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

March 10, 2016 by Brock Allen

WWE Network Throwback Thursday - Logo

It’s WrestleMania season once again! And with less than 4 weeks to go before the 32nd “Showcase of the Immortals” Throwback Thursday on looks back at some of the best matches in WrestleMania history, as seen, of course, on the WWE Network.

WWE WrestleMania - Classic Attitude Era Logo

While the main events draw the crowds and fill the stadiums, the undercard matches are often what makes or breaks a WrestleMania. With that in mind, rather than focusing on the main event classics, this week’s TBT takes a look at the best of “the rest” of WrestleMania – matches that either saved an event from mediocrity or made classic shows that much better.

Tag Team Match (WATCH)
The Funk Brothers (Terry & Hoss) w/Jimmy Hart vs. The Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana
WWF WrestleMania 2 ? April 7, 1986

With no story going in, aside from the Funk’s being undefeated, this match was simply expected to fill time before the Hogan/Bundy main event but ended up nearly stealing the show. Though Terry Funk left the WWF almost immediately after WrestleMania 2, and Dory spent the last months of a legendary full-time career as part of forgettable tag teams, this match stands as a true WrestleMania classic.

“6-Man Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH)
The British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith) & Tito Santana vs. The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart)(WWF Tag Team Champions) & “Dangerous” Danny Davis
WWF WrestleMania III ? March 29, 1987

WWE Network - British Bulldogs vs. Hart Foundation at WrestleMania

Due to what became a career-ending back injury for Dynamite Kid, the planned Hart Foundation/British Bulldogs tag title match was changed to a six-man to ease Dynamite’s workload. The result was a classic six-man tag that holds up extremely well nearly 30 years later.

Singles Match (WATCH)
Mr. Perfect vs. “The Narcissist” Lex Luger
WWF WrestleMania IX ? April 4, 1993

This was more about Perfect’s continued beef with Bobby Heenan, who introduced “The Narcissist” to WWF TV, than Lex Luger. This match exceeded any and all expectations and was one of the matches that helped save WrestleMania IX, often considered one of the worst WrestleMania’s of all-time!

WWF Light Heavyweight Championship (WATCH)
Aguila vs. Taka Michinoku(c)
WWF WrestleMania XIV ? March 29, 1998

WWE Network - Aguila vs. Taka Michinoku at WrestleMania

To combat WCW’s wildly popular Cruiserweight division the WWF “created” their own Light Heavyweight Championship, a title that had been in existence since 1981 when the Universal Wrestling Association (UWA) of Mexico, as part of a larger agreement, began using the Federation branded title until folding in 1995. New Japan Pro Wrestling then used the title until 1997 when the WWF “created” the title for the American audience. This match, the only Light Heavyweight title match in WrestleMania history, wowed the crowd and proved that the WWF had just as much “crusierweight” talent as WCW. Though the title and the division struggled to find its place in the WWF this match is an often overlooked gem from one of the best WrestleMania’s of all-time.

WWF European Championship (WATCH)
X-Pac vs. Shane McMahon(c) w/Test
WWF WrestleMania XV ? March 28, 1999

This was one of the most anticipated matches of the night, though few knew what to truly expect. Thankfully for the fans both men left it all in the ring and delivered a stiff, action-packed brawl punctuated by one of the most shocking swerves in WrestleMania history.

Singles Match (WATCH – 53:22)
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
WWF WrestleMania X-Seven ? April 1, 2001

WWE - Chris Benoit Giving A Crippler Crossface Backstage

This is one of many undercard matches that helped make WrestleMania X-Seven one of the best (if not the best) WrestleMania’s ever. While Angle and Benoit would have better matches, this was a solid, classic encounter that left the Houston crowd hanging on every move.

“Champion vs. Champion Match” (WATCH)
Eddie Guerrero (WWE Tag Team Champion) vs. Rey Mysterio (WWE Tag Team Champion)
WWE WrestleMania 21 ? April 3, 2005

Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio won the WWE Tag Team titles from The Basham Brothers at No Way Out 2005, the final title for the late Eddie Guerrero. An expected tag title defense at WrestleMania 21 became a one-on-one challenge, thanks in large part to Chavo Guerrero, that remains one of the single greatest openers in WrestleMania history. Though Rey’s mask wouldn’t cooperate and the timing was a bit off, the match remains one of the very best in the long and legendary Guerrero/Mysterio rivalry.

“Belfast Brawl” (WATCH – 6:01)
Finlay w/Hornswoggle vs. John “Bradshaw” Layfield
WWE WrestleMania XXIV ? March 30, 2008

WWE Network - Finlay/JBL Belfast Brawl at WrestleMania

Finlay was looking for revenge after JBL injured Finlay’s “son” Hornswoggle. This was a well constructed brawl that helped set the tone for one of the best WrestleMania’s of the last decade.

“Grudge Match” (WATCH)
Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes
WWE WrestleMania XXVII ? April 3, 2011

Centered on “breaking” the former “Dashing” one’s nose with an errant “619”, this old-school “Grudge Match” made believers out of many Cody Rhodes doubters. This vintage WrestleMania match helped salvage a lackluster event that remains, like WrestleMania’s 2, IX and XI, a largely forgettable event.

“Grudge Match” (WATCH)
Randy Orton vs. “Mr. Money in the Bank” Seth Rollins w/J & J Security
WWE WrestleMania 31 ? March 29, 2015

WWE - Randy Orton Giving Mid-Air RKO to Seth Rollins

Billed as the battle of the “face” versus the “future” this classic match not only helped further embellish Seth Rollins heel persona but brilliantly set up the close of the event where Rollins would walk out as WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Final Thoughts

While the history of WrestleMania is told through the main events, the legacy of WrestleMania is in its undercards; the matches that fill out the events and give the shows color and depth. These are only ten of the best of “the rest” of WrestleMania, matches that illustrate the importance of the undercard and prove that every spot on a WrestleMania card is an important one.

WWE - Shane McMahon Wrestling at WrestleMania

That’s all for this edition of TBT – thanks again for reading! Are you a WWE Network subscriber yet? If you are, go back and relive these matches, and let us know what you think below. And don’t forget to tune into WrestleMania 32 April 3rd on the WWE Network at 7PM EST.

Until next time, see ya at ringside!

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8 Comments left on this article...

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  1. Anan says:

    Not sure why Perfect/Luger’s on here. But aside from that, pretty good list here.

    Taka vs Aguila – A great, but forgotten contest.

    Benoit vs Angle – Always a classic when they got together.

    Rey vs Eddie – Same as Benoit vs Angle, always a classic.

    Orton vs Rollins – Good singles debut for Rollins. Highlight of the match? The RKO that ended the match.

  2. Bart says:

    I always thought Muraco/Orton vs The Can-Am Connection from Wrestlemania III was under appreciated.

  3. LP1 says:

    A very good topic. I always like these “lost gems” type of articles. A match that I feel gets overlooked, also from Mania 9, is the Steiners vs the Headshrinkers. Dare I say that might have been the best match on that show, I know some people say Shawn vs Tatanka was, but the finish of Shawn vs Tatanka felt flat to me and brings it down a notch.

    Another underrated match is the Blue Blazer vs Mr. Perfect from Mania 5. It wasn’t a long match, but on that show(where the wrestling was mediocre at best) it stuck out like a sore thumb.

  4. Roland Smitts says:

    You’re incorrect about that first match you listed. JYD was feuding with Terry & Boss @ that time. Tito was a regular partner of JYD’s @ that time also.

  5. Roland Smitts says:

    You’re incorrect about that first match you listed. JYD was feuding with Terry & Boss @ that time. Tito was a regular partner of JYD’s @ that time also.

    • Brock Allen says:

      @Roland Smitts: I was watching the WWF at this time, and I do remember JYD having his issues with the Funks as well as Tito (and a number of other wrestlers) partnering with JYD. My point was, in as few words as possible, that as a tag team match there really was no story as one would expect in a WWF match at the time and it was treated as such. The point was that few people expected anything of this match and it happened to nearly steal the show, thanks in large part to Terry Funk. Even in researching my recollections to make sure I had it right I could find little “story” behind this match outside of basic pro wrestling gimmicks that I remembered at the time.

  6. Ruthless.Attitude.Eras.4Life says:

    Great topic and picks going with that topic.. While WM never have been my favorite event of the year (that would be the Rumble), no matter what event though, the glue that can elevate an event from bad to good.. good to great..great to for me always the (so called) mid- and undercard.

    Often more entertaining than the main event(s), they are the ones I remember and rewatch from certain events, more than the match(es) that are build up to be the so called “biggest match in WM history”.

    Yet, history has shown us, that Big absolutely -not- equals Best. That will of course remain to be seen if that more so than ever will again be true this year.

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