16th Jun2020

Ten Best: WWE Wrestlemania Matches of the 90s

by Chris Cummings

So during this whole awful quarantine situation I’ve found myself watching even more wrestling than before. In the midst of all that wrestling has been my revisiting of lots (and lots) of 90s WWE stuff. I started watching pro-wrestling in 1992 with WrestleMania 8 and so I have many delightful wrestling memories of the 90s, from the early cartoon-era stuff that also featured some of the best ever like Bret Hart and Randy Savage to the beloved and creatively incredible Attitude Era. I thought, then, that it would be neat to bring a list to you guys of the ten best matches of the 90s that you should revisit during lockdown. The problem with that is the sheer amount of matches I’d have to go through, so I narrowed it down to WrestleMania matches, because those alone bring a ton of great classics to pick from. I mean, this, like all these lists, is an opinion. Wrestling, like with many things, can be very subjective, but I feel strongly that these ten matches are incredible and well worth going back to. What better time? Let’s go.

10. The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers – WrestleMania 9

Underrated. That’s what this is. Simply under-bloody-rated. WrestleMania 9 was the worse WrestleMania to date when it aired. It was a stinker, packed with random matches that had no reason to be there (Backlund-Ramon), silly daft silly things (Crush-Doink), shameful moments (Hogan-Yokozuna) and just pure bad (Taker-Gonzales) but in the midst of these moments of pure horror was a match that stood out, because it was very good indeed. Sadly it didn’t go as long as it could have, which could have led to this being a classic tag-match of the 90s, but this hard-hitting and entertaining scrap was unlike anything else on the show, and I still love it.

9. Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WrestleMania 6

I was never actually a Hogan fan as a kid, or a Warrior fan for that matter, but even I… a kid with a Randy Savage action figure in his hand, bellowing “DIG IT” in a high-pitched faux-gravel, couldn’t help but be enchanted by the spectacle of “The Immortal” versus “The Ultimate”. With both the WWF Title and the Intercontinental Title on the line, this one was all about the atmosphere, the crowd reactions, the signature spots and poses, and the iconic moments that are still replayed on WWE television today. Sure… the match itself wasn’t a catch-as-catch-can classic, but it was one of the best matches that either man would have and remains one of those truly authentic moments of powerful nostalgia in the annals of wrestling’s past. Now Hulk… pass the belt to Jim and leave please… this isn’t your birthday.

8. Triple H vs. Owen Hart – WrestleMania 14

This one doesn’t get enough love. WrestleMania 14 is a show that is full of spark and buzz, full of moments that are iconic (THE AUSTIN ERA… HAS BEGUN) but the match quality wasn’t necessarily the best. I have very fond memories, though, of Triple H’s clash with Owen Hart. This was during the underrated and under-utilized push for Owen as “The Black Hart” following the Montreal Screwjob a few months earlier. Fighting over the European Title, the two had a hard-hitting and entertaining match with outside interference done-well, and psychology galore. Sure… it wasn’t the best match that either would have, but on a PPV that is so well-known for its importance to WWF, this, for my money, was the standout wrestling match.

7. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – WrestleMania 10

Arguably (maybe not even arguably) the most famous ladder match of all time, HBK and “The Bad Guy” went all-out in this classic for the ages. On a show that had opened with one of the best WWF matches of the 90s (or ever, perhaps), it was astonishing to see another absolute barn-burner only a few matches later. Utilizing the ladder in unique ways, the two men would introduce this stipulation to WWF PPV. Prior to this, ladder bouts had only been seen on WWF house show tapings and not on main shows or PPV’s. This was a great start for a gimmick match that is still going strong in 2020. Iconic, entertaining and incredibly influential.

6.The Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho King” Randy Savage – WrestleMania 7

I mean, come on now. This is simply the best Ultimate Warrior match of all time, or at least side-by-side with Warriors SummerSlam 90 clash with “Ravishing” Rick Rude. Nah… this one is better. Savage, entering the match as a heel, fought valiantly against the crazed muscle-mountain until Warrior pulled off the victory and ran away in celebration. The match itself, with a retirement stipulation, was very entertaining, showing just how damn good Savage was with anybody, and Warrior’s intensity brought the fans reactions to a vibrant level. After the match, though, is where the replays have been focused for the years since. With Sensational “Queen” Sherri angry that her fella has lost, and thus “retired” from the WWF, she goes on to beat on Savage with her high-heel shoe, yelling and cussing out the befallen King of the World Wrestling Federation. Enter Miss Elizabeth, Savage’s former manager and real-life wifey, for the save. Dragging Sherri off Savage by her hair and tossing her out of the ring, Elizabeth and Randy went on to hug and reunite to a chorus of cheers and tears from the adoring crowd. An iconic moment in wrestling history, for sure. Ooh yeah.

5. Shawn Michaels vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – WrestleMania 12

This may top the list for some people, though not really for me. But however you look at it, you can’t deny that this was a really great wrestling match between two of the best of all time. For me, it has become a little less exciting to watch as time has gone on, but it’s still full of wonderful spots, exciting moments and some awesome technical interactions. I wonder, truly, how good this could have been if they’d been friends and been able to do this in 1997 a second time, with more intention of trying to make each other look great. This is a classic though, and one I like to go back to from time to time.

4. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – WrestleMania 8

Hart and Piper had a damned good chemistry in the ring as opponents yet I don’t recall seeing it happen all that much. It’s a good job then that they collided in an absolute barn-burner on the “Grandest Stage of them All”. This was a delightful match that saw two babyface workers put on a match full of back-and-forth psychology. Piper brawled and played the crowd, teetering on being the heel again, while Bret worked technically and brought out the sympathy from the crowd. It was expertly done and the finish, which we’ve seen copied and pasted a hundred and two times since, was played out excellently. A classy and classic Mania match.

3. Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Owen Hart – WrestleMania 10

The single best opening match in WrestleMania history, without doubt. The brothers Hart but on a spectacle of technical wrestling with some marvelous chain-wrestling, some cool submission stuff and a great psychology of heel versus babyface. Owen was such a great cowardly and whiny heel, and Bret was a fantastic babyface hero. I adore this match and it remains one of my absolute favourite pro-wrestling bouts ever.

2. “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair – WrestleMania 8

Now, this may be a little high in some people’s minds, but for me it really isn’t. This was one of the first wrestling matches I ever saw and is perhaps to blame for my 28 year long love for wrestling. Randy Savage is one of my all-time favourites, perhaps at the very top of that list, and this match really showed off how good he was. His selling here is a masterclass and Flair is the perfect conniving and sniveling heel. This should really have closed the show. It had a heartwarming finish, the match itself is bloody amazing, and the fans ate it all up. I love this one, and I’m not quite sure why it isn’t mentioned more.

1. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – WrestleMania 13

I mean, was there ever any doubt? This is one of those matches that I’ve seen more than most others and never get bored of watching it. Perfect storytelling between two of the best ever. This submission match was THE best thing on a sub-par WrestleMania show, and made the whole event worth watching. It featured a famous “double-turn” with Hart beginning his heel turn and Austin becoming that tweener babyface that led him to the most explosive and successful run of all time. The match though… it is beautiful. Violent and technical with hard-hitting brawling and excellent psychology. This truly is a match where you see both men at their very best. If you watch any match from WrestleMania in the 90s, make it this one.

So there you have it, ten of the best WrestleMania matches of the 1990s. There are plenty more great matches of this decade, obviously, but hey… I had to make a decision, okay? What are your favourite WrestleMania bouts of the 1990s?

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