Who will be the next ‘Mr. WrestleMania’?

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February 21, 2013

Rhodes recalled an observation that his WWE Hall of Fame father, Dusty Rhodes, shared with him backstage at The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania, after Michaels fell to The Undertaker in an epic encounter. With both World Championship matches still to come, “The American Dream” simply called it like he saw it. “My father said to me, ‘They might as well start the bus now,’ ” the younger Rhodes remembered. “ ‘This show is over.’ ”

A big-game performer through and through, Michaels excelled whenever he competed on sports-entertainment’s biggest platform, and his list of WrestleMania opponents reads like an index of WWE Hall of Famers and first-balloters. But it is not enough to simply steal the show. Michaels’ awe-inspiring matches spanned multiple eras of WWE, from The New Generation to The Attitude Era to the brand split and beyond. (HBK'S WRESTLEMANIA MOMENTS)

“To be named ‘Mr. Anything,’ you have to almost validate the event and the identity of the event needs to assimilate with you,” Matt Striker said. “Shawn Michaels saved his very best for WrestleMania. Any time you think of WrestleMania, you can apply those same thoughts to an image of Shawn Michaels. They’re interchangeable.”

“WrestleMania” and “Shawn Michaels” may be interchangeable, but does that preclude The Show of Shows from one day sharing a similarly close affiliation with another Superstar? Can any wrestler hope to amass a body of five-star Show of Shows classics so dense he could supplant Michaels as “Mr. WrestleMania”?

Superstars’ reluctance to suggest even a potential heir to the throne seemed to do as much with not wanting to curse a current Superstar as wanting to show deference toward Michaels and his well-established legacy.

“Saying somebody is the next ‘Mr. WrestleMania’ is putting a huge weight on somebody’s shoulders,” Striker cautioned. “To try and step into Babe Ruth’s shoes, to try to be the next Joe Montana or Mario Lemieux, you’re always going to fail, no matter what.”

WWE timekeeper Mark Yeaton, who has sat ringside at 26 WrestleManias, conceded that there are current Superstars who compare to Michaels in terms of showmanship and being able to “walk the walk.” He doubts, however, that anyone will be able to combine those elements in addition to matching HBK’s longevity.

That’s not to say all respondents came up blank in trying to name the next “Mr. WrestleMania.” 

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