As we crack the top 50 WrestleMania matches of all-time, the concept of what makes a truly classic ‘Mania match comes fully into focus.
Every single match in the 50-26 range is great, and some of the best WrestleMania moments in history happen here. From legends leaving their everlasting marks, to indie darlings making memories on the grand stage, these matches manage to show the diversity and nuance that WrestleMania can provide when the art of professional wrestling is distilled to its finest form.
50. The Undertaker vs. HHH (WrestleMania X-Seven)
49. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels – No Disqualification Streak vs. Career Match (WrestleMania XXVI)
48. Edge vs. Mick Foley – Hardcore Match (WrestleMania 22)
One of WrestleMania’s great tragedies is the fact that Mick Foley never made much of an impact. In fact, he only competed in singles competition twice. It’s odd, and certainly doesn’t match the legacy he built over his career, but this match against Edge at WrestleMania 22 is his best and a worthy reminder of what a special performer he was on a big stage. This match is deranged and beautiful, fully encompassing what Foley was able to do when a performer would meet him on his level of brutality. Edge is a more-than-capable dance partner and they create something very memorable. Among other things, it features Edge spearing Foley off the ring apron through a table engulfed in flames. It marks Foley’s most indelible WrestleMania moment in a career that probably should have been afforded more of them.
47. CM Punk vs. John Morrison vs. Carlito vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. MVP vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. Chris Jericho – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
46. The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21)
45. HHH vs. John Cena (WrestleMania 22)
44. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 23)
43. Edge vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Christian vs. Kane – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)
42. Chris Jericho vs. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit – Two-Fall Triple Threat Match (WrestleMania 2000)
41. Chris Jericho vs. Christian (WrestleMania XX)
40. The Undertaker vs. Edge (WrestleMania XXIV)
39. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista (WrestleMania XXX)
The WrestleMania XXX main event shows how powerful it can be to make the right decision. Earlier in the evening, Bryan had defeated HHH (spoiler alert: in an even better match than this) to earn a spot in the triple threat. The entire journey is classic underdog stuff, but obvious storytelling can still be great. After the debacle at WrestleMania XXVIII, where Bryan dropped his World Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus in a grand total of 18 seconds, it was tempting to think that they were going to fumble the ball here, too. Instead, they made some magic. At the thirtieth anniversary of WrestleMania, Daniel Bryan won two matches in one night to become World Champion. It still feels a little good to be true.
38. The Undertaker vs. HHH – Hell In A Cell Match (WrestleMania XXVIII)
37. The Undertaker vs. Ric Flair – No Disqualification Match (WrestleMania X8)
Ric Flair’s late career WrestleMania renaissance is really something to behold. At WrestleMania X8, after a decade away, Flair made his return to the grand stage at the age of 53 and put his body through absolute living hell. There’s just something about a Ric Flair bloody crimson mask, when it gets all in his platinum blonde hair; it lets you know the party has really started. Flair only had three singles matches at WrestleMania and each one lands inside the top 40. That’s an impressive feat, emphasized by the fact that two of the matches happened when he was in his 50s. When I’m in my 50s, I hope to be sitting in some kind of La-Z-Boy reminiscing about the time I hit three free throws in a row, not taking top-rope suplexes from The Undertaker. But I’m not a stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheelin’ ‘n’ dealin’ son of a gun.
36. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (WrestleMania X-Seven)
35. The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (WrestleMania XIX)
34. The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles – Boneyard Match (WrestleMania 36)
We return to the WMCU (WrestleMania Cinematic Universe) for last year’s Boneyard Match, which firmly falls into the “better than I could have ever imagined” category. It’s also the only WrestleMania match to feature a competitor being buried alive in a cemetery! How about that! From the jump, this felt like something fully realized and unique. It manages to be moody, without being obvious. It plays into familiar tropes, without being cliche. It’s a masterclass in pivoting when the deck is stacked against you, and making the most of a difficult situation. The entire thing was filmed in late March, just weeks into the pandemic, which makes it even more of an admirable achievement. It also goes a long way to righting the ship in terms of The Undertaker’s WrestleMania and, frankly, overall wrestling legacy, which suffered from a bevy of false starts and stops leading up to this match. It’s a fitting WrestleMania finale for The Deadman, if that indeed proves to be the case.
33. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian – TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
32. The Undertaker vs. Kane (WrestleMania XIV)
31. Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior – Retirement Match (WrestleMania VII)
30. Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 22)
29. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XXVIII)
28. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair – Career Threatening Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
The Flair renaissance culminated here. Six years after his battle with The Undertaker at WrestleMania X8, his ‘Mania swan song was responsible for grown men starting to embrace the idea of saying “I’m sorry” and expressing love for one another. At the ripe ol’ age of 59, Flair said his farewell in a barnburner against HBK, a tremendously emotional match and with an equally emotional post-match goodbye. Sometimes wrestling makes you cry and THAT’S OKAY, DAD. It’s professional wrestling storytelling of the highest degree and the last bullet point on a WrestleMania resume that spanned 16 years and produced some of the most enduring moments in the event’s history. While others have competed at WrestleMania more, Ric Flair’s hit-or-miss ratio is nearly unparalleled.
27. The Undertaker vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania 29)
26. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
We’re in the endgame now. Revisit the journey to the best of the best…
… and weigh in on how great the matches which didn’t crack the Top 25 are in the comments below.