There is no disputing the fact that WrestleMania has played host to many of the greatest matches in the history of the WWE and professional wrestling as a whole. Performing on the big stage makes it possible for great matches to become legendary, but it also allows poor matches to live on forever in the minds of wrestling fans.
While it isn't always the case, the main event is usually the most memorable match of the show. A top title tends to be on the line and the WWE likes to empty its tank in terms of star power. Even so, there have been plenty of main events over the course of WrestleMania's 29-year history that haven't lived up to the hype and aren't looked upon fondly today.
The main event is so important when it comes to the overall quality of WrestleMania that it is difficult for a 'Mania to be considered great if the show doesn't come to a satisfying end. While The Rock vs. John Cena may not have totally lived up to expectations last year, the atmosphere made for an electric encounter.
If things go the way people expect them to this year with Cena beating The Rock cleanly, then there will be more than a few fans calling it one of the worst main events in WrestleMania history.
Since it's futile to speculate on what will happen with the main event a couple weeks from now, though, here are the 10 worst WrestleMania main events of all time.
Up until WrestleMania 2000, all but one 'Mania main event had been a singles match. The lone exception was Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff in a tag-team match at the inaugural WrestleMania. A different spin was put on things at WrestleMania 2000, though, as the main event was a Fatal Four Way Elimination match featuring Triple H, The Rock, Mick Foley and Big Show vying for the WWE Championship.
The match is not only notable for being a Fatal Four Way, but each combatant had a member of the McMahon family in his corner. Triple H had his wife Stephanie, The Rock had Vince, Foley had Linda and Big Show had Shane.
As intriguing as the bout was, it simply didn't live up to expectations as there was too much going on at once. I'm not going to say that multi-man matches can't work as the main event at WrestleMania, but singles matches are generally the right way to go.
Big Show was the first to be eliminated from the contest, followed by Foley, so it came down to Triple H and The Rock. Just when it seemed like The Rock had things under control, Vince turned on him by hitting him with a chair. Triple H ultimately capitalized by pinning The Rock to retain the title. The Rock stood tall at the end of the night despite the loss as he took out Vince, Shane and Stephanie.
The twist at the end was solid, but the Fatal Four Way came across as lazy booking and didn't have the feel of a huge spectacle like Vince probably thought it would.
When Bret Hart and Yokozuna faced off at WrestleMania IX for the WWE Championship, it was something new and different, and both men turned in impressive performances. When they went at it once again at WrestleMania X, however, the novelty had worn off and it simply wasn't as good.
Aside from the fact that Hart beating Yokozuna for the WWE Championship was a feel-good moment, there aren't many positives that can be taken from this contest.
WrestleMania X was unique because it featured two separate WWE Championship matches. Hart and Lex Luger were declared co-winners of the Royal Rumble, which meant that they would both receive a shot at Yokozuna's title.
Luger got the first crack at it, but he lost via disqualification. Hart holds the distinction of being the only man to both open and close a single WrestleMania as he lost to his brother Owen in the opener.
Bret was forced to wrestle an extra match to compensate for fatigue as Yoko had to wrestle Luger as well as Hart. The fact that Bret competed in a 20-minute classic early in the night and Yokozuna had a near-15-minute match with Luger probably contributed to the lackluster main event.
Both men had already poured a lot of themselves into the event, but they were asked to give even more, which probably wasn't a realistic expectation.
The main issue I have with the match is the ending as Yokozuna's lengthy title reign came to an end after he fell off the ropes while attempting the Banzai Drop. I realize it would have been tough for Bret to lock in the Sharpshooter, but surely the creative team could have come up with something better than that.
It can be argued that Triple H vs. Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXV doesn't belong on this list purely from an in-ring perspective as the match wasn't quite as bad as some insist, but compared to the great build it received, this bout fell flat.
Triple H and Orton had a very personal rivalry that was quite entertaining on weekly television, however, they didn't seem to have good chemistry during the bout and it ended up being a major disappointment when you consider how great it could have been.
The common criticism regarding this match is that it should have had a stipulation. I normally prefer regular singles matches as WrestleMania main events, but based on the way their feud played out, this definitely should have been No Holds Barred.
Instead, the stipulation stated that Triple H would lose the WWE Championship if he was counted out or disqualified. Triple H ultimately used the sledgehammer anyway and got away with it, but it should have been a hardcore brawl from start to finish.
Another strange decision that was made happened early in the match as both superstars executed their finishing moves. Orton hit an RKO and Triple H landed a Pedigree, but both only led to near falls. I suppose they wanted to try something different, but it made their finishers look weak and it killed the pace of the match as they had to battle back from being incapacitated with high-impact maneuvers.
Triple H went on to win the match and stand tall, which was the proper conclusion considering how their feud went, but their WrestleMania encounter will always be viewed as a missed opportunity.
Although the WrestleMania VII card was stacked with talent, it is widely considered to be one of the worst 'Mania's of all time due to a lack of meaningful matches. The retirement match between Randy "Macho Man" Savage and The Ultimate Warrior was great, but there wasn't much beyond that.
The event was headlined by Hulk Hogan as he challenged Sgt. Slaughter for the WWE Championship. The storyline heading into the show was actually very good, but it didn't translate into a great WrestleMania match.
It can be argued that Slaughter was among the most hated heels of all time ahead of WrestleMania VII as he had gone from an American hero to an Iraqi sympathizer in the middle of the Persian Gulf War.
Slaughter often said derogatory things about the United States and it was said that he desecrated the American flag, although that was never actually shown. The only person who could stop him was professional wrestling's greatest patriot in the form of Hogan.
Hogan had seemingly passed the torch to The Ultimate Warrior one year earlier, but Warrior's title reign didn't really resonate with the fans. Hogan was thrust back into the spotlight because of that and was charged with unseating Slaughter.
It wasn't Hogan's worst match by any means, but he obviously wasn't a technical marvel. Slaughter was reaching the end of the line as a full-time competitor at the time as well, so his in-ring movement was greatly compromised.
Seeing Hogan busted open was something different and his victory was definitely a great moment during a trying time in the United States, but the bout carried on a bit too long and doesn't have the staying power the WWE thought it would.
The most recent match to make this list occurred just two years ago at WrestleMania XXVII. That particular 'Mania is considered to be one of the worst of all time by many for several reasons. For one, it was sandwiched in between two high-quality WrestleManias, so it had a lot to live up to.
Perhaps more importantly, though, the main event between The Miz and John Cena wasn't particularly good and it featured an ending that people still complain about to this very day.
As a huge fan of The Miz, I was actually looking forward to this match. That wasn't the case for everyone, though, as The Miz wasn't really an established main-eventer at the time. The build toward the match didn't do him any favors either as it focused more on the rivalry between The Rock and Cena.
The Rock returned to host WrestleMania XXVII and he immediately took aim at Cena. It almost seemed like The Miz was placed on the back burner and became an afterthought despite his status as WWE Champion.
That was proven true as the match initially ended when both Miz and Cena were counted out. The Rock came to the ring and demanded that the match be restarted under No Holds Barred rules, though.
Rocky then proceeded to hit Cena with a Rock Bottom, which allowed The Miz to gain the pinfall victory and retain his title. Within 24 hours nobody was talking about The Miz's win, though, as The Rock vs. Cena was set for WrestleMania the following year.
Cena isn't as bad of a worker as people make him out to be, but he generally needs to face a great worker in order to have a great match. The Miz has improved a lot as a wrestler, but he was still learning two years ago, so their bout ultimately fell flat.
The Undertaker has had some of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, but his encounter with Sycho Sid at WrestleMania 13 certainly wasn't one of them.
WrestleMania 13 is probably best known for the submission match between Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. It led to Hart's heel turn and Austin's face turn, and it essentially catapulted the WWE into the Attitude Era. Taker vs. Sid couldn't compete with that, but it was mediocre no matter how you slice it.
Although it's certainly debatable, the argument can easily be made that the build toward the WrestleMania 13 main event was the worst of all time. Sid defeated Hart for the title on an episode of Raw and The Undertaker was promptly named No. 1 contender as he was the runner-up in the Fatal Four Way in which Hart initially won the title.
There was no real heat between The Undertaker and Sid, but the WWE thought it was a good enough match to headline 'Mania.
That wasn't the case at all as Hart and Austin stole the show. Hart got involved in Taker vs. Sid on multiple occasions as well. He hit Sid with a chair at one point and interfered later in the match as well. That allowed The Undertaker to gain the upper hand and hit Sid with a Tombstone.
It was cool to see The Phenom win the big one at WrestleMania, but the match simply wasn't very good and it was more about getting Hart over as a heel than anything else.
Perhaps the only saving grace when it comes to this match is the longstanding rumor that Sid had a bowel malfunction in the middle of it. Although that has never been confirmed, it's really the only noteworthy thing to come from the bout.
Sid had two cracks at main-eventing WrestleMania and he came up small on both occasions despite his robust physical stature. While his match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 13 was poor, his battle with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VIII was slightly worse.
Sid Justice had gained popularity quickly in the WWE, but after a run-in with Hogan during the 1992 Royal Rumble, he promptly turned heel and feuded with the immortal one. The match should have been a big deal; however, it fell well short of expectations.
Hogan has had some great WrestleMania matches over the years against guys like Randy "Macho Man" Savage, The Rock and even The Ultimate Warrior, but he usually had trouble making it work against poor in-ring performers.
Warrior was an exception to the rule, as was Andre the Giant, but those bouts transcended the in-ring work due to their importance. That same importance wasn't present when Hogan faced Sid.
One reason for their match being looked at so negatively actually has nothing to do with the contest itself. A far superior match took place in the middle of the card as Savage defeated Ric Flair for the WWE Championship.
The WWE was so worried about putting Hogan on last, though, that it missed an opportunity to end the show on a great note with Savage winning back the title and celebrating in the ring with Elizabeth.
Also, the ending to Hogan vs. Sid was awful. Papa Shango was supposed to break up a pinfall attempt from Hogan, but he missed his cue and was late getting there. Hogan ultimately won by disqualification, which set up The Ultimate Warrior's return as he saved Hogan from an attack. Maybe it could have been a great moment, but Warrior's return fizzled, and so did this match.
During the first couple WrestleManias, match quality didn't seem to be a huge concern for Vince McMahon. He was more worried about the spectacle, which proved to be an effective line of thinking as WrestleMania became one of the biggest events in sports entertainment.
McMahon went all out when it came to WrestleMania II as he simulcasted the show from three different venues. It was ultimately a success, but the main event between Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy hasn't aged well.
Hogan has faced a ton of monster heels over the years and very few of them have resulted in great matches. His bout with Bundy was no different. The added steel cage stipulation did make it a bit more interesting, but there wasn't much to get excited about.
Bundy got busted open and Hogan was able to slam him, however, I'm not sure anyone ever bought Bundy as a real threat to beat Hogan for the WWE Championship.
Holding WrestleMania II at three different venues may have been good for the WWE from a business perspective, but it forced the company to spread the talent throughout the country.
Hogan vs. Bundy took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, while the other two-thirds of the card were staged at the Nassau Coliseum and Rosemont Horizon. The WWE wanted to have a draw in each location, so it skimped a bit on Hogan's opponent.
A singles match between Hogan and Roddy Piper would have been much better, but the WWE decided to have Piper box Mr. T instead. WrestleMania II was all about mass appeal at the time, so it doesn't necessary have staying power 27 years later.
With The Rock returning to face John Cena in the WrestleMania main event for the past two years, it is obvious that the WWE is trying to cater both to its diehard fans and non-wrestling fans.
The same was true at WrestleMania I as Mr. T competed in the main event and several other celebrities were involved. That idea is still viewed as a successful one, but the WWE's attempt to mesh with the NFL at WrestleMania XI was bashed at the time and continues to be bashed today.
The WWE has never been shy about hitching its wagon to something successful, and there may be no more successful professional sports league in the world than the NFL. Because of that, the WWE placing former New York Giants star linebacker Lawrence Taylor in the WrestleMania XI main event was smart in theory.
It wasn't reflected in the pay-per-view buyrates, however, and the rest of the card wasn't strong enough to make up for a low-quality main event.
Taylor faced an incredibly talented and accomplished big man in the match in the form of Bam Bam Bigelow. Bigelow had mixed it up with Taylor at the Royal Rumble, which led to the WrestleMania match being put in place.
As much as I liked Bigelow, he wasn't a main-event player at the time, so nobody really cared to see him in that role. He managed to make Taylor look like a passable grappler in the match, but it just wasn't a main-event-worthy bout.
LT ended up winning the match and sent the fans home happy. Even so, WrestleMania XI may very well be the worst of all time. That isn't entirely the fault of Taylor and Bigelow as they did the best they could, but they didn't help matters, either.
It should come as no surprise that the worst WrestleMania main event of all time is the only one that wasn't announced ahead of time. After winning the 1993 Royal Rumble, Yokozuna earned the right to face Bret Hart for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania IX.
Yokozuna won the match and nabbed the title, but Hulk Hogan came out afterward. Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji challenged Hogan for the newly-won title for some odd reason, leading to Hogan's fifth WWE Championship reign.
The match itself isn't as unbearable as some of the other ones on this list since it only lasted 22 seconds, but the logic behind it was flawed to say the least. Rather than letting Yokozuna have his moment, Hogan felt the need to stick his nose into the main event.
Hogan had headlined every WrestleMania prior to IX with the exception of IV, so he probably figured that he was entitled to the main-event match even though it made no sense whatsoever.
Hogan's contention was that WrestleMania should end with a face standing tall, but it's clear that his motives were self-serving. He dropped the title back to Yokozuna at King of the Ring 1993 anyway, so there was no need for this match to even happen. The Hart vs. Yokozuna main event was nothing to write home about, but it would have been a much better way to end the show than what we saw instead.
Despite everything that has happened with him in recent years and all the rumors that have come out regarding how difficult it was to work with him, Hogan remains one of my all-time favorite wrestlers. Even so, I can't defend his involvement in the WrestleMania IX main event as it was easily the worst main event in WrestleMania history.