wrestling / Columns

Building The Ultimate WrestleMania Card: A Puzzle Game

April 6, 2019 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Steve Austin WWE WrestleManias

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but WrestleMania is right around the corner and that means a ton of WrestleMania related columns from all of us at 411. Typically I get to report on Network shows and do reviews of past shows and DVD releases., but for the last few months though I’ve had the itch to do something related to WrestleMania. A few weeks back an idea I saw online nearly 15 years ago popped into my head and I figured it would not only make a fun column, but would be a challenge.

That idea was a puzzle game where you have to take a match from each WrestleMania and create a supercard. There are a few catches though, and it’s these catches that make the puzzle a challenge. First, a wrestler can only be used once, so unlike WM IV, IX, X, and XXX, nobody is pulling double duty in this one. Secondly, only matches from the main show count. That eliminates any match on the pre-show even if it was a title match. The last rule is that every title has to be defended at least once and this is where things get not only challenging, but at times frustrating. Now due to the most recent brand split, it is impossible to get the RAW and SmackDown Tag and Women’s Titles on this card, so I had to make a ruling. For the purposes of this game I had to use the following titles: WWE Title, World Heavyweight Title, Universal Title, ECW Title, Intercontinental, United States, European, Hardcore, and Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight. The ruling I made for the Women and Tag Teams was that I would use 2 different versions of each so that they are represented without having all the different versions eat up the card. For the Tag Titles I decided to pick a classic WWF/E Tag Title match and then one of the versions after the initial brand split. For the women I stayed the same and looked for a WWE/Divas Title match and then one from the recent brand split.

After a few hours of piecing this thing together I came up with a card that features matches that were a must for me, and a bunch that just ended up on there because I had little option. In an ideal world there’s a way to avoid some crappy matches on the card, but just like a real life card, there’s bound to be something that sends the fans to the bathroom or concession/souvenir stands. I hope everyone has fun with this column and tries to complete this challenge. Anyone who does take on the task, post your card and thoughts in the comments below.

My plan started by putting in matches I needed to have and then running through the title matches to satisfy that rule. From there I looked for matches that I could plug in where I didn’t have a worker already on the card

WrestleMania: Tito Santana vs The Executioner
-This one was kind of easy as this is the first match in the history of WrestleMania and it gets Tito on the card where I didn’t really have another spot. The match isn’t anything special, but it goes down in history as the opening match at the first WrestleMania.

WrestleMania 2: Boxing Match: Roddy Piper vs. Mr T
-I originally had Steamboat vs Hercules, but I really wanted to get Piper on this show. Originally I tried to use his match at Mania 12, but that had to be changed (which became a common theme as I put this together). Clearly with this one I was going for star power as not only do I get Piper on the card, but I get a celebrity in Mr. T on the card and what would Mania be without celebrities.

WrestleMania III: WWF Title: Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Andre The Giant
-This was one of the first matches I put on the card and I wasn’t changing it no matter what else I had to give up. Obviously using this as my WWE/F Title Match eliminated some amazing matches, but I’m satisfied with my decision. Both of these men had to be on the card somewhere just based on star power alone and really, what better match than the biggest match in Mania history. There is no more iconic scene than Hogan slamming Andre and this match had to be on this show even if it cost me Savage/Steamboat.

WrestleMania IV: The Islanders & Bobby Heenan vs. The British Bulldogs & Koko B Ware
-This show was a pain as I made the decision to toss out any matches in the tournament just because. So by eliminating those matches, it didn’t leave me with many options. Warrior/Hercules was out because I had Warrior saved for later and I already wasted Tito and my Tag Title match later, so the Demolition win was out. In the end I opted for this match as I get 6 different people on the card (much like the decision made for Manias in this day in age) and there’s 2 Hall of Famers included. Bobby getting his comeuppance always makes for fun as well.

WrestleMania V: Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer
-Easy one for me here as I had to get both these guys on the card and what better way than a match they had with each other. I debated some other matches, but really nothing else made sense here and I had Bret set for a match later, so his Mania X match with Owen was eliminated. Really you can’t go wrong with these guys and while a short match, it was quite good.

WrestleMania VI: Million Dollar Title: Jake Roberts vs. Ted Dibiase
-The Million Dollar Title was never sanctioned as an official title by the WWE, but I was able to get it on the card anyway and get 2 more Hall of Famers as well. Again, there weren’t too many options to get these guys elsewhere and really, getting the Million Dollar Title on here made me happy.

WrestleMania VII: Career Match: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage
-This match is epic and is the greatest of Warrior’s career and continues the redemption story of the Macho Man character. This is one of my favorite matches of all time and the post match stuff with Sherri, Liz and Randy still make me smile. Much like Hogan/Andre this was a must match for me and also puts 3 more Hall of Famers on my card and really Liz should be in there as well. Just an absolute easy call even if again, it cost me Savage/Steamboat.

WrestleMania VIII: The Boss Man, Duggan, Slaughter, Virgil vs. The Mountie, Nasty Boys, Repo Man
-Another excuse to get a bunch of guys on the card and again, with a smaller number of matches to pick from I didn’t have many options. My WWF Title match was out and again, I am saving Bret and Shawn for later. My only real options were this match or Tatanka vs Martel and I went for quantity in this case as I got a few more Hall of Famers on the card.

WrestleMania IX: The Headshrinkers vs The Steiners
-For whatever reason this one has always been a guilty pleasure for more as these teams beat on each other and pulled out some impressive moves. This was the only match the Steiners had at Mania which made it easier to pick and really there isn’t much else to choose from on this card. My other options were Luger/Perfect or Backlund/Razor. It would have been great to get Lex and Razor on the card, but they were 2 of the big names left out thanks to the title rules.

WrestleMania X: Earthquake vs Adam Bomb
-This one hurt as I originally had the IC Ladder Match set in stone but then funny things started happening with shows much later on in this list and I had to scramble and burnp my IC Title Match in a crappier spot, but I didn’t have any choice. From there I just needed to find a match with guys not on this card and this is what we got. All the title matches and saving Bret for later killed any better options for me with this one and I wasn’t giving up Savage/Warrior to use Savage/Crush.

WrestleMania XI: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor
-Again, this is WrestleMania and celebrity involvement is a must. This was the Main Event which is a nice feather in the cap for inclusion. The match was so much better than it had any right to be as Bigelow did a masterful job while Taylor held up his end of the bargain better than most celebrities. This was another one that was rather easy to pick and never really changed once I made the decision.

WrestleMania XII: Diesel vs The Undertaker
-This card only had a handful of matches and I really didn’t have any other option. I was going to originally use the Piper/Goldust brawl, but Goldust was needed later to satisfy a rule and that left me with using this match to represent Taker’s streak. The match itself if more than fine and it gets Nash on the card, who shockingly has only had 2 matches at Mania. I was just hoping to use a more epic Taker match that came in the Manias in the 20s, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

WrestleMania 13: Submission Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin
Another one that was a must before I started piecing this together and obviously with 2 big stars like this, that means a bunch of other great matches were eliminated. I think I made the right call though as this is one the greatest matches you will ever see. It marked the launch of Austin as the iconic image of blood pouring down his face as he wouldn’t quit is seared in the head of any wrestling fan. Again nothing else was getting any consideration.

WrestleMania XIV: WWF Lightheavyweight Title: Taka Michinoku vs. Aguila
-I had to use a CW/LHW match somewhere and this was the best option I had. My other choice was Rey vs Hardy, but I had bigger plans for Matt. All the recent CW matches have been buried on pre-shows and thus they were out of the running. Match was pretty good though even if Vince didn’t let them shine like the division in WCW did.

WrestleMania XV: Boxing Match: Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn
-I thought I was going to use theHardcore Title match, but I found another way and thus get to include the spectacle of Bart getting his head knocked into the 15th row. Two boxing matches may seem like a lot, but this is a 34 match card and we need something short with a memorable ending. This fits the bill in spades and the replays of the knockout will always be amazing to watch.

WrestleMania 2000: WWF Tag Team Titles: Triangle Ladder Match: Edge/Christian vs. The Hardyz vs. The Dudleyz
-I wanted this match or TLC on the card and while I would have liked TLC instead, I had opted to use another match at X-7 and it was for the best. This isn’t TLC, but it set the template and this match helped launch all 6 guys as stars. As of now 3 of the 6 are in the Hall of Fame and most likely all 6 will be at some point. This is just a fantastic car wreck with 6 young guys killing themselves to steal the show and get noticed at the biggest show of the year. Good times!

WrestleMania X-Seven: European Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Test
-Eddie had to be on this card and it was either here or his match with Rey at Mania 21. I opted for this one as it also got the European Title involved which helped since the title wasn’t around that long. The Greatest Mania every probably had better options, but you can never go wrong with Eddie. Sadly, this is another match were both participants have passed on (Perfect/Blazer and Warrior/Savage).

WrestleMania X-8: Hardcore Title: Maven vs. Goldust
-Yeah, this probably should have been Hogan/Rock, but I had to have Andre/Hogan. This also gets the albatross of the Hardcore Title out of the way and nothing says WrestleMania like Tough Enough Season 1 winner Maven. Actually, he seemed like a great dude and I watch that season of Tough Enough often. Including Goldust here though cost me him vs Piper at 12, but not much else I could do.

WrestleMania XIX: WWE Woman’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Jazz vs. Victoria
-The first of our 2 Woman’s Title Matches and while I really wanted to use Trish/Mickie, I was stuck finding anything else to use from this card. Mania XIX is quite possibly the most stacked card ever as you have Jericho/Michaels stuck in the midcard behind 2 World Title matches, McMahon/Hogan, and Austin/Rock. The match was perfectly fine and the ladies worked hard, but obviously they weren’t given the time and promotion that the women are today. Still, Trish is a win and makes for another Hall of Famer on the card.

WrestleMania XX: The Rock and Mankind vs. Evolution (Flair, Orton, Batista)
-Now this match is chalk full of star power, Hall of Famers, Icons, Legends, etc. I had to have this match as I needed Flair on this card and my options were limited. I don’t regret this choice, but man did losing Batista and Orton screw me as we start going through the rest of these Manias. This match was an absolute blast as seemingly everyone (outside of Foley, who wasn’t happy with his performance) were having a ball out there. The Rock and Flair portions were amazing as they were soaking in the opportunity to work with each other and the MSG crowd was tremendous as well. Just a fun match to watch with 5 of the best.

WrestleMania 21: Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels
-Another 5 start match on this card and one that I wanted on here, but didn’t know if I would get it. Once I lost Shawn/Razor and Taker to Mania 12, I knew I needed to get this match to fit. This is another one of my favorite matches of all time and one I watch at least once a year. Just an amazing match that somehow topped all the crazy expectations. I was worried I may not get an Angle match on here, but thankfully things fell so that I could get this masterpiece on here.

WrestleMania 22: Booker T vs. The Boogeyman
-Another one where I was running low on options and all I can say is that I at least got Booker T on the card. I hate this choice, but it was towards the end of putting this together and after 3 hours I was done and just wanted to finish. At least Booker is a Hall of Famer.

WrestleMania 23: Bobby Lashley vs Umaga
-I also get the added benefit as Austin as a ref, Vince getting his head shaved, and the future Preside of the United States taking a stunner. This match was supposed to launch Lashley, but it never happened. Still, the star power on the floor and the fact this match was the reason this show did huge numbers made it an easy choice.

WrestleMania XXIV: ECW Title: Chavo Guerrero vs Kane
-This match is the reason you won’t see The Shield on this card. Sorry for the spoiler. There was only 1 ECW Title Match in Mania history and it was over in the blink of an eye, but I had to use it here. Really, there isn’t much more to say about this match and the Mania history of the ECW Title.

WrestleMania XXV: Intercontinental Title: JBL vs Rey Mysterio
-This was one of the last matches I filled as I tried everything to find something else, but the only other choice I had was Hardy vs Hardy and that would have meant blowing up the Triangle Ladder Match which I wasn’t doing so late in the game. The IC Title deserves a better Mania match, but this is what had to be done. At least it had the benefit of JBL quitting after the match. This was also the first Mania I ever attended.

WrestleMania XXVI: Unified WWE Tag Titles: The Big Show and Miz vs. R Truth and John Morrison
-Another Mania that I attended, and this was another stacked show. I said I would use a Tag Title match after the initial brand split and this was the best I could do. The match was fine and gets The Big Show and Miz on the card. What’s interesting is The Miz was in a tag team with everyone in this match at one point.

WrestleMania XXVII: Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler
-This match was death for us in the crowd (yes, this was the last Mania I attended) but again, I was struggling to find a match here. Cody/Rey and Punk/Orton nearly made it but I wanted the handicap match from Mania and I got stuck with Rey in the IC Title Match at XXV. With those matches gone, I had no choice but to take the match where both guys were in the 1st and only Mania. Something seems wrong about getting Cole on this card and not having Razor and The Shield, but such is life.

WrestleMania XXVIII: Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres
-Another show where I was left picking what I could. Jericho/Punk was never in play as Hogan/Andre took that one out. This was a weird one where my only other option was Bryan/Sheamus for the World Title, but I already have one Major Title match that lasted under 10 seconds on this card. This match at least has a Hall of Famer and gets another celebrity on the show.

WrestleMania XXIX: World Heavyweight Title: Alberto Del Rio vs Jack Swagger
-Obviously not the greatest match to plug in the World Title spot, but with the way Edge, Cena, HHH, Orton, Batista hogged the title for Mania after Mania, I had no real other option. Del Rio was doing fine in the early going on his face run against the likes of Big Show fighting underneath, but this match was just kind of there as nobody really bought into the renewed push of Swagger. Which is a shame as I think Swagger deserved better he never really recovered after his first World Title run went up in the flames. The match was solid, but unspectacular. This was the spot I had for Punk on the card as I wanted to run his match with Taker, but the short match card from Mania XII and needing a hardcore title match killed that.

WrestleMania XXX: Daniel Bryan vs HHH
-HHH finally pops up on this list and for the longest time I had his Mania match with Booker T for the World Title on this list, but things had to be arranged as I couldn’t find a match from this show. In a perfect world this is where I would have gotten The Shield on the card, but Kane being in the match prevented it as once again the ECW Title screwed up my plans. Cena/Wyatt was my next choice, but I needed Cena later and thus I had to move things around and I am ok with having to use Bryan/HHH. By all accounts this is the last great HHH singles match at Mania. This is one of the few cases where him going long to make the match seem epic worked and that thanks to the fact that he and Bryan meshed so well. They told a fantastic story and set the tone for what was a great show overall.

WrestleMania 31: United States Title: Rusev vs John Cena
-I had Cena all over this card in different spots and something always popped up where I had to move him. Eventually I realized I needed a US Title match and there weren’t many options. The only two times the title has felt important at Mania involved Cena and I opted for this match because I wasn’t giving up the handicap tag match at Mania XX. This was a fun match and I have to mention Rusev’s epic tank entrance. Cena had to be on the card and while he has had many bigger matches, he wasn’t needed in a big time match for this card.

WrestleMania 32: AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho
-Funny thing is I couldn’t get Punk on the card even with all his Manias, but AJ was no issue. This was AJ’s Mania debut and Jericho was an ideal opponent though giving the match away the previous PPV didn’t really make any sense. The match was good as you would expect and while some hated AJ losing, he ended up doing OK for himself. Jericho has had a ton of Mania matches and he was another one that was going to end up on the card somewhere and this is a solid spot.

WrestleMania 33: Universal Title: Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar
-There have only been two Universal Title matches and Brock has been involved in both so he wasn’t going to end up in another match. I opted for this one vs the one with Reigns because this is a better match and I get Goldberg on the card. This was a fantastic match that played to the strengths of both men. It was a short power match with two monsters hitting each other with their best stuff. The only other real option I had was saving the Universal Title match for the follow year and using either one of the Women’s Title matches.

WrestleMania 34: SmackDown Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair vs Asuka
-This is a fantastic match and satisfies my rule of having 2 Women’s Title matches. There wasn’t much debate with this choice as I had to find another title match with the ladies and it was either here or one from the previous year, but as I mentioned earlier, I opted for the combination of Goldberg/Brock and this match vs using Brock/Roman and the non one on one woman’s matches from Mania 32.

Well, there you have my Ultimate Match Card. Again, this puzzle while fun to put together will also frustrate you to no end. I am happy with how things turned out though even with some pretty horrible matches included, but not every match needs to be 5 stars. There are more than enough great matches and iconic moments to carry this card.

For those curious the bell to bell time for all these matches is 6 hours, 7 minutes and 15 seconds. That’s much shorter than I figured I would get with 34 matches, but digger deeper showed that I picked 4 matches that lasted under 40 seconds and the longest match clocked in at 27:32 (Angle/Michaels). So if you have just over 6 hours to kill and judging by the past few Manias, that shouldn’t be a problem, go check out each match in order on the WWE Network to see how my card stacks up. Again, feel free to take the challenge and post your card below. Thanks for reading and enjoy all the comes with WrestleMania week and WrestleMania Sunday

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Robert Leighty Jr.