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WWE: Top 5 WrestleMania matches of all time

By
Wade Sheridan
Stone Cold Steve Austin had one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time when he battled Bret Hart in 1997. File Photo by Terry Wyatt/UPI
Stone Cold Steve Austin had one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time when he battled Bret Hart in 1997. File Photo by Terry Wyatt/UPI | License Photo

March 22 (UPI) -- WWE's WrestleMania, "the showcase of the immortals," attracts millions of fans and features the greatest superstars in professional wrestling. The next one -- WrestleMania 35 -- will take place on April 7.

Since WrestleMania is WWE's biggest stage, the company sets out to feature bouts of the highest quality which will entice fans, tell compelling stories and create memories which will last a lifetime.

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The superstars put pressure on themselves to perform at the highest level at Wrestlemania, leading to some of the greatest matches in professional wrestling history.

While not every WrestleMania match can be a fondly remembered classic, some stand the test of time and continue to highlight the very best that sports entertainment can offer. Here are UPI's Top 5 WrestleMania matches of all time.

5. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage (Champion) vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 3 in 1987

'Macho Man' Randy Savage vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat is one of the most influential matches in the history of professional wrestling.

Savage and Steamboat delivered a high-speed, athletic showcase of what could be done inside the squared circle during a time when larger-bodied giants were dominating wrestling with slower-paced, power struggles.

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The pair moved at breakneck speeds up, down and outside the ring. Savage and Steamboat left the 93,173 fans at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., on the edge of their seats throughout the bout's nearly 15 minute runtime as the two rivals nearly pinned each other to victory multiple times.

As the false finishes and dazzling reversals started to add up, Steamboat came out the winner by suddenly pinning Savage after receiving help from his friend George 'The Animal' Steele. While WrestleMania 3's main event of Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant brought in the viewers and received all the attention, it's Savage vs. Steamboat that is remembered today as the superior match that stole the show.

4. The Rock vs. 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18 in 2002

Promoted as icon vs. icon, this dream confrontation features the two biggest household names in wrestling colliding on the grandest stage of them all. The Rock vs. 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan treated fans to a matchup that other sports can only dream of having. This match is like if Michael Jordan went one-on-one against LeBron James or Mike Tyson fought against Muhammad Ali.

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The sheer magnitude of The Rock meeting Hogan was not lost on the fans at the SkyDome in Toronto as the packed house was the most loud and excited any crowd has been in WrestleMania's 35 year history.

While The Rock vs. Hogan is not a technical match by any means, it's certainly one of the most entertaining as half of wrestling's theoretical Mount Rushmore did all of their signature moves, taunts and poses that one would want in a dream match.

The Rock, better known now as actor Dwayne Johnson, had a full head of hair here as he defeated Hogan following two thunderous Rock Bottoms and a People's Elbow. Key moments included the audience absolutely losing their minds after Hogan kicked out a Rock Bottom and started to Hulk up, and the pair shaking hands after the dust had settled.

The noise from the crowd, the entertaining battle and the dream scenario of legends facing off against each other, make The Rock vs. Hogan one of the best examples of what WrestleMania is about. It captures the event's pageantry, energy and excitement.

3. The Dudley Boyz (Champions) vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match for the World Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania 17 in 2001

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This tornado of violence features some of WWE's greatest tag teams of all time taking part in the second ever Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match.The Dudley Boyz, Edge & Christian and The Hardy Boyz completely exceeded what they accomplished in their first TLC match by delivering something that was more dangerous, athletic and contained vast amounts of carnage.

TLC II, as the battle is referred to, solidified the TLC match in WWE with the company now running a TLC-themed pay-per-view every year.

Simply put, The Dudley Boyz, Edge & Christian and The Hardy Boyz put their lives on the line in this match which featured multiple falls off a towering ladder, Bubba Ray Dudley and Matt Hardy being thrown into a stack of tables and Jeff delivering a Swanton Bomb from the top of a ladder to put the interfering Spike Dudley and Edge & Christian's friend Rhyno through a table. Lita, who was partnered with The Hardy Boyz at the time, was also involved in the brawl as she fought off Rhyno.

Edge also famously jumped off a ladder to spear Jeff in mid-air as the high-flyer was dangling from the harness that held the World Tag Team Championships above the ring. The moment, which still gets frequently replayed, is as crazy as it sounds. Edge and Christian won the match after Rhyno recovered and helped his friends grab the dangling title belts.

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There is no other WrestleMania match that reaches the same level of destruction, insane stunts and breathtaking moments that TLC II does. The match could perhaps be best compared to a Fast and Furious movie that skips all of the dialogue scenes.

2. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart in a Submission Match at WrestleMania 13 in 1997

Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret Hart were at war with each other and this contest perfectly highlighted not only their fierce outside battle, but also the struggle Hart was facing within.

Austin vs. Hart at WrestleMania 13 is the greatest example of how professional wrestling can tell a great story inside the ring along with still offering up hard-hitting, physical thrills. It's a down and dirty technical exhibition that helped change the course of WWE forever.

Hart, entering into the match, was a hero who had started to lose his way while Austin was a middle-finger waving rebel who was gaining popularity with fans despite being more of a bad guy. WWE was already heading straight into its lucrative, edgier Attitude Era which Austin represented and Hart did not.

As Hart and Austin pummeled each other relentlessly around the arena and through the crowd, something started to change. Hart was becoming more vicious by the second and shedding his good guy persona while Austin, was getting more and more support from the live audience. Austin was bleeding profusely from his head towards the end, signifying that Hart had changed.

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The match's key scene is the stuff of legends as Hart applied his signature Sharpshooter submission hold onto Austin. The Rattlesnake, defiant as ever, never tapped out and instead passed out in a pool of blood, causing the match to end with Hart as the winner.

Austin's determination to never give up and the iconic image of himself screaming in pain with blood running down his face, endeared him to the audience. This helped Austin explode into the mega superstar that he would become -- another household name alongside The Rock and Hogan. Hart, meanwhile, attacked Austin after the match and nearly fought with special referee Ken Shamrock, resulting in The Hitman receiving boos from fans.

1. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25 in 2009

A Top 5 WrestleMania match list could only include bouts from both Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker and it would still be valid. These two stalwarts of the WWE are the greatest performers in WrestleMania history with Michaels earning the nickname Mr. WrestleMania while The Undertaker remained undefeated at the event for a staggering 29 years.

It was fitting then that Michaels and The Undertaker would finally clash at the event in celebration of WrestleMania's 25th anniversary. The ensuing bout is No. 1 on this list for how it contains aspects from all the other matches featured on here.

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Michaels vs. The Undertaker has a number of near falls and reversals, two larger than life legends battling each other on the biggest stage, bruising high-flying attacks, and it tells a great in-ring story of how Michaels -- who had accomplished everything there is to do in WWE -- was going to dig deep and do whatever it took to try and end The Undertaker's undefeated streak.

Not to mention the amount of times both Michaels and The Undertake defied logic by surviving each other's signature finishing moves including Sweet Chin Music and the Tombstone. The image of Undertaker's shocked face when Michaels kicked out of the Tombstone, will live on in wrestling history forever.

Simply put, The Undertaker vs. Michaels has it all and the kitchen sink. The Phenom eventually won the match, but the instant classic led to an almost as good rematch at WrestleMania 26 which ended with Michaels having to retire. Spinning out of those events was a series of matches between Michaels' best friend Triple H and The Undertaker, also amazing confrontations in their own right.

WrestleMania 35 will take place on April 7 at 7 p.m. on pay-per-view and the WWE Network.

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