WrestleMania has had some of the greatest matches in wrestling history. I have compiled this list based on several factors. Was the match considered great at the time? Did the match stand the test of time? Was there a great interest in the match prior to it happening? Did it meet those expectations? Did the match change the business in any way? Did it create any special WrestleMania moments? All of the matches on this list have met several of these criteria and a few have met them all. In an attempt to keep current emotions from distorting the list, I will wait one year to put a match on the list.
1. Submission Match: Bret Hart vs Steve Austin WM 13
These men had been feuding for several months with Bret Hart as the face and Steve Austin as the heel. After this match, the roles of both men had become reversed. This was an incredibly brutal contest which saw Steve suffer a major cut at a time when bleeding was relatively unseen in World Wrestling Entertainment. Even though he lost, Steve Austin’s performance was so impressive that this match turned him into the number one star in the WWF.
2. I-C Title: Ricky Steamboat vs Randy Savage WM 3
On the night that the main event featured the most anticipated match ever, these two men stole the show. This match is arguably the greatest match in the career of Randy Savage and without a doubt the best match that Ricky Steamboat had in the WWE. A few months prior to the match, Savage injured Steamboat’s throat by using the ring bell on it. Steamboat came out for revenge and figured the best way to get Savage back was to take his title.
3. Streak vs. Career: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels WM 26
After having a match that won my 2009 Match of the Year Award the year before, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker had a WrestleMania rematch that more than lived up to its lofty expectations. Unlike the year before, there was more than just pride on the line. Shawn Michaels put his career on the line for the chance to be the man to finally end the Undertaker's undefeated streak. Unfortunately, Shawn lost and was forced to retire. He can take solace in the fact that for the third year in a row, his match at WrestleMania won my Match of the Year Award.
4. WWF Title: Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant WM 3
This was the most anticipated match in wrestling history. Over 90,000 fans packed the Pontiac Silverdome to witness this event and this match is generally considered one of the events that helped to create the PPV industry. The “undefeated” Andre the Giant almost won the match a few seconds into it. The match ended after Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre, a move that most fans had never believed was possible to do and has become the iconic moment in WrestleMania history.
5. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - WM 25
Unlike the prior four matches, this wasn't about a title or a personal vendetta. As a matter of fact, the two barely touched each other in the weeks leading up to the show. All this match featured was two of the all-time best putting on a match that lived up to the legacy of their Hell in a Cell battle back in 1997. Shawn Michaels lived up to his name of Mr. WrestleMania as one of his matches once again stole the show. As far as the Undertaker goes, he continued his winning ways at WrestleMania as he increased his undefeated WrestleMania winning streak to 17. In the process, these two future Hall of Famers put on the greatest non-title/non-stipulation match I have ever seen.
6. Career Threatening Match: Ric Flair vs Shawn Michaels WM 24
The night before this show, Ric Flair was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. However, his celebration didn't last long because if he lost to Shawn then his career would be over. In a sport that usually does a bad job at ending careers with a fitting finale, this match provided the greatest ending to the career of arguably the greatest professional wrestler. The most famous moment of this match was the ending when Shawn mouthed the words: "I'm Sorry. I Love You." before ending the career of one of his idols.
7. WWF Title & I-C Title: The Ultimate Warrior vs Hulk Hogan WM 6
This match was the first time in the Hulkamania era that Hulk Hogan lost a match cleanly. Both men entered and left the ring as fan favorites that day. This match was the passing of the torch from the era of Hulkamania to the era of the Ultimate Warrior. While the era of the Warrior didn’t last long, the memories of this match will live forever for anyone who saw this match when it happened.
8. I-C Title Ladder Match: Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels WM 10
Very rarely can one say that a match changed the wrestling business but this one did just that. This ladder match was so entertaining that a whole new style of wrestling was created that has seen wrestlers take unbelievable risks with their bodies. The story of this match was that Shawn Michaels had been stripped of the Intercontinental Championship and Razor Ramon wound up winning the vacant title. Both men claimed to be the real champion and this match would determine who was right. Razor Ramon would go on to win this match to keep the title and end the controversy.
9. Retirement Match: The Ultimate Warrior vs Randy Savage WM 7
The Warrior's reign as WWE Champion ended due to the interference of Randy Savage in his title match against Sgt. Slaughter at the Royal Rumble a few months earlier. Both men put their careers on the line in this match. This was a great match that saw both men's career in severe jeopardy. As great as this match was, the events that unfolded after this match were even better. After being apart for two years, Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth reunited. Because of his forced retirement, Randy Savage had the time to marry to Miss Elizabeth at SummerSlam.
10. TLC Match: Edge & Christian vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Hardy Boyz - WM 17
This match represents an example of the creativity and risks that wrestlers started to take with a ladder that was spawned on by the match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon that was previously mentioned. These same teams fought the year before in just a ladder match. This match saw the addition of tables and chairs and each team had a person interfering for them in this match. Edge hitting the spear off a ladder onto Jeff Hardy, who was dangling in mid-air, is the single most visually stunning move in the history of the event. Just like the prior year, Edge and Christian walked out of the match as World Tag Team Champions.