Wrestlemania card a good one, but not the best

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 31, 2007

What started out as a vision some quarter of a century ago will become, once again, a reality Sunday as the 23rd installment of Wrestlemania takes place in Detroit.

In what is being billed as the &#8220Battle of the Billionaires Hair vs. Hair Match,” World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon will take on real estate mogul Donald Trump, although the two will not actually be wrestling.

Each billionaire was allowed to choose a wrestler to fight for him and Trump chose Extreme Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion Bobby Lashley while McMahon chose the monster Umanga.

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If that wasn't enough, Stone Cold Steve Austin has returned and will referee the contest.

That should make for some huge excitement.

Also on the card is the WWE Championship match between The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels and champion John Cena and the Heavyweight Championship match between champion Batista and The Undertaker.

The Undertaker is undefeated at Wrestlemania, which should make this an interesting, and possibly historic, event.

Although this year's Wrestlemania has all the makings of a classic, it is still lacking that one huge match to make it a must-see event.

In anticipation of Sunday's big pay-per-view, I will recall the 10 biggest Wrestlemanias of all time.

Here are the 10 best:

10) Wrestlemania XV- The WWE world would never be the same after No. 15 as The Rock participated in the first Wrestlemania main event of his career. Although the third generation superstar lost to Stone Cold Steve Austin that night, his performance put him on the fast track to the top. The first Hell in the Cell match at Wrestlemania also took place at No. 15 with, of course, The Undertaker walking away with the victory.

9) Wrestlemania X- In the first Wrestlemania without Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and Yokozuna each competed twice, with Hart capturing the title against Yokozuna in the main event. In the first match of the evening, Hart lost to his brother Owen while Yokozuna defeated Lex Lugar via disqualification. The first ladder match at a Wrestlemania also took place during the 10th installment with Razor Ramon successfully defending his title against Shawn Michaels.

8) Wrestlemania XII- The 12th version of Wrestlemania saw the return of Rowdy Roddy Piper and the Ultimate Warrior and the debut of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hunter Hearst Helmsley, but all four stars' return to the ring was overshadowed by the Iron Man Match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. It took overtime before Michaels defeated Hart in a match lasting nearly 75 minutes.

7) Wrestlemania XVIII- In a match billed as Icon vs. Icon, Hollywood Hulk Hogan returned to Wrestlemania after an eight-year absence to take on the chosen one, The Rock. The Rock won the match, but Hogan won over the fans even as a member of the nWo. Wrestlemania XVIII also saw the unification of the WWE and WCW belts as Triple H defeated Chris Jericho.

6) Wrestlemania VI- Although I am a huge Hulk Hogan fan, I have to admit Wrestlemania VI was a monumental event as the Ultimate Warrior defeated Hogan to claim the championship. The intention was for Hogan to pass the metaphorical torch to the Warrior that night, but fans soon realized the Warrior was a fad and Hulkamania never dies.

5) Wrestlemania IV- Ironically, Trump Plaza was the setting for Wrestlemania IV and also the setting of a tournament for the WWE Championship. A rematch from Wrestlemania III took place as Hogan and Andre the Giant squared off in the second round, but both wrestlers were disqualified, thus eliminating them from title contention. In the end, Randy Macho Man Savage, with Hogan and Elizabeth in his corner, defeated Ted Dibiase with Virgil and Andre the Giant in his corner. Wrestlemania IV also featured a record 15 matches.

4) Wrestlemania V- After coming to Randy Savage's aid in Wrestlemania IV, Hulk Hogan was accused of trying to get to Elizabeth, thus causing a split in the Mega Powers. The two squared off during No. 5 with Elizabeth in a neutral corner and Hogan took home the title. Wrestlemania V was also held at Trump Plaza and was also the debut of Shawn Michaels.

3) Wrestlemania II- In the second installment of the greatest wrestling spectacle on Earth, three venues were the setting as Wrestlemania was simulcast from the Nassau Coliseum, the Rosemont Horizon and the Sports Arena. Hogan defeated King Kong Bundy to retain the title in the main event while Mr. T and Roddy Piper faced off in a boxing match in their second Wrestlemania. This card was jam-packed full of Hall of Famers.

2) Wrestlemania 1- The original is often the best, but not in the case of Wrestlemanias. Vince McMahon's vision became a reality March 31, 1985, and it did not disappoint. Hulk Hogan and Mr. T took down Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Mr. Wonderful Orndorff to cement Wrestlemania as a mainstay in wrestling culture.

1) Wrestlemania III- Just imagine more than 90,000 fans packed into the Pontiac Silverdome when Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant to retain the WWE Championship. The epic showdown did more for wrestling than any other match in history. The card was full of huge stars and great matches and it also opened up the world of pay-per-view wrestling. I will never forget that night when a neighborhood kid, who was lucky enough to get to watch a simulcast of the event at the Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, came to my window around 11 p.m. to tell my brother and I the results. When he told us Hogan slammed Andre, I felt as if the Iron Curtain had already fallen. There have been many Wrestlemanias since 1985 and there will be many more, but none will ever compare to No. 3.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor and can be reached by phone at 334-382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 334-382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvocate.com