Saturday, February 11, 2017


WrestleMania Madness [n.] 1. A hybrid World Cup/March Madness style tournament of all 32 WrestleMania events to decide the best of all time!

To begin with, we ranked each WrestleMania 1 through 32 using an average from four different websites. From there, we distributed them across the groups, 4 at a time. Group assignment (A, B, C, or D) was decided by finding the most spaced-apart matchups for even distribution (e.g. Group C features a #1 seed from 2015 and a #8 seed from 1986). For the entire list & averages, see below:

Everything starts in the Group Stage, where we've split up the Manias in 4 groups of 8 competitors (click on the image to see it up close). Once the group stage is over, it's on to the single elimination bracket of 16 remaining Manias. Remanias!

We're on Group A this week, featuring the matchups below. Criteria like match quality, entertainment value, strength of main event promotion, atmosphere, and best use of storylines are all considered as each WrestleMania is pitted head to head. Be sure to stay tuned right here to see which WrestleManias advance to the single elimination bracket!

Group A

#1 WrestleMania X (1994)   #8 WrestleMania XXVII (2011)
March 20, 1994 Date April 3, 2011
Madison Square Garden (New York, NY) Venue Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA)
18,065 Attendance 71,617
Bret vs. Owen
Michaels vs. Ramon Ladder Match
Bret vs. Yokozuna
Headliners Cena vs. The Miz
Undertaker vs. HHH
Cole vs. Lawler
Burt Reynolds
Donnie Wahlberg
Jennie Garth
Rhonda Shear
Little Richard
Special Guests Snoop Dogg
Paul Reubens
Keri Hilson
2.2 Observer Rating (Average) 2.2
WrestleMania X is a true diamond in the rough. Kicking off with an exciting clinic in psychology, Bret Hart taking on his little brother Owen seemed more like a contest out of Japan, rather than a "New Generation" WWF match. There were the requisite duds, such as Bam Bam Bigelow wasting his talents on a misguided Doink storyline and up-and-coming monster Adam Bomb getting squashed, literally, by an aging Earthquake. But having the night end with an Intercontinental Championship ladder match for the ages, and "The Hitman" hoisted up as the new champ after a year of Yokozuna made WrestleMania X, the first without Hulk Hogan, a beacon of light in the dark ages of mid-90s WWF. Hot Take WrestleMania XXVII featured the long-awaited return of The Rock; however, his appearance greatly overshadowed The Miz, who found himself in the main event at the Showcase of Immortals. Then there were some strange booking decisions like The Corre being buried in embarrassing fashion, and Edge and Alberto Del Rio being asked to open up the show with the World Heavyweight Title on the line. The highest of highs were seen with an excellent Triple H and Undertaker No Holds Barred match, but the lowest of lows were suffered through with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, arguably the worst match in the history of Mania. Will fans ever recover from viewing Cole in a singlet?

#2 WrestleMania XXV (2009)   #7 WrestleMania IV (1988)
April 5, 2009 Date March 27, 1988
Reliant Stadium (Houston, TX) Venue Trump Plaza (Atlantic City, NJ)
72,744 Attendance 18,165
HHH vs. Orton
Michaels vs. Undertaker
Headliners WWF Championship Tournament
Savage vs. DiBiase
Mickey Rourke
Kid Rock
Nicole Scherzinger
Special Guests Bob Uecker
Gladys Knight
Robin Leach
Donald Trump
Vanna White
2.8 Observer Rating (Average) 0.8
Does a show containing the "Greatest Match Ever" make it the best show ever? Well, Santina Marella won a women's battle royal, Jimmy Snuka looked dangerously fragile to be competing in front of a worldwide audience and Triple H and Randy Orton had fans bolting and trying to beat traffic in the main event. Still, there were some of those Mania moments we'll always remember: Mickey Rourke punched out Jericho and JBL received one of the all-time great embarrassing sendoffs. However, if Taker and Michaels hadn't pulled their classic out of nowhere (they were originally scheduled to go a measly 15 minutes), we may be talking about WrestleMania 25 as all-time dud. Still. That match. Hot Take There was no chance in hell that WrestleMania IV could deliver something as monumental as the previous year, so WWE got creative. A tournament was hatched, and while the talent was there it just didn't come together in an effective way. Hogan and Andre: Round 3 was a "total disaster" as Donald Trump (who was in attendance) likely would have labeled it. With the two big hogs out of the way, a new champ would be born. An exciting prospect; but the follow up contests all landed with a thud. None of the subsequent tournament matches lasted 10 minutes, and the main event featuring Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase was hindered by the unnecessary appearance of the almighty Hogan.

#3 WrestleMania XIV (1998)   #6 WrestleMania 29 (2013)
March 29, 1998 Date April 7, 2013
FleetCenter (Boston, MA) Venue MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ)
19,028 Attendance 80,676
Michaels vs. Austin
Undertaker vs. Kane
Headliners Rock vs. Cena
Undertaker vs. Punk
Mike Tyson
Pete Rose
Gennifer Flowers
Special Guests Sean "Diddy" Combs
Living Colour
1.8 Observer Rating (Average) 2.6
WrestleMania XIV represented perhaps the biggest sea change from one event to the next. Just 365 days removed from a disaster of a title match between Undertaker and Sid, we saw "Stone Cold" Steve Austin crowned as world champion, officially ushering in a new era. An intriguing brother vs. brother match between Undertaker and Kane and fan favorite renegades The New Age Outlaws getting their spotlight rounded out a solid night of wrestling. Between Mike Tyson's role in the event, an appearance by Clinton mistress Gennifer Flowers, and the DX Band singing "America the Beautiful", WrestleMania XIV was the singular event of the year to push WWE in a whole new direction. Hot Take Taking place on a chilly April night in New Jersey, it's maybe understandable that WrestleMania 29 felt a bit more cooled-off than normal. Nobody was really dying to see the Once in a Lifetime match for a 2nd time, much less for the WWE Championship, and after four years of taking it to the house, Undertaker's match with CM Punk carried little to no heat—and that's after Punk poured Paul Bearer's ashes on himself! Brock Lesnar was kept in neutral by Triple H's ego, and there was even an 8-minute Ryback vs. Mark Henry match for some reason. WWE's first experiment in cold-weather country didn't quite pay off, and it's probably a long-shot before we'll see them back in the same stadium again.

#4 WrestleMania 32 (2016)   #5 WrestleMania 23 (2007)
April 3, 2016 Date April 1, 2007
AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX) Venue Ford Field (Detroit, MI)
101,763 Attendance 80,103
HHH vs. Reigns
Undertaker vs. Shane
Headliners Michaels vs. Cena
Umaga vs. Lashley
Shaquille O'Neal
Snoop Dogg
Fifth Harmony
Special Guests Donald Trump
Aretha Franklin
2.8 Observer Rating (Average) 2.5
Let's start by saying WrestleMania 32 had the biggest crowd in its 3+ decade history...*crickets*...oh, you need more? Well, it did at least touch on all the major plot points that make up a decent, middle-of-the-road Mania, like a celebrity appearance from Shaq in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal and The Rock still breaking WrestleMania records in his "match" with Erick Rowan. There was even a surprise IC title win by Zack Ryder that brought some unpredictability back to the event. Unfortunately, the guys who do it every day had to take a backseat more than ever, with the owner's son getting the coveted Undertaker match and part-timer Triple H wrestling in the World Championship match. But hey! Look at that crowd! Hot Take WrestleMania 23 relied far more on style than substance, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. To this day, it's mostly remembered for the future President guiding Bobby Lashley to victory and Vince McMahon getting his head shaved. The Streak really became a big deal a year after the lackluster Mark Henry affair. Shawn Michaels carried John Cena to a solid main event, and the ECW Originals got to have their last big moment as a unit before hobbling off into the sunset (minus their 100 reunions since). Ric Flair on the pre-show was embarrassing, and Kane and Khali could have battled off TV and no one would have complained, but the show still had enough "WrestleMania moments" to make it memorable enough.

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