The greatest achievement one can accomplish in the WWE is being in the main event of a WrestleMania show. There are a handful of World Champions crowned each year with the number growing due to the brand split needing two title holders at the top of the company. World Champions are still important, but the main event of WrestleMania is truly the greatest honor of the year. It shows WWE trusts these performers to be in the spotlight to represent the company. The financial bonus that comes along with it shows just how valued the main eventers of the biggest show of the year are by the WWE.
One of the major reasons CM Punk was frustrated during his time in the WWE before leaving was the fact that he felt he deserved the opportunity to main event WrestleMania. Punk had numerous top level matches on the biggest show of the year, but never closed the show with the biggest match of the night. That sums up how important the accomplishment is. As of this writing, there have been thirty-two WrestleMania events with nineteen men holding victories in the final match of the show. We will rank them each from worst to best, listing every man to ever win a WrestleMania main event match.
19 Lawrence Taylor (WM XI)
The worst wrestler to win a WrestleMania main event is naturally someone that wasn’t even a wrestler. WWE tried to get mainstream coverage for the event by having former NFL Superstar Lawrence Taylor wrestle at the big event. The most unlikely of WrestleMania main events came at WrestleMania XI when Taylor squared off against Bam Bam Bigelow. NFL stars surrounded the ring on Taylor’s behalf and heel wrestlers did the same for Bigelow.
Taylor didn’t do that bad for someone with no wrestling experience, but it was still among the least compelling performances to end a WrestleMania show. WWE has continued to use celebrities on future shows. However, it was the final time a celebrity attraction match main evented the event. Taylor versus Bigelow has looked worse and worse each year when you compare it to every other main event in WrestleMania history from a wrestling perspective.
18 Mr. T (WM I)
The first WrestleMania event featured a lot of celebrity involvement and it led to another example of a celebrity winning a main event. Mr. T developed a good relationship with Hulk Hogan following their time working together on the set of Rocky III. Vince McMahon knew he needed the star power to sell the WrestleMania concept to the public. It led to the team of Hogan and Mr. T facing Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff in the main event of WrestleMania I.
Mr. T and Hogan pulled off the win in a historic moment. You have to respect it for the success it delivered, leading to WrestleMania growing every year. Sadly, it's a brutal match to watch back. Mr. T tried his best, but he just wasn’t meant to be a professional wrestler. The main event is one of the weaker show closers in WrestleMania history.
17 Roman Reigns (WM 32)
We find the first wrestler on the list for the most recent of WrestleMania events. Roman Reigns has been the centerpiece of the WWE for a few years now. The big, crowning moment for Reigns becoming “The Guy” to lead the WWE into the future was supposed to come at WrestleMania 32 against Triple H. It was technically the biggest wrestling show of all-time based off the crowd size, which stood at a record breaking 100,000+ fans in attendance.
Reigns had the perfect opportunity to establish himself as deserving of the top spot he was being given. Instead, it turned out to be one of the worst main events in WrestleMania history. The crowd reaction went back and forth between booing Reigns out of the building and remaining silent out of boredom from the match. Reigns really gained nothing from the win when it came to his standing as a Superstar.
16 The Miz (WM XXVII)
The greatest accomplishment of The Miz’s career is being able to say he defeated John Cena in the main event of WrestleMania XXVII to retain the WWE Championship. Sadly, many fans forget he was even involved in the match. The main event surrounded the story of The Rock and John Cena. Rock attacked Cena to unintentionally help The Miz win the match. It was all to set up the future WrestleMania main events between The Rock and Cena.
Miz was essentially an afterthought despite being the winner of the main event. The match itself was a huge disappointment. Miz lost the title a month later and fell into obscurity. WWE lost faith in him until his resurgence as an elite heel five years later. The greatest moment of Miz’s career actually caused a huge downfall that hurt his career for a long time.
15 The Rock (WM XXVIII)
The Rock has been in five WrestleMania main events, but only holds one victory in those matches. Rock’s earlier years saw him lose to Steve Austin (twice) and Triple H in the biggest matches of the year. It wasn’t until WrestleMania XXVIII that The Rock would achieve his first and only win in the main event of a WrestleMania show over John Cena.
Rock winning in his home of Miami, Florida executed a highly successful comeback as one of the biggest movie stars coming back to the ring after an extended hiatus. The match wasn’t anything special aside from the theatrics and pageantry of two icons squaring off for the first time. The Rock returned the favor by losing to Cena in a rematch the following year of the back-to-back WrestleMania main events.
14 Batista (WM 21)
WrestleMania 21 featured a changing of the guard. John Cena defeated JBL earlier in the night to win the WWE Championship for the SmackDown brand. The main event saw Batista do the same with a victory over Triple H to capture Raw’s World Heavyweight Championship. Batista and Cena were new stars with The Animal reaching the top of the mountain following a long storyline leading to a huge moment.
The match between Batista and Triple H would make the lower half of main events in WrestleMania history. Batista did get elevated into being a main event star, but he definitely had a ceiling following the slightly above average match. WWE moved him to SmackDown and believed Cena should be the face of the company on Raw. Batista still went on to have a great career, but no one really remembers his WrestleMania 21 main event win as being a huge moment or impressive performance.
13 Bret Hart (WM X)
The legendary Bret Hart had some of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history against Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Owen Hart. Unfortunately, the only WrestleMania main event victory for Bret turned out to be one of the weaker main events in the history of the show. Hart defeated Yokozuna to win the WWE Championship at WrestleMania X in Madison Square Garden.
Odd stipulations caused both Yokozuna and Hart to have matches earlier in the show. Bret had a classic match against his brother Owen to open the WrestleMania event. That added to the moment when he defeated Yokozuna with the faces of the roster coming out to celebrate with him. It wasn’t the first title reign for Hart, but it truly showed us that he was the new face of the WWE for the first time.
12 Brock Lesnar (WM XIX)
One of the better bell to bell main events in WrestleMania history saw Brock Lesnar defeat Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XIX. Both men left it all in the ring for a hard hitting contest based around the pure wrestling styles of the competitors. Angle and Lesnar both wrestled an outstanding match and sadly left with injuries. Lesnar botched a shocking moment, which saw him fail to hit a Shooting Star Press and land on his head.
Botches aside, Lesnar came off like the star of the future following the win. Angle had one of the best performances of his career, working hurt to put over Brock. Sadly, Lesnar never loved wrestling and left the company one year later before returning for his current run. The win at WrestleMania XIX could have led to an even stronger WWE career, but it still all worked out well.
11 Randy Savage (WM IV)
Randy Savage always appeared to be in the shadow of Hulk Hogan when it came to the upper echelon of the WWE in the 80s. WrestleMania IV saw him finally get the opportunity to be the man on top of the card. Savage was the first person aside from Hogan to win a WrestleMania main event when he defeated Ted DiBiase in the finals of a tournament to determine the new WWE Champion.
The match was nothing to write home about and the entire show featured short, lackluster matches. Still, it was a huge moment with Savage finally reaching the top of the mountain. It felt like Hulk Hogan would be the only face to hold the WWE Championship and main event WrestleMania events until Savage finally changed the routine. The memory is still special to all 80s fans.
10 Triple H (WM 2000, X8 & XXV)
The wrestlers to win multiple WrestleMania main events are towards the top of the list, but Triple H is ranked lower due to the disappointment associated with his matches. Triple H retained the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 2000 in a forgettable Fatal-Four-Way Match that revolved around McMahon family drama, overshadowing him. The other two main events were even more disappointing.
Triple H returned from a long injury stint in 2002 to win the Royal Rumble and defeat Chris Jericho to capture the WWE Undisputed Championship. It was meant to be a huge moment but their lackluster match was outshined by The Rock and Hulk Hogan stealing the show.
The same thing happened at WrestleMania XXV when Triple H and Randy Orton had a stinker in the main event that was ridiculed compared to the classic bout on the show between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. Triple H still deserves credit for being popular enough to win three WrestleMania main events over nearly a decade.
9 Seth Rollins (WM 31)
It almost feels wrong ranking Seth Rollins this high considering he only spent about a minute or so in an actual WrestleMania main event. The WrestleMania 31 main event was technically Roman Reigns challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Championship. Rollins used his Money in the Bank contract to cash in towards the end, making it a Triple Threat Match and capturing the top prize in the sport.
The moment will forever be remembered as one of the most exciting moments in WrestleMania history. Rollins cashing in is something we all had in the back of our minds, but didn’t really believe would happen. Even after cashing in, there was fear of Rollins being added to take the pin. Instead, he won the title and delivered arguably the greatest ending to a WrestleMania show.
8 Chris Benoit (WM XX)
Chris Benoit's wrestling career featured a library of classic matches. One stands out as the high point of his WWE tenure, which took place when he defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels in the main event of WrestleMania XX to win the World Championship. Benoit winning the Royal Rumble still left many unconvinced the WWE would actually put him over their two top stars at the time.
Benoit, Triple H and Michaels all worked perfectly together to have one of the best WrestleMania main events of all-time. The moment of Benoit finally winning his first World Title ended the show on a memorable note. Benoit and Eddie Guerrero celebrated as the two World Champions were left in the ring with confetti falling on them. Few WrestleMania moments will ever touch how effective that was at the time.
7 The Ultimate Warrior (WM VI)
You can count the wrestlers that cleanly defeated Hulk Hogan during the Hulkamania era in the WWE on one hand. The most high profile Hogan loss came at WrestleMania VI in a battle between the two most popular wrestlers in the WWE at the time. The Ultimate Warrior progressed into a new fan favorite starting to challenge Hogan as the top star in the company.
WWE decided to make a new Superstar with Warrior defeating Hogan in a classic match. Hogan was the king of wrestling and someone actually defeating him was a shocking moment. Warrior came off looking like a million bucks, winning the dream match to become the new WWE Champion. Sadly, he couldn’t continue the magic and tanked in the top spot. Warrior may have let down the WWE following the win, but his WrestleMania VI victory was an iconic moment nonetheless.
6 Daniel Bryan (WM XXX)
The most improbable WrestleMania main event victory turned out to be one of the best. Daniel Bryan became the most beloved wrestler on the roster, but the WWE continued to hold him down. His look and size saw the WWE want to go with a main event of Randy Orton against Batista instead. Fans rejected both men every week leading into the show and basically forced Bryan into the main event of WrestleMania XXX.
Bryan defeated Triple H in the opening match of the show which gave him entry into the WWE World Championship match, where he defeated Orton and Batista to win the gold. Fans erupted with Bryan finally overcoming the odds to get his big, crowning moment. The genuine connection between the fans and Bryan is what made him a star, and the main event victory of WrestleMania XXX was a celebration of their journey together.
5 Shawn Michaels (WM XII)
If this list was about the wrestlers most valuable to WrestleMania history, Shawn Michaels would be number one, but he somehow only won one main event at the biggest show of the year. Michaels had outstanding performances in four other WrestleMania main events, but took losses to the likes of Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, John Cena and The Undertaker.
Michaels’ sole WrestleMania main event win turned out to be the biggest victory of his career. WrestleMania XII saw Michaels win his first WWE Championship win by defeating Bret Hart in a legendary Iron Man Match. The hour long bout inspired many future wrestlers and changed the landscape of wrestling, showing the most talented guys could hold their own at the top. Michaels holding the title for the first time as Vince McMahon told us "the boyhood dream has come true" is a moment that sums up the beauty of WrestleMania.
4 John Cena (WM 22, 23, 29)
John Cena's dominance has seen him hold down the fort as the face of the WWE for the past decade. No one has been able to surpass or even match him. Cena’s run has seen him main event WrestleMania five times with three victories. The wins for Cena to close WrestleMania have seen him take down iconic names like Triple H, Shawn Michaels and The Rock.
All of Cena’s WrestleMania main event victories have been impressive due to the contrast of styles for each bout. The best would definitely be WrestleMania 23 when he defeated Michaels in a tremendous wrestling match that helped establish his in-ring talent to match his star power. Cena is currently rumored to possibly main event WrestleMania 33 against The Undertaker in what could be the most impressive WrestleMania main event win of his career (if that plays out).
3 Steve Austin (WM XIV, XV, X-Seven)
Steve Austin’s hot streak in wrestling can be looked at through the timeline of his WrestleMania matches. His tenure as the top star in the industry started at WrestleMania 13 against Bret Hart and ended when he retired against The Rock at WrestleMania XIX. Neither of those matches were main events, but Austin piled up a few in-between.
Austin's first WWE Championship victory came at WrestleMania XIV, when he defeated Shawn Michaels in the main event. Austin then had the top match on two of the next three WrestleMania shows against The Rock. WrestleMania X-Seven is the one everyone remembers. Austin defeated Rock in a classic thanks to a shocking heel turn where he aligned with Vince McMahon. This was the peak of the Attitude Era with the two legends having a great main event at arguably the best wrestling show of all-time.
2 Hulk Hogan (WM I, 2, III, V, VII, VIII, IX)
The man with the most WrestleMania main event victories is still Hulk Hogan and that will be difficult to top. Hogan was involved in eight of the first nine WrestleMania main events, winning seven of those matches. The most memorable wins for Hogan came at WrestleMania III defeating Andre the Giant in a landmark moment for the WWE and topping fellow iconic Superstar Randy Savage at WrestleMania V in another huge bout.
The rest of Hogan’s main events all have some strong flaws attached to them. Hogan definitely played the biggest factor on screen when it came to WrestleMania becoming such a huge success. However, he clearly overstayed his welcome and contributed to some of the worst WrestleMania main events.
Hogan had no business main eventing WrestleMania VIII against Sid Justice over the title match of Ric Flair facing Randy Savage for the WWE Championship. To make matters worse, Hogan once again used political power to squeeze himself into the main event of WrestleMania IX, pinning Yokozuna right after he defeated Bret Hart to make everyone involved look like a fool. Hogan’s WrestleMania main event history is conflicted, but the positives win out.
1 The Undertaker (WM 13, XXIV, XXVI)
The undefeated streak of The Undertaker lasting over two decades may be the most impressive statistic anyone will ever have at WrestleMania. However, The Undertaker has surprisingly only had three main event matches at WrestleMania with victories in all of them. WrestleMania 13 featured The Undertaker finally being elevated as the top face by defeating Sycho Sid to win the WWE Championship. The match wasn’t great, but the moment was special for all 90s fans.
The Undertaker continued his dominance eleven years later with a World Championship over Edge at the height of his undefeated streak to close out WrestleMania XXIV. His most memorable win would have to be WrestleMania XXVI, when he defeated Shawn Michaels in a legendary bout that ended up being the retirement match of Michaels career. It summed up everything that WrestleMania has become with the passion showing in the art of wrestling.