The Top 10 Biggest WrestleMania “Demotions”
The announcement was made tonight on RAW that Triple H would face Sheamus at WrestleMania XXVI, making this the first WrestleMania since 2001 that “The Cerebral Assassin” hasn’t been in a match for the WWE or World Championship.
Furthermore, Sheamus is practically a rookie. He debuted in WWE less than a year ago (on the ECW brand, no less), debuted on RAW five months ago, and in total has wrestled only four times on pay-per-view.
At WrestleMania XXV, Triple H successfully defended the WWE Title in the last match of the night. So, why, then, just a year later, does it seem like he’s getting a demotion?
The most likely reason is just that he’s already feuded with every big name on RAW and SmackDown!
With this supposed “demotion” on the horizon, here are a few other instances of a top WWE superstar in a main event at WrestleMania one year, and then way down on the card the next.
King Kong Bundy - WrestleMania III
King Kong Bundy was the first “monster heel” to threaten Hulk Hogan, and he challenged Hogan for the WWF Championship in the main event of WrestleMania II.
At WrestleMania III, however, Bundy wrestled in a mixed six-man tag team match, teaming with midget wrestlers Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook, against Hillbilly Jim, The Haiti Kid, and Little Beaver.
Incidentally, it wasn’t battling Hogan in a steel cage that was Bundy’s “WrestleMania moment,” it was being ganged up on by a group of midgets.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage - WrestleMania VI
“Macho Man” Randy Savage defended the WWF Championship against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania V, in a match billed as “The Mega Powers Explode.”
At WrestleMania VI, though, Savage teamed with Sensational Queen Sherri in a mixed tag team match against Dusty Rhodes and his manager, Sapphire.
The feud would culminate at that year’s SummerSlam in a one-on-one match between Rhodes and Savage, which lasted all but two minutes.
Lex Luger - WrestleMania XI
In 1994, Lex Luger co-won the Royal Rumble (with Bret Hart), and was the first of the two to challenge Yokozuna for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania X.
A year later, Luger teamed up with “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith (as The Allied Powers) against The Blu Brothers in the opening match of WrestleMania XI.
Luger became the first WWF superstar to “main event” WrestleMania one year and open it the next.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin - WrestleMania X8
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeated The Rock for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania X-Seven. He was set to face Hulk Hogan in a “dream” match at WrestleMania X8, but neither could agree on an appropriate finish.
So instead, he faced another returning member of the N.W.O., Scott Hall.
Austin reportedly didn’t want to work with Hall because he was afraid that Hall’s history of alcoholism and sloppiness in the ring could pose a risk to his own history of neck injuries.
They wrestled for less than 10 minutes and after the match, Austin was as healthy as a horse, but the damage was done: he walked out on WWE just three months later.
Booker T - WrestleMania XX
At WrestleMania XIX, Booker T became the first African-American to challenge for a world championship at WrestleMania.
At WrestleMania XX, he went on second, and defended the World Tag Team Championship with Rob Van Dam in a four-way match that was more appropriate for an episode of RAW.
Chris Jericho - WrestleMania XX and 21
Chris Jericho suffered a bit of a double demotion, really.
In the main event of WrestleMania X8, he defended the first Undisputed Championship against Triple H.
He even stole the show at WrestleMania XIX in a “dream” match with Shawn Michaels.
But a year later, at WrestleMania XX, Jericho was nothing more than a stepping stone for the potential future main-eventer, Christian.
Then, at WrestleMania 21, Jericho didn’t even have a singles match or a feud of his own. He introduced the “Money in the Bank” ladder match, went on second, and lost.
Had he stayed in WWE another year (he left that August), I can only assume that at the next ‘Mania, his match would have been on Heat.
Chris Benoit - WrestleMania 21
Chris Benoit won his first World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania XX.
To see him crying as he was handed the title, and then greeted by his real-life best friend, Eddie Guerrero, was a moment both poignant and genuine.
A year later and Benoit was without an opponent, without a storyline, and went on second in the inaugural “Money in the Bank” ladder match.
His participation in the match made it all the more apparent that his victory at WrestleMania XX was about creating a “moment,” and not introducing a main-eventer.
Eddie Guerrero - WrestleMania 21
Like his best friend, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero overcame a long, arduous journey to win his first world championship.
He then successfully retained that newly won title against Kurt Angle in one of the featured main events of WrestleMania XX.
But, also like Benoit at WrestleMania 21, Guerrero took a nasty bump down the card, opening the show against Rey Mysterio.
After one year between WrestleManias, Guerrero went from retaining a world championship in a main event to losing a “friendly competition” in the opener.
Edge and Randy Orton - WrestleMania 23
At WrestleMania 22, Edge defeated Mick Foley in what many consider the greatest “hardcore” match of all time.
On the same night, Randy Orton challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship.
After teaming up as Rated RKO, the two somehow found themselves in the opener of WrestleMania 23, an eight-man “Money in the Bank” ladder match.
“Money in the Bank” had become more of a showcase for up-and-comers, and both Edge and Orton were outshined by The Hardy Boys, CM Punk, and the winner of the match, Mr. Kennedy.
Batista - WrestleMania XXIV
At WrestleMania 23, Batista defended the World Heavyweight Championship against The Undertaker, in one of the most anticipated and acclaimed matches of 2007.
A year later and Batista was relegated to representing SmackDown! in an inter-promotional match against Umaga.
The match went on third, was seven minutes long, and given the reason for their feud, seemed better suited for the next “Draft” special than a WrestleMania.