By Richard Gray
Can you name five Wrestlemania moments that really stand out to you and changed the landscape of WWE?
I am not a huge fan of lists, most of you know that but this is an easy one for me. My “top 5 Wrestlemania moments” are as follows:
- Hulk Hogan bodyslamming Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3
- A bloodied Steve Austin losing to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13
- Ric Flair’s retirement match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24
- Shawn Michaels’ retirement match against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 26
- Brock Lesnar beating The Undertaker and ending the streak at Wrestlemania 30
As you can see, this list is chronological. I’ll make some notes on each:
Say what you want about the quality of Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3 but the finish is one of the most iconic Wrestlemania moments. I know this was also the show that featured Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage, but the impact of Hogan’s slam is part of what made Wrestlemania the event it is today.
A bloodied Steve Austin going under to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13 a decade after the “bodyslam heard around the world” played a major role in the evolution of one of the top superstars in WWE history. This is a reminder that a talent can be elevated in a loss and just like Andre passed the torch to Hogan, Bret Hart did that to Steve Austin on this night. In fact, I can see the blood running down Austin’s face in the Sharpshooter and see the Attitude Era being born.
Leave the memories alone, Ric Flair’s retirement match against Shawn Michaels was one of the most emotional bouts in professional wrestling history. I loved it and thought it was well worked and sent out one of the greats. I know Flair ended up wrestling again but that doesn’t take away from this match. I will remember it forever and am actually jealous my wife was in attendance.
Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker had one of the best matches in WWE history the year before at Wrestlemania 25 and they topped it in Michaels’ retirement match at Wrestlemania 26. Whenever Wrestlemania 26 airs on the WWE Network and this match comes on, it immediately sucks me in. It doesn’t matter what else is going on, if you see this match, you’re going to stop what you are doing and watch it. The story that was told still gives me chills to this day. HBK went out with a five star match that is one of the best worked matches ever. In fact, the best worked match ever.
Brock Lesnar ending the streak at Wrestlemania 30 was the biggest Wrestlemania surprise of all time. In a day when everything leaks out, we heard nothing. No one thought there was even a chance Lesnar ended the streak and he ended it. Due to The Undertaker suffering a serious injury (severe concussion) early in the match, the bout was disappointing but it didn’t change the outcome from altering the course of WWE history. Undertaker had to be rushed to the hospital afterwards and Vince McMahon went with him via ambulance. Brock re-wrote history by having his name beside the biggest rub of all time.
Seeing Rhyno and Brian Kendrick return in NXT has been awesome and has created some buzz. I personally would love to see more former talent return but do you see it hurting the development of up and coming talent?
Moderation is key when it comes to bringing back past veterans to work the developmental talent. In moderation, bringing back former talent helps everyone. It helps the NXT brand and it helps the workers that are trying to learn and flourish on their own. I also like how WWE brought back Rhyno and Brian Kendrick. Two well-respected veterans that are great in the ring. While people know who they are and know they can work, they aren’t completely overshadowing the up and coming talent. WWE usually struggles with moderation, so hopefully they don’t ruin a good thing.
Do you think WWE NXT would be damaged if it went to a two hour show weekly?
Moderation, moderation, moderation. WWE NXT is flourishing in its current format. A weekly one-hour TV series, intimate live events, occasional specials on the WWE Network – WWE doesn’t need to try and fix what isn’t broken. I’m not going to sit here and say two hours of NXT each week would be a bad thing, I’m saying WWE has to be careful. When something works, there is a reason for that. Too much of a good thing can turn it into just another show.
I have preached for three years that three hours of Monday Night Raw each week is too much. It’s too much for the talent, the writers and most importantly, the fans. WWE’s product has struggled as a result but the higher ups enjoy the extra hour of TV revenue they get for it.
Of these two scenarios, which would you rather see, and which do you think is more likely? 1. Roman Reigns beats Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31, then Seth Rollins cashes in, wins the title and aligns with Paul Heyman. 2. Heyman turns on Brock, costs him the title, and aligns with (now heel) Reigns?
I would prefer scenario #1 for a few reasons. Under that scenario, Roman Reigns would get the rub for beating the guy that ended the streak, Seth Rollins would make good on his briefcase and a Rollins vs. Reigns program is ready to go for Extreme Rules. That’s not even mentioning that a Paul Heyman/Seth Rollins alliance would be the most natural thing since Heyman’s alliance with CM Punk.
However, let me be clear. I’m fine with any scenario that sees an up and coming talent win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31. Anything to end the atrocity that has been Brock Lesnar’s reign as champion will be just fine with me. I want the belt back on TV, I want the belt to be routinely defended and I reject any argument that Brock winning the title at SummerSlam has been good for it. There is absolutely no argument to support that other than, it’s been off TV so WWE couldn’t screw it up. Of course they couldn’t screw it up if they didn’t have a title to screw up in the first place!
Just because WWE hasn’t had to strategically book a title for 7 months doesn’t mean it’s any more prestigious. Someone commented the other day the title is more prestigious because not just anyone can come in and win it. That’s completely true but only half true. Not only can not just anyone can come in and win it, no one can win it! When the title isn’t being defended, there is no one vying for it. Brock has had one program since winning the title, one against John Cena (the guy he won it from!). WWE inserted Rollins into the match at Royal Rumble and while it was a great match and gave Brock someone else to pin, it still doesn’t change the fact it was his one and only successful defense.
If you can’t tell, I’m over part-time talent holding WWE’s top belt. Good idea on paper, horrible when executed.
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