Beyond the insipid 38th edition: Five greatest WrestleMania matches ever

WrestleMania is the showcase of the immortals where legacies are born and brooded only to be defied and destroyed by someone more capable, challenging, and competent. Be it a young John Cena defeating Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 23 or a betrayed Seth Rollins slaying his mentor Triple H in a non-sanction match at WrestleMania 33; the show is known for delivering classics.

However, the 38th edition of WrestleMania held, this past weekend, at the AT&T Stadium, Texas will go down in history as a show that pledged to deliver a lot on paper but reneged on the promises when it came to in-ring action.  

It was too kind of the Texas crowd to not have booed WWE, especially after Reigns pinned Lesnar to become the undisputed WWE Universal champion. The crowd was in fact, very happy seeing their local Texas boy Steve Austin making a couple of appearances and stunning everybody who came in his path. Amid betrayals (Miz turning on Logan Paul) and beer cranking open, the 38th edition was not so electrifying.

Despite the star-studded lineup of matches, WrestleMania 38 was an average show. I am not saying, it was bad, but when compared to the former mania event over the years, the WWE marquee event didn’t have much firepower in its arsenal.

Apart from the exceptional Becky-Bianca match and a strong Rollins-Cody clash which was good in bits and pieces, the show was really mediocre. Even the much-hyped Edge vs Styles clash turned out to be average and we obviously didn’t have many expectations from the Lesnar-Reigns main event. The current lot of matches are a no match to the prolific matches WWE has delivered in past at the grandest stage of them all and today, we take a peek at the five best WrestleMania matches of all time that defined the patrimony of the biggest event in the sports entertainment history.

Chris Jericho vs Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 19)

Inarguably the greatest WrestleMania of all time, WrestleMania 19 was known for its badass promos and quality ring action. Be it the Austin-Rock trilogy or Brock Lesnar vs Kurt Angle main event, the show lived up to its expectations. However, the highlight reel was Shawn Michael defeating Chris Jericho in what we call a WrestleMania classic.

This was Shawn’s first WrestleMania after a long hiatus of five years due to injury. Talking about the match, with Michaels and Jericho in a ring, one wouldn’t have expected anything short of technical wrestling. Build up as a tale of a man who idolized Michaels as his childhood hero to low blowing him after losing the match, every dot seemed to connect and culminated with Chris Jericho as the top heel in the company for years to come.

Triple H vs Undertaker (WrestleMania 28)

Billed as the ‘End of an Era’ with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee in a Hell in a Cell match, this was nothing but pure class. The promo featuring Metallica’s ‘Memory Remains’ song was perfect for the duo with Triple H looking to end the streak and Undertaker ending the Game (Triple H) legacy. Triple H had previously faced Undertaker at WrestleMania 17 and WrestleMania 26, both in a losing effort, and with the Heart Break Kid (Shawn Michaels) as the special guest referee, it seemed like Undertaker’s undefeated streak may finally come to an end.

There came a moment in a match where Shawn turned on Taker and hit him with a Sweet Chin music followed by a pedigree by Triple H but Taker managed to kick out. After a series of steel chair shots, pedigrees and tombstone piledriver and a crotch chop insult to the Undertaker, Triple H was finally pinned by The Deadman (Undertaker) in a match that broiled emotions.

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs The Rock (WrestleMania 17)

Two men who can’t stand the sight of each other pull out a tremendous show in front of a jam-packed Houston crowd. The two formerly faced each other at WrestleMania 15 and later at WrestleMania 19 but nothing can outclass their battle at WrestleMania 17 for the WWF championship. To add flair to the fight, WWE had Limp Bizkit single ‘My way or the highway’ which would end up giving goosebumps even today.

Both men had bad blood for each other and wanted a piece of each. After a series of maneuverers Steve Austin, who had started the match as a face-tuned heel by the end of it allying with longtime nemesis Vince McMahon and hitting sixteen steel shots to the Rock. The Texas crowd was driven crazy as the Texas rattlesnake lifted the WWF championship and the WWE attitude era was at its pinnacle.

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Bret Hart (WrestleMania 13)

With no disrespect to Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart’s Iron man match at WrestleMania 12, this was unarguably one of the best matches, if not the best, Bret Hart ever produced. Though it was booked as a mid-card match with Undertaker main-eventing the night, the match went down in history as one of the finest submission matches.

It all began with Stone Cold as a brash heel and Bret Hart as the invincible force backed by the fans. Featuring a series of submission maneuvers, the breaking point came when Hart applied a sharpshooter to Austin leading to him pass out but not submitting. The match was awarded to Bret Hart but he continued attacking Austin, thus turning the heel. This was the beginning of the ‘Attitude era’ in WWE which defined the career of Steve Austin as a wrestler.

Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker (WrestleMania 26)

Don’t even call yourself to be a wrestling fan, if you have missed this all-time classic. On one side, there was HBK (Shawn Michaels) who cemented his legacy as Mr. WrestleMania after delivering many impeccable performances at the grandest stage of them all, and on the other side was a man who was still undefeated at WrestleMania, The Undertaker. The duo previously faced each other at WrestleMania 25, but this time around, it was Michael, whose in-ring career was on the line.

With HBK fighting for his career and The Deadman contending to save his streak, the match was an outright classic. A master class with a lot of twists and turns followed by incredible close finishes, it will go down in WrestleMania history as the best ever. And, how can you forget the incredible Michael being the first superstar to kick out of two breathtaking tombstone piledrivers? The match ended with a tired Michael slapping Undertaker in the face and taunting him to end his career resulting in Undertaker executing the third and the final tombstone piledriver to end Michael’s career for good.