The Piledriver Report 02.20.14: Mr. WrestleMania
Posted by Ronny Sarnecky on 02.20.2014
Shawn Michaels is popularly known as "Mr. WrestleMania," but does he really deserve the title? What about the Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, Triple H and others? 411's Ronny Sarnecky takes a look!
The Face of the WWE. It's a catchphrase that the WWE has been throwing around ever since the "Authority" storyline kicked into high gear following SummerSlam 2013. When looking at the WWE over their last fifty years of existence, it's been pretty easy to find who the Faces of the WWE have been. There have been five true "faces" of the company. In the sixties and most of the seventies, Bruno Sammartino was the face of the company. Following Bruno, Bob Backlund took the reigns. After Backlund, Hulk Hogan became Vince McMahon's first hand-picked choice as his choice to lead the company as the WWF turned into a national wrestling power. Steve Austin became the face of the WWE's "Attitude Era." In the post-Monday Night Wars era, John Cena grabbed the ball as the WWE's latest face of the company. While discovering who the WWE's "faces" have been throughout their history is pretty simple, there is another question that is a little tougher to answer.
Last Tuesday, the WWE came out with their latest WWE Home Video. The DVD, called "Shawn Michaels: Mr. WrestleMania," details all of the "Heartbreak Kid's" WrestleMania matches throughout his career (with one exception, the Triple Threat match from WrestleMania XX that also featured Triple H and Chris Benoit). This left me thinking, who is the real "Mr. WrestleMania?" After all, in several recent interviews, Shawn Michaels has admitted that his "Mr. WrestleMania" moniker was just something he said in a promo, because it sounded good.
What parameters should constitute the term "Mr. WrestleMania?" Should it be the number of WrestleMania main events that a wrestler performed in? Should it be the number of WrestleMania matches or victories that a wrestler garnered? Maybe it should be the wrestler who won the most World championship matches or wrestled in the most World championship matches at WrestleMania? Perhaps it should be the wrestler with the best matches at WrestleMania? Maybe it should be a combination of all of these criteria to choose who truly is "Mr. WrestleMania.
There have been twenty-nine WrestleMania main events, in which thirty-one different wrestlers had the privilege of wrestling in the final match of the evening. WrestleMania main eventers are part of a very exclusive club. Nineteen men have appeared in the WrestleMania main event only one time. Eleven men have headlined WrestleMania on more than one occasion. These eleven men are the best of the best. They are the top of the top wrestlers in the business at the time. Is it any wonder why CM Punk wants to main event WrestleMania? Hulk Hogan has been featured in eight WrestleMania main events. He wrestled in five consecutive main events in a row, which is the longest streak in WrestleMania history. Triple H is next with six WrestleMania main event appearances. Shawn Michaels, The Rock, and John Cena have five main events under their belts. Bret Hart, Steve Austin, and the Undertaker were in three main events. Psycho Sid Justice/Vicious participated in two.
While the best of the best want to be in the main event of WrestleMania, everybody who works in the WWE wants to perform at WrestleMania. It's the biggest show of the year, and the biggest pay day. While wins and losses don't matter, because professional wrestling is predetermined, a spot on the card, and victory at WrestleMania shows that the company has faith in you to be a player in the company. The wrestler who has appeared in the most WrestleMania matches is the Undertaker with twenty-one. Shawn Michaels, despite a four year absence in the late nineties/early two thousands is tied with Triple H for second at seventeen. Kane participated in fifteen matches. Bret Hart was in fourteen. The Big Show has wrestled in thirteen. Chris Jericho, even with his on again/off again status with the WWE, has been in twelve. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage each wrestled in eleven matches. Edge, The Rock, John Cena, and Randy Orton were in ten matches a piece. Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, and Tito Santana appeared in eight matches. Steve Austin, CM Punk, Christian, and Shelton Benjamin wrestled in seven bouts.
For victories, the Undertaker has the most victories with twenty one. Triple H is second with nine wins. Hulk Hogan has eight victories with all eight wins being in the main event. Kane, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, and John Cena each have seven victories at WrestleMania. Shawn Michaels and Edge won on six different occasions. The Rock and Steve Austin have five wins. Whereas, the Big Show, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and CM Punk have four victories. Christian, Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle had their hand raised three times. Out of all the wrestlers with at least seven WrestleMania matches under their belt, Tito Santana and Shelton Benjamin each have only one win.
The WrestleMania moment. It's what makes WrestleMania the show of shows. One of the most memorable moments at WrestleMania is when a wrestler wins the world championship. Think of some of the wrestlers that captured the title at WrestleMania. Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, Yokozuna, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker, Steve Austin, Triple H, Brock Lesnar, Chris Benoit, John Cena, Batista, Rey Mysterio, and Sheamus have each won a world title at WrestleMania. You don't have to win a title to have a WrestleMania moment. One of the biggest WrestleMania moments was when Hulk Hogan retained the WWF title against Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III. If being on the WrestleMania card means that you have a solid spot in the company, then landing in a World title match at WrestleMania really solidifies your spot in the WWE. For wrestlers who have appeared in multiple WrestleMania World title matches, John Cena and Triple H lead the pack with eight matches. Hulk Hogan appeared in six World title contests. Shawn Michaels wrestled in five championship bouts. Yokozuna, The Rock, and Edge were in four World title matches. The Undertaker, Steve Austin, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Randy Orton, and Batista were in three matches. The Big Show was in two title matches. Chris Benoit was in one.
Hulk Hogan leads the pack with five victories in World title matches at WrestleMania. John Cena and Triple H each won four championship matches. The Undertaker and Steve Austin both won three World title bouts. Randy Savage and Yokozuna have two victories in World title matches at WrestleMania. Of wrestlers who appeared in more than one World title match, Shawn Michaels, Edge, Bret Hart, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and Batista have one victory a piece. Whereas, The Rock, Kurt Angle, and the Big Show are winless on the biggest stage of the year.
While every WrestleMania has their special moments, nothing determines whether a particular WrestleMania is a bad, average, very good, or great show then the matches themselves. A great match can take an average card and make it a great show. A bunch of great matches on one show can make the card historic. After every WrestleMania, Dave Meltzer's "Wrestling Observer Newsletter," ranks each match from that year's card using a star system.
Only five wrestlers have performed in a match that garnered five stars at WrestleMania. Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Owen Hart, and Steve Austin each reached that plateau on one occasion. Bret Hart received that honor on two separate occasions.
Shawn Michaels was the king of the four and three quarter matches as he reached that mark in four different matches. The Undertaker wrestled in three. Triple H was involved in two. Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Edge, Christian, Bret Hart, and Owen Hart each wrestled in one four and ¾ star match.
Several performers were in four and a half star matches. Those wrestlers are Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Steve Austin, The Rock, Edge, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, Christian, Kane, Triple H, and CM Punk. The Undertaker was the only performer involved in two four and a half star matches.
Edge, Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, and Randy Savage each performed in two matches that were graded at four and a quarter stars. The Undertaker, Ken Kennedy, Jeff Hardy, King Booker T, Randy Orton, Matt Hardy, CM Punk, Fit Finlay, Chris Benoit, Brock Lesnar, Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Ultimate Warrior, and Ric Flair participated in only one four and ¼ star match each.
Shawn Michaels, Edge, and Matt Hardy each wrestled in two four star matches. Brutus Beefcake, Greg Valentine, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Diesel, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Christian, Jeff Hardy, The Rock, Steve Austin, Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, Undertaker, Batista, John Cena, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Shelton Benjamin, Fit Finlay, Bobby Lashley, and Ric Flair each have one four star match under their belt.
After all is said and done, who exactly deserves the moniker of "Mr. WrestleMania?" The scoring system that I used was a wrestler received five points for a 5 star match, 4 points for a 4 ¾ star match, 3 points for a 4 ½ star match, 2 points for a 4 ¼ star match, and 1 point for a 4 star match. Each performer received 3 points for each World title victory, and 2 points for each title match they wrestled in. Each wrestler received 1 point for each match they participated in, and one point for each victory. They each received 2 points for each WrestleMania main event they wrestled in. With all of the points totaled up, here is your Top Ten Finalists
10. The Rock 37 points
9. Randy Savage 41 points
8-7. Steve Austin/Edge (tied) 42 points
6. Bret Hart 52 points
5. John Cena 56 points
4. Hulk Hogan 62 points
3. Shawn Michaels 73 points
2. Triple H 77 points 1.THEUNDERTAKER84POINTS
After tallying the results, I can't say that I was surprised at the results. Each man wrestled at numerous WrestleManias. They each performed in multiple WrestleMania main events. Each wrestler, except for The Rock won a World championship at WrestleMania. Every wrestler, except for Hulk Hogan worked at least one four star or better match. If there was one surprise in the final rankings, it would be that Shawn Michaels finished in third place. I figured that Michaels would rank no lower than second. According to my rankings The Undertaker is the true "Mr. WrestleMania." Do you agree or disagree? Leave your comments below.