So it seems obvious but you would think WWE or any other wrestling company would want to start their biggest show off with a bang. And whilst the early Mania opening matches may not have set the world on fire, more so in recent years the 1st match of the Wrestlemania main cards have been pretty good. So I hope in this blog I will make sure you don’t use the first match of the show for your bathroom break, because chances are you could miss a classic, so in this blog I’ll be counting down the top 10 Wrestlemania (main card) opening matches EVER!!!
10. Wrestlemania 27: World Heavyweight Championship = Edge (C) defeated Alberto Del Rio to retain
Everyone who knows me and is also a wrestling fan knows of my pure disdain for Alberto. But he was in there with one of my all time favorites, and he was probably at the peak of his career having just won the Royal Rumble a few months previous, but this match was fine, yes, but it will forever be remembered as being the final match in a Hall of Fame career of the former Rated R Superstar. Due to his health problems and with the threat of a life in a wheelchair a very real possibility should he continue to compete, Edge announced his relinquishment of his world title and his immediate retirement some days later. So if you’re going to watch this back whilst the match itself was just OK, feel good in that one of the all time greats went out on top; he had his final match ever successfully defending the world title in the opening match of Wrestlemania. Lovely.
9. Wrestlemania 9: Intercontinental Championship = Tatanka defeated Shawn Michaels (C) by Count-out
Another match that whilst as a standalone is just fine, this was the opening match famous for… opening what was widely recognized as THE WORST Wrestlemania of all time (DO NOT WATCH THE REST OF THIS SHOW AT ALL)! So going in here Tatanka had an undefeated streak going and had pinned HBK twice leading up to their big Mania title match. They also had the personal aspect with Sensational Sherri (Michaels’ former manager) was now in Tatanka’s corner, and as such Michaels was accompanied to the ring for this match by Luna Vachon instead to counteract her. Admittedly the finish here was a bit screwy, but I guess they wanted to keep everything as it was (HBK as IC Champion and Tatanka unbeaten). Nonetheless it was an entertaining enough contest to open a… well, frankly an abysmal show.
8. Wrestlemania 25: Money In The Bank Ladder Match = CM Punk defeated Christian & Kofi Kingston & Kane & MVP & Mark Henry with Tony Atlas & Shelton Benjamin & Finlay with Hornswoggle
This maybe wasn’t the best MITB ladder match, or even the best ladder match on this list, but it was very very fun to watch. Action packed as you would expect and without being as star studded as other MITB matches the story of a now heel CM Punk winning for the 2nd year in a row was a fun one to see unfold. I vaguely recall at the time thinking Punk would win but hoping either Kingston or Christian would. But when you look at the line up here there’s a number of very dependable WWE names and for Punk to be put over those guys was perhaps a prelude for what was to come for him in WWE.
7. Wrestlemania 21: WWE Tag Team Champion Rey Mysterio defeated WWE Tag Team Champion Eddie Guerrero
Right OK BEFORE you go crazy at me let me state that this was not the best Rey vs Eddie match ever, it was not in a spot where it could be. The story was Eddie wanted to prove he was better than his fellow tag team champion, but he couldn’t. It falls right in the middle of Eddie’s two main event runs, and sadly of course it would be his last Mania match… but then at least he finished with a match against his good friend. Rey of course was twelve months away from super-stardom but as a pure wrestling match this was tremendous. it went pretty much 12 minutes and ended with a hand shake, but for as long as this was going on this was wrestling at its finest… shocking I know that EDDIE GUERERRO and Rey Mysterio had a good match… Had it not been on the same show as Angle vs Michaels (maybe THE best Mania match of all time) and maiden world title wins for Cena and Batista perhaps people would talk about this more…
6. Wrestlemania 33: AJ Styles defeated Shane McMahon
YES I have indeed put a SHANE MCMAHON match higher on this list than Eddie vs Rey… but look at who was in there with him… it makes sense now right? People groaned so much that after one of the best debut years in WWE history AJ Styles payoff was a Mania match with SHANE MCMAHON… but here we saw the brilliance of AJ Styles. He got Shane to a GREAT Wrestlemania match, SOMEHOW! I remember even the crowd watching on getting more and more into it, seemingly out of shock at how good this match was. AJ won, he had to win, he always was going to, but this was so much better than it had any right to be. The mutual respect this match made the two of them feel for one another after led to a Styles face turn and eventually to his record breaking WWE Title run, but nothing in WWE should show how brilliant AJ Styles is than the fact he dragged SHANE MCMAHON to a GREAT match on the grandest stage of them all.
5. Wrestlemania 34: Intercontinental Championship = Seth Rollins defeated The Miz (C) & Finn Balor to become the new Intercontinental Champion
Last year’s show opener was great. Admittedly Miz took it down a tad compared to the Balor vs Rollins singles matches that happened around this time but it was still really good. This marked the 6th time an Intercontinental Championship match had opened Mania and it was amongst the very best. Balor and Rollins were great in ring, Miz did his bit too, but the winner of this match more than deserved it as Rollins produced a typical display for his 2018 (aka exceptionally good) to win the IC Title and complete his own WWE Grand Slam. Super fun to watch, and a great babyface pop to open the biggest show of the year, great stuff.
4. Wrestlemania 23: Money In The Bank Ladder Match = Mr Kennedy defeated Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy & Edge & Randy Orton & CM Punk & Finlay with Hornswoggle & King Booker with Queen Sharmell
THIS MATCH RULED! Had just about everything you could possibly get in a ladder match, and looking at who was in it it was hardly a surprise it was so good. Sadly for the winner of this match Mr Kennedy will go down in history as the only MITB winner to never actually cash in, in what was somewhat of a reflection on his WWE career as a whole when you think about it. But yes this match was awesome. 4th is probably a tad harsh for this list and I was unsure of if to put it 3rd or 4th for a while but this was really fun to watch. Only minor negative and bit I didn’t enjoy revolve around Jeff Hardy; I recall watching at the time at home aged 11 really wanting Jeff to win… and he didn’t… and then his bump off the ladder to practically MURDER Edge was just as bad as I remember it being… so for those nit-picking points I rank it as the 4th best Mania opener…. which out of 34 isn’t all that bad really.
3. Wrestlemania 31: Intercontinental Championship = Daniel Bryan defeated Bad News Barrett (C) & Dean Ambrose & Dolph Ziggler & Stardust & Luke Harper & R-Truth to become the new Intercontinental Champion
From watching this match live on my Mum’s tablet I recall two things: being really happy when Daniel Bryan won, and seeing Dean Ambrose kill himself almost at ringside (so much so he had to have his head STAPLED mid match). Watching it back I can confirm it was really really good and better than I remembered. Not to say I didn’t have fond memories of it I just recall it being… a match… but this was a great ladder match. You had guys of all different styles in here and it made for a really fun mix. And after ending Mania the year before Daniel Bryan was the curtain opener 12 months later (STILL the most popular guy on the show by the way, don’t even get me started on why he wasn’t in the main event again), but at least Bryan won and this made him a grand slam champion and everyone watching very happy; me included!
2. Wrestlemania 30: Winner enters the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match = Daniel Bryan defeated Triple H with Stephanie McMahon
I ADORE this match. I had assumed when I had the idea for this list that this match would be number one but… well more on that in a short while… anyway yes where do I start with this? Preceded by the now-legendary video package of Daniel Bryan to the Imagine Dragons song ‘Monster’, Triple H’s grand entrance featuring cameos from 3 NXT female superstars who would all go on to do pretty well for themselves, and then the match itself began… and it was excellent. Daniel Bryan as just the best babyface you could get and Triple H with help from Stephanie as just the best heel act for Bryan to play off against. Crowd of course completely bought in to it during what was a great match where both men got all their spots in, and Triple H may well have had his best Wrestlemania match against a man who wasn’t even supposed to face him nor be in the main event later that night. Watch this match as soon as you can, it kicked off what would go on to be one of the most historic Wrestlemania’s of all time and possibly the most famous night in the history of the WWE. And it all began with a genuine CLASSIC!
1- Wrestlemania 10: Owen Hart defeated Bret Hart
Anyone who knows me and knows wrestling knows I’m not the biggest Bret Hart fan, but even I Have to admit the greatness of this match. I realise now that the top two matches on this list feature men who would go on to compete and win the Championship in the main event that same night, only this night the would-be WWE Champion lost. So in 1994 they did the double winner of the Royal Rumble so eventually both Bret and Lex Luger got a shot at champion Yokozuna’s title, but meanwhile Owen Hart’s jealousy of his brother had reached a boiling point and so Bret had two matches in one Mania. And this match was Exceptional. Just the best wrestling you’re going to see; it was pretty even early on as Owen bragged and Bret stood firm, they exchanged all their key moves until a Bret injury to his knee was capitalized on by Owen performing a figure four leg lock until Bret could recover and give his receipts. The finish as well was great as Owen locked in the Sharpshooter on Bret, and then that was reversed so Bret had the Sharpshooter locked in, Bret then tried a Victory Roll pinfall attempt but Owen counter that and got the pin himself for the win. In terms of pure mat and technical wrestling you’ll struggle to see many better matches that this. People always talk about Owen Hart being so great and to be honest I haven’t seen all that much of his work, but as good as Bret Hart is Owen stayed with him every step of the way in this match. It was really great.
So if this blog teaches you anything I hope it’s you don’t sleep on the Mania opener!!!