Over the last couple of weeks, I sat down and compiled a 30 match card to celebrate 30 years of WrestleMania (fun fact: the 30th anniversary of WrestleMania I is actually the night after this year’s Mania). This is not the top 30 matches in WrestleMania history. This is a 30th Anniversary Card, and because it’s a card and not a list, no person appears more than once. That is the challenge of this series.
I’ll reveal a smidgen of my card by telling you that my favorite Mania match, the Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels Ironman Match, is not on this card. Why? Because the people I ultimately paired each of them with didn’t fit well elsewhere and those people deserved to be on the card. This scenario comes up a few times, and I’ll explain things more for each of those scenarios. This is harder than it looks. Not being able to use a person more than once really limits your options, especially for people that only have a few Mania appearances. To give you an idea of how difficult this was for me, I almost didn’t have a match for Cena! Almost…
I’ll be revealing the card over the next few weeks. This week will be matches 30-26, the order is based on where I feel the matches should be placed on the card. This is where I essentially rank the matches that I’ve chosen. You’ll notice that some matches are chosen simply because I wanted to make sure a particular individual or team made the card and not necessarily because it’s an amazing match. These fill the undercard whereas the higher quality matches are further up the card.
While challenging, I had a lot of fun doing this. It erased any doubt that I’m a wrestling nerd. If you want to embrace your inner-nerd, I encourage you to make your own 30th Anniversary Card and share them with us here at Between the Ropes in the comments below. Now, if I haven’t confused you too bad, let’s get to this. You’ll pick up on what this is all about as we move forward. Now, for our opening contest:
30. Gimmick Battle Royal (X-Seven) (3:07)
This seems like as good a match as any to kick things off. This match might be the worst worked match of all time at Mania that doesn’t contain a non-wrestler. Despite that, the appearance of so many legends (19 in all) in one match is something that cannot be duplicated. There was a small window for a match like this, with legends from this era, to take place and the WWE struck while the proverbial iron was hot. It’s a fun stroll down memory lane and a great way to whet the appetite for some of the other great names in the business who will appear throughout this card. Also, the fact that I could find a 19 person battle royal where none of the participants wrestled in any of the other 29 matches on the card is kind of amazing. This match is one of a kind (literally, as there’s never been another Gimmick Battle Royal) and fits perfectly on a card celebrating 30 years of a one of a kind event like WrestleMania.
29. Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger (XXIV) (10:30)
The 29th WrestleMania wasn’t the greatest show. In fact, the show itself is really overshadowed by the following night’s Raw where the crowd in the IZOD Center basically hijacked the show and made it a moment never to forget. It’s unfortunate, because the two men involved in this match are more remembered for their roles on said Raw, with Swagger attacking Del Rio’s ankle allowing Dolph Ziggler to cash in Money in the Bank and win the World’s Title, than they are for their Mania match. While not a top 10 match, both men put forth a great effort and I feel like Del Rio’s great work throughout his 4 year run with the company warranted him a spot somewhere on this card. It’s also unfortunate that Del Rio never really had a WrestleMania moment during his run. Nevertheless, he’s earned a spot on this card and Swagger gets brought along with him.
28. The Brain Busters vs. Strike Force (V) (9:17)
I believe Arn Anderson may be the most underrated wrestler of his era. Solid on promos, a great look, and a workhorse in the ring, Double A had everything you’d want in a pro wrestler. This match at the 5th “show of shows” is Arn’s only WrestleMania appearance (same goes for his partner, Tully Blanchard, another guy I feel is undeservedly overlooked for his accomplishments). Because of this, I have included this match on my card. It may not be a great tag match, with the focus being solely on Santana and Martel’s dissolution, but it does feature some nice spots from the former Horsemen. I wish Arn had other Mania matches to choose from, but he doesn’t. Due to who he is, I had to include this one.
27. Ted DiBiase vs. Jake Roberts (VI) (11:50)
This might be the first “sleeper” I encountered on this card. I honestly didn’t remember these two ever faced each other at a WrestleMania. Both guys played a huge part in the Federation’s success at that time and both deserve a spot on a Mania card. But I feel like this match is worthy of a spot on the card without the “they need a spot” factor. The finish keeps this from being a classic, but it’s a solid match, featuring two great characters. It’s a shame it’s been forgotten.
26. WrestleMania XX World Tag 4 Way (XX) (7:52)
I could not for the life of me figure out how to get the Dudley Boys on this card. I felt like with the work they’ve done in the WWF/E they deserved a spot. Their TLC Match at X-Seven is probably a top 5 Mania match. Unfortunately, I had other plans for the other guys in that match, particularly Edge and Christian. Since I was using them elsewhere, I couldn’t use the TLC match. This limited my options. I went with this match because it also gives Booker T (who doesn’t have an impressive Mania resume) and RVD on the card. The match itself isn’t that bad and fits very well as the 5th match on this card. Unfortunately this isn’t a classic match, it’s actually a bit chaotic, and is here because it gives The Dudley’s, Booker, and Van Dam a well deserved spot on the card. It’s good enough to do that.
Well, there’s the first 5 matches. You’ll eventually notice the number of these “I just wanted to get ‘so and so’ on the card” matches starts to decrease moving forward. I hope you can see the difficulty of doing this, since I can’t use a guy twice. Hopefully you liked this enough to stick around for parts 2-6 over the next few weeks. Part 2 will be out this Thursday if all goes as planned. I’ll see ya then.