5 Times the live audience made a WrestleMania match great
- This article looks back at five WrestleMania matches that the live audience took to the next level.
- From dream matches to surprise returns, some WrestleMania showdowns drew nuclear heat.
For the first time, WWE is expected to stage WrestleMania in an empty arena next month. The company has proven its ability to stage effective television without a live audience in recent episodes of RAW, SmackDown, and NXT. Nonetheless, the concept of a WrestleMania — known for drawing tens of thousands of fans to fill stadiums — happening without an audience feels quite strange.
Looking back through WrestleMania history, there are a number of times when a live WrestleMania crowd elevated a match. That’s not to say that the matches at hand weren’t good in their own right, but rather that the way in which the live crowd responded took matters to another level, making a well-worked encounter the stuff of legend based on the way in which they responded to the performers in the ring.
For every Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat style encounter from WrestleMania 3 that thrived on technicality, or succeeded in winning fans over for its quality, there are these alternatives that fans were all too ready to invest in.
These were the encounters that drew outsized pops to push matches to a higher level.
#5. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18
The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan marked a true dream match. From an exclusively WWE perspective, it was an intergenerational clash between WWE’s definitive star of the 1980s and one of the top stars of the 1990s. From a broader view of wrestling, it was one of WCW’s top stars of the Monday Night War against one of WWE’s. On top of all of that, it was two big personalities with incredible physiques squaring off in the middle of a stadium.
The crowd buzzed.
The start of this match saw Hogan and Rock pause to look out at the sea of fans losing their minds before the wrestlers so much as locked up. From there, the crowd bit hard on everything they did, coming to side with Hogan, before the climax of the audience marking out to no end for Hogan’s post-match face turn. Yes, this was a good match, but it became an all-time classic for the crowd’s response.