By Haydn Gleed
It’s not been easy to get into the WrestleMania season mood this year, so your good ol’ friend Haydn is here to help. We are going to play a little game called My Dream WrestleMania Card. Now I know what you are thinking, oh, I’ll match up my favorite wrestlers over the years. In the immortal words of Steve Austin, UH UH!!! There are rules (because Haydn Gleed said so).
– The card must be full of matches that have happened at past WrestleManias. You can’t for example have The Ultimate Warrior against Daniel Bryan, it has to have been a match that actually happened.
– You can’t have one wrestler in more than one match.
– All five of the major titles have to be defended, so the card will have to include an Intercontinental Championship match, a U.S. Title Match, a Tag Team Title match, a Women’s (or *cringe* Diva’s) Title match, and of course a World Title match.
– Nine matches on the card.
– Think about the overall experience of the show, namely if you have nine matches filled with hardcore violent spots, by the fifth match the audience would be numb to it, so think about the overall pacing of the show to put together an all round great card.
Try it out, I had a good time coming up with my list, which you can read below along with my thoughts.
Show Opener: Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho.
Original WrestleMania: WrestleMania 19
A great build up to the match with a real feeling of student against master to it, and great action from bell to bell. For me, the opening match should always start the show with a bang, and this match from WrestleMania 19 would do that without having too many spots or moments that would be difficult to top later on. I did hesitate with this because obviously Shawn has been in some phenomenal matches over the years at WrestleMania, but I wanted a great Shawn match in the opening match slot without it overshadowing the rest of the show.
US Title Match: John Cena vs. Rusev.
Original WrestleMania: WrestleMania 31
I’ll be 100 percent honest here, I would only have this match on the card for Rusev’s entrance. He came to the ring in a frickin’ TANK!!!! Sure, the match wasn’t great and had a lame distraction finish with Lana, but he came to the ring in a frickin’ TANK!!! That’s my “wow and grandeur” moment of the card.
Tag Title Match: Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boys.
Original WrestleMania: WrestleMania 17
After the slight come down with the U.S. title match I would want this match to completely wow the crowd with some high spots and athleticism. After everything we have seen in the 15 years since this match was originally on ‘Mania I can listen to the argument that it’s not as special as it was at the time, but I would still argue that most fans would appreciate and applaud the commitment that these six men showed during the match. Arguably, this wasn’t as good as their SummerSlam TLC match, but this would be the WrestleMania match to showcase the tag titles.
Mid-Card Excitement Match: Undertaker vs. Triple H.
Original WrestleMania: WrestleMania 17
Again, might be quite a shocking pick when you consider the calibre of matches that both men have had on the showcase of the immortals, and you may also be shocked by which Mania version of the match I’ve gone with, but I honestly feel that this match is very under rated or the victim of being on such an amazing card that it’s largely been forgotten, but I personally find it as a nice hidden gem of a brawl style match. This would be the match that would have the moments where they fight through the crowd bringing the live audience to life. The other benefit of having this match on my dream card is that the late great Lemmy from Motorhead would be doing the introduction for Triple H.
Intercontinental Title Match: Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat.
Original WrestleMania: WrestleMania 3
How could it be any other? A pure wrestling masterclass that to this day is still in contention as the best match ever seen on a WrestleMania. As the years have gone by and the match has been watched over and over again, and when you also compare it to some of the crazy stuff that has been done in the 30 years since, it might not stand up as well to newer fans compared those people who watched it at the time. Still, a great match that I would argue stole the spotlight somewhat from the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant main event.
Gimmick Match (Submission): Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin
Original WrestleMania: WrestleMania 13
My own personal favorite WrestleMania match, and in my opinion the most historical significant match in the history of WWF/E. For me, this match and the double turn that came from it is what launched Steve Austin into the main event and the biggest drawing act in wrestling history, and in a roundabout way Bret Hart’s heel turn eventually contributed to him leaving for WCW, which led to the screwjob of Survivor Series ’97 which led to the evil McMahon character, so it’s huge. What we can’t lose sight of either was that it was a damn fine match, with two guys in the prime of their talented careers putting everything on the line and telling a sublime story. The shot of Austin in the Sharpshooter with blood flowing down his head determined not to give up to the point that he passed out from the pain is just wrestling in the ring at its finest.
Iconic Match: The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan
Original WrestleMania: WrestleMania 18
Two icons from different era’s colliding in an epic battle? Hell yeah that would be on my dream card. Again, arguably both men had better matches at WrestleMania with The Rock against Stone Cold or Hogan against The Ultimate Warrior, but this match was so unique in terms of two men from different times putting on a good to great match depending on your point of view. The crowd were so into this match, and although the fans turning on The Rock was somewhat unexpected, it did add to the drama of the match. Just a match for the ages and a real spectacle which deserves to be on my dream card.
Women’s Title Match: Mickie James vs. Trish Stratus
Original WrestleMania: WrestleMania 23
From a card layout standpoint, I would want a comedown match between the run of two great emotional matches we had just seen, but at the same time I would still want a good quality women’s match which had a compelling story behind it. Enter Mickie James against Trish Stratus. From a technical standpoint this match probably wouldn’t hold up to some of the matches we see from the NXT ladies, but the storyline of Mickie being a stalker and Trish having to fight her to leave her alone was so compelling at the time, that this would be a buffer match, but one that you would be interested in seeing what the conclusion was.
Main Event & World Title Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista.
Original WrestleMania: WrestleMania 30
Not the greatest main event match from an in-ring standpoint, but this is simply there for the feel good moment at the end of the show, where Daniel Bryan is holding up the belt that represents the dreams of every single fan who had followed and cheered him on over a breathtaking 18 months. There have been great moments at the end of WrestleMania down the years, but the outpouring of genuine feelings for this man overcoming everything and standing on top of the mountain is something that will be hard to beat, and I would want my show to go off the air with this moment.
Wrestlers Who Didn’t Make The Cut
When I looked at my card after finishing it, I was shocked by the sheer number of truly outstanding wrestlers who didn’t make it, so let me explain my reasons for some of them:
Mick Foley: Foley is one of my all time wrestlers for a number of reasons which I have written about over the years, but he has never truly had that one great WrestleMania match. The hardcore match he had with Edge had his WrestleMania moment when he went through the flaming table, but I can’t justify taking any of the matches above off for a Foley WrestleMania match and that does make me feel slightly sad.
Roddy Piper: For me, one of the men who truly made WrestleMania the juggernaut that it is today with being the most hated heel in the company going into the first WrestleMania which made it a success. His best match at ‘Mania was at WrestleMania 8 against Bret Hart, but I can’t put that above the Stone Cold/Bret match. If I ever do a WrestleMania card from hell, I’m sure Piper against Mr T from Mania 2 would be on it though.
Brock Lesnar: Another shock omission when I looked back on my card, but he has had shockingly only four matches at Mania. 19 against Kurt Angle could have made the list but missed out, 20 against Goldberg was entertaining for all the wrong reasons, 31 against Taker was a huge moment but ultimately time has proven that him going over was a mistake and 32 was a good main event but not on the best of all time list. Maybe Brock against Ambrose will crack the list this year (stop laughing!)
Ultimate Warrior: His matches from Mania 6 against Hogan and 7 against Randy Savage were outstanding, especially from someone who in many ways was very limited in the ring, and as an act he would get the crowd pumped, but I wanted to include both of the above opponents in other matches so he missed out for that reason.
Ric Flair: I’ll be the first to admit that his match with Shawn Michaels deserves to be on this list as it was emotionally on a higher level than you would ever expect from a wrestling match, and his match against The Undertaker defied his older years. Even going back to WrestleMania 8 against Savage, Flair has put on some phenomenal performances on the big stage. It was a toss up between his match with Michaels and Shawn against Jericho, but because I would have wanted Shawn to open the show, Flairs match against him was ironically too good that it would have overshadowed everything else.
If you want to discuss my WrestleMania Dream Card or if you want to share your picks, get in touch via Twitter @haydngleed or via email email@example.com. I’d be very interested to hear what your dream cards would be.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Jake Barnett co-hosting the Boom and Dot Net Weekly combo show. Jason and Jake discuss Becky Lynch announcing her pregnancy, Alberto Del Rio being accused of sexual assault, WWE's IC Title tournament, Mike Tyson appearing at AEW Double Or Nothing, Undertaker's Last Ride documentary, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV thoughts, and more...