The Best And Worst WrestleMania Matches: Part 2 – Wrestlemania IX To Wrestlemania 2000
More of the best and worst Wrestlemania matches from the New Generation to the Attitude Era.
With Wrestlemania 33 on the horizon, and excitement or trepidation, mounting as to what we will see on the night, we take a look at the best and worst match at each year’s ‘Showcase Of The Immortals’. In part 2 we shine a light on the period between Wrestlemania IX and the terribly named Wrestlemania 2000 (which is actually the 16th Wrestlemania). It’s a period that features the rise and (first) retirement of Shawn Michaels and the passing of the torch to ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.
Best – Shawn Michaels vs Tatanka (WWF Intercontinental Title)
It may seem strange that a match involving Tatanka that ends in a countout finish is the best match on the show, but HBK is that damn good. Also, the rest of the card is terrible. Michaels was a breath of fresh air in 1993. The things he was doing in the ring were revolutionary for the company. This is a fun match and probably the best of Tatanka’s career, even if the finish is somewhat poorly executed.
Worst – Undertaker vs Giant Gonzalez
Well, nothing about this is good. I think it would be fair to say that Gonzalez is one of the worst wrestlers to set foot in a WWF/WWE ring, and to make matters worse he has a weird skin coloured attire that has muscles and hair painted on it. It’s a sight to behold. The match itself is incredibly slow and awkward, and to top it off it ends in a DQ when Gonzalez tries to straight up murder Undertaker with chloroform. It’s not all bad though. Undertaker at least gets to come to the ring with a vulture, which is nice.
Best – Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels (WWF Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match)
This may well be toughest decision of this whole endeavor. The show opens with an absolute classic between Bret and Owen Hart, which is quite possibly the best opening match in wrestling history. It tells a wonderful story and features an extraordinary level of technical expertise. It is a match that every wrestling fan should see. However, having said all that, the ladder match is a pivotal moment in wrestling, in addition to being a classic, and so it gets the nod here. It’s impossible to overstate how groundbreaking this match was. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities with regards to gimmick matches and what can be done in the squared circle. It is by no means as crazy as modern ladder matches but it is worth noting that everything they did with the ladder was something that had never been seen before. This match is one of the all time greats, both in terms of historical significance and how well it holds up today.
Worst – Earthquake vs Adam Bomb
On the opposite end of the scale is this. A match so forgettable I just watched it and it has already gone from my memory. In all fairness, it is just your typical squash match and it’s over in 30 seconds.
Best – Diesel vs Shawn Michaels (WWF Title)
The Diesel title reign has had a lot of bad press over the years, and much of it is deserved. But there are a few really good matches along the way, and this is one of them. Michaels brought the best out of Diesel every time they fought and it’s a shame they didn’t get to showcase that in the main event spot. That honour went to Bam Bam Bigelow and NFL legend Lawrence Taylor. They work a good match, with Michaels having Diesel beat at one point, but the referee is knocked out and it goes a long way to cementing Michaels as a truly top tier wrestler.
Worst – Undertaker vs King Kong Bundy
King Kong Bundy makes his third appearance in the worst match category. He didn’t have the best of times at Wrestlemania. It’s an ugly, slow match that is much like many of the other early Undertaker matches. The story here is that the Million Dollar Corporation has stolen the urn and Undertaker wants it back. He briefly succeeds, but in typical fashion Kama Mustafa runs in and steals it so that he can melt it down and make a necklace. It’s a story as old as time.
Best – Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart vs Shawn Michaels (WWF Title, IRON MAN Match)
I will start by saying that I’m not as high on this match as some people are. The last 15 minutes or so are absolutely brilliant but the first 45 minutes feel like they are just stalling for time. Having said that, I appreciate the athleticism and work that went in to it, I just wish it had been structured better. The finish is great and it positioned Michaels as the top guy in the company, so for that reason alone it deserves to be well remembered. It is a very good match but I don’t think it’s the all time classic that it is made out to be.
Worst – Ultimate Warrior vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley
This is all kinds of terrible. It’s one of the strangest squash matches ever, as HHH gets decent offense in. He even gets to hit the Pedigree but Warrior no sells it. When I say he no sells it I mean he gets up immediately, stronger than before he’d taken the move, hits his finisher and wins. Possibly the worst part is that nobody gained anything from this match as, predictably, Warrior was fired within 5 months. On a side note, Triple H is accompanied to the ring by Sable, marking her first WWF appearance.
Best – Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart vs ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin (Submission Match)
This match is an absolute masterpiece of in ring storytelling. Austin enters as the heel and Hart as the face, but during the course of the match they manage to pull off the best double turn in wrestling history. Hart resorts to increasingly desperate tactics to put away Austin, who continues to fight through it all. Even when he has been busted open, and is bleeding quite heavily, Austin refuses to quit and that final image of Austin locked in the Sharpshooter with blood running down his face and dripping off his teeth is one of the most famous in wrestling history. He passes out in the hold as opposed to quitting and the match ends with the fans cheering Austin’s name and booing Hart. This, above all else, was what put Austin on the path to being the biggest star in wrestling. An absolute stone cold classic.
Worst – The Headbangers vs The New Blackjacks vs The Godwinns vs Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon
This match starts off well enough but it doesn’t last. There is a confusing countout/disqualification that eliminates the Blackjacks and Furnas & LaFon and it loses any momentum it had built up. From there it is a matter of getting through the match as painlessly as possible.
Best – Shawn Michaels vs ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin (WWF Title)
The passing of the torch to Austin. This is the last match for Michaels before he was forced into a 4 year hiatus due to the back injury he suffered at the Royal Rumble. Considering he must have been in pain throughout the match you would never be able to tell. The addition of Mike Tyson as the ringside enforcer added a lot of attention to this match, and both men responded well with a good match the crowd was fully invested in. Austin gets his first WWF Title victory on the biggest stage of them all and Michaels gets to leave with the memorable image of being knocked out by Tyson.
Worst – Tag Team Battle Royale
This match is boring, even by battle royale standards. The quality of teams on show is not good at all and the whole thing is basically a showcase for the returning Legion Of Doom. The last two teams are LOD and the New Midnight Express, which should tell you everything you need to know. Even after being hit with slop buckets by the Godwinns LOD still win easily. It’s a waste of time.
Best – The Rock vs ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin (WWF Title, No DQ)
You can’t really go wrong when you put the 2 hottest stars in the company against each other in the main event of Wrestlemania. The match has a lot of shenanigans going on, but none of it takes anything away from the spectacle. They brawl all over the place, go through multiple referees and generally do everything that usually goes along with memorable world title matches. It’s a great first effort in a fantastic trilogy of Wrestlemania matches between the two. It’s a great snapshot of what made the Attitude Era so revered by fans.
Worst – Undertaker vs Big Bossman (Hell In A Cell)
This is quite possibly the worst HIAC match ever and there was really no need to hold this match in the structure, other than the post match incident. At no point does the match even come close to being as intense as you would expect from a cell encounter. It just labours on to it’s inevitable conclusion. Following the match the Brood descend from the rafters, drop a noose through the roof of the cell and help Undertaker hang Bossman. That’s right, Undertaker attempts murder on live PPV. It’s a ridiculous thing to see on a wrestling show but at least it’s memorable, I suppose.
Best – Dudley Boyz vs Hardy Boyz vs Edge & Christian (WWF Tag Team Titles, Ladder Match)
These teams had been building a really good 3-way feud in the lead up to this, but they kicked it up a few notches here. They took everything that previous ladder matches had done and added a whole host of new things, including chairs and tables, into the mix. It raised the bar for what was expected from gimmick matches. All 6 men put their bodies through all kinds of punishment and the crowd eat up every moment of it. It set the table for a year of crazy, fantastic matches between these teams.
Worst – Terri Runnels vs The Kat (Catfight)
This match follows the ladder match and has the stipulation that the winner is the first person to throw their opponent from the ring. It may seem like I’m picking some low hanging fruit here but it is just that bad. It could be argued this is possibly the worst match ever to take place at Wrestlemania. There is no wrestling to be found here. This show perfectly sums up the best and worst of the Attitude Era.