Before we start, I’d like to let you all know that I wrote this piece at the back end of February this year. We were all giddy with the expectation of what could and would be happening at this year’s WrestleMania. Fast forward a few weeks and the whole global landscape has changed, let alone the wrestling world. So with that in mind, here’s my piece in full. I hope you enjoy it the way it was intended…..
It’s Mania season folks! Welcome to Pro Wrestling Post’s #7DaysOfMania! You know the drill peeps. All of us here at PWP will get you all into the WrestleMania spirit by giving you some WrestleMania centric content. And how better to kick the week off than by going back through the years to give to you MY best WrestleMania returns…EVER!
Yup, this is just my personal view on some of the best Mania returns. I know, I know, Rumble is the place for the best returns. But I think that after reading this list, you may concur that Mania is THE place to make that come back.
I base these suggestions on mine and the live crowd’s reactions. I am of an age where I have seen the majority of WrestleMania’s live (my first live watching of a WrestleMania was WM 6). So without further ado…drum roll please…here in ascending order are my BEST WRESTLEMANIA RETURNS EVER!
Legion Of Doom
Now before all you wrestling historians say that this marked the end of one of the most famous tag teams in history and wasn’t their best entrance (see SummerSlam 92 for that) I just want to point out a few things –
1 – How damn cool do Hawk and Animal look in those futuristic hockey goalie masks? And the paint job on their shoulder pads? I don’t care what you say, that is one hell of an entrance.
2 – The surprise. No one in attendance saw this coming, hence the huge “Road Warrior” pop. I was sat at home after a hard shift in my pub and literally gave them a Road Warrior pop of my own. The return of one of my most favorite tag teams, on the grandest stage in Pro Wrestling? Winning a cluster of a match (another story for another time). Oh yes, they deserve to be on my list. And last, but by no means least…
3 – Sunny. I mean…wow! She looked like a million dollars and more leading them out. My eyes were drawn to her first before the enormous guys right beside her. And that was her job. Get more eyes on the team…after they’ve peeped her. And yes, like any red-blooded male from around that time, Sunny was on my list. At the top 😉
Let me set the scene. I and my friends had finished another hard shift downstairs in the pub (running theme through this list). It’s after 1 AM UK time and we’re pushing through. We’re desperate to see HBK vs Flair so we’re excited and quite possibly wrestling around the living room too. It’s softer than the bar floor! (remember kids, don’t try this at home). The Money In The Bank match is on the screen and we’re getting into the match.
When all of a sudden, Paul (aka Joe Thunder) screams that a fan has jumped the guard rail! I run back from the kitchen as fast as I can to see this “fan” slide into the ring. Wait! That’s not a fan! That’s Matt Hardy! He’s gonna cost MVP the briefcase! All three of us are screaming at the TV as Matt hits a beautiful Twist Of Fate from the top of the ladder to cost MVP the match and continue their feud.
Such simple, great booking. No bells and whistles. Just an aggrieved wrestler taking his frustrations out on his opponent. On the biggest night of the wrestling year. Round of applause for Matt as by all accounts, it was his idea. Uncle Vince ran with it and we now have that iconic image. Oh and this may or may not be the last time you see a Hardy on this list…
I was a HUGE Ultimate Warrior fan growing up. His look, his energy, his music. I was all in with the Warrior. And being a young impressionable 14 year old, who had no idea about the furor around him, he was my guy. Hogan was…okay? I didn’t buy into his mantra of prayers and vitamins. And as I got older I was proved right. So this match did nothing for me. Sid vs Hulk was a pre Diva era toilet break for me. And that’s what I did. Followed by a trip to the kitchen to get some snacks.
“GET IN HERE NOW!!!”….With my dad shouting at me in that tone of voice, I knew something big was happening. I dropped my crisps/chips and dip, and raced into the living room. I stood in the doorway in awe as my guy was back. Racing down that long ass aisle to save his “frenemy” Hulk Hogan from a Sid/Shango beat down. I jumped so high I hit my head on the doorframe and legit busted hard way. But I didn’t care. Warrior was back!
I missed the first bars of his music over the PA system so I had to wait for my copy of the VHS to hear it. And when it arrived I noticed that the crowd lost their freaking minds! I mean there were adults that acted as I did in that doorway! That’s the sign of a great well thought out and planned return. To get a reaction like that. Again Uncle Vince knew what he was doing. That damn billionaire genius!
This is one of my most favorite WrestleMania’s ever. The card was great, some of the matches were outstanding and it was the last WrestleMania I watched live with my Dad. But one thing stands out more than anything else to make this a Mania close to my heart…The return of The Undertaker.
It had been teased for months. That Taker would return to take revenge on his brother Kane. But more importantly, he was returning as The Deadman. Kane was adamant that he had buried his brother, That any “Undertaker” he would face would be a fake. All of that lead to the moment in the video above. I must have re-watched that entrance around ten times in researching this piece. And each and every time I get goosebumps. From Paul Bearer’s “Ohhhhh YESSSSSSS”, to the first gong of Taker’s bells, to the crowd eruption at seeing The Deadman once more.
This, in my eyes, was the epitome of not just WrestleMania returns, but wrestling returns in general. It is perfect. And it got pushed into my number two slot because of something a bit more recent…
The Hardy Boyz
C’mon! Did you think that it would be anything else?!
Again I was with a group of friends in a bar, watching this on a huge screen, with quite a lot of alcohol flowing freely. And we all had read the rumors. That Matt and Jeff could very well turn up at WrestleMania. But there were so many factors involved that we all thought it was the longest of long shots.
And even when The New Day made their way out, we all thought that they were going to insert themselves into the match. And then…the music kicked in.
SCENES! Absolute scenes in the bar we were in! Drinks were thrown into the air, screams were heard for miles around, grown men were crying. Okay, that last one might just have been me, but you get the point. Yes, we all kinda knew, kinda hoped that the rumors were true. But BAH GAWD that was the return of returns. Talk about giving fans what they wanted and then some! And for them to actually walk away with the belts too (in a great match btw), that was the cherry on top of the cake for me.
I could go on with the bad luck and terrible booking they had after Mania, but again that for another time. This return? Was just the perfect storm. I don’t think there will ever be a return that could top this one…But you never know?
I’m not looking to win any awards with this list – although it would be nice. I wanted to highlight that the Royal Rumble shouldn’t get the lions share of praise when it comes to returns. As I hope I’ve proved, WrestleMania has had a boatload of returns for many a year.
Keep with Pro Wrestling Post over this #7DaysOfMania/#WrestleManiaWeek as we’ll have more WrestleMania content coming at you thick and fast. From opinion pieces to previews, PWP will have you back!