5 Past WrestleMania Matches That Should Have Been Main Events
In these five instances, WWE's grandest event didn't end with the biggest, most compelling match on the card. Icons have been passed over. Championship matches have been forced out of the way by lesser fare.
An ideal WrestleMania builds from the opening match to the climactic meeting of megastars that is the main event. The events on this list, however, had less-worthy battles following matches that would have made fitting main events.
One will notice that Shawn Michaels appears several times here. That comes as no surprise as Michaels built a reputation for being the star of The Show of Shows.
It's not just which matches were the best of the night or Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage at WrestleMania III would have shown up here as well. Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan was nowhere near the marvel that Savage and Steamboat was, but the star power of those two men, the drama of the story going in, all made it a fitting match to end the night on.
A main event simply feels bigger than the other matches. The matches on this list felt more important and grander than the matches that came after them.
Let's begin in 1992 and make our way toward the present.
WrestleMania VIII: Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair
Actual Main Event: Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice
Hulk Hogan's superstar status had him in the main event spot at WrestleMania VIII despite not being in the WWE title picture. That's a defensible position, but it's hard to understand why Randy Savage's championship win over Ric Flair was pushed so low down on the card.
An emotional and bloody battle between two all-time greats was the fifth match of nine that night.
Owen Hart vs. Skinner came after it, as did Tatanka vs. Rick Martel.
What a way to suck the momentum out of an event. After Flair and Savage worked the crowd into a frenzy, WrestleMania VIII then followed it up with a handful of forgettable midcard bouts.
Hogan vs. Sid Justice was a decent battle of big dudes with sizable names, but Flair and Savage's masterwork should have been the highlight of the event.
WrestleMania XI: Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel
Actual Main Event: Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
There are certainly matches that could rightfully surpass the WWE title match as the main event in certain situations, but not one involving a non-wrestler.
While it was great for Bam Bam Bigelow to get his shot in the spotlight, his match didn't feel like a main event, especially a WrestleMania main event. Floyd Mayweather vs. Big Show didn't headline WrestleMania XXIV and neither should have this one.
Shawn Michaels challenging his former bodyguard Diesel for the WWE Championship should have received top billing.
The WWE title is part of that. The fact that Michaels was such a huge star, such a huge part of the company also should have earned him main-event status. As we've come to expect, Michaels put on a fantastic performance.
None of those things, though, even the additions of celebrities Jenny McCarthy and Pamela Anderson, earned this match the top spot.
Instead, WrestleMania XI's main event is a big reason why so many fans consider it a bust of an event.
WrestleMania X8: The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan
Actual Main Event: Triple H vs. Chris Jericho
In 2002, WWE decided to place the WWE title match over all the other WrestleMania X8 bouts. That's a logical move and one that deserves no complaint the majority of the time. This was a special case, though.
As great as Triple H and Chris Jericho are and were, they will never have The Rock and Hulk Hogan's star power.
Hulk Hogan remains one of the most famous wrestlers of any era. He was a major part of WWE's growth into a global empire and of WrestleMania's early success. The Rock is one of the most beloved stars in the business, a man who has since had his fame balloon thanks to success in Hollywood.
When those two icons met, it should have trumped all other matches, championships be damned.
Championship matches happen several times a year. Dream matches are rare and should be treasured.
Hogan vs. Rock left the Toronto crowd drained. Seeing two legends put on the fabulous show that they did left the crowd with little energy to give to Triple H vs. Jericho.
Jericho and The Game's match was good, but when one thinks back to WrestleMania X8, for most, the most iconic image is Hogan and Rock staring each other down in the ring, the Skydome afire with energy.
WrestleMania 21: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle
Actual Main Event: Batista vs. Triple H
Saying that Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle's classic match should have been the main event for WrestleMania 21 isn't an indictment of Batista and Triple H; it's a sign of respect for Angle and Michaels.
It makes perfect sense to put the crowning achievement of a rising star in Batista winning the world title at the top of the card. Batista and Triple H put on a good match as well. It's just that in 2005, Michaels and Angle were the two best wrestlers in WWE.
Their meeting didn't have the dream-match quality of The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan, but the stature of both Angle and Michaels should have given this match top billing.
Mr. WrestleMania vs. an Olympic gold medalist doesn't happen often. To top it off, Angle and Michaels put on a performance that would have been a perfect climax to WrestleMania 21.
Wrestlemania 25: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker
Actual Main Event: Triple H vs. Randy Orton
Two world title matches followed what should have been the true main event.
Arguably the two greatest performers in WWE history faced off at the peak of their talent with Undertaker's WrestleMania streak on the line. That fact should have trumped the lack of championship on the line in their clash.
No disrespect to Randy Orton, Triple H, John Cena, Big Show or Edge, but Michaels and Undertaker's star power and all-time greatness outshone all those men, regardless of their place on the card.
After Michaels and Undertaker put on one of the greatest matches in wrestling history, WWE made their rematch the main event of WrestleMania 26.