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WWE: Top 5 WrestleMania moments of all time

By Wade Sheridan
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WWE: Top 5 WrestleMania moments of all time
Mike Tyson (M) gets in between Stone Cold Steve Austin (R) and Shawn Michaels (L) before their WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 14 in 1998. The match's surprise conclusion is one of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history. File Photo by Ezio Petersen/UPI | License Photo

March 29 (UPI) -- WrestleMania, WWE's biggest event of the year, is not only filled with spectacular matches, but also emotional and triumphant moments that define professional wrestling.

WrestleMania, which returns for its 35th edition on April 7, often acts as a season finale of sorts for WWE's slate of programming by bringing to an end heated rivalries, ongoing storylines and even careers.

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Legends have risen and fallen, new stars have been born, fans have cried, booed and cheered, and history has been made at WrestleMania. Here are UPI's Top 5 WrestleMania moments of all time.

5. Shawn Michaels ends Ric Flair's legendary career at WrestleMania 24 in 2008

Few names are bigger and carry more prestige in professional wrestling then Ric Flair. The Nature Boy has done it all, from becoming a World Heavyweight Champion 16 times to competing all over the world in not only WWE, but also in WCW and NWA.

Flair's near unmatched career came to a heartbreaking, but satisfying end at WrestleMania 24 when the living legend's career was on the line in a match against his friend and fellow professional wrestling great, Shawn Michaels.

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Flair, up to this point, had been winning a series of matches that each put his career on the line. Never wanting to give up being able to compete in the squared circle, he demanded that Michaels not hold back.

Michaels would ultimately prevail in the bout, ending Flair's career with a tear-filled Sweet Chin Music. As Michaels got ready to deliver his signature finishing maneuver, Flair -- exhausted and beaten down -- put his fist up in defiance, wanting to keep fighting. Michaels hesitated to end his friend's career and before he delivered the final blow he uttered, "I'm sorry. I love you."

The moment -- despite Flair performing in a handful of matches afterwards -- still stands as one of the best ends to one of the greatest careers in all of sports and entertainment. Flair also received love and admiration from the 70,000 in attendance after losing and thanked his family at ringside with tears running down his face.

4. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage is reunited with Miss Elizabeth at WrestleMania 7 in 1991

'Macho Man' Randy Savage had done the unthinkable and had turned into the villainous 'Macho King' before heading into WrestleMania 7, leaving behind his longtime manager and love interest Miss Elizabeth for Sensational Sherri.

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Savage faced off against The Ultimate Warrior at the event, with the powerful grapplers both putting their careers on the line in an attempt to end their feud. Elizabeth was notably shown in the audience viewing the match with a concerned look as The Ultimate Warrior defeated Savage.

Sherri, upset at the outcome, entered the ring and berated Savage before she started kicking him in the stomach. Elizabeth had seen enough and quickly ran to Savage's aid, throwing Sherri out of the ring in the process.

Savage and Elizabeth were then reunited and shared an emotional hug in one of the most heartwarming and romantic moments in WWE history. Fans in attendance were filmed crying as Savage lifted up Elizabeth on his shoulders and then later lifted up the ropes so that she could step out of the ring, a gesture he had never done before.

The Macho King had finally returned back to being the 'Macho Man.'

3. Seth Rollins pulls off the "heist of the century" at WrestleMania 31 in 2015

Seth Rollins wasn't supposed to be in the main event of WrestleMania 31 between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

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Rollins did have the Money in the Bank contract -- a stipulation that allows its owner a championship match at any time -- however, The Kingslayer had lost earlier in the night to Randy Orton. Beyond that, no superstar had ever used their Money in Bank contract at WrestleMania.

Rollins broke all the rules and shocked the millions watching when he suddenly arrived at the tail end of Reigns and Lesnar's epic battle to turn it into a Triple Threat match. The Beast and the Big Dog were exhausted at this point, allowing Rollins to capitalize on the moment and become the biggest opportunist in WWE history.

Rollins was able to deliver a Curb Stomp to Lesnar, narrowly escape an F-5 from Lesnar due to Reigns attacking and then strike down Reigns with a Curb Stomp to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion in a matter of minutes.

The moment, dubbed the "heist of the century," proved that anything can and will happen at WrestleMania, even during the main event.

2. Stone Cold Steve Austin becomes champion, Mike Tyson knocks out Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 14 in 1998

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WWE struck gold and earned headlines worldwide when they inserted controversial boxing great 'Iron' Mike Tyson into the main event of WrestleMania 14 between Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE Championship.

Tyson, who was made the special guest enforcer of the bout, had joined Michaels' D-Generation X stable which also included Triple H and Chyna leading up to the event. Tyson had also previously gotten into a highly-publicized altercation with Austin on Monday Night Raw.

The deck was stacked against Austin who was WWE's biggest star as the company was in the early stages of its lucrative Attitude Era.

Tyson, in a major plot twist, betrayed Michaels during the match when he counted to three and gave Austin the victory after the referee had been knocked out. Michaels confused and upset, confronted Tyson and attempted to attack him before The Baddest Man on the Planet knocked him out with a stiff right hand.

Austin and Tyson teaming up and pushing the Attitude Era into high-gear further helped The Rattlesnake become a household name and was the early start of WWE winning the ratings war against its biggest competitor, WCW.

1. Hulk Hogan body slams Andre the Giant at WrestleMania 3 in 1987

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This is not only the moment that defines WrestleMania, but also WWE as a whole.

Hulk Hogan doing the unthinkable, the impossible, is still replayed before every WWE show. It represents overcoming the odds, pushing physical strength to the limit and ultimately shows how professional wrestling can create magical moments that live on forever.

If WWE needed a new logo that didn't contain their initials, it would have to be the image of Hogan body slamming the towering Andre the Giant, a man who, with his massive size, was able to remain undefeated for 15 years.

Hogan's historic body slam earned a frenzied response from the 93,173 fans in attendance who continued to cheer loudly after Hogan won the contest with a leg drop.

Hogan vs. Andre the Giant for the WWE Championship, despite being arguably the biggest main event WrestleMania has ever had, isn't actually a good match but it makes up for not being a technical showcase by delivering an entertaining power struggle that invented the idea of WrestleMania moments. It serves as a blueprint for what a WrestleMania main event should be, thrilling, shocking and joyous.

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

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