WrestleMania is seen as a sacred event, and the biggest show the WWE puts on each year, and to main event a show with usually over 80,000 people in attendance should be seen as one of the biggest honors a professional wrestler could ever be given. Legends like The Rock, Stone Cold, HBK, John Cena, Triple H and The Undertaker have all headlined the Showcase of the Immortals, while some like CM Punk missed out, which infuriated him, showing just how much that main event means to every star on the roster.
The past two years, the main event has featured the ever popular Roman Reigns (sigh) in the top spot, despite so many other performers on the roster being more worthy and popular, even if WWE doesn’t believe it. While Reigns may see the main event again someday, with all the new talent WWE is pushing for its New Era, there is no doubting that there are many options now who should get the nod over Roman.
While this list may be seen as controversial, as such a thing is a matter of taste, here are 10 current WWE performers who should and 5 who shouldn’t main event the Night of Nights.
Rusev sure knows how to make a grand entrance at WrestleMania, that’s for sure, and as he develops and gets thrown into more intense, deep story lines, he should definitely get a chance to go on last at the biggest show of the year, even if it is in eventual defeat for a huge baby face pop. The Bulgarian Brute may be young and often over looked as a future talent for the company, since most fans look to indy stand outs, but Rusev is great in the ring, and with Lana by his side can rise to the very top of the card. Don’t expect this to be any time soon however, as Rusev holds the U.S Championship, and there are many competitors and stories to be told ahead of him, but he will eventually work his way to the top of the card and main event a WrestleMania.
14 Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe may be one of the oldest stars on this list, but is no doubt a monster heel who is deserving of a WrestleMania main event, as he is also one of the best workers in the industry, despite his larger size. Time is against Joe however, as he still remains in NXT, and may only have a 3-4 year window to prove himself on the main roster, but there is plenty of appealing matchups for him to end a WrestleMania. Joe could play the bully character he has perfected over his career, and match up against stars like AJ Styles, Sami Zayn or Finn Balor, or he could play the upstart monster against stars like Kevin Owens or Brock Lesnar, either way, Joe is one of the best wrestlers of this generation, and deserves the greatest honor the WWE has to offer.
2 years ago, if anyone had suggested that a female performer would headline WWE’s biggest event, they would have been scoffed at by 99.9% of people, but now, in the age of talented female performers, it not only should happen, it has to happen. Who better to be that first ever female WrestleMania main eventer than Bayley? Let’s look at a few reasons why this is not only plausible, but wanted by many in the WWE Universe. For starters, Bayley was one of the first females to headline a WWE Live event/Pay Per View (NXT Takeovers are the PPV equivalent for NXT), in what was the match of the event in a 30 minute Iron Woman match with fierce rival, Sasha Banks. Secondly, look at the reactions Bayley has gotten in her first 3 main roster appearances, where the crowds have reacted to the Huggable one with louder pops than that of New Day, Kevin Owens or Sami Zayn, which shows just how popular and respected she is among the fans (and not just the NXT fans, the wider WWE audience too).
12 Sasha Banks
A performer can’t main event WrestleMania on their own, right? So the obvious choice to be Bayley’s dance partner in that match would be her best opponent, the Boss, Sasha Banks. If you have watched the series of matches the 2 had in NXT, you will see why this is the easiest choice to make, as the two did everything you could want in the ring, from high spots, amazing technicality, and personal stories that the audience were easily invested in, making them two of the best NXT performers in history. The story again would be easy to tell, and easy to follow, and while most people think Vince McMahon is set in his ways, this would be the perfect opportunity to show just what a revolutionary he is. Interesting to note, WrestleMania 33 is in NXT country, and what better way to finish that show than with 2 of the promotions greatest, in a rematch of arguably the best match in NXT history?
11 Sami Zayn
The Underdog from the Underground may be someone that not many people expected to be on this list, but plain and simple, no one, and I mean no one in the WWE tells a better story in the ring than Sami Zayn, and that is what’s needed for a truly great WrestleMania main event. Similar to Daniel Bryan a few years ago, Zayn has the ability to get the crowd behind him with his underdog persona, combines with an amazing wrestling ability, which is matched by few in the company today. Zayn’s list of amazing opponents is a long one in the company, from KO to AJ Styles to Cesaro to Shinsuke Nakamura, but he has a knack for giving matches a big fight feel, and there is no bigger than the last match at WrestleMania. Perhaps the next entry could be Zayn’s ticket to the main event?
10 Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens was recently crowned the second ever Universal Champion, and is apparently positioned as Triple H’s new ‘guy’ (we all know they are good friends backstage, as is Trips with every NXT performer), which could cement him as the main event heel for years to come (presuming this is a Seth Rollins face turn as it seems). Depending on how far WWE carry that story could depend on KO’s spot at the upcoming WrestleMania, but for the ‘Prize Fighter’ there would be no bigger stage to fight for a prize than the Grandest Stage of them all, which KO is deserving of after a decade + in the industry. The best option for the main event however is Sami Zayn, and while many may be tired of the rivalry, if given a year apart, the two could tell a fresh, exciting story that is more than worthy of the main event of WrestleMania.
9 Bray Wyatt
If there is any performer on this list who could sell a WrestleMania main event purely with his mouth, it’s Bray Wyatt, who continues to be one of the most under used yet charismatic performers under the WWE umbrella. When it comes to reinvention, no one has done it better than Wyatt, who turned around his Husky Harris gimmick to become one of the most popular stars on the roster, even when WWE have given him nothing. Wyatt has constantly been over looked and booked on the wrong side of feuds, but hopefully with the brand split he can be given more of a focus, as he starts off against Randy Orton. Bray has an Undertaker like aura about him, and in a character driven company like WWE, he has stood out among the best, and has improved in the ring mightily in recent times, making him a prime candidate for multiple main events of Mania down the line, once WWE figure out what they have on their hands.
8 Shinsuke Nakamura
One of only two NXT performers on this list, if you have seen Nakmura even once, you know that he is perfect for a WrestleMania main event. With just 4 big, headline NXT matches under his belt, Nakamura dominated Samoa Joe on his way to winning the NXT title, and every appearance he makes is special, he has this Brock Lesnar type aura about him. Whether it comes against Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, a rematch with Lesnar or his Wrestle Kingdom 10 opponent AJ Styles, Nakamura is a lock for multiple Mania main events, which should make him the greatest Japanese star in WWE history. We saw Shinsuke’s amazing entrance at NXT Takeover: Back 2 Brooklyn with just one man on violin, can you imagine, in front of 90,000 people, the King of Strong Style making his way to the ring with an entire orchestra? It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.
7 Finn Balor
Just after his arrival from NXT, Balor was pushed to the moon, and became the first ever Universal Champion, before the most untimely and heart breaking injuries occurred. Despite this unfortunate injury, Balor looked and was treated like a superstar, and it set him apart as one of the most important figures of the New Era, and not much should change upon his return. As it is often said in wrestling, timing is everything, and Finn came to the main roster at the perfect time to be a star, with plenty of opportunities and opponents to battle, to lead the WWE into the future. With several years left on his career, there is no doubting that Balor should and will main event the big one, but with so many tantalizing matchups, with the likes of Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, John Cena or the Undertaker, the only real question is who does Balor end the show with?
6 AJ Styles
There is no doubting, whether you were a fan of his before WWE or not that AJ Styles has been WWE’s MVP in 2016, his first year with the company, as he has put on amazing matches with everyone he has faced, and is doing the best work of his career on the microphone. This has all led up to a 2-0 series victory over John Cena, making AJ ‘the New Face that runs the place’, and definitely worthy of a main event match at WrestleMania, especially since he should be holding the WWE Championship in the near future. AJ has been a headliner everywhere he has been, and WWE should be no different, and with the right story, and the right opponent, he could truly have a Mania main event that will be remembered for.
5 Baron Corbin
While Baron Corbin is quite new in the wrestling business, and has a presence about him, nothing screams WrestleMania main event when you see him work. The former NFL player without a doubt can win a World Championship with WWE, and could play an important role in many WrestleMania’s in undercard title matches, he doesn’t quite have the IT factor that people would want to see last at the biggest event of the year. While the Lone Wolf may improve a lot between now and 2018, it is unlikely that he will improve enough to be seen as a main eventer over the current crop of independent/NXT talents coming through the company, who all offer a lot more than Corbin (which isn’t to say he won’t be valuable to the company, he will, just not enough to be seen as that big of a star).
4 Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews is by far the most athletic big man in the history of WWE, but that’s it, that’s all he offers fans. He has no personality, no reason to get behind him, no character development or depth, which really hurts a performer who wishes to main event WrestleMania. You will begin to notice a theme with all the performers on the list of ‘should’, as they are all amazing in ring competitors, but they offer fans reasons to get invested in them, whether it be their past in NXT or outside WWE, amazing microphone abilities and character work, all which make them viable candidates for Mania, but Crews just lacks that something to make him special. Crews can always be counted on for a good match, but even then, fans find it hard to invest in the result, maybe with a manager or a change in character, Crews can find that something special, but until then, he will find it hard to even crack the main event scene.
The Celtic Warrior seems to have reached the peak of his WWE career, but Vince McMahon seems to love pushing the Irish brawler, even when he seems out of place at the top of the card, so much so that it’s surprising he has never main evented a Mania before. With a unique style, and a very unique (or stupid, depending on who you ask) look, Sheamus just isn’t the big heel draw that he used to be after his failed baby face turn, the fans just really couldn’t care about him, unless it’s chanting “you look stupid” at him. Out of all the veterans on the roster, Sheamus can be counted on for a good, hard-hitting match, but when it comes to selling a match as a top heel, there is just too many guys ahead of Sheamus who deserve it more.
Cesaro may be one of the most popular stars in WWE, and without a doubt worthy of a World Championship, but the fact of the matter is that he can’t sell a match with a story line, despite being one of the most gifted in ring performers in WWE history. While it would be no surprise to anyone to see the Swiss Superman competing for a World Title, he simply wouldn’t go on last, as there are many more younger and equally as talented stars who the audience are much more invested in for their strengths as all around characters. If Cesaro can improve his abilities on the microphone and add depth to his character, than maybe one day he could be worthy of the great honor of a main event, but as he currently stands, WWE don’t see enough money in Cesaro as a main eventer, especially with the likes of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens and Brock Lesnar ahead of him.
1 Dean Ambrose
Despite the fact that he is WWE Champion as of this writing, Dean Ambrose just feels out of place in the main event scene, despite being quite popular with the fans ever since his debut with the Shield. His ‘wackiness’, which in WWE is nothing more than childish antics make him seem like more of a sideshow than a Champion, and his constant joking in the ring makes it hard to see serious interactions with others as serious (see: Dolph Ziggler). In the lead up to WrestleMania this year, that Dean Ambrose who was a no nonsense ass kicker who wanted to prove he was the best, that Ambrose could be one of the greats of this generation, but management seems to want to push the idea of him as a lunatic, which lessens his talents in the ring. I personally don’t enjoy Ambrose, but I see great potential if he goes back to that pre-Mania style, but in his current form, I don’t see him ending a WrestleMania.
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