We are just one week away from “The Ultimate Thrill Ride,” aka WrestleMania 33 and one of the topics of discussion amongst wrestling fans is, what is the main event and what should be the main event? WWE will tell you that there are four main events however, most think of the main event as the last match.
Whether you think Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship will be the main event or Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship or Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker, just think about this: WrestleMania main event’s aren’t as sacred as we think. For every legendary moment to end a WrestleMania there is one that leaves much to be desired.
So here it is, every WrestleMania main event ranked from 32-1.
#32 WrestleMania XI: Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Remember when I said that WrestleMania main events aren’t as sacred as we think? Well look no further than a 36 year old former all-pro linebacker, NFL MVP and 2x Super Bowl champion being the headliner for the biggest event of the year. Those are fine things to have on a resume, but not for a wrestler, or for someone who’s expected to close the show. In 1995, the then WWF was going through a transitional period after Hulk Hogan left the company and Vince McMahon still wasn’t 100% sold on Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Diesel.
The thought process was logical, have a big draw with a popular athlete like Taylor main event against a heel. Tickets were sold, but the match itself, did not deliver. Taylor was gassed just minutes into the match and it was very noticeable. The ring was surrounded by NFL players such as Ken Norton Jr., Chris Spielman, Carl Banks, Rickey Jackson, Reggie White and Steve McMichael as well as Bigelow’s counterparts Tatanka, King Kong Bundy, Ted DiBiase, Irwin R. Schyster, Nikolai Volkoff and Kama. Taylor won the match with a forearm off the second rope.
Despite being kicked out of the Million Dollar Corporation after being pinned, Bigelow doesn’t get as much credit as he should for carrying Taylor through the match.
#31 WrestleMania VIII: Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice
Hulk Hogan found himself apart of the main event of the first nine WrestleMania’s. This one is the worst by a slight margin. Part of the reason it is so resented by the WWE Universe is because it is the worst matchup out of all the matchups they could’ve had as the main event. They could’ve had the Ric Flair vs. Macho Man Randy Savage match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship that happened earlier in the card main event. They could’ve had Flair defend his title against Hogan main event, they could’ve had Flair vs. Justice or even do Savage vs. Hogan again. But unfortunately, they went with Hogan vs. Justice with the tagline “Friendship Torn Apart!”
What makes this truly one of the worst main events in WrestleMania history is the botched finish. The original plan was to protect Hogan’s famous leg drop by having Papa Shango run in to break up Hogan’s pin on Justice after hitting the leg drop, forcing a disqualification. However, speculation is that Shango missed his cue and forced Justice to kick out. Shango being late to the ring forced Justice’s manager Harvey Wippleman to interfere finally forcing the referee to disqualify Justice, giving Hogan the win. After an attack on Hogan by Shango and Justice, The Ultimate Warrior returned to save Hogan.
Out of all the options to end a show, this was perhaps the worst thing they could’ve come up with in 1992.
#30 WrestleMania IX: Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna
So you think that every WrestleMania main event was advertised ahead of time? Well WWE has you fooled. The scheduled main event for WrestleMania IX was Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. That match took place with Yokozuna defeating Hart for the title. However, our old friend Hulk Hogan came to the ring to check on the condition of Hart after Hart had salt thrown in his eyes by Yokozuna’s manager Mr. Fuji. Earlier in the night, Hogan cut a promo saying that he wants a shot at the champion regardless who wins that night as soon as possible.
So while Hogan was tending to his friend Hart, Mr. Fuji challenged Hogan to face Yokozuna for the title right then and there. Hogan accepted, dodged the salt from Fuji which proceeded to hit Yokozuna in the eyes instead. Hogan then hits the leg drop and pins Yokozuna for the title in 22 seconds.
You can’t make this up.
#29 WrestleMania XXVII: John Cena vs. The Miz
When your main event is a stepping stone for the main events of the next two WrestleMania’s, you probably will care more about the following ones rather than the existing one. John Cena challenging The Miz for the WWE Championship was simply a setup for Cena to face The Rock (who was the host of WrestleMania XXVII) in the following WrestleMania. Despite The Miz being one of the best heels in the company in 2017, in 2011, nobody was sold on him as the top guy.
The match between Cena and Miz originally ended in both men knocking each other out, outside of the ring resulting in a double count out. The Rock came down to the ring and demanded the match to be restarted under no-DQ, no count out and with no time limit. After Cena dragged Miz back into the ring, The Rock stalked Cena from behind. The Rock hit Cena with the Rock Bottom and Miz capitalized by pinning Cena for the win.
An underwhelming main event ended a lackluster card for WrestleMania standards.
#28 WrestleMania II: Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy
Technically, WrestleMania II had three separate main events, one for each location. Yeah, for some reason the WWF thought it was a good idea to host their biggest show of the year in three different time zones. The first main event was Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T in a boxing match (took place in NY). The second main event showed Andre The Giant winning a battle royal (took place in Chicago). The third and actual main event was Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy in a steel cage match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship (took place in Los Angeles).
This still remains as the only WrestleMania match that was a traditional steel cage match. But that does not mean it was good. The card spanned over four hours and the ending was anti-climactic and somewhat predictable. The match was a classic Hogan match, Bundy took control, beat down on the champ before he “Hulked up,” hit Bundy with a power slam and began to climb the cage. One last effort from Bundy to prevent Hogan from escaping, Hogan kicked Bundy off of him and won the match.
When wrestling fans watch a PPV or a WWE Network special and are disappointed, they often say that it felt like they were watching a RAW or a SmackDown Live. This did not feel like a WrestleMania main event.
#27 WrestleMania 32: Triple H vs. Roman Reigns
This show started at 5 p.m. and ended just minutes shy of midnight. It was exhausting to watch. The audience felt the same way. The record setting crowd in AT&T Stadium in Dallas was as quiet during this match as a crowd with over 100,000 people in it can be. Perhaps the disdain to see the culmination of Roman Reigns drew that kind of reaction. But the combination of the length of the show and it being a match that no one wanted to see made for a sad way to end the most recent WrestleMania.
Triple H’s entrance was fantastic. He had his wife and Chief Brand Officer (CBO) of the WWE Stephanie McMahon with an epic introduction of the WWE Champion before his music began. That was the best part until Reigns went for a spear on Triple H, who then sidestepped and ended up hitting McMahon herself. That was a great spot that got a good reaction from the crowd. Other than that, this match, like the card was drawn out too long.
It ended with Reigns running the ropes, dodging a sledgehammer swing from Triple H and hitting him with a spear for the win. If you’ve kept up with WWE programming for the last three years, you’re anything but surprised.
#26 WrestleMania I: Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorf
The reason this is not lower on the list is because of the star power it possesses. All four are WWE Hall of Famers and Mr. T was the big draw that the company felt like it needed to draw the first ever WrestleMania event. It is the first and only WrestleMania main event to be a tag team match. There were also reports that Piper didn’t like that Mr. T was in the same position as he was, given the fact that he was a celebrity and not a wrestler.
Piper and Orndorf put aside their anger towards Mr. T (at least for one night) and assisted him and Hulk in putting on a good show. The first two WrestleMania’s felt like experiments for the company. Vince McMahon’s brain child would take a few years to truly be regarded as the grandest spectacle of the year. Hogan would eventually win the match after a failed interference by “Cowboy” Bob Orton.
Considering that WrestleMania was inspired by “Hulkamania,” which was the driving force behind the push of Hogan, using him in the main event of the first WrestleMania was an easy decision. However, the match itself could’ve been done differently and better.
#25 WrestleMania 13: Psycho Sid vs. The Undertaker
The Undertaker is one of the most important stars in wrestling history and you cannot tell the story of WrestleMania’s without him. He’s taken part in 24 of 32 WrestleMania’s and had a legendary undefeated streak until WrestleMania XXX. This was the first of three WrestleMania main events for the Deadman and it was by far the worst. Psycho Sid only wrestled in two WrestleMania’s and main evented both, neither was good.
Before this no-DQ match, an injured Shawn Michaels came out to do commentary for this match. Before the match started, a heel Bret Hart came to the ring to call out Michaels. Sid powerbombed Hart and the match began. The match was filled with bearhugs and other various submission moves before Undertaker hit Sid with a chair and a tombstone to capture the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
It is not good when your main event is severely overshadowed by an earlier match on the card. Many people believe that the submission match between Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin should have closed to show.
#24 WrestleMania V: Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan
“The Mega Powers Explode” was a really big deal in 1989. A year build up from Savage’s crowning moment at WrestleMania IV. This feud was constructed due to egos and a woman, Savage’s manager and real life wife Miss Elizabeth. Savage was extremely protective over Elizabeth in character and in real life. So when the image of Hogan carrying Elizabeth to the back after she got knocked off the apron ate at Savage. Eventually, leading to the beloved “Mega Powers” split.
The reason this match is so low on this list is not because of quality of match. The match itself had good storytelling, had good psychology and was well done for the most part. The reason it is so low is because of the result. Savage was playing more of a heel role, but he was fighting for his wife essentially. The word “buried” gets thrown around a lot in wrestling circles and half of the time, it’s unwarranted. But this is one of the worst burials in wrestling history.
Not to mention, the match went the same way as every other Hogan match. He gets beat down, looks to be dead in the water, then boom: Hulk up, body slam, leg drop. 1-2-3. Hogan’s second WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
#23 WrestleMania XXV: Triple H vs. Randy Orton
This match had a good build up, but the storyline was significantly better than the match itself. Orton had won the WWE Championship from Triple H the year before and Triple H wanted his revenge. Orton was in the midst of one of his best heel runs in his career and had a lot of heat with the fans, was legitimately disliked.
Triple H came in as the champion as a face and there was a pre-match stipulation: if he had gotten himself disqualified or counted out he would lose his title to Orton. That was a weird decision because normally that’s what you would do to a heel, a face doesn’t usually do cowardly things like that. Those stipulations really limited how good the match could be. It felt like they were being very safe and not working the match to its full potential because of the stipulation.
The end spot would show the referee getting knocked out; Triple H uses Orton’s patented punt kick before then hitting him with a sledgehammer, then the pedigree. Triple H retains his title.
#22 WrestleMania VI: Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior
These are two of the three biggest faces in the early years of WrestleMania. Similar in size and stature, the fans would fall in love with both. Warrior would put his Intercontinental Championship on the line against Hogan and his WWF World Heavyweight Championship in a winner take all match that would have all the fans split on who they wanted to win.
The match dubbed “The Ultimate Challenge” was ultimately challenging to watch in 2017. The match was highlighted by a test of strength that lasts way longer than it should’ve and looks inappropriate at multiple points. Warrior would get the best of Hogan, which didn’t happen a lot and win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship and the Intercontinental Championship.
Wrestling is all about moments and regardless how the match went, Warrior holding up both title belts after the match was a great moment.
#21 WrestleMania X: Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart
A Bret Hart match for the WWF World Heavy Championship with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as the special guest referee, what could possibly go wrong? Yokozuna is the answer to that question. Apparently, the WWE loved their “classic” a year earlier at WrestleMania IX they decided to do it again.
In all honesty, this was an OK match. But the ending makes it look so bad. Yokozuna misses the Bonzai Drop and Hart just rolls on top and pins him to win the title. That is how the culmination of Hart took place. After the match, several notable WWE superstars came to the ring to hoist Hart on their shoulders and parade him around to show that he was the new guy in town. Given the fact that this was the first WrestleMania without Hulk Hogan, Hart was looked at as the new face of the company.
Look, if there are two matches on the card better than the main event and one of the participants in the main event was in one of those matches, it’s not one of the best main events.
#20 WrestleMania 22: John Cena vs. Triple H
Both John Cena and Triple H are two of the biggest stars in wrestling history. This was a marquee match that needed to happen. But the problem is that Cena, despite his popularity, has never been the best wrestler. Cena came into the match as the WWE Champion and would retain with the STF, forcing Triple H to submit.
The best part of this particular main event was the entrances of both men. Triple H was dressed as a king and just looked so large and important. Triple H has had some memorable entrances and this was one of them. Cena was accompanied by “gangsters” and came out with a tommy gun, was a very cool presentation.
Making the entrances grand for the main event is good; they should not overshadow the main event itself.
#19 WrestleMania 2000: Triple H vs. The Rock vs. Mick Foley vs. The Big Show
This star-studded, McMahon infested main event is often forgotten in amongst wrestling fans. But this was an entertaining main event for the most part. What turns people off of this the McMahon involvement with the match and the fact that it wasn’t just Triple H vs. The Rock in a singles match. Instead we got Mr. McMahon in The Rock’s corner, Stephanie McMahon in Triple H’s corner, Linda McMahon in Mick Foley’s corner and Shane McMahon in Big Show’s corner.
It was a fatal four way elimination match for the WWF Championship. Everyone ganged up on Big Show to eliminate him first, and then Foley was eliminated second, leaving us with what everyone wanted: Triple H vs. Rock. Mr. McMahon would hit Rock with a steel chair twice, helping Triple H win the match and retain the title. Afterwards, Rock hit the Rock Bottom on all the McMahons remaining in the ring and the People’s Elbow on Stephanie.
2000 was a good year for wrestling shows; this was perhaps the worst of them all.
#18 WrestleMania VII: Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan
“Superstars and Stripes Forever” was the clever tagline for this main event where WWF Champion Sgt. Slaughter turned heel by becoming an Iraqi sympathizer during the Gulf war would defend his title against American hero Hulk Hogan. Slaughter was as patriotic as they came, often starting “USA” chants, which made his heel turn one of the most controversial things the WWE has ever done. A loud crowd with Heenan and Monsoon on commentary made for a great show.
The match was really well done; Slaughter was on one of the best runs as an in-ring performer in his career and had legitimate heat with the fans. That created a great atmosphere for a main event of a WrestleMania. A bloodied Hogan wins with a big boot followed by a leg drop. Hogan put on the title bet and waves the American flag in the representation of a victory for the good ol’ U S of A.
This was the seventh of nine straight WrestleMania main event involvements for Hogan.
#17 WrestleMania X8: Chris Jericho vs. Triple H
Remember when Chris Jericho beat Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock to win the Undisputed WWF Championship in the same damn night? Well there’s a good chance that you don’t remember that Jericho defended that title against Triple H in the main event of a WrestleMania. We all remember WrestleMania X8 for one thing: The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan.
I know, I can’t believe that didn’t main event either. Jericho had Triple H’s wife Stephanie McMahon in her corner and they both made several attacks on Triple H’s bandaged leg throughout the match. Jericho in classic heel fashion went for the pedigree on Triple H, but was reversed into a catapult. Triple H then hit a pedigree of his own on Jericho and won the undisputed title.
Many WrestleMania matches have overshadowed the main event and I think this one is a perfect case of that.
#16 WrestleMania IV: Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase
The first and only tournament for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship took place and the final would lead to one of the best moments in WrestleMania history. Savage had Miss Elizabeth in his corner and the Million Dollar Man had Andre the Giant and Virgil in his.
Savage had wrestled one more match than DiBiase in the tournament which made for a great in-ring story. Savage is exhausted, fought all the way to get there while DiBiase was fresh and willing to slime his way to the championship. After getting worn down for much of the match, Savage started a comeback, which leads to him attempting the elbow drop off of the top rope. DiBiase moved out of the way and applied the million dollar dream on Savage. While Andre was distracting the referee, our old friend Hogan (remember him?) hit DiBiase with a steel chair and Savage pinned DiBiase, winning the title.
This match would be better if it wasn’t for the involvement of those not needed. But at least we still got Macho Madness! Ohhhhh yeaaaahhhh!
#15 WrestleMania 29: The Rock vs. John Cena
The once in a lifetime match between The Rock and John Cena was a classic battle between old generation and new generation, in front of the Miami crowd the crowd was split between the Florida boy Rock, and the Boston boy Cena. Everyone was happy that this was the main event (except CM Punk). Oh, wait.. they main evented WrestleMania again, exactly a year later for Rock’s WWE Championship.
How often is the sequel better than the original? Rocky IV and The Dark Knight Rises and what else? This match is lower than the original because it was even more predictable than the first. In the build up to this match, Cena repeatedly said that he needed to win this match and that his career depended on it. The match ended with several attempts at the same two moves, the Attitude Adjustment (AA) and the Rock Bottom. Both men reversed each move until Cena finally hit the AA to win the WWE Championship.
Part III is coming to a WrestleMania near you.
#14 WrestleMania 23: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels
World Tag Team Champions John Cena and Shawn Michaels faced off for the WWE Championship. Cena had main evented back to back WrestleMania’s as WWE Champion against DX members. This time it was his tag team partner challenging for his WWE Championship.
Cena is still early in his career and not the best wrestler (he never will be). But it takes two to tango and it doesn’t get much better than Mr. WrestleMania himself. HBK always put on a show on the biggest stage. Many spots that are memorable are Michaels pile driving Cena on the steel steps, HBK missing the sweet chin music and Cena failing to successfully “FU” Michaels. The ending sequence showed Cena putting Michaels in his “STFU” submission hold, Michaels climbing to the ropes to break, and then Cena re-applying before Michaels ultimately tapped out.
Cena defeated DX with the same move in back to back WrestleMania’s.
#13 WrestleMania 21: Triple H vs. Batista
Evolution was one of the best stables in WWE history and definitely was a staple for the attitude/ruthless aggression era’s success. The group consisted of its leader Triple H, legend Ric Flair and youngsters Randy Orton and Batista. The group began to split when Orton won the title the year prior and Triple H turned on him. That eventually would lead to this.
Batista won the Royal Rumble match and Triple H told him that he should challenge JBL for the WWE Championship rather than challenging him for the World Heavyweight Championship. Batista challenged Triple H anyway, leading to the complete tear down of Evolution. Batista would win the championship after hitting Triple H with the Batista Bomb and won the title for the first time in his career.
The future had arrived.
#12 WrestleMania XXVIII: John Cena vs. The Rock
The actual once in a lifetime event had been a year build up and delivered as much as it was hyped. Two of the biggest names in the WWE’s history were to face off in a match of epic proportions. The crowd was hot and everyone was in to the match, except the WWE Champion CM Punk.
The match had Rock kicking out of two AA’s and Cena kicking out of a Rock Bottom and a people’s elbow. Both things almost seemingly impossible. The match had great psychology especially the finish. Cena got over-confident in his soon to be victory when he busted out Rock’s people’s elbow, only for the Rock to counter into a Rock Bottom, costing Cena the match.
You wouldn’t believe it, but this match happens again.
#11 WrestleMania XXIV: Edge vs. The Undertaker
Eleven years after The Undertaker captured the WWF Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 13 by defeating Sid, the Deadman would return to the main event stage with another chance to capture a major title. This time, it was Edge’s World Heavyweight Championship.
Edge reversed several of Undertakers signature moves throughout this match. The choke slam, last ride and old school were all escaped by the Rated R Superstar. The 15-0 record seemed to be in jeopardy when Edge hit his spear, but Undertaker would kick out. An interference attempt by Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, “The Edge Heads” was unsuccessful. Undertaker would win the match and the title with his submission “Hell’s Gate.”
Undertaker improved to 16-0 at WrestleMania after his victory.
#10 WrestleMania XXVI: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
As mentioned earlier, it is hard for a sequel to be better than the original. The match Michaels and Undertaker had at WrestleMania XXV was one of the best WrestleMania matches of all time and if it was the main event, it might be #1 on this list. The reason this was the main event was because it was the streak vs. the career. There was so much on the line for these two legends of the sport.
Despite not being as great as the original, it was still a fantastic match. Michaels delivered one last memorable performance in about as good of a career you can have. Kicking out of chokeslams, last rides and two tombstones, Michaels would desperately hold on to his career for as long as he could. After wearing Undertaker down as much as he could, Undertaker would eventually tombstone Michaels one last time, ending his career.
The win improved Undertaker’s streak to 18-0; thank you for everything, HBK.
#9 WrestleMania XXX: Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan
The second triple threat to end a WrestleMania was one of the best moments in show history as well. The crowning of the ultimate underdog, an undersized, underestimated and beloved Daniel Bryan behind his “Yes Movement” had what every young wrestling fan dreams about: winning the undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania with all the fans cheering for you in unison.
Bryan had to win a match against Triple H to earn a spot in the match because of the authority storyline of them not believing in him. Randy Orton came in as champion and Batista won the Royal Rumble match. Orton and Batista took Bryan out of the match early and fought amongst themselves. Medical personnel tried to escort Bryan to the back on a stretcher but he fought and crawled back to the ring. Bryan reversed an RKO with a YES lock, before being broken up by Batista.
The ending sequence displayed Bryan locking in the YES lock before Batista finally tapped out; creating a lasting image is Bryan with both titles doing his YES chant with the fans in cohesion.
#8 WrestleMania XV: The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
The first of a three part saga between two absolute giants of wrestling, this match would deliver. A heel Rock a part of the corporation faced off against Stone Cold Steve Austin who had been feuding against Rock and Mr. McMahon for some time. This feud is one of the greatest feuds of all time and this is the start of it all.
Austin would whip up on Rock all around the arena not long into the match. They used everything they could find on the side of the stage, the ramp from cords, a t-shirt, steel barriers and the WrestleMania sign itself. McMahon would come down to the ring after several entertaining spots and near falls to try and screw Austin out of the title. After the referee got knocked out, Mankind came to the ring in a referee shirt and stopped McMahon and Rock from double teaming Austin. Mankind throws McMahon out of the ring; Austin hits the Stone Cold Stunner after avoiding the corporate elbow, capturing the title.
Stand by, there’s more good stuff from these two coming soon.
#7 WrestleMania 31: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
This is so high up because it was such a satisfying surprise. Everyone knew that Seth Rollins had the MITB briefcase but no one who had ever had the briefcase before had ever used it at WrestleMania. Brock Lesnar came in to WrestleMania as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and was facing Roman Reigns, who won the Royal Rumble. Rollins wasn’t booked to be in the match, he was in the match earlier in the night against Randy Orton, in which he lost.
To Lesnar and Reigns credit, they put on a show. The crowd was hot and into the match and they delivered. They hit each other with what looked to be real punches and Lesnar hit multiple F-5’s and German suplex’s leading to him yelling “Suplex City, Bitch!” Reigns began to comeback on Lesnar with multiple superman punches and a spear. After Lesnar kicked out, Reigns went for another superman punch but it was reversed into an F-5. Brock failed to cover Reigns and both men were down.
Rollins music hits, he sprints down to the ring with his briefcase and tells the referee he would like to cash in on his title match, right then and there, making it a triple threat match. Rollins would hit both Lesnar and Reigns with a curb stomp and pinned Reigns for the win, becoming the champion.
A fantastic sequence and perfectly booked finish to the show.
#6 WrestleMania XIV: Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
WrestleMania has had some of the biggest celebrities at the peak of their popularity be a part of the show. There’s an argument to be made that the WWE had no bigger guest appearance than Mike Tyson at WrestleMania XIV in 1998. Tyson was the special ring enforcer and had an encounter with Austin on a previous episode of RAW, leading him to side with DX. This was one of the most heavily anticipated main events in a couple of years.
This match was excellent and the fact that this would be Michaels’ last WrestleMania match for four years because of back surgery makes it even more impressive. Michaels and Austin went back and forth with multiple false finishes before the referee gets knocked out. Then Michaels goes for a superkick, Austin catches his foot, spins him around then wins the match with the Stone Cold Stunner. Except Tyson made the count, helping Austin win. Michaels got up and was confused, he confronted Tyson, who then struck him with a right hook.
Tyson rocked the Austin 3:16 shirt and the Austin era had officially begun.
#5 WrestleMania XX: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit
The first triple threat match to main event in WrestleMania history and the first WrestleMania to end in a submission. This match had everything and it was awesome. Triple H walked in as the World Heavyweight Champion and leader of Evolution, Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble and Michaels forced his way into the match because of his long feud with Triple H. This match would be higher on the list if it wasn’t for the circumstances that happened with Benoit later in his life.
These three men put together several incredible sequences and spots that got loud reactions from an already hot New York crowd. Benoit got taken out by Michaels and Triple H when they worked together to put him through a table. Michaels wanted to take care of his long time enemy by himself, to no avail. In one of the greatest endings in WrestleMania history, Benoit applied the crippler crossface to a bloodied Triple H. Triple H tried to counter by rolling through but Benoit kept the submission hold locked in the middle of the ring. Triple H would tap out, making Benoit the World Heavyweight Champion.
Longtime friend Eddie Guerrero had retained his WWE Championship earlier in the night and came down to the ring to celebrate them finally reaching the pinnacle of success.
#4 WrestleMania XIX: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
2017 Hall of Famer Kurt Angle might be the greatest pure wrestler the sport has ever seen, so it’s no surprise that the only main event he took place in is so high on this list. As WWE Champion, Angle looked to defend his title against Royal Rumble winner Brock Lesnar to close the show in 2003. This card had the most HOF’s and is argued that it is the most stacked WrestleMania card of all time, so to main event that show is a big deal and they absolutely did not disappoint.
If Angle were to get counted out or disqualified, he would lose the title to Lesnar. But that did not stop them from putting on a great show. Several reversals into suplex’s, ankle locks and Angle slams showed that Angle was in control. Everything was smooth in this match including the two F-5’s that Brock didn’t think was enough. After the second F-5 Lesnar climbed to the top rope and attempted a Shooting Star Press. He kind of looked like a frog if you grabbed it by the legs and flipped it, it was very awkward. It was high-risk high-reward and the reason it worked was because it showed how far he was willing to go to capture the title. After barely hitting angle with the high flying move, he picked him up for the third F-5 to win the match.
The image of Lesnar flying through the air is still one of the most memorable things to me.
#3 WrestleMania III: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
Fun fact: this is the only WrestleMania number to fall in its place in my rankings. Of all the WrestleMania main events that Hogan was involved in, this was by far the best. There’s also never been a more important main event in WrestleMania history. It’s hard to believe that many of these even happen if it wasn’t for the ending of WrestleMania III.
This was Andre’s last great match and it needed to be. Throughout the match Andre would knock Hogan down and demand him to get back up to continue his beating. Early in the match Hogan tried to slam Andre but failed to get him off of the ground. The ending sequence began when Andre Irish whipped Hogan and went for the big boot. Hogan ducked underneath the boot and knocked Andre off his feet for the first time in the match with a clothesline. Hogan “Hulked up” leading to the most iconic video in wrestling history: he body slammed the giant and then landed the leg drop and pinned him to retain his title.
That is the most important moment in wrestling history. However, that doesn’t make it the best.
#2 WrestleMania X-7: The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Remember when I said that no sequel is better than the original? Yeah, well, maybe I wasn’t 100% truthful. Storytelling my friends! This was the 2nd time that The Rock came into WrestleMania as WWF Champion and was trying to defend his title against Stone Cold Steve Austin. Also similar to the first time, Mr. McMahon has a huge involvement in the storyline and the match.
This match was no-DQ and was about as perfect of a match that these two could possibly have. Hard nose, physical and entertaining as all hell, you couldn’t take your eyes off of it. But the thing that will always be remembered the most about this match is the ending. Mr. McMahon hands Austin a chair and Austin hits Rock several times before finally landing the pin fall victory for the championship. A confused audience and Jim Ross on commentary are unsure of what just happened in front of them until: Austin shakes hands with McMahon. It was the ultimate heel turn. The great WrestleMania swerve!
Also, the reason this is #2 is because of Jim Ross. Announcers don’t always get the credit they deserve but for my money, this moment had the greatest call of any main event ever. “Austin sold his soul to Satan himself!” You can hear the passion in his voice. So incredibly awesome.
#1 WrestleMania XII: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
A one hour long iron man match for the WWF Championship between two hated rivals, not to mention that the hour passed with no finish, not to mention that Vince McMahon was the play by play announcer and you still enjoyed the entire match. I’m not sure there’s ever been a better WrestleMania match.
Bret Hart came into the match as the WWF Champion and thought that he was leaving as champion as well when an hour passed and neither him or Shawn Michaels could score a pinfall or submission. When Hart was making his way backstage, it was demanded that the match was restarted under sudden death rules. Michaels would hit the sweet chin music and capture the WWF Championship.
“The boyhood dream come true!”
If you read this entire thing I thank you or even if you scrolled to see if you agreed or disagreed with my placement of your favorite main event, thank you as well. If you have any gripes or grudges please share them with me on twitter @RandyTHJ and let’s talk about it. The list is my opinion.