This weekend, the WWE will present the 32nd edition of WrestleMania in Dallas, Texas, in front of what they will likely claim is a crowd of over 100,000 people. While the focus will be on the action in the ring, injuries have forced change after change to the card and we’re left with a card and build that makes me kind of glad I couldn’t make it to Dallas for the show of shows. At the very least, we know the WWE will do their usual superb job of last minute salesmanship with epic promo videos to hype the matches.
So to celebrate WrestleMania, we have a collection of some of the best WrestleMania promo hype videos that the WWE has produced.
WrestleMania X8 – The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan
In sports, there is always this comparison of players and teams across generations. Fans debate whether the likes of Ruth or Aaron was the more prolific home run hitter. Who would win in a fight between Ali and Tyson? Among hockey legends, who is the greatest between the likes of Howe, Orr, Gretzky and Crosby? The closest we’ve ever come to one of those generational battles is Hulk Hogan and The Rock, two of the biggest stars in two golden ages of wrestling.
The package itself isn’t really anything spectacular compared to some of the other videos on the list. It’s more about what this package is about. This was for a match that was truly once in a lifetime. Two all-time legends stepping into the ring in a legitimate dream match.
This match was such a success that the WWE tried to emulate it with The Rock vs. John Cena: Once/Twice In A Lifetime. It wasn’t quite as good as this.
WrestleMania XIX – The Rock vs. Steve Austin
I have been a wrestling fan for as long as I can remember. I’ve been watching on and off since 1991. I started reading with the WWF Magazine. I have old, well-thumbed copies of the magazine to prove it. In 25 years of watching wrestling, I can’t think of a rivalry that defined wrestling as much as The Rock and Stone Cold. They were the leading men of the Attitude Era. Hogan came and went from feuds. Cena’s never had that man he feuded with forever. For an older generation, there was Flair vs. Steamboat. For mine, it was The Rock and Austin.
This was their final confrontation that drew on two previous WrestleMania main events and it even used music from Limp Bizkit for the promo package like their more famous match at WrestleMania X-Seven. While that match involved a title, you don’t need that when there is a heated rivalry between two competitors that want to prove something. Stone Cold needed that title in 2001. In 2003, The Rock needed to prove that he could actually beat Stone Cold. It drove them and the promo packages showed how the rivalry was as important to either man as the title and their legacies.
WrestleMania XXVI – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
They’ve wrestled for titles. They’ve wrestled for #1 Contendership. They’ve wrestled in casket matches. They’ve wrestled in Hell in a Cell. They’ve wrestled at their peaks. They’ve done it all but one match at the twilight of their careers meant so much more. Nothing in their careers seemed as big as Streak vs. Career at WrestleMania 26.
The premise was so simple that they basically repeated it at 27 and 28. Michaels came oh-so-close to ending The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania 25 but lost. Mr. WrestleMania became unhinged and had to prove that he was the better man, better than the man nearly synonymous with the show of shows. The story was simple but the execution was perfection.
WrestleMania XVII – The Miz vs. John Cena
When you look back on the list of WWE champions, former reality TV star Mike Mizanin will seem out of place but this video package ahead of his WrestleMania main event shows how someone can go from The Real World to headlining a show in front of 70,000-some people.
Much like one of our next video packages, this one isn’t about the feud that took us to WrestleMania but the story of the man in WrestleMania. Granted, that had more to do with The Miz being secondary to Cena vs. The Rock which was setting up Once In A Lifetime at WrestleMania XVIII and Twice In A Lifetime at WrestleMania XXIX (AKA WrestleMania NY/NJ). The video package did get Miz over as someone who came from basically nothing to WWE Champion. Ironically, the former reality star has had an epic Mania career winning or defending the WWE, Intercontinental and Tag titles at Mania.
WrestleMania XVIII – CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
Two men claim to be the best in the world. Only one can truly be the best. There cannot be a tie at the top. One man must stand alone at the summit. It’s the story of Punk vs. Jericho and the promo for their match as well.
Also, I hate this idea that Vince has in his head that people can’t just compete to be the best. Two wrestlers who are amazing in the ring and on the mic can’t just compete to see who is the best with the WWE Championship as the symbol of that excellence. Jericho had to drag Punk’s family into that because… reasons? The story worked without family being brought into that and WWE’s editors knew that because they largely omitted it from the promo.
WrestleMania 30 – Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H
Your boy and mine, D-Bry, against Tri. It was a match that was never supposed to happen. In fact, until one fateful Monday afternoon in January 2014, Trips was scheduled to face CM Punk. However, long-standing issues over WWE’s creative direction and feeling worn out from injuries caused Punk to walk away from the Fed. That led the WWE to put Bryan in what seemed like the no-brainer story for Mania that Vince never wanted to do.
Much like the Miz’s video package, this one doesn’t focus on the feud so much as the man and the movement. While The Rock was the people’s champion, Bryan was the people’s hero. They rode with him from certain nothingness in the Fed to superstardom. The video was about that journey and the too real fight between the fans and the writers over whether Bryan could be a main event WWE superstar.
WrestleMania 30 – John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
Okay, so this feud was absolute garbage. It was built on a thin premise and booking decisions over the five or so months it ran were questionable at best. It could have turned Bray Wyatt into a main eventer but it just padded Cena’s win-loss record and cemented Wyatt as a mid-carder.
This promo makes it seem so much better. The promo makes it seem like the feud would dare to break kayfabe by saying that Cena’s entire persona was a money-printing sham and that Wyatt would expose him. And then about 50 seconds into the promo, it’s about Cena’s legacy being in the balance… A thin premise for a man who was a 14-time world champion heading into WM30. But they picked a damn fine piece of music to fit the video and the feud.
WrestleMania X-Seven – The Rock vs. Steve Austin
Why did I put this one last? Because this is the consensus greatest promo package for a wrestling match in history. The amazing main event to what was considered the greatest pay-per-view to close the greatest era in the history of professional wrestling. Rock vs. Austin at WM17 was THE match. The two biggest stars in wrestling on the grandest stage in wrestling. If you were a fan then, you already understand why this match was so great. If you weren’t a fan, it’s hard to describe how one match could be the absolute peak of the industry’s history.