WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year for WWE and more often than not, it’s packed to the gills with star power and matches that make you want to pull out your wallet.
Sometimes, though, they really need to make time for the eight minute Undertaker entrances and ten minutes of Hall of Famers just standing on the stage, doing a big pile of nothing. Certain matches have to be shortened for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s just to get the match out of the way and sometimes it’s part of a story. A lot of huge names have been involved in these less-than-two-minute matches and a lot of them are interesting in their own little way.
These are all ignoring the Hardcore Championship matches from WrestleMania X-8, since none of them have an actual “beginning.”
17. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR VS. HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY
Time = 1:40
The Setup: The Ultimate Warrior was being brought back for his third and final WWF run and they needed someone for the sacrifice. Hunter Hearst Helmsley was being built up as a promising mid-card heel with a top-notch win-loss record. Might as well job him out.
The Match: Hunter attacked Warrior before he could even remove his lengthy jacket. Within seconds, Hunter reversed a backdrop attempt into a Pedigree…only for Warrior to spring up to his feet! The crowd exploded as Warrior pummeled the crap out of Hunter, hit him with some shoulder blocks, Gorilla Pressed him, and finished him off with a splash.
The Aftermath: Warrior lasted a few months, feuding with the likes of Goldust and Jerry Lawler before his tendency to miss appearances got him let go. Meanwhile, Hunter started a feud with newcomer Marc Mero, who came to the rescue when Hunter was berating his valet-of-the-night, Sable, backstage.
The reason people remember this match so much is the shockwaves it created for Triple H’s career. Despite being crushed here and being punished for the infamous “MSG Incident” a month later, Triple H eventually bounced back and became a big star. His reluctance to put over young talent and WWE’s tendency to stop a wrestler’s momentum just to see them endure their depush and maybe get pushed again later are usually attributed to the events of 1996.
16. OWEN HART VS. SKINNER
Time = 1:36
The Setup: Back in the day, WrestleMania matches didn’t need reason or build-up. It was just an excuse to fatten up the card while giving almost everyone on the roster a major payday. Owen Hart vs. Skinner was tossed in as the penultimate match as merely an afterthought.
The Match: Before the match started, Owen flipped off the top ropes to play to the fans, turned around, and got a face full of tobacco spit in his face. The commentators didn’t notice or care because they were too busy discussing something Brutus Beefcake had to say about the main event.
Skinner took it to Owen with gusto and dropped him with his finisher, an inverted DDT. Owen kicked out of it, so Skinner threw him out of the ring and taunted the crowd. Owen skinned the cat, got back in there, grabbed Skinner from behind, and rolled him up for a pin. Afterwards, he dropkicked an attacking Skinner, meaning he used more offense after the match than during.
Skinner got the jobber entrance, by the way.
The Aftermath: No real aftermath to speak of. Skinner faded into obscurity and Owen simply remained there, spending the next two years in various tag teams until turning on his brother Bret and becoming a big name.
15. SANTINO MARELLA, KOFI KINGSTON, BIG SHOW, AND KANE VS. THE CORRE (WADE BARRETT, EZEKIEL JACKSON, HEATH SLATER, AND JUSTIN GABRIEL)
Time = 1:34
The Setup: The Nexus-offshoot the Corre was doing all right for itself in the lead-up to WrestleMania. Slater and Gabriel won the tag titles off the team of Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov, while Wade Barrett won the Intercontinental Championship off Kofi Kingston. Barrett even got entered in an Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship, but was eliminated by the Big Show. An eight-man tag was signed with Kozlov originally involved, only the Corre put him on the shelf and had him replaced with Kofi.
The Match: Santino and Slater started it out. Santino got the advantage and tagged in Big Show, who decimated Slater, as expected. Ezekiel ran in and dropped Show with a clothesline, causing all hell to break loose. The chaos was almost all face offense as Kofi knocked out Barrett with Trouble in Paradise and then leapt off the apron, crashing onto Ezekiel and Gabriel. That left Santino to hit Slater with the Cobra. From the impact, Slater turned around and met a Big Show WMD punch straight to the kisser, selling it like only Heath Slater could.
The Aftermath: The Corre started to fall apart after that. Slater and Gabriel lost their tag belts and soon the faction began to turn upon itself until everyone went their separate ways.
14. VELVET MCINTYRE VS. FABULOUS MOOLAH
WWF Women’s Championship
Time = 1:25
The Setup: I wasn’t really watching at the time and nobody ever really revisits any of this stuff, but I guess Velvet was simply chasing the WWF Women’s Championship for a while, having become the top face female wrestler ever since Wendi Richter left.
The Match: Moolah went after Velvet with some pep in her step until Velvet was able to turn it around and make the match hers. A lot of good energy that ended before it could really begin. Velvet went to the second rope and missed a splash. Moolah immediately covered her and won. I’ve heard rumors that Velvet ended the match early because a strap on her outfit broke, threatening to reveal a boob or two, and considering the way she gestured after the splash and taking the pin, I wouldn’t doubt it.
The Aftermath: During a tour in Australia, Velvet finally got her long-awaited win against Moolah and won the WWF Women’s Championship. Moolah won it back less than a week later.
13. TITO SANTANA VS. THE MOUNTIE
Time = 1:21
The Setup: WrestleMania VII had a huge card and a chunk of it was made up of quick matches meant to get as many names on the show as possible. The Mountie was a new character being pushed and Tito Santana was losing relevance by the minute, so this was an easy way to build the Mountie up.
The Match: Tito took it to the Mountie and hit his flying forearm, one of the weakest of all finishing moves. Mountie rolled to the outside and got his head smashed into Jimmy Hart’s. Back inside, Tito kept punishing the Mountie until Mountie tried to pull himself out of the ring. As the ref reprimanded Tito, Mountie got a hold of his cattle prod and secretly used it on Tito’s gut. Tito went down (Heenan claiming it was bad Mexican food) and Mountie got the win.
The Aftermath: Tito Santana vanished for a few months to rediscover his roots, returning under the guise of El Matador. He still lost a lot. The Mountie had some decent success in the year that followed via a high-profile feud with the Big Boss Man and a very brief Intercontinental Championship reign after defeating Bret Hart, whose loss was blamed on suffering a fever.
12. BIG SHOW VS. AKEBONO
Time = 1:03
The Setup: Former sumo champion Akebono showed up on SmackDown and Big Show graciously welcomed him and respectfully offered a challenge for WrestleMania. I guess because Big Show needed something to do to get a payday and he wasn’t in the mood for doing the pre-show battle royal. Akebono squashed a jobber to give the viewers some idea of what he was about and they did some really forgettable lead-up, like having a weigh-in.
The Match: Despite being a short match, the lead-up took forever and considering it involved two giant, fat guys bending and crouching while wearing thongs, it felt like forever times two. After throwing the salt and sizing each other up, the match began and the two took to sumo slapping each other and then trying to hoist each other out of the ring.
They separated for a second, Big Show ran right into him to little effect, did his chokeslam yell taunt, and then they collided once more. Big Show briefly lifted Akebono off the mat, but Akebono got the grip needed to twist around and fling Big Show out of the ring. Afterwards, Show hugged the winner and the two laughed it off.
The Aftermath: Big Show and Akebono teamed up at a house show or two in Japan, but other than that, this WrestleMania match was never mentioned again until Cody Rhodes needed something to make fun of Big Show for many years later. Akebono didn’t have a career in WWE, but he did go on to wrestle a lot in Japanese promotions instead.
11. THE LEGION OF DOOM (HAWK AND ANIMAL) VS. POWER AND GLORY (HERCULES AND PAUL ROMA)
Time = 0:59
The Setup: In a tag team battle royal to figure out the number one contenders against the Hart Foundation at WrestleMania VII, the Legion of Doom were heavy favorites. After eliminating Power and Glory, they went after the Nasty Boys and decided to finish Sags off with the Doomsday Device. An angry Paul Roma knocked Hawk off the top rope, causing him to fall out of the ring. The Legion of Doom were cheated and wanted revenge.
The Match: Power and Glory isolated Hawk and double-teamed him, soon falling victim to a double clothesline. Animal stepped back in and it became a big brawl with Hawk and Hercules clobbering each other on the outside. Roma jumped off the top rope and got caught by Animal, transitioning it into a powerslam. With Hercules dazed, Animal put Roma on his shoulders so Hawk could climb to the top and nail the Doomsday Device. The match was over and the two did the “we want the belts!” gesture.
I just want to take a second to note that right before the match, Hawk cut a promo where he said, and I quote, “Power and Glory. Power and Glory?!? When we’re through with you, you’re going to be SOUR! And GORY!” Great times.
The Aftermath: The Nasty Boys won the tag belts against the Hart Foundation (giving Bret an excuse to go solo) and the Legion of Doom looked super strong here, making them obvious number one contenders. The teams faced off at SummerSlam with the Legion of Doom getting the belts. On the other side, Power and Glory briefly feuded with the Bushwackers before Roma left the company and went on to become the most unfortunate member of the Four Horsemen who wasn’t a murderer.
10. BART GUNN VS. BUTTERBEAN
Brawl for All Match
Time = 0:38
The Setup: One of the most laughable mistakes in WWE’s history is the Brawl for All, a boxing-with-takedowns tournament meant to be used as a vehicle to push “Dr. Death” Steve Williams into a main event program with Steve Austin. Unfortunately, since Brawl for All was legit and not predetermined, it led to various injuries and a gigantic wrench in the works when Bart Gunn knocked out Williams in the second round.
Gunn went on to win a tournament when he wasn’t supposed to succeed and they really didn’t know what to do. Probably for the sake of punishment, they kept him off TV until using his victory to build into a legit boxing match with famed pugilist Butterbean.
The Match: In the opening seconds, the two seemed almost on even ground until Butterbean caught Gunn in the chin. Gunn was reeling and took a punch flurry that knocked him down. He took a breather and stood up at the count of eight. Two steps later and he walked right into a massive punch that knocked him the hell out.
The Aftermath: Neither guy ever showed up on WWE programming ever again, outside of Gunn appearing in a battle royal on Raw many years later. Gunn’s career in the WWF was over and he instead found some success in Japan.
9. EARTHQUAKE VS. ADAM BOMB
Time = 0:35
The Setup: Originally, this was meant to be Earthquake vs. Ludvig Borga, but Borga was removed due to an ankle injury and eventual firing. Other than that, there was no real angle between the two monsters of devastation. On the other hand, Adam Bomb’s manager Harvey Whippleman had been verbally abusing Howard Finkel for a long while and it was reaching its boiling point.
The Match: Whippleman kept insulting the Fink until he could take no more and shoved Whippleman to the floor. Adam Bomb ran out without music to corner the ring announcer, only for Earthquake to make the save with an attack from behind. The bell rang and Earthquake slammed Bomb around relentlessly until crushing him with the Earthquake Splash.
As he walked to the back, Vince McMahon pondered about how Earthquake vs. Yokozuna was something we’d likely see in the future.
The Aftermath: Earthquake defeated Adam Bomb in a rematch on Raw and true to McMahon’s word, Earthquake started up a feud with Yokozuna, based on John Tenta’s legit career as a gaijin sumo. It was really weird in that Earthquake defeated Yokozuna in a sumo match, got beat up by Yokozuna and Crush at a house show, and then left the company for WCW. Supposedly, the original plan was for the Natural Disasters to reunite and face Yokozuna and Crush at SummerSlam.
As for Whippleman, he lost to Howard Finkel in an embarrassingly-bad Tuxedo Match, which involved Fink stripping Whippleman to his underwear. Let me remind you…this was the main event of Raw.
8. RED ROOSTER VS. BOBBY HEENAN
Time = 0:31
The Setup: Terry Taylor was given the Red Rooster gimmick by Bobby Heenan as proof that he could make any shlub look great with his managing skills. Rooster lost a lot and Heenan turned on him, considering him worthless. The challenge was made for WrestleMania and while Rooster would probably have won regardless, he had some extra help.
The previous match had Heenan aid Rick Rude in winning the Intercontinental Championship from the Ultimate Warrior. Warrior delivered a very ugly Gorilla Press to Heenan, which legit injured him. But the show must go on…
The Match: Rooster beat on Heenan pretty handily, with commentator Jesse Ventura going from saying Heenan was playing possum to jeering Rooster for beating up a manager. Heenan was able to reverse an Irish whip and send Rooster into the corner, but he missed a running shoulder, collided with the ring post, and got rolled up for a pin. The Brooklyn Brawler came in to put the boots to Rooster, but once Rooster got his bearings, Brawler high-tailed it.
The Aftermath: Rooster remained on the roster for another year and did nothing but job. Heenan at least still had Intercontinental Champion Rick Rude to fall back on.
7. SPECIAL DELIVERY JONES VS. KING KONG BUNDY
Time = 0:24. I don’t care that they keep saying it was 0:09.
The Setup: I don’t think there really was any. They wanted to make King Kong Bundy look unstoppable on a grand stage and figured Special Delivery was just the right level of known name mixed with understandably beatable.
The Match: Jones ran right into a bearhug. Bundy ran Jones into the corner post, backed up, and allowed him to stand. Upon doing so, Bundy ran at him with an Avalanche and finished him off with a big splash. The show insisted it was a nine-second match, but anyone could tell it was far longer than that, making the company needlessly look silly.
The Aftermath: King Kong Bundy remained unbeatable in the year that followed, netting him a major feud with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 2. SD Jones just fell deeper into the oblivion that was known as “being enhancement talent.”
6. HULK HOGAN VS. YOKOZUNA
Time = 0:22
The Setup: Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart for the WWF Championship via Fuji throwing salt in Bret’s eyes. Hulk Hogan came out to yell at the ref and Fuji laid down the challenge on the spot for the title. Bret gave Hogan his blessing and told him to take the big man down.
The Match: Yokozuna grabbed Hogan and Fuji threw salt at his face. Hogan moved and Yokozuna was blinded. Hogan knocked him over, hit the leg drop and stood tall to end the PPV as the WWF Champion even though he only came to the show to challenge for the tag titles.
The Aftermath: Hogan barely appeared on TV after that until King of the Ring, where he lost to Yokozuna and didn’t appear in the company for nearly a decade. Yokozuna remained champion for nearly a year during the rise and fall of Lex Luger as the company’s top face.
With Luger seen as a bust, Bret was finally allowed to be champion again and defeated Yokozuna at the end of WrestleMania X.
5. REY MYSTERIO VS. JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD
Time = 0:21
The Setup: JBL wanted to go in and out of WrestleMania 25 as a hero, as it took place in his home state of Texas. He tried becoming a world champion by buying the services of Shawn Michaels, but that failed. He tried earning a shot against the Undertaker to hopefully stop the Streak, but that failed, too. Then he gained some luck when he won the Intercontinental Championship. Good enough!
The Match: Prior to the match, the referee went over the rules and JBL caught Mysterio with a boot to the face and a couple more hits to give him the advantage. He yelled at the ref to start the match and once the bell rang, Rey ducked a clothesline and landed an enziguri, 619, and a top-rope splash. One, two, three, done. JBL stood in silence after the match, disbelieving what just happened. Finally, he snapped and shouted, “I QUIT!” In a daze, he wandered off.
The Aftermath: JBL stayed true to his word and left the company. He stayed away from WWE for a few years, eventually returning as a commentator yet again. Mysterio went on to have a very entertaining title feud with Chris Jericho.
4. THE HART FOUNDATION (BRET “HITMAN” HART AND JIM “THE ANVIL” NEIDHART) VS. THE BOLSHEVIKS (NIKOLAI VOLKOFF AND BORIS ZHUKOV)
Time = 0:19
The Setup: There was no real angle going into this from what I’ve seen. They played it up as something of a number one contender’s match and focused on the Bolsheviks via a backstage promo where Steve Allen attempted to play the Russian National Anthem. Best part being when Allen played “Pop Goes the Weasel” and Zhukov got mad because, “That’s the Polish National Anthem.”
The Match: As the Bolsheviks started singing the Russian National Anthem in the ring, Bret tried his hardest to hold back Anvil. Anvil finally snapped and attacked Volkoff from behind. By the time Volkoff flew over the ropes, the bell rang. The Hart Foundation pounded on Zhukov, Anvil held him up, and down he went thanks to the Hart Attack. Jesse Ventura was sickened by their tactics.
The Aftermath: The Hart Foundation went on to feud with Demolition, allowing them to spend the next year in the tag title picture until they went their separate ways. The Bolsheviks continued to lose a lot, eventually splitting up when Volkoff started supporting the US.
3. SHEAMUS VS. DANIEL BRYAN
World Heavyweight Championship
Time = 0:18
The Setup: A year earlier, these two were meant to have a US Championship match at WrestleMania XVII. Not only was that match bumped into the pre-show, but it was turned into a battle royal that neither man won. Over time, Daniel Bryan won the Money in the Bank and used it to stab his friend Big Show in the back. The new World Heavyweight Champion became incredibly self-serving and would constantly use his girlfriend AJ Lee to move forward his agenda of holding onto the title by any means necessary. Sheamus won the Royal Rumble of that year and chose to dethrone Bryan.
The Match: After the bell rang, Bryan went over to get a good luck kiss from AJ. Afterwards, he turned around right into a Brogue Kick. Sheamus pinned him and it was over.
The Aftermath: The crowd was not happy. Sure, Bryan losing was expected, but considering he’s the guy who’s known for putting on awesome wrestling matches (and Sheamus is no slouch either), people felt cheated. While their anger was muffled due to the outdoor environment, they really went to town on Raw the next night with constant jeering and chants of, “YES! YES! YES!” The two had better matches in the following PPVs and Bryan’s popularity continued to rise no matter how hard they tried to suppress it.
2. KANE VS. CHAVO GUERRERO
Time = 0:11
The Setup: Chavo Guerrero was ECW Champion after trading it back and forth with CM Punk. Chavo was really champ for the sake of giving Punk somebody to feud with and with Punk taking a step higher by winning Money in the Bank, they needed to go in another direction with the ECW title. During the WrestleMania pre-show, they had a big battle royal where the winner would compete for the belt during the actual show. Kane won.
The Match: Chavo waited for Kane, not realizing that he had entered through the crowd. Upon realizing Kane was behind him, Chavo turned around and ran straight at him. He was caught with a chokeslam and so ended the lone WrestleMania ECW title defense in all history.
The Aftermath: Chavo was practically forgotten about while ECW gave Kane something to do for a while. He surprisingly dropped the title to Mark Henry of all people in a triple threat. This was the first step in Henry going from forgotten Attitude Era relic to entertaining menace with a new lease on life. Plus you need to watch him win that belt. He was SO HAPPY!
1. THE ROCK VS. ERICK ROWAN
Time = 0:06
The Setup: During what felt like hour 43 of that year’s WrestleMania, the Rock walked out to cut a passionate promo. Eventually, the Wyatt Family arrived to antagonize him, partially because they didn’t have anything going on at that show. Rock removed his shirt and tear-away pants and offered to face one of the Wyatts in an impromptu battle. Erick Rowan stepped up.
The Match: Rock caught him immediately with a Rock Bottom and pinned him.
The Aftermath: The Wyatt Family attacked the Rock and overwhelmed him until John Cena arrived out of nowhere. Cena was injured at the time, so he looked a lot thinner than usual. The Wyatts were warded off, allowing Rock and Cena to celebrate.
The Rock went back to Hollywood and the Wyatt Family went on to turn tweener for all of one night. They targeted the League of Nations and joined forces with Roman Reigns, giving us the entirely badass moment where Bray Wyatt went for a pin and did a gun-hand gesture to summon a Roman Reigns spear out of nowhere.
Unfortunately, Bray injured himself and by the time he came back, the Wyatts were back to being heels.