WrestleMania’s 5 greatest rematches
In a match the WWE Universe thought it would never have the chance to witness a second time, John Cena will once again battle The Rock on The Grandest Stage of Them All at WrestleMania 29 — this time for the WWE Championship. This return Show of Shows bout for these iconic Superstars, fueled by emotion, offers The Rock an opportunity to cement his legacy, and Cena a chance at WrestleMania redemption following his defeat at last year’s Showcase of the Immortals.
Throughout the years, WrestleMania has served as the ideal battleground for rivals willing to raise the stakes in spectacular fashion more than once. But which WrestleMania rematches reign supreme?
Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna (WrestleMania X)
After winning the 1993 Royal Rumble Match, the seemingly unstoppable 500-pound Yokozuna set his sights on Bret “Hit Man” Hart’s WWE Championship at WrestleMania IX. Despite his Hart Family Dungeon training and technical mastery, not even “The Excellence of Execution” could fell the mighty Japanese juggernaut — thanks in no small part to the meddling of Mr. Fuji. By tossing salt in Hart’s eyes as the “Hit Man” had his gargantuan challenger locked in the Sharpshooter, Fuji ensured that Yokozuna would continue his reign as WWE Champion. ( MORE ON HART | MORE ON YOKOZUNA)
The nefarious manager’s actions would set the stage for an impromptu WWE Championship bout between Hulk Hogan and the new WWE Title holder immediately — resulting in a championship victory for The Hulkster — but retribution for Hart would come nearly a year later at WrestleMania X.
In front of a capacity Madison Square Garden crowd, Hart capitalized when Yokozuna lost his balance before executing the devastating Banzai Drop, earning “The Pink-and-Black Attack” his second WWE Championship in the process. This hard-fought and redemptive triumph was immediately celebrated in the ring by the likes of Lex Luger, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Razor Ramon and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and gave WWE Universe members around the globe a chance to stand up and cheer in unison for “The Best There Is, The Best There Was and The Best There Ever Will Be.”
Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (WrestleMania X-Seven)
When one thinks of revolutionary tandems from any period in WWE history, three teams that always pop up are Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz. No, it’s not because names ending with “z” were all the rage at the turn of the millennium and it has nothing to do with our secret desire to rock one of Christian’s mesh tanktops. Rather, these three risk-taking duos truly changed the landscape of tag team competition during The Attitude Era, giving the WWE Universe back-to-back instant classics at WrestleMania 2000 and WrestleMania X-Seven.
In a hellacious Triangle Ladder Match at WrestleMania 2000, emanating from the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, Calif., Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley’s World Tag Team Championships dangled precariously from the rafters, taunting all involved to risk it all for one of WWE’s most coveted prizes. Although it was Edge & Christian who would ultimately capture the titles that night, all six competitors were lauded for their bravery following what collectively became known as one of the most awe-inspiring matches of all time.
But how would these ring warriors top such a table-smashing, ladder-bending and gravity-defying triple threat encounter? That answer came at WrestleMania X-Seven, when Edge & Christian, the Hardys and the Dudleys collided in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match — a stipulation the sextet introduced mere months earlier at SummerSlam.
Amid the chaos, Spike Dudley, Lita and Rhyno joined the fray, with Spike helping his bespectacled brothers, Lita giving the Hardys the assist and The Man Beast from Detroit working on behalf of Edge & Christian. In the end, it was Rhyno who would help Christian ensnare the titles hanging over the ring and earn his team their second straight WrestleMania victory. Although the circumstances of Edge & Christian’s victory became a heated topic for debate in the weeks that followed, none could argue that Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz had truly proven their worth on The Grandest Stage of Them All. ( MORE ON EDGE | MORE ON CHRISTIAN | MORE ON JEFF HARDY)
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock (WrestleMania XIX)
By 2003, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock were no strangers to colliding at The Showcase of the Immortals, having clashed for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XV and WrestleMania X-Seven, but it was the icons’ non-title bout at WrestleMania XIX that would be remembered as the exclamation point on one of the most personal rivalries in the history of the squared-circle.
Following success in Hollywood, The Rock returned to WWE consumed by the fact that he had never defeated The Texas Rattlesnake at WrestleMania. Following weeks of mind games — including lyrically victimizing Austin in the first-ever “Rock Concert” — The Great One would have his opportunity for WrestleMania retribution on March 30, 2003, at Seattle’s Safeco Field. Although no title was on the line this time around, the stakes could not have been higher.
Once in the ring, both iconic Superstars waged psychological warfare as they pummeled another with their opponent’s own arsenal — for example, The Rock nailed Austin with a “Stone Cold” Stunner while wearing the six-time WWE Champion’s iconic leather vest. In the end, The Brahma Bull scored a pinfall victory after punishing Austin with no less than three Rock Bottoms.
As exhilarating as it was to witness The Rock and Austin square off for a third time on The Grandest Stage of Them All, this bout would be remembered as Austin’s final WWE match. The Texas Rattlesnake might not have left WrestleMania XIX with the victory, but in the minds of the WWE Universe, he walked away from the ring on top. ( MORE ON AUSTIN | MORE ON THE ROCK)
The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXVI)
No Superstar personifies the spectacle of WrestleMania quite like The Undertaker, and The Phenom’s incredible winning streak at The Show of Shows has become the subject of legend. For more than two decades, Superstars have sought to lay The Last Outlaw to rest at WrestleMania, a task that tests the mettle of even the most seasoned ring warriors. One such competitor was Shawn Michaels, who clashed with The Undertaker in back-to-back battles at The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania and WrestleMania XXVI. ( MORE ON SHAWN MICHAELS)
After failing to end The Streak in his first WrestleMania encounter with The Deadman, HBK expressed confidence that he could defeat The Undertaker on The Grandest Stage of Them All if they were to battle again — a challenge that was soundly rejected by The Phenom. Unrelenting, HBK interfered in The Undertaker’s Elimination Chamber Match, costing The Phenom his World Heavyweight Title and intentionally making himself a target to the supernatural Superstar. Following Michaels’ bold actions, The Undertaker accepted The Showstopper’s challenge to a WrestleMania rematch, but only if HBK put his career on the line. The obsessed Michaels agreed to these precarious terms, putting his livelihood at stake in the name of accomplishing what no one had done before.
With no disqualifications and no count-outs, WrestleMania XXVI’s “Streak vs. Career” Match delivered in ways few thought possible, with both Superstars taking full advantage of the bout’s lenient stipulations. After HBK twice kicked out of the Tombstone Piledriver — a testament to Michaels’ toughness — “Mr. WrestleMania” simply could not withstand the move a third time. When the dust cleared, The Phenom’s streak extended to 18-0, while the final curtain closed on the career of one of the most celebrated Superstars of all time.
The Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXVIII)
Much like his longtime friend Shawn Michaels, Triple H could hardly resist the allure of ending The Undertaker’s illustrious WrestleMania Streak. Yet, of all the Superstars to take up the task of squaring off with The Last Outlaw at The Showcase of The Immortals, none was closer to accomplishing that goal than The King of Kings who, despite suffering defeat at WrestleMania XXVII, battered The Undertaker in a No Holds Barred Match so badly The Phenom could not leave the ring under his own power. ( MORE ON TRIPLE H | MORE ON THE UNDERTAKER)
When The Undertaker resurfaced nearly 10 months later on Raw to offer Triple H another opportunity at “immortality” at WrestleMania XXVIII at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, the WWE COO was reluctant. After all, ending The Streak would tarnish The Undertaker as a “brand” and hurt the very company Triple H was destined to inherit. It wasn’t until The Undertaker invoked the name of HBK — questioning whether Triple H would be able to do what his friend could not — that Triple H agreed to the WrestleMania rematch, which would this time be waged inside Hell in a Cell. Michaels, who himself failed to conquer The Undertaker at two consecutive WrestleManias, revealed himself as the special guest referee. Whether HBK could call the bout down the middle was a question on the mind of the entire WWE Universe as the “End of an Era” Match approached.
Inside Satan’s Structure, legendary ring generals collided in a brutal match that could best be described as gladiatorial in nature. Defying physical and emotional fatigue, neither Superstar was willing to stay down or submit, but it was The Undertaker who sealed a victory with an authoritative Tombstone Piledriver that brought The Streak to 20-0. The look on Michaels’ face at the end of the bout said it all: Mercifully, for all involved, the match was over.