As WWE’s premiere event comes to a close, the WWE Universe is buzzing about one match above all others. Whether it’s a groundbreaking Ladder Match or a WWE Hall of Famer’s squared circle swan song, one battle claims the spotlight for itself almost every year.
But which match is the greatest show stealer of all time? Click through and find out
10.) WrestleMania 24: Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels~ Career Threatening Match
Stylin' and profilin', Ric Flair is considered by many of his peers to be the finest performer in the history of the squared circle. Unless, of course, you're talking to somebody who believes that Shawn Michaels was the best Superstar of all time. These two WWE Hall of Famers locked horns at WrestleMania XXIV in a Career Threatening Match that ended one of the finest in-ring careers in history.
Entering the ring in one of his signature feathered robes, Flair fought his younger opponent with every dirty trick in the game in an attempt to save his legendary career. But after getting hit with Sweet Chin Music twice, a deflated Flair got to his knees, looked The Showstopper in the eye and motioned for his opponent to bring it on.
HBK hesitated, stared at his boyhood hero and spoke five heart-pounding words: “I’m sorry. I love you.” He delivered a boot to Flair’s chin one final time, and covered The Nature Boy for the three-count. HBK immediately clutched his idol, knowing that we all had just witnessed the final competition of the one and only Ric Flair.
The crowd in Orlando stood and applauded. Not just for the show-stealing match, but for the finest sports entertainer of all time.
9.) WrestleMania 22: Mick Foley vs. Edge - Hardcore Match
Mick Foley had often discussed his friendship with Edge in his best-selling memoirs, and The Hardcore Legend even wrote the forward to Edge’s own book. However, The Rated-R Superstar felt betrayed when Foley, acting as referee for a WWE Championship Match on Raw, counted the winning pinfall for John Cena. The Ultimate Opportunist attacked Foley after the bout, furious that a so-called friend would cost him the title. At Saturday Night’s Main Event, Edge further battered Foley, nailing him with a Con-Chair-To. Following the attacks, the bestselling author accepted Edge’s challenge for a bout at WrestleMania 22 under the condition that it be a Hardcore Match.
Although The Hardcore Legend was no stranger to The Grandest Stage of Them All, he had never experienced the one shining “WrestleMania moment” that many Legends are known for. The very first Hardcore Champion felt he couldn’t go wrong in selecting his specialty match, and he was right. While Edge might have won the brutally intense contest, the image of The Rated-R Superstar Spearing Foley off the apron and onto a flaming table outside of the ring will never be forgotten. Foley had finally attained his elusive moment, and stole the show with Edge in Chicago.
8.) WrestleMania 8: Ultimate Warrior vs. Macho Man Randy Savage: Career Ending Match
This showdown between two of WWE’s most memorable Superstars was about more than just a WrestleMania moment. Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage both put their careers on the line at the seventh edition of The Show of Shows. And with everything at stake, the ensuing battle became the most talked about event of that show. To further illustrate the magnitude of this match, Ultimate Warrior opted to forgo his usual mad dash to the ring, instead slowly stalking the ring as he eyed his opponent.
Once the bell rang, Savage threw everything but the kitchen sink at Warrior, including five of his patented elbows from the top rope. The unpredictable Superstar kept kicking out, however, and his unbridled fury became too much for The “Macho King” to handle, forcing the former WWE Champion out of the ring for good. Savage, though he lost his career, may have regained something, or someone, more important. After the match, Miss Elizabeth saved a battle-worn “Macho King” from an attack by Sensational Sherri. The WWE Universe’s eyes teared up as the couple reunited, capping off the true show-stealer of WrestleMania VII.
7.) WrestleMania 18: The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan
One month after Hulk Hogan returned to WWE for the first time in nine years, he took on The Rock at WrestleMania X8 in a battle for the ages. It was dubbed an Icon vs. Icon Match, and nothing could have been truer.
Donning the black and white of the nWo, Hogan had returned to WWE using his Hollywood moniker, while The Rock had long been a fan favorite among the WWE Universe. But none of that mattered to the 68,000-plus people inside Toronto’s SkyDome. The thrill of seeing Hogan in a WWE ring for the first time in nearly a decade was enough to shake the building with adulation for The Hulkster. The WrestleMania moment wasn’t just the match, but rather the instance of seeing these two genuine stars nose to nose in the same ring.
The battle itself was a back-and-forth affair, with each competitor kicking out of the other’s finishing maneuver. It took two more Rock Bottoms and a People’s Elbow, but The Brahma Bull finally pinned Hogan before shaking his opponent’s hand in a show of respect. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, Hollywood’s nWo cohorts, attacked their partner following the contest, but The People’s Champion returned to the ring to save the man he had defeated moments prior. Before The Hulkster walked back up the ramp, The Great One convinced Hogan to pose for the crowd. The Rock looked on in near disbelief as The Immortal One performed his signature mannerisms.
6.) WrestleMania 21: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle
What do you get when you throw the Superstar who came to be known as Mr. WrestleMania and an Olympic gold medalist in the ring on The Grandest Stage of Them All? An unforgettable match, that’s what! Kurt Angle had retribution on his mind heading into WrestleMania in 2005, as Shawn Michaels had eliminated him from that year’s Royal Rumble Match. The ever confident Olympian thought he’d have an easy go of it against HBK, but something inside Michaels always clicked at The Show of Shows, giving him even more adrenaline to push through Angle’s onslaught. The two battled back and forth for nearly a half-hour. HBK fought valiantly for several minutes while trapped in Angle’s vicious Ankle Lock. Eventually, the future WWE Hall of Famer had no choice but to submit. Even in defeat, Shawn Michaels left the WWE Universe with a match to remember.
5.) WrestleMania 17: World Tag Team Title TLC Match
Whenever these three teams entered the ring, anarchy was sure to break out. This trio of duos met in only the second Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match in WWE history at WrestleMania X-Seven in Houston, Texas, with the World Tag Team Titles literally hanging in the balance. The six Superstars battered each other with steel chairs, climbed to death-defying heights and went crashing through tables. Each team even had unofficial third members, as Rhyno, Lita and Spike Dudley all interfered on behalf of their comrades. Ultimately, Rhyno gave Edge and Christian the upper hand, shoving Matt Hardy and Bubba Ray Dudley off a ladder and through a massive stack of tables and before carrying Christian up another ladder on his shoulders, getting him to the titles quicker than D-Von Dudley. Edge and Christian barely escaped from the wreckage with championship gold, but the WWE Universe was left in awe after all six competitors risked their careers on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
4.) WrestleMania 10: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon: Intercontinental Championship
Heading into WrestleMania X, there were two Intercontinental Champions. Shawn Michaels had been stripped of the title, but carried around a copycat championship. Razor Ramon won the vacant title several months before The Show of Shows, but HBK disputed Razor’s right to hold the title. WWE officials decided there was only one way to decide the true champion - hang the belts over the ring and declare the first Superstar to climb up a ladder and retrieve it the undisputed Intercontinental Champion. Michaels and Ramon left an indelible mark on the WWE Universe with their daredevil actions at WrestleMania X, smashing each other with the steel weapons, falling from great heights, all in search of the right to be called champion. On this evening, Razor Ramon emerged victorious from a match that would inspire future Superstars to literally reach new heights.
3.) WrestleMania 13: Bret Hitman Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin: Submission
1997 marked a changing of the guard. Bret “Hit Man” Hart had been the WWE Universe’s hero for many years, but WWE fans were starting to clamor for something different. As Hart began to display intense frustration over not being the WWE Champion, the crowd subsequently began to turn against him. Meanwhile, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was taking WWE by storm. He had won that year’s Royal Rumble Match and the previous year’s King of the Ring tournament, where he debuted the famous “Austin 3:16” catchphrase.
The two iconoclastic, future WWE Hall of Famers met in a Submission Match to settle their differences at WrestleMania 13. Austin, the innovator of the Stone Cold Stunner, was not known for submission maneuvers, but The Hit Man was internationally renowned for his use of The Sharpshooter. During the battle, “Stone Cold” was busted open, but continued to be competitive with The Excellence of Execution. Hart eventually trapped Austin in The Sharpshooter for an extended duration of time. Wearing the proverbial crimson mask, The Texas Rattlesnake refused to submit, eventually passing out in the center of the ring. Special guest referee Ken Shamrock awarded the decision to The Hit Man, but Hart continued to attack his opponent after the match. The fans were furious at their former hero for pummeling the man who had already been defeated, resulting in a monumental about-face in the WWE Universe’s allegiances. The image of Austin refusing to give up earned him his first of many spots in WrestleMania lore.
2.) WrestleMania 25: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker were certainly no stranger to one another. After all, they had both been a part of the WWE roster for nearly twenty years, but had never faced off on The Grandest Stage of Them All. And most importantly, The Undertaker had never defeated HBK in singles competition. So, it came down to The Streak vs. Mr. WrestleMania himself. Leading to the match, HBK mocked The Phenom’s signature entrance, approaching the ring on Raw in a cloud of white smoke and a white coat and hat reminiscent of The Deadman’s black garb.
Inside Reliant Stadium, The Showstopper seemed to descend from the heavens in front of more than 70,000 people as the WWE Universe pondered whether The Undertaker was finally in over his head. Each competitor kicked out of Tombstones, Last Rides, chokeslams and Sweet Chin Musics. Neither Legend was able to put the other away in what became a heart-pounding even-matched affair.
Finally, The Undertaker believed he had the match won when he executed a devastating Tombstone. The Phenom crossed Shawn’s arms over his chest, extended his tongue, rolled back his eyes, but somehow The Showstopper kicked out yet again. The WWE Universe was in disbelief, and The Streak seemed to be in genuine jeopardy for the first time. But the doubt in The Undertaker’s supremacy at The Show of Shows was merely momentary. HBK ascended to the top turnbuckle attempting a moonsault, but it turned out to be his one single mistake. The Phenom caught Mr. WrestleMania in mid-air, nailed another Tombstone and finally pinned his rival to end the jaw-dropping encounter and advance The Streak to 17-0.
1.) WrestleMania 3: Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat: Intercontinental Championship
There were 93,173 WWE fans in attendance at WrestleMania III. Many of them were there to see the titanic battle between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. After the final bell of the evening rang, though, they could only discuss one match - the epic battle for the Intercontinental Title between Ricky Steamboat and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. The two Superstars, though they were lacking size in comparison to Hogan and Andre, dazzled the crowd in Pontiac, Mich. with their speed, aerial tactics and willingness to do anything for the title, waging war in a bout that is still referred to as one of, if not the, best of all time. Steamboat came out on top of the encounter, which many of today’s Superstars say was their inspiration for entering sports-entertainment.