed one very important legendary match. Hart vs. Hart, WM X! For sheer emotionalism, skill, and heart-wrenching physicality, nothing even comes close.

The build-up was months in advance, and when Owen initially turned on his brother at Survivor Series '93, it was unexpected. When they mended fences, and challenged the Quebecers at the Royal Rumble, it was gratifying. After the match, and Owen attacked Bret, it was awful, so when Bret won the Rumble (co-winning with Lex Luger), it set up an awesome opportunity.

Owen, fast as lightning, and the better technical wrestler, and a very convincing heel, facing the sentimental favorite, Bret, who was decidedly stronger and no slouch of a technical wrestler either.

My view before the match was that Bret was still the better wrestler, and my opinion didn't change, it was obvious that they wanted to Bret to appear not want to fight Owen, but was forced into it. Bret proved to me that he was better when he applied the Sharpshooter to Owen, Owen grabbed the ropes to forse a break; when Owen applied it to Bret, Bret broke free! The fact the Owen eaked out the victory was demolished when Bret won another emotionally-charged match with Yokozuna.

I also don't see how the Randy Savage/Ricky Steamboat WM III classic was left out. This match has been discussed as one of the greatest of all time. Not only was it probably the best-choreographed match ever, but it probably would have been as good without fans or the referee.

You missed two amazing matches! These are two not being there are crime to WM's legacy.
Curtis Mcmullen wrote:
I think there are two reasons he left those matches out. 1) he is a sulk, I mean Hulk Hogan mark and 2) he does not like wrestling, only sporrts entertainment.
Daniel Sundström wrote:
In response to C M Latsha: Yes, the Bret vs. Owen match at WrestleMania X was great. I cannot argue with that. But the build-up to match could have been better in my eyes. First, I wasn't that chocked when Owen turned on Bret at the Royal Rumble. To me, the WWF wanted to turn him heel at the Survivor Series, but changed their mind. They wanted to make a bigger deal of it, so Bret and Owen was suddenly friends again. Then he really turned on Bret at the Rumble. To me, it wasn't that much of a surprise, because I could see it coming. The WWF had "telegraphed it". I also think that the Bret vs. Owen match had been better if a title had been at stake. I would've preferred to see Owen win the Rumble and then Bret defeat Yokozuna for the World Title, setting up the match between Bret and Owen at WrestleMania, a match that Bret was totally against (in the storyline), but in this case, he wouldn't have had much of a choice.

And like I said in my column, "There are obviously more matches and moments that can be called "the greatest WrestleMania moments", but it would take to long to list them all." I also did mention the Savage-Steamboat match at WrestleMania III. In the end, we all like different things. What seems to be a great moment to me might not be such a great moment to you.
Jacob Kuhn wrote:
I just have to defend Andre the Giant a little, after reading this article. I know that no offense was meant towards him, but just a few things have to be mentioned.

Andre the Giant could wrestle quite well back in the day. But wrestling is not always about technicians. Brawling is definitely a part of wrestling too. Andre the Giant was one of the greatest brawelers, ever.

I do agree that Andre vs. Hogan was a great Wrestlemania moment, if not a great match. But give Andre his due as well; this match wasn't all about Hogan. Hogan himself admits that he only won the match because Andre the Giant agreed to lose. Andre was willing to pass the torch to Hogan; something Hogan has still not done for someone else. And although Hogan maintains he slammed Andre on his own, every account save his states that Andre told Hogan to slam him. And even Hogan admits that Andre could have easily shifted his weight and fallen on Hogan, possibly killing him. I think it's obvious that Andre helped Hogan by going along with the slam.

Also, Hogan was not the first wrestler to slam Andre the Giant. Harley Race was. While the two of them were wrestling, Andre told Race to slam him. Race didn't want to because he felt it would ruin Andre's mystique. However, Andre insisted, and Harley Race became the first wrestler ever to slam Andre the Giant.
wrote:

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