Let’s face it: WWE isn’t as popular as it was before. With its rapidly declining TV ratings and less-than-stellar house show attendances, you can’t blame the company for relying on nostalgia. One of the biggest trends today is the participation of notable names from the past. We saw superstars from previous eras become part of major angles and events, most of which produced the most talked about moments. Indeed, their involvement helped the WWE bounce back from its low viewership numbers. They may not appear regularly, but they remain as the highlight of almost every show.
Despite its success, the idea of constantly putting the spotlight on the part timers has taken its toll on the full time wrestlers who worked hard to get their spots. Up and coming superstars are forced to step aside in order for the legends to shine, and whether the company admits it or not, it has become more frequent today. Unsurprisingly, the fans started to dislike the concept. They want to see more of the active roster and less of the part time superstars.
Now that WrestleMania 33 is just around the corner, don’t expect the WWE to slow down on this. As long as the part timers remain the trending topic on social media, the company will certainly capitalize on it. So, with that being said, let’s take a look back at the 15 instances where the part timers hogged the spotlight. Brock, Triple H, and Taker are mentioned a few times here, please don’t hurt us guys!
15 The Rock At WrestleMania XXVII, XXVIII, 29, and 32
We all love Dwayne Johnson, but we have to admit that he was overexposed at the recent WrestleManias. At 27, instead of being just a host, he became involved in the WWE Title match by hitting John Cena with a Rock Bottom, paving the way for their feud. At 28 and 29, he and Cena competed in the main event, ending CM Punk’s dreams of headlining the Grandest Stage Of Them All. He didn’t wrestle at 32, but he had a semi-entertaining promo with Bray Wyatt, which resulted in a one-on-one match with Wyatt Family member Erick Rowan. Instead of a back-and-forth bout, we saw The Great One emerge victorious in just six seconds. The promo did absolutely nothing to elevate The Wyatt Family.
14 The Undertaker At WrestleMania 31
You may say that Taker winning at WrestleMania 31 was fair, especially after Brock Lesnar ended his undefeated streak, but they should’ve chosen a different opponent for him. The New Face of Fear Bray Wyatt has been on a roll during that time, and a monumental WrestleMania win was the only thing missing. So, when it was announced that he will go one-on-one with The Deadman at the Showcase of the Immortals, we expected that he will be the two in 21-2. He even managed to make the buildup interesting even without the presence of Taker. Wyatt lost the match after a second Tombstone Piledriver, and went back to the midcard. Thankfully in 2017, he finally won his first WWE Championship.
13 Batista At Royal Rumble 2014
The year was 2014, and Daniel Bryan’s YES! Movement was at its prime. So, when the returning Batista won the 2014 Royal Rumble, the entire WWE Universe hated it. Everyone expected the beloved underdog Bryan to enter at number 30 and win the rumble, but he wasn’t even in the match. It resulted in overwhelming boos, which became louder when The Animal got the victory. Batista irritated the fans even more by taunting them. Thankfully, Vince McMahon and friends listened and decided to put Daniel Bryan on the main event of WrestleMania XXX. Still, fans will always remember Royal Rumble 2014 as the night where Batista, who was booked as babyface, became one of the most despised heels in the company.
12 Hulk Hogan At SummerSlam 2005
In July 2005, Shawn Michaels turned heel on a returning Hulk Hogan, which led to a one-one-match at SummerSlam. HBK as a villain was a fresh concept, and many believed that the Hulkster will put him over. Obviously, the end result was different. Hogan won the match and Michaels quickly became a babyface again. Throughout the bout, Michaels oversold Hogan’s moves, which looked like he was not taking it seriously. Rumors have circulated that the Heartbreak Kid wasn’t happy about jobbing to Hogan, hence his exaggerated reactions. If it was true, then you couldn’t really blame Michaels for his actions. He was still a full time member of the roster that year, and he deserved a big moment at SummerSlam.
11 Triple H And Kevin Nash During The Summer Of Punk
CM Punk’s pipebomb promo on June 2011 catapulted him to superstardom. His popularity continued to grow when he won the WWE Title from John Cena at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. The Summer of Punk definitely started out strong, until Triple H and Kevin Nash came along. After retaining the title at SummerSlam, Punk was attacked by Nash, allowing Alberto Del Rio to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Big Daddy Cool was revealed to be working for Triple H, resulting in a chaotic storyline that we’d rather forget. Instead of focusing on elevating Punk, the creative team decided to start a feud between Nash and HHH, which led to a lacklustre match at the TLC pay-per-view. CM Punk may have won the title again, but no one can deny that the involvement of the two part timers almost derailed the Straight Edge Superstar’s momentum.
10 Brock Lesnar At SummerSlam 2014
When Brock Lesnar ended The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak, it was inevitable that he would become WWE Champion again. At SummerSlam 2014, he defeated John Cena for the title in the most dominant way. Cena was still working full time for the company, so watching him get demolished by a part timer was a bit frustrating. WWE should’ve at least given Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect a chance to fight back instead of jobbing to The Beast all the way.
Since Lesnar was just a part timer, we witnessed a few pay-per-view events without WWE Championship matches. It was certainly a down time for the company, and it could’ve been worse if Lesnar held the belt for a longer time.
9 The Undertaker And Brock Lesnar At Hell In A Cell 2015
The Hell in a Cell Match between Taker and Lesnar was amazing no doubt, but you have to admit that it took away the spotlight from the full time stars. Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Bray Wyatt were already making waves, and the 2015 event was their chance to elevate higher. Rollins was the one who needed it most, since he was the reigning WWE Champion. However, the company still opted to heavily promote the match between The Deadman and The Beast. Things could’ve been much worse if the match was bad, but thankfully, it was far from that. As for The Architect, he defended his title against Kane… in a standard match. What a way to book a champ!
8 The Brothers Of Destruction At Survivor Series 2015
Survivor Series 2015 was the 25th anniversary of The Undertaker’s WWE career, so he definitely deserved a big moment. At the event, he teamed up with his brother Kane to take on The Wyatt Family. We all expected a brutal match, but sadly, it just turned out to be a squash. The Brothers of Destruction dominated most of the bout, and they used their signatures moves to secure the victory. It was very far from a passing of the torch moment. Thanks (or no thanks) to the loss, The Wyatt Family became a joke once again. Survivor Series 2015 was simply all about making The Undertaker look strong, even if it meant burying full time stars. Don’t be surprised if something like this happens again in the future.
7 Triple H At Royal Rumble 2016
The Royal Rumble match is the best way to push an up and coming superstar. So, when Triple H got the victory at the 2016 rumble match, it didn’t really click with the fans. There are some who loved it because Roman Reigns wasn’t the champ anymore, but the rest hated it because they prefer a full time beloved babyface to win like Dean Ambrose. Whether you loved or hated it, Triple H’s win just proved that the company is not really confident on its full time wrestlers. When it comes to WrestleMania opportunities, the WWE still prefers to give it to the part timers. They really should learn to take risks soon in order to establish new stars. Now, let’s talk about what happened next…
6 Triple H At WrestleMania 32
After the 2016 Royal Rumble, Triple H defended the WWE title against Dean Ambrose at Roadblock. Fans thought that Ambrose will win the match and face a heel Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 32, but it didn’t happen. HHH retained the belt and took on The Guy at the AT&T Stadium. For the fifth time in a row, a part timer is in the main event of the Grandest Stage of Them All. As for the bout itself, it was bland all throughout, which caused the crowd to boo even louder. WrestleMania 32 is now often regarded as one of the worst events of all time, and this match is certainly one of the reasons. We’ll talk more about the event on the next entries.
5 The Undertaker And Shane McMahon At WrestleMania 32
We can’t really blame the WWE for Wrestlemania 32’s lackluster card because after all, it was the time when several major superstars got injured. John Cena was supposed to go one-on-one with The Undertaker, but his shoulder injury prevented it from happening. So, the WWE decided to put the Deadman in a Hell in a Match against Shane McMahon, who returned after seven years. Apart from Shane jumping from the top of the cell, the bout didn’t really produce enough memorable moments. It was like a street fight or a No DQ match on a regular episode of Raw or Smackdown. The worst part of it all is the fact that it was two part timers in a huge match. Instead of Shane, they could’ve paired Taker with a strong heel such as Kevin Owens. Now, for another WM 32 entry…
4 Brock Lesnar At WrestleMania 32
It had the perfect buildup, but it failed to deliver. The No Holds Barred Street Fight between Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose remains one of WrestleMania 32’s biggest disappointments. On the buildup, we saw hardcore legends like Terry Funk and Mick Foley give Ambrose their signature weapons, which made the fans think that the Lunatic Fringe may stand a chance against The Beast Incarnate. So, what did we get on April 3? An average No DQ match with no awe-inspiring spots at all. We also saw Ambrose job to Brock Lesnar, and the weapons given to him were just used as props. Dean needed the win more, but the WWE disagreed. As for Lesnar, he did his usual suplexes and F5s.
3 Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Mick Foley At WrestleMania 32
The New Day vs. The League of Nations was a complete disaster. Not only did the wrong team win, but it also ended with the part timers standing tall. After the match, the members of the League of Nations cut a promo only to be randomly interrupted by Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Mick Foley. The legends beat up the League and when The New Day tried to dance with them, Austin gave Xavier Woods a Stone Cold Stunner. Instead of having a special WrestleMania moment, both factions just ended up looking bad. Let’s hope that The New Day will bounce back on April 2. As for the League of Nations, most of you have probably forgotten about them now.
2 John Cena At Royal Rumble 2017
Without a doubt, John Cena vs. AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble 2017 is a four-star match. It was exciting from start to finish, and it saved the event from harsh criticisms. Cena winning the match may have been alright with almost everyone, but the fact that he got a title shot continues to boggle our minds. He already lost to AJ Styles thrice, yet he automatically became a number one contender when he returned in December 2016. It just shows that the WWE is really focused on pushing their part time superstars hard. As for AJ Styles, he’s now rumored to face Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 33. Yes, after an impressive 2016, The Phenomenal One won’t have a title shot at the Showcase of the Immortals. Good job, WWE.
1 Goldberg and Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series and WrestleMania 33
Goldberg vs. Lesnar was the most talked about match at Survivor Series 2016, despite its very short run time. It even took the spotlight away from the Tag Team and Men’s elimination matches, which were much more exciting. At WrestleMania 33, the two part timers will once again be in the main event. Whether it’s another squash or not, we all know that this bout will close the show. So, for AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Bray Wyatt, Sami Zayn, Braun Strowman, and the rest of the full time stars, you guys will have to give up your dreams of headlining the grand show this year. For now, we just hope to see a very physical match between Goldberg and Lesnar. If they re-enact their WrestleMania XX match, then the WWE should really start making some changes.