wrestling / Columns

The Mount Rushmore of WrestleMania Undercard Matches

February 10, 2020 | Posted by Caliber Winfield
Ricky Steamboat Randy Savage WrestleMania III

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WRESTLEMANIA UNDERCARD

HOW IT WORKS: The Mt. Rushmore list isn’t based on simply match quality. Nor is based on my personal tastes. Instead, it’s a mix of both quality and importance. The legacy of the match or moment, what happened as a result of it, and I try and explain all that with each selection. Alrighty, let’s get it.

MtRushmachosteamboat
Why It’s On The Mountain: This was easily the second most well known match for the WWE in the 1980s, the first of course being Hogan vs Andre. However, where’s Hogan vs Andre was known because of the spectacle, Savage & Steamboat were the talk of the town due to the workrate and excitement of the match. These days, when I look back, honestly, I don’t think it’s all that great. Through the lens of 30 years ago, for the WWE, yeah, it was off the charts. No one was really working a style like that, and Mach’ & Steamboat jelled perfectly. Afterwards, Steamboat would go on to lose to Honky Tonk, who’d then go on to be the longest reigning IC Champ of all time, and help make the Ultimate Warrior. Meanwhile, this performance and a moment on Saturday Night’s Main Event cemented Macho with the fans and within the year he was the man, the WWE Heavyweight Champion.
The Macho Man Randy Savage [C] vs Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Championship – WrestleMania 3
They start off hot with Ricky and his world-famous arm-drags throwing Savage all over the ring, forcing Macho to powder for a sec in order to get a clear shot. He gets his chance, but after a few The Dragon is back to working the left arm of Mach’. Neither one is able to hold the advantage for very long, as both men take no rest and give no quarter to each other, constantly on the attack. Eventually The Dragon has to work from underneath, as Macho keeps dropping double-axe-handles on him, as well as constantly throwing him outside and driving his knee into his back. They trade 2 counts back and forth like it’s going out of style, until Mach’ grabs the ring-bell with intent to use it, but George “The Animal” Steele pushes him off the top-turnbuckle before he can drop it on Steamboat. As both get up, Macho attempts to bodyslam him but Steamboat turns it into a roll up for the three.
Look, I know this match is considered a 5 star classic and all this, and maybe back then it was, but I’m sorry, I don’t see it. I never have. A lot of it is too fast, too frenetic, and I just never get a real sense of drama during it all. It just feels like they’re going through the motions, and it turns out that’s exactly what they were doing. I know, I’m probably a heretic for this, but what else is new, baby.
The Dragon wins the IC Title with a roll up at 14:35 | ***1/2

MtRushshawnrazor
Why It’s On The Mountain: As the match with between Macho & Ricky was the match of the 80’s for the WWE, then this would have to be the match of the 90’s. Shawn & Razor went out there with an unknown match type, and blew people’s heads off. No one had seen anything like that, and much to my surprise, it didn’t all of a sudden become the “it” match stipulation like it would 6 years later. It helped catapult both men, as Razor would become the second biggest babyface in the company behind Bret, and Shawn went on a run that saw him headline WrestleMania 2 years in a row, become champion, and arguably the greatest performer of all time. I would easily say this is one of the most important matches in wrestling’s history.
Shawn Micheals [C] vs Razor Ramon [C] – WrestleMania X – Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title
It’s absolutely insane that Diesel is standing ring-side for Shawn’s match at for this WrestleMania, and one year later Shawn would be facing Diesel for his title. Man, these two guys were crisp. Honestly, I forgot just how great of a worker Scott Hall was. However, I always hated when he did the spot where he acts like he’s gonna hit the Razor’s Edge, but he’s right by the ropes so a person can toss him over. I mean, he’s clearly NEVER going to hit the move, because there isn’t room for it when he’s up against the ropes. No matter how many times I see it, I always cringe when Shawn smashes the ladder into Razor’s rounded back twice in a row. Fucking ouch. These guys are keeping a hell of a pace whenever they do spots that involve running. Great moment when Razor rams the top part of the ladder into Shawn’s jaw, sending him flying out of the ring. The rest of the match is a bit slow, and honestly, after everything I’ve seen from other ladder matches, this one doesn’t hold up. I’ve always felt their SummerSlam rematch was the true classic. But, naturally, this one was revolutionary and put both guys on the map with a bullet.
Razor grabs the belt while Shawn is trapped in the ropes at 18:47 | *****

MtRushbretaustin
Why It’s On The Mountain: Honestly, it’s probably a tie between the previously mentioned match and this one for the defining match of the 90’s for the WWE. Although, quality wise, this one still holds up. What you have here is one of those million-to-one type deals where everything just lines up perfectly. Both Stone Cold & Bret were in the primes, and both on the cusp of something. For Stone Cold, it was the cusp of being a massive break out star with a face turn, and Bret, the cusp of a career-defining heel turn. In this single match, both men switched places, and cemented a feud that would rival what the competition was offering up. Stone Cold & Bret weren’t fucking around, they both wanted blood from each other, and you believed it. This was serious as a heart-attack. This was pro-wrestling at it’s finest, and absolutely made Stone Cold, giving him the perfect launching pad to become the biggest star in the business. Meanwhile, Bret became one of the best heels ever, forming the short-lived, but incredible Hart Foundation, that would eventually lead to the single most important moment in wrestling history; Bret being a referee at Starrcade.
Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin – I Quit Match – WrestleMania 13
I love the way this started. No bullshit, no posturing, nothing flashy, just a good ol’ fashion fight. They brawl into the crowd, where apparently everyone has the compulsion to go “RARRYEEAAAHH!!” into the camera. Back in, Bret works Austin’s knee, and eventually some weapons get brought in. Awesome chair spot where it looks like Austin winds the chair back so far it time traveled to the past with how much momentum he built. They go back and forth, with a fantastic, ferocious pace, with no rest-spots, and no BS. Austin gets busted open, painting the mat with his blood. Soon after, Bret locks in the Sharpshooter, and the wrestling world was never the same again. Just an incredible match, ridiculously hard-hitting, and best of all, 100% believable. These guys went full tilt the entire time. I love it.
Bret Hart wins via Stone Cold passing out in the Sharpshooter at 22:05 | *****

RushmoreWM25
Why It’s On The Mountain: No joke, someone once told me they wished I’d get cancer because I didn’t give this match 5 stars. Now, really, everything about this match has pretty much been said. There wasn’t much of a build, because they really didn’t need it, but the match ended up becoming what some call the greatest of all time, and for most that’s hard to argue. Although I feel their rematch was waaaay better. For me, I didn’t see this live, and I believe that’s where the magic was. Because when you know who wins, all this match is is some pretty basic wrestling, then two dudes laying around hitting finishers for 20 minutes. I realized this was why I wasn’t a huge fan when I saw Undertaker vs HHH at WM27 live with a group of friends. That was the most fun and most enjoyable wrestling experience of my life, and I couldn’t believe when people said it wasn’t that great. Because they didn’t see it live. Some matches just need that.
With all that said, this match became the first time that The Streak was the object of desire. It’d been mentioned before, but this was the first time that the entire match was built upon it. It then started a 4 year run where we had some of the greatest matches of all time, and gave WrestleMania it’s biggest drawing power. For years after this, the Undertaker’s Streak matches were the most anticipated on the card, because year after year they were the best match hands down. Hell, if you start with WrestleMania 23, The Undertaker would go on to never have a match below 4 stars at WM for 7 years in a row, and it really got amped up after this bout with Shawn.
Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker – WrestleMania 25
Shawn starts off using his speed to duck, dive, and dodge The Undertaker at any given opportunity, and returning fire with everything he has. He even isn’t above faking an injury just to the edge for a second. Shawn’s eagerness is great, only dampened by the ridiculously non-painful submissions he throws ‘Taker in. The first is a Figure 4 that’s done extremely improper, followed by a crossface that’s really just Shawn kinda pulling ‘Taker’s head to the side. Sick moment later when Shawn attempts a moonsault to The Undertaker who’s on the outside, and he just side-steps it, causing Shawn to just crash onto the ground with a super-loud “THUD”. Speaking of “THUD”, ‘Taker got jealous and wanted one for his own, so he attempts his top-rope suicide dive, only to have Shawn pull a camera man in the way, and the Deadman lands head-first on the ground. Back in, and they basically spend the rest of the match trading finishers, with each kick out popping the crowd more than the previous one. It’s insane how hot the crowd is. Shawn attempts a moonsault, only for ‘Taker to catch him, and dump him with a Tombstone.
The Undertaker wins with the Tombstone at 30:44 | ***3/4

Thanks for reading, ya’ll. And as a parting gift, Maria in NJPW….

O7dsFSL

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