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WRESTLEMANIA’s Top 10 “Gimmick” Matches

WRESTLEMANIA’s Top 10 “Gimmick” Matches

On April 2nd, the “Road to Wrestlemania” makes its final stop at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. This will be the 33rd edition of the pop-culture phenomenon. Wrestlemania is known for showcasing some of the greatest matches of all time, from Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage in 1987 to Shawn Michaels vs. the Undertaker in 2009.

“Gimmick” matches are also a Wrestlemania staple. These are the matches where certain rules are thrown out the window, only to be replaced by over-the-top stipulations that turn ladders and chairs from household items into weapons of mass destruction.  Out of the many gimmick matches over the last 33 years, we’ve narrowed down the top 10.

10. Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior – Wrestlemania VII

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Earlier that year at the Royal Rumble, the “Macho Man” cost the Warrior the WWE Championship. This began a hatred that ran so deep that both superstars felt the WWE wasn’t big enough for them to co-exist. So at Wrestlemania VII, they fought in a retirement match, where the loser had to hang up the boots for good. After 20:47, the Warrior was victorious, and Savage was forced into retirement. This match made the list for two reasons. First, it was the best match the Ultimate Warrior had ever had in his career and solidified his place as one of the greats (yes, I feel this is better than his match against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI). Second, the match ended with the reunion of Savage with his longtime manager, Miss Elizabeth.

Savage and Elizabeth

9. Hardys vs. Dudleys. vs. Edge and Christian – Wrestlemania 2000

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The Dudleys, the Hardys, and Edge/Christian ran the entire tag team division of the WWE during the early 2000s. One of these three teams were always the champions, with the other two teams right on their tails. Every great feud has its beginnings, and this ladder match at Wrestlemania 2000 was the start of theirs (It SHOULD be called Wrestlemania 16, but everything that year had 2000 at the end of it, because of the future). While Edge and Christian won this first battle, the war between these teams was far from over, as you’ll see later in this list.

8. Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy – Wrestlemania 25

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With a few exceptions, tag teams in the world of professional wrestling tend to break up and feud with each other. Best friends become the worst of enemies. In this case, it was brother against brother. Matt Hardy turned on his brother earlier in the year, with years of jealousy at the more popular brother finally coming to a head. Since Matt cost him a chance at becoming the World Champion, Jeff had nothing but revenge on his mind as he entered an “Extreme Rules” (anything goes) match with his brother at Wrestlemania 25. That need for revenge may have clouded his mind, as it was Matt who pulled out the victory after a Twist of Fate with a chair wrapped around Jeff’s neck.

7. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal – Wrestlemania XXX

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It what is now a Wrestlemania tradition, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal gives superstars that didn’t get a normal match a chance to participate in the biggest show of the year and also gives a showcase to who the WWE is looking at for the future. In its inaugural edition, it was the “Swiss Superman” Cesaro that showed off his amazing strength, eliminating the over 400 pound Big Show to take home the commemorative trophy.

6. Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker – Wrestlemania 32

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After taking a few years away from his father’s company, Shane McMahon made a triumphant return in 2016 to try and repair the damage he felt his sister Stephanie had done running the company while he was away. Before he could take his rightful place in charge, Vince McMahon wanted Shane to earn his spot back, putting him in a match with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 32. Not only did Shane have to face the greatest Wrestlemania performer in history, but he had to do it within the confines of the dreaded Hell in a Cell match. While the “Phenom” ultimately pulled out the victory, Shane was still considered by many the MVP of the night, putting his body (and possibly life) on the line as he attempted an elbow drop from the top of the Cell.

5. Triple H vs. The Undertaker – Wrestlemania XXVIII

Triple H Undertaker

We have back-to-back appearances by both the Undertaker as well as the Hell in a Cell match. Having fought each other the previous year, Triple H and the Undertaker took Wrestlemania XXVIII’s match to the next level, not only by putting it in the cell but by having the legendary Shawn Michaels act as the special guest referee. For over 30 minutes, these two men tore both the house down, as well as each other apart. In the end, the Undertaker would keep his undefeated streak alive yet again by defeating “The Game” with the Tombstone piledriver. What made this match extra special was watching the three legends walk back up the ramp together, signaling the end of an era and the passing of the torch to the next generation of WWE superstars.

End of an Era

4. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania XII

Iron Man

In 1996, Shawn Michaels was the most popular superstar in the WWE. A close second was the WWE Champion, Bret “The Hitman” Hart. It was fitting that the main event of Wrestlemania XII featured these two technical masters fighting each other. However, a normal wrestling match wasn’t enough to show the world what these two could do. Therefore, Shawn and Bret fought in a 60-minute “Iron Man” match. Whoever had the most pinfalls, submissions, etc, at the end of the hour was declared the winner. It made perfect sense that when the hour was up, both superstars were tied at 0-0. After entering into sudden death overtime, Michaels won the match and the championship after some Sweet Chin Music (also called the Super Kick) to the face of the Hitman.

Iron Man

3. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin – Wrestlemania 13

Wrestlemania 13

Having begun their feud in late 1996, The Hitman and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin attempted to settle their differences at Wrestlemania 13 during an “I Quit” match. The only way to win was to force your opponent to give up. This match was not only great for its brutality, but it also symbolized a shift in focus for the WWE. Gone were the “goody-goody” heroes like Hart. Fans of that time wanted the wrestlers who were going to defy authority, like Stone Cold. Forcing Austin to pass out from the pain of being in his signature Sharpshooter, Bret Hart gained the victory over his heated rival, but as he left to the boos from the crowd, he knew that his time as their hero was over.

2. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Wrestlemania X

Shawn Michaels

In 1993, Shawn Michaels missed a mandatory title defense, so he was both suspended and stripped of his Intercontinental Title. Sitting at home, he had to watch Razor Ramon win a battle royal to become the new champion. Once he returned to action, Michaels was not going to let Ramon walk around with what he felt was HIS title, so the undisputed Intercontinental champion would be decided at Wrestlemania X in the event’s first ladder match. Both Ramon’s and Michaels’ belts hung above the ring, with the only way to reach them was climbing up a ladder. While everyone was excited to see who would win, no one would expect to witness something iconic. Razor and Shawn performed what many argue is Wrestlemania’s greatest match, gimmick or otherwise. Not only did it raise the bar as to what performing at Wrestlemania really meant, but it also started a yearly performance out of Michaels that would earn him the nickname “Mr. Wrestlemania.”

1. TLC II – Wrestlemania X-Seven

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We had the Dudleys, Hardys, and Edge and Christian towards the beginning of this list, and now they are at the end. This would be the climax of this three team feud. Having already shown what they can do with tables, ladders, and chairs at SummerSlam 2000, fans were clamoring to see what they could do a second time at 2001’s Wrestlemania X-Seven. Never before, and possibly since, has there ever been such controlled chaos in a Wrestlemania match. People were jumping off of ladders through tables. There was outside interference from friends of all three teams. What makes this the number one gimmick match of all time is what most people (and definitely me) think is the greatest “Wrestlemania Moment” of all time, as Edge jumps off a ladder to spear Jeff Hardy, who is dangling from the cables holding the championship titles. The fact that Jeff Hardy is still alive in 2017 is mind boggling. Edge and Christian would go one to once again win the titles, and bring to an end one of the greatest tag team feuds in history.

So what do you think? How would YOUR list differ from ours? Is there a “gimmick” match you would add to this list? Is the Gobbledygooker your favorite wrestler? Let me know on Twitter or sound off in the comments below.

Images: WWE

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