Wrestling Soap Box: Will the Real Mr. WrestleMania Please Stand Up?
-Wrestling Soap Box: Will the Real WrestleMania Please Stand Up?
WrestleMania, the showcase of the immortals, the one night where the industry’s finest apply their craft in memorable fashion. In the pantheon of great WrestleMania moments, there are certain performers who go above and beyond in order to make the night worthy of its famed reputation. Shawn Michaels is “Mr. WrestleMania” to most, and even though the heartbreak kid is certainly deserving of the title, there are others who have a legitimate claim to the throne. That’s absolutely crazy, right? If not HBK, then who? I mean, if you Google Mr. WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels images and information appear as far as the eye can see.
Maybe a giant, warrior, or millionaire is the rightful bearer of this accolade. There are three people who come to mind when thinking of those who encompass some of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history.
-Hulk Hogan: Hulkamania is synonymous with the granddaddy of them all. The first nine WrestleMania events were promoted around what the Hulkster was doing that evening and would be the case almost a decade later for WrestleMania 18 and 19. That is a hell of a feat that will never be duplicated. Rubbing elbows with Mr. T, the explosion of the Mega Powers, and his two Sky Dome collisions against the Ultimate Warrior and The Rock are some of the most cherished moments in wrestling history. Of course, no one will forget Andre the Giant being slammed in front of 93,000 people at the Pontiac Silver Dome which is the most popular WrestleMania moment of all time. With an 8-4 record, Hulk’s resume is hard to beat.
-Macho Man Randy Savage: Truly one of the all-times greats of the squared circle who was one of most anticipated acts on the card and often stole the show. Fans were chomping at the bit to see George “The Animal” Steele thrash the Macho Man at the event’s sequel but they would have to wait until the following year as he and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat engaged what is arguably the greatest match of all time. He would follow that up by winning the most important tournament the WWE has ever held and headline WrestleMania 5 against Hulk Hogan in which the feud is considered to be finest example of wrestling storytelling. Savage carried the Warrior to his best match ever and had an epic clash against Ric Flair that was impossible for Hogan and Sid Justice to follow. With a 6-5 record, the power of the Madness has everyone saying “Ooh yeah!”
-The Undertaker: 20-0…. is there anything that really needs to be said? The Streak has become more coveted than any title. Champions come and go, but legends live forever and anyone who ends the streak will have the one accolade that no one will ever be able to take away because there will only be one. It takes an incredibly talented individual to pull off a story arc of this magnitude and Mark Calloway does quite nicely. Like the other candidates, he often had one of the most anticipated matches going into a WrestleMania card and was often one of the highlights, if not the highlight, of the night.
At the end of the day there can only be one, so by the process of elimination The Undertaker is eliminated. Even though he made the best with what he had to work with, dreadful and forgettable affairs with the likes of Giant Gonzalez, Sycho Sid, Kane at WM 14, and Mark Henry just can’t be condoned when talking about the greatest WrestleMania performer of all time.
This endeavor just became a lot harder. How do you compare and contrast these three? Shawn has the greatest collection of WrestleMania moments while Hogan has the single greatest WrestleMania moment, and then there is Savage who has the greatest WrestleMania match. But, someone has to go, and that person is…..Hulk Hogan. He was instrumental in making WrestleMania the success that it is and is considered by many to be the greatest of all time. The Andre slam was great and he and The Rock had match of the night at WrestleMania 18 but we are getting down to the nitty gritty and the two remaining candidates’ body of work edges out the Hulkster due to the overall craftsman ship of their performance.
Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Savage: This would have been an amazing match in their prime but we are not talking fantasy matches we are talking who deserves to be Mr. WrestleMania. Let’s look at their key bouts
Razor Ramon at WM 10
Bret Hart at WM 12
Chris Jericho at WM 19
Triple Threat Match at WM 20
Kurt Angle at WM 21
Undertaker at WM 25 & WM 26
Ricky Steamboat at WM 3
Ted DiBiase at WM 4
Hulk Hogan at WM 5
Ultimate Warrior at WM 7
Ric Flair at WM 8
Michaels has two more key moments than Savage, but he also worked nine more WrestleMania events so you can’t count that against him. All of the guys Michaels worked with are the best of the best while Savage somehow pulled an amazing match out of the Warrior. Could Shawn have done the same? All of their matches were high profile matches on the card so that makes this decision even harder. The emotion that both were able to draw out of their matches was extraordinary. You loved them as the hero and you hated them as the villain. Their matches involving Taker, Razor, Dragon, and Hogan have a historical significance that can’t be beat and they were entertaining from bell to bell. You could look at this all day and look at it with a fine tooth comb and make a case for either guy but in the end, there can only be one and the winner is…Shawn Michaels!
It all boils down to one reason: Savage’s match with Crush at WrestleMania 10. It was horrible, and I’m surprised I even remembered it. Michaels has never had a bad WrestleMania match, not even against Vince McMahon. Shawn also had an important hand in making the Undertaker’s streak famous. Sure, it was always mentioned, but it wasn’t a prominent fixture until his dance with the Deadman at WrestleMania 25.
It is very difficult to even suggest that Shawn Michaels should not be Mr. WrestleMania. Seventeen appearances on the big stage with seven title matches, five main events, the ladder match at WrestleMania 10, the iron man match at WrestleMania 12, and his career ending matches with the Undertaker are the stuff of legend.
Who do you think is the real Mr. WrestleMania? HBK, Savage, Taker, Hogan, or someone else not mentioned above. No matter how you slice it, these four are some of the best this business has ever seen and all of them have created amazing moments that last forever.