Following the tremendous success of the World Wrestling Federation's first three WrestleMania events, WrestleMania went on to become the premier event in all of the WWF and professional wrestling as a whole, rivaled only by the Starrcade event hosted by the NWA: National Wrestling Alliance and WCW: World Championship Wrestling.
As the years passed and more WrestleMania events took place, the overall legacy and history of the event became more and more prestigious. The greatest Superstars in WWF history battled at the WrestleMania events, putting on classic performances that would be remembered for the ages.
WrestleMania IV featured no less than 16 bouts, including a rematch from WrestleMania III between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. However, it was "The Macho Man" Randy Savage who would steal the show on this night, competing in three matches to win a tournament to become the new WWF World Champion.
14 matches took place at WrestleMania V, including an Intercontinental Championship match between "Ravishing" Rick Rude and The Ultimate Warrior, where The Warrior suffered his very first loss in the WWF at the hands of Rude and his manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. And in the main event, Hulk Hogan defeated "Macho Man" Randy Savage for the WWF Heavyweight Title.
WrestleMania VI was packed with over 14 bouts featuring the likes of Dusty Rhodes, The Hart Foundation, Brutus Beefcake, "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, Roddy Piper, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, and many other memorable faces. In the main event of the night, the WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior defeated the WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan to become a double Champion.
WrestleMania VII not only saw Hulk Hogan defeat Sgt. Slaughter for the WWF World Championship, butWrestleMania VII is also memorable for being host to the start of one of the most incredible winning streaks in all of sports and entertainment. WrestleMania VII was the very first WrestleMania for The Undertaker, who soundly defeated the legendary Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. The Undertaker has since gone on to become synonymous withWrestleMania through his unbeaten streak at the event.
WrestleMania VIII saw "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan defeat "Psycho" Sid Justice in the main event of the show. Also, Randy Savage defeated "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair in a WWF World Title match, and The Undertaker picked up his second WrestleMania victory in a bout against his former mentor, Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
WrestleMania IX took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. At this event, The Undertaker picked up his third WrestleMania victory against the nearly eight-foot Giant Gonzalez. This event also saw the return of Hulk Hogan, who had been away from the WWF for a year on a leave of absence. Hogan teamed up with Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake to challenge the team of Money Incorporated (IRS: Irwin R. Schyster & "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase Sr.) for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Money Inc. would leave victorious due to disqualification, but the night was not over for Hulk Hogan.
In the main event of the show, the mighty 500-pound Yokozuna controversially defeated Bret "The Hitman" Hart for the WWF Championship. Immediately following the match, Yokozuna and his manager Mr. Fuji issued a challenge to Hulk Hogan, who quickly defeated the mammoth Yokozuna for the Title.
WrestleMania X opened with a bout between the Hart Brothers, Bret and Owen. In what many people referred to as being one of the greatest opening matches ever at a wrestling event, Owen Hart picked up a victory over his older brother Bret. However, Bret Hart would go on later that night to win the WWF Championship from Yokozuna. Also, "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) had a legendary Ladder Match for the WWF Intercontinental Title.
At WrestleMania XI, The Undertaker continued his winning ways at WrestleMania by defeating the mammoth King Kong Bundy. WrestleMania XI also featured two main event bouts. For the WWF Championship, "Big Daddy Cool" Diesel (Kevin Nash) defeated Shawn Michaels. And in the closing bout of the show, football legend Lawrence Taylor defeated "The Beast From The East" Bam Bam Bigelow.
Bret "The Hitman" Hart and Shawn Michaels stole the show in the main event of WrestleMania XII in a 60-minute Iron Man Match for the WWF Championship. Also, The Undertaker defeated Diesel in what would be one of Diesel's final appearances in the WWF before jumping ship to World Championship Wrestling.
WrestleMania 13 is best known for having two particularly memorable bouts. With "The World's Most Dangerous Man" Ken Shamrock as the special guest referee, the veteran Bret "The Hitman" Hart was able to defeat "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in a grueling Submission Match. 13 would also prove to be a lucky number for The Undertaker and an unlucky number for "Psycho" Sid Justice, as Undertaker was able to defeat the Psycho for the WWF Championship in the main event of the evening.
The Brothers of Destruction Kane and The Undertaker went to war against each other at WrestleMania XIV in a match which saw a total of four Tombstone Piledrivers. Kane was able to Tombstone his brother once, and it took an unprecedented three Tombstone Piledrivers from The Undertaker to finally defeat his younger brother Kane. And in the main event of the night, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin defeated "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels for the WWF Title with "Iron" Mike Tyson as the special enforcer of the match. This would be Shawn's last wrestling match for the next four years.
At WrestleMania XV, virtually all of the WWF's championship titles were on the line in various bouts. The WWF World Title, Intercontinental Title, European Title, Hardcore Title, Tag Team Title, and Women's Title were all up for grabs throughout the evening. Only the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship was absent from the event that night.
In a Hell in a Cell Match, The Undertaker, representing the Ministry of Darkness, defeated The Big Bossman, representing Mr. Vince McMahon's stable, The Corporation. And in the main event, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin defeated "The Rock" Rocky Maivia (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) to win the WWF Championship in a very exciting bout.
WrestleMania 2000 featured one of the matches from a legendary series of matches between three of the premier wrestling tag teams in the world. In a Triangle Ladder Match with the WWF Tag Team Championship at stake, Edge & Christian defeated The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) and The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & Devon) in a grueling contest. The main event match was a Fatal 4-Way elimination match for the WWF Championship. "The Game" Triple H defeated Mick Foley, "The Big Show" Paul Wight, and The Rock to retain the WWF World Title.
WrestleMania X-Seven from the Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas has been named as one of the greatest and most historically significant WrestleManias of all time. It featured over eleven matches with all of the top Superstars in the WWF at the time.
For the WWF Tag Team Title, Edge & Christian defeated Bubba Ray & Devon Dudley and Matt & Jeff Hardy in an incredible Tables, Ladders and Chairs (TLC) match. Also, The Undertaker defeated "The Game" Triple H a vicious 20-minute bout which spilled out all over the arena. And in the shocking main event, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin defeated The Rock to capture the WWF Championship after Austin turned heel (villainous) and teamed up with his longtime rival, WWF Chairman Mr. Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr.
WrestleMania X8 from the Toronto SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada would end up being the very lastWrestleMania in the history of the WWF: World Wrestling Federation. A few months after WrestleMania X8 took place, the WWF was forced to rename to WWE: World Wrestling Entertainment after a legal battle against the World Wildlife Fund over the initials "W.W.F."
The last WrestleMania in the history of the WWF would go down as one of the most memorable WrestleManias of all time. Eleven contests took place at WrestleMania X8, but three were especially noteworthy.
The Undertaker picked up his tenth WrestleMania victory against "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. And in the main event of the night, Triple H, who had just recently returned to action from a severe knee injury, defeated "Y2J" Chris Jericho for the Undisputed WWF World Heavyweight Championship, which consisted of both the WWF World Title and the former WCW World Heavyweight Title.
However, the most memorable event of the evening was a clash of generations between The Rock and "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, representing the villainous New World Order (nWo) faction. Although Hulk Hogan was booked to be the heel (bad guy) and The Rock was the babyface (good guy), the rabid Canadian fans appeared to be torn between the two iconic WWF Superstars. In a match which saw Hulk Hogan display surprising agility and athleticism for his age, as well as an incredible story told by the two performers throughout the contest, the young lion defeated the veteran, as The Rock was able to score a victory over "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan. This is still one of the most talked-about matches in pro wrestling history.
WRESTLEMANIA PART THREE: WHERE IT ALL BEGAN... AGAIN
In the next installment of this series, we'll look at the very first WrestleManias in WWE history after renaming to "W.W.E." from "W.W.F."