Throwback Thursday: The Best of ‘The Road to WrestleMania’ on WWE Network

February 18, 2016 by Brock Allen

WWE Network Throwback Thursday - Logo

Since 1985 the month of February has been the “Road to WrestleMania“, where angles get kicked into high gear and the heart of the card is set. It all started with MTV’s War to Settle the Score on February 18, 1985 where the battle between Hogan and Piper set the stage for WrestleMania I. Since then, through Saturday Night’s Main Event, In Your House, No Way Out, Elimination Chamber, and Fast Lane, the events have set the stage for the “Showcase of the Immortals” and provided as many thrilling moments and shocking swerves as WrestleMania itself.

With the 2nd annual WWE Fast Lane just days away on the WWE Network (Sunday, 8PM EST), headlined by a “Triple Threat Number One Contender’s Match” for a WWE World Heavyweight title shot at WrestleMania XXXII between Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Brock Lesnar, Throwback Thursday on looks back at some of the best and most pivotal matches from “The Road to WrestleMania” as seen on the WWE Network.

WWE Fastlane - The Road to WrestleMania

“Boxing Match” (WATCH)
Mr. T vs. “Battling” Bob Orton, Jr. w/Roddy Piper
WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event VFebruary 15, 1986 (AIRED: March 1, 1986)

The year-long Piper/Mr. T feud seemed like it would never end. But when Hulk Hogan signed Orton’s open contract for a boxing match with Mr. T’s name, one of the most memorable moments in the early years of SNME was set in motion. Though the blowoff at WrestleMania 2 fell flat the Mr. T/Piper match helped make WrestleMania 2 an incredible success.

WWF World Heavyweight Championship – “WrestleMania III Rematch” (WATCH)
Andre the Giant w/Ted DiBiase & Virgil vs. Hulk Hogan(c)
WWF The Main EventFebruary 5, 1988

WWE Network Road to WrestleMania - Ted DiBiase with WWF Championship

This match, the first on prime-time network television in 33 years, marked the first one-on-one rematch between Hogan and Andre since WrestleMania III. Featuring one of the most memorable moments in WWF/E history this match set the stage for WrestleMania IV and the World title tournament. It is the most watched wrestling match in the history of American television, drawing a 15.2 rating with 33 million viewers. In comparison, the highest rated Monday Night RAW from May 10, 1999, drew an 8.1 rating with 9 million viewers.

“Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH)
The Twin Towers (Akeem & The Big Boss Man) w/Slick vs. The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan & WWF World Heavyweight Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage) w/Miss Elizabeth
WWF The Main Event II ? February 3, 1989

Watched by over 15 million viewers this match set one of the greatest WrestleMania main events into motion and produced one of the most watched, most iconic angles in WWF/E history. Shocking for some, overdue for others, this was the angle all others were measured against for years to come. The match drew a record 767,000 PPV buys, a record that would stand until WrestleMania XV.

WWF Intercontinental Championship – “Winner Faces Bret “The Hitman” Hart at WrestleMania VIII” (WATCH)
The Mountie w/Jimmy Hart vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper(c)
WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event XXX ? January 27, 1992 (AIRED: February 8, 1992)

WWE Network Road to WrestleMania - The Mountie vs. 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper

Piper won the Intercontinental title from The Mountie at the 1992 Royal Rumble and wrestled one house show rematch on the 20th in Nashville before Piper and Flair began their “Champion vs. Champion” house show program. This match, taped eight days after the Rumble, features one of Piper’s most memorable moments and is the beginning of one of WrestleMania’s greatest Intercontinental Championship angles between Roddy Piper and Bret Hart.

“Number One Contender’s Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XII” (WATCH)
Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart
WWF In Your House 6: Rage in the CageFebruary 18, 1996

The feud between these two stemmed from the infamous Nov. 20, 1995 edition of RAW when Michaels fainted mid-ring in only HBK’s second TV match back after the Oct. 13th assault in Syracuse, NY. Intensified during the 1996 “Royal Rumble Match” and with HBK’s WrestleMania title shot on the line Owen Hart and Shawn Michaels stole the show and put HBK one step closer to fulfilling his boyhood dream at WrestleMania XII.

WWF Championship – “Career vs. Title Hell in a Cell Match” (WATCH)
Cactus Jack vs. Triple H(c) w/Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley
WWF No Way Out 2000February 27, 2000

WWE - Cactus Jack vs. Triple H Hell in a Cell, Flaming Barbed Wire

After a brutal war at Royal Rumble 2000 Mick Foley put his career and dreams of main-eventing a WresteMania on the line for one final shot at Triple H and the WWF Championship. In another classic battle, considered by many to be one of the best HIAC matches of all-time, Triple H “retired” Mick Foley ahead of an epic “Four-Way Elimination Match” at WrestleMania 2000.

WWE Championship (WATCH)
Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar(c)
WWE No Way Out 2004February 15, 2004

By 2004 Eddie Guerrero was was at the top of many fans list for best wrestlers never to win a World title. That all changed when Brock Lesnar opted to leave the WWE after WrestleMania XX. This classic match set Eddie Guerrero’s legendary journey to WrestleMania XX in motion and set up the Goldberg/Lesnar match that was more dud than dream.

WWE Championship (WATCH)
The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle(c)
WWE No Way Out 2006February 19, 2006

WWE Network Road to WrestleMania - The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle

On a night when Randy Orton seemingly cemented his WWE title shot at WrestleMania 22, The Undertaker and Kurt Angle battled to determine who that champion would be. In a mat masterpiece Angle and Undertaker reversed the reversals and strung together one false finish after another until a simple reversal of “The Dead Man’s” “Hell’s Gate” ended it all.

World Heavyweight Championship – “Elimination Chamber Match” (WATCH)
John Morrison vs. R-Truth vs. Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk vs. The Undertaker(c)
WWE Elimination Chamber 2010February 21, 2010

A star-studded, fast-paced “Elimination Chamber Match” meant to determine Edge’s opponent at WrestleMania XXVI instead set Undertaker and Shawn Michaels on a collision course for the ages that would spell the end of HBK’s legendary career.

“Number One Contender’s Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31” (WATCH)
Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
WWE Fastlane 2015February 22, 2015

WWE Network Road to WrestleMania - Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan, Fastlane

Roman Reigns’ “Royal Rumble” victory didn’t go over as well as many in WWE had hoped. To help put Reigns over and build heat for the WrestleMania 31 main event this match was put together. Pitting the fans choice against the company’s Reigns and Bryan put on a thriller of a match that left fans cheering even when Bryan lost.

Final Thoughts

These are only ten of the best and most important moments and matches on “The Road to WrestleMania“, a period that has become as big a part of WrestleMania as the event itself. With a new era just beginning to dawn with WWE Fastlane it looks like the best is yet to come!

WWE Network Road to WrestleMania - Hulk Hogan with Two Earl Hebner Referees

That’s a wrap for TBT this week – thank you for reading! Are you a WWE Network subscriber? Then go check out these matches, see them for yourself, and let us know what you think below.

Don’t forget to tune into the WWE Network this Sunday, 8PM EST, for WWE Fastlane.

Until next week, see ya at ringside!

WWE Network - Fastlane 2016

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13 Comments left on this article...

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  1. David says:

    Don’t want to be that guy , but in” On a night when Randy Orton seemingly cemented his WWE title shot at WrestleMania 21, The Undertaker and Kurt Angle battled to determine who that champion would be” it should be WrestleMania 22 not 21.

  2. Anan says:

    I’m going a bit of order here.

    Eddie vs Lesnar….Eddie’s crowning moment in WWE or one of them. I wasn’t cray about the match, but happy wit hthe result and happy for Eddie.

    Cactus Jack vs HHH….haven’t seen this is a long time. The tear in Foley’s eye and JR’s commentary sold a retirement that did not remain a retirement as Foley wrestled at WM2000, WWE many years later, in TNA, and then again in WWE. This is when I realized retirement angles/stips are not my favorite as most times, they don’t hold true which takes away from it and makes it pointless.

    HBK vs Owen Hart….I loved these two together. Behind the camera, according to HBK, he wasn’t in the best place. But his performances hid his inner demons or whatever issues he was having with great performances.

    Bryan vs Reigns – Bryan made Reigns look better than Reigns was. Of Reigns singles career, this remains currently as my favorite match.

    Taker vs John Morrison vs. R-Truth vs. Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk – Good EC match. Taker got a bit of a burn due to a pyro malfunction. But as he always does, he toughed it out without breaking character and Cole gave the best cover up during his commentary. Taker’s match participations during this time period were visibly shorter due to injuries catching up and taking their toll on him. This was why he was a times put in multi-man matches. Taker working injured as the Champion without taking time off (unlike Lesnar & Rock and currently HHH who won’t wrestle till WM32 probably) is admirable. But if I were WWE, I’d go with the option of giving him time off to rest and heal up and make him Champion when he was healthier. 2006 was probably the best time for his (reported) long Title run.

    Taker vs Kurt Angle – Either NWO, the Smackdown rematch, or the match between these two that should have happened but didn’t at WM22 should have resulted in Taker winning the World Title. He did not. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this and SD rematch till Mark Henry interfered were classics that still hold up as classics today.

    I consider because of who was involved and when it happened, any Hogan vs Andre match a classic. Sure, may not be by today’s standards. But back then, it was.

    Wasn’t a fan of heel Bossman and the Akeem gimmick, but loved the Mega Powers.

    Glad Piper’s on this list from a wrestling match standpoint as I find him to be very underrated as a wrestler. Many bring up Piper’s Pit when talking about him. Those were legendary. But the man was a tough as nails wrestler. Mountie, wasn’t crazy about the gimmick. I’m used to seeing a match where the winner goes on to face The Champion. But this is the first time and from my memory the only time (in WWE anyway) where there was a Championship match with the winner facing and defending against the challenger. This is when the IC Title meant something, a true stepping stone to the World Title. That is now diminished.

    I would’ve added from NWO 2001, Austin vs HHH & Rock vs Angle as Jeff Copeland stated, but also from NWO 2000, Rock vs Big Show and Taker/Batista vs HBK/Cena from NWO 2007. I understand lists are hard and subjective though at a such a limited number of choices for a list, covering such a wide spans of years, a lot of content including some great ones will be left out.

  3. Jeff Copeland says:

    I would of added austin hhh nwo 01 really damn brutal match. or rock angle

    98 8 man tag just for how bat shit crazy at the time and savio as the mystery tag team partner lol 😛 !!!

    99 st valentines day massacre for= rock foley last man standing, good match not as bloody or hardcore as i quit but still one of favs in there feud. Or

    austin vs mcmahon steel cage fun attitude era match and debu of THE BIG SHOW!!!

    02 ehhehhh, 03 rock hogan 2 i guess 05 angle cena good match,

    09 i agree with ruthless shane rko good no holds barred match and one of shanes last matches in wwe Also the night of the RATED R SUPERSTAR!!! turning wwe title from 5 minutes to the world title xD!!!

    2010 the chamber matches both were good taker being set on fire NOT GOOD!

    2011 miz lawler wwe title match i enjoy it and for a second you almost believed lawler had a chance or sd chamber match one of the best in a long time.

    07 the wm main event vs wm main event tag match was good,

    nwo 08 cena orton part 4 ? not bad its not really rembered alot but i was there 😉 😀 XD , and it was a good match. The slap to the refs face made everyone cheer cause they knew orton retained he lost via dq but still.

    2012 i think was the worst chamber ppv. cena kane really the main event ?? SIGHS!!! the raw chamber was just ok jericho getting TKOED was a weird ending, the sd chamber was good just for santino storyline and daniel bryan retaining.

    chamber 2013 rock punk 2 really good match they did the same storyline champ gets dq thing from fully loaded with rock and BENNEWAHHH!!!! good match to

    chamber 2014= wyatt family vs The shield at the time the two biggest fan fav factions going at it in a damn good 6 man tag that i think should of been a war games chamber match or even no DQ

    or chamber 2014 match itself. last ppv for christian 🙁 !!!! :'( !! daniel bryan once again getting shafted and cena wyatt fued buliding at the time

    fastlane 2015= i agree with roman vs bryan really good match made roman strong LOL 😀 xD!!!! but it proved roman could hang. or even cena rusev part 1 good match eh ending still good.

    So over all feb is a ok month theres been some shockers at ppvs and all that but normally this is when wwe steps it up for maina then maybe extreme rules after that just coasting until summerslam

  4. Ruthless.Attitude.Eras.4Lifer says:

    Great reading once again.

    No Way Out 2009 should have been on there, a personal opinion: could have replaced the FastLame event, but understand the need to cover as many timeperiods as possible.

    NwO ’09 had 2 great Chamber matches, included one of the all time best ppv opening matches, Edge’s rollercoaster night and Shane O’mac’s last great ppv match (followed the night after with a good RAW match the night after).

    • Anan says:

      Agreed on the NWO 09 point(s) 🙂

      I can still have the visual in my head of Taker picking Jeff Hardy up in a side slam position making me think he’d hit it and turning it into a Tombstone to eliminate him.

      Taker also had a great performance and win in the NWO 2008 SD Chamber match (chokeslam to MVP off the top of the Chamber, the way he reversed whatever Batista wad gonna do to him into a Tombstone for the win. Only downsides to the match….Khali and Mark Henry), an event that closed with another great Chamber match consisting of RAW talents.

      • Ruthless.Attitude.Eras.4Lifer says:

        NwO ’08 was also great, absolutely.. loved how we get the first signs of the greatest feud of the Milennium imo: HBK and Y2J starting the RAW chamber match.

        HHH vs. Orton, Edge vs. Undertaker.. both great great feuds.. but nothing beats the series of matches and segments that Shawn and Chris did in 2008. To this day, the last -real- great 1 on 1 feud.

        • Jeff Copeland says:

          no way out 2008 was a good card sd chamber was good getting the big guys out first early smart. and mvp finlay taker batista just had a good fight.

          punk chavo was ok its funny i think that maybe started the slow slow burn for punk heel turn cause he got BOOED when he did those 3 eddie suplexs

          flair kennedy ehh typical flair match and i think kennedy was just done after 2007 nothing he did was worth staying until 09.

          rko cena good match kinda forgoton in there series. loved the rko on the outside most thought orton had it there and then SLAP TO THE REF..
          ref goes WTF >(!!!! CENA :O !!!! fans YAY!!!!! ORTON xD!!! muahahaha cause orton retained going into wm 24

          raw chamber good felt short really hhh winning was obvious but DAMN did we want jeff hardy to win

          and world title to short to mean much and rey was injured but ok

          so over all good ppv i thought for my 2nd only ppv i went to 🙂 !!!

          and as far as 08 hbk jericho taker edge are my 2 fav feuds wwe had in a long time i think i might give the edge < GET IT 😉 to edge taker cause of just how brutal the tlc and cell match was

          but i did enjoy the bash jd matches the unforgiven match was good ladder match was brutal as well and last man standing was just ok

        • Anan says:

          I agree with Jericho on HBK vs Jericho and Taker vs Edge being the best feuds of 2008. He stated WWE should release those two feuds in their entirety – matches, promos, etc – on DVD. That;d be a great thing though I prefer bluray for HD purposes as by the time those feuds happened, WWE switched to HD. IMO, there isn’t one best, one greatest anything. It’s all subjective, opinionated, open to interpretation, etc. Many feuds all contributed in some shape or form to the industry and to our viewing. As long as I’m a satisfied, happy viewer, I don’t care. Both HBK/Jericho and Taker/Edge provided me that.

          Don’t know how much of a WWE viewer you are now, but Jericho can still go. He had two, soon to be three matches with AJ Styles and I loved them all. Taker can still go. Taker and Jericho, same company since 1999, never had that big main event program. With everything going on (top talents injured, no real options for Taker), Jericho’s the best choice right now IMO for Taker at WM this year. Jericho’s always been a skilled promo, Taker’s as good as he needs to be there, they could build the already anticipated dream match on promos, no need for pre-WM physicality.

          • Jeff Copeland says:

            i am really surprized jericho taker never had a ppv match only ppv wise triple threat in 09 with show at survivor series or chamber few months later.

            i think there first match was smackdown 09 before survivor series which come on SD!!! oy

            i think jericho taker easly with jericho a heel would be awesome for taker at wm 31 😀

            • Anan says:

              Jericho is currently a face. But if he were to turn heel for a match with Taker, I’d want the serious heel Jericho from the 2008-2009. But Jericho doesn’t often do the same thing twice. He does things no one does. He wore the suits for his serious heel run when no one else on the roster at the time was doing that. He wears light up jackets because no one else is wearing one. He doesn’t wanna be like everyone else. He wants to stand out. But a serious heel Jericho would be most serious about defeating Taker whereas the arrogant heel or Y2J would joke around and during the match, taunt when he has the upperhand which will come back to bite him.

              • Jeff Copeland says:

                hes more a tweener these days more bit heelish but really who else is there for taker to face thats worth a wm match?

                Jericho? Owens? if they did another wyatt match use Luke Harper

                • Anan says:

                  I don’t see any tweener/heel in Jericho’s current run at the moment. Taking on AJ Styles don’t mean Jericho’s not a face. There’s been face vs face rivalries. Taker vs Batista’s a great example of that. In any case, face, tweener, or heel Jericho vs Taker is a definite show stealer knowing their performances.

                  Kevin Owens requested a match with Taker, got turned down. I agree that Taker vs Luke Harper works if it’s another Wyatt member.

                  It’s officially Taker vs Shane, HIAC. If Shane wins, he controls RAW. It’d be ridiculous for Taker to lose to Shane. Regardless of the result though, I do not think Shane will face Taker in any match, let alone in HIAC alone. I see him having help. Question is from who and how will his help get in the Cell as it was designed to keep the participants of the match in and everyone else out? Kane ripped the door off. But I feel Shane’s help will already be in the Cell. Edge disguised himself as a cameraman so that’s one way. Another way is lights go out and when they go back on, his help appears in the ring.

                  Wyatts and League of Nations currently have nothing leading into WM so they could be Shane’s help. It’s a good way to rebuild The Wyatts. As for league of Nations, Sheamus was on The Authority’s good side. If Shane was to turn heel and join The Authority, LON helping him against Taker would be a good way of getting back on their good side. Who else is there to help him?

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