As Mike Tyson swung a punch at Shawn Michaels after the WWE World Heavyweight Championship fight with Steve Austin in 1998, WrestleMania sealed its position as the sport’s most important annual event.
The Attitude Era was born at WrestleMania XIV as Stone Cold beat The Heartbreak Kid with Tyson’s assistance, and the Grandest Stage of Them All lived up to its billing.
Tyson floored Michaels after the wrestler threw a jab, and the birth of Austin’s years of domination were triggered at the showpiece.
WrestleMania has been filled with defining moments before and after the events at the 14th edition of the marquee night, and fans expect to see history made each and every year.
Here, we take a look at a number of the most pivotal moments from WrestleMania, and the impact they have had on the WWE’s overall direction.
Hulk Hogan Defeats Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III
At WrestleMania III, WWF owner Vince McMahon found the perfect main event as world champion Hulk Hogan was challenged by Andre the Giant.
The Frenchman was considered the biggest man in the game and Hogan’s longtime friend, but he turned heel in the buildup to WrestleMania in 1987.
The event had a feeling of superheroes clashing, and Hogan and Andre sold the storyline to perfection until the end of their historic bout in Michigan.
The Eighth Wonder of the World almost scored a pinfall victory early in the fight, when Hogan failed to bodyslam his opponent and fell under his opponent’s weight.
However, the champion drew strength from the huge audience at the Pontiac Silverdome and eventually beat Andre to retain the title.
Brock Lesnar Ends the Undertaker’s Streak in 2014
Brock Lesnar’s relationship with wrestling fans has been mixed over the years, as the former UFC heavyweight champion has flitted between his chosen sports.
The Beast returned to WWE in 2012 and was given the honour of ending The Undertaker’s winning streak at WrestleMania XXX.
WWE had built up Undertaker’s record at the Show of Shows as a cornerstone of its storytelling each year, with the veteran winning 21 successive bouts at the marquee event.
However, Lesnar shocked the world as he repeatedly delivered the F5 to his opponent, grabbing the pinfall to end The Deadman’s sequence.
Lesnar continues to be used sparingly by WWE, but he remains one of the company’s biggest Superstars. The Undertaker, meanwhile, has been challenged by John Cena ahead of WrestleMania 34.
Ultimate Warrior Shocks the World by Pinning Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI
If you were a wrestling fan in 1990, you truly believed nobody was going to beat Hulk Hogan for the WWE heavyweight title.
At the sixth edition of WrestleMania, however, The Hulkster finally dropped his precious championship to The Ultimate Warrior.
Warrior’s popularity had steadily grown after he won the intercontinental title, and both belts were on the line as the pair met at the SkyDome in Toronto, Canada.
The fight appeared to be following the usual script, as Hogan kicked out of his opponent’s favoured Gorilla Press and Running Splash, but a twist was to follow.
Warrior avoided Hogan’s leg drop as the world champion attempted to finish the fight, and he pinned Hollywood after a quick splash off the ropes.
The moment redefined the direction of WWF, but Warrior never really went on to fulfil his potential as a star attraction for the company.
Seth Rollins Wins World Title After Cashing in Money in the Bank
Seth Rollins announced himself as WWE’s premier star in 2015 when he stole the World Heavyweight Championship during the main event of WrestleMania 31.
Brock Lesnar defended his title against Roman Reigns in California—a fight which didn’t catch the imagination of fans—but Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to trigger one of the greatest endings in WrestleMania history.
After a brutal battle, Lesnar and Reigns were there for the taking, and The Architect sprinted to the ring to claim the greatest moment of his career.
In a frantic finale involving all three men, Rollins delivered a curb stomp to Reigns, stealing the gold in poetic fashion as he became the face of the company.
Rollins was to suffer major injury during his lengthy run as champion, and he is yet to regain the lofty status he achieved after pinning his Shield teammate for the world title.
Daniel Bryan Steals the Show at WrestleMania 30
Wrestling fans love a story about an underdog, but rarely does the little guy succeed at the top in WWE.
Daniel Bryan had been the darling of Ring of Honor and featured in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and his lack of size promised he would only be an accessory in any central WWE storyline after rejoining the company in 2009.
Bryan’s path was carefully crafted by Vince McMahon over several years, but the organic growth of the Yes Movement saw the wrestler rise from NXT hopeful to the summit of the industry.
WWE clearly had faith in Bryan from his early days, giving him a run as a Money in the Bank contract holder, eventually leading to winning the World Heavyweight Championship against Big Show.
After his title run, though, Bryan found himself involved in a peculiar anger-management storyline with Kane, but the comical angle was to eventually give the wrestler newfound popularity and support.
Bryan ended up feuding with Triple H and The Authority, and it appeared he was being set up for a fall, with the bearded babyface described as only a “B+ player” by Stephanie McMahon.
WrestleMania 30 was to be Bryan’s greatest moment as he beat Triple H in the opening match, earning him a shot at the world title in the night’s main event.
Bryan defeated Batista and Randy Orton in the epic clash, with the former tapping out to the Yes Lock.
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