My Favorite Hidden Gems in WrestleMania History

Stoney Keeley lists some of his favorite hidden gem matches sprinkled throughout the history of WrestleMania, with WrestleMania 37 set to kick off on Saturday.

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WrestleMania 40 is upon us, and regardless of how you feel about this year’s show, you can’t help but get a bit nostalgic this week. If you’re a longtime WWE fan, you know the magnitude of this event and what it means to the unbridled sport of professional wrestling. It’s the biggest stage of the year, and this show features some of the greatest wrestling matches of all time. But, for every ‘Rock vs. Austin’ or ‘Michaels vs. Undertaker,’ there’s a fun little contest hidden somewhere on the card. I’ve taken the liberty of combing over every WrestleMania card prior to this year’s show, and am offering up some of my favorite hidden gems from years past. This is in chronological order, so let’s get to it.

WrestleMania’s Hidden Gems

Intercontinental Championship: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine vs. Junk Yard Dog, Wrestlemania I – Yep. We’re gonna go way back to the IC title match from the very first Wrestlemania. Valentine is one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time, and people forget how over JYD was back in his day. Fun match.

Butch Reed vs. Randy Savage (WrestleMania IV) – Butch Reed is one of the more underrated guys of the 1980s. He doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of stars of the era, but he had a couple of good showings at WrestleMania. This was one of the first round matches of the one-night, winner-take-all, WWF Championship Tournament.

The Brainbusters vs. Strike Force (WrestleMania V) – Anything Brainbusters is gold in my book.

The Orient Express vs. The Rockers (WrestleMania VI) – I’m a sucker for good old fashioned Rockers matches. I think over the course of this column, I will have mentioned every Rockers WrestleMania match….

The British Bulldog vs. The Warlord, Wrestlemania VII – Go ahead. @ me. I enjoyed a Warlord match.

The Nasty Boys vs. The Hart Foundation, Wrestlemania VII – Two quintessential tag teams of the era going at it in a solid contest. I still say the Nasty Boys deserve a call to the Hall of Fame.

Intercontinental Championship: Big Boss Man vs. Mr. Perfect (WrestleMania VII) – I will not hear the good name of Ray Traylor tarnished. Ray Traylor could go. Put him in the ring with one of the greatest of all time with the prestigious Intercontinental Championship on the line, and you’ve got a sneaky good midcard title bout.

Shawn Michaels vs. Tito Santana (WrestleMania VIII) – I don’t get the hate for WrestleMania VIII. Sure, the main event sucked, but there were plenty worse events than this one. The hot opener between Michaels and Santana looks like a fever dream of two of the greatest workers of all time in retrospect.

The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers, Wrestlemania IX – I still say Wrestlemania IX is underrated, and this tag team contest was pretty stout. Plus, you get to see someone dumped over the top rope onto their head.

Falls Count Anywhere: “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Crush, Wrestlemania X – Maybe this match was bad. I can admit that much. But, wasn’t it still cool to see? Crush gettin’ strung up by his feet in the back. Priceless.

Intercontinental Championship: Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett (WrestleMania XI) – Jeff Jarrett was a solid Intercontinental Champion back in 1995. On a card that lacked a lot of substance outside of a banger between Shawn Michaels and Diesel, I’m surprised this contest doesn’t stand out more.

Chicago Street Fight: Ahmed Johnson and The Legion of Doom vs. The Nation of Domination (WrestleMania 13) – Look, this isn’t a very good match by any means. But, please read the list of combatants again….Ahmed Johnson…..teaming…..with the Legion of Doom. It’s a massive clusterfuck, but it’s worth a watch just for the spectacle alone.

European Championship: Triple H vs. Owen Hart, Wrestlemania XIV – People will remember the strong showing from Triple H and Goldust from the year before, but I think this sneaky fun match slips through the cracks from that era. Sure, the DX antics made it a little silly with Sgt. Slaughter and Chyna’s involvement. But, it’s two dependable workers putting on a good match.

WWF Tag Team Championship Dumpster Match: Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie vs. The New Age Outlaws (WrestleMania XIV) – WrestleMania XIV is largely underrated in my book. A quality main event. Good mid-card, big fight feel, and the right amount of gimmicky bullshit. Take this Dumpster Match as an example. It may have felt like a mess, but it was peak Attitude Era.

The Hardcore Battle Royal (WrestleMania 2000) – It’s like roadkill – you just can’t look away. It was a total clusterfuck, but I watched this one recently, and definitely got the “so bad it’s good” vibe.

Intercontinental -AND- European Championship Two-Fall Triple Threat: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania 2000) – Just look at the names in this fucking match! WrestleMania 2000 is one of the worst WrestleManias of all time, but it’s more than just that triangle ladder match. This classic is often lost in the shuffle.

Hardcore Championship: Kane vs. Big Show vs. Raven, Wrestlemania X-7 – How did this even happen? Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but what were Kane and Big Show ever doing in a Hardcore Championship feud? Whatever – the match was good. Any time you can work someone getting run over by a golf cart into a wrestling match, you know you’re pushing the creative envelope.

Intercontinental Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. William Regal (WrestleMania X-8) – Regal had the honor of opening WrestleMania two years in a row in 2001 and 2002. Both were Intercontinental Championship matches, and both were good. People remember the 2001 storyline with Chris Jericho peeing in Regal’s tea, but this match with RVD is often overlooked.

Edge vs. Booker T (WrestleMania X8) – I don’t care what anyone says, having a match based off of a shampoo commercial was awesome. It surely felt like these two were paired together just because they didn’t have anything else to do at WrestleMania, but they made the most of it, and looking back, the whole thing was a lot of fun.

Christian vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XX) – What a heel turn. What a surprise. What a huge twist in this underrated rivalry from 2004 that began in earnest in 2003.

United States Championship: Chris Benoit vs. MVP (WrestleMania 23) – WrestleMania 23 was a weird WrestleMania. Plenty of great matches, but oddly put together. Maybe this one’s been stricken from the collective memory of wrestling fans because of Benoit, but it was a classic mid-card title bout.

Belfast Brawl: Finlay vs. JBL, Wrestlemania XXIV – One of the surprisingly strong openers in Wrestlemania history. It was physical, fast, and fun. I don’t care if it was the culmination of a train wreck of a storyline (Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son).

Chris Jericho vs. Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, and Jimmy Snuka (WrestleMania XXV) – A lot of shenanigans involved in this angle, but how about the feel-good moment of Steamboat getting the “you still got it” chants?

Triple H vs. Sheamus (WrestleMania XXVI) – Sheamus’ incredible rookie year led him to a date with The Game at WrestleMania. On a card that was loaded with excellent matches, this one’s overlooked.

Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio (WrestleMania XXVII) – Atlanta didn’t get a very good ‘Mania main event, but they had a fun undercard. That includes this fun little bout between Mysterio and a “Dashing” Cody Rhodes who had lost his smile. This was when Rhodes was wearing the clear plastic mask and selling how ugly he was.

WWE Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston, Wrestlemania 29 – I’d call this one pretty underrated as well as a hidden gem. It stands out on an otherwise pretty mediocre card. These two teams, unconventional as they may be, took full advantage of the time they were given.

WWE Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. The Real Americans vs. RybAxel (WrestleMania XXX) – WrestleMania XXX is one of my favorite ‘Manias of all time. Didn’t feel like there was much of a mid-card, but this fun little tag bout can be found hidden on the pre-show.

Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Austin Aries, Wrestlemania 33 – It was a loooooooooong Wrestlemania in 2017, but this match was one of the best on the card. Who cares that it was in front of maybe 6% of the full Wrestlemania crowd? It was the first match up and brought plenty of energy to a show that needed it.

Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali (WrestleMania 34) – Gotta go with the show stealers from 2018. This was an excellent showcase of just what the 205 Live crew can do.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 34) – If I haven’t exposed myself as the sucker for good strong midcard title matches that I am by now, this ought to do it. It was the opener for the main show and brought a lot of energy to New Orleans, kicking things off on the right foot.

Falls Count Anywhere: Shane McMahon vs. The Miz (WrestleMania 35) – This match and entire storyline was way better than it had any business being. On a loaded WrestleMania card, this one gets overlooked, but it was a whole lot of fun in an Attitude Era sort of way.

Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins, WrestleMania 37 – A fun little contest between two of the best pure wrestlers going at the time that gave Cesaro a big WrestleMania moment. This one was an underrated bout on a big card.

Anything Goes: Johnny Knoxville vs. Sami Zayn (WrestleMania 38) – I started to call this one “the greatest comedy match in wrestling history,” but like…guys…it’s an actually good wrestling match. The fact that Zayn was game for anything in this one and worked his ass off to put together a match that really exemplifies the spirit of what pro wrestling is all about is a testament to the professional he is. This one was a barrel of fun.

What do you guys think? What are some of your favorite hidden gems from WrestleMania’s history? Let me know in the comments!

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley.

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