Since the very first event in 1985, WrestleMania has always been more about the Mania than the wrestling. It’s a show that revels in the sizzle of the occasion rather than the steak in the ring. There have been, of course, some absolutely amazing wrestling encounters, but the thing that makes WrestleMania a truly special event is the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the in-ring action.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the special entrances afforded to certain superstars throughout the years. The truly great WrestleMania entrances are often remembered more than the matches that follow them and really feed into the notion of WrestleMania moments.
It’s incredibly hard to narrow it down to just 10, with superstars like The Undertaker worthy of a list all to himself. However, I’ve limited it to one entrance per wrestler and tried to spread it out between events with one or two exceptions. With that all said, on with the list.
10. Hulk Hogan and Mr T – WrestleMania 1
Perhaps the most low key entrance on the list, which is a strange thing to say in conjunction with Hulk Hogan. ‘The Hulkster’ and Mr T emerge from the backstage area, past the likes of Vince McMahon himself and several other backstage personnel, which is amazing to see in its own right. The industry was incredibly guarded at the time, so to get a glimpse of the backstage area and gorilla position is a nice historical Easter egg.
Also, despite it being dubbed over on the WWE Network version, it’s interesting to see Hogan using “Eye of the Tiger” during this period, before he became synonymous with “Real American”. It adds a big fight feel to proceedings and really set the stage for all the amazing WrestleMania entrances to follow.
The police escort that Hogan and Mr T receive as they make their way through the curtain and the crowd reaction that thunders through the MSG crowd let you know that this is a huge deal. As does the look of concern on both men’s face as they head to the ring. Hogan became known for a cartoonish overconfidence that actually diminished his WrestleMania entrances in a lot of cases, but none of that is present here.
As I said, it’s understated when compared to the entrances to follow, but as a historical curiosity and a precursor to the excess of future WrestleManias, Hogan and Mr T deserve a place on the list.
9. Lex Luger – WrestleMania 9
As maligned as WrestleMania 9 was, the absurdity of the setting and the ridiculous theme lead to some truly unforgettable moments. Where else can you see Bobby Heenan in a toga riding a camel backwards, other than an extremely niche OnlyFans? Yes, the in-ring action was some of the worst ever committed to WrestleMania, but the entrances were glorious. Standing mullet and shoulders above the rest is Lex Luger.
Luger, known as ‘The Narcissist’ at the time, made the short journey to the ring flanked by four scantily clad beauties. Not since the dark days of Billy Gunn’s main event push has so much skin been exposed on screen in such a short time. They enter the squared circle, Luger de-robes and the ladies each hold up a full length mirror, as ‘The Narcissist’ admires himself. Just when you think it can’t get any more ridiculous, pyro from each mirror fills the sky, or at least it would have if the wind hadn’t blown it all sideways.
The icing on the cake is the unparalleled Bobby Heenan on commentary, falling over himself to throw platitudes towards Luger. The entire thing is beyond parody in the best, only-in-wrestling way possible.
8. Charlotte Flair – WrestleMania 35
In a match where Charlotte was very much seen as the odd woman out, you can always trust a Flair to make it all about them. Fans wanted to see the culmination of the heated Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey feud, a situation that Charlotte was very much shoe horned into, but Miss Flair’s entrance would have you believe that she was the main attraction.
From the moment we saw her circling the stadium in a private helicopter, to the knowing wink as she walked the rolled out red carpet, to finally standing on the ramp as a cavalcade of fireworks exploded into the nights sky, Charlotte felt like the real deal.
A small point which makes all the difference is the fact that she technically has two entrances, as the helicopter ride and walk to the ring happen either side of Rowdy Ronda’s own Joan Jett fuelled entrance. It’s a great added wrinkle that makes Charlotte feel even more like she’s gate crashing the first ever women’s WrestleMania main event.
7. Fandango – WrestleMania 29
Not since Avatar has something made such a cultural impact only to fade away to nothing. It’s hard to remember that there was a time when Fandango was being groomed as the next big thing. So much so, in fact, that his debut match was against Chris Jericho on the grandest stage of them all. A match that Fandango would win cleanly, much to the bewilderment of the fans in attendance.
His entrance was as flamboyant as you would expect as the sleazy ballroom dancer follows a team of professional dancers down the ramp with his own dance partner on his arm. He gyrates as his much more talented fellow dancers set the stage for one of the great debut entrances in WrestleMania history.
His theme was yet to reach the peak of his popularity but it is perhaps Jim Johnston’s last great piece of music before leaving the company. It just missed out on a top 40 spot in the UK music charts, peaking at number 44, something no other wrestling theme can claim. It certainly adds a lot to the entrance and made Fandango a star overnight.
It’s just a shame that by the following year’s WrestleMania he was slumming it in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.
6. Macho King Randy Savage and Sensational Sherri – WrestleMania 7
It starts with a glimpse of Miss Elizabeth in the crowd, a woman broken by the man about to make his way to the ring. Her inner conflict plain for all to see. Then, the familiar strains of Pomp and Circumstance fill the arena, as The Macho King and his Queen Sherri are carried through the entrance way by six men. Their throne held high as they look down on the peasants in the crowd. It’s about as soap opera as wrestling gets and I love it.
It’s almost made better by the low key entrance of The Ultimate Warrior that follows it. He usually rockets his way to the ring, but here he holds back, as if questioning his own ability to overcome for the first time.
Their outfits are as outlandish as you would expect, managing to make Savage’s usual wardrobe choices seem normal. It all helps build such a visual story of his character and how far it has come.
The jilted ex, the other woman, the wary opponent and the Macho Man himself, literally sitting on top of it all.
5. Sting – WrestleMania 31
Okay, maybe this one would have looked cooler in the dark, but it’s still an absolutely epic WrestleMania entrance. It’s such a unique concept and hasn’t really been replicated since. It all at once feels completely alien yet also somehow a perfect fit for the Sting character.
From the moment the drumming begins on the gigantic staging area until the end of the black and white crow video, it feels like a fever dream. The twelve percussionists in iconic Sting face paint add a welcome sense of gravitas to his first ever WrestleMania encounter. As his theme fills the arena, you can tell that Sting is soaking in every moment of it. Yes, as said above, we maybe lose a bit of drama by having this match and entrance so early on the card, but the daylight lends its own sense of strange excitement to proceedings. The black and white face paint and general monochrome aesthetic stands in stark contrast with the San Francisco sunshine. The bright red jacket of The Vigilante sticking out like a sore thumb.
It’s these contrasts and defying of expectations that make Sting’s entrance stand out in a WrestleMania packed with amazing entrances. Speaking of which.
Number 4. Rusev- WrestleMania 31
A tank. That’s it. That’s the entry.
But seriously, in a career filled with more false starts than a primary school sports day, Rusev can at least take comfort in knowing he was part of a WrestleMania moment that will be talked about forever. Rusev was in full on Russian-sympathising beast mode here. The reigning and defending United States champion was facing John Cena in a match which most fans had Rusev down as the favourite. He didn’t get the victory but he got something much more. He got a tank.
Once again, the gargantuan screens helped make this as special as it was, displaying stereotypical Russian buildings that would make the Tetris title screen blush. Russian gunners and military personnel filled the staging area, marching Lana and the US title all the way to the ring. The guns fired and Rusev himself finally made his entrance, waving the Russian flag high a proud on top of a tank. Did I mention the tank?
WWE have a long, problematic history of xenophobia and the foreign menace. Here, they somehow flipped the script. Even though Rusev was the storyline villain, he was so good at it, a large portion of the audience treated him as the hero. It helped that he was facing John Cena, a man who had split crowd reactions for the last decade. Rusev was the man they wanted to topple Super Cena, and he was riding into WrestleMania on a tank.
3. Bray Wyatt – WrestleMania 30
A year before we believed Rusev was the man destined to defeat John Cena, Bray Wyatt was supposed to do the same. Again, he was technically the bad guy, but you wouldn’t think if from the crowd reactions. Wyatt lit his lamp, while Harper and Rowan looked on. “New Orleans, we’re here.” The crowd erupted and the lamp was extinguished.
What followed was one of the better live performances in WrestleMania history, as Bray’s menacing and iconic theme filled the Skydome. Through the darkness, Bray and his Family emerged and made their way towards the ring.
What made this entrance even better was the recap video of the Wyatt and Cena feud that was genuinely one of the best the company has ever put together. Given how highly regarded their promo packages are, that’s really saying something. The whole thing felt like the coronation of a huge star. Maybe that Wyatt lamp lighting was a metaphor for the torch he was about to be passed by Cena? It turned out not to be the case but it doesn’t diminish from what was an entrance of epic proportions.
Oh, Superdome, dammit!
2. The Undertaker – WrestleMania 29
As I said in the intro, The Undertaker should probably have a list all to himself. Barring maybe his first couple of appearances, his WrestleMania entrances are never less than spectacular. For my money, this is the best of the lot. Equal parts creepy, awe inspiring and vintage Undertaker.
It all began, as most good things in wrestling do, with Paul Heyman. Heyman stood in the ring with The Undertakers classic urn held high above his head. Now, this certainly wasn’t the first time that the urn was used against The Undertaker, but it was definitely the most poignant. The recent death of Taker’s former manager Paul Bearer was used as a plot point in the CM Punk and Undertaker feud and so the urn gained further significance.
As Punk rallied the crowd behind him, ‘The Deadman’ finally made his entrance. A dense fog filled the entrance way and we got our first glimpse of a hand, grasping through the haze. Then another and another, until we saw Undertaker emerge in the shadows, a hundred arms clawing at him. It’s one of the most remembered WrestleMania images of all time and still sends chills down my spine.
He continued through the bodies as a low camera zoomed through the mist until it was right at The Undertaker’s feet. We saw his face in more detail for the first time, stony as ever, then the famous slow death march to the ring. Truly Iconic.
1. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 12
It may be shorter than a lot of the entrances on the list. It may not have as may bells and whistles, but The Heartbreak Kid’s entrance to the ring at WrestleMania 12 had it all. The legendary Sexy Boy theme played as the crowd went wild. Out from the curtain comes, not Shawn Michaels, but his manager/mentor Jose Lothario. There’s a sense of intrigue and confusion as Lothario makes it all the way to the ring without his protégé. Jerry Lawler claims that Shawn chickened out as we waited to see what was going on.
Lothario entered the ring, climbed the turnbuckle and relieved the tension with a simple point to the heavens. Standing high atop the arena, HBK gyrated as only he could before zip wiring his way towards the ring. Jaws dropped as a million camera’s flashed throughout the arena. The vertigo inducing camera work captured every breath taking moment of HBK’s dramatic descent. He landed, not in the ring, but in the crowd and made the short journey through the mobbing crowd and over the guard rail.
It’s the first thing I think of when I think of WrestleMania in general, not just entrances. There are many reasons why Shawn Michaels is known as Mr WrestleMania but this entrance is what cemented him as the grandest showman on the grandest stage of them all.
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