The main event of “WrestleMania” is considered hallowed ground among professional wrestlers. Only the best of the best end up in the marquee match of professional wrestling’s biggest show. At least that’s what WWE wants you to believe.
Truth be told, throughout its history, “WrestleMania” main events have varied wildly in quality. Some have been instant classics, while others make you wonder how exactly they ended up closing the show. With that in mind, Screener is revisiting all 32 “WrestleMania” main events thus far, ranking them all from worst to best. Where The “WrestleMania 32” main event ends up is anyone’s guess.
32. ‘WrestleMania 11’ – Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor
The ultimate showdown between the NFL and the WWF was about what you expect — two big guys, one of whom couldn’t wrestle, fumbling trough a “WrestleMania” main event. Not only was the match not fit for a “WrestleMania” main event, it also followed the much better Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels bout.
31. ‘WrestleMania 9’ – Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart/Yokozuna vs. Hulk Hogan
The main event of “WrestleMania 9” was bad for so many reasons. First, it put a temporary halt to the rising star of Bret Hart, who lost the WWF Championship to aging sumo wrestler Yokozuna in 8 minutes. Then, somehow, Hulk Hogan — whose popularity was dropping by the second — was granted an immediate title match, which he won in 22 seconds. It was the exact opposite of passing the torch.
20. ‘WrestleMania 10’ – Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart
One year later, Yokozuna was champion once again, and Bret Hart got his revenge. There was no Hulk Hogan to mess things up this time, but the match was still very forgettable — especially when you consider the show also included the classic ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon, as well as a bout between Bret and Owen Hart.
29. ‘WrestleMania 8’ – Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice
Sid Justice is not someone you’d imagine main eventing a “WrestleMania,” yet he’s somehow done it twice. His bout with Hogan at “WrestleMania 8” is definitely the worse of the two. Thought it may not have gone on last, many fans consider Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage for the WWF Championship the true main event of the show.
28. ‘WrestleMania 7’ – Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan
The main event of “WrestleMania 7” was just silly. Sgt. Slaughter turned his back on America to become an Iraqi sympathizer during the Gulf War. The only logical solution was to have the Hulkster destroy him for the good ol’ USA.
27. ‘WrestleMania 27’ – The Miz vs. John Cena
This is the most forgettable main event of the modern era. The Miz’s title reign is an afterthought, and the only real marquee value to this match was the feud brewing between Cena and The Rock, which would pay off a year later.
26. ‘WrestleMania 13’ – The Undertaker vs. Sycho Sid
This was the other main event for Sid Justice — who changed his name to Sycho Sid for kicks. It wasn’t a bad match, but it simply had no place in the main event slot. Instead, all anyone remembers from that year is Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin.
25. ‘WrestleMania 25’ – Triple H vs. Randy Orton
While Triple H vs. Orton had a great buildup — which included Orton attacking Triple H’s wife — their “WrestleMania” match simply didn’t connect. It didn’t live up to the hype they built around the bout through storylines. It also suffered from following the far superior Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker match.
24. ‘WrestleMania 2000’ – Triple H vs. The Rock vs. The Big Show vs. Mick Foley
The problem with the “WrestleMania 2000” main event is that it was just too crowded: four wrestlers, each accompanied by a member of the McMahon family. There’s no need for that much clutter at around the ring, and it took away from the actual match. It was at least in keeping with the WWF style of that time.
23. ‘WrestleMania 21’ – Batista vs. Triple H
This match came at a transnational time in WWE. The new faces of the company — Cena and Batista — were emerging. Unfortunately, that led to a relatively boring main event, with Triple H being defeated by Batista in a fairly unspectacular fashion.
22. ‘WrestleMania 32’ – Roman Reigns vs. Triple H
This particular match is an interesting case study. It’s not the match itself that was so bad but rather the build to it and those involved. WWE decided long ago that Roman Reigns would be their next marquee superstar but it’s something fans are not ready — to this day — to accept. When an entire “Mania” hinged on a buy most didn’t like to be the hero opposing the forces of evil, the match was doomed. Still, WWE hasn’t given up on Reigns and fans have yet to relent.
21. ‘WrestleMania 4’ – ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage vs. Ted Dibiase
While Randy Savage battling Ted DiBiase for the vacant WWF Championship sounds like an awesome match on paper, this one suffers because it came at the end of a “WrestleMania” that was essentially a tournament. Savage had already wrestled three matches that night, and both men seemed burned out by the end.
20. ‘WrestleMania 29’ – The Rock vs. John Cena
Though their first meeting at “WrestleMania 28” was billed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” match, The Rock and Cena wrestled again a year later. The second time wasn’t the charm. Though the WWE Championship was involved, the match lacked the mystique of their first meeting and just didn’t feel as special. It doesn’t help that The Rock sustained a major injury during the match
19. ‘WrestleMania 18’ – Chris Jericho vs. Triple H
Triple H and Chris Jericho’s match was the victim of placement on the card. While the title match is typically the main event — and should be — these two had to follow the epic showdown between The Rock and Hulk Hogan. By the time Triple H and Jericho got to the ring, the crowd was completely exhausted and the match suffered as a result.
18. ‘WrestleMania 17’ – The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
The Rock and Steve Austin’s second “WrestleMania” match was a good one. At least it was before Austin aligned himself with his hated enemy Vince McMahon for no apparent reason and beat The Rock with a steel chair. Austin’s heel turn would go down as the strangest part of his career.
17. ‘WrestleMania 22’ – Triple H vs. John Cena
The first “WrestleMania” meeting between Triple H and Cena should be a memorable one. Sadly, this match was not. The story was built around Triple H winning a tournament for a title shot, which left the feud with little room to really mean something.
16. ‘WrestleMania 20’ – Triple H vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels
The main event of “WrestleMania 20” was an emotional one. Though most of the story surrounding the match focused on Triple H and Shawn Michaels, it was Chris Benoit who emerged victorious to begin his first title reign. Appropriately, the show closed with longtime best friends Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, now both with championship belts, celebrating together.
15. ‘WrestleMania 19’ – Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
This was Brock Lesnar’s “WrestleMania” debut, and he landed in the main event. What’s more, he ended up winning the title. This was a great wrestling match, outside of a botched shooting star press from Lesnar. However, the majority of the drama centered around Angle and a potentially career-threatening neck injury he sustained leading up to the show.
14. ‘WrestleMania 23’ – John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels
Unlike his match with Triple H at “WrestleMania 22,” Cena’s fight against Michaels worked on every level. The two men had a rivalry that made sense and brought their charisma to a great match — certainly one of Cena’s very best “WrestleMania” moments.
13. ‘WrestleMania 31’ – Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
“WrestleMania 31” will likely go down as the year NXT made its first major impact on the WWE roster. With Roman Reigns facing Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship, he was sure to usher in a new generation of WWE performers. That is, until Seth Rollins made his entrance to cash in his “Money in the Bank” contract to insert himself into the match and win. After being introduced a decade earlier at “WrestleMania 21,” “Money in the Bank” was finally used in the main event of “WrestleMania.” Rollins went on to have an impressive run as champion before being sidelines with an injury.
12. ‘WrestleMania 30’ – Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan
The real story behind the main event of “WrestleMania 30” was Daniel Bryan and the audience’s undying love and support for him. While he wasn’t originally scheduled to be in the match, WWE couldn’t deny his extreme popularity, and he ended up winning the WWE Championship.
11. ‘WrestleMania 24’ – Edge vs. The Undertaker
Outside of Michaels and Triple H, there’s nobody in the modern era who’s had a better “WrestleMania” match with The Undertaker than Edge. On a card that included Ric Flair’s retirement match, Edge and Undertaker were still able to put on a showstopping bout worthy of closing the show.
10. ‘WrestleMania 14’ – Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
This was the match that truly introduced the Stone Cold era of WWF programming. With Mike Tyson at ringside and two big names duking it out, the “WrestleMania 14” main event proved WWF was changing with the times, while up against WCW in the Monday night wars. It was also Michaels’ last “WrestleMania” appearance for five years.
9. ‘WrestleMania 28’ – The Rock vs. John Cena
WWE took an entire year building to the first meeting between The Rock and Cena. It was billed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” match, and the two men wrestled like it. Being that they’re two of the biggest names in wrestling ever, it’s hard not to fall in love with the spectacle surrounding this contest. Smartly, WWE decided to put it on last, learning from their mistake with The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at “WrestleMania 18.”
8. ‘WrestleMania 6’ – Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior
“WrestleMania 6” was supposed to herald The Ultimate Warrior’s ascension to most popular wrestler in the WWF, with beating Hogan being the final step. Sadly, the fans weren’t ready for a new hero, and Warrior’s championship reign wasn’t all that exciting.
He ended up losing the title to Sgt. Slaughter at the “Royal Rumble” and never got another chance to be World Champion. Still, put Warrior and Hogan in the ring together, and you can’t deny the electricity in the audience.
7. ‘WrestleMania 1’ – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff
This was the main event that started it all. Vince McMahon has admitted many times that if the first “WrestleMania” had flopped, he likely would have gone out of business. Luckily, he took some of his biggest names and threw them in the ring together, creating something special that’s still going strong three decades later.
6. ‘WrestleMania 2’ – Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy in a steel cage match
There was no way to contain the chaos of the “WrestleMania 2” main event other than with a steel cage match. Riding high as the most popular wrestler on the planet, Hogan battled Bundy in a match for the ages and redeemed a silly format that had matches taking place in three different cities.
5. ‘WrestleMania 5’ – Hulk Hogan vs. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
The main event of “WrestleMania 5” became a major pop-culture event as best friends Hogan and Savage came to blows. The match was good, but it was the story surrounding the match that made it special. Do you remember where you were when the Mega-Powers exploded?
4. ‘WrestleMania 15’ – The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
The first “WrestleMania” bout between The Rock and Austin is hands-down their best. With both men’s popularity skyrocketing and Austin’s feud with Vince McMahon at its peak, the atmosphere surrounding the match was like no other.
3. ‘WrestleMania 3’ – Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
Hogan vs. Andre the Giant isn’t a technical wrestling masterpiece — truth be told, none of Hogan’s matches are. However, the spectacle of the “the irresistible force meeting the immovable object” is the perfect example of what wrestling can be when done right.
In front of more than 90,000 people, the two biggest names in professional wrestling at the time went at it, ending with Hogan’s iconic bodyslam of the giant.
2. ‘WrestleMania 12’ – Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels in an Iron Man match
What happens when you put two of the best wrestlers of a generation in the ring together for an hour? The answer is simply magic. The hour-long Iron Man match between Michaels and Hart cemented both men as the true stars they knew they could be and ended with Michaels beginning his first reign as WWF Champion.
1. ‘WrestleMania 26’ – The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
This match features perhaps the two greatest professional wrestlers of all time leaving it all in the ring for Michaels’ swan song. The story built around the match was perfect, with Michaels putting his own career on the line.
These two surpassed even themselves — after having one of the best matches in “WrestleMania” history the year before — to give WWE perhaps its biggest in-ring moment of all time. Even in the twilight of their careers, Undertaker and Michaels showed the world why they are the very best.