Every WWE superstar has the goal of main eventing WrestleMania since it is the biggest match of each year for the company. Iconic rivalries like Steve Austin vs The Rock, Hulk Hogan vs Randy Savage and The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels have had the honor of closing the massive show. WWE has unfortunately missed the boat with quite a few disappointing WrestleMania main event.
We will look at some matches that should have been WrestleMania main events that WWE chose to run with at a different time. These bouts had the right combination of superstars and once had the right timing to get such a spot closing the biggest show of the year. WWE chose to run them at a different time and waste them on a smaller show. These are ten matches that should have main evented WrestleMania, but WWE wasted.
10 Roman Reigns vs John Cena
The timing of Roman Reigns succeeding John Cena as the new face of the WWE led to fans patiently waiting for the match. Everyone expected it to be saved for a WrestleMania card since it was the biggest possible match between active talents.
WWE instead had the match scheduled for No Mercy 2017. The match didn’t even get the main event slot on the card as Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman closed the show in a Universal Championship match. Reigns vs Cena ended up being forgettable instead off a special attraction for WM.
9 AJ Styles vs Finn Balor
A late change to TLC 2017 featured Bray Wyatt getting replaced for his match against Finn Balor due to an illness. WWE decided to treat the fans with a special dream match. AJ Styles moved from Smackdown to Raw for one night only to oppose Balor in his Demon King persona.
Fans of wrestling outside of WWE waited years for a match between the two former Bullet Club leaders. Styles and Balor delivered a tremendous match, but the build was quite week. Four days of hype with no storyline took away from a potential WM related match good enough to main event.
8 John Cena vs Edge
Edge was arguably the greatest rival of John Cena’s career, but the two never had a singles match on the biggest stage. WrestleMania 22 may have been the ideal time when Edge caught momentum as a top heel after cashing in his Money in the Bank title shot on Cena to win his first WWE Championship.
WWE instead had Edge drop the title back to Cena a few weeks later and went with their plan of Triple H challenging Cena. Edge and Cena had classics later in the year, but the timing would have been perfect for WrestleMania. We did get a triple threat at WrestleMania 25 between Cena, Edge and Big Show even though it wasn’t the same.
7 Brock Lesnar vs Daniel Bryan
The first match between Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan was highly anticipated from fans. Bryan has been among the best underdog wrestlers with Lesnar making his reputation as a dominant heel champion. The perfect storm could have seen them main event any WrestleMania in recent memory.
WWE decided to have the match take place at Survivor Series 2018 for the first time. Bryan turned heel a few days before the show winning the WWE Championship to set up the Raw vs SD brand split bout of the champions. Both men worked extremely together in a classic that could have been even better on a bigger stage with a longer storyline.
6 The Rock vs Triple H
Fans are usually surprised when realizing Triple H and The Rock never had a singles match on WrestleMania. Both men were fixtures in the main event picture with many battles for the WWE Championship main eventing PPVs.
WrestleMania 2000 seemed like the perfect timing for such a main event. WWE instead went with a fatal four-way including Mick Foley and Big Show in the forgettable match. Rock and Triple H ended up having a classic one month later at Backlash that should have just been the WM main event.
5 Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair
The first WWE run of Ric Flair in the early 90s saw him make the jump without ever losing the NWA Championship in WCW. Flair went as far as to bring the big gold belt to WWE television and referred to himself as the Real World Champion.
Everyone expected Flair to face off with Hulk Hogan in the main event of WrestleMania 8 in a dream match of the two biggest stars of the era along with the appeal of WCW’s champion against WWE’s champion. WWE decided to run the match at house shows instead with Flair facing Savage and Hogan facing Sid at WrestleMania in lackluster matches.
4 Kurt Angle vs The Undertaker
The Undertaker and Kurt Angle both had outstanding starts to 2006 that made them the hottest stars on the Smackdown roster. Angle was having his dominant World Championship reign as Undertaker started adding more versatility to his wrestling style.
The two top stars main evented the No Way Out 2006 event just a month before WrestleMania 22. Angle retained in one of the best matches of the entire year. WWE dropped the ball not saving this for WrestleMania as Angle faced Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio in a triple threat while Undertaker wrestled Mark Henry in a waste of his streak.
3 Steve Austin vs Mr. McMahon
The lack of wrestling talent for Vince McMahon prevented him from ever going far enough to main event a WrestleMania event. McMahon however had the most hated heel character during his legendary feud with Steve Austin the Attitude Era.
The war between Austin and McMahon carried 1998 as fans started tuning in via record numbers. Austin did face McMahon one month prior to WrestleMania 15 at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The WrestleMania match would see Austin face The Rock. Given they had another two WM matches, Austin may have been better off facing McMahon this time.
2 Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose
The Shield was by far the hottest new act for WWE in the 2000s. Fans viewed Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose all as top stars, especially when the group split up. All three wrestlers became main eventers and eventual WWE Champions.
Ambrose was tasked with defending the title against Rollins and Reigns in a triple threat match at 2016 ahead of the WWE brand split. The match didn’t live up to the expectations, but it also was on one of the weaker events of the year. WWE never main eventing a WrestleMania with this match is a huge missed opportunity.
1 John Cena vs CM Punk
John Cena vs CM Punk is a match that fans still want to see today even though both are essentially removed from the wrestling business. WrestleMania 27 could have set the stage for a great bout between the bitter rivals.
WWE went with The Miz getting a heel world title reign and a WrestleMania 27 match instead of Punk. It was only a few months later that Punk took over the wrestling world. Punk’s classic with Cena at Money in the Bank 2011 would have been even more legendary if it took place at WrestleMania.