By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Here on WrestleMania Recall, I will be ranking my top 31 favorite matches in WWE WrestleMania history. A new installment will be posted every day in the month of March, culminating with my No. 1 favorite match on Thursday, March 31st, mere days before WrestleMania 32. Each article will offer an in-depth look at each match and an analysis of why it is among my favorites.
As we enter the top ten on my illustrious list, this is where we get to the nitty-gritty and my ultimate favorite WrestleMania matches. I know it may seem strange for this match to be slotted 20 places higher than Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H from the same WrestleMania, but there was just something about this matchup that stood out as special to me, and it's not hard to see what that special something was. I've said it before in this series and I'll say it again: it was storytelling at its finest.
I already recounted the Bryan saga from SummerSlam to WrestleMania 30 and all the run-ins he had with The Authority in those eight months, so I'll stray away from repeating myself here. Rather, I'll attempt to do the best I can when it comes to breaking down this bout and each of the highlights that made it a favorite of mine. A small amount of Superstars can say they have pulled double duty at WrestleMania, but the elite few that have reeked the benefits in a big way. Daniel Bryan followed in Bret Hart's footsteps from almost two decades earlier.
Despite being battered and bruised from his match with Triple H earlier in the evening, Bryan was determined to fight through the pain if it meant fulfilling his destiny by becoming WWE World Heavyweight Championship. HHH tried his hardest to ensure Bryan couldn't compete in the main event by attacking him following his humiliating defeat, but to no avail. A wounded Bryan made his way down the ramp at the Superdome while over 75,000 fans exploded with "Yes!" chants. A spectacular sight to behold, to say the least.
Needless to say, Bryan was the ultimate underdog in this situation as he faced tough competition in the forms of Batista and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton. Whether it was Big Show, John Cena or Bryan himself, Orton always found a way to retain his title during his reign as champ. Batista, on the other hand, had a legitimate gripe to be angry: he was promised a one-on-one championship opportunity in the WrestleMania main event after winning the Royal Rumble, but now it was a Triple Threat match.
Batista and Orton had their fair share of history together as rivals, but the former Evolution stablemates spent a majority of the match teaming up against Bryan. I would say it was virtually a Handicap match, but there were definitely points of the contest where they went up against each other. All Triple H cared about, however, was making sure Bryan didn't come out on top with the title in tow. One spot saw Batista and Orton execute a Batista Bomb-RKO combination to Bryan through the commentary table, which incapacitated Bryan for a good while.
But Bryan refused to stay down. Just when it looked like he was out indefinitely, he rose from the stretcher and reentered the ring. Orton was soon taken out of the equation, and in his absence, Bryan locked Batista in the "Yes!" Lock. Would this be his time? He had already done away with Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and that damn crooked referee Scott Armstong. "Tap out, Batista! Tap out, Batista!" Michael Cole exclaimed. And ultimately, The Animal did just that, and New Orleans came unglued. "Welcome to YestleMania!" said Jerry Lawler excitedly.
May I remind you that this match took place less than an hour after The Undertaker's storied streak at WrestleMania was shockingly broken at the hands of Brock Lesnar, so the fans had every right to sit on their hands. But they didn't. The effort these three men put into producing one of the greatest WrestleMania main events in years was so incredible that the audience had no choice but to get invested in the action and Bryan's struggle. An emotional conclusion to an amazing event.
SEE ALSO: "WrestleMania Recall, Match #11: Triple H vs. Batista, WrestleMania 21"