“Say your prayers and eat your vitamins”. You’re going to be here for awhile.
The criteria for this countdown are varied and inevitably subjective. Work rate—the pure in-ring quality of the match at hand, sans any external context—was a leading factor. There are also historical considerations. While it may seem absurd to the uninitiated, WWE performance style has evolved significantly over the last thirty years. Some innovative, historically important matches are far less impressive than their successors when watched in a vacuum, but considering the ground they broke, are more than worthy of their status as classics (the now-snooze-inducing, then-mind-blowing Razor Ramon-Shawn Michaels ladder match from Wrestlemania 10 is the quintessential example). Other factors in the ranking included the storyline leading up to, and in some cases following a match, the immediate dramatic impact of the match, and, without fail, a healthy dose of personal preference.
Without further ado, I present my countdown of every Wrestlemania match ever.
287. Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole Make no mistake, this match was an absolute train wreck. At sixty years old, I understand the impulse to offer Jerry Lawler a Wrestlemania match before he fully retired from in-ring performance. But if they were going to do it, the match should have been about elevating a young star, celebrating Lawler’s legacy, or at least putting on a decent wrestling match to salute “The King.”
We got none of the above.
Lawler and Cole shared a broadcast booth and in the months leading up to this match, Cole’s commentary skewed increasingly toward the dark side, rooting for the bad guys, disparaging the heroes. Heel commentators can be great (see Bobby Heenan, Jesse Ventura, or even the early days of Jerry Lawler as color man) but Cole’s ramblings grew obnoxious without the good humor or credibility of those who preceded him. Worst of all, the war between commentators encroached upon other elements of the show, as everything from lower-card squashes to main event matches had a tendency to get talked over by Cole’s heel schtick—putting himself over and prioritizing banter with Lawler over the action in the ring.
The silver lining was that the Wrestlemania showdown between the two held the promise of being short (Cole isn’t a trained wrestler who can support a lengthy match) and sweet (Lawler would inevitably crush Cole to offer fans a modicum of retribution and give “The King” a win in his only Wrestlemania match).
Lawler-Cole dragged on way too long, with Jack Swagger’s outside interference leading to far too much offense from Cole. Worse yet, when it was all said and done Cole won the match on a “Dusty finish”—when Lawler seemed to have won and a higher authority declared a disqualification based on a technicality.
Worst of all this wasn’t the end of the Lawler-Cole program. The two would go on to have two more pay-per-view matches, and an on-again, off-again feud after that point for most of the year to follow until, of all things, Lawler’s real-life on-air heart attack put an end to the storyline animosity once and for all.
286. Terri Runnels vs. The Kat at Wrestlemania 16 Catfight This one was contested under kinda-sorta sumo wrestling rules, in which the winner was the performer to remove her opponent from the ring. The simplistic rules didn’t keep WWE from overbooking the finish with Mae Young distracting referee Val Venis so he didn’t see Kat win the match twice over. Runnels picked up the win when The Fabulous Moolah dragged The Kat from the ring behind the ref’s back. Frankly, there is no redeeming value here.
285. Stacey Keibler vs. Torrie Wilson vs. The Miller Lite Catfight Girls vs. Jonathan Coachman at Wrestlemania 19 Pillow Fight I was reticent to include this match in the countdown because it walks a very fine line between promotional segment and match and the match’s kayfabe loser, “Coach,” wasn’t actually a participant until the women involved elected to drag him into the match to pin him.
To review, this was a half-hearted, booked-on-the-fly fatal fourway in which all four women won when they collectively pinned a non-participant in the match. This match is the very essence of squeezing T&A onto a wrestling card, and an insult to the paying audience at the biggest show of the year.
284. Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 28 World Heavyweight Championship Match At the present moment, I’d rate Daniel Bryan as the number one in-ring performer in WWE. While I’m not huge fan of Sheamus’s relatively plodding, predictable style, he’s also capable of holding up his end of the bargain in a technically sound match or a decent brawl. One-month later, Sheamus and Bryan would work a startlingly good two out of three falls match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. But at Wrestlemania—the biggest card of the year, two of the companies biggest stars garnered eighteen seconds to work a World Heavyweight Championship match.
No doubt, the idea was to push budding hero Sheamus and offer a moment of sweet retribution to Bryan’s cowardly heel character who had lucked his way into the championship months before. The end result, though, was a world of squandered potential in the match itself and a slap in the face to the two performers (this was only Sheamus’s second Wrestlemania appearance and Bryan’s first; not to mention that a match between the two for the United States championship was booked for Wrestlemania 27 and relegated to an abbreviated pre-show slot due to time constraints one year earlier).
This was a match too brief to mean much of anything. As such, it stands out to me as Wrestlemania’s greatest disappointment and third worst match.
283. Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 2 Boxing Match Pro wrestling matches that involve celebrities are a gamble with historically mixed results. Mr. T performed competently enough to justify a big payday in the Wrestlemania 1 main event, tag teaming with Hulk Hogan, so I can understand the logic of re-booking him for the second Wrestlemania’s second-tier main event. Furthermore, there’s a certain storyline logic to booking a boxing match to take veteran wrestler Piper out of his element and set the stage for a fair battle between him and amateur fighter, Mr. T.
All of those justifications aside, man did this match stink. Worked boxing is rarely much fun to watch, and these two seemed to approach the performance with little game plan beyond killing time until Piper would lose his temper to get himself disqualified by bodyslamming T.
Nowadays, I don’t expect WWE would think of ending such a high profile match with a “non-finish.” T should have knocked out Piper clean to achieve his storyline comeuppance, or Piper might have won a slugfest to have emerged a more dastardly heel for his dominance, or have started his good-guy turn a few months early by giving T his begrudging respect. In the end, all we got was a snoozefest with no resolution in one of the event’s highest profile encounters. Blech.
282. Twenty-Five Women Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 25 To be frank, women’s matches at Wrestlemania have a pretty sad history. While the years when the Women’s Championship revolved around Trish Stratus and a handful of other exceptions presented some reprieve, most other attempts have been either token in nature, or all about T&A.
When WWE announced they would present a battle royal, including past and present female stars at Wrestlemania 25, I thought the idea had potential, with visions of stars of yesteryear like Madusa, Missy Hyatt, Wendi Richter, Stratus, and Lita converging for an encounter that wouldn’t be a technical masterpiece, but that could nonetheless mark a nostalgic accomplishment of similar caliber to the Gimmick Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 17 (see 124).
Rumor has it that when big names like Stratus and Lita declined the WWE’s offer to participate, WWE decided not to try for anything more than a farce. Even if this match weren’t going to tell a meaningful story or bring about fond memories, it could have at least been used as a platform to elevate a current female star with a big win. Instead, the victor was Santina Marella—male grappler Santino Marella in drag, for whom this absurd victory marked the launching point for a mercifully short storyline in in which comic heel Marella duped his legit female star girlfriend, Beth Phoenix (who should have won), at every turn.
281. Akebono vs. The Big Show at Wrestlemania 21 Sumo Wrestling Match Here’s a statement for you: this match so unentertaining that it’s actually even less interesting to watch it than it is to hear Michael Cole describe sumo tradition in the lead up to the bout.
I don’t altogether disagree with WWE booking this match as a unique spectacle and a way of cooling down the crowd after the Shawn Michaels-Kurt Angle classic (see 14). Just the same, I wish I coul un-see the sight of each of these guys in nothing but sumo thongs and the limited action in no way compensates for that.
280. The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez at Wrestlemania 9 Amidst the mystique of The Undertaker’s 21-match-and-counting undefeated streak at Wrestlemania, folks tend to overlook the fact the streak has included its share of stinkers, none more heinous than this debacle. In WCW Jorge Gonzalez went by the name of El Gigante, a good-natured giant who legitimately stood 7’11” and stuck up for smaller buddies like Brian Pillman. The trouble was, El Gigante was a klutz, couldn’t speak English well enough to cut a promo, and was utterly unmuscular. Thus, the man’s remarkable height was the lone characteristic to make him a figure of any interest in wrestling.
When Vince McMahon got his hands on Gonzalez, he rebranded him as a monster heel who offered up the remarkable visual of towering over the almost-seven-feet-tall Undertaker. Sadly, when it came time for a match, Gonzalez’s every weakness was exposed as ‘Taker was not yet a skilled enough veteran to carry his unskilled opponent to a passable match the way he would for The Great Khali under remarkably similar circumstances some fifteen years. The result was a slow-paced match, devoid of any sense of flow, culminating in a non-finish when Gonzalez smothered ‘Taker with a chloroform-soaked rag for the DQ. Bad, bad stuff.
279. David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake at Wrestlemania 1 I don’t know much about either of these men as people, but will note the irony that, from a performance perspective they have the ironic parallel of being the far less charismatic, less obviously talented hanger-on adjacent to wrestling’s biggest legends—David Sammartino, the son of Bruno Sammartino, WWWF’s biggest star of the ’60s and ’70s; Brutus Beefcake, real-life best buddy of Hulk Hogan, the WWF’s biggest star of the ’80s and ’90s.
To his credit, the younger Sammartino proves himself as a capable, if vanilla mechanic in this match and Beefcake offers up his signature adequacy for a match that isn’t good, but could certainly be worse. It gets a few points off for the double DQ non-finsh, but easily gets those points back for Bruno getting physically involved in the finish, bludgeoning Beefcake and his manager Lucsious Johnny to a massive reaction from the crowd.
278. Bret Hart versus Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania 26 No Disqualification Match When you look at the external context of this match, there’s some good and some bad.
The good: In 1997 real-life Vince McMahon screwed real-life Bret Hart by surprising him on the fly with a storyline change that humiliated Hart in front of his countrymen in his last match before leaving WWF for WCW. Bad blood ensued and real life merged with storyline. In the years to follow, Bret’s brother Owen legitimately died in front of a live WWF audience because of a stunt gone wrong. Bret suffered a career-ending concussion in WCW, then had a stroke that nearly killed him; both of his parents and his real-life brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith died subsequently. Meanwhile, McMahon used his real life manipulation of Bret as storyline fodder to become one of the biggest on-camera villains in wrestling history and a huge part of WWF’s resurgence and ultimate dominance in the wrestling business.
How’s that for a dramatic storyline to back a grudge match?
The bad: Following his concussion and stroke, Hart was in no condition to work anything but the most carefully choreographed wrestling match, without any risky moves to his head, neck, or spine. McMahon was over 60 years old and to put it tactfully, hadn’t been a great technical wrestler in his prime.
This match should have started and ended inside two minutes with Hart dominating and making McMahon tap to his signature sharpshooter. Instead, the match lasted a painful eleven minutes, frontloaded with a convoluted storyline about McMahon attempting to buy off Hart’s surviving family members to interfere against him and including way more McMahon offense than the match needed. This one ultimately flirts with the line between forgettable epilogue and actively tarnishing Hart’s legacy.
277. Velvet McIntyre vs. The Fabulous Moolah at Wrestlemania 2 Women’s Championship Match The match isn’t great, but at 62 years old, Moolah was still a superior work to most of the female performers in WWE today. The match only lasts a couple minutes, but is inoffensive for the duration.
276. Roddy Piper vs. Bad News Brown at Wrestlemania 6 This match should easily crack the top 100 as a slightly higher caliber slugfest of the same ilk as Finlay-JBL at Wrestlemania 24 (see 61). Instead, we get a strangely tame brawl with a disappointing double countout finish. What really lowers this match to the doldrums of this countdown, though, is the altogether inexplicable creative decision for Piper to enter the match with half of his body painted black. One can only assume that the WWE didn’t want to risk white Roddy Piper looking like a bad guy against black Bad News Brown; or, more to the point, that the company wanted Piper to spread a message about racial equality and love. At the end of the day, Piper looked just plain absurd and far more racist than he ever would have for simply beating down Brown, as his half-and-half look seemed tantamount to blackface.
A disappointing match with a non-finish, colored by an awkward, failed attempt at social commentary—yikes.
275. Miss Jackie and Stacey Keibler vs. Torrie Wilson and Sable at Wrestlemania 20 The storyline heading into this match is that Torrie Wilson and Sable each posed for Playboy and Stacey Keilber and Miss Jackie were jealous. The resulting encounter was about as good as you’d expect (which, just in case you couln’t extrapolate, is not very good at all). Eye candy abounds and wrestling isn’t as brutally bad as the aforementioned Terri Runnels-Kat match, though it’s pretty laughable to watch Keibler and Wilson attempt a Steamboat-Savage like series of pins and reversals late in the match. Next please.
274. Tito Santana vs. The Mountie at Wrestlemania 7 With the exception of Hulk Hogan, Tito Santana was the only wrestler to perform in every single one of the first eight Wrestlemanias, with no absences. This match would mark the low point in that streak. Santana ran wild on his up and coming foe for a bout a minute, then The Mountie got his hands on his signature cattle prod and shocked Santana behind the referee’s back to get the pin. This match wasn’t ever going to set the world on fire, but the two guys had the talent for a decent mid-card outing. Unfortunately, with fourteen matches on the Wrestlemania card, and performing in the last match before the main event, these guys drew the short straw and didn’t have enough time to do anything significant.
273. Torrie Wilson vs. Candice Michelle at Wrestlemania 22 Playboy Pillow Fight Torrie Wilson is one of the most beautiful women in pro wrestling history, and Candice Michelle holds her own in that regard as well. That’s really about all this match had going for it. At least there were few illusions about what this match was supposed to be—pure T&A buffer between world title matches. The most glorious unintentional comedy moment of the match was probablyWilson backdropping Michelle onto a bed, and Michelle selling like it actually hurt her back.
To their credit, Michelle did work in her reasonably entertaining hanging headscissors spot and Wilson looked good on her leap frog into a roll up pinning combination on the finish. It could have been worse—not much worse, but worse.
272. Wendi Richter versus Lelaini Kai at Wrestlemania 1 The profound irony of this match: in an age when WWF’s storylines were thriving and their in-ring action was tanking, the company actually featured some of its better women’s wrestling. Little doubt that has a lot to do with the fact that in the 1980s and 1990s the WWF recruited top female wrestlers and brought them in to do their thing—as opposed to the more contemporary model of hiring top female talent for them to train the models they’ve hired as in-ring performers. But I digress.
This one wasn’t a classic, but it was handled in perfectly competent fashion, and Cyndi Lauper, near the peak of her fame, serving as Richter’s manager added a level of both fun and historical value to the bout. Not necessarily worth seeking out, but nothing cringe-worthy about this match either.
271. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 4 What a difference a year makes. Wrestlemania 3 was a spectacle with 93,000 fans in attendance to witness what WWF could still somewhat reasonably (if disingenuously) market as a first-time meeting between Hogan and Andre (see 7). This sequel amounts to little more than a footnote—less than a quarter of the crowd watching a cliff notes version of the match that ended in an unsatisfying draw.
Hogan and Andre had a lackluster rematch on free TV in which a controversial referee switch led to Andre’s one, dubious title reign, after which the big guy literally sold the title to Ted Dibiase, leading WWF to vacate the title and set up Wrestlemania 4’s infamous tournament for the gold.
WWF booked itself into a bit of a corner here, wanting to protect two of the biggest stars of the era while still establishing the next two top dogs—Randy Savage and Ted Dibiase—as legit main eventers. The non-finish was understandable to keep these two in good standing and pave the way to a Savage-Dibiase final. That said, the short brawl, ending in a steel chair-induced double DQ, offered fans a mere shell of the previous year’s spectacle.
270. Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna at Wrestlemania 10 World Championship Match Everytime a budding megastar’s push gets put on hold this is what that star’s devout fans worry about.
In the summer of 1993, the WWF put everything it had behind Lex Luger, pushing him as the top new face in the company by abruptly turning The Narcissist into a devout patriot who chased Japanese baddy Yokozuna across the company in a bus after bodyslamming him aboard an old battleship on the Fourth of July (zero hyperbole there—that’s literally what happened). The feud seemed poised to reach its climax at SummerSlam of that year, only for Luger to achieve a relatively hollow countout victory that did not garner him the title.
The stage seemed set for Luger to get his actual crowning moment on a bigger stage, at Wrestlemania 10 in Madison Square Garden. The trouble is, a combination of Luger’s middling wrestling talent and Bret Hart catching fire again reduced Luger to, at best, the second most popular guy in the company. Thus, Wrestlemania 10 was booked to have two world title matches, with the Luger and Yokozuna match first and Hart challenging the winner.
There’s an urban legend that Luger was supposed to win until he got drunk at a bar and spoiled the finish; this theory has be debunked by Luger and several other parties. Rather it seems WWF had lost faith in its chosen one, and thus he never got his run with the strap. And so, we end up with a lackluster revisiting of the SummerSlam match up with less drama, slower workrate, and Mr. Perfect playing biased referee to ultimately DQ Luger with little provocation.
Luger receded to the midcard after this failed run and was tag teaming with Davey Boy Smith by the time the next year’s ‘Mania rolled around, before quietly defecting to WCW. The match itself charts as the second worst world title match in ‘Mania history.
269. Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 20 Make no mistake about it—world war hoss had a well-built storyline. In the early days of the brand extension, when WWE maintained two distinct rosters that rarely interacted, this was tantamount to The Incredible Hulk and Superman crossing Marvel-DC lines for a fist fight. WWE teased this match when the two men interacted briefly the preceding November, and went all-in that January and February to tell a smart, high stakes story.
Moreover, let’s not ignore that this match featured two legit wrestling stars—Goldberg, who had proven himself capable of holding his own in high impact matches, and Lesnar who has always been remarkably athletic and technically sound for a monster heel.
Then it all went to hell.
Goldberg’s contract was up. By all measures, his one-year tour of WWE was a disappointment in which the bookers and Goldberg failed to recapture that made him a star in WCW. Wrestlemania looked to be the last hurrah of the Goldberg experiment. Meanwhile, shortly before ‘Mania, Lesnar announced his intentions to leave pro wrestling to pursue a career in pro football.
Wrestlemania 20 went down in Madison Square Garden in front of a hardcore, “smark” crowd (largely aware of behind the scenes happenings in addition to the storylines). The result was the audience booing both performers relentlessly. Goldberg and Lesnar, for their parts, seemed bewildered at how to react. Even guest referee Steve Austin could do little to push this awkwardfest toward action as the combatants, stalled and looked at each other for the better part of ten minutes before hitting a handful of power moves with little continuity or internal logic before Goldberg won. If you haven’t seen it, the match actually has a certain degree of comedic value and spectacle attached to it for just how poorly executed it all is.
268. Paul Orndorff vs. Don Muraco at Wrestlemania 2 This opening bout was an adequate little brawl, but ran painfully short before a contrived double countout finish in which both men happened to climb out of the ring as they traded punches, and the ten-count seemed to pass remarkably quickly. The most notable moment was probably good guy Orndorff feigning slanty eyes to make a racist dig at Muraco’s manager, Mr. Fuji. The crowd approved.
267. The Natural Disasters vs. Money Inc. at Wrestlemania 8 Tag Team Championship Match For as high caliber of a team as they were, Money Inc. has the dubious record of holding their belts through much of 1992 and 1993 but rarely actually winning—at least by any decisive means. Instead, they had a tendency to get themselves intentionally counted out or disqualified to keep their titles despite losing matches. The pattern helped get the guys heat as cowardly jerk heels, but also got legitimately annoying, as was the case here, when big Earthquake and Typhoon looked primed to get their revenge on former manager Jimmy Hart and his new charges, only to dominate the better part of eight minutes of match time, then take a hollow countout win when Ted Dibiase and IRS fled ringside with their titles in tow.
266. The Red Rooster vs. Bobby Heenan at Wrestlemania 5 Pure comedy squash here with manager Heenan taking on his former client, Terry Taylor saddled in an awful gimmick as an oversized rooster. The Brooklyn Brawler has Heenan’s back in this match to add a modicum of intrigue, but that’s not enough extend the match past the one-minute mark.
There’s a pretty serious gap in storyline logic for this match in that Rooster, presumably rewarded with this match to collect some revenge on Heenan, opts to score the quick pin after some low impact offense, rather than extending the punishment. I’m guessing the match was clipped to conserve time and focus more on the feud to follow between The Rooster and The Brawler.
265. The Boogeyman vs. Booker T and Sharmell at Wrestlemania 22 I’m not a big fan of comedy matches at Wrestlemania, but I can understand their place. That said, when a comedy match happens, you expect it to involve lower-card guys or celebrities. The Boogeyman never amounted to much in WWE—an anachronistic throwback to more cartoonish figures of yesteryear, who wasn’t exactly a polished in-ring performer. Consider all of this, then consider the fact that he won this particular encounter, not against a comic heel per se (though “King Booker” did walk the line of intentional and unintentional humor) but rather one of the most decorated performers of the day who would go on to win the World Heavyweight Championship four months later and hold onto it for almost half of the year.
The match itself was too short to be offensive, but a strange, counter-intuitive enough encounter not to warrant any higher placement on the countdown.
264. Maria Kanellis and Ashley Massaro vs. Beth Phoenix and Melina at Wrestlemania 24 Lumberjill Match The story headed into this match may sound familiar because WWE revisited variations on it several tiems over the years—Maria Kanellis, at her friend Ashley Massaro’s encouragement, appeared in Playboy; Melina and Beth Phoex wre jealous. One of the few wrinkles was that Kanellis’s on-air boyfriend, Santino Marella was jealous, too, and thus aligned himself with the heels. The lumberjills were mostly there for eye candy and to get more of the women a ‘Mania payday, though the heels got in some good licks on Massaro when she was thrown from the ring.
To their credit, Melina and Phoenix were relatively well developed practicioners of their craft and got some good spots in—particularly, a move for which Phoenix hurled Melina into a moonsault on Massaro. In a development that probably wasn’t the worst thing, the Citrus Bowl suffered a brief black out right after Kanellis’s hot tag, so we lost a segment of the least skilled hand’s offense.
In the end, Kanellis had the match won, but Marella swiped out her leg from the pin. Announcer Jerry Lawler circled the ring to punch out Marella, but the distraction was enough for Phonix to catch Kanellis with a fisherman’s suplex for the pin. In the aftermath, Snoop Dogg, too, punched out Marella, and kissed Kanellis.
263. Ryback vs. Mark Henry at Wrestlemania 29 While no one expected a mat classic here, this match took place amidst the Mark Henry renaissance in which he went from mid-card oaf to genuinely entertaining fringe main eventer, and the bloom was not yet altogether off the Ryback rose—thus, it was fair hope for an entertaining enough big man fight. The results, while not embarrassing, were also far from interesting, highlighted by some awfully strange booking decisions. One had to suspect that the end game for this match would be Ryback executing his Shell Shock finisher on an impressively large opponent. Instead, Ryback collapsed under Henry’s weight, paving the way to his minor upset loss. Then, however, Ryback did hit the Shell Shock after he had lost, making the good guy a spoiled sport, and the successful completion of the move far less of a moment. You can argue that the former effect foreshadowed Ryback’s heel turn that came within weeks of the show, but the turn—which deposited him in a main event program against John Cena—seemed all the less logical because the new top heel had just lost clean as a sheet at the biggest show of the year.
262. Corporal Kirchner vs. Nikolai Volkoff at Wrestlemania 2 True story: Sergeant Slaughter tried to hold up Vince McMahon for a bigger payday. McMahon paid him out for the night, but when WWF reached the next town its tour, told Slaughter his services would no longer be needed. A few nights later, the Corporal Kirchner character made his debut and the US army’s new in-ring delegate had arrived. The match was a very short brawl, the strangest aspect of which was just how blatantly Kirchner cheated to get the win—only half accidentally smacking the ref as he pummeled Volkoff in the corner, then stealing manager Freddie Blassie’s cane to KO Volkoff with it for the win.
261. Kane vs. The Great Khali at Wrestlemania 23 I cut this match some slack on the countdown for the sheer fact that, as poor as it was, I don’t know of anyone who expected much better from it. That said, at a Wrestlemania when stars like Edge, Randy Orton, Booker T, and CM Punk got shoe-horned into the Money in the Bank cluster, it’s a bit baffling that these two got the spotlight to go one-on-one.
This was a slow, plodding affair. It’s sole saving grace was the sight of Kane bodyslamming Khali, an homage to Hulk Hogan bodyslamming Andre the Giant in Michigan 20 years earlier—a nice moment, more or less completely undermined by the surrounding action and the fact that Khali went on to win the match.
260. Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, The Big Boss Man, and Virgil vs. The Mountie, Repo Man, and The Nasty Boys at Wrestlemania 8 This one started with an elongated session of guest ring announcer Ray Combs bashing all of the heels, then a free for all when they all went after Combs and the good guys fended them off.
Decent, if not particularly remarkable back and forth action between eight mid-card acts with nothing better to do. The finish came when The Nastys tore off Virgil’s protective mask and tried to hit him with it, only for the move to backfire when Virgil ducked and Brian Knobbs got KOed instead. There was a subtle psychology to that finish that I appreciated in that Virgil was kayfabe injured by main event Sid Justice to necessitate the mask. Hence Sid was subtly woven into the early stages of the card to make him a bigger figure in the collective consciousness of the crowd. Unfortunately, that match would end up being a stinker (see 247), but it was still a nice attempt tying the card together as coherent whole.
259. Jim Duggan vs. Bad News Brown at Wrestlemania 5 Bad News Brown has the regrettable legacy of being a good hand, booked into promising Wrestlemania scenarios, but he just never had a really good ‘Mania bout. This one had all the makings of a wild brawl, but stuck to the WWF standards of the day with a ton of punches thrown, but little story. They only exited the ring for one brief sequence in which Brown posted Duggan to seemingly gain the advantage, only for Duggan to regain control leading to the double DQ ending sequence when the two staged a duel—2×4 vs. steel chair.
258. Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb at Wrestlemania 10 On paper, this seemed like it could have been a fun big man collision. As it turns out, Adam Bomb’s manager Harvey Wippleman got in a scuffle with ring announcer Howard Finkel, and Bomb got involved to bully The Fink. Earthquake came to the rescue, giving bomb a belly to belly suplex, a powerslam, and his running sitdown splash to pick up the win in about thirty seconds.
257. Owen Hart vs. Skinner at Wrestlemania 8 A strange little bout here—Skinner all but squashed Owen Hart for a minute, including hitting him with his finisher, a reverse DDT. Hart kicked out at the last minute. Skinner tosses him over the top rope and turns around to celebrate. Hart skinned the cat and comes back in to roll up the Alligator Man for the pin. If they were seeking to put Hart over, it’s a little curious he’d look so weak up until that point, and as it stood, Skinner just looked kind of dumb taking the loss because he distracted himself. Smooth enough execution, anyway, of an imperfect plan.
256. Ashley Massaro vs. Melina at Wrestlemania 23 Lumberjill Match for Women’s Championship Wrestlemania has its pockets of solid women’s matches. This is not among them. Though Melina was a reasonable talent, Massaro never quite reached that level, and it’s particularly troubling to see these two getting the spotlight when women like Mickie James and Victoria were legated to “lumberill” spots surrounding the ring. Massaro got the push, though, as the latest in a line of women from WWE to appear in Playboy that spring.
To her credit, Massaro at least attacked at an enthusiastic, frentic pace, even if the offense never evolved much past the point of hair pulling and punches. Melina diversified things nicely with moves including a giant swing and an interesting enough modification of the surfboard. In the end, Melina took the win with a bridging roll up. The lumberjills didn’t have much to do until the post match when they piled in the ring for a mass brawl.
255. Ronnie Garvin vs. Dino Bravo at Wrestlemania 5 “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin is probably best known for a brief, ill-conceived run with the NWA World Championship. He was a capable mid-card act here, going one-on-one with essence-of-eighties ‘roided up Canadian strong man Dino Bravo. The match has a strange flow with Bravo dominating first, then Garvin firmly in control with little transition. The match ends just as abruptly with Bravo scoring the clean pinfall off of his sideslam finisher.
254. George Steele vs. Randy Savage at Wrestlemania 2 Intercontinental Championship Match It’s animalistic lunatic versus polished wrestler here, with George “The Animal” Steele as the face, “The Macho Man” as the heel. The story of this match was Steele dominating through unorthodox means (ripping at Savage’s face, tearing open the turnbuckle and shoving the filling down Savage’s throat), with Savage’s only reprieve that Steele repeatedly becomes transfixed with Savage’s beautiful manager, Miss Elizabeth. Pretty lackluster match with the saving graces being that Savage dod get to hit his signature offense (that top rope elbow drop holds up to this day as a thing of beauty) and the right guy got the win, even if it is with his feet illegally on the ropes.
253. Jake Roberts vs. Rick Rude at Wrestlemania 4 Roberts and Rude were two of the best mid-card talents of late ’80s WWF—a pair that probably would have had world title runs or at least extended stays on the main event scene during most other eras (to be fair, Rude did kinda sorta achieve such acclaim in WCW in the early 90s). Thus, you’d expect this to be a pretty excellent match. Instead, the guys spent just about every moment of their fifteen-minute encounter working toward their time-limit draw, sluggishly stalling and working rest holds. There’s some continuity in Roberts repeatedly going for his DDT finisher and Rude repeatedly coming up with counters, but that’s about the best I can say for this outing.
252. Brutus Beefcake vs. The Honky Tonk Man at Wrestlemania 4 Intercontinental Championship Match Ah, how a once proud title had fallen—its most recent lineage at the time moving from Greg Valentine to Tito Santana to Randy Savage to Ricky Steamboat… to The Honky Tonk Man? HTM ended up having the longest Intercontinental Championship reign ever (at least to date) and this match is amidst that run. Fairly dull, if decently paced action here. The story was HTM going for his Shake Rattle N Roll neckbreaker finisher and Beefcake countering. Beefcake seems to have it won with a sleeper when manager Jimmy Hart KOed the referee. Beefcake elects to cut Hart’s hair while HTM’s other manager, Peggy Sue (Sherrie Martel in a blond wig), roused HTM with a pitcher of water in time for him to hear that he’s been disqualified.
251. Butter Bean vs. Bart Gunn at Wrestlemania 15 Brawl for All Match This match holds the unique distinction of being the first and to date only shoot fight in Wrestlemania history. In the preceding months, WWF booked the Brawl For All shoot fighting tournament, ostensibly a vehicle to put over the recently debuted Steve Williams as a legit tough guy and set him up to feud with Steve Austin. Bart Gunn went ahead and spoiled that plan, upsetting Williams with a KO in the second round and going on to prevail as the unlikely tournament winner.
Brawl for All is pretty universally panned as not particularly entertaining and ultimately destructive for the volume of injuries it caused and its problematic impact on long-range booking. This match was the concept’s send-off—ostensibly admitting the whole thing was a mistake and subjecting the tournament winner to a slaughter—getting annihilated in a half a minute by legit bad ass heavyweight boxer Butterbean. There’s certainly an argument to rank this match in a much lower spot, but it’s sort of a fascinating spectacle in a car crash kind of way.
250. Mr. Perfect vs. Lex Luger at Wrestlemania 9 Make no mistake about it—“Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig is an all-time great, particularly from the in-ring perspective. His abbreviated return to in-ring action in WWF in 1993 had a few true career highlights (matches with Ric Flair, Doink, and Bret Hart). That said, he also had his share of stinkers—most notably a bizarrely stale outing with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania, and closely followed by a directionless bit of mid-card miscellany with Luger at Wrestlemania. The build to the match was solid enough, but once the guys were in the ring, they offered a completely forgettable match, ending in a lame pinfall finish with Perfect’s feet clearly on the ropes, as the referee failed to take notice.
249. Jake Roberts vs. Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 5 This match was sadly typical of the latter stages of Andre’s career. Sure, his punch, kick, headbutt, choke, repeat offense is believable given the sheer size of the man. That said, he was painfully slow and had such poor balance at this stage that it often seemed to take all of his effort just to keep on his feet. The situation posed a tricky spot for WWF booking. Andre still has the aura of a monster, which made him a draw and a permanent fixture in the upper card. That said, a performer like Roberts had infinitely more potential in the long-term. To each man’s credit, Roberts sold the drama well in this match, and Andre gave it his all. Big John Studd was the guest referee—an odd choice since his feud with Andre was probably the more prominent of the two—not to mention that he was the Royal Rumble winner that year.
The match comes to a convoluted DQ finish when Ted Dibiase showed up to steal Roberts’ snake, Andre choked out Studd, then Roberts got the snake back and used it to chase off the Giant.
248. Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. at Wrestlemania 24 ECW Championship Match The set up for this match saw Guerrero win the ECW strap and beat back a modest collection of challengers before it came to be that the ‘Mania pre-show would feature a battle royal out of which the winner would challenge him for the belt during the main PPV card. Kane won the battle royal, then surprised Chavo by sneaking in the back side of the ring and scoring the victory via chokeslam in eleven seconds. The end result was fun enough, but the match was too short to rate any higher than this.
247. Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice at Wrestlemania 8 I find this match pretty fascinating from a historical context, because it represents all sorts of interesting creative decisions and the cusp of a creative paradigm shift in WWF. That said, it’s also a bad match, made worse by high profile blunders.
The abbreviated context: Ric Flair showed up, newly defected from WCW, and looked to set up a storyline showdown of epic proportions between the Flair as the face of WCW and Hogan as the face of the WWF. Then Hogan-Flair matches failed to inspire much interest at house (non-televised) shows and WWF management got cold feet about whether the match really worked as a main event. Around the same time, Hogan decided to retire so he could pursue a career in acting.
Thus, WWF switched direction mid-stream. Flair entered a blood feud with Randy Savage, pitting two high caliber in-ring performers against one another for an excellent match. Meanwhile, Hogan would feud with Justice in what pessimists would call a retread, and optimists might call an homage to earlier Hogan programs with the likes of friends turned enemies Paul Orndorff, Andre the Giant, and Savage. Moreover, on the eve of a real life steroid trial, this would mark one last revisition of the WWF paradigm of jacked up muscle man versus jacked up muscle man before the company put steroids on lockdown and embraced smaller performers in main event spots for the first time in decades.
Hogan-Justice clocks in at under ten minutes and was marred by a strange non-finish. Hogan hulked up and hits his trademark finisher—a leg drop off the ropes. By most accounts, up and coming bad guy Papa Shango was supposed to break up the pin and beat down Hogan, but missed his cue, so Justice kicked out on his own instead, unintentionally reaching rarefied air among a small handful of elite (storyline) performers to survive The Hulkster’s big move. Shango arrived shortly after to still attack Hogan and arrive at an even less climactic non-finish than the one planned.
All of the end-of-match shenanigans were, of course, merely set up for the surprise return of The Ultimate Warrior—a nice enough dramatic moment, if still a bit of a historical anti-climax (in reality, Warrior would depart the company again inside a year, and rather than really retiring, Hogan would stage the first many comebacks one year later at Wrestlemania 9).
246. Tito Santana vs. The Executioner at Wrestlemania 1 It can be hard for contemporary wrestling fans to conceptualize that Wrestlemania wasn’t always used to resolve ongoing feuds, but rather to further them—and often in tangential ways. See, back in the day, TV was a vehicle to get fans to buy tickets to see more meaningful matches live. Wrestlemania 1 was only the second ever WWF pay-per-view—thus while it did include a handful of major matches like the main event tag, it also included its share of placeholders and filler. Such was the case for the first ever ‘Mania match in which Tito took on unknown commodity The Executioner. Technically, this was not a squash match—the two men spent more or less equal amounts of time on offense. That said, the finish was never really in doubt either. Santana had recently lost his Intercontinental title Greg Valentine and was still deep in his feud with The Hammer. This encounter was a minor speed bump on the way to the rematch. This match gets a few points for Santana’s crisp offense, but the overall presentation was too disjointed to rate it any higher.
245. Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix, Gail Kim, and Eve Torres vs. Vickie Guerrero, Michelle McCool, Layla El, Mayryse, a Alicia Fox at Wrestlemania 26 Vicke Guerrero did her best Bobby Heenan impression here as a cowardly, comedic heel for all the face divas wail on for various injustices and obnoxious behaviour she’s perpetrated upon them. The match broke down into the teams trading signature spots, culmingating in a Glam Slam from Beth Phoenix to Alicia Fox. In the end, Kelly Kelly fell victim to Guerrero’s fugly top rope splash (alternately called The Bullfrog Splash and Hog Splash by the announce team). I can sort of appreciate the nod to her late husband, but the move walked the line between tribute and mockery. In any event, the match was mercifully three minutes short, allowing us to move on quickly enough.
244. Tatanka vs. Rick Martel at Wrestlemania 8 Tatanka got a hero’s treatment coming into this match with several Native Americans in full headdresses and regalia chanting and dancing in the ring for his entrance—a presentation that landed in the awkward space between tribute and awful stereotype that WWF tended to flirt with a lot in this period.
Harmless, quick bout here between Tatanka, one of WWF’s hotter young propects at the time and Rick Martel, starting to recede from upper-mid-card to smack dab middle of the mid-card. Martel surprising dominates the vast majority of the offense before Tatanka got the pin out of nowhere with a crossbody block.
243. Tito Santana vs. The Barbarian at Wrestlemania 6 This was the story of two tag guys headed in opposite directions in the wake of their teams splitting up. When Strike Force split up, Rick Martel was on its way to the upper middle card, while Tito Santana was settling into the twilight of his car as a lower mid-card jobber to the stars. Barbarian wasn’t destined for the main event, but, like Martel was enjoying some upward mobility at this point in time—still dressed like a Power of Pain but starting to wrestle like he was a bigger deal.
To his credit, Santana still wrestled in a spirited fashion, delivering the match’s faster paced offense and selling well for Barbarian’s power moves. The big guy finished this one off just shy of the five-minute mark with a clothesline off the rope.
242. The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hunter Hearst-Helmesley at Wrestlemania 12 As squashes go, this one was effective enough. Warrior was typically at his best in high energy, short bursts, such as the series of house show matches in his first run when he would storm the ring, knock down Andre the Giant, and pin him within 30 seconds. The story is similar here with then-mid-card heel Triple H attacking Warrior early and hitting him with the Pedigree, only for Warrior to no sell it and destroy the aristocrat in short order.
From a historical perspective, this match is pretty fascinating. Warrior looked prime for an extend run at least in the upper card if not the main event, but within four months had entered into a nasty contract dispute with Vince McMahon, and wouldn’t appear in WWE again for 18 years. Meanwhile, Triple H, despite being an afterthought in this ‘Mania bout, would go on to steadily climb the ladder, which included being involved in world title matches at Wrestlemanias 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 24. In short, these guys met at crossroads, when Warrior was unmistakably a bigger star, only for Triple H’s legacy to blow Warrior’s out of the water in the decade to follow.
On a side note, this match also marked the debut of Sable, appearing as Triple H’s valet, who he would blame for the loss backstage, only for her to leave him to align herself with newly arrived Marc Mero. Just imagine if we modernized that storyline—contemporary Triple H loses quickly and blames Stephanie McMahon for the loss, only for Marc Mero to show up and sweep her off her feet. And, I’m done…
241. Men on a Mission vs. The Quebecers at Wrestlemania 10 Tag Team Championship Match Men on a Mission were Mabel and Mo, with their rapping manager Oscar. A year later, WWF would start the process of trying to push Mabel as a main event heel (an effort they’d revisit with varying degrees of commitment in the fourteen years to follow). While there are a number of reasons these pushes didn’t work, I maintain that one of the key reasons the agile 500-pounder never really made it as a top talent was because of this very first gimmick. Once you’ve seen a guy dance along to bad rap in big purple jammies, it’s hard to buy him as a world beater.
The Quebecers were a very good team with a silly gimmick, featuring Jacques and Pierre, each of whom were just shy of ever really making it as mid-card acts on their own, thus this tag team championship run was probably the best of each man’s WWF career. Part of what’s fascinating in watching them is the ways in which each man defies expectations. Jacques with the little man, but deceptively strong. Pierre was the big man who was remarkably agile. On a side note, the team is managed by Johnny Polo (who would become Raven) in his most cartoonish gimmick as a spoiled rich kid.
The highlight of this match was watching The Quebecers double suplex Mabel. That, and perhaps Mo getting a segment of the crowd to chant “Whoomp, there it is” as he climbed to the top rope.
This wasn’t a bad tag match, but The Quebecers were ultimately a poor man’s Money Inc., taking a walk to save their titles like they had on other occasions, thus giving the opposition the moral victory while the titles remained with the more talented in-ring tandem.
240. Koko B. Ware vs. Butch Reed at Wrestlemania 3 Not much action to speak of here. The match lasted about four minutes, roughly three of those minutes consumed by the feeling out period, and the big finish came when Reed rolled through a crossbody block to score the victory with a handful of tights (just to make sure we knew he was a cheater and a jerk). Nothing offensive, nothing significant, this match was there to get these guys on the card, plain and simple, and marginally establish a Tito Santana-Butch Reed program as Santana saved Ware from a post-match beat down.
239. Jim Duggan vs. Dino Bravo at Wrestlemania 6 This match was more or less what you’d expect in terms of a slugfest between two big, tough dudes. There’s an interesting subtext to the match in that Bravo’s main distinguishing factor as a heel was being Canadian and Duggan’s key characteristic as a face was his endless pride in the USA—dynamics that could have turned things topsy-tervy for the first Wrestlemania held in Canada. Bravo has Earthquake and Jimmy Hart by his side to reinforce his heel status, though, and the crowd wasn’t as “smart” as a late nineties one, the likes of which made the heel Hart Foundation the biggest heroes in the company each time they performed north of the border.
Quick, harmless match in which Duggan won when Bravo tried to attack him with his own two-by-four, only for Duggan to intercept the board and KO him. The match was largely just set up for the aftermath, during which Earthquake destroyed Duggan with three sitdown splashes.
238. Tori vs. Sable at Wrestlemania 15 Women’s championship Match The story here was that Sable has become a self-involved snob of a heel. Tori entered the scene as an obsessed fan, but Sable soon took advantage of the dynamic, ultimately beating her down to set up this feud.
The match was pretty far from artful, but at least the women seem to care, showing emotion and Sable pulled off some competent offense. The real story, though, was the debut of Nicole Bass as Sable’s bodyguard, who delivers a gorilla press slam to Tori to set up Sable for the win.
237. Hercules vs. Earthquake at Wrestlemania 6 Earthquake was one of the most mobile of the super heavyweights WWF used to love and was pretty fun to watch as a monster heel against Herc, as a powerhouse face. Though Hercules got in a fair bit of offense, the outcome was never really in doubt here. Herc was a career mid-carder and ‘Quake is on course to challenge guys like Hulk Hogan and The Ulitmate Warrior in the main event.
In perfect dick heel form, Earthquake not only won with his running sitdown splash, but hit it again after he scores the pin as “the aftershock”—as commentator Jesse Ventura explained, “that’s what happens when you get an earthquake—generally, within the next hour or so you get an aftershock … in this case, it’s a matter of ten seconds.”
236. Head Cheese vs. T&A at Wrestlemania 16 There’s nothing technically wrong with this encounter, it’s just feels much more like a free TV match than one befitting pay per view—much less a Wrestlemania during this era.
Decent tandem offense from both sides. T&A pulled off the win with a swank press slam-top rope elbow drop finisher, Trish looked hot, and Steve Blackman and Al Snow destroyed their wedge-of-cheese mascot post-match. Yep, that happened.
235. The Legion of Doom vs. Power and Glory at Wrestlemania 7 This was pretty much the exact match you’d expect from these two teams. Paul Roma and Hercules got the advantage early on by sneak attacking Hawk and Animal on their way in the ring. That lasted about 30 seconds before LOD took over and nailed Roma with The Doomsday Device to win.
234. Kane, The Big Show, Santino Marella, and Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett, Ezekiel Jackson, Heath Slater, and Justin Gabriel at Wrestlemania 27 For as completely ineffectual as The Corre stable turned out to be, I was surprised to see them walk down the aisle, three out of four of them wearing championship gold. Wade Barrett was understandable enough as a perennial Intercontinental/US Championship threat. Then there’s the combo of Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel, still being taken reasonably seriously, and thriving at a point when the tag straps were around their nadir of meaning.
Kofi Kingston was a last-minute addition to the match, claiming the ‘Mania spot he certainly deserved, after The Corre attacked and kayfabe injured Vladimir Kozlov the day before at Axxess. He was a welcome addition to the proceedings since he delivers the best spots of the sub-two minute match. Not much to remember here, though—just a series of guys streaming into the ring to trade moves and incapacitate the guy before, culminating in Kingston taking out Barrett with Trouble in Paradise, then Ezekiel Jackson and Gabriel with a sweet double crossbody to the outside. Marella hit Slater with a Cobra shot, after which Big Show punched him out for the pin.
233. Koko B. Ware vs. Rick Martel at Wrestlemania 6 This match pretty early into Martel’s heel run as “The Model.” Ware was a consistently solid plucky mid-card face, and Martel did good work here as an arrogant, cowardly heel—sort of like Rick Rude with slightly less gravitas. Fine, if quite formulaic match. Points for Martel getting a squeaky clean win via submission with the Boston crab—a rare feat in a match of any consequence for anything less than a main event heel during this era.
232. Bob Backlund vs. Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania 9 This match seems oddly out of sync. In a sense, you have two pretty iconic figures in WWF history—Backlund who’s run as an All-American good old boy dominated the late seventies and early eighties, before he returned to the spotlight to play a great psychotic character in the mid-nineties. And there’s Razor Ramon who from the early to mid-nineties was one of the first truly cool bad guys, who, by the end of 1993, WWF couldn’t resist turning face—only to make him a vanilla mid-card act who never really regained his spark until he left for WCW and was bad again as part of the NWO vanguard.
Anyway, these guys got matched up at Wrestlemania 9 ostensibly because WWF wanted them each at ‘Mania but didn’t have anything sensible to do with them. Backlund controlled most of the match, surprising Ramon with his strength and technical prowess, before Ramon stole the pin with a small package out of nowhere. Nothing offensive, but also too short to really matter. Much more interesting things were coming up for each of these performers, and they’d never cross paths in a meaningful way again.
231. Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd at Wrestlemania 1 Body Slam Match, Andre’s Career vs. $15,000 Yes, the match was a spectacle. No, it does not hold up 29 years later.
As Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura didn’t hesitate to point out, Andre accepted a lopsided wager here. Studd and manager Bobby Heenan ponied up $15,000 cash while Andre agreed to retire if he lost. Of course, he outweighed his opponent by a legit 150 pounds, so it’s not as though he didn’t have reason for confidence in a match that could only be won by bodyslamming one’s opponent.
The match had minimal flow, with the big guys punching and kicking each other, Andre in charge about 75 percent of the time, before The Giant, apropos nothing, slammed to Studd to end the battle with little fanfare. This one gets a few points for sheer spectacle and the fun follow up visual of Andre throwing Heenan’s cash to the crowd. That said, there’s little else to take away from this match.
230. Alundra Blayze vs. Lelaini Kai at Wrestlemania 10 Women’s Championship Match While she spent more time and may be better known as Madusa Miceli, I’d argue that the Alundra Blayze character may have been the best character Deborah Lewandrowski got to play in the United States (to be fair, her work as Madusa in Japan was probably true best of her career).
During this run, Blayze is a pretty dominant women’s champion whose only meaningful challenges would come in the months to follow against made-in-Japan stars Bull Nakano and Rhonda Sing (a beast rebranded as Harvey Wippleman’s overweight girlfriend, Bertha Faye). This match with Lelaini Kai has the joint purposes of showcasing Blayze at the biggest show of the year, and giving a nod to tradition, since Kai defended women’s champion at Wrestlemania 1 (see 272).
This match was actually better than Kai’s first ‘Mania outing nine years earlier, if still fairly short and forgettable. Blayze controled most of the three-minute match before closing it out with the swank German suplex she was using as a finisher at that time.
229. Maven vs. Goldust at Wrestlemania 18 Hardcore Championship Match I’m taking some serious creative license in evaluating this match as inclusive of the continuous wave of Hardcore Championship matches that took place over the course of this ‘Mania. It seems only fitting given that neither Maven nor Goldust, but rather Spike Dudley got the pin and leaves this match with the title—a not entirely aberrant outcome for the very-Attiude-Era Hardcore division, with it’s 24/7 rule by which the champion could be challenged anytime, anyplace.
The actual Maven-Goldust match was a serviceable three minute brawl. Some of the ensuing backstage shenanigans were blah. Some were pretty great: Hurricane swinging into the camera frame to steal the title, Mighty Molly KOing him and taking the strap, Christian heinously wailing on Molly with door to pin her, and Maven ultimately stealing the belt back to return to the status quo. Nothing brilliant at all about this state of affairs, but it was a fun enough running gag across the course of the show.
228. The Bushwhackers vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers at Wrestlemania 5 The Rougeaus worked a somewhat confounding gimmick here in which, despite being overtly French Canadian up to this point, they try to sell the audience on being from Memphis, TN. At least they were in their proper roles as heels here, squaring off against The Bushwhackers (who, ironically, rose to prominence as vicious heels before being signed by WWF to work as comedic faces).
Fun enough encounter, with the running storyline of The Rougueas taking cheap shots on Butch outside the ring during the heat segment, only for Butch to illegally enter the ring behind the ref’s back and team up with Luke to deliver both of the team’s tandem finishers so they could steal the pinfall. Not terribly logical, and not terribly well developed, but it was a harmless enough comedy match.
227. Junkyard Dog vs. Greg Valentine at Wrestlemania 1 Intercontinental Championship Match As referenced in the write-up of Tito Santana’s Wrestlemania 1 match (see 246), Valentine was embroiled in a feud with Santana, making this ‘Mania match a bit haphazard.
The good news for this match was that JYD had a pretty fantastic connection with the crowd and Valentine was a pretty special worker—essential Ric Flair-lite the way he worked his opponent’s knee and took every opportunity to cheat, but did so in artful fashion. I take a few points off for the incoherent finish here, with Valentine stealing a pin out of nowhere with his feet on the ropes, after which Santana appeared to point out the rules infraction, after which the referee opted to re-start t