WrestleMania is almost upon us again, and as usual wrasslin’ fans are divided about the build to the show. If you’re one of those people who’s been left unimpressed, take solace in the fact that the road to WrestleMania doesn’t always tell the full story. Many of the most memorable WrestleMania moments of all time were barely hinted at (or not teased at all) during the lead-up to the big show.
Here’s a ranking of the best ‘Mania moments that came straight out of left field to shock us all…
10) Hulk Hogan Leaves as Champion (WrestleMania IX)
It was 1993, and new WWF Champion Bret Hart was heading to WrestleMania to face off against the massive Yokozuna. Meanwhile Hulk Hogan, who had returned from a steroid scandal-prompted “sabbatical” looking 40-pounds lighter and a decade older, was paling around with Brutus Beefcake in a tag match in the middle of the card. Every indication was that Hogan had been reassigned a “special attraction,” while Hart was the new young face of the company. Or so we thought.
In the first of several rapid-fire surprises, the dastardly Yokozuna actually won the title after his manager threw salt in babyface Bret Hart’s eyes, an unthinkable outcome for a WrestleMania main event at the time. Hulk Hogan came out to protest this injustice, which was odd considering he’d never associated with either Hart or Yokozuna, and suddenly he had an impromptu title match: 22 seconds later, Hogan was the new champ. Wait, what? Hogan beating Yokozuna wasn’t exactly a good surprise, but it was certainly unlike anything that had happened in the WWF to that point (regular Money in the Bank cash-ins weren’t a thing back then) and it’s kept people talking about the otherwise forgettable WrestleMania IX for over two decades.