How wrestlers head to the ring can often dictate not only a big part of their gimmick, it can also dictate the emotion of the crowd and the match they’re heading to the ring for. When a superstar gets themselves amped up for the match, the crowd’s energy level matches it – it is a reciprocal and symbiotic moment.
There are those rare occasions where the synergy between the crowd and the wrestlers is so off the charts, that the electricity behind just an entrance becomes an emotional experience. Thankfully, fans don’t have to keep in their emotions the way that these superstars have to do from time to time.
10 Stone Cold Steve Austin – WrestleMania 17
After a near life-altering and possibly ending injury and several years of not getting it fixed, Stone Cold Steve Austin was taken out by a vile hit-and-run (in storyline, of course). When he returned and won the Royal Rumble the stage was set for The Texas Rattlesnake to walk out into a sea for his fellow Texans at WrestleMania 17 to challenge for the world title. The glass broke, The Astrodome erupted, The Fink announced “From Victoria, Texas” and the Astrodome got louder. Jim Ross made one of the great calls of his career: “The journey has culminated from spinal surgery, from knee surgeries, you could call him The Bionic Redneck!”
9 Hulk Hogan – Raw March 18, 2002
It has been almost a decade since Hulkamania ran wild in the WWE. While the once little Hulkamaniacs were now grown adults who had moved on to other superstars, once Voodoo Child rang out at WrestleMania 18, those fans just wanted to see Hogan once again.
One night later on Raw, not only did Hulk Hogan open up the show, the Montreal members of the WWE Universe gave him one of the largest and loudest ovations ever – for nearly five minutes.
8 Ric Flair – WrestleMania 24
Despite the storyline of “lose one more match, and you’ll be forced to retire,” everyone the entire world knew what going to happen at WrestleMania 24. But the master storyteller that Ric Flair was, everyone knowing the outcome of his match with Shawn Michaels didn’t stop it from being a classic. It certainly didn’t stop his emotional entrance to the ring either. Draped in a brand new elaborate robe, once Also Sprang Zarathustra beamed out across the arena and fireworks shot into the sky, Naitch was in nearly as many tears as the fans were, watching him walk that aisle for the (supposed) last time.
7 CM Punk – Money In The Bank 2011
While he’s currently the scourge of AEW (and the wrestling industry at large right now), no one can deny that CM Punk was once one of the most beloved WWE Superstars of all time. He was finally given that just due on the last night of his then current contract in 2011. He vowed to defeat John Cena and leave with the WWE title. And in his hometown, the entire city of Chicago was seemingly ready for the moment too.
6 John Cena / RVD – One Night Stand 2006
While the emotion at Money In The Bank 2011 was all directed towards the Second City Saint, five years earlier the crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom was solidly behind Rob Van Dam for his challenge against John Cena at One Night Stand.
But a lot of the emotion was directed as vitriol towards the defending champion. John Cena walked into a lion’s den at The Hammerstein Ballroom who were possibly ready to feast on his bones and of course riot if he somehow won.
5 Triple H – January 7, 2002
Despite being the number one heel in the business, for months fans couldn’t wait to see The Game once again stomp his way to the ring. After working rigorously to repair his torn quad muscle, Triple H made his grand return inside WWE’s home base of Madison Square Garden on the flagship show. As JR said, it was one of the longest sustained roars the WWE had ever heard. Triple H once said he had to do all he could to maintain his own composure and make sure he remained The Cerebral Assassin. He returned bigger and badder than ever, ready to once again conquer the WWE.
4 Edge – Royal Rumble 2020
Shortly after WrestleMania 27, the defending world champion Edge had terrible news – he had to retire to preserve his neck and his life. Nine years later, several surgeries, a wife, two daughters, and the surprise fall of a lifetime got Edge back in the ring. While riding his bike with Sheamus, Edge fell pretty hard but got right back up and the two declared there’s no reason he could still wrestle. He was cleared, and much to the shock and awe of the entire WWE Universe, a very family and welcome “you think you know me” blasted out at the 2020 Royal Rumble and a very emotional Edge had made a triumphant return.
3 Hart Foundation – In Your House: Canadian Stampede
If this past year featuring Sami and KO wrestling in their home country has reminded us of anything, it’s that Canadians absolutely adore their Canadian wrestlers! While the pops have been loud for the Canucks wrestlers this year, nothing has ever been quite as raucous as The Saddledome.
The hated-in-the-US Hart Foundation had returned home not just to Canada, but to their home province of Calgary, Alberta. The ovation started loud for Brian Pillman and just kept getting louder and louder for the rest of The Hart Foundation. The fans never let up during their entrance or the entire match for that matter.
2 Sami Zayn – Night Of Champions 2023
Speaking of Sami, he’d be in the number one spot on this list if not for the number one entry. For years since the WWE had been going to Saudi Arabia, several wrestlers refused to make the trip. Sami Zayn was the most politically charged name on the list, not by his own doing mind you. As a Syrian Muslim, relations between the two countries were very strained and as the story goes, Zayn was banned from heading to the Kingdom. Until this past Night Of Champions. As the relations between Saudi and Syria seemed to soften, Sami was able to make the trip and to headline the show, alongside Kevin Owens. He headed to the ring in a traditional white robe and spoke Arabic among his fellow Arabs – an emotional moment whether you understood what he said or not.
1 The WWE Roster – SmackDown 09/13/2001
On September 11, 2001, the US suffered the worst attack on American soil it ever had. Just two days later, the ever and always defiant Vince McMahon decided the WWE would do what it always had done – entertain the fans and take their minds off the pressures of real life, of only for a little while.
With that in mind, the entire WWE and Alliance roster, entered into the arena to rousing cheers and USA chants. Lillian Garcia absolutely brought the house to its emotional core with her rendition of the national anthem. The WWE spoke for the entire United States on that evening stating, we will not go quietly into the night and terrorists won’t terrify us from living our way of life.