With Wrestlemania 32 days away there is speculation as to which match will close the show. Will it be the traditional route of having the Championship match between Triple H and Roman Reigns close the show or the Hell in a Cell match for control between Shane McMahon and the Undertaker. Also how will either match rank among the first 31 main events. Here is a list counting down to the top Wrestlemania main event in history.
#31 Yokozuna vs. Hulk Hogan
Although the advertised main event was Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna, Hogan showed up at the end of that match and defeated Yokozuna and took the WWE Title he did nothing to earn. A black eye on Hogan and a black eye on this Wrestlemania as it made this Wrestlemania and closing bout the worst of all time.
#30 Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice
This was billed as Hogan’s possible farewell match and that was the only reason it was slotted to go on last. The match never ended up being Hogan’s last and Sid Justice never really lived up to main event hype. This led to an incredibly boring match that ended in a disqualification. What made things worse was that the match for WWE Championship was incredible and should have ended the show.
#29 Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan
In a bit of a controversial angle, it was the American hero Hulk Hogan versus the Iraqi-sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter to imitate the war that had concluded between the two nations. The story could be interpreted to be in poor taste and the match was dull and boring.
#28 Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy
So far I am picking on the biggest WWE star of the late 80s, Hulk Hogan by ranking his main events low. The fact of the matter is that Hogan was the biggest draw and deserved to go on last. That being said, he had another boring bout versus King Kong Bundy in a steel cage. The story being that Hogan was trapped in the cage with the man who crushed his ribs. A simple story and a straight forward match that lacked main event excitement with Hogan retaining.
#27 The Miz vs. John Cena
Remember when the Miz main evented Wrestlemania? In previous Wrestlemania’s, some main events would plant the seeds for the next year’s Main Event (Savage/Hogan or Bret/Yokozuna). Here the champion Miz was absolutely forgotten as the Rock got involved and cost Cena the championship to set up their match at the following year’s Wrestlemania. I believe the Miz worked hard but Cena and Rock were the draw for this Wrestlemania. Also, if ever there was a year to have CM Punk in the main event it was in 2011!
#26 Triple H vs. Randy Orton
The first of many Triple H main events to suffer from matches that should have gone on last in hindsight. Shawn Michaels and Undertaker put on a classic but the story here between Orton and Triple H was a bit disjointed. Triple H was the fan favourite champion and an odd stipulation that if Triple H was disqualified he’d lose the title. That stipulation works better in my opinion for a heel who only ever uses underhanded tactics. Triple H would retain to not much fanfare.
#25 Sycho Sid vs. The Undertaker
My favourite superstar winning the championship in the main event. Unfortunately this was at a time prior to the Undertaker having tremendous matches at Wrestlemania. Like Sid’s match prior, this was yet again a very boring, straight forward match between to giants and Bret interfering leading to Undertaker winning didn’t do Taker any favors. Thankfully, the Undertaker continued to get better at Wrestlemania over the years
#24 Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart
Bret Hart winning the title in the main event at Wrestlemania helps move this match up but again this match wasn’t very good with a goofy ending. The story of the underdog defeating the giant Yokozuna was the story but the execution of this in the match was dreadful. It’s strange because both men are quality workers in their own right. That being said, Bret still had the match of the night in his opening bout on this night.
#23 Triple H vs. Big Show vs. Mick Foley vs. The Rock
McMahons in every corner was the draw for this main event but the match was pretty average. There isn’t much that can be said of this match other than it was good to see Mick Foley in the main event but the Vince turn on his guy the Rock made this main event more about the McMahons than the competitors in the ring.
#22 “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
This “main event” was a result of a tournament that took place at Wrestlemania IV. The big draw at the time was seeing a Hogan and Andre rematch. Both men found themselves in the main event in the respective competitors’ corners. Savage and DiBiase had a less than inspiring match with a lot of outside action by the Hulkster and the Giant. Hogan sticks his nose in the match leading to Savage winning, with both men celebrating rather than allowing Randy to relish in this Wrestlemania moment himself.
#21 Chris Jericho vs. Triple H
Triple H had just returned from a major injury to a huge ovation. Jericho was the first undisputed champion. The first two sentences already have me rethinking the ranking of this match. Unfortunately, parts of this story were overshadowed by campy soap opera drama and diverted off the main issue that could have made this a straight forward story leading to the match. Once again, Triple H was hurt by the match of the night between Hogan and the Rock which electrified the crowd and left this main event without the usual excitement surrounding the final bout.
#20 Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Kicking off our top 20 is a match that at first glance you’d think would be ranked among the lowest. Wrestlemania XI, often criticized as one of the worst Wrestlemanias involved a celebrity football player defeating a pro wrestler. To his credit, Lawrence Taylor exceeded expectation and did his part in achieving a passable match. The coverage, however of this main event helped catapult the WWE in mainstream focus when the WWE was at its lowest point business wise and popularity. Without any celebrity involvement, who knows if the WWE could have survived this down time in its history.
#19 The Rock vs. John Cena
Wrestlemania 29 was one of the most profitable in the history of the event. By 2013, tickets were no longer being sold on who was on the marquee but by the brand of the WWE and Wrestlemania coming to town. International fans are now booking trips to see the biggest wrestling event of the year prior to any announced matches. The rematch of the Rock and Cena was a bit predictable and it appeared fans were not as enamored at having a part-time champion in the Rock. Their match was boring with an overkill of kicking out of finishers. It was a cool sight to see Rock “pass the torch” as Hogan did for him.
#18 John Cena vs. Triple H
An electric atmosphere in Chicago for this main event. The crowd heavily booed the hero and cheered the villain. John Cena was now the “face” of the WWE, but older fans did not see him at the level of their previous heroes (Austin/Rock). The match between both men was good and competitive and Cena cemented his legacy as he made “the Game” tap out. It was simply the beginning of what to expect in different arenas as Cena would continue to be the greatest polarizing superstar in the WWE’s history.
#17 Edge vs. The Undertaker
Wrestlemania 24 was indeed a success as far as live crowd attendance, finances and quality matches. Flair and Michaels was match of the night, Floyd Mayweather and the Big Show had a fun match and the main event bout was a solid one to close the show. At first going in to the event, it was perceived that the WWE Championship would be the main event, however with Orton booked to win, the desire was to close the show and send fans home happy. The Undertaker extending his undefeated streak and winning the World Heavyweight title was that sight. Edge to his credit proved to belong in the main event as he was a successful villainous champion that fans wanted to see their revered Undertaker defeat.
#16 Triple H vs. Batista
Wrestlemania 21 featured many up and coming talents that would carry the WWE for the next few years. Notable features included Edge, Randy Orton, Batista and John Cena. The event set a record for the Staples Centre and did well financially and on pay-per-view not only in the United States but worldwide. The crowd reactions to Batista propelled him to the Main Event and Batista eventually grew into his role as a main event talent and draw, helping making this Wrestlemania one of the better events to date.
#15 Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper & Mr. Wonderful
The one that started them all, the very first Wrestlemania. It was a unique event and included all the top ingredients for success: there was mainstream appeal with Mr. T, a top hero in Hogan and a top villain in Piper. The match itself wasn’t anything to write home about but it was a remarkable spectacle sold both on sports and entertainment.
#14 “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan
“Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan, two of the biggest names of the late 80s and 90s clashed at Wrestlemania 5 as the Mega Powers exploded. This is one of my favourite Wrestlemania matches and is a kickoff to some great bouts that ended the Show of Shows! To this point in time it was Hogan’s greatest Wrestlemania match and the first time Hogan would win the title at the Grandest Stage.
#13 John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels
Wrestlemania 23 marked the event’s consistent return to big stadiums to fit 70,000 + and the major advertised bout was Battle of the Billionaires Hair vs. Hair involving Donald Trump and Vince McMahon. The bout that closed the evening, however, was a classic WWE Championship match that involved no celebrity or gimmickry. “Mr. Wrestlemania”, Shawn Michaels and John Cena put on a quality wrestling match that does not get the praise that other Wrestlemania matches do. This marked the consecutive year that Cena would force a top talent and former DX member to tap out in a successful title defense.
#12 The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
How fitting that Shawn Michaels would finish his career in the main event to which he received his second surname. Michaels and Undertaker had a daunting task of replicating their classic from the previous year. Both men went out there and battled hard but it was a bit predictable that the Undertaker would remain undefeated and Shawn Michaels would head off into the sunset as he wrapped up a legendary career.
#11 Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit
Although, I don’t often go back to re-watch this match due to Benoit’s involvement, it cannot be denied that this was a great triple threat match and an awesome crowning moment for what to that point had been a tremendous wrestling career.
#10 Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins*
Brock Lesnar is such a remarkable attraction and draw in the present era of wrestling. Lesnar was a part-time superstar and made sporadic appearances, so you could be sure that one of his appearances would be in the main event of Wrestlemania. Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns had a unique match up with the live crowd being very into all that took place in the match. They paid to see Lesnar destroy his opponent and Lesnar did not disappoint. Reigns held his own and did what he could to take down the beast. Seth Rollins, timed his Money in the Bank cash-in perfectly and capitalized on the punishment in this match. This match had brutality and excitement making it a top 10 main event!
#9 Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
An awesome wrestling exhibition should be the main event of a spectacle called Wrestlemania. Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle went out after several other classic matches and kept the crowd’s attention and delivered another classic on this night. This main event included two tremendous amateur wrestlers with different attitudes and when it was all said and done and a new champion crowned, both men could only exchange a handshake and hug in celebration of an awesome match.
#8 Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Once again we find an awesome wrestling exhibition to close out Wrestlemania. This was an incredible athletic spectacle that took more than an hour to conclude. An Ironman match is a tough one for the live crowd because fans are awaiting those final minutes to see who will come out victorious. As far as a box office draw, wrestling was in the infancy of its upswing and there was going to be a shift in attitude but it cannot be denied the quality of a wrestling match put together by two of the best at that time Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.
#7 Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior
The first international Wrestlemania and it drew nearly 60, 000 in Toronto. Hogan was the biggest name to date at the time and the Warrior was a close second. Both men put forward a great effort and it was a better match than anticipated with the Warrior defeating Hogan. The crowd was split with fans of both men on the edge of their seat unsure who would come out on top. Add in the fact that this Wrestlemania did well financially for it’s time ranks this among the top main events.
#6 Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan
The Superdome showcased one of the greatest sights in WWE and Wrestlemania history with 60,000 + chanting YES! YES! YES! Everyone in attendance wanted to see Daniel Bryan become the new WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Only a hero like Daniel Bryan could revive the crowd after they witnessed the end of the Undertaker’s undefeated streak. The triple threat match was great like all of Bryan’s matches and given that Bryan is now retired, I am grateful he was able to experience this tremendous moment in his career.
#5 Shawn Michaels vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
The moment the Austin Era began was when Steve Austin won his first WWE Championship in this main event. Shawn Michaels was on his way out with a back injury and still held his own in this match to live up to a main event standard. The added involvement of Mike Tyson brought more mainstream attention to the WWE which was beginning to show more attitude in it’s product and more and more fans were drawn to Steve Austin and would tune in and pay to see their rebellious hero finally be crowned champion.
#4 The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Imagine the first encounter between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the Rock for the WWE Championship. There is only one place and one event for that to happen and that’s the main event of Wrestlemania. This was their first encounter of three at Wrestlemania and it did not disappoint. the WWE was at the height of it’s popularity and the two most popular wrestlers left it all in the ring but fans paid and wanted to see Austin overcome the Corporate champion and for the second consecutive year, Austin won championship gold in the main event.
#3 The Rock vs. John Cena
The dream match that was believed to only ever happen “Once in a Lifetime”. The Rock is not only perhaps the most famous pro wrestler but among the top celebrities in the world today. He returned to Wrestlemania in 2012 to square off against the top draw in the company, John Cena. You could feel the animosity and you knew old wrestling fans who had fallen away would be tuning in to see if the Rock could still go. It was an electric atmosphere and a tremendous match. The main event often reserved for the title was the only place to have two legends from their respective eras square off. Once again, the Rock proved that whether it’s an action movie or Wrestlemania he remains a successful box office draw.
#2 Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
The slam heard around the world took place at Wrestlemania 3 in the main event in front of what was declared 93, 000. Regardless of the fact that it wasn’t exactly 93, 000, the Pontiac Silverdome was indeed packed to see the Immovable Object square off against the Irresistible Force. Hogan was the biggest wrestling draw at the time and his championship reign was being brought into question against the undefeated, colossal Andre the Giant. The match was not a wrestling classic like another match on that night, but Wrestlemania 3 was sold because of these two names on the marquee. As Hogan’s title looked to be in jeopardy, Hogan summed up the strength to lift Andre off his feet, slam him, hit the leg drop and retain his title in what has become an image synonymous with Wrestlemania.
#1 The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Wrestlemania X-Seven is often viewed as the greatest Wrestlemania of all time. From top to bottom it was a pretty stellar card. So that being said, the top match should make #1 on our list. In 1999, Steve Austin and the Rock were already reaching heights of their popularity so tt’s incredible that two years later fans would gather in the Astrodome and purchase on pay-per-view to see these two rivals go to battle once again. The criticism of Austin turning on the fans to end this match can be discussed as to how it impacted future business but we are here to examine this main event. Rock and Austin left it all in the ring as they threw all they had at one another. At times, it appeared this match would not end because neither men would accept leaving without the coveted WWE Championship. Finally, Austin resorted to heinous tactics and as mentioned sold his soul to the devil to win this match. Two of the all time greats in a tremendous fight for the World title in front of millions live and at home makes this the greatest Wrestlemania main event of all time.