You wouldn't know from the sight of his bloody, ravaged body, but Mick Foley was the real winner of that Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker in 1998.
Sure, he'd fallen two stories twice, had a tooth route through his sinus cavity, and landed on thumbtacks a couple of times, but it's hard to say he truly *lost* that match. His unforgettable performance made him a *much* bigger story than the man who was scripted to win.
The support Foley received in the aftermath ferried him into a higher pantheon of stardom, and soon, a few world titles.
It's not the easiest trick to pull off, ascending to greater heights because of a defeat, but it has been done. At WrestleManias gone by, a few elite-level WWE stars have lost their matches, only to experience considerable elevation in the weeks and months ahead, in spite of the loss. In fact, the elevation is *because* of the match itself.
While there are certainly more than five subjective cases of this phenomenon taking place, these are the five prime examples of victory in defeat at WrestleMania.
5. Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania 18)
Upon bringing the nWo into the WWF as an equal-pronged trio in early 2002, the company was actually burying the lede - five-time world champion Hulk Hogan had returned after nine years away. Older fans, especially ones brand-loyal to the WWF, picked up on this fact.
The reaction Hogan gets in Toronto's SkyDome as he and The Rock piece together their surprise epic is something to behold. Even Hogan can't believe the adulation, as though it were 1985 all over again.
Hogan put over his younger peer, but five weeks later, he was the WWF champion once more. The company's reliance on nostalgia that continues today can be traced to the second wave of Hulkamania in 2002, where the ungodly response to Hogan's WrestleMania comeback opened up a Pandora's Box of sorts.