Ranking WrestleMania’s top-six championship matches with Canadians

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Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 12. (Photo courtesy WWE)

Canada’s history at WrestleMania dates back to the earliest days of the event.

At the very first instalment of WrestleMania, Saskatoon-born Rowdy Roddy Piper was in the main event against Hulk Hogan. From there, every year of wrestling’s biggest event featured Canadian wrestlers in prominent spots.

There is no spot more prominent than a WWE Championship match.

Ahead of WrestleMania 37, and Edge headlining the event, we take a look back at the greatest major championship matches at WrestleMania involving a Canadian.

6) WrestleMania 18 (2002): Chris Jericho vs. Triple H

The first Canadian not named Bret Hart to wrestle for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania was Winnipeg native Chris Jericho. He was also the first – and so far only – Canadian to headline WrestleMania on home soil. WrestleMania was held at Toronto’s SkyDome for a second time in 2002 with Jericho holding the Undisputed Championship, having previously captured both the WWE and WCW Championship in late 2001.

WrestleMania 18 will be remembered for as long as WWE exists, but not because of this particular match. The Chris Jericho versus Triple H main event championship match had the unfortunate task of closely following The Rock versus Hulk Hogan, which blew the roof off the SkyDome. Jericho and Triple H put on a solid performance, with Triple H capturing the Undisputed Championship from Jericho, but the match will always live in the shadow of Rock-Hogan.

“Let’s be honest, (it was) a main event in the fact that it was on last, but the main event of the show was Hogan and Rock and I knew it,” Jericho told Inside The Ropes in 2019. Jericho continued, saying that, “it was more of a forgotten thing. So, the buildup for the match wasn’t great, the positioning of the match wasn’t great, and in my opinion, the match wasn’t great, but I can say I was in the main event of WrestleMania, so there you go.”

5) WrestleMania 22 (2006): Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James

For almost a decade, Trish Stratus was face of women’s wrestling in WWE. Stratus’s prominence started in the Attitude Era, and lasted until the late portions of the first decade of the 2000s. The in-ring prowess of the Toronto native peaked in the early to mid part of the decade, culminating in a pair of WrestleMania matches involving the Women’s Championship.

Stratus captured one of her record seven Women’s Championships at WrestleMania 19, but her match against Mickie James at WrestleMania 22 will no doubt stick with WWE fans long-term.

“We delivered,” Stratus recently WWE’s The Bump when recollecting the match. “Coming back, (we got a) standing ovation in gorilla position, all our colleagues greeting us. It was a big thing for the woman to have that at that present time, considering the positing of the women at that time. I’m so grateful for the moment, and one of memorable WrestleMania moments.”

Stratus remains the only Canadian woman to have ever competed in a championship match at WrestleMania.

4) WrestleMania 26 (2010): Chris Jericho vs. Edge

The only major championship match at WrestleMania to feature Canadian wrestlers going head-to-head.

It’s very fitting that Jericho and Edge hold the accolade of being the only Canadians to square off for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, as the two represent the pinnacle of Canadian wrestling in the post-Bret Hart era.

The match was excellent, rated four out of five stars by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. However, similar to Jericho’s WrestleMania 18 match getting overshadowed by the Rock-Hogan match, this match also fell victim to being on the same card as one of the greatest matches in the history of WrestleMania: Undertaker versus Shawn Michaels.

There should be nothing taking anything else away from the match, though. Edge and Jericho wrestling in the first Canadian-versus-Canadian championship bout at WrestleMania is as monumental as any other feat in the history of Canadian pro wrestling.

3) WrestleMania 12 (1996): Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels

In 1996 Hart returned to the main event, defending his WWE Championship against Shawn Michaels in a 60-minute Iron Man match.

The match, and the imagery surrounding the match, is well known amongst fans as it’s referenced and shown quite often in various video packages on WWE television. Fans will recall Michaels ziplining to the ring, Hart kissing the title before the match, Hart returning to the ring to start overtime and Michaels kneeling before the title after his victory as Vince McMahon shouts, “The boyhood dream has come true for Shawn Michaels!”

The impact of this match goes beyond imagery and memories, though. Current WWE and NXT Superstars will often cite this match as a pivotal moment in their young wrestling lives. It’s regularly pointed to as one of the matches that led to a pursuit of a career in wrestling.

“The Iron Man match, for me, is what made me want to become a professional wrestler,” NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano told Sports Illustrated in July 2020. “Watching Shawn Michaels versus Bret Hart (at WrestleMania XII in 1996), that was the defining moment of my childhood.”

Meanwhile, the match was just as monumental at the time for Hart, as the Canadian was tasked with competing in a match that had never before been done at WrestleMania.

2) WrestleMania 24 (2008): Edge vs. Undertaker

Any match involving The Undertaker at WrestleMania is a marquee attraction and will be remembered as such for years afterwards.

Orangeville, Ont., native Edge had the distinction of wrestling ‘Taker in the main event of WrestleMania 24 with the World Heavyweight Championship on the line. Meanwhile, adding to the Canadiana of the match was referee Jimmy Korderas, a native of Toronto.

“I made sure he was there for the biggest match of my career,” Edge wrote in Korderas’s book, The Three Count: My Life in Stripes as a WWE Referee. “Yes, I personally requested Jimmy as the referee for my match in the main event of WrestleMania XXIV against the Undertaker.”

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Edge, Undertaker and Jimmy Korderas at WrestleMania 24. (Photo courtesy WWE)

Edge would lose his World Heavyweight Championship, pushing the Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak to a perfect 16-0. However, the fact the Canadian was entrusted to take on the legendary Undertaker in the main event of the biggest event of the year speaks volumes towards the amount of trust WWE had in Edge.

Edge would go on to compete in three more major championship matches at ‘Mania before being forced to temporarily retire due to injury in 2011.

Of course, Edge will add a fifth championship match to his resume at this year’s WrestleMania, competing for the WWE Championship in the main event against Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.

1) WrestleMania 9 (1993) & WrestleMania 10 (1994): Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna

Not only was Hart the first Canadian to wrestle for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, he was also the first Canadian to wrestle in back-to-back years in the main event slot for the top prize in WWE.

At WrestleMania 9 in 1993, WWE was getting ready to usher in a new generation of wrestlers but still not quite ready to move on from their success of the 1980s.

Hart, who won his first WWE Championship in October 1992, was defending against Yokozuna in the main event in 1993, but thanks to some salt in the eyes from Yokozuna’s manager, Mr. Fuji, Hart lost the title.

The good news for all those in attendance, though, was Hulk Hogan was immediately awarded a championship match against Yokozuna, which ended in less than 30 seconds with Hogan as new champion.

It was an unfortunate ending to the first main event bout featuring a Canadian, or as Hart recently told the WWE Network: “I thought things were heading in the right direction, pushing newer, younger stars, but suddenly it was the Hulk Hogan show again.”

“I felt like putting my finger down my throat.”

The next year, though, Hart would have no such feelings as his efforts at WrestleMania 10 are still considered to be one of the greatest performances in the history of the event.

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Bret Hart and Yokozuna during their match at WrestleMania 10. (Photo courtesy WWE)

He started his evening with a match among the best in the annals of WrestleMania, a one-on-one clash against his brother, Owen. Bret would lose that match but would make up for the loss later on when he defeated Yokozuna to capture the WWE Championship for a second time in his career.

The 10th edition of WrestleMania was historic by many measures, mainly due to the previous history of the event, but its memory will live forever in wrestling lore thanks to the performance of the greatest wrestler in Canadian history, Bret Hart.

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