The top 40 moments in WWE WrestleMania history

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 02:  (L-R) Roman Reigns wrestles Cody Rhodes for Undisputed WWE Universal Title Match during WrestleMania Goes Hollywood at SoFi Stadium on April 02, 2023 in Inglewood, California.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 02: (L-R) Roman Reigns wrestles Cody Rhodes for Undisputed WWE Universal Title Match during WrestleMania Goes Hollywood at SoFi Stadium on April 02, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) (Ronald Martinez via Getty Images)

On March 31, 1985, WWE held its first ever WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden. 39 years later, WrestleMania has become a full-blown extravaganza, moving from relatively small arenas to sold-out football stadiums, with the event itself spanning two nights.

As WrestleMania 40 approaches on April 6 and 7, we look back at the deep history of the “Showcase of the Immortals” and highlight the 40 most iconic moments and matches.

(Events are in chronological order)

1. WrestleMania (March 31, 1985) – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T w/ "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka def. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper & "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff w/ Cowboy Bob Orton and Muhammad Ali serving as special enforcer referee

The first WrestleMania set the stage for the next 39 years of the “Showcase of the Immortals.” Bringing stars such as Cyndi Lauper, Mr. T and Muhammad Ali into the fold. Like much of the older WrestleMania main events, the wrestling itself took a backseat to the spectacle of it all, but the starpower and precedent that the event — and this match in particular set — makes it deserving of a spot on this list.

2. WrestleMania III (March 29, 1987) – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship

If WrestleMania’s first main event set the precedent for celebrity and spectacle, this match set the bar for technical wrestling. You’ll find a not-small contingent of wrestling fans and pundits who will still list this match among the greatest of all-time, if not the greatest. Savage and Steamboat embodied the spirit of the Intercontinental championship, which is known as the “worker’s belt,” usually carried by the company's workhorse star. Savage performs remarkably as a heel here and the number of false finishes really elevates this match into immortal territory. Steamboat wins, but this pushed both stars into a new stratosphere.

3. WrestleMania III (March 29, 1987) – Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant for the WWF Championship

Our second match from the landmark WrestleMania III has quite possibly the most influential moment in WrestleMania — and WWE — history. Unlike Savage-Steamboat, this match was far from a technical masterpiece, but it really didn’t matter when you factor in the build of Andre and Hogan’s friendship falling apart and the climactic moment where Hogan slams the giant before hitting his leg drop for the win. This match is as iconic as any other on this list and headlined the WrestleMania that cemented the event’s status as WWE’s biggest of the calendar year.

4. WrestleMania V (April 2, 1989) – Hulk Hogan vs. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage for the WWF Championship

Hogan and Savage embodied this era of WWE, so it’s not surprising that we see them present early and often on this list. The “Mega Powers” had been together for roughly a year (unofficially and officially) before a split in the lead up to WrestleMania V which saw the champion, Savage, working heel and Miss Elizabeth torn between the two former friends. Savage’s ring psychology shines early on in the match and the chemistry between him and Hogan is strong. The ending follows the traditional Hogan formula for the time as he wins, giving fans a payoff worthy of this landmark feud.

5. WrestleMania VI (April 1, 1990) – Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan in a “title vs. title” match

Warrior and Hogan entered WrestleMania VI as the Intercontinental and WWF champions, respectively, and for the first time ever at a WrestleMania, two titles would be on the line in the same match. To this point, Hogan had been in four of five WrestleMania main events, winning them all, so him putting over Warrior — one of the biggest stars of this era — at the time was noteworthy. The stakes more than the match itself warrants inclusion on any WrestleMania “best of” list.

6. WrestleMania VII (March 24, 1991) – Undertaker vs. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka

A relatively forgettable match on the mid-card of WrestleMania VII turned out to be the start of perhaps the most-revered streak in wrestling history. Undertaker pinned Snuka after the Tombstone piledriver to begin a stretch where the legendary character won 21 straight matches on WWE’s biggest stage.

7. WrestleMania X (March 20, 1994) – Owen Hart vs Bret “Hitman” Hart

A perfect choice in the early stages of WrestleMania X at Madison Square Garden, the brother vs. brother match was a showcase of pure wrestling ability between two of the best in the industry at the time. The DNA of so many WrestleMania matches in the future can be traced back to this contest. The storytelling and execution here is top-notch and sets the stage for one of the best WrestleManias ever. Even the finish, as sudden as it comes, is surprising considering Bret was slated to face Yokozuna for the WWF championship later in the night.

8. WrestleMania X (March 20, 1994) – Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels in a Ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship

The second WrestleMania X match to make our list is an all-time classic between Kliq members Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon. While some aspects of this match haven’t aged well considering how ladder matches evolved in the years that followed, Michaels and Ramon pulled off some truly jaw-dropping spots for the time with impeccable pacing and storytelling. It wasn’t the first time Michaels performed at the “Showcase of the Immortals” and he didn’t win, but this was the start of a mid-1990s run that cemented him as Mr. WrestleMania.

9. WrestleMania XII (March 31, 1996) – Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart in an Iron Man match for the WWF Championship

Michaels and Hart’s feud — real life and storyline — dominated the mid-1990s and made for some of the greatest matches of all time, including the main event of WrestleMania XII. Very few wrestlers in WWE history have competed in an iron man match, and only one has ever taken place at WrestleMania. The climax of the match comes as time expires with Hart having Michaels in the Sharpshooter, and with no man having scored a pinfall or submission, the match heads to overtime. Michaels eventually wins, 1-0, and captures the WWF championship for the first time in his career, leading to one of the iconic commentary lines in wrestling history — “The boyhood dream has come true.”

10. WrestleMania XIII (March 23, 1997) – Bret Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in a Submission match with Ken Shamrock as the special guest referee

Austin’s meteoric rise began almost a year earlier, as he coined his iconic “Austin 3:16” slogan en route to winning the 1996 King of the Ring event. Hart and Austin had been feuding for several months, with the payoff coming at WrestleMania in a submission match. Arguably the greatest submission match ever, the lasting image remains a bloodied Austin passing out as Hart has him in the Sharpshooter. Austin did not submit, but Hart was declared the winner and battered Austin after the match, cementing Austin as a fan favorite and beginning one of the greatest runs in WWE history.

11. WrestleMania XIV(March 29, 1998) – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship with Mike Tyson as special guest enforcer

A pivotal moment for WWE as Austin would ultimately win this match and become the face of WWF, while Michaels would step away from in-ring action due to what was believed to be a career-ending back injury. Entering the event, Tyson had aligned himself with Michaels and D-Generation X, seemingly stacking the deck against the ultra-popular Austin. Tyson’s services as enforcer would be required as referee Mike Chioda became incapacitated in the match’s closing stages and Tyson turned on Michaels, giving Austin a quick three count for the win before celebrating with the new champion.

12. WrestleMania XV (March 28, 1999) – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock in a No Disqualification match for the WWE Championship

The first time the two biggest stars of the “Attitude Era” met at WWE’s signature event warrants inclusion on this list. More than anything, this match is a time capsule for late 1990s WWE — unprotected chair shots, more action outside the ring than inside, a Vince McMahon run-in and a grand total of four referees, including Mankind, who winds up making the three count in Austin’s favor. It’s not as good as when these two met again at WrestleMania X-7, but it’s an entertaining match nonetheless.

13. WrestleMania X-7 (April 1, 2001) – The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge and Christian vs The Hardy Boyz for the WWE Tag Team Championships in TLC II

This wasn’t the first time these three legendary tag teams faced off at WrestleMania and wasn’t even the first “Tables, Ladders & Chairs" match, but it’s by far the most memorable. As chaotic as the match is from the opening bell, it never becomes overwhelming — even with interferences from Lita, Spike Dudley and Rhyno. The three biggest spots from this match are immediately recognizable to WWE fans – Jeff Hardy’s swanton bomb through Rhyno and Spike Dudley, Edge spearing Jeff Hardy as he hung from the title belts and Bubba Ray and Matt Hardy crashing from a ladder through four tables outside the ring. Edge and Christian won the match, but all three teams would be forever linked and revered after this contest.

14. WrestleMania X-7 (April 1, 2001) – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock for the WWF Championship

A quasi-rematch of the main event from WrestleMania XV, Austin and the Rock faced off for the second time at a WrestleMania. The build for this match was peak “Attitude Era,” including one of the greatest pre-match montages in WWE history, featuring Limp Bizkit’s “My Way.” The biggest moment came at the conclusion of the match as Austin attacked The Rock with a steel chair provided by Vince McMahon, winning the WWF Championship and pulling off one of the most surprising heel turns ever in the process.

15. WrestleMania X8 (March 17, 2002) – The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan

Dubbed “Icon vs. Icon,” this WrestleMania match could be the greatest in Hogan’s career. Hogan, who returned to WWE after the demise of WCW, was still working heel with his legendary NWO faction. The Toronto crowd quickly forced Hogan and Rock to switch roles as they booed Rock and cheered Hogan, creating an electric atmosphere that was unmatched by any other contest on the card that night. The moments the two shared after the match — a handshake, rescue and posing for the crowd — resulted in a generational moment and turned Hogan face for the first time during that WWE run.

16. WrestleMania XIX (March 30, 2003) – Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship

Both Lesnar and Angle had legitimate wrestling credentials as a former NCAA heavyweight champion and 1996 Olympic gold medalist, respectively. A newer generation of fans are used to a very typical Lesnar formula during his most recent WWE work, but during his first stint Lesnar was as explosive and talented a star as WWE had on its roster at the time. Angle and Lesnar show off equal parts technique and power during this main event, which features one of the wildest — and scariest — spots in WrestleMania history as Lesnar lands on his head attempting a shooting-star press across the ring. Incredibly, Lesnar is able to finish the closing sequence of the match and pick up the win.

17. WrestleMania XX (March 14, 2004) – Eddie Guerrero vs Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship

Angle makes the list here in back-to-back years, which is unsurprising considering how talented he was at his peak in WWE. Guerrero, a beloved star who reached new heights when coming over from WCW, is at his best in this match, showing off his rare combination of speed and power in the ring. The climax of the match – Guerrero using shady tactics to escape an ankle lock and leverage the ropes for a pin — shows that even though the champion wasn’t always above board in the ring, fans still loved Latino Heat.

18. WrestleMania 21 (April 3, 2005) – First “Money in the Bank” ladder match

WrestleMania has a long history of iconic ladder matches, but perhaps none as impactful as the “Money in the Bank” ladder match. The unique stipulation guaranteed the winner a chance to “cash in” an opportunity for a championship of their choosing — most often the WWE Championship. Edge would win the inaugural match, which became a WrestleMania staple before breaking off and becoming WWE’s 5th-biggest annual event.

19. WrestleMania 22 (April 2, 2006) – Mickie James vs. Trish Stratus for the WWE Women’s Championship

During an era where women’s wrestling wasn’t anywhere close to what it is today, James and Stratus not only told one of the most memorable stories in WWE at the time, but had one of the great women’s matches in WrestleMania history. Storytelling and ring psychology reign supreme throughout as James focused on Stratus’ leg for the majority of the match and, much to the surprise of the crowd, picked up the win over the champion on WWE’s biggest stage.

20. WrestleMania 23 (April 1, 2007) – Bobby Lashley with Donald Trump vs Umaga with Vince McMahon in a “Battle of the Billionaires” match with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as the special guest referee

This match truly embraced the extravaganza of WrestleMania, pitting Trump and McMahon against each other with the loser having to get their head shaved. More circus than wrestling match, Lashley and Trump were victorious and McMahon had his head shaved. This also marks the only time in U.S. history a president received a Stone Cold Stunner.

21. WrestleMania XXIV (March 30, 2008) – Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair in a retirement match

We’ve all seen the meme, but what occurred at WrestleMania XXIV was a truly special moment as Flair and Michaels shared the stage in what would be Flair’s “retirement” from in-ring competition with WWE. The second-longest match on the card featured two of the greatest to ever wrestle and earned countless accolades. Flair has called the “I’m sorry, I love you” quip from Michaels his favorite WrestleMania moment and claims it was completely unscripted, adding to the legendary nature of this match.

22. WrestleMania 25 (April 5, 2009) – Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker

23. WrestleMania XXVI (March 28, 2010) – Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker in a “Streak vs. Career” match

24. WrestleMania XXVII (April 3, 2011) – Triple H vs. Undertaker in a “No Holds Barred” match

25. WrestleMania XXVIII (April 1, 2012) – Triple H vs. Undertaker in a “Hell in a Cell” match with Shawn Michaels as a special guest referee

Rather than writing about each individual match during this epic four-year stretch, we’re combining them because it’s truly a saga involving three of the greatest all-time performers in WWE history. Michaels’ first showdown with Undertaker had a relatively normal build, with HBK simply trying to end the Undertaker’s 16-0 WrestleMania streak. That match, which was named 2009 Match of the Year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated and Wrestling Observer Newsletter, seemingly demanded a rematch the following year, as Michaels became obsessed with ending Undertaker’s streak, so much so that he put his own career on the line at WrestleMania 26. The following year, Michaels’ storyline and real-life friend Triple H took on the Undertaker — the two had previously battled at WrestleMania X-7, ten years prior — but, like Michaels, was unsuccessful in beating the streak. The story between the three “Attitude Era” stars ended at WrestleMania XVIII with an all-time “Hell in a Cell” match, culminating with the Undertaker improving to 20-0 and the three men marking the “end of an era” in an iconic photo at the top of the ramp in Miami, Florida. While it’s hard to rank them individually, it’s fair to say that these are four of the greatest matches in WWE history and a must-watch for any wrestling fan past, present or future.

26. WrestleMania 29 (April 7, 2013) – John Cena vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship

This match gets looked back on somewhat unfairly because it was a repeat main event from WrestleMania XXVIII, a certain contingent of fans had begun to sour on John Cena and an unforeseen injury to The Rock in the beginning stages created some uneven pacing early. All of that said, the final two-thirds of this main event match were spectacular and the fans fully bought in by the end. Cena and Rock both utilize callbacks to their match from the year prior and leverage their familiarity with one another in the storytelling here. Fittingly, 11 years after Rock and Hogan shared their passing of the torch moment at WrestleMania, Rock and Cena did the same, this time with the tables turned.

27. WrestleMania XXX (April 6, 2014) – Brock Lesnar vs. the Undertaker

Undertaker entered WrestleMania XXX with a perfect 21-0 record at the “Showcase of the Immortals,” which set the stage for one of the most surprising match results in WWE history. Lesnar and Undertaker went toe-to-toe for more than 25 minutes — the second-longest runtime of the night — before Lesnar ultimately pinned The Phenom for the first time ever at WrestleMania. Fans were legitimately shocked – memes anyone? – and Undertaker would only lose one more time at WrestleMania, to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33.

28. WrestleMania XXX (April 6, 2014) – Daniel Bryan wins it all

Bryan’s meteoric rise in WWE culminated in the run-up to WrestleMania as fans revolted at the 2014 Royal Rumble and pushed for Bryan to be included in the WWE Championship match between Randy Orton and Batista at WrestleMania XXX. The ‘Occupy Raw’ segment and overall YES! movement are among the greatest WWE moments of the 2010s. Facing a stacked deck as a beloved underdog, Bryan would open the show with an excellent match against Triple H — the storyline authority figure who continually stood in Bryan’s way because he did not fit the prototypical WWE star build — before eventually winning in the main event and celebrating with the Superdome crowd.

29. WrestleMania 31 (March 29, 2015) – Seth Rollins’ big night

Rollins’ night began with a losing effort in a singles match against Randy Orton, resulting in one of the greatest RKO moments in WWE history. Ultimately, Rollins would leave Levi’s Stadium on top of WWE after cashing in his “Money in the Bank” contract during the main event match between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. One of the lasting WrestleMania moments of the past decade is Rollins standing atop the (very long) entrance ramp, swinging the WWE Championship he had just won in surprising fashion above his head.

30. WrestleMania 32 (April 2, 2016) – Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks for the WWE Women's Championship

A new era of women’s wrestling was well underway by the time these three took the ring to make their WrestleMania debuts, but a significant change came on this night eight years ago as the WWE Divas Championship was retired and replaced with the WWE Women’s Championship. Banks had an all-time WrestleMania entrance as her cousin Snoop Dogg performed her theme music and Flair was accompanied to the ring by her Hall of Fame father, Ric, who factored into the finish. In an otherwise standard WrestleMania, this match clearly stands out.

31. WrestleMania 34 (April 8, 2018) – Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs Triple H and Stephanie McMahon

The immediate reaction the night of WrestleMania 34 — and even now looking back at it six years later — is that this match was far better than anyone expected coming into it. Angle, despite being a Hall of Fame level talent, was well past his prime, Rousey hadn’t ever wrestled in WWE before and McMahon had never performed in-ring at a WrestleMania. All of that said, this match was entertaining and showcased Rousey’s ability as well as portrayed her as the dominant force she would become during her time with WWE.

32. WrestleMania 35 (April 7, 2019) – Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship aka “KofiMania”

An injury opened the door for one of the best organic builds in recent memory. Mustafa Ali, unable to compete at the Elimination Chamber event in February of that year, was replaced by Kofi Kingston – a longtime WWE star whose popularity surged as a member of the New Day faction. Fans rallied behind Kingston for the next two months as he began his journey to face Daniel Bryan (no stranger to fan-built WrestleMania moments himself) at WrestleMania 35. Kingston would beat Bryan, sparking a raucous reaction from the New Jersey crowd and becoming just the 3rd Black WWE champion in history.

33. WrestleMania 35 (April 7, 2019) – Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch for the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championships

For the first time in the history of WrestleMania, women would be main eventing at the biggest show of the year. Lynch had begun a stunning rise at SummerSlam the year prior, turning on longtime friend and fellow “Four Horsewomen” member, Flair. Lynch went on to win the Smackdown women’s championship from Flair several weeks later as the two continued their feud. An errant punch from Nia Jax would give Lynch a real-life injury and prevent her from facing Rousey at Survivor Series and Rousey would ultimately interfere and cost Lynch her title in December 2018. Lynch won the Royal Rumble, challenged Rousey at WrestleMania and Flair was added in a winner-take-all scenario. A solid WrestleMania main event would end with Lynch pinning Rousey and celebrating, becoming “Becky Two Belts” and cementing herself as perhaps the most popular women’s star of all-time.

34. WrestleMania 36 (April 4-5, 2020) – The Undertaker vs. A.J. Styles in a Boneyard match/John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt in a Firefly Funhouse match

WrestleMania 36 is unique for myriad reasons, considering it was the first to span two nights and, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was forced to take place in front of no fans at the WWE Performance Center. WrestleMania 36 marked the return of the Undertaker, who last performed in a squash match against John Cena at WrestleMania 34. Due to the pandemic, WWE was forced to get creative with some of its matches, resulting in more cinematic experiences for the Undertaker-Styles and Cena-Wyatt showdowns. Both contests were entertaining and well-received, despite not being traditional wrestling matches.

35. WrestleMania 37 (April, 10-11, 2021) – Bianca Belair vs. Sasha Banks for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

36. WrestleMania 38 (April 2-3, 2022) – Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship

If the “Four Horsewomen” ushered in a new era of women’s wrestling in WWE, Bianca Belair catapulted it to new heights. The self-proclaimed “EST of WWE” stole the show at back-to-back WrestleManias. At WrestleMania 37, coming off a Royal Rumble victory, Belair main evented Night 1 against Sasha Banks in what is arguably the greatest women’s match in the history of the “Showcase of the Immortals,” emerging victorious and capturing the first singles title of her WWE career. This also marked the first time in WWE history two Black women were in the main event of WrestleMania. The next year, after getting squashed by a returning Lynch at SummerSlam, Belair got revenge and won a championship at WrestleMania for the second consecutive year. While Belair-Banks was the better match, Belair-Lynch was among the best matches of their WrestleMania and gave fans a significant payoff after SummerSlam’s disappointing result.

37. WrestleMania 38 (April 2-3, 2022) – Cody Rhodes returns

A relatively poorly kept secret, Cody Rhodes’ WWE return still sparked pandemonium in Texas. Rhodes had left WWE years prior and became one of wrestling’s biggest stars, even helping to create WWE’s first true competitor in nearly two decades in All Elite Wrestling. During his time away, Rhodes showcased in-ring ability and skills with the microphone that would turn him into one of, if not the biggest star, in WWE today. Rhodes used his patented entrance (style and music) and immediately won over fans before putting on a strong match with Seth Rollins, setting the stage for the next era of WWE.

38. WrestleMania 38 (April 2-3, 2022) – Sami Zayn vs Johnny Knoxville in an Anything Goes match

Johnny Knoxville joins Mr. T as the only celebrities on this list to actually compete in a WrestleMania match. Knoxville and Zayn feuded for more than three months leading up to the event both on and off WWE programming. A truly fun match at WrestleMania 38 was the result, with Knoxville’s “Jackass” cast members taking part, a giant mouse trap factoring into the finish and Zayn showing off just how entertaining he can be across all aspects of the WWE product. While it may seem like a throwaway moment for Zayn, whenever celebrity talent is involved, WWE turns to trusted talent to deliver segments and matches that are memorable for fans and all parties came through here.

39. WrestleMania 39 (April 1-2, 2023) – Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs The Usos for the WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championships

What initially began as a comical run with Zayn joining The Bloodline turned into one of the most well-executed stories in recent WWE memory. After months of building tension between Zayn and The Bloodline, the star eventually turned on the dominant faction at the Royal Rumble, hitting Roman Reigns with a steel chair. Zayn would get so hot that a segment of fans wanted him to potentially replace Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes in the main event of WrestleMania. Instead, Zayn and longtime best friend Kevin Owens teamed up to take on Jimmy and Jey Uso for the the tag team championship in the main event of WrestleMania Night 1. Owens and Zayn would win the titles, causing a crowd eruption and hinting at a potentially disastrous weekend for The Bloodline.

40. WrestleMania 39 (April 1-2, 2023) – Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes for the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship

The culmination of Rhodes’ entire career happened in Los Angeles last year. After setting out to go from “undesirable to undeniable,” Rhodes was closing WWE’s signature show as the company's biggest and most marketable babyface. Reigns entered on a historic championship reign and was main eventing WrestleMania for the third consecutive year and for the seventh time overall. Rhodes and Reigns built up the tension in typical main event fashion, with interferences from The Bloodline as well as Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. In the end, Reigns’ real-life cousin, Solo Sikoa would take advantage of a distracted referee and drop Rhodes, leaving the crowd stunned as the heel’s championship run continued.