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In Retrospect: The First Decade

We’ve been having a great time watching the first ten WrestleManias and writing about them for this blog. Thanks for reading and coming along with us on this journey. After this first decade, we thought it would be a good time to pause and reflect a bit on what we’ve seen, what we’ve learned, and what we anticipate for the coming decade of WrestleManias. 

What did we learn from the first ten WrestleManias?

After watching just under 31 hours of WrestleManias and spilling nearly 65,000 words about them into the electronic void, we’ve learned a few things.

First and foremost, Hulk Hogan is kind of a jerk. Judging solely by reactions from the fans, who are with him every step of the way, he is the best babyface of all time. But if you actually look at his actions and the storylines he’s involved in, he’s totally a heel. See our Popcorn Match post, Hulk Hogan, Heel, for our take on this.

King Harley Race, in purple cape and crown
Harley Race could whip your ass for real for real. All your friends’ asses, too

The roster in the early days of the WWF was broad and deep, with room for old-school shooters and tough guys (Harley Race, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine), genuine weirdos (George “The Animal” Steele), burgeoning mid-card stars (Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Brutus Beefcake), fan favorites (Junkyard Dog, Andre the Giant), and, of course, Vince McMahon’s golden idol, Hulk Hogan. As we go along the roster gets more refined, as well as more talented overall, showcasing amazing performers like Ric Flair, “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Bret “Hitman” Hart, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and The Ultimate Warrior (who, side note, is way better than either of us remembered), as well as solid role players like Tito Santana, Tatanka, Rick Martel, Koko B. Ware, and others. But in the process it also became less diverse and more predictable, as the WWF narrowed down its definition of what a “superstar” was for the national TV market. 

An accompanying (and welcome) change is the move away from huge bodybuilder types (an obsession of Vince McMahon’s) to more “normal” athletic figures. Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Ted DiBiase, Jake Roberts were all fit, obviously, but undersized (and thus, much more relatable) compared to ‘roided out monsters like Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and (later) Lex Luger and Sid Justice. That change allowed athleticism and emotional storytelling to come to the forefront, instead of posing and running through the same 5 scripted moves.

Publicity stills of the Big Boss Man (prison guard) and Jacques Rougeau as The Mountie (Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer)
Battle of the Side Hustles: Law Enforcement Edition ™

Another interesting change is the rise of the “side hustle” gimmick. Instead of wrestlers fighting under their names (real or pseudonymous), we have matches between prison guards (Big Boss Man), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (The Mountie), sumo wrestlers (Yokozuna), clowns (Doink), matadors (Tito Santana), morticians (The Undertaker and Paul Bearer), and even the tax man (Irwin R. Schyster, aka IRS.) This is a trend that really picks up in the mid 90’s, but we see the first ones in these early WrestleManias. It reflects a larger movement by the WWF away from trying to appear as a “legit” sport and towards a “sports entertainment” product.

With these changes in the performers the storylines also evolved, from relatively simple grudge matches to settle a feud that began a week ago to long-running feuds with complex psychodynamics that evolved over multiple months and pay per views. The pay per views themselves become a major factor in the stories, with the winner of the Royal Rumble becoming the #1 contender for the title at the next WrestleMania, and with results from Summerslam, Survivor Series, and King of the Ring all feeding into each other around the new calendar year, which both begins and ends with WrestleMania. 

The number and length of matches also stretched out considerably as we progressed through these WrestleManias. More and longer matches gave the promotion and the performers ample room to tell their stories. The first WrestleMania clocked in at just 2 hours and 16 minutes, but by WrestleMania V the run time had ballooned to 3 hours, 40 minutes. (Thankfully, after two more 3+ hour events with WrestleManias VI and VII, the run times came down around a more manageable 2:40 for the last three of the decade.)

Close up of Sherri Martel as Queen Sherri from WrestleMania VII
Queen Sherri Martel, MVP of WrestleMania VII

One of the pleasures of these early WrestleManias has been discovering so many performers who were truly talented, even if their profile never quite rose to the popularity of a Hogan, Savage, or Ultimate Warrior. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Tito Santana, Junkyard Dog, and Iron Sheik, to name just a few, all consistently gave great performances even in half-baked matches. We’d also like to single out Sherri Martel, aka Sensational Sherri, Queen Sherri, and Peggy Sue, for her truly outstanding work as a manager and always-welcome presence in these WrestleManias. She had roles in five of ten events, and we were blown away by her performance in the Macho Man-Ultimate Warrior retirement match at WrestleMania VII. It’s easy to overlook the performers in these “manager” roles, but the truly great ones — Jimmy Hart, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Paul Bearer, Mr. Fuji, Sherri Martel — put their wrestler over by selling their gimmick, help tell a story, and provide an opportunity for all sorts of complications and hijinks over the course of a match.

Unfortunately, these first ten WrestleManias also had way more filler and dud matches than we expected, given the stakes and expense of such a high profile annual event. Mixed tag matches with little people, women’s matches treated as afterthoughts, squash matches, wrestling referees and other dumb gimmicks, Hercules, even a few jobbers (The Executioner, Special Delivery Jones) — all of this and more meant it was never difficult to come up with a “Worst Match” when reviewing each event.

On the whole, though, the quality improves more or less steadily once we progress from the humble beginnings of the first WrestleMania and past the sophomore misstep of WrestleMania 2 to reach the commercial and cultural triumph that was WrestleMania III. After that point, with relatively few stumbles (most notably WrestleMania IX, which suffers from a weird identity crisis and Hogan overstaying his welcome), the WWF continued to develop and refine its signature event to make it a true treat for fans and a showcase for its best performers. Production values also improve markedly, with advancements in lighting, camera work, graphics, music, and pacing as they go. (It took multiple events, for example, for WWF to figure out a  better way to handle the show’s intermission than a 30-minute block of video clips, flashbacks, endless interviews, and other assorted filler.) WrestleMania X is an outlier, as it signals the beginning of a new era (call it the “Bret Hart Era”), so it almost feels unfair to compare it to the previous nine events, but its success is built on the lessons learned from the preceding WrestleManias.

What do we anticipate for the next ten WrestleManias?

We’re looking forward to the next decade of WrestleMania for a number of reasons. We expect to see edgier storylines, especially as we move into the “Attitude Era,” which began in December of 1997 (so we’ll see it first in WrestleMania XIV, 1998). This era has a lot of problems, especially as it relates to the objectification of women, but it also brings in more “adult” themes and more violent matches, which will be fun. To that end, we expect more no-disqualification matches, as well as numerous gimmicks to raise the stakes and earn bigger pops from the crowd — tables, ladders, chairs, kendo sticks, thumbtacks, and the like. The “hardcore” match comes into its own in this era, so expect a whole lot more blood on the mat before we’re done. 

GIF of Mick Foley as Dude Love doing the Funky Chicken
Oh yeah, and this happens in the ’90s, too. Be ready.

Along with this era comes some of our favorite superstars, including Mick Foley, The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and Eddie Guererro. And of course you know we’re hype for the extended title reign of all-time great, Bret “Hitman” Hart. The Undertaker and Kane have their epic feud in this era, and there’s a resurgence of tag team wrestling (The Hardys, The Dudleys, Edge & Christian) and heel stables (most notably D-Generation X, but also The Nation of Domination, the Corporation/Ministry/Corporate Ministry, etc.) Women’s wrestling also makes a comeback, albeit occasionally spoiled by sexist nonsense like “bra and panties matches.”

Blank version of the Mr. McMahon reaction meme, with three images of him getting progressively more excited
The decade that launched a thousand Mr. McMahon memes

The “Monday Night Wars” will siphon off many of the superstars of WrestleManias past, a process that had already begun by WrestleMania X. That rivalry will also bring some top-notch talent to the WWF, including “Big Show” Paul Wight, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guererro, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko, among others. And we’ll lose so many superstars, far too soon, to the brutality of the pro wrestling business, 300 days a year on the road, and drugs. Big Boss Man, Owen Hart, Michael (Hawk) Hegstrand, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, Junkyard Dog, Miss Elizabeth, Gorilla Monsoon, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, Big John Studd, and Yokozuna would all die between 1994 and 2004.

Some things we’re not looking forward to for the next decade are the aforementioned sexism and objectification of women, but also the front-and-center obnoxious presence of Vince McMahon as his “Mr. McMahon” character, as well as gimmicks like Mike Tyson’s multi-million dollar appearance at WrestleMania XIV.

And finally, by the last two WrestleManias of the coming decade, we’ll need to stop typing “WWF” and start typing “WWE,” thanks to legal action from the World Wildlife Fund. That’s gonna take some getting used to. Oh, and I guess we’ll be watching these on Peacock now, instead of the WWE Network. 


As librarians and generally obsessive fans of multiple aspects of pop culture, we love lists. So let’s make some goddamned lists to break down WrestleManias 1-10. 

WrestleManias 1-10, Ranked

First, our overall rankings of the WrestleManias. There are a lot of factors that go into our ratings of each event on a 1-5 scale, with the most weight given to the quality of the wrestling itself. We consider the ratio of good matches to bad matches and the presence or absence of truly memorable standout matches (or total duds) as our primary criteria. We also consider the quality of the announcing, of celebrity and musical guests, the presence or absence of dumb gimmicks or wasted segments, and the overall pacing, production value, and “feel” of the show. It’s highly subjective, but (at least so far) we’ve been largely in agreement on the relative quality of these first ten events.

Junkyard Dog and Terry Funk square off
JYD & Terry Funk, dragging up the rating for WM2 but at least a half star.

#10 – WrestleMania II – Let’s give credit where it’s due:  the tag team matches between the British Bulldogs and The Dream Team, and between the Funk Brothers and the team of Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana, plus the main event with Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy in the steel cage, are all excellent and keep the S.S. WrestleMania 2 from sinking like a stone. But the split between three venues, each with its own announcing team and guest commentators, the gimmicky “boxing match,” and the NFL vs. WWF battle royal make the rest of it pretty dreadful. Watch the highlights, skip the rest.

Mr. Fuji, Hulk Hogan, and Yokozuna from WrestleMania IX
This fuckin’ guy

#9 – WrestleMania IX – This should have been a stellar affair:  Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Bobby Heenan and Macho Man on announcing duties, and appearances by the Undertaker, Bret Hart, Yokozuna, Razor Ramon, and Mr. Perfect. This one had all the components of a slam dunk. But then Hulk Hogan’s ego intervened, ruining what should have been a triumphant moment for a surging Yokozuna and, honestly, spoiling the whole event for us. This one feels like that final, ill-advised season by a once-great quarterback; the follow-up to the main event is the dick pic sent to the cheerleader that permanently ruins a reputation.

#8 – WrestleMania I – The first WrestleMania isn’t bad, necessarily, and it obviously laid the groundwork for the franchise as well as for the Pro Wrestling Pay per View as a genre. But it suffers by comparison with the other WrestleManias, which grew steadily more professional and elaborate as they progressed, while the talent of the wrestlers involved also increased. A ton of stars turned out for this first blowout event, and it’s fun to watch Liberace, Muhammad Ali, the Rockettes, and the rest, all seeming to enjoy themselves immensely. The main event, a tag match with Piper and Bob Orton vs. Hogan and Mr. T, is a dud, as is the match between David Sammartino and Brutus Beefcake, but the tag match with the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff vs. the U.S. Express has nuclear levels of heat and the body slam challenge between Andre the Giant and Big John Studd is fun.

Sgt. Slaughter "G.I. Joe" figurine
Still more entertaining than a Sgt. Slaughter match (which we also do not recommend for children under 3 years)

#7 – WrestleMania VII – If we just went by the main event on this one — Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter in a nationalistic, borderline-offensive Iraq War angle — this one would have ended up on the bottom of the pile. VII also suffers from a long, draggy intermission, unfortunate promos from Big Boss Man and Mr. Perfect referencing the Rodney King beating, and a filler match that squanders national treasure, Tito Santana. Fortunately, it’s redeemed somewhat by Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage (including a show-stealing performance from “Queen” Sherri Martel), the Virgil vs. Ted DiBiase blowoff, the ridiculous (and ridiculously entertaining) “blindfold match” between Jake the Snake and “The Model” Rick Martel, and the first appearance of the Undertaker.

#6 – WrestleMania IV – The innovation of WrestleMania IV is the bracket tournament for the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Unfortunately, it results in an event that’s just too damn long and that has too many matches to sustain our interest. On the plus side, four of those matches feature Randy Savage, who wrestles Butch Reed, Greg Valentine, and One Man Gang before facing Ted DiBiase in a killer final round match. There’s also solid tag matches including Demolition vs. Strike Force (hey Tito Santana!) and the British Bulldogs vs. The Islanders, as well as the WrestleMania debut of the Ultimate Warrior, which could be considered either a pro or a con, depending on your point of view. There’s also some really dumb Hulk Hogan shenanigans and an over-the-hill Andre the Giant who can’t do much.

Have we mentioned that we love Tito Santana?

#5 – WrestleMania V – We’re not gonna lie, this is a weird event and it includes some moments that genuinely confused us:  the Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Bad News Brown match that ends in a double disqualification; the Red Rooster vs. Bobby Heenan; an abortive Andre vs. Jake the Snake match, the super racist Akeem the African Dream character, and appearances by both Hercules and infected scrotum Donald Trump. It’s also got an interminable intermission, including a “Piper’s Pit” segment with Brother Love and Morton Downey, Jr. that lasts forever. And yet it has some excellent tag matches — Demolition vs. Powers of Pain, Brain Busters vs. Strike Force (hey, Tito Santana!), and Hart Foundation vs. Greg Valentine and Honky Tonk Man — as well as a Rick Rude-Ultimate Warrior match that could have been a co-main event, AND a top three main event in Hogan vs. Randy Savage. Final analysis:  uneven but worth it.

Hulk Hogan slams Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III
Hulk Hogan would like to remind you to lift safely: Keep objects in the “comfort zone” between your hips and shoulders; keep your back aligned; keep all loads close to and in front of your body; maintain the center of balance; and let your legs do the actual lifting.

#4 – WrestleMania III – This one was our #1 pick from the moment we watched it until some later WrestleManias overtook it. But its importance to pro wrestling cannot be overstated. Hogan vs. Andre in the main event in front of 90,000+ fans set an indoor attendance record, made both men household names, and brought the WWF into the mainstream. This one also has some all-time classic matches with the Hart Foundation vs. British Bulldogs (with Tito Santana! Hey Tito!), Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, with George “The Animal” Steele vs. Randy Savage, excellent heel work from the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, and a fun “loser must bow” match between King Harley Race and Junkyard Dog. There are some duds, though — Jake the Snake (with guest manager Alice Cooper!) vs. Honkytonk Man had great potential but didn’t deliver, the 6-man mixed tag match including little people was weird and disturbing, and the Dream Team vs. Rougeau Brothers tag match never really got going. Still a solid event and an 80s cultural touchstone.

Roddy Piper and Bret Hart walk off together after their match at WrestleMania VIII
Piper and Bret are exhausted from carrying Hogan and Sid’s dead weight

#3 – WrestleMania VIII – Let’s get the bad out of the way first — the main event sucks. Hogan vs. Sid Justice is the culmination of a “Hulk Hogan as heel that everyone thinks is great for some reason” storyline that annoys the hell out of us, plus Hogan looks old and tired, and he and Sid have zero chemistry in the ring. There’s also an 8-man tag match that’s pretty crappy, despite the talent of the performers involved. The main event fiasco is especially annoying because this WrestleMania has two other top ten matches — Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart and Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage — that could easily have been main event material. Both of those matches involve copious amounts of blood, which makes them extra exciting. There’s also a solid Undertaker vs. Jake the Snake match, and the last (non-dark match) WrestleMania appearance of Tito Santana, as The Matador (Hola, Matador!) vs. Shawn Michaels. A little uneven but entertaining enough to earn a watch, perhaps with judicious use of the “skip” button.

#2 – WrestleMania VI – The sixth WrestleMania obviously tried to recapture the glory days of WrestleMania III, and it not only succeeded but surpassed that goal. An all-time top ten main event with Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan (plus a hallucinatory promo from the Warrior) drags this one up to our #2 spot, but there are other highlights as well. There’s our sole appearance so far by “American Dream” (and living ball of scar tissue) Dusty Rhodes, with Sweet Sapphire in a mixed tag match against Randy Savage and Queen Sherri that’s goofy fun. Ted DiBiase vs. Jake the Snake is a great match except for an unfortunate dumb countout, and Brutus Beefcake brings his “Brutus the Barber” gimmick to a match with Mr. Perfect. Negative points for Piper’s rampant racism vs. Bad News Brown, but this is a really good event.

Logo for WrestleMania X
Our pick for the best WrestleMania of the original ten is…

#1 – WrestleMania X – This one earns its tagline, “Ten Years in the Making,” as it builds on the successes of its predecessors and sets the stage for a new decade of professional wrestling. There are a number of amazing matches here, notably Bret Hart vs. his brother Owen Hart, Macho Man vs. Crush in a brutal “falls count anywhere,” and Bret Hart’s second match of the night, vs. Yokozuna. But the ladder match of Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels is an instant classic, and our pick for the best match of all ten WrestleManias so far. It raises the bar, jumps over it with its ass hanging out, and raises it again. On the minus side, Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna isn’t great, and the mixed tag match with Bam Bam Bigelow and Doink the Clown is a misstep. But the rest of this event is fire, and makes us excited to get started on WrestleMania XI. 

Our Top Ten Matches

Like the WrestleManias as a whole, our rating of the matches depends on many factors:  the talent of the wrestlers involved, their athleticism and ability to tell a story that engages the audience (and makes sense), impressive spots, pacing, crowd reactions, and more. There are many good to great matches across the 118 we’ve seen so far, but here are our ten favorites.

#10. Funk Brothers vs. Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana, WrestleMania 2 – A symphony of old-school brutality and our first-ever WrestleMania table spot, plus Tito Santana (Hey, Tito!) These guys mix it up and we can’t believe they didn’t actually kill each other.

Jake the Snake and Rick Martel in their hoods from their WrestleMania VII match
Globally, the leading causes of visual impairment are 1) uncorrected refractive errors, 2) cataract, and 3) a bag over your damn head

#9. Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Rick “The Model” Martel, blindfold match, WrestleMania VII – What should have been a really dumb gimmick — both wrestlers wearing hoods that render them blind — turned into an amazing piece of showmanship and crowd involvement, as the fans help Jake the Snake find his way to Martel by playing “Hot and Cold.” Way more fun than it has any right to be.

#8. Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, WrestleMania VIII – A couple of Canadian good ol’ boys go at it like gangbusters, Bret gets busted open, and they end with an embrace of friendship. Compelling start to finish.

Owen putting Bret Hart in a Sharpshooter, from their match at WrestleMania VIII
Owen mourns the widening rift between himself and brother Bret

#7. Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Owen Hart, WrestleMania VIII – In the first of several great matches between these two over the 1994 pay per views, Bret and Owen tell a fantastic story of jealousy and brotherly love. Bret starts out pulling his punches and doing the bare minimum so he doesn’t hurt his brother, but Owen’s refusal to be put away slowly requires him to ratchet up the moves to get the win. Their feud eventually leads to a steel cage match at Summerslam 1994 that has to be an all-time top 10. 

#6. Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior, WrestleMania VI – For two guys who don’t have great reputations as in-ring workers, Hogan and Warrior really deliver on this one. For nearly 23 minutes, an eternity at that point in WrestleMania history, these two deliver a textbook “clean match” — no real heel or face, just two evenly matched pros going at it. The back and forth between Hogan and Warrior, each matching the other move for move, is so great, and the finish is legitimately suspenseful.

Savage puts an arm lock on Ted DiBiase at WrestleMania IV
“Alright, alright, you don’t gotta twist my arm!” #dadjoke

#5. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage, WrestleMania IV – The first of three appearances by the Macho Man in this list, his final round tournament match with DiBiase for the vacant title is a great one, made even more impressive when you remember this was his fourth match of the night, having lasted through three previous rounds of the tournament. He and DiBiase work well together, two talented guys at the top of their respective games, and they build suspense throughout. The crowd loses its damn mind when Miss Elizabeth brings Hulk Hogan to the ring to help out his friend, and Macho Man’s flying elbow finisher has never been more beautiful. This match is important as the start of the Macho Man era, and of the friendship with Hogan that would lead to another top ten match at WrestleMania V.

#4. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, WrestleMania III – Again it’s hard to overstate the centrality of this match to the mythos of Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, the WWF, and 80s professional wrestling in general. The actual action isn’t all that remarkable — Andre was on the downslope of his career and couldn’t do much in the ring. (The little ring carts that we love so much were largely employed because the WWF was worried about Andre making the long walk to the ring at the Silverdome.) And Hogan runs through his usual repertoire of five moves. But his shocking body slam of Andre effectively passed the torch from The Giant, stalwart attraction of the pre-WWF “territory” days, to Vince McMahon’s golden boy, ushering in wrestling’s era of USA Network, MTV, and Coliseum Home Video. Essential viewing.

#3. “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan, WrestleMania V – Part of what makes this one work so well is the emotional resonance of the team of Savage and Hogan, “The Mega Powers,” who’’ve been BFFs since WrestleMania IV, coming apart at the seams. (It’s right there in the tagline — “The Mega Powers Explode!” Subtle.) The result is a surprisingly passionate performance from Hogan against his former friend, complicated by the ringside presence of Miss Elizabeth, who cares for both men. This one’s also notable for the rare occurrence of Hogan getting some color, and of him kicking out of Macho Man’s flying elbow finisher. Exciting and meaningful, this is true main event material. 

Macho Man tosses Ric Flair over the top rope at WrestleMania VIII
And Ric Flair was never heard from again

#2. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage, WrestleMania VIII – The other bloodbath match from WrestleMania VIII, this one features Ric Flair’s WrestleMania debut. It has spectacle and chaos galore:  Mr. Perfect and Miss Elizabeth cause a ruckus at ringside, Flair sells like crazy, each man gets tossed over the top rope at some point, Macho Man gets hit with both a chair and a “foreign object,” and Flair’s forehead bleeds like he’s an extra on the set of The Walking Dead. In a just world, this would have been the main event of WrestleMania VIII, rather than the abortion that was Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice. Wooo!!

GIF of Shawn Michaels climbing the ladder, Razor Ramon pulling down his pants, and Shawn jumping off the ladder on top of him
The first bare-assed elbow drop from a ladder in WrestleMania history

#1. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon, ladder match, WrestleMania X – If Andre vs. Hogan at WrestleMania III is the gateway to 80s WWF, this ladder match feels like the portal to the next decade. Two absolute studs and Hall of Fame talents spend nearly 20 minutes finding new and terrifying ways to dive, jump, and fall off of a ladder. And did we mention that Shawn Michaels does an elbow drop with his ass hanging out? The “ladder match” would become a regular feature of big WWF events after this, but the edginess of it (even the partial nudity) hint at the Attitude Era to come. 10/10 would watch again.

Longest Match Times

  1. Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – 22:51 (WM6)
  2. Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter – 20:26 (WM7)
  3. Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart – 20:21 (WM10)
  4. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels – 18:47 (WM10)
  5. Money Inc. vs. Mega-Maniacs – 18:27 (WM9)

Shortest Match Times

  1. Hart Foundation vs. The Bolsheviks – 0:19 (WM6)
  2. Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna – 0:22 (WM9)
  3. King Kong Bundy vs. SD Jones – 0:25 (WM1)
  4. Red Rooster vs. Bobby Heenan – 0:31 (WM6)
  5. Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb – 0:35 (WM10)

Babyfaces vs. Heels and Finishes

One of the things we noticed early on was the prevalence of the countout finish (even the double countout!), disqualifications, and dirty finishes, as well as the fluctuating balance of face vs. heel wins. The charts below show the breakdown for each WrestleMania. We’ve indicated which events had “dark” (i.e., non-televised) matches, but haven’t included them in the overall counts because, well, they weren’t televised so we couldn’t see them and so far the internet has not complied with our wishes to do so.

WrestleManiaTotal MatchesFace Wins / Face Win %Heel Wins / Heel Win %Double DQ, Double Count Out, or DrawCountout FinishDQ Finish
I96 / 66.6%2 / 22.2%1 / 11.1%10
II127 / 58.3%4 / 33.3%1 / 8.3%01
III125 / 41.7%6 / 50%1 / 8.3%02
IV167 / 43.75%7 / 43.75%2 / 12.5%13
V147 / 50%5 / 35.7%2 / 14.3%01
VI14 (+1 dark)7* / 53.8%6 / 38.5%1 / 7.7%11
VII14 (+1 dark)10 / 71.4%4 / 28.6%0 / 0.0%11
VIII9 (+1 dark)8 / 88.9%1 / 11.1%0 / 0.0%11
IX9 (+1 dark)5 / 55.6%4 / 44.4%0 / 0.0%12
X9 (+1 dark)5 / 55.6%4 / 44.4%0 / 0.0%11
Total118 (+5 dark)67 / 56.8%43 / 36.4%8 / 6.8% 713

*Note that we counted Ultimate Warrior as a face for his win over Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI. Hulk Hogan is a heel.

Hacksaw and Bad News joust with 2x4 and steel chair
WWF Creative officially runs out of ideas

In total, 70% of WrestleMania events have at least one countout, 90% have at least one disqualification (not including double disqualifications), and 60% have at least one double countout, double disqualification, or draw. While these finishes seem like a cop-out, in reality they’re a useful tool for maintaining and continuing to build a feud, as such an ending doesn’t give a definitive win, and typically does not cause a title belt to change hands. Our favorite “so bad it’s good” double DQ probably comes in WrestleMania V, when “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and Bad News Brown joust with a 2×4 and a chair, respectively, and both get disqualified. Interestingly, this same WrestleMania gave us the highest number of double countout, double DQ, or draw finishes (2 of 14 matches, or 14.3%), then there are none of these finishes after WrestleMania VI, which may reflect a recognition on WWF’s part that fans found such finishes unsatisfying, especially in an event intended to be the big ending point for the preceding year’s storylines.

Chart showing percentages of wins by heels, faces, and indecisive wins at each WrestleMania
Publicity still of Hercules, wearing chains
Hercules: The cure for insomnia

The faces typically fare better than the heels at WrestleManias — with the exception of WrestleMania III every event ended with more face than heel wins. (Faces won 50% of matches in WrestleMania III, which was a majority thanks to a double countout for Hercules vs. Billy Jack Haynes, yawn.) WrestleMania VIII racked up the greatest percentage of face wins (8 of 9 matches, or 88.9%); WrestleMania VII faces came in second with 71.4% of the wins in that event. As we mentioned, WrestleMania III heels clocked 50% of the wins in that event; second place for heel wins is tied between WrestleManias IX and X with 4 of 9 matches, or 44.4%.

Pie chart showing percentages of wins by heels, faces, and indecisive finishes (draw, double countout, double dq)

The breakdown for all 118 matches was 57% face wins, 36% heel wins, and 6.8% with no winner due to double countout double disqualification, or draw.

Most Appearances

Of the many performers we’ve seen, only two — ring announcer Howard Finkel and commentator Gorilla Monsoon — were present for all ten WrestleManias. Gorilla was on mic duties for the first eight events, for the first six of which he was memorably paired with Jesse “The Body” Ventura. For WrestleManias IX and X, Gino had only minor roles, doing an initial introduction, voiceover, or brief cameo.  

In the 90% Club we have some more heavy hitters:  heel managers Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, backstage interviewer “Mean” Gene Okerlund, referee Joey Marella (son of Gorilla Monsoon), and superstars Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, national treasure Tito Santana (hey Tito!) and our guy, Bret Hart.

Headshot of actor Scott Valentine
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is not Brutus Beefcake

Just behind them, at eight of ten WrestleManias, were Hulk Hogan clone and Scott Valentine lookalike Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake and heel manager Mr. Fuji. And at seven of ten we have Andre the Giant, “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, our favorites Jake “The Snake” Roberts” and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, plus referee Earl Hebner and Randy Savage manager/consort Miss Elizabeth.

Rounding out the performers who appeared in at least a majority of the first ten WrestleManias are:  Rick Martel (solo as “The Model,” and teamed with Tito Santana in Strike Force or with Tom Zenk in the Can-Am Connection,) Shawn Michaels, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Jacques Rougeau (both as a Rougeau Brother and as The Mountie), Nikolai Volkoff, heel manager Slick, and commentator Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Taken together, these 26 performers represent a cross-section of the WWF roster in the 1980s and early 1990s, and paint a good picture of who was popular with fans over multiple years.

Number of AppearancesPerformers
10Howard Finkel; Gorilla Monsoon
9Bret Hart; Jimmy Hart; Bobby Heenan; Hulk Hogan; Joey Marella; Gene Okerlund; Randy Savage; Tito Santana
8Brutus Beefcake; Mr. Fuji
7Andre the Giant; Ted DiBiase; Earl Hebner; Miss Elizabeth; Roddy Piper; Jake Roberts; Greg Valentine
6Rick Martel; Shawn Michaels; Jim Neidhart; Jacques Rougeau; Slick; Jesse Ventura; Nikolai Volkoff

Most Matches

The highest number of appearances doesn’t necessarily equate to the most matches. A select few performers had the chance to wrestle more than once in a single event, while others were present as a manager, guest commentator, or some other role outside of the ring only. The performers with the most matches in WrestleManias 1-10 were:

  1. Randy Savage – 11 matches (including 4 at WM4!)
  2. Bret Hart – 10 matches (2 matches at WM9)
  3. Hulk Hogan – 9 matches
  4. Ted DiBiase, Tito Santana (tie) – 8 matches
  5. Brutus Beefcake – 7 matches

Most Wins

  1. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage (tie) – 7 wins 
  2. Bret Hart – 5 wins
  3. Ted DiBiase, Earthquake (tie) – 4 wins

Most Losses

  1. Tito Santana – 6 losses
  2. Bret Hart, Jacques Rougeau (tie) – 5 losses 
  3. Rick Martel, Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage, Greg Valentine (tie) – 4 losses

Favorite Heels

There’s an art form to creating a memorable heel that fans love to hate, and these performers were true artists.

GIF of the Iron Sheik spitting
Iron Sheik thinks you are weak and pathetic.

Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff – These guys are great individually, but they’re even better as a tag team — spitting on America (literally and figuratively), bellowing the Soviet national anthem to furious fans, and earning showers of trash. The end of Iron Sheik’s title reign to Hulk Hogan marks the beginning of Hulkamania, making him the Sonny Liston to Hogan’s Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali. Volkoff would later team with Boris Zhukof as “The Bolsheviks,” and continue to spread their Soviet propaganda far and wide. Iron Sheik’s Twitter account continues to be one of our favorite things on the internet. Absolute legends.

Rick Rude struts for the laaaadieees
Rick Rude thinks you are fat and pathetic

Ravishing Rick Rude & Mr. Perfect – We put these two together because of their similar gimmicks, which goes all the way back to Gorgeous George. The preening narcissist who’s better, smarter, and more handsome than you, and who wants you to know it. Rick Rude telling the crowd of “Atlantic City sweathogs” to shut up so he can take his robe off and they can admire his abs, or stopping mid-match to flex for the crowd, and Mr. Perfect’s perfectly punchable face while he smacks his chewing gum and throws his sweat towel into the crowd — these are the stuff of true heels. I never cared for WWF turning Mr. Perfect babyface; it seemed an unconscionable waste of his clearly God-given talent for being a dick. Also if I had abs like Rick Rude’s I would never wear a shirt.

Ric Flair says, "I'm the Man"
Ric Flair thinks you are not the man, and therefore you are pathetic. Also you are poor and he is rich. Pathetic.

Ric Flair – The Nature Boy has a similar gimmick to Rude and Perfect, with the “stylin’ and profilin’” twist that he was also flaunting his immense wealth in addition to his incredible good looks. What made Flair such an amazing heel, though, was his reputation as the “dirtiest wrestler in the business.” He would constantly cheat his way through his matches, only occasionally getting caught, so the audience loved it when he got his clock cleaned as just punishment for his antics. Flair sold every shot, every hip toss, every whip to the turnbuckle, like it was the last move he’d ever do in the ring. If Bret Hart is the GOAT for his technical skills in the ring and general athleticism, Flair is the GOAT for his ability to engage a crowd and tell a story. You can see his influence in the heel persona of “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, as well as in the chronic overselling by Shawn Michaels, who flops around like a rag doll made of watery Jell-O in his early solo matches.

Andre the Giant – Andre never really wore the heel role that comfortably. He’d always been the “friendly giant” during the territory days, and he was perpetually over with the fans. But when he turned on Hulk Hogan in the lead-up to WrestleMania III and tore off Hogan’s shirt and crucifix necklace on that episode of Piper’s Pit, he became a truly terrifying heel. The betrayal of his best friend (though in hindsight we have a better understanding) added an emotional resonance to a feud that would culminate in perhaps the most famous wrestling match of all time and the bodyslam heard around the world. Andre, who was approaching the end of his career by this time, never again rose to the heights of heeldom that he reached for WrestleMania III, but it was a heel turn for the ages.

Gorilla Monsoon hands Bobby Heenan a phone, which he looks at and hangs up
Bobby Heenan thinks you probably still have a landline at home and are pathetic.

Bobby Heenan – Let’s talk heel managers for a second. There are quite a few — Jimmy Hart, Mr. Fuji, Slick, Sherri Martel (in her Queen Sherri days) — but for our money “The Brain” is the greatest of them all. Incredibly quick-witted and deft of tongue, Heenan could reel off lines of bullshit that would leave you laughing even as they dazzled you with his deviousness. His transition to the announcer’s table was a great use of his talents, but to be honest we miss him at ringside, where he was so brilliant at creating chaos, eliciting “Weasel” chants from the crowd, and (occasionally) getting his comeuppance at the end of the match. 

GIF of Earthquake sitting on Adam Bomb, from WrestleMania X
Earthquake thinks you are pathetic and he could beat you in 35 seconds

Earthquake – Like Andre, a huge guy who made a terrifying heel by virtue of his size and ferocity. Earthquake had an impressive undefeated streak upon his debut, where he regularly ran over his opponents before depositing his girth on their chests with his “Avalanche” sit-down splash. The gimmick of jumping up and down on the mat, creating an “earthquake” in the ring, before landing his finishing move was a great touch. Earthquake eventually teamed with Typhoon (formerly Tugboat) to form the Natural Disasters, and even turned face, but he was most impressive in his earliest unrefined heel appearances.

Underrated Stars

The athletic genius of certain stars — Bret Hart, Randy Savage, Mr. Perfect — and the popularity of others — Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior — are obvious to those who pay even a modest amount of attention to the world of pro wrestling. But we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge some of the stars who really surprised us in these first ten WrestleManias.

Ted DiBiase in a shiny green suit with dollar signs on the lapels, like rich people wear all the time
Actual rich people don’t dress like Leprechaun pimps, Ted

“Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase – DiBiase is a near-constant presence after his debut at WrestleMania IV, and he’s really good. A second generation pro wrestler, DiBiase has his rich guy schtick down to a science. Buying the championship title from Andre to create his own Million Dollar Championship belt, walking around with a valet, Virgil, with whom he eventually feuds, fanning wads of cash at the crowd — these are all great touches to his heel persona. But what makes it work is his skill in the ring. With Flair-inspired moves like running out of the ring when the going gets tough, flipping into the corner turnbuckle, begging on his knees for his opponent’s mercy, you can always count on a compelling match from the MDM. His championship match against Macho Man at WrestleMania IV is a highlight for us.

Sherri Martel – We’ve mentioned Sherri already, and won’t go on about her again here, but watch that Macho Man vs. Ultimate Warrior match from WrestleMania VII and witness true talent in action.

Tito Santana in his Matador outfit
This is our blog, so we’ll include a second photo of Tito Santana if we damn well feel like it. If you don’t like it you can leave. (Please don’t leave.)

Tito Santana – We have fond memories of Tito Santana as a stalwart face of the 1980s WWF, so seeing him again, especially in the earlier WrestleManias (both solo and as part of the “Strike Force” tag team with Rick Martel) was a real treat. He’s fast, smooth, and athletic in the ring, a big guy who wrestles like someone much smaller. His old school moves reflect the era in which he achieved success, but over the years he evolved and adapted, taking on “The Matador” persona for WrestleMania VIII (though he’d sadly been relegated to a dark match for WrestleMania IX.) Even Jesse Ventura’s constant barrage of racist commentary whenever Tito was in the ring can’t dampen our enthusiasm for him.

Publicity still of Greg Valentine in a heart-themed robe
Don’t let the robe fool you, The Hammer could still whip your ass IRL. Your friends’ asses too, definitely your dad’s ass.

Greg “The Hammer” Valentine – Another guy we remember being in pretty much every televised WWF event back in the day, Hammer was an old-school tough guy who was respected as someone who could legitimately whoop some ass in real life, which makes sense when you realize he was trained by both Stu Hart and The (Original) Sheik. With Jimmy Hart as his manager he added the shin guard to one leg, which he’d turn around to do extra damage when applying his signature figure-four leglock. Dastardly! The thing I like best about watching him in these old WrestleManias, though, is the way he sells his opponents’ shots. He has a great move where he falls over completely straight, like a big tree. It’s a thing of beauty. He was teamed with Honkytonk Man in the tag team “Rhythm & Blues,” but unfortunately we don’t actually get to see them work in any of these WrestleManias. (We have to settle for a half-assed “musical” performance at WrestleMania VI, which is disrupted by music critics The Bushwhackers.) I chose my own nickname for this blog in honor of The Hammer.

Have another favorite who doesn’t get enough love? Drop us a comment or an email!

Best Talkers

Doing the pre-fight interview, or “cutting a promo,” is an essential part of creating a wrestler’s persona, telling a story, and getting over with the crowd. Even the most amazing athlete in the ring will likely founder and find themselves buried if they don’t know how to talk on the mic. The first ten WrestleManias have no shortage of incredible promos, and here’s a few of our favorite talkers.

GIF of Macho Man twirling around with Mean Gene
Macho Man struggles to find his mark

“Macho Man” Randy Savage – A Randy Savage promo is less like an interview and more like performance art. Frequently starting with his back turned to the camera, Macho Man would start in his low growl, then seemingly free associate until he had worked himself into a frenzy. At the end he would jet off-camera, often continuing to rant and rave while Mean Gene struggled to keep a straight face. “The cream rises to the top,” indeed.  

Jake “The Snake” Roberts – The master of the whispered, psychological promo, Jake specialized in dark and scary. His promo at WrestleMania VI before his match with Ted DiBiase, in which he basically calls for class warfare on the Million Dollar Man, is pure genius and had us ready to eat the rich.

“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair – The man of a thousand catchphrases, “the stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ and dealin’ son of a gun.” On an episode of Impact, Flair told his opponent, “I could kiss any one of these women, even that fat one, and make ‘em cry.” LOL. But Flair’s genius in the promos can be boiled down to one word with endless O’s: “Woooooooooooooooooo!!!”

Ultimate Warrior – The antithesis of Jake Roberts, Ultimate Warrior did everything at 11. His promo at WrestleMania VI for his match with Hulk Hogan is enough to make me feel like I’m on hard drugs, and I’ve never tried hard drugs.

GIF of Hulk Hogan and Mean Gene Okerlund. Hogan ends by "backstroking" his way off camera
Mean Gene: “Waiter, what is this fly doing in my soup.”
Waiter: “It looks like the back stroke, sir.” #dadjoke

Hulk Hogan – We’re telling ya, brother, we have a lot of issues with Hulk Hogan as a character, but we have to acknowledge his skill on the mic. When you hear “Well ya know, Mean Gene,” you know you’re in for a ride. His lectures to his Hulkamaniacs extolling the virtues of saying your prayers and taking your vitamins, and his odes to his own 24-inch pythons, are quintessential 80s pro wrestling.

Worst Gimmicks

The WWF was really into the “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach to creating wrestling gimmicks. Still is, now that we think about it. The first ten WrestleManias had some doozies, though.

GIF of Akeem the African Dream dancing in the ring
Akeem the “African” Dream sets back 40 years of progress for African Americans

Akeem the African Dream – A gigantic white dude, in faux “African” garb, going by the name “Akeem the African Dream,” and managed by (basically) a black pimp named Slick. Akeem also liked to “shuck and jive” (aka “dance terribly”) during his promos. This is like that diversity episode of The Office in its purest concentrated form.

Big Boss Man – The gimmick of a southern prison guard, traitor’s flag on his sleeve, makes sense as a heel. But this gimmick shit the bed for us when WWF decided to make Boss Man into a face. No way, no how, no thank you. When Akeem and Boss Man fought at WrestleMania VI, we wished for a sinkhole that would swallow the entire ring.

Publicity shot of Barry Darsow as The Repo Man, in black mask with (we think?) a tow truck hook

Repo Man – Barry Darsow, formerly Smash of tag team (and S&M gear enthusiasts) Demolition, returned to the ring as the “Repo Man,” who for some reason wore a mask like Hamburglar and snuck around like he was breaking into a 7-11. As far as we know he never actually showed up in a tow truck to repossess another wrestler’s car, which would have been a much better expression of his gimmick.

Red Rooster – Former Mid-South and NWA star Terry Taylor’s Red Rooster gimmick, per his Wikipedia entry, “saw him don red tights and ring coat and… style his hair like a rooster’s comb and strut like a rooster.” During the promo before his squash match with Bobby Heenan at WrestleMania V, he even gives Mean Gene a cockadoodle-do. It’s unclear whether he was supposed to be an actual rooster in human form, or had a Traumatic Brain Injury that caused him to think he was a rooster.

Polaroid of blog co-author Rich with The Warlord
Even at age 12, Rich knew the Warlord’s gimmick was dumb

Warlord (future version) – When he was matched with The Barbarian in “Powers of Pain,” Warlord somewhat made sense. In furs, leather, and horned helmets, they were like time-traveling refugees from Conan the Barbarian’s mythical “Hyborean Age.” Then the Powers of Pain broke up and Barbarian retained his gimmick, while Warlord somehow transformed into a figure from the future, who carried a metal stick with a “W” on the end of it (for “Walmart,” obvs) and wore the cheesiest plastic armor you’ve ever seen outside of Spaceballs: The Movie.

Best Finishing Moves 

A wrestler’s finishing move is often a true expression of their persona in and out of the ring. It can strike fear into the hearts of opponents, and provides a cue to the audience that the match is about to be over. When an opponent is able to overcome a finishing move, it proves their toughness and ratchets up the drama. Here’s some of our favorites, in no particular order:

Thoughts and prayers to the victims of Yokozuna’s “Banzai Drop”
  • Banzai Drop, Yokozuna
  • DDT, Jake “The Snake” Roberts 
  • Doomsday Device, Legion of Doom
  • Flying elbow, “Macho Man” Randy Savage
  • Hart Attack, Hart Foundation
  • Running Power Slam, British Bulldog
  • Sharpshooter, Bret “Hitman” Hart
  • Superkick (later “Sweet Chin Music”), Shawn Michaels
  • Tombstone Piledriver, Undertaker
  • Figure Four Leglock, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine


An announcer can make or break a wrestling match. A good one provides context or technical knowledge, helps sell the story, and highlights the big moments with their own excitement. Color commentators root for the heel and needle their counterparts. A bad announcer overreacts to everything, or overdoes it with humor, irrelevant comments, etc. A great guest announcer brings a new voice and perspective to the table and often provides humor by disrupting the chemistry of the regular announcers. Our favorites from the first ten WrestleManias, ranked:

B&W publicity shot of Gorilla Monsoon in his wrestling days
Before he was the jovial voice of WrestleMania, Gorilla Monsoon tore the heads off of live wrestlers for fun and profit
  1. Gorilla Monsoon (WM 1-8)
  2. Jim “J.R.” Ross (WM 9)
  3. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (WM 8)
  4. Jerry “The King” Lawler (WM 10)
  5. Bob Uecker (WM 3-4)
  6. Jesse “The Body” Ventura (WM 1-6
  7. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (WM 9)
  8. Steve Allen (WM 6)
  9. Regis Philbin (WM 7)
  10. Elvira (WM 2)

Honorable Mention: “Mean” Gene Okerlund

Mean Gene is an interviewer, not an announcer, so he didn’t qualify for our Ten Best list above. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention his significant contributions to WrestleMania, and to pro wrestling in general, during this formative period. A near-constant presence in the pre- and post-match promos, Mean Gene provided the straight man and foil for maniacs like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, and many others to deliver their rantings. He asked the tough questions to get the most entertaining responses. We can’t imagine Hulkamania without “Well ya know, Mean Gene.” 

Dishonorable Mention:  Vince McMahon

McMahon may be a brilliant businessman and promoter, but as an announcer he’s, in wrestling parlance, the shits. His delivery is always at an 11 no matter what’s going on in the ring. His constant shouting is not only annoying, it makes it difficult to discern the emotional highs and lows of a match, which is key to effective storytelling. Good commentary involves (usually) a collaborative back-and-forth between announcers (often with different knowledge, skills, and approaches,) but Vince’s approach makes that nearly impossible. He also has a habit of predicting the next move, which he then has to immediately retract when it doesn’t happen, making him sound like an overeager fanboy and all-around dumbass. Add to all of that the awkward dynamics of Vince being the boss of everyone present, from wrestlers to referees to his fellow announcers, and you’ve got a recipe for some of the worst commentary of these WrestleManias.

Musical Performances, Ranked

The high-powered musical guest to kick off the event is a tradition that started with Ray Charles in WrestleMania 2 (interviewer “Mean” Gene Okerlund did the honors for the inaugural event, and did a serviceable version of the national anthem.) Subsequent events have featured stars of varying wattages.

Headshot of a young Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin, back when no one knew who she was because she had not yet sung at a WrestleMania
  1. Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful, WM3
  2. Ray Charles, America the Beautiful, WM2
  3. Gladys Knight, America the Beautiful, WM4
  4. Little Richard, America the Beautiful, WM10
  5. Run DMC, WrestleMania Rap, WM5
  6. Willie Nelson, America the Beautiful, WM6
  7. Robert Goulet, O Canada, WM7
  8. Reba McEntire, Star Spangled Banner, WM8
  9. Rockin’ Robin, America the Beautiful, WM9
  10. Mean Gene Okerlund, Star Spangled Banner, WM10

Unranked: Diahann Carroll, America the Beautiful, WM9 (not on event video)

Best Celebrity Appearances (excluding musical performances)

Likewise, the celebrity guest – as ring announcer, timekeeper, interviewer, referee, and just plain old audience member – is a WrestleMania tradition. Here’s some of our favorites and not so favorites.

  1. Muhammad Ali, guest referee, WM1
  2. Alice Cooper, guest manager for Jake “The Snake” Roberts, WM3
  3. Steve Allen, guest interviewer and commentator, WM6
  4. Henry Winkler, in attendance, WM7
  5. Burt Reynolds, guest ring announcer, WM10

Worst Celebrity Appearances

Orange poop
  1. Donald Trump, walking pile of doodoo, WM4
  2. Donald Trump, treasonous ass-boil, WM5
  3. Donald Trump, infected taint, WM7
  4. Herb, Burger King ad campaign character, WM2
  5. Chuck Norris, former action star, now full-time rightwing nutjob, WM7

Celebrity Star Power, Ranked

How do the celebrity guests for the first ten WrestleManias stack up? Here’s our very unscientific list:

  1. WM7 – Macauley Culkin, Lou Ferrigno, Marla Maples, Regis Philbin, Donald Trump, Alex Trebek, Henry Winkler, Chuck Norris
  2. WM1 – Muhammad Ali, Cyndi Lauper, Liberace, Billy Martin, Mr. T, Pat Patterson
  3. WM10 – Jennie Garth, Burt Reynolds, Rhonda Shear, Sy Sperling, Donnie Wahlberg
  4. WM2 – Dick Butkus, Cab Calloway, Robert Conrad, Cathy Lee Crosby, Darryl Dawkins, Lou Duva, Elvira, Joe Frazier, Herb, Tommy Lasorda, G. Gordon Liddy, Clara Peller, Ricky Schroder, multiple NFL players for battle royal, Mr. T, Ozzy Osbourne
  5. WM6 – Steve Allen, Rona Berrett, Mary Tyler Moore
  6. WM3 – Alice Cooper, Mary Hart, Bob Uecker
  7. WM7 – Robin Leach, Donald Trump, Bob Uecker
  8. WM9 – Natalie Cole
  9. WM8 – Ray Combs
  10. WM5 – Morton Downey, Jr., Donald Trump

In Memoriam

For each WrestleMania, we’ve noted the wrestlers, announcers, referees, celebrity guests, musicians, etc. from that event who have died. We’ve lost a few more greats since starting the blog, including Pat Patterson, “The Natural” Butch Reed, Thomas “Tiny” Lister (aka Zeus), Alex Trebek, and Tommy Lasorda, and tried to update older posts accordingly. Of 255 individuals who appeared in the first ten WrestleManias, 102 total stars, including 66 wrestlers, 34 celebrity guests, and 2 animal mascots (Matilda and Frankie) are now deceased. Obviously some of that is a function of old age, given that the first WrestleMania took place more than three decades ago, and many of the stars appearing in earlier events had been around the business for many years. For others, though, it is a function of the incredible physical and psychological demands of the wrestling business, including endless days and nights on the road, the physical toll of the matches (including injuries that frequently lead to drug addiction), long-term effects of steroid use, and abuse of alcohol and other drugs. We honor their lives, careers, and the entertainment they brought to so many fans like us.

PerformerDiedOther name(s)WrestleManiasTotal AppearancesTotal Matches
Adonis, Adrian1988Franke, Keith Adonis2,321
Albano, Captain Lou2009Albano, Louis Vincent1,22n/a
Ali, Muhammad2016Clay, Cassius11n/a
Allen, Steve200061n/a
Andre the Giant1993Rousimoff, Andre1,2,3,4,5,6,775
Animal (Legion of Doom)2020Road Warrior Animal; Laurinaitis, Joe7,821
Bass, Ron2017Heard, Ronald411
Bearer, Paul2013Moody, Bill; Pringle, Percy7,8,93n/a
Big Boss Man2004Traylor Jr., Ray Washington5,6,7,843
Bigelow, Bam Bam2007Bigelow, Scott Charles4,1022
Blassie, Classy Freddie20031,22n/a
Borne, Maniac Matt2013Osborne, Matthew; Doink the Clown1,922
Bravo, Dino1993Bresciano, Adolfo3,4,5,6,754
Brown, Bad News2007Allen, Bad News4,5,633
Bundy, King Kong2019Pallies, Christopher1,2,333
Calloway, Cab199421n/a
Carroll, Diahann201991n/a
Charles, Ray200421n/a
Combs, Ray200681n/a
Conrad, Robert202021n/a
Coppock, Chet201921n/a
Crush2007Adams, Brian; Demolition7,9,1033
Dawkins, Darryl201521n/a
Del Ray, Jimmy2014Heavenly Bodies; Gigolo Jimmy Del Ray1011
Downey Jr., Morton200151n/a
Duva, Lou201721n/a
Dynamite Kid (British Bulldogs)2018Billington, Thomas2,3,433
Earthquake2006Tenta, John Anthony Jr.; Avalanche6,7,8,1044
Fabulous Moolah2007Ellison, Mary Lillian1,2,1021
Finkel, Howard20201,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,1010n/a
Fralic, Bill2018211
Frankie the Macaw20013,4,63n/a
Franklin, Aretha201831n/a
Frazier, Smokin’ Joe201121n/a
Fuji, Mr.2016Fujiwara, Harry Masayoshi2,3,4,5,6,7,9,1081
Giant Gonzalez2010Gonazlez, Jorge; El Gigante911
Gordy, Terry2001Executioner111
Hart, Owen1999Blue Blazer5,822
Hawk (Legion of Doom)2003Road Warrior Hawk; Hegstrand, Michael7,821
Hayes, Lord Alfred2005Hayes, Alfred George James1,2,5,7,85n/a
Heenan, Bobby the Brain2017Heenan, Raymond Louis1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,992
Hennig, Curt2003Mr. Perfect5,6,7,8,9,1064
Herb?Menick, Jon21n/a
Hercules2004Hercules Hernandez; Fernandez, Raymond2,3,4,5,6,766
Holmes, Ernie2008211
Humperdink, Oliver2011Sutton, John Jay41n/a
Jones, Special Delivery2008Efraim, Conrad; SD Jones111
Junkyard Dog1998Ritter, Sylvester1,2,3,444
Kitao, Koji2019711
Ladd, Ernie200721n/a
Lasorda, Tommy202121n/a
Liberace1987Liberace, Wladziu Valentino11n/a
Licarneli, Ray2010Ray Apollo; Doink the Clown1011
Little Beaver1995Giroux, Lionel311
Little Richard2020Penniman, Richard Wayne101n/a
Little Tokyo2011Akebane, Shigeru311
Lord Littlebrook2016Tovey, Eric Henry Edward311
Lotz, Jack20201,2,33n/a
Mabel2014Men on a Mission; Viscera; Big Daddy V; Frazier, Nelson Jr.1011
Marella, Joey19941,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,109n/a
Marshall, Lee201421n/a
Martel, Sherri2007Peggy Sue, Scary Sherry, Sensational Sherri, Queen Sherri; Schrull, Sherry4,6,7,8,951
Martin, Billy198911n/a
Martin, Frenchy2016Gagne, Jean4,52n/a
Martin, Harvey2001211
Matilda the Bulldogn.d.3,42n/a
Miss Elizabeth2003Hulette, Elizabeth Ann2,3,4,5,6,7,87n/a
Mizell, Jason2002Jam Master Jay51n/a
Monsoon, Gorilla1999Marello, Robert; Marello, Gino1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,1010n/a
Moore, Mary Tyler201761n/a
Morales, Pedro2019211
Neidhart, Jim the Anvil20182,3,4,5,6,766
Okerlund, Mean Gene20191,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,99n/a
Patterson, Pat20201, 7 (flashback only)1n/a
Paunovich, Dr. Bob200721n/a
Peller, Clara “Where’s the Beef”1987Rood, Richard Erwin21n/a
Philbin, Regis202071n/a
Piper, Rowdy Roddy2015Toombs, Roderick George1,2,3,5,6,7,8,1073
Race, King Harley20193,422
Reed, Butch “The Natural”20213,421
Reynolds, Burt2018101n/a
Rhodes, Dusty2015611
Rivers, Joan201421n/a
Rude, Ravishing Rick19994,5,632
Sammartino, Bruno20181,221
Sapphire1996Sweet Sapphire; Wright, Juanita611
Savage, Randy “Macho Man”2011Poffo, Randy2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10911
Smith, Davey Boy2002British Bulldog; Smith, David2,3,4,743
Snuka, Jimmy “Superfly”20171,5,6,743
Sperling, Sy2020President and Founder, Hair Club for Men101n/a
Steele, George The Animal2017Myers, William James2,3,432
Studd, Big John1995Minton, John William1,2,532
Trebek, Alex202071n/a
Ultimate Warrior2014Hellwig, James4,5,6,7,854
Uncle Elmer1992Frazier, Stanley C.211
Vachon, Luna2010Vachon, Gertrude Elizabeth9,1021
Valiant, Luscious Johnny20181,2,33n/a
Volkoff, Nikolai2018Josip Hrvoje Peruzovic1,2,3,4,6,1064
Von Erich, Kerry1993Texas Tornado711
Yokozuna2000Agatupu Rodney Anoa’i9,1023
Zenk, Tom2017Can-Am Connection311
Zeus2020Lister, Thomas “Tiny”51n/a

Blog Stats to Date

14 posts, 10 WrestleMania reviews plus 4 supplements 

First post: 11/18/20 / Last post: 2/21/21

Total Words:  64,992 / Average Post:  6,013 words

Longest WM Post:  9,432 words (WM6) / Shortest WM Post:  4,183 words (WM1)

Publicity photo of George "The Animal" Steele
RIP William James Myers, aka George “The Animal” Steele, 1937-2017

One thought on “In Retrospect: The First Decade

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