Some say WrestleMania is the Super Bowl of wrestling, but I say the Super Bowl is the WrestleMania of football.
The way I see it, competitive sports gives the audience a chance for entertainment, but WWE wrestling gives audiences GUARANTEED entertainment. It's a 24/7 soap opera starring the most likable good guys and the most unlikable bad guys. The best athletes, the best actors, the best stories, and the best music all resides in WWE, and some people can't help but sum up wrestling as a four letter word that starts with an F.
The pinnacle of professional wrestling is WrestleMania, the biggest WWE show of the year that is fittingly nicknamed: The Showcase of the Immortals. So many regular WWE superstars become icons thanks to the show of shows, and with this list, I want to celebrate the Top 10 performers in WrestleMania history in terms of length of career, match quality, and main events.
Here are some honorable mentions before we get started:
Brock Lesnar: Main evented his first WrestleMania against Kurt Angle and his breaking of The Undertaker's Streak is arguably the most memorable moment in WrestleMania history. Victories over Dean Ambrose, Goldberg and Roman Reigns have enhanced his WrestleMania legacy, and if his title match with Seth Rollins becomes a classic he might crack the top 10.
Daniel Bryan: Single-handedly took over WrestleMania 30 in one of the greatest storyline payoffs of all-time. That alone deserves an honorable mention.
Randy Orton: A ton of matches of the big show, but not a lot stands out.
Kane: Also a lot of matches, the only memorable ones being against his brother.
Batista: Took a four-year hiatus after 2010 and a five-year break after 2014. His battles with Triple H, Undertaker, Orton, and Bryan are classics though.
Ultimate Warrior: Two awesome WrestleMania wins against Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage but that's about it.
Sid: My favorite fact ever is the fact that Sid has only two WrestleMania matches, and both were the main event of the show.
Kurt Angle: Classic WrestleMania matches against Chris Benoit, Brock Lesnar, Eddie Guerrero, and Shawn Michaels, probably would've made the list if he never left WWE in 2006.
CM Punk: Arguably the most successful WWE superstar to not close the biggest show of the year, Punk still had the best match at WrestleMania against The Undertaker at 29 and defended the WWE vs. Chris Jericho at 28, along with back-to-back Money in the Bank ladder matches at 24 and 25. Unfortunately, his abrupt departure in 2014 leaves us thinking about what could have been.
Chris Jericho: Main evented WrestleMania 18 (even though he admits that Hogan vs. Rock should have) and stole the show with Shawn Michaels at 19. Not quite enough great matches to make...The List!
Roman Reigns: Somehow, Reigns joined Hulk Hogan as the only performers to main event 4 consecutive WrestleManias, but his WrestleMania career is still young and thankfully has plenty of time to make the list with his leukemia in remission.
Ric Flair: Ric Flair is arguably the greatest wrestler of all-time, but was only apart of the WWF for a couple of years as a main eventer. His WWF title match with Randy Savage is fantastic and his (official) career finale against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 24 is beautiful, but that's about it.
Even though Edge wasn't a main eventer until the last five years of his career, he managed to create a spectacular WrestleMania legacy.
Along with his tag-team partner Christian, the series of matches they had with the Hardy Boyz and the Dudleys have become the stuff of legend.
The triangle ladder match that was the highlight of WrestleMania 2000 eventually gave birth to the TLC match (Tables, Ladder and Chairs) which debuted in SummerSlam 2000. The second TLC match was between the three teams at WrestleMania X-7 in which the highlight was Edge spearing a dangling Jeff Hardy from a 20-foot ladder.
Edge would actually miss WrestleMania in 2003 and 2004 due to injuries but resurfaced in 2005 with another historic win as the victor of the first ever Money in the Bank Ladder match. He would go on to win his first WWE title in shocking fashion when he cashed in his guaranteed title match against a beat-up John Cena 9 months later.
Following the ladder matches, he defeated the hardcore legend Mick Foley in a hardcore match with the highlight being him spearing Foley through a flaming table.
He would finally get to main event WrestleMania in a World Heavyweight Championship match with The Undertaker in an underrated classic.
He would go onto wrestle in World Championship matches with the likes of John Cena, The Big Show, and Chris Jericho.
Edge would successfully retain the World Championship at WrestleMania 27 against Alberto Del Rio in what turned out to be his final match as he was forced into early retirement due to neck injuries at the age of 37.
Despite an early end to his career, Edge's spectacular WrestleMania resume earned him a spot in the top 10.
9. John Cena
Loved by kids and ladies, disliked by 18-35-year-old smart marks, John Cena is the 21st century's version of Hulk Hogan.
He made his WrestleMania debut in 2004 in winning his first singles title by defeating The Big Show for the United States Championship.
The next year, he won his first of 16 WWE world championships by ending the 9 month WWE title reign of hated heel JBL.
It wasn't until the next year however that he got to main event the show of the year as he defeated Triple H at 22, which was notably the beginning young adult male fans booing him constantly as the new top guy of WWE. He would go on to main event WrestleMania again the next year and defeat Shawn Michaels and also win the World title at 25 against Edge and Big Show, the highlight being him holding both upon his shoulders.
Cena's two biggest WrestleMania matches were against the one and only Dwayne The Rock Johnson at 28 and 29 in which he lost the first, but redeemed himself in the rematch for the WWE championship.
8. The Rock
The Rock is the only superstar to defeat Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and John Cena at WrestleMania. That alone puts him on the list.
Despite being arguably the most recognizable name to come from wrestling, The Rock never ended WrestleMania as the WWE Champion going in 0-4 in WWE title matches (despite being a babyface in 3 of them) and his only win in the main event was against John Cena at the 28th WrestleMania in 2012. Even so, The Rock didn't have to win the championship at WrestleMania because his charisma and mic skills could connect with audiences no matter what.
If Rock never became the success he became in Hollywood, he could've had even more legendary WrestleMania matches and moments in his career.
7. Triple H
Is Hunter Hearst Helmsley a power hungry ego-maniac who married the bosses daughter and buries everyone in sight? Or is he just the Harley Race and Ric Flair of his time who worked hard to become one of the most successful and powerful men in all of WWE?
That's for you to decide, but there's no doubt that Triple H has garnered a fantastic WrestleMania career with over 20 matches on his resume. Despite owning the most WrestleMania losses with 13, fans still criticize certain matches in which he was booked to win against the likes of Booker T and Sting.
Nevertheless, the guy whose WrestleMania debut was a squash match to The Ultimate Warrior has managed to tie Hulk Hogan's record for WrestleMania main events with 7. His best, however, is probably his trilogy of matches with The Undertaker in 2001, 2011 and 2012. He obviously lost all 3 because The Undertaker's historic streak was happening at the time.
6. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Surprisingly, Stone Cold Steve Austin has only 7 WrestleMania matches in his entire career. The impact those matches have on wrestling history, however, has been huge for the business.
Austin's WrestleMania legend began in what is arguably the greatest match of all-time, a submission match at WrestleMania 13 against Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Extraordinarily, Austin entered that match as the bad guy against a good guy in Hart, and exited as the good guy and Hart as vice-versa.
His first WWF championship win against Shawn Michaels the next year was a coronation for a new era. As the WWF had lost a ratings war against WCW for 83 weeks, Austin became the superstar Vince McMahon needed to win the Monday Night Wars.
His trilogy of WrestleMania matches with The Rock are the WWE's equivalent to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird's trilogy of NBA Finals match-ups, two of which were in the main event. His third and last match with The Rock at WrestleMania 19 would turn out to be the final match of his career as age and injuries took their toll on the Texas Rattlesnake.
Just like his run of dominance as The Guy in wrestling, his WrestleMania career was short-lived, but huge.
5. Bret Hart
Bret "The Hitman" Hart is somewhat lost in the shuffle of WWE history as the company's standard bearer in between the Hulk Hogan/Randy Savage era and the Stone Cold/The Rock era during the mid-90s, but Hart may have a better WrestleMania catalog than all of those wrestling icons.
Despite being a main eventer of the 90s, Hart's first WrestleMania match was actually for WrestleMania 2 in 1986 as apart of a battle royal won by Andre The Giant. He would continue to compete in WrestleMania as apart of the Hall of Fame tag-team The Hart Foundation with his brother-in-law Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart
It wasn't until WrestleMania 8 when he had his first singles match in the event, earning his 2nd Intercontinental title against legend Rowdy Roddy Piper.
After getting buried by Hulk Hogan and Yokozuna in a joke of a WrestleMania 9 main event, Hart would make WrestleMania X his ultimate moment of glory, opening the show against his late-great brother Owen in the greatest WrestleMania opener of all-time, and closing the show defeating Yokozuna to regain the WWF championship and officially becoming the face of the WWF.
Hart main evented WrestleMania again in 1996 by putting over Shawn Michaels in a 60 minute Iron Man match. The next year, Hart won a submission match against Stone Cold Steve Austin in arguably the greatest match of all-time.
Oh, and he returned to WWE after a 13-year hiatus in 2010 to defeat Vince McMahon and avenge the infamous Montreal Screwjob.
In short, if you become a wrestling fan, Bret Hart may not be the first alumni you love, but inevitably he'll become the one you love and respect the most for the little things he did for the industry.
4. Macho Man Randy Savage
The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels may own the "Mr. WrestleMania" moniker, but the first Mr. WrestleMania was the Macho Man Randy Savage.
While Hulk Hogan took the spotlight as the biggest wrestling star of the 1980s, Savage was the best overall performer of the 80s with amazing interviews and promos equal to the Hulkster and in-ring skills that were far superior.
Savage is also responsible for providing the first great WrestleMania match against Ricky Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship. Experts still consider this to be one of if not the undisputed greatest WWE match of all-time.
Savage's list of WrestleMania opponents is astounding:
George "The Animal" Steele
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
Ted "Million Dollar Man" Dibiase
"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes
The Ultimate Warrior
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair
All of these guys are WWE Hall of Famers and wrestling icons.
Hogan was the one who got the main events, but Savage was truly the one who made WrestleMania into WRESTLEMANIA!
3. Hulk Hogan
You can't tell the story about the first decade of WrestleMania without including Hulk Hogan. His draw and star power launched the WWF as the undisputed wrestling powerhouse in the 1980s and took it's popularity to heights never seen before.
Hulk Hogan main evented 8 of the first 9 WrestleManias. And the only one he didn't main event, WrestleMania 4, he did all he could to steal the spotlight from Macho Man Randy Savage with his lust eyes staring down Miss Elizabeth!
Anyway, Hogan was the flag-bearer for the WWF who created the myth and lore of WrestleMania.
It should be hard to pick the most important match in wrestling history but it's not, because Hogan's match with Andre The Giant at WrestleMania 3 is the undisputed most important event of all-time. The match wasn't even that good, but it didn't have to be. Anyone who had followed Hogan and Andre throughout their careers knew how extraordinary their match was.
His match with The Giant alone puts the Hulkster on the list, but his iconic matches with Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, and The Rock elevate him to the Top 3.
2. Shawn Michaels
It may be odd to call someone Mr. WrestleMania because he has a 6-11 record, but that's because it didn't matter that Shawn Michaels didn't win his matches, it's because he performed the best.
After spending his first few years as apart of the tag team The Rockers, Michael's became a singles star as The Heartbreak Kid and the Mr. WrestleMania myth began with his icon ladder match performance against Razor Ramon.
That set up another iconic match against Bret Hart at WrestleMania 12 in an Iron Man for his first WWF title win and his "boyhood dream coming true."
After putting over Stone Cold at 14, HBK stayed away for 4 years due to a brutal back injury but returned in 2003 to steal the show with Chirs Jericho at WrestleMania 19.
For the next several years, Shawn would steal the show at every WrestleMania he performed in masterpieces against Kurt Angle, John Cena, Ric Flair, and The Undertaker.
Michael's put his career on the line in 2010 to try and end The Undertaker's streak. He lost of course, and while he did have another match in 2018, his WrestleMania career ended fittingly with two classics in back-to-back years against the only superstar ahead of him on this list...
1. The Undertaker
While wins and losses shouldn't really matter when it comes to the greatest performer in WrestleMania history, the win-loss record on The Undertaker is so extraordinary that he's number one for that reason alone:
And there was a time when the idea he would even have one mark on the loss column seemed unfathomable.
The Undertaker began his WrestleMania career on a winning streak that would span over two decades. The best part is that it was purely coincidental that he won every match up until halfway through the streak.
While most of his early WrestleMania matches were forgettable, (please Youtube WrestleMania 9 vs Giant Gonzalez that is hilarious) the good matches stand out so much they cancel out the bad.
By the mid-2000s The Streak became arguably the biggest attraction at WrestleMania, with battles against Randy Orton, championship matches against Batista and Edge, and maybe the two greatest matches of all-time against Shawn Michaels at 25 and 26.
As The Undertaker would limit his appearances to only WrestleMania, The Streak became more special, and without question, he had the best match of the card at 27 and 28 against Triple H and 29 against CM Punk.
Which is why that when Brock Lesnar actually ended the streak in 2014 at WrestleMania 30, it was probably the most shocking moment in the history of sports entertainment. The Streak was never supposed to be broken, and all-of-the-sudden it was. No moment in WrestleMania history was more of a shock and nothing will top it.
Although he may not have a match at this WrestleMania, The Deadman kept his win-total going up with victories over Bray Wyatt, Shane McMahon and John Cena (along with another loss to Roman Reigns)
Just as Tom Brady is 6-3 in Super Bowls, Joe DiMaggio 9-1 in World Series and Bill Russell 11-1 in NBA Finals, The Undertaker is synonymous with dominance and greatness at the showcase of the immortals.