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Running down WrestleMania history

The 24 best matches from the WWE's Super Bowl

Posted: Friday March 28, 2008 12:54PM; Updated: Friday March 28, 2008 4:57PM
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Mike Tyson knocked out Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV.
Mike Tyson knocked out Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV.
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ORLANDO -- As WWE champion Randy Orton sits backstage at the House of Blues with his pregnant wife, Samantha, who is due to give birth to their first child this summer, he doesn't have to think too long about his favorite WrestleMania matches.

"Well, my dad was in the first 'Mania at Madison Square Garden, and my first 'Mania match was 20 years later in the same building, and he was in the back watching so that's pretty cool," said Orton Thursday while at the THQ Superstar Challenge, an annual video game tournament before WrestleMania. "Being a part of the legacy that my father and grandfather started is a big deal to me and my family."

Before Randy can start thinking about raising the next-generation Orton to main event status at WrestleMania, he seems intent on making his mark on "the Super Bowl of professional wrestling" on Sunday when he closes out the sold-out show at the Citrus Bowl.

"I know how it's going to be at the end of the night when I'm in the ring," said Orton. "I have a good idea and that amps me up. It's going to be the best match I've ever had."

While Orton's best match might not equate to a WrestleMania classic, he would admit that simply being in the same class as some of the memorable matches that have taken place over the past 23 years of the event would surpass his wildest expectations.

"I know I got three moves, but that's OK," said Orton. "For some reason I can have a 30-minute match and make it interesting with those three moves. That's why I think I'm the champion."

In preparation for Sunday's WrestleMania XXIV, let's look back at some matches that featured more than a couple moves and run down the 24 best matches in WrestleMania history. (Click the match to re-live each one in all its YouTube glory.)

24. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. "Rowdy Roddy Piper & "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorf (WrestleMania I): Certainly not one of the greatest wrestling matches ever, but it was the first WrestleMania main event and attracted enough attention for the WWE to hold a second one and then a third one and well, you know the story.

23. Money in the Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania XXI): The first Money in the Bank match set the standard for every one that followed as all six competitors attempted some type of finisher off the top of the ladder before Edge finally nabbed the hanging briefcase and his title shot.

22. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania XIX): The two best amateur wrestlers in WWE history came together to put on one of the best professional wrestling matches in recent memory that was as scary as it was good. At one point in the match Lesnar falls from the top rope directly onto his head in a botched move that he was lucky to walk away from.

21. Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs. "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase (WrestleMania IV): No one rose to the occasion for WrestleMania more than Savage, who only competed in eight of them but appears on this list five times, his first being the culmination of his four-match night in Atlantic City when he captured his first world title.

20. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XIX): Two of the greatest talkers in the business proved that they were just as engaging in the ring as they were on the microphone as they went back and forth in a match that we can only hope gets revisited in the near future.

19. Ric Flair vs. Randy "Macho Man" Savage (WrestleMania VIII): This match was initially supposed to be between Flair and Hulk Hogan, but thankfully the wrestling gods smiled upon the Hoosier Dome and we got this match instead. Flair shined in his sole WrestleMania performance before the demise of WCW and Savage delivered his best 'Mania match since facing Steamboat five years earlier.

18. Mick Foley vs. Edge (WrestleMania XXII): Diving onto fire engulfed tables, falling onto thumbtacks and doing it all again for good measure is commonplace for Foley, but Edge's performance in this hardcore match proves that some guys will do just about anything for a "Mania Moment."

17. Shawn Michaels vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (WrestleMania XIV): The match will forever be remembered for Mike Tyson's involvement as a special guest referee, but for wrestling fans it will go down as the beginning of Austin's reign as WWE champion, and the last time Michaels would compete in a WrestleMania for five years after a serious back injury.

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