Every year, the WWE reminds us that their biggest show of the year is filled with special “WrestleMania moments.” Those are the iconic moments that happen with each passing WrestleMania. We may not remember every single match that takes place, but we certainly remember these things. Championship victories. Emotional highs. Times when thousands of fans rose to their feet in unison. Shocks that left our jaws hanging long after WrestleMania ended.
Narrowing down over three decades’ worth of these moments is nearly impossible. There will be at least ten to fifteen memorable events that you won’t find here simply because there isn’t enough room. Things like the “Ultimate Challenge,” Steve Austin’s first WWE Title win, Ric Flair’s retirement, Rock vs. Hogan, and the reunion of Macho Man and Elizabeth were all left off. But that’s okay. We still love them all and we have these five incredible moments to relive.
5. The Heist Of The Century
A few matches into WrestleMania 31, you wouldn’t have expected that Seth Rollins would end up with a historic night. He lost to Randy Orton early on in the show and that seemed to be the end of it. The main event of that show saw Brock Lesnar defend the WWE Championship against Roman Reigns. Lesnar dominated most of it, but Reigns stormed back. The two had reached a stalemate following a series of Spears and an F5. With both men down, Rollins’ music hit and the crowd came unglued. As the holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase, Rollins could cash in a shot at the WWE Title whenever he wanted. He chose the main event of WrestleMania, which nobody had ever done before, turning the match into a Triple Threat. Rollins seized the opportunity and pinned Reigns to become champion. He immediately ran up the ramp to celebrate a wild ending as commentator Michael Cole exclaimed, “Rollins with the heist of the century!”
4. The Slam
Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan. Two larger than life personalities. Friends turned into enemies, setting up this WWE Title match at WrestleMania III. This was so big, it helped set an indoor attendance record of over 93,000 fans. Fans viewed Hogan as invincible, but Andre had been undefeated for 15 years. This was the one odd that truly seemed too large to overcome. Hogan would have none of that. He lifted Andre’s 500 pound body over his head and dropped him with a bodyslam that wowed the audience. Hogan added his signature leg drop to retain the gold and all was right with the wrestling world. This was the definition of a spectacle in wrestling. Nothing fancy or overly athletic. Just the hero doing the seemingly impossible to beat the evil giant. It’s iconic.
3. The Streak…Is Over
One thing always seemed certain. The Undertaker wins at WrestleMania. Since his first WrestleMania appearance in 1991, The Undertaker had knocked back all challengers. Shawn Michaels, Edge, Triple H, Kane, Ric Flair, Batista, Randy Orton, CM Punk. Legends lined up to try and one by one, they fell victim to the “Deadman” and his 21-0 record at the event. Despite Brock Lesnar’s UFC background, when he challenged The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX, everyone figured a loss for him was a foregone conclusion. After about 20 minutes of wrestling, Lesnar planted Undertaker with a third F5. The referee counted three, the bell rang, and you’ll never hear 75,000+ people get so quiet. Nobody knew how to react. This was unthinkable. Lesnar was stunned, his manager Paul Heyman was in disbelief, and the cameramen kept cutting to fans who couldn’t really fathom what just happened. The most shocking moment in wrestling history, period.
2. Austin Doesn’t Quit
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin is arguably the biggest star in wrestling history. With him as the top star, the WWE saw a massive spike in popularity. The late 90s belonged to him and he became a household name for people who didn’t even watch wrestling. Austin was a pop culture phenomenon. None of that happens without this moment. At WrestleMania 13, Austin faced Bret Hart in a Submissions Match. Hart was a submissions master who had an unbreakable hold called the Sharpshooter. Austin was a tough guy who vowed to never quit. When Austin got trapped in that move, he had already been busted open during the match. The shot of the blood pouring down his face as he struggled to get free became legendary. It was the star-making moment that propelled him to the unbelievable level he reached.
This was never supposed to happen. Daniel Bryan quickly became the most popular Superstar in the WWE and won the WWE Title over John Cena at SummerSlam 2013. However, he was immediately attacked by Triple H and lost the title when Randy Orton cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Bryan failed to regain the title and was treated as an afterthought for most of the rest of the year. The fans wouldn’t have it, hijacking shows by chanting his name and doing his signature “Yes” taunt. The WWE was forced to insert him into the WWE Title picture at WrestleMania XXX. Bryan defeated Triple H at the start of the show in a classic match. He then ended it by beating two future Hall of Famers in Batista and Orton, to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Title. The greatest underdog story got its happy ending. Bryan celebrated with the two titles in front of over 75,000 fans. Something no wrestling fan will ever forget.