To prepare for Sunday’s big show, SLAM! Wrestling invited several independent wrestlers to share their Wrestlemania memories. The answers we received were as varied as the wrestlers themselves, and Wrestlemanias I-XX were mentioned, with various reasons given for why these moments stood out in the memories of the wrestlers, from nostalgia reasons to a favourite wrestler getting their due.
“There are a couple of WrestleMania memories that always stand out in my mind,” notes Ontario independent wrestler Jayson Chambers who wrestles in the Tillsonburg-based Pro Wrestling Xtreme. “Although the importance and anticipation for the big show has slowly dwindled over the years, the WWE has always been able to create some very vivid memories.
“My first memorable moment would have to be from the very first WrestleMania I watched live on pay-per-view, which was WrestleMania VII. I was seven years old and we watched the show in a bar that was promoting the Mania gimmick. (Hulk) Hogan was a star of course and as a little kid I was fascinated with him. Watching him beat Slaughter for the title was pretty cool and I remember sitting there with my rubber Hulk action figure going crazy.”
“From there, WrestleMania XII always stands out in my mind as well. As I got a little older and wrestling changed a little bit, Bret Hart became my wrestling idol, as he was to a lot of Canadian wrestling fans. WrestleMania XII of course brought us the 60-Minute Iron Man Match between Bret and Shawn Michaels, which will always be one of my favourite matches of all time for the pure emotion it showcased. For most fans, either you were a Bret fan or a Shawn fan. I, however, was a huge mark for both and I remember sitting on my Papa’s couch watching the PPV with him and happily arguing about who should take the Title — Papa was a huge Bret fan and couldn’t stand Shawn, so we had a great night. As much as I loved Bret, I kind of wanted to see Shawn take the title just because he hadn’t won it before. Needless to say, my Papa didn’t like that fact.. haha! But it was a great night and has always stood out in my mind as one of the greatest WrestleMania moments in history.”
“The third and last huge moment that will always stand out for me is quite simple: the end of WrestleMania 20. Seeing Chris Benoit finally get the spotlight he deserved for so long was unexplainable. Even more so, watching the television set to see Benoit and (Eddie) Guerrero stand together as WWE World Champions honestly brought tears to a lot of true fans’ eyes. These guys had defined what a true professional wrestler was for many years and to see them finally be rewarded was amazing. For once everything was right in the world of wrestling.”
Chicago-based wrestler Colt Cabana, who has wrestled in dozens of promotions in the United States and around the world, including Toronto’s UWA, Ring of Honor and NWA-TNA says that his favourite moment comes from a memory from his youth. “For me, I can remember my Dad bringing home the VHS of Wrestlemania 2 the day it came out. We turned off the lights and all sat in the family room and watched the whole thing. King Kong Bundy versus Hulk Hogan was surreal. It wasn’t the first wrestling match I ever saw, but it was the first match I remember with such a ‘big match feel’ at such a young age.”
Jimmy Jacobs, who wrestles in IWA-Mid South and Ring of Honor, among others, harbours little doubt as to his favourite Wrestlemania moment: “Wrestlemania 7 when Elizabeth came down to the ring, fought off Sherri Martel, and her and Randy Savage reunited. That was years in the makings. Anybody who didn’t cry at that moment has no soul.”
“My favorite Wrestlemania moment is seeing Owen Hart triumphant in the opener at Wrestlemania X,” says Pennsylvania’s Mike Quackenbush who has wrestled in Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling and the ECWA among many others. “It was a beautiful match, and I always felt like Owen never got his due. At WrestleMania VIII, he had like a 90-second match with Skinner (Steve Keirn) right before the main event, which was no doubt because the show was timed out poorly and his time got cut. At WrestleMania X, he got his moment, and I think that’s the top.”
“I would have to say my all time favorite Wrestlemania moment was at Wrestlemania 3 when Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant,” says Vancouver’s Moondog Manson, who lists Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling, Pacific Northwest Championship Wrestling and the Canadian Wrestling Federation among the stops on his career, “It was a very magical moment for all wrestling fans to watch. Back when defeating a Giant was no simple task and the WWE had some integrity.”
Ontario wrestler Dr. Nick SiNNful, who has appeared on Warrior1Wrestling and NWA-TNA shows as well as Blood, Sweat and Ears, when asked about his favourite Wrestlemania moment, replies, “I think the best match (as far as pure wrestling talent) at a Wrestlemania was Wrestlemania 3: Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat vs ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage”, but he is quick to point out that “for innovativeness I would definitely have to say Wrestlemania 1: The main event, Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs Roddy Piper and Mr. Wonderful (Paul Orndorff). Vince McMahon gambled with a vision to change the wrestling industry forever and has been forever-after successful by always thinking outside of the box.”