Wrestling has been an integral part of global sports entertainment for decades. Its blend of athleticism, storytelling, and drama has captivated millions of fans worldwide. With stars rising to iconic status, it has fostered a culture of passion and dedication unparalleled in other sports.
While there are countless matches that could be deemed legendary, using tier list maker free templates can help categorize and rank them. As a result, these tier lists help enthusiasts organize the rich history of professional wrestling. Certain bouts and moments stand above the rest, etched into the annals of wrestling history. Today, we dive deep into those encounters that have defined wrestling royalty.
The Golden Era
1. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (WrestleMania III)
WrestleMania III is the stuff of legend, mainly because of this iconic bout. The sight of Hulk Hogan body-slamming the 520-pound Andre the Giant in front of 93,000 fans at the Pontiac Silverdome is a vision that has come to define the essence of wrestling’s grand spectacle.
2. Randy “Macho Man” Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (WrestleMania III)
Often touted as the technical masterpiece of the Golden Era, Savage and Steamboat’s bout was a dance of precision and storytelling. With 19 near-falls, this match set a blueprint for future in-ring classics.
The Attitude Era
3. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart (WrestleMania 13)
This contest is symbolic for its double turn. Bret Hart entered as the hero, Austin as the rebel. By match’s end, with Austin refusing to submit in the Sharpshooter, their roles reversed, heralding the rise of the “Austin 3:16” era.
4. The Undertaker vs. Mankind (Hell in a Cell, King of the Ring 1998)
Mick Foley’s (as Mankind) resilience and endurance were tested in this brutal bout. The infamous moment where The Undertaker threw Mankind off the cell and through the announcers’ table is perhaps the most replayed moment in wrestling history.
Ruthless Aggression and Beyond
5. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXV & XXVI)
Two legends collided in back-to-back WrestleManias, delivering what many fans deem the pinnacle of in-ring performance. Their first encounter is often hailed as the greatest WrestleMania match ever. The following year, with Michael’s career on the line, the stakes were even higher, and the emotion was palpable.
6. Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXX)
The streak of 21-0 was something fans thought would never end. But in a shocking twist, Lesnar did the unthinkable, pinning The Undertaker and ending his WrestleMania legacy. The Superdome’s silence spoke volumes.
Moments Beyond Matches
7. The Montreal Screwjob (Survivor Series, 1997)
Beyond any match lies this controversial moment. Bret Hart, on his way to WCW and refusing to drop the title in Canada, was unknowingly double-crossed by Vince McMahon, leading to real-life animosities that lasted for over a decade.
8. Daniel Bryan’s “YES! Movement” (WrestleMania XXX)
In one of the most organic and heartwarming storylines, Daniel Bryan overcame The Authority’s oppressive regime. With fans rallying behind him, Bryan captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a triumphant victory, leading the entire Superdome in a deafening “YES!” chant.
9. Women’s Evolution: The First Women’s Royal Rumble and Main Eventing WrestleMania (2018-2019)
The women of WWE have broken barriers over the years, and their efforts culminated with these landmark events. Not only did they get their own Royal Rumble match, but Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Ronda Rousey also headlined WrestleMania 35, marking a significant shift in the industry.
The Rising Stars: Matches to Watch
10. Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole (NXT TakeOver: New York 2019)
Emerging from the shadows of the developmental brand NXT, this bout was a 2-out-of-3 fall match for the ages. Both superstars showcased why they’re the future of the industry, with Gargano finally clinching the NXT Championship in a match that lasted over an hour.
11. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 2015)
Before the Women’s Evolution became mainstream on the main roster, NXT was already setting the stage. Banks and Bayley tore the house down in Brooklyn, proving that the women’s division was capable of delivering show-stealing performances.
International Prowess: When East Meets West
12. Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada (Wrestle Kingdom 11)
Representing New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), this bout exemplifies the best of Japanese strong-style wrestling combined with Western flair. In a match that spanned nearly 47 minutes, Omega and Okada showcased the universal appeal of wrestling.
13. Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet (Best of the Super Juniors 2016)
This match became a talking point for wrestling fans globally, not just for its high-flying maneuvers but also for the debate it sparked about the direction of modern wrestling. With a blend of aerial tactics and technical prowess, both competitors showed that wrestling is an ever-evolving art form.
Wrestling’s Unforgettable Promos: Words that Shook the World
14. “Austin 3:16” – Stone Cold Steve Austin (King of the Ring 1996)
After winning the King of the Ring tournament, Steve Austin delivered a promo that would define his character and change the course of wrestling history. His declaration, “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”, gave birth to one of the most iconic catchphrases and marked the dawn of the Attitude Era.
15. “Pipe Bomb” – CM Punk (RAW 2011)
Sitting cross-legged at the top of the ramp, CM Punk aired his grievances with the WWE in an unfiltered manner. Addressing backstage politics, the misuse of talent, and even name-dropping rival promotions, Punk’s “pipe bomb” was a blend of reality and storyline that blurred the lines like never before.
16. “Hard Times” – Dusty Rhodes (1985)
In a heartfelt speech that resonated with the working-class audience, Dusty Rhodes spoke about the hardships faced by everyday people. His words, “Hard times are when the auto workers are out of work and they tell ’em to go home”, connected with fans on a personal level, emphasizing the bond between the performer and the audience.
17. “I Have Beaten You” – Ric Flair (1989)
After a heated bout with Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair took to the mic to declare his superiority not just over Steamboat but over the entire wrestling world. Flaunting his charisma, Flair’s promo solidified his claim to the title of “The Man” in professional wrestling.
From the Golden Era to the present day, wrestling has given us moments that are etched into our memories forever. These iconic matches and moments aren’t just about moves or outcomes; they’re about emotions, stories, and the undying spirit of entertainment that wrestling brings to its global audience. Wrestling royalty isn’t just about championships or accolades; it’s about moments that make time stand still and remind us why we fell in love with this spectacle in the first place.