We were so close, yet so far away. We almost got the WrestleMania main event most fans were salivating for, but the WWE snatched it away from us. At the end of WWE Fast Lane a couple of weeks ago, Daniel Bryan fell to Roman Reigns' spear after a great match which finally closed the book on the idea of a Brock Lesnar versus Daniel Bryan World Title match at WrestleMania 31. No matter how much people will debate me on this, I'll stand by the fact no matter how good Reigns/Lesnar might be, it will always pale in comparison to the guaranteed classic story that would have been Lesnar/Bryan. Now instead of a reality, Bryan/Lesnar joins a long list of WrestleMania which shoulda woulda coulda happened over the 30 year history of the event.
With this unfortunate loss of a main event fallen before us, I felt it was as good a time as any to look back on a host of potential matches that we could have seen at WrestleMania. Don't get this confused with any dream matches that were impossible to ever book. All these matches had some sort of rumour or actual report to go along with the possible match. Comparisons to the actual matches which occurred will also be made and the better match would based on story implications, actual match quality and if it made sense on the card. Also for variety's sake I will mention one match per WrestleMania or else WrestleMania X-8 would dominate a lot of the list.
10 10. Mankind vs. Vader, WrestleMania 13
Actual Match: Owen Hart (c) and British Bulldog(c) vs Mankind and Vader
Preferred Match: Mankind vs. Vader
WrestleMania 13 is one of the most lackluster Manias of all time. If you were to remove the incredible submission match between Bret Hart and Stone Cold, the card stunk worse than Bastion Booger's diaper. While it would have taken more than one match to save the card, a matchup between Vader and Mankind would have definitely added some much needed spice the card.
9 9. Lita vs .Trish Stratus (c), WrestleMania 21
Actual Match: Christy Hemme vs. Trish Stratus (c)
Preferred Match: Lita vs. Trish Stratus
It's hard to make the argument that there ever was two more popular Divas in WWE history than Lita and Trish Stratus. They came into the company in 2000 and quickly became bigger stars than most of the men who they were sharing the stage with. Having said that, it's an incredible shame that Stratus and Lita never had the chance to lock up at WrestleMania. If they were good enough to main event a RAW, they deserved a clash on the grandest stage.
8 8. Triple H vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (c), WrestleMania X8
Actual Match: Triple H vs. Chris Jericho (c)
Preferred Match: Triple H vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
The berating which WWE gets from fans for a lack of long term booking might be warranted, but there are times which extenuating factors force plans to change. After WrestleMania X-Seven, Triple H and Stone Cold paired up into the Two Man Power Trip alliance and proceeded to capture all the major titles in the company. The plans were for the two to eventually break up and feud for the World Championship in Toronto at WrestleMania.
7 7. Mankind vs. Stone Cold vs. The Rock (c), WrestleMania 15
Actual and Preferred Match: Stone Cold vs. The Rock (c)
Through the help of sock puppet and a killer feud with The Corporate Brahma Bull, Mankind became one of the most over babyfaces in the WWE around early 1999. His connection to the crowd was so hot in fact that the original plans for WrestleMania 15 were for a triple threat match featuring Mankind alongside The Rock and Stone Cold. However, Shawn Michaels suggested to McMahon that the main event of WrestleMania should be a one on one match instead.
6 6. Triple H vs. Mike Tyson, WrestleMania X-Seven
Actual and Preferred Match: Triple H vs. Undertaker
Most hardcore fans are opposed to having celebrities getting involved in actual wrestling matches at major events and it's understandable why. They often take up a spot from a wrestler who works his ass off all year and the match more often than not end being an overbooked fiasco. The first reason though would be thrown out the window though if Triple H squared off versus Mike Tyson at WrestleMania X-Seven like the original plan was. Yes, this was a possibility.
5 5. Big Show vs. Shaquille O'Neal, WrestleMania XVIII
Actual Match: Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show for Intercontinental Championship
Preferred Match: Big Show vs. Shaquille O'Neal
As I said on the HHH/Tyson slide, most hardcore fans are opposed to celebrities fighting at WrestleMania but I think this one would have been a slam dunk (pun totally intended). The original WM plans for Big Show were to have the giant face off veruss the one and only Shaq Daddy. O'Neal actually confirmed the match himself on a local Miami radio show back in December 2011. Apparently, WWE didn't like Shaq's big mouth and negotiations ultimately fell through. What an idiotic reason for not booking the match.
4 4. Kurt Angle (c) vs. The Undertaker, WrestleMania 22
Actual and Preferred Match: Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton vs. Kurt Angle (c)
If it was up to Mark Calaway, The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak would have ended eight years earlier than it actually did. In an interview with the U.K newspaper The Sun, Kurt Angle said that the original plan for the WrestleMania 22 World Heavyweight Title match was the Olympic Gold Medalist vs The Phenom:
"Undertaker really wanted to have that match, he asked Vince to push our match back from No Way Out to WrestleMania and, since I was champion they wanted me to keep the title. Undertaker was willing to take the loss."
3 3. The Rock vs. Triple H, WrestleMania 2000
Actual Match: The Rock vs. Big Show vs. Mick Foley vs. Triple H
Preferred Match: The Rock vs. Triple H
WrestleMania 2000 is a contender for one of the most bizarre WrestleManias of all time. It has some great moments sprinkled throughout, but there are a host of matches with absolutely no pop to them and oddly enough, there is not a single, well, singles match for the men. Every match on the card was three or more person affair, except for a divas match. The only one on one 'match' was a catfight between Terri Runnels and The Kat (yes, it was actually billed as a catfight).
Perhaps the greatest sin of all though, was the lack of a WrestleMania main event between the top heel and top babyface: The Rock and Triple H.
2 2. Sting vs. The Undertaker, WrestleMania 27
Actual Match: The Undertaker vs. Triple H
Preferred Match: Sting vs. The Undertaker
My oh my would this have heavily helped out this troubled WrestleMania. In January 2011, promos began to play during WWE programming which featured an unidentifiable man in a trench coat entering an abandoned cabin in the middle of a forest. WWE fans went banana (intentional misspelling, thank you Pat Patterson) trying to uncover the identity of the man and essentially came up with three answers: Undertaker, Sting, or both.
Indeed, there was willingness on WWE's side to sign Sting in 2011. In fact, they offered Sting a match with Undertaker and a spot in the WWE's Hall of Fame. Sting however chose not to sign and instead Taker faced Triple H in the second of an eventual trilogy.
1 1. Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair, WrestleMania VIII
Actual Match: Sid Justice vs. Hulk Hogan
Preferred Match: Do I have even have to say it?
This is the one which boggles the mind more than any other. Back in the 80s, there were no bigger wrestlers in pop culture than Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. One styled and profiled his way to the top of WCW and the other hulked up the WWE into the juggernaut we see today. When Flair shockingly left WCW in 1991 due to WCW wanting him to shave his hair, wear an earing and changing his name to Spartacus (really) it seemed like all the stars were aligned for the dream match of wrestling's golden era: Hulk Hogan versus Ric Flair, WCW vs WWE.
Except they weren't. Due to the big egos involved in the match, rumour has it that Hogan didn't want to lose to Flair at the event which he made famous. Going by Hogan's track record, that is probably true. Another reason was that the match sold poorly on house shows prior to WrestleMania, leading McMahon to change plans for his show of shows. As a result, the only televised WWE match between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair was in Madison Square Garden on December 29th, 1991.
Maybe the numbers weren't there for house shows, but I find it hard to believe that it wouldn't have drawn at WrestleMania with the proper promotion and storyline. Plus for historical purposes, it's absolutely insane that this match never happened. A WrestleMania match between these two would have been the perfect way to cap off that era of professional wrestling and allow the new generation to take over in 1993. No, instead Hogan stole the spotlight from Bret Hart and Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX and Ric Flair versus Hulk Hogan never main evented WrestleMania VIII. Tragic.
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