In the past three installments of this WrestleMania series, we've looked at the evolution of World Wrestling Entertainment's signature event from the very beginning, throughout the Federation years, and into the next era. Now we'll look at the WrestleManias of recent years, starting with WrestleMania 23 in 2007.
On April 1st, 2007, WrestleMania 23 emanated from Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, in front of a large audience of over 80,000 WWE fans. It also proved to be one of the most-purchased pay-per-view events in WWE history.
WrestleMania 23 featured eight bouts with a total of four Championships (WWE Title, World Heavyweight Title, United States Title, Women's Title) up for grabs.
In the opening bout, Mr. Ken Kennedy won the coveted Money In The Bank contract in the MITB Ladder Match, defeating C.M. Punk, "The Rated R Superstar" Edge, Booker T, Jeff and Matt Hardy, Dave "Fit" Finlay, and Randy Orton.
For the World Heavyweight Championship from Friday Night SmackDown, "The Phenom" The Undertaker extended his WrestleMania streak to 15-0 by defeating "The Animal" Dave Batista in one of the hardest-fought battles of The Undertaker's WWE career.
In one of the two main events of the evening, the Extreme Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Lashley, representing Mr. Donald Trump, defeated the WWE Intercontinental Champion, "The Samoan Bulldozer" Umaga, representing WWE Chairman Mr. Vince McMahon. This resulted in Vince McMahon having to get his head shaved completely bald!
In the main event bout of the night, WWE Champion John Cena retained the Title over the veteran Shawn Michaels in an exciting match that lasted nearly a half hour.
On March 30th, 2008, WrestleMania XXIV took place in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida in front of nearly 75,000 WWE fans. This WrestleMania is still considered to be one of the greatest WrestleManias both in recent memory and of all time.
The second bout of the night saw C.M. Punk win the Money In The Bank briefcase by defeating John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho, United States Champion MVP: Montel Vontavious Porter, Mr. Ken Kennedy, and Carlito Colón.
In the WWE Championship match from Monday Night Raw, Randy Orton retained the Championship in a Triple Threat Match against Triple H and John Cena.
In one of the main events of the evening, legendary boxer Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. defeated WWE's "The Big Show" Paul Wight in a No Disqualification Match after Mayweather hit The Big Show in the jaw with brass knuckles. And in the main event of the night from Friday Night SmackDown, The Undertaker reached 16-0 at WrestleMania by winning the World Heavyweight Championship from "The Rated R Superstar" Edge.
However, perhaps the most memorable bout of the evening was the extremely emotional Career Threatening Match between 2008 WWE Hall of Famer "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair and 2011 WWE Hall of Famer "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels, with the stipulation being that Ric Flair would be forced to retire from WWE if he should lose the match. Flair gave his best efforts, but in the end, "Mr. WrestleMania" Shawn Michaels was able to defeat Flair, who Michaels considered to be one of his true heroes in the wrestling business.
The following night on Monday Night Raw, all of WWE's Superstars and Divas, as well as various legends from the past, paid tribute to Ric Flair and his amazing career in a special ceremony that closed the show that night.
The 25th Anniversary of WWE's WrestleMania event took place on April 5th, 2009, from Reliant Stadium in Houston Texas. This WrestleMania is remembered for being host to arguably the greatest and most epic match inWrestleMania history.
In the match that stole the show at WrestleMania 25, two legends went to war, as Mr. WrestleMania, "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels, challenged the iconic WrestleMania streak of The Undertaker, who was 16-0 at the time. In an absolutely incredible display of athleticism and pure storytelling ability from both performers, The Undertaker was able to defeat HBK and extend his WrestleMania record to 17-0. This match is regarded as being quite possibly the greatest match in WWE history.
There was a total of eight matches on the card that night, including a World Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat Match between John Cena, Edge, and The Big Show. John Cena emerged victorious in this match. Also, in a very personal grudge match, WWE Champion Triple H defeated "The Viper" Randy Orton.
WWE's 26th WrestleMania took place in the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on March 28th, 2010 in front of more than 70,000 WWE fans.
This WrestleMania saw the in-ring return of WWE Hall of Famer Bret "The Hitman" Hart, as he defeated WWE Chairman Mr. Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred Lumberjack Match. And in the World Heavyweight Title match from Friday Night SmackDown, Chris Jericho defeated "The Rated R Superstar" Edge.
From Monday Night Raw, John Cena defeated Dave Batista for the WWE Championship in a Submission Match.
And in the main event of the evening, in an historic Streak vs. Career Match, The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels in a rematch from WrestleMania 25, thus ending one of the greatest careers in professional wrestling history. This also brought The Undertaker's streak to an amazing 18-0.
WWE's most recent WrestleMania took place in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia in front of over 70,000 WWE fans on April 3rd, 2011. This WrestleMania was hosted by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who had just recently made his return to WWE after being away for nearly seven years,
In the opening bout of the evening from Friday Night SmackDown, "The Rated R Superstar" Edge retained his World Heavyweight Championship against the extremely talented and very dangerous new WWE Superstar Alberto Del Rio. This would be the last match in the incredible career of Edge, as he would be forced to retire due to injury.
In the main event of the evening from Monday Night Raw, WWE Champion Mike "The Miz" Mizanin retained his WWE Championship against John Cena after interference from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. This would lead to a year-long rivalry between Cena and The Rock, which will be settled at WrestleMania XXVII on April 1st, 2012.
Although not the main event of the night, the match that most people agree stole the show at WrestleMania XXVIIwas a No Holds Barred Match between Triple H and The Undertaker. This was the second time that Triple H had challenged The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak, and although Triple H appeared to have dominated the match, The Undertaker was somehow able to secure the victory after catching Triple H in the deadly Hell's Gate gogoplata submission hold, forcing Triple H to submit.
WRESTLEMANIA PART FIVE: WRESTLEMANIA XXVII:
In the next installment of this series, we'll look at WWE's upcoming WrestleMania 28 event, which is expected to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest WrestleMania of all time.