For thirty-two consecutive years, WrestleMania has established itself as the greatest spectacle to ever be created in the world of professional wrestling. Every year, the greatest (and worst) competitors from around the globe converge to do battle on arguably the biggest stage of their careers. It’s an event that is unlike any other, an event where fans from around the globe unite to share a similar passion, watching their favorite wrestlers achieve their WrestleMania moment. Eventually most wrestlers are able to have that moment at some point in their career, however it isn’t always at the most opportune time.
In fact, that are multiple times in the history of WrestleMania where one achieved their WrestleMania moment at the expense of another’s rise to glory. Sometimes this is a necessary sacrifice, while at other times we scratch our heads At the end of the day though, WrestleMania serves as a season finale of sorts for professional wrestling. Some of the greatest feuds in history have culminated at the event, with iconic feuds such as The Rock vs Hogan and The Undertaker vs Triple H being notable examples over the years. With that said, there have been moments over the years where we, as fans, felt that one superstar should’ve risen instead of fallen down the food chain. The following are fifteen times where in hindsight, WWE had the wrong person win at The Grandest Stage of Them All.
15 The Undertaker Defeats Shane McMahon (WrestleMania 32)
For years, The Deadman dominated the landscape of professional wrestling, taking a gimmick that few could’ve found success with and transforming it into a must see attraction. Add that to the incredible longevity the man has had in this business and it’s hard to imagine any man more deserving of a future Hall of Fame spot than him. With all that being said, this year, the aura The Undertaker usually has when performing at WrestleMania was severely diminished. Even with the addition of the infamous Hell in a Cell, the match itself failed to live up to expectations. It’s the opinion of this writer that this wasn’t due to the action in the ring, but rather the predictability of the result.
The Undertaker defeating Shane McMahon at WrestleMania was a forgone conclusion and therefore it seemed impossible for Shane to ever gain control of Monday Night Raw. However, despite coming out on the losing end of the match, Shane would surprisingly gain control of the flagship show the very next night.
14 Triple H Wins the Fatal Four Way Elimination Match (WrestleMania 2000)
Back in the year 2000, Triple H was in the midst of establishing himself as one of the top professional wrestlers on the planet (at that time). Producing solid promos and consistently putting on strong matches, he definitely seemed to be the total package in an era filled with great talent. With Stephanie McMahon at his side, he successfully defeated the majority of the competition, at one point even retiring the legendary Mick Foley.
Heading into WrestleMania 2000, Triple H was enjoying his third reign as WWE Champion, but he had three men looking to put an end to it. First there was Big Show, the then former WWE Champion who had beaten The Rock to earn his spot in the WrestleMania main event. He would later be joined by The Rock, who had avenged his loss thanks to an assist from Vince McMahon and Mick Foley, who was brought back by Linda McMahon for one more match. The match itself was an elimination style match and before long Rock and Triple H became the final two men left. After an intense back and forth, Vince would betray Rock and allow Hunter to retain the title. Although in hindsight it makes sense that Triple H won the match (Rock vs Triple H was a steady feud for much of 2000), there are others that could’ve benefited from winning the match.
13 Mark Henry Defeats Ryback (WrestleMania 29)
Around June of 2011, the normally under-performing Mark Henry had a career renaissance of sorts when he began to run through the SmackDown roster. It didn’t matter who stood in front of Mark Henry, they were all entered into the “Hall of Pain” and by September of that same year he won the World Heavyweight Championship. Fast forward to 2013 and another superstar was on a similar path, Ryback. Heading into WrestleMania 29, the feud between Ryback and Henry centered on who was the stronger competitor, with multiple strength contests taking place before the big event (Mark Henry moving a truck for instance). It seemed like a forgone conclusion that Henry was going to be putting over the younger talent, but the result we received was shocking. In what seemed like a never ending pattern, Ryback would once again lose on pay-per-view, this time after having the big frame of Henry collapse on him. Even a heel turn the following night did little to help his momentum and he would never reach the heights he should have.
12 Goldberg Slays The Beast (WrestleMania XX)
Heading into WrestleMania XX, fans around the globe eagerly awaited to witness two of the most badass competitors of all time go at it against one another. In one corner was Brock Lesnar, the then three-time WWE Champion and in the other corner was the WCW legend Goldberg, What simply started out as a verbal exchange backstage at Survivor Series 2003, had morphed into one of the most compelling feuds of 2004. The only issue was that both men were leaving the company after the match, with seemingly every fan in attendance knowing about it. Because of this fans turned on the match, with Lesnar and Golberg not helping by refusing to put in 100% effort. It can be argued that Goldberg vs Lesnar is the biggest flop to ever occur at WrestleMania, not only because of the lackluster performance but also because the wrong man won. After being built up as a freak of nature, it seemed guaranteed that Lesnar would win, but it can be assumed Vince McMahon changed the result when his star player opted out of the business.
11 Matt Defeats Jeff (WrestleMania XXV)
After finally achieving his dream of becoming WWE Champion at Armageddon 2008, the sky seemed to be the limit for Jeff Hardy. He was athletic, charismatic, and had strong support from both fans and management. Sadly we never really got to experience Jeff Hardy as champion, because at the following pay-per-view (Royal Rumble 2009), Jeff lost the title following a shocking betrayal by his brother Matt. In the weeks following the betrayal, Matt would claim responsibility for the incidents which had plagued Jeff since being champion, which also included a very realistic pyro accident. This would lead to an extreme rules match at WrestleMania XXV and it seemed that after months of torment Jeff was finally going to gain some measure of revenge. At the conclusion of the match though, it would be Matt standing tall over his brother, following one of the coolest Twist of Fates of all time. Even though the loss wouldn’t hurt Jeff in the long run (he would win two more world titles that same year), it was a disappointing result to say the least.
10 Billy and Chuck Reign Supreme (WrestleMania X8)
If one wants to go back and look at one of the most star studded WrestleMania match cards of all time, there is no better place to look than WrestleMania X8. The card itself had every big name you could imagine at the time, with every match managing to contribute to the show. However, there was one match that left a little to be desired, with that match being the fatal four way tag team elimination match. With their World Tag Team titles on the line, it seemed impossible for Billy & Chuck to overcome the competition in front of them. Not only did they have The APA (Bradshaw and Farooq) to square off with, but The Hardy Boyz and Dudleys as well. To the surprise of virtually everyone however, Billy & Chuck would somehow find a way to win, eliminating Matt and Jeff Hardy to retain their tag team gold. To this day it’s hard to believe that WWE didn’t have Hardy Boyz win the match, especially since they had just reunited months prior and had once again earned the admiration and love of fans around the globe.
9 Triple H Defeats Sting (WrestleMania 31)
Once WWE had defeated WCW back in 2001, it seemed like we had seen the last of many top WCW stars at the time. As it turns out a lot of the big names came to WWE at one point or another over the years, save the biggest name of them all. For years, Sting never appeared in WWE, with most thinking he never would. Thankfully we did get to see Sting debut in the company, with his first match taking place at WrestleMania 31 against Triple H. Following twenty minutes of a nostalgia filled wrestling match, it would be the infamous sledgehammer that would seal the deal for Triple H. With his former DX brethren standing beside him, Triple H once again stood tall over a WCW Legend, cementing once again that WWE had won the war against WCW. Looking at it long term, however, it made little sense for him to lose, especially when he was booked in a World Title feud with Seth Rollins that September.
8 Santina Wins Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal (WrestleMania XXV)
At the 25th WrestleMania, WWE decided to combine Divas from both the past and present and throw them all together in a battle royal. The idea itself was actually pretty cool and on that night creative definitely pulled some strings to get some of the big names back into the ring. While we as fans recognized nearly all of the beautiful faces in the ring, there was one in particular we couldn’t wrap our head around, Santina. That is because it was Santino Marella dressed in woman’s attire. For a long while Santina did little but pander to the crowd and stay away from the action, but as the competition dwindled down Santina would throw Beth Phoenix (Santino’s girlfriend at the time) over the top rope to win the match. Instead of having someone credible win the match (Victoria or Mickie James for instance), WWE decided to go the “comedic” route and have a man win a Divas battle royal. Obviously, it was a terrible move.
7 Jack Swagger Wins the Money in the Bank Briefcase (WrestleMania XXVI)
Back in 2010, several big names leaving the company meant that a new star needed to emerge, with Jack Swagger seemingly being the chosen one (sorry Drew McIntyre). A former ECW Champion by that point in time, Swagger entered into the sixth Money in the Bank ladder match against the likes of Kane, Christian and Matt Hardy. Despite having some momentum heading into his first WrestleMania, most fans didn’t expect Swagger to win. However, that’s exactly what Swagger did and he would then go on to cash in that same briefcase at the next episode of SmackDown, defeating Chris Jericho to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Even though both the WrestleMania and SmackDown crowds were receptive to Swagger as a credible contender/champion, the feeling wouldn’t last very long. Once the initial shock wore off, it was obvious that while Swagger was athletic enough to succeed, his lack of charisma severely diminished his value to both creative and the fans. Most of the other entrants in the match would've served as a better winner.
6 Edge Ends His Career As Champion (WrestleMania XXVII)
Back in early 2011, Alberto Del Rio was an unpolished gem that was gaining quite a bit of momentum. After winning the largest Royal Rumble in history, Del Rio would set his sights on Edge and the World Heavyweight Championship. Fans eagerly awaited the clash between Edge and Del Rio, despite the buildup to the match being somewhat lackluster. Nonetheless, WrestleMania 27 seemed to be the day where Del Rio would finally be pushed to the upper tier of the professional wrestling industry. Unfortunately, in the weeks leading up to the event, it was discovered that Edge had to retire due to injury, therefore the decision was made to allow Edge to retain the title. Even though it was rumored that Edge and Christain were to do battle at Extreme Rules the following month, the amount of faith the company had put in Del Rio made him winning the world title a necessity. At the end of the day though Edge retained (still a respectable decision mind you) while Del Rio found himself losing momentum that he desperately needed.
5 Roman Reigns Defeats Triple H (WrestleMania 32)
Just as many fans had predicted months prior, Roman Reigns walked down to the ring for his second consecutive WrestleMania main event, this time against then WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H. The match itself was actually pretty good, with both men (and even Stephanie McMahon) taking a decent amount of damage before it was all said and done. Sadly. just as many of us predicted months earlier, Reigns would spear his way to his third WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the fans would collectively yawn. He is currently in the middle of that same reign right now and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end anytime soon (or soon enough).
4 Triple H Silences Booker T (WrestleMania XIX)
After winning a battle royal to earn the right to face Triple H at Mania for the World Heavyweight Championship, Booker T was placed in a negative light. In the weeks leading up to WrestleMania XIX, Booker was subjected to borderline racist remarks from The Game, who claimed that men such as him had no business winning a world title. It would those remarks that made fans everywhere pray that Booker T would win his first World Championship in WWE (not counting his 5th WCW World Title Reign). However in a moment that is still talked about to this day, at the conclusion of their match, Triple H would hit the Pedigree on Booker T and after what seemed like an eternity pinned Booker T to retain the title. Although the loss hurt Booker T somewhat, it was the fact that it took Triple H so long to pin his challenger (probably deliberate) that damaged Booker T in the eyes of the fans. It would be three years before Booker T would taste his first world title in WWE, which was far too long in the eyes of some fans.
3 Hulk Hogan Back On Top (WrestleMania IX)
Long before the proverbial shovel was passed down by Triple H to John Cena, it was Hulk Hogan who would oftentimes bury talent to maintain his own legacy. Even though he is one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, he wouldn’t be if many wrestlers didn't get buried by him. This was never more apparent during his time in WWE than at WrestleMania IX, where Hogan would once again take hold of the spotlight. Immediately following a WWE Championship match between Bret Hart and Yokozuna, Hogan would make his way out to the ring and challenge the new champion (Yokozuna) to a title match on the spot. Shockingly, Yokozuna accepted the challenge and less than a minute later Hogan would win yet another world title. Although it’s in agreement by many that Yokozuna shouldn’t have left WrestleMania with the championship, the honor to close out the biggest show of the year should’ve gone to Bret Hart, not Hogan. Thankfully WWE would rectify this mistake somewhat at the following years WrestleMania, where Bret Hart would defeat Yokozuna to win his second WWE Championship.
2 Hardcore Holly Wins the Hardcore Title (WrestleMania 2000)
At the sixteenth WrestleMania event, the Hardcore Championship was defended in a battle royal, with the winner being the man who got either the last pinfall or submission in the allotted time limit. The only problem here is that there was no pinfall that would’ve awarded the supposed winner (Hardcore Holly) the title. During the final few moments of the match, Tazz had the Crash Holly in the Tazzmission. With the clock winding down, it seemed as though Crash was done for, until Hardcore ran in and smashed a glass container over heads of the two men. Going for the cover on Crash, Hardcore scored the final pin and won the title. However, if you go back and watch the match, you can clearly see the referee stopping his hand before the three count. The announcers did their best to explain this to the audience at home, but it was obvious that either a signal was misread or the wrong man won the title. Which one it is we’ll never truly know, only that at the end of the day, Hardcore Holly walked out of WrestleMania 16 with the Hardcore Championship.
1 Fandango Defeats Y2J (WrestleMania 29)
After being a part of one of the headlining matches of WrestleMania XXVIII, no one could really guess what was in store for Chris Jericho at the following year’s event. While it was rumored at one time or another that Ryback was going to lock horns with him, that all got turned upside down when Fandango debuted in 2013. For those of you that may have blinked and missed Fandango’s time in the spotlight, the ballroom dancer had refused to make his in ring debut for weeks on end. He eventually entered into a feud with Jericho, making his debut at WrestleMania 29 of all places. At the event, he not only competed with the former six time World Champion, but he beat him clean in the middle of the ring. Suffice it to say the WWE fan base at large was dumbfounded by the result and the damage it did to Jericho’s value as an active performer. Even though Jericho would avenge the loss the following month at Extreme Rules, the damage had already been done. Without a doubt this loss will forever go down as one of the most embarrassing moments of his entire career.