The WWE would not be here today if not for WrestleMania, the extravagant professional wrestling pay-per-view created by WWE's owner, Vince McMahon, and WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel, who is also the person who coined the name of the event.
Prior to the first WrestleMania event in 1985, the World Wrestling Federation, WWF, was only on television. The beginning of Vince McMahon's vision for the company started with All American Wrestling, Prime Time Wrestling, Saturday Night's Main Event, and Superstars of Wrestling, all of which were on television, mostly the USA Network. But for the company to get to where it is today, it needed something else. It needed something that could bring in a larger audience, once a year, like the Super Bowl. That's when WrestleMania happened and completely changed the industry forever.
Vince had a vision for the event and by the time the first one aired, an estimated one million people watched on closed-circuit television, a record in the United States at the time. With the merchandise sales, celebrity involvement, and nearly year long build-up, WrestleMania turned into the ending to a season and the main event was the matchup that millions of people were waiting for, all year long.
After 32 years of incredible moments and legendary matchups, WrestleMania continues to be the greatest pay-per-view event for the WWE, every single year since 1985. But just because it is such an amazing event, the main event has not always been such a joy. So we decided to take a look at all of the losers of every single main event in WrestleMania's history and rank them from worst to best.
25 Bam Bam Bigelow (XI)
If professional wrestling is supposed to be real then there is absolutely zero chance that an outsider, even if it is a scary NFL linebacker such as Lawrence Taylor, should be able to come in and, in one match, beat a man as larger than life as Bam Bam Bigelow was perceived.
Let's talk real for a second. Professional wrestling is fake. The outcomes are predetermined and the wrestlers are not truly hitting one another to harm one another. They are pretending to fight each other, although the bumps can hurt, it is still a fake business. However, if you want to enjoy wrestling, you have to change your mindset about it. You have to think of it as a trip to Disney World. Once you are inside Disney property, the rest of the world does not exist and that helps make the magic of Disney World.
That's what professional wrestling is, it's something that you have to be 100% in or you will not enjoy it. So when you are inside the world of wrestling and an untrained professional football player shows up and beats one of the icons of the sport, it reminds you that it is fake and that takes away from the magic of the sport.
24 Yokozuna (IX and X)
If not for WrestleMania X, Yokozuna might have been higher on the list because his match with Bret Hart at WrestleMania IX was actually pretty good. The entire debacle happened after their match, after Bret Hart ended up losing the title and shocked wrestling fans that were just beginning to like Bret Hart. The tragedy of the match was that Hulk Hogan walked out right after Yokozuna won the belt and got a match against him right then and there, it lasted less than 30 seconds.
It felt as though WWE was going to create something great before Hulk Hogan left for WCW but he pulled his strings and got the belt anyways, only to lose it back to Yokozuna during King of the Ring later that year. However, that was too late. By then, the fans had moved on from Hulkamania and did not care about Yokozuna beating him to regain the belt. It was a missed opportunity thanks to Hulk Hogan's need to always be in the spotlight during his WWE years.
During WrestleMania X, Yokozuna lost the title belt to Bret Hart by accident. He fell off the ropes as he was attempting to pull off his finishing move, The Banzai Drop. As he fell, Bret was able to roll him up and get the pin. So you are telling us that the main event of WrestleMania was for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the winner was able to win the belt because of a mistake? That is just bad writing.
23 Sgt. Slaughter (VII)
Professional wrestling struck gold when they created The Iron Shiek as a villain and brought in Sgt. Slaughter as an American soldier that would defend this country's honor against the bad guys that represented our real life enemies during that time.
So when Sgt. Slaughter turned into a villain that supported Iraq during the Gulf War, people hated him, but not in a way that wrestling fans hated heels. They hated Vince McMahon for creating such a tasteless character during a time when things were getting close to ending overseas anyways. In fact, the Gulf War ended weeks before WrestleMania happened causing for an even less than ideal situation.
It was obvious who was going to win since the company had already done this angle before and it caused the audience to become bored in every single aspect of it.
22 King Kong Bundy (II)
During WrestleMania II, the WWE gave us a great title match when they decided to put Hulk Hogan in a steel cage to defend the belt against King Kong Bundy after spending the previous few months building up the match by sending King Kong Bundy out to attack Hogan during his matches while also pairing him up with Bobby Heenan.
The match, compared to today's standards, was not as good but it was something to work with for future WrestleMania events. It was a launching point for what was to become the largest pay-per-view event in professional wrestling history each year. The entire match lasted about 11 minutes but was a good 11 minutes. Except of course for the fact that King Kong Bundy was not going to be climbing over that cage wall, he was going to use the door and the fans just had to understand that it was due to his size and lack of athleticism.
21 Andre the Giant (III)
Why are we ranking one of the most iconic Main Event matches in WWE history all the way down the list at 21?
We know what you're thinking, "That's insanity! It's not fair and makes no sense to see such a legendary moment in professional wrestling fall so low on the list."
But guess what, we are not wrong with our ranking since the match itself was nothing that impressive. Everyone remembers the moment Hulk Hogan lifted Andre the Giant above his head to bodyslam him, something that no one has ever done before, which he followed up with the infamous Hogan leg drop to land the 1-2-3 pin.
Yes, the crowd went nuts and the man became a legend that day but Andre the Giant was slow and sluggish and was literally close to dying by then. So the match gave us what we wanted but it was Hulk Hogan who turned it into what he has become today, not Andre the Giant, who lost.
20 Sid Justice/Psycho Sid (VIII and 13)
Much like the WWE is doing today with Brock Lesnar, they were doing with Sid Justice, or Psycho Sid if you want to call him that too, many years before that. He was brought in as this larger than life guy that no one can beat up, no one can stop, and no one had even a remote chance to slow down except if you were Hulk Hogan or The Undertaker.
He lost both of those matches and I almost forgot he was even involved with WrestleMania until I began researching this article. He had the wrestling ability but lacked the promotional qualities that turned The Rock, Stone Cold, and Hulk Hogan into legends. Sid could not sell himself to the fans. He did not know how to cut a promo but was still an incredible talent. His lack in the promo department causes him to fall to 20th in our rankings.
19 John Cena (XXVII and XXVIII)
As entertaining and popular as John Cena was during the '00s, Cena was not completely invincible. Vince McMahon wanted to make him the next Hulk Hogan and force fed us John Cena for ten years before the fans would realize that the only reason we were being forced to watch him was because the roster was thin for years and the ladies weren't doing much to help their causes either.
So aside from being involved in five different WrestleMania Main Event matches between 2006 and 2013, he only lost two of them and each one of those losses were pretty uninspiring. The build up to the WrestleMania XXVIII Main Event match against The Rock was so much better than the match itself.
But the year before was even harder to watch as The Miz got over by beating John Cena, at the height of his popularity. It was not as bad as people say it was but watching The Miz win anything is tough to watch, let alone John Cena.
18 Randy Orton (XXV and XXX)
Many wrestling fans remember the time that Randy Orton lost to Triple H at WrestleMania XXV. Or was that Chris Jericho at WrestleMania X8? The two matches seemed interchangeable and were probably the most useless Main Events in WrestleMania's history because of the matches that preceded it that night.
The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels gave us their best performances just two matches before that in one 30-minute battle that was going to be hard to follow. Yet they did with a Triple Threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship between John Cena, Edge, and Big Show. However, that match only lasted 14 minutes and was good, not great, depending on who you ask.
All of the excitement and joy of WrestleMania was almost over and fans were getting over the earlier battles that happened between some of the biggest stars in the business. It's like going to an arena that has three NBA games, back-to-back-to back. The first game is the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The first game to follow that one is the Chicago Bulls facing the San Antonio Spurs. But the third game is the New Jersey Nets against the Sacramento Kings.
That was how the card for WrestleMania XXV was scheduled.
17 Kurt Angle (XIX)
Kurt Angle won an Olympic Gold medal for wrestling and Brock Lesnar was one of the most successful amateur wrestlers in Bismarck State College history. So when they faced off at WrestleMania XIX, it was set up to be a battle of two of the most successful wrestlers ever to work for the WWE. As the match began, it was exactly what you would expect and both men battled back and forth until eventually, one walked away the champion.
It was technically one of the strongest matches for both men and featured plenty of F-5's, Angle Locks, and Slams as each man just beat away at the other until Brock Lesnar pulled off a F-5 just as Kurt Angle was picking up Brock Lesnar, giving Brock the chance to pull off the pin and become the WWE Champion.
While the match itself strong on both ends it is remembered most for Brock Lesnar missing a Shooting Star Press and nearly breaking his neck before actually winning the title.
16 Ted DiBiase (IV)
With the WWE Championship vacant, WrestleMania IV was set up to hold a tournament where the winner would be crowned the champ. With Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant receiving first round byes, Ted DiBiase began the night with a match against Jim Duggan and easily won after just about five minutes of action. Don Muraco ended up winning by DQ over Dino Bravo setting up a second round match between DiBiase and Muraco, which also ended quite quickly with Ted getting the pin in just about five minutes.
Ted DiBiase was set to face the winner of Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan before a double DQ eliminated both of them and left Ted with a Semi-Finals round bye, and time to rest up before his match against Randy Savage, who had run through all three of his matches with slight ease.
Between the two men, Ted and Randy, the match for the WWE Championship was solid, at best, and all because of Randy's amazing wrestling skills. The man remains one of the most underrated in-ring performers ever. He was able to carry plenty of men over during his days, just not this day as he won the belt over DiBiase.
15 Hulk Hogan (VI)
The audience was electric during the match between two of wrestling's biggest names, Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, for the Main Event of WrestleMania VI. After months of build-up, this was finally The Ultimate Warrior's chance to get over and become the champion he desired to be, kind of.
The biggest downfall to The Ultimate Warrior was that he was forced into the wrestling gig and he just never shared the same passion for it like all of the other guys in the company. It put a wedge between Vince McMahon and his career which eventually forced him out of the company.
His match against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI was so good, it isn't easy to put this so low on the list but we just could not get past the fact that The Ultimate Warrior should have been ten times the star he became. But his title reign did not even last a year and he dropped the belt during the Royal Rumble the following January.
14 Roman Reigns (31)
If the fans were ever anti-Brock Lesnar, this was the match that could win them over thanks to his incredible schoolyard beatdown he performed on Roman Reigns. It was almost as if this was going to be a 20-minute one-side battle between Brock Lesnar and his stamina. He literally had several chances to pin Roman Reigns after landing shot after shot but he wanted him to suffer and he refused to pin him, he just kept beating on him.
But then Seth Rollins showed up, just as the two men were down on the mat, and cashed in on his Money in the Bank briefcase, which was a contract that he won during a match of the same name that granted them a shot at any title they wanted at any point in time. So he chose WrestleMania to cash it in and he took advantage of both men being hurt and just kept kicking both men while they were down, literally.
If the writers of the WWE read this, note that it is never a good idea to treat the Main Event of WrestleMania like they did at XXXI. It might have entertained some but it just simply was not good enough to be considered the best match of the night.
13 Paul Orndorff (I)
We have said this before but the first WrestleMania was created to showcase where the future of the sport was heading. It was over-the-top and featured celebrities along with the companies biggest stars.
The Main Event of the first WrestleMania was a success, thankfully. If it would have flopped, Vince McMahon might have had to shut it down and sell the company to someone else because he would have failed, in his eyes.
So when nearly 20,000 people showed up to watch the event at Madison Square Garden, things were starting to feel like it was going to be alright. But when nearly one million more people watched through closed-circuit television, that record was something that would solidify his dreams and turn WrestleMania into the next big thing.
12 Big Show (2000)
This was the only time Big Show found his way into the Main Event of WrestleMania 2000 and it just so happened to be with Triple H, The Rock, and Mick Foley. Even though "Stone Cold" Steve Austin should have been involved.
But because of injuries, Stone Cold needed to take time off so during Survivor Series, he was hit by a vehicle at the beginning of the show and disappeared for quite some time from the WWE which left a huge void at the top of the company for another big star. Yet forcing us to enjoy Big Show in a match that came a little too soon was just another example of Vince McMahon not listening to the fans.
Triple H pinned Big Show after about four minutes of action, eliminating him early and proving that Show was not needed for this match.
11 Mick Foley (2000)
As we already mentioned, Mick Foley would also take part in the Main Event of WrestleMania 2000 along with The Rock, Big Show, and the man he had been battling for months prior to the event, Triple H.
The huge angle heading into this Main Event was that each competitor had their very own member of the McMahon Family in their corner: Triple H obviously had Stephanie, Big Show had Shane, The Rock had Vince, and Mick Foley came to the ring with Linda.
For Mick Foley, this would be the first and last time The Hardcore Legend found his way into the Main Event of WrestleMania. Following Big Show's quick exit, Foley was next to follow, leaving The Rock and Triple H to battle over the WWE Championship.
10 Brock Lesnar (31)
Love him or hate him, Brock Lesnar is good for business. He has helped create a buzz around the WWE that has been missing for many years. It does not hurt that Vince McMahon added Goldberg into the mix, and even gave us a pretty good, although very short, match at Survivor Series just a few weeks ago.
It is just hard to imagine that between all of the Superstars in wrestling, Brock Lesnar is still one of the only ones that fans still believe is real. Maybe it is because he proved he was the real deal when he went over to the UFC and actually won. But for whatever the reasons behind it, the WWE fans remain positive that Brock Lesnar needs to stay in the company.
So whether you think he sucks because he became the first wrestler in history to beat The Undertaker at WrestleMania or you just love to hate the bad guy, Brock Lesnar is helping bring back a lot of the heat that the business has not seen in many years.
But having him lose the title to Roman Reigns (while not taking the pin) is just another sign that Vince McMahon loves Roman and will keep trying to turn him into the next John Cena, regardless of how the fans feel about him.
9 Batista (XXX)
When Daniel Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans, it was one of the greatest triumph's in sports entertainment. Even though we know professional wrestling is fake, Daniel Bryan was told, over and over again, that he would never make it in the WWE but he never gave up. He was sent packing and still returned to the WWE not long after that because the fans loved him. He did something no one thought was possible anymore, he made us all believe that everything we were watching was real.
Batista gets the nod by association since he was one of the three men involved in the match. Randy Orton was the third man to qualify for the Main Event because he was the reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Batista did not allow the crowd favorite or the current champ to deter him and he put on quite the show in one of the most memorable matches that was forgotten about the next day because The Undertaker lost to Brock Lesnar, ending his iconic undefeated streak at WrestleMania.
8 Roddy Piper (I)
Before Hulk Hogan dropped Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III and before King Kong Bundy was left bleeding inside the steel cage at WrestleMania II, there was the first ever WrestleMania, held at the world-famous Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, New York. It was over-the-top, lavish, and probably misunderstood at the time, but the one thing that it created was an event that would eventually become larger than wrestling itself. It was all because of Vince McMahon's vision for the future of pro wrestling.
The Main Event match was Hulk Hogan and Mr. T taking on Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Before the bell even rang, the vision that Vince had was being shown to the world and fans were starting to enjoy it. He brought in celebrities and superstars of other sports to make the show as big as it sounded. He had New York Yankees manager Billy Martin be the guest ring announcer for the Main Event, boxing legend Muhammad Ali as a special guest referee, and he even hired Liberace, along with The Rockettes, as the time keeper of the match too.
The results were not as important as the spectacle of WrestleMania and that means that Roddy Piper earned his spot in our top ten.
7 Chris Jericho (X8)
In a few more spots you will see more about the man that defeated Chris Jericho at WrestleMania X8, Triple H, and then you might understand why Jericho lost after such an amazing setup for an angle between the two wrestlers.
The feud between Triple H and Chris Jericho could have been something that fans still talk about today but it fell short because of one annoying interference by Triple H's wife and Vince McMahon's daughter, Stephanie McMahon. She ended up becoming the main focus of the feud and no one cared anymore. It got so terrible that Chris Jericho actually had to fight with a chihuahua.
A chihuahua? What?
Besides their lackluster rivalry, the Hulk Hogan vresus The Rock match absolutely stole the entire event. That match caused anything that followed it to fall very quickly to the mat. But thanks to the excellent wrestling skills of Chris Jericho, he earned himself a high ranking. He knew the boss' son-in-law would be the winner and yet he still gave us one heck of a match.
6 Bret Hart (XII)
After a 60-minute Iron Man match, it sucks that there had to be a loser especially after both Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels gave us such a technically sound performance. It was like watching wrestling 101. It reached points that you would check and see how much time is left just because you are tired with watching but you did not turn it off, even if you paid all that money to watch it. Face it, you were never going to turn it off.
This was wrestling's two biggest stars at the time, besides Hulk Hogan who was about to become a WCW legendary heel. Shawn Michaels even ziplined into the ring in one of the coolest entrances in WrestleMania history.
But compared to the Iron Man match later seen between Triple H and The Rock, this one was less impressive, less entertaining, and downright slow. So do not compare it to that match, take it for what it is and enjoy the fact that WrestleMania XII was literally carried over because of this match. This match turned a dismal PPV into one we all remembered, if not just because of that match.
5 Randy Savage (V)
There were many times that wrestling fans started to turn on Hulk Hogan during all the madness of Hulkamania because they started to get sick of it. They loved him but hated the fact that he was constantly interfering in other feuds or matches just to simply be in the spotlight. He hated the fact that there were other wrestlers that were just as popular as he was so he made sure he got that belt back, like at WrestleMania V.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage was one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time but he remained caged within himself because he allowed others around him to take advantage of his belief in the system. He was a "yes" man in the business and would always do whatever he could to put others over or to be a part of a storyline involving his real-life wife, Miss Elizabeth.
His match with Hulk Hogan during the Main Event of WrestleMania V was one of the best matches, not just Main Event matches, ever, regardless of whether or not Hulk Hogan deserved to win the belt back from him.
4 Edge (XXIV)
After the fall of WCW, SmackDown was slowly starting to become less and less exciting. Between the ratings and the domination of Raw on Monday nights, SmackDown was struggling until Edge and The Undertaker single-handily saved it. The two men did more for the show than newer fans will ever understand. Their feud was long and stressful and both men were getting closer and closer to an epic match that needed a venue so it ended up happening at WrestleMania XXIV.
Edge came into the match already holding onto a 5-0 WrestleMania record while the Undertaker had his undefeated streak that was still holding strong at 15-0. This match did many things for both men. It showcased the Undertaker's ability to remain one of the best in the business and he did probably his best in-ring work of his WrestleMania career that night while Edge was finally getting over as a heel. It was not easy to turn Edge into a bad guy but this match, and the way he lost it, really gave him the heat he needed to be that the companies top heel.
3 Triple H (XX, 21, 22, 31)
Sadly, World Wrestling Entertainment has become more of a joke for the fans that grew up watching the Monday Night War between the WCW and WWE. It has grown into something that will one day implode and end up going away forever because of many different things. One of the main reasons that the WWE isn't what it used to be is because of a relationship that happened between Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
Their real-life romance is a feel-good story that began in 2000 when the two of them were written into the show as a couple but it ended up becoming something real. they eventually got married in 2005 and now have three kids. However, as Stephanie McMahon's career advanced, so did her influence and she eventually started giving Triple H, her husband, all the breaks and matches he wanted, even when it did not make sense.
Look at how many times he was featured in a WrestleMania Main Event match after their 2000 love story angle began. For his career, he has a 3-4 record in the WrestleMania Main Event, which began with his first match in 2000. That means that he was one of the headliners of the biggest PPV in the industry seven times in the last 16 years, also after he started dating the owner's daughter.
Isn't it weird how that works out?
2 The Rock (XV, 2000, X-Seven, XXIX)
In 1999, The Rock finally got his shot at the WWE Championship at WrestleMania but it was against a man that absolutely owned the WWE at the time, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. So there was no surprise when he lost that match knowing it would not be his last.
The following year, The Rock was back at WrestleMania's Main Event, only this time, it was against three other men, Mick Foley, Triple H, and Big Show in the one and only time they did a Fatal Four-Way match for the Main Event. His loss was part of a larger plan that would culminate in his rematch with Stone Cold in 2001, also known as XVII, in what has become one of the greatest Main Event matches in WrestleMania history.
The WWE Championship rematch between Stone Cold and The Rock solidified years of hard work by the entire company to turn them into Superstars while also creating a company that no one could beat. It was the same year that WCW folded making it one of the last matches of the Attitude Era.
1 Shawn Michaels (XIV, XX, XXIII, XXVI)
It wasn't easy giving a man that has four losses the top ranking on a list of the best losers in WrestleMania Main Event history but if there was ever a more deserving loser to make the top of this list, it is Shawn Michaels.
He had some of the most memorable matches in WrestleMania history, win or lose, and it is all thanks to his ability to raise the level of his opponent, even if his opponent is already a legend like The Undertaker. He was able to create the drama by promoting the main event, months before WrestleMania. Shawn owned most crowds and when he turned into a heel as the leader of DX, even then he became a babyface. So when you look at each loss, you can't help but remember how great the matches were, regardless of whether or not he won, except for WrestleMania XXIII of course.
At WrestleMania XIV, he faced off against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, with Mike Tyson as the special guest enforcer, and the two of them put together the signature match of the Attitude Era. Then came the epic Triple Threat match between Michaels, Chris Benoit, and Triple H. Finally, after that match against John Cena at XXIII, he faced off against The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI in a Streak vs. Career match that gave us two legends with an incredible history together, one last time, and it was epic. It was so emotional that it caused many lifelong wrestling fans to cry at the sight of its final moments.