Wrestlemania 33 is very much upon us. After a week of looking back at some of the best and worst from Wrestlemania history, it would only seem right for each member of the Screenjabber wrestling team to offer up their greatest memories from Wrestlemania throughout the years...
The strongest memory of WrestleMania for me is from my first event, which was WrestleMania 16, specifically the entrances for the fatal four-way main event which featured The Rock, Triple H, Mick Foley and The Big Show. I remember watching it and feeling like it was the biggest match of all time, and it was to me, because I'd never seen a WrestleMania main event before. Watching each man come out being accompanied by a member of the McMahon family seemed really cool, my young self was amazed - how could the owners be involved with the wrestlers? And when the match ended with the dastardly Triple H leaving as champion, I was devastated, it was still real to me. But then The Rock hooked Stephanie for a Rock Bottom and I couldn't wait to see what came next. Another fond memory is the day after WrestleMania 17, when Steve Austin beat The Rock for the title with the help of Vince McMahon. My whole class at school was buzzing as we discussed what had happened, and although we were smart to the business by then we couldn't help but get wrapped up in Austin's heel turn. I remember my god-brother telling me that he thought Austin would turn heel that night, but I didn't believe him until it happened. More modern moments that resonated with me were The Undertaker's back-to-back classics with Shawn Michaels, Daniel Bryan beating Triple H in the opener at Wrestlemania 30, and CM Punk clocking Undertaker with the urn at Wrestlemania 29 for one of the most heart-stopping near-falls I can remember. I've got to throw in Brock Lesnar ending "the streak" as well, because that was the most shocked I've ever been watching a wrestling show.
For me it has to be The Rock vs Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 18. To see a match like that unfold in front of your eyes when you've been a fan for so many years, it's just something that remains surreal to this day. It's hard to explain from an emotional standpoint just how incredible it was that it came together. One guy was my hero as a child, while the other had won me over as a worthy leader of the company. I loved both guys and I've never been more torn as to who I wanted to win, but it didn't matter. The crowd were absolutely on fire that night for that match and it's something I'll never forget watching. Both guys have delivered some of the most epic WrestleMania moments and for them to be able to share that together in a clash of legends was really special. It wasn't just a match, it was an iconic moment in wrestling history. Any of The Rock's matches with Steve Austin come a close second as those two men were born to work together and always brought out the best in each other.
Of all the WrestleMania moments that stick in my head, it has to be Shawn Michaels beating Bret Hart to win the title for the first time in 1996.
In what was otherwise a shit card, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart absolutely tore the house down. There is something so old school about this match that gripped me from the start. This was proper wrestling, building up the tension and the story through the actual in-ring action. No gimmicks… OK loads of gimmicks but they all worked perfectly. To this day I really thought Shawn Michaels kicked the time keepers head-top clear off.
This match felt real to me, damnit. It felt like something was generally at stake and that this was truly the beginning of a new era in wrestling.
The only moment that rivals Michael’s first title win is The Undertaker losing to Brock Lesnar. Lord. Not only was "the streak" destroyed, it was taken away from us in a shit-sack of a garbage match. The Undertaker (suffering from a concussion) looked sluggish and slow. Lesnar toyed with him like a cat plays with its mewling prey. And then the win. Just out of nowhere! No ceremony, no fanfare, nothing! Just The Undertaker finished plainly in the middle of the ring. The shock was unlike anything anyone had ever felt and looking back on it, it was a stroke of absolute genius. It is probably the most powerful moment in the history of professional wrestling and the way it happened in such a blasé manner makes it so much more meaningful. Anyone can take the L, even The Undertaker.
When I think Wrestlemania, it’s hard not to mark out to that HORRIFICALLY DATED 90’s theme tune. I hear it and all of a sudden I am 6 years old, sitting in a living room waiting for the shit to go all the way down.
I have so many strong memories from Wrestlemania over the years, but I am going to concentrate on three really special ones for me.
First of all, Wrestlemania 8 and my first taste of the biggest event in the industry. I would have been all of six-years-old and having been handed a tape recorded from the television by my uncle, it was the first full PPV card I had ever seen. I was instantly hooked, and I loved the Ric Flair -Randy Savage match, Bret Hart vs Roddy Piper, plus The Ultimate Warrior returning at the end of the show for the big save. It was enthralling, and while the show may not have aged that well, I still adore Wrestlemania 8.
As a child, going to Wrestlemania seemed like something totally out of reach, and impossible. However, in 2013 I achieved that dream attending Wrestlemania 29 in New Jersey. The show itself may not have been the best Mania ever, but one thing sticks out massively; The Undertaker. Having watched him on my television since I was 6-years-old and then getting the opportunity to see his entrance live in person was incredible, but even more so getting to be there in person for the final successful defence of his legendary streak in a phenomenal match with CM Punk, which incidentally was Punk's last Wrestlemania as it stands. I will never forget the experience of being there in for person for that match.
Finally, and again it concerns being there in person, I have to go with Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase at Wrestlemania 31 in San Jose. I was on my honeymoon, and my wife (who is not a wrestling fan per se, but was still willing to come with me to Wrestlemania) tells me that I was physically shaking with excitement when Rollins' music hit. It was a great ending to a great day, and something completely surprising that I will never forget.
The thing about Wrestlemania for me, and for a lot of wrestling fans is that it is one of the most fun and anticipated days of the year. Even in a world of WWE Network, FloSlam, Indie companies on your doorstep, and with wrestling never more accessible to everyone than any time in history, Wrestlemania is still something special that stands above everything else. Hopefully this year will be excellent, but whatever happens I'm sure someone out there will take home a memory from it.
Got a Wrestlemania memory of your own? Feel free to leave it in the comments below. And while you're at it check out all the Wrestlemania week content from the past seven days exclusively here at Screenjabber...