It’s WrestleMania season. To wrestling fans this is our Christmas, the one weekend of the year when the biggest, brightest and best stars in the professional wrestling industry gather together to put on a plethora of shows over one action-packed weekend. WrestleMania weekends are packed with a blend of the stars of today, the ones carrying the business into the future, and the stars of past, who grace us to mix the present day with nostalgia to give us that bittersweet sensation we so rarely feel. While we do have a variety of shows on offer, none of them come close to ‘‘The Granddaddy of them All’’.
But what it is it that makes WrestleMania so special? The bright lights? The humongous stage? The arena being packed with over 70,000 rabid fans every year? The returns of some familiar faces? The rise of new ones? Or maybe because it’s the one time of year that we as fans, as lovers of professional wrestling place aside our biases and general preferences, to watch one event so large and significant within the world of Sports-Entertainment that we all bask in the excitement in-front of us.
Since my very first WrestleMania in 2007, all the way until April 8th of this year, I have been delighted in sitting through some of the finest moments in the history of professional wrestling, moments that reminded me just why I love this form of entertainment in the manner I do, and with that has come a train of different emotions. From happiness, to sadness and even to moments that result in buckets of tears, it is those moments that stand out as the best.
Today we’re going to look at the 5 Most Emotional Moments in the History of WrestleMania.
1. Daniel Bryan wins the WWE Championship (WrestleMania 30; April 6, 2014)
A lot of people are critical of Michael Cole as the lead WWE commentator, feeling he’s either bland, continuously incorrect or just spouts far too much generic dialogue. I for one, bow to him on this night. His line of; ‘‘A miracle on Bourbon Street!’’, is one of the finest calls in the history of the WWE. Daniels Bryan’s road to the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX was paved with controversy. A string of matches with Randy Orton, getting pulled out of the title picture entirety and the mess that was the 2014 Royal Rumble, fans hadn’t been this rabid over a superstar in a very long time.
Despite numerous attempts to shove what we perceive as their ‘Corporate Image’ down our throats, fans refused WWE’s attempts at implementing stars like Randy Orton & Batista, and had made up their mind, Daniel Bryan was the next big thing.
Having already gone to war, and successfully defeating Triple H earlier in the evening, Bryan had been victim to a lot of punishment, and having him step into a ring with both Randy Orton & Batista seemed almost criminal. The fans at this point were already depleted, from one particular moment earlier in the show and were begging for something to life their spirits.
In a grueling match, everyone’s valiant underdog constantly came back into the fight despite being knocked down more times than I can count. It’s the end of the match however that sparked an eruption that few can garner in today’s wrestling word.
Following his execution of the ‘YES Lock’, Daniel Bryan made Batista tap out in the middle of the ring to an explosion of fans embracing and celebrating their chosen underdog finally climbing to the top of the WWE mountain without any controversial external factors. His initial WWE Championship reign may have been short lived, and fairly tragic, but the memory of this moment will live on forever and constantly show us the power of the WWE fans.
2. Hulk Hogan slams Andre The Giant (WrestleMania III: March 29, 1987)
While this view is certainly up to debate & personal preference, I’m a firm believer that Hulk Hogan slamming Andre The Giant at Wrestlemania III is the most iconic, game-changing moment in the history of professional wrestling.
During the 1970’s and 1980’s WWE (then WWF), was regarded to most familiar with it as the ‘Land of the Giants’. This was a place where athletes almost literally larger than life dominated the main card of every event, towering over their opponents like behemoths and dominating the field with absolute ease. There is perhaps no example more intimidating, jaw-dropping and iconic as Andre The Giant, a name that still runs through the annals of the business to this very day. Not only was this man the pinnacle of a ‘giant’, but, WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome might not be the best show in terms of wrestling quality, but it could very well be seen as the event that truly launched WrestleMania into the stratosphere it is today. The show boasted a main event that would take place in-front of the largest audience in the business to that point, a colossal 93,000 fans all of whom paid their ticket to see Andre The Giant take on his biggest challenge to date, Hulk Hogan. Hogan to many would be the latest victim in an undefeated streak that had spanned close to 15 years, but many had confidence that the one man capable of stopping him had come along.
The match itself isn’t what most remember about this particular moment in time, but that one moved that changed everything. Hulk Hogan, mid-match, managed to muster all of his strength and pick up the 7-foot-3 Andre The Giant and slam him right back down onto the mat. Performing a move this basic, may seem like an odd choice to most wrestling fans these days, but it was the context of what this symbolized; the first man to ever defeat Andre himself, and the first man to ever successfully slam him over his 15-year undefeated streak.
It is moments like this that remind me of just how good professional wrestling can be when a long-term story is implemented. Memories such as these only come along once in a generation, and the fact that this moment is still discussed in professional wrestling fanbases all over the world.
3. The Rock vs ‘Hollywood’ Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania X-8: March 17, 2002)
To quote the legendary Jim Ross; ‘‘This is a WrestleMania Moment’’.
The WWE buy out of WCW/ECW in early 2001 left many fans excited, the biggest stars of the brand would be crossing over into the dominant territory to wage war on a whole new playing field. As it turned out, many of us were left disappointed. Some of the biggest names (i.e. Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, Scott Hall, Sting, etc.) had all signed pre-set contracts and were not contractually obligated to work under any circumstances. This left much of 2001 fairly empty in terms of major league star power.
In 2002 however, the WWE decided to reunite the NWO under their own roof, in an attempt to bring the nostalgia of WCW over to post-Monday Night War fanbase who had been clenching for some new faces. The revival itself was fairly substandard and did little to mimic the success the faction has in their earlier days, but one positive that came out of this was this historic evening in Toronto.
I list this entire match and not one particular moment because of the impact that every single second had on us as fans. This match wasn’t just a dream match, it was everything the WWE vs WCW/ECW invasion should have been, a battle of past vs present and representation of everything that made this sport so grand over the last decade.
In terms of action the style was simple, but straight to the point and did everything it intended to. The purpose of this was never to be a mat-classic, but just see the two hottest stars at the time landed their signature moves one after the other. WWE did attempt to replicate similar success with Cena vs Rock a decade later, and while the buyrate may have been higher, this is one of those moments that has withstood the test of time and will forever be remember as the ultimate dream match of this generation.
4. Ric Flair says goodbye to the WWE (WrestleMania XXIV: March 30, 2008)
Saying goodbye to our favourite superstars over the years is something we as fans always struggle to accept. From the likes of Edge, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin & Daniel Bryan, we always live in the moment and hold the belief that these athletes are truly invincible despite the abuse they put themselves through.
At the time, Ric Flair had been in the wrestling business for close to 40 years, a career that is filled with so many memories I would need an entire other essay to discuss on its own. The end of 2007 marked the first time that fans had a reality check, the thought of Ric Flair never entering a WWE ring again was officially a possibility.
Despite overcoming a plethora of obstacles, from the likes of MVP, Mr.Kennedy, Triple H, Edge, Umaga & even Mr.McMahon himself, but no obstacle had fans as intrigued as his match with Shawn Michaels. The build to this match was equally as excellent as what we got on display in Orlando, as the use of ‘Old Yeller’ added a range of emotions that is rarely seen in this sport, or any for that matter.
The match itself was a masterpiece. Despite his old age Ric Flair held his own with the best singles performer in WrestleMania history, constantly using the tactics that made him so famous to try and outsmart the ‘Heartbreak Kid’. It is the ending of the match however that will stick with me forever, HBK putting the stamp on Ric Flairs career with those faithful words; ‘‘I’m sorry, I love you’’.
We saw the end of the career of one of the best to ever lace up a pair of boots on this evening, a record-setting former champion who forever changed the game of professional wrestling. If there is ever a way a wrestler wants to go out, it would be like this, on the highest note possible in a moment that would bring a tear to the eye of any fan.
5. Brock Lesnar breaks The Undertaker’s Streak (Wrestlemania XXX: April 6, 2014)
The image above is to many, the most horrifying, emotional but telling image that could ever be capture on camera.
Wrestlemania & The Undertaker go hand-in-hand, both the event and the man made the other. If it wasn’t for The Undertaker, the hype and build towards any event under this chronology would be substantially less than when we know ‘The Deadman’ was coming back to claim his latest victim.
In no way is this intended to favour the number of ’21-1’ over the feat that Brock Lesnar accomplished at WrestleMania XXX, because even the harshest of critics can admit how surreal of a moment this was, regardless of where you were. Brock Lesnar having his hand raised at the end of this match was something that no living wrestling fan saw coming, it was the end of an era, and for many of us the destruction of our childhood.
The Undertaker’s streak played a big role in moulding many of us, myself included, into fans, with countless classic matches that will span across decades with their unbelievable quality. His match against Brock Lesnar was by no means the finest he has ever put on, if anything this was on the weaker end of his WrestleMania performances, but this was without question the most impactful.
Seeing the eyes, jaws and faces of over 70,000 fans in absolute disbelief, shock and just pitch silence is an image that sticks with everyone. It was one of the few times wrestling fans had no genuine reaction to what had just played out in front of them, many believed the match would restart and waited patiently, while others burst into tears as arguably the most popular WWE superstar of all time collapsed on the stage that he used to own.
This may sound like a heartbreak & horrifying moment, but it is one that reminds me just how phenomenal of a stage WrestleMania could be, and on no other night would anything of this magnitude have made this much of an impact. In my humble opinion, this is the greatest WrestleMania moment of all time.
AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.
With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.
1. Johnny Gargano
Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?
WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.
2. James Storm
This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.
Watch your Money and your Alcohol.
Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”
3. Big Cass
Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.
Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.
4. Bronson Reed
The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.
Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?
5. Bray Wyatt
And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.
To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.
– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!
King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy
As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!
I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI. Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.
Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.
I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”
Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match
Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!
Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect
On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.
Swanton Bomb From The Heavens
When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.
Hardy Wins The WWE Championship
In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.
Straight Edge Problems For Hardy
The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.
The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE
Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.
Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut
From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.
This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.
As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.
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