wrestling / Columns

411’s Countdown to WrestleMania 24: A WrestleMania Sandwich

March 19, 2008 | Posted by Matt Adamson

Graphic by Meehan

Welcome readers to the unveiling of the first ever (to my knowledge) WrestleMania Sandwich. In this column I’m going to be building a sandwich out of the WrestleMania’s of the past. The idea here is to compare select WrestleMania shows with select sandwich ingredients/condiments. I think you’ll get the idea once you start readings. If this is your first time reading anything of mine, I’d love it if you checked out some of my other work. On Thursdays you can find my column “The Best Of Times” in which I compare a past month of action between 3 or more wrestling promotions. Also make sure to check out my reviews where I’ll be “Going Old School”. For now, sit back and enjoy a WrestleMania Sandwich (sandwich art courtesy of John Meehan).

The Bread – WrestleMania

If you’re going to build something, you have to start somewhere. When most people start building a sandwich they start with a slice of bread and build up. In 1985 the WWF started their sandwich building from the ground up with the first ever WrestleMania from Madison Square Garden. Much like bread is essential to a sandwich (unless you suffer from Celiac Sprue Disease and Wheat Allergy), the first WrestleMania is essential to the WrestleMania sandwich.

The original WrestleMania event was quite the gamble for the much younger Vince McMahon. It took place at Madison Square Garden on March 31st 1985. The show was well publicized and was shown on Closed Circuit TV. McMahon put all his eggs in one basket for this event to try and upstage the NWA’s Starrcade event and turn WrestleMania into the biggest show in wrestling. With a great deal of media coverage from the involvement of Cindy Lauper and Mr. T, WrestleMania was an incredible success. If it wasn’t for the original WrestleMania, there would be no WrestleMania Sandwich. The matches themselves weren’t anything special, but the moments captured during this event, especially during the main event (Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Paul Orndorf and Roddy Piper) are the kind that stick with us fans forever.

The Ham Slices – WrestleMania X and X-Seven

The good stuff. Besides vegetarians, you won’t find people saying, “I’ll have a Ham Sandwich with no ham, please.” No, it’s the meat that makes a sandwich (unless it’s a PB&J). You could say that for most it’s the best part. So, for our two slices of Ham I’ve selected WrestleMania X and X-Seven as the cream of the WrestleMania crop. They have widely been considered the two best WrestleMania’s since 2001 when X-Seven happened, and really nothing has touched them since.

WrestleMania X was, of course, the 10th anniversary of the event. It was held in Madison Square Garden on March 20th 1994, which is a date earlier than the event was and has since been traditionally held on. Only 2 WrestleMania events were held at an earlier date, X-8 and XX. The show was considered a huge success in terms of the quality of the matches that took place at the event. Two of the matches at the event are considered by many to be among the greatest WrestleMania matches ever. The first being Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart and the second the famous Ladder match between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels over the Intercontinental Championship.

WrestleMania X-Seven is considered by many to not only be the greatest WrestleMania ever, but the greatest Pay Per View ever. I am not one of those that would consider it the greatest PPV ever, but certain hold that it’s the greatest WrestleMania ever. With a stacked card on April 1st 2001 from the Reliant Astrodome, WrestleMania X-Seven proved that WrestleMania could achieve that major sporting event feel that had been lost to WrestleMania for about 9 years. With a main event of The Rock vs. Steve Austin and matches such as TLC II and Undertaker vs. HHH, the show looked great on paper, but delivered even greater than we all had expected. It’s going to take some serious talent to pull off another show this good.

The Slices of Swiss Cheese – WrestleMania XII and 13

I choose Swiss cheese because it has holes, major holes, but it still tastes damn good. The way Swiss cheese Works for a sandwich, so do WrestleMania XII and 13. Back to back in the mid-1990’s, these two shows were full of holes. Bad matches took much of the fun out of these two shows, but what was good about the shows was VERY good. Each of these shows had that one match that will go down in history. Much like Swiss cheese, these two shows are very strong in terms of their impact on wrestling, yet they have holes that take much away from their potential.

WrestleMania XII is probably my least favorite WrestleMania to watch. The under card is one of the worst in WrestleMania history. Thankfully its not the under card that this show is remembered for. Much like WrestleMania IX, WrestleMania XII had more than its fair share of poor matches. The difference is in that one match that wasn’t just run of the mill. The main event, of course, is that famous Ironman Match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels where Michaels finally won himself the WWF Championship. While I’m not a huge fan of the match myself, there is no denying the importance that it had to wrestling.

WrestleMania 13 had an even more lackluster under card than its immediate predecessor. It wasn’t just the under card that suffered from a lack of talent, it was the main event as well. However amidst the direst of all WrestleMania cards is the one match that, to many, stands above all other WrestleMania matches as the best ever. That match would be Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart. Few matches ever wrestled can touch the emotion and drama of this match and its one of very few that in and of itself, no gimmicks needed, turned one wrestler from a heel to a face. It’s a good thing that Psycho Sid didn’t shit his pants during the main event of this particular show, or its possible that this show would be remember more for that than this tremendous match, and that would be a shame.

The Lettuce – WrestleMania XXII

Lettuce is a strange thing. It has little taste, but takes up a lot of space on the sandwich. For this reason, many of us sandwich eaters do not view the inclusion of lettuce on a sandwich essential. In other words, “it’s alright, but if its not there, it won’t be missed.” This is how I feel about WrestleMania XXII. If the show could be considered crap, it’d have to be bad, which this show isn’t. In order for it to be considered great, or even full of purpose, it would have to have to contain something that meant something, which this show lacks.

As a show that isn’t outright terrible, WrestleMania XXII is also not outright essential. The HHH vs. Cena main event seems spent and it wasn’t anywhere near their best encounter. The one shining moment that could have saved this from being truly forgettable was Foley vs. Edge, but even then, we’re talking about a post-retirement Mick Foley here. Like I stated before, there is really nothing on WrestleMania XXII that has any relevance before or after, or any really spectacular matches, but it’s also not a bad show at all.

The Mayo – WrestleMania IV

Mayo is a funny thing. On a sandwich it is sometimes essential, sometimes not. Some people like it (myself for example), and some do not. However, neither of these is the point. We can argue till the cows come home over whether or not Mayonnaise is good on a sandwich or not, but very few will argue my real point. By itself, mayonnaise is awful. We don’t appreciate mayonnaise by itself like many of us to when it’s on a sandwich. WrestleMania IV was much like this. When it happened, in the context it was in, the show was good. Lots of people enjoyed the shoe in 1988 as it was full of surprises. However, years later, as a stand-alone show, WrestleMania IV really sucks.

I remember watching this show live on PPV on my great uncles bar. Yes, I was a mere 8 years old, but it was the family bar and I was allowed in the office area where there was a TV with cable connected to the setup in the bar. At the time I loved this show. I was certain that the Hulkster would prevail and regain his WWF title, but I was wrong. It was Randy Savage who prevailed, setting up a truly great feud over the next year. The thing about this show is that while it was great to watch at the time, it really isn’t that good. As soon as the events of the show were far enough removed, the show became really boring and pointless. The rise of Savage to champion seemed so unimportant watching the show on VHS just weeks before WrestleMania VI where he would team with Sherri Martel to face off against Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire. Not exactly where we all thought he would be. As time has dragged on, this show has become less and less important, as the major players heydays seem farther and farther behind us. If I could only go back in time to when it happened, this show would be so much better.

The Mustard – WrestleMania VIII

Mustard is something that some people love and some people just don’t want on their sandwich. It has plenty of flavor and can change that way a sandwich tastes. When making my WrestleMania sandwich, there was nothing harder to place than the mustard. It has to be a show that most thought was very solid throughout, some thought was amazing, but that others didn’t have a taste for despite its qualities. There are several that could fit in this category, but I think overall, WrestleMania VIII is the best fit.

At this point you may be asking why WrestleMania VIII? Well, I think in a round about way, people from all spectrums of wrestling fandom are drawn to or from this show. You have Ric Flair in his prime, Hulk Hogan just past his prime (which big Hogan fans would argue he was still in his prime, to which I’d say “bullshit”). You have solid wrestling (Piper vs. Hart and Flair vs. Savage), and solid cartoonish entertainment (Miss Elizabeth nude on the big screen and Ultimate Warrior/Papa Shango run-in). It just seems to be that this is the strongest of the polarizing WrestleMania shows.

The Tomatoes – WrestleMania IX, XI and 2000

Tomatoes are probably the least common part of a sandwich due to many people not caring too much for them. They are not an essential part of the sandwich, and being in the berry family have nothing in common with anything else on the sandwich. With the general feeling of tomatoes being negative, it could only mean that since this sandwich has 3 tomato slices that the tomatoes of WrestleMania are the three Mania’s that most feel are the worst of the bunch.

First of the worst is the one that I believe most feel is the single worst WrestleMania ever. That is WrestleMania IX, held on April 4th 1993 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It has the distinction of being the only WrestleMania to date to have been held outdoors (unless you count XIX being at Safeco Field which is not entirely enclosed even when the roof is closed). It’s a unique WrestleMania whose single unique characteristic will be lost when this years show rolls around.

WrestleMania XI had its moments, but there really isn’t much there. When the best match on a show involves a professional football player, things are not looking too good. Of all the WrestleMania shows, XI feels the least like the big event that WrestleMania claims to be. It also feels the most dated of all the Mania’s of the 90’s as it feels quite naked and revealing for what it was. I mean Salt N’ Peppa? You have to be kidding me. Cindy Lauper and Alice Cooper were timeless, but Salt N’ Peppa? I’m not having any of that.

WrestleMania 2000 is my least favorite to watch by a good margin. I hate that there is only 1 singles match and that match is a women’s match. Its not to say the show isn’t decent, and there aren’t any good matches (The Intercontinental Title match was very good). I just really dislike the way the show flows and how hard it tries to be something that its not. It’s WrestleMania, so why is the main storyline involving 4 non-wrestlers and 1 wrestler (Foley) that will be having his supposed match. It’s not here for lack of in-ring quality. The show just lacked from me being able to give a damn.

The Bread – WrestleMania III

Rounding out our sandwich is the bread. The top slice of bread of course is another essential, just like the bottom piece. If you neglect the top slice you’ve led yourself into building a melt. We are not building a WrestleMania melt, but a sandwich so this final slice of bread goes to the show that tops off what WrestleMania is all about while remaining essential. The show that best fits that description is no doubt WrestleMania III. If it weren’t for WrestleMania III, would the WWF ever have achieved that success that has kept them around for as long as they have. The NWA and WCW had many shows as successful and essential as the first two WrestleMania’s, but the 3rd edition truly set the WWF and WrestleMania apart and far ahead of the pack.

The show was the biggest both in scope and (possibly worked) attendance in the history of WrestleMania. 93,000+ showed up to cheer Hulk Hogan on over his foe Andre The Giant. It was the biggest match in the history of Wrestling and while an argument can be made for The Rock vs. Stone Cold, if it weren’t for Andre vs. Hogan, we might not have seen The Rock vs. Stone Cold. This is the WrestleMania that topped them all. The Intercontinental Title match feeds the work rate fanatics, while the main event gives the showmanship fans what they want. There is no denying the importance and quality of WrestleMania III. It has set the standard for every year since.


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Matt Adamson

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