Matt Bishop’s Mania Moments will take a look at the top 28 moments in WrestleMania history as we lead up to WrestleMania 28 on April 1 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
No. 21 – Rey Mysterio captures first World Heavyweight Championship
The event: WrestleMania 22
Where: Allstate Arena, Chicago
The moment: Rey Mysterio overcomes odds, wins title
For years, Rey Mysterio had been a great talent, yet consistently overlooked and under-appreciated by the company. In November 2005, his good friend Eddie Guerrero died and the company decided to use Mysterio to honor Guerrero’s memory.
Mysterio won the 2006 Royal Rumble, going all the way from No. 2 to earn a championship match at WrestleMania. Although there were some bumps along the way, he finally settled into a triple threat match where he and Randy Orton would challenge Kurt Angle for the World Heavyweight Championship.
The match itself was fast-paced and electric. Angle had the match won at multiple points but the referee was distracted each time. Just like the Royal Rumble, it would come down to Mysterio and Orton in the ring after Mysterio arm-dragged Angle out of the ring during an Angle Slam attempt. From there, Mysterio hit the 619 on Orton, followed by the West Coast Pop for the three count, capturing his first career world title.
Mysterio would celebrate in the ring before heading up to the top of the ramp where he was greeted by Chavo and Vickie Guerrero. With tears running down the faces of all three, they embraced before Mysterio went down to his knees, clutching his newly-won championship. It was one of the more emotional moments in WrestleMania history.
No. 20 – TLC steals show
The event: WrestleMania X-7
Where: Reliant Astrodome, Houston
The moment: Edge spears Hardy
The World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship was on the line when The Dudley Boyz defended the titles against The Hardys and Edge and Christian in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.
When all is said and done, this will go down as one of the craziest matches in WWE history. Every high-risk spot imaginable was done in this match and it made for a dramatic, action-packed match that saw all three teams raise their stock, especially considering four of the six wrestlers involved would go on to win a world title in WWE.
There was interference all over the place. Spike Dudley on behalf of his brothers, Rhyno on behalf of Edge and Christian and Lita for the Hardys.
Everyone involved made extremely liberal use of the tables, ladders and chairs. As Jim Ross would say, this was a car wreck. But for all the crazy things in this match, it will best be remembered for one thing: Edge spearing Jeff Hardy from 15-feet above the ring.
With Hardy clinging to the hook with the belts on it, Edge, already standing on a ladder, would catch the swinging Hardy with a picture perfect spear to the canvas, bringing Ross to exclaim, “Look at Edge. Oh my God! Edge from a 20-foot ladder with a spear on Jeff Hardy! For the love of God, Jeff Hardy may be broken smack-dab in half!”
With the help of Rhyno, Christian would beat D-Von Dudley to the belts and pull them down for the victory. An incredible match that has to be seen to believed.
No. 19 – Kurt Angle outguns Shawn Michaels in classic encounter
The event: WrestleMania 21
Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles
The moment: Angle makes HBK tap
When it was announced that Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels would meet at WrestleMania 21, the ears of wrestling fans worldwide perked up at the sound of such terrific news. After all, a match between Mr. WrestleMania and Kurt Angle can’t be anything other than amazing, right?
Well, even with astonishingly high expectations, Angle and Michaels managed to steal the show. Going nearly 30 minutes on the biggest stage of the year, the two pressure players delivered a match for the ages and one of the all-time great WrestleMania matches.
Going move-for-move, this match was everything that is great about professional wrestling featuring two of the all-time best in this sport. Angle would Michaels’ ankle over throughout the match but, despite several attempts to get out of the hold, Angle wouldn’t let HBK’s ankle go, finally grapevining the leg. After a long struggle that whipped the fans into a frenzy, Michaels finally tapped out, giving Angle the win, with both men earning a standing ovation.
“I’m exhausted just watching it,” Jerry Lawler said. So true.
No. 18 – Vinnie Mac gets a haircut
The event: WrestleMania 23
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
The moment: Donald Trump shaves Vince McMahon’s head
WrestleMania 23 was undoubtedly one of the biggest WrestleManias of all time. In front of more than 80,000 fans and a record-setting audience on pay-per-view, the long-awaited showdown between Vince McMahon and Donald Trump would finally happen in a Hair vs. Hair match. The two each chose men to represent them inside the ring. With “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as the special guest referee, Intercontinental Champion Umaga (representing McMahon) battled ECW Champion Bobby Lashley (representing Trump).
The two power grapplers went at it, but it was Umaga who made the critical mistake: He made Austin angry. Austin responded with a Stunner and Lashley followed with a spear for the pin, meaning McMahon’s famous pompadour was on the way out.
He tried to escape using a distraction by his son Shane, but was pulled back to the ring by Lashley, strapped down in a barber’s chair and had his head shaved by Lashley, Austin and Trump as McMahon yelled out, “You’re humiliating me! You’re humiliating me! I’ll never forget this!” as only he can.
No. 17 – A new era dawns for WWE
The event: WrestleMania 21
Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles
The moment: John Cena, Batista win first world titles
Although neither match will go down as WrestleMania classics, WrestleMania 21 marked a changing of the guard for WWE, ushering in a new era of stars to lead the company for the next several years.
John Cena was being groomed for superstardom a while and was given his first big opportunity when he faced JBL for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21. Up until that point, JBL had managed to escape bad situation after bad situation, making him the longest-reigning champion in Smackdown history to that point, as he held the title for 10 months, a time frame that is unheard-of for a world champion in this era.
It was an average match, but Cena would pin JBL with an FU to win his first world title and is still on top to this day.
In the main event of the show, 2005 Royal Rumble winner Batista faced World Heavyweight Champion and former friend Triple H. This match was the culmination of a slow build that saw Batista turn on Triple H to become a babyface. In a memorable scene on Raw, Batista made the decision to face Triple H and not JBL. Triple H decided to attack, but Batista laid him out by giving him the Batista Bomb through a table.
With Triple H a bloody mess, Batista would break the Pedigree and call for the Batista Bomb, drilling Triple H and winning his first world title.
Until his departure from WWE in May 2010, Batista would be one of the top stars in the company, a journey that started with his title win at WrestleMania 21.