It’s an exciting time again in the wrestling world as the Royal Rumble gets ready to kickoff in Orlando, FL, and start the road to WrestleMania. Over the past several years, the ever exciting Royal Rumble match has, traditionally, given the last man standing of the 30 participants a title shot and a chance to main event on the big stage, WrestleMania. It is a WWE Superstar’s ultimate dream to main event on The Grandest Stage of Them All. In what can only be defined as the Super Bowl of wrestling, WrestleMania is where the greatest in the industry shine in their craft in front of massive crowds and around the world at home. Wrestling fans are typically treated to dreamlike matches featuring the very best that the WWE has to offer. Even celebrities and former wrestlers want in on the action in order to be a part of the WrestleMania experience. Just last year, the WWE Universe saw the return of The Rock in a skit that also included UFC star Ronda Rousey. The event sparked national headlines, which WrestleMania has a tendency to do. In the minds of any WWE Superstar, there is no bigger moment than to headline the main event and mark their place in wrestling history.
WrestleMania is, ultimately, the event of the year for the fans. It is in the end, wrestling fans that determine the success of each individual that steps foot in a WWE ring. No matter how hard a wrestler trains or what gimmick they’re running with, if they can’t get over with the fans, it will never work. Champions are made by the fans. At WrestleMania, they want the best of the best. The majority of the time the WWE delivers. However, there have been some disappointing names to main event on the big show as well. Sometimes, unfortunate injuries cause top performers to miss out on the epic event. That looks to be something that could hurt the potential of this year’s upcoming WrestleMania with injuries to top stars like John Cena, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro expected to be on the sidelines for the big event. In other cases, characters just don’t come off worthy enough to main event at the top with the fans as much as WWE management wants them too. For one reason or another it just doesn’t click. We countdown the top 12 wrestlers to headline WrestleMania that weren’t that appealing atop the big stage.
12. Ted DiBiase
The Million Dollar Man gets a bad rap here being on the wrong end of the result in WrestleMania IV. Both DiBiase and the Macho Man combined for five matches on the night prior to the main event. The tournament for the vacant title match was a great idea but would likely have been spanned out a few weeks rather than one night if done all over again. DiBiase was an excellent heel during the ’80s and ’90s but on this night fatigue showed in both men. With Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan getting involved at ringside, fans seemed more interested in what was going on outside of the ring instead of in it.
11. Roman Reigns
It’s a pretty safe assumption to say that somehow, someway Roman Reigns will once again headline WrestleMania this year, regardless, if he wins the Royal Rumble match to retain his title or not. I think fans would enjoy it more if he loses his title at the Rumble and gets his rematch on the Grand Stage. The WWE may want to consider it if they don’t want a repeat to last year. Fans in Philly, who’ve never been shy about expressing their displeasures, booed Reigns out of the arena at Royal Rumble 2015 after winning the match.
Fear set within WWE management that Roman had not gotten over with fans as well as they had expected. They pushed Reigns to prove himself in a sense by pitting him in a match against Daniel Bryan at Fastlane to retain his main event spot. It helped some and Reigns would put on a great performance against Brock Lesnar and eventual champion, Seth Rollins, after Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase.
Dave Batista has been in the main event twice during his tenure with the WWE. In 2005, at WrestleMania 21, Batista defeated Triple H for his first World Heavyweight Championship. That was appealing, as it signaled the passing of the torch, but it was his recent main event that puts him here. He again earned his main event ticket at the 2014 Royal Rumble but fans were not at all pleased. Like Reigns, Batista was booed out of his Rumble spotlight. He had just come off a four year layoff and was getting a title shot at WrestleMania.
A showdown with Randy Orton did not look appealing at all for WrestleMania XXX. There’s never been anything special about Batista’s in-ring ability and fans grew tiresome of Dave in the spotlight. Daniel Bryan was eventually added to the main event and took home the gold at the 30th edition.
John Bradshaw Layfield had one of the longest title reigns in WWE history as the WWE Champion in 2004-2005. During the era, the WWE had divided their brands between Raw and Smackdown. As the champion of Smackdown, JBL grew to be the top heel and held the title for an impressive nine months. The main event for Smackdown at WrestleMania 21 saw JBL finally drop the title to John Cena for the first of his many, many title reigns. The match was quite disappointing, to say the least, and JBL would never again hoist a World Title. With both JBL and Batista main eventing for their respective brands, WrestleMania 21 was easily one of the more disappointing Wrestlemanias in the company’s history.
8. The Miz
Much to the surprise of many in the WWE Universe, The Miz received a huge push in 2010-2011. It was hard for me personally to take The Miz seriously when he debuted in the WWE as a part of the Tough Enough competition. I immediately recognized him from MTV’s The Real World and thought that he wouldn’t last a month in this industry. Boy was I wrong. The Miz has embraced his character that he inherited from the MTV show and has established himself an impressive career in the WWE.
Still, it was quite shocking to see The Miz not only walk into WrestleMania XXVII as heavyweight champion but walk out with the title too, after defeating John Cena with a little help from The Rock. Although he walked out with the title, this main event was more about setting up the showdown between Cena and The Rock.
7. Sid Justice/Sycho Sid
Like Batista, Sid Justice was awarded with two WrestleMania events. The first occurred at WrestleMania VIII against Hulk Hogan. With two wrestlers that probably couldn’t even tell you what technical wrestling is, this was a disaster waiting to happen. The bout even ended in a disqualification which is a big “No No” for WrestleMania standards.
Sid changed his name prior to WrestleMania 13 before squaring off against the Undertaker. Different name. Same result. It was a little better than what we had to witness five years prior because it was against The Phenom and for the WWE Championship but Sid was not an appealing character at all, often times botching his character with countless mistakes. What management saw in him besides his size remains a mystery.
6. Big Show
The Big Show is no doubt a future Hall of Famer in the WWE but his lack of in-ring ability has always prevented him from becoming a major draw. Show too, has been in the main event of WrestleMania twice in his career but, thankfully, never in singles matches. His gigantic size prevented him from pulling off the electrifying matches that we’ve come to expect at WrestleMania. In 2000, Show was involved in a fatal four way elimination match for the prestigious belt and again at WrestleMania XXV in a triple threat for the Smackdown main event. He didn’t win either and was even the first elimination in the fatal four way.
Big Show is reaching the end of his career as fans have even begun to rudely chant “Please Retire” during some of his recent showings. It’s unfortunate, since Big Show has become a legend in the industry but fans have obviously grown tiresome of the big man.
Yokozuna was one of the fastest pushed Superstars in WWE history. He entered the company in October 1992 and won the Royal Rumble 1993 less than three months later to main event at WrestleMania IX against Bret Hart. He defeated Hart but it was a short-lived celebration as Hulk Hogan would challenge and defeat Yokozuna for the WWE Championship just minutes later.
He would main event again at WrestleMania X against Hart after defeating Lex Luger earlier in the evening. Even though he was obviously the top heel at the time, it was generally less than thrilling to watch Yokozuna perform in the ring. His sumo wrestler size (although not actually a sumo wrestler) not only limited what he could do but the other wrestlers in the ring with him as well. Yokozuna tragically lost his life in 2000 at the young age of 34.
4. Bam Bam Bigelow
Bam Bam Bigelow’s match with NFL star Lawrence Taylor was ranked as the worst main event of WrestleMania in its history and rightfully so. There was no business to have this match built up for main event status, particularly when it followed Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship. The crowd seemed disinterested from the start and I remember falling asleep as a kid when watching it. Bam Bam enjoyed a good career from brand to brand but he was never considered a true main eventer and definitely not for the grand stage. Like Yokozuna, Bigelow too lost his life at a young age. In 2007, he died at age 45 from compilations with drugs.
3. Paul Orndorff
If you’re kind of new to wrestling you might be wondering “Who?”. It’s okay since Paul Orndorff’s name is not one we’ve heard in quite some time. Orndorff was a part of the tag team main event that started it all back at WrestleMania I. Even though Paul would have a Hall of Fame career between the WWE and WCW, he’s sort of the forgotten man in the tag match that pitted him and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. The WWE would not dare have another tag match to main event the big show in today’s era but in its inauguration they had to work with what they had.
2. King Kong Bundy
King Kong Bundy comes in at number 2 on the list. Ironic, since he headlined WrestleMania II against (who else?) Hulk Hogan in a Steel Cage Match. Though it was not the worst WrestleMania in history, the second stint of the grand show was somewhat chaotic. WrestleMania II was spread across various cities at different times and it got confusing at times as to what was going on. Bundy vs. Hogan was the true main event in Los Angeles.
Common sense is typically thrown out when it comes to steel cage matches as 99% of the time wrestlers will choose to climb over the cage for dramatic effect rather than simply walk out the door like a normal human being. At almost 500 lbs. there was no way Bundy was getting over that cage so Hogan had to win. This seemed to be the era where Hogan only feuded with giants in the industry, starting with Bundy and later on Andre the Giant. However, this could’ve been a much better match had Hogan gone up against someone like Roddy Piper in the steel cage in a sort of WrestleMania rematch.
1. Sgt. Slaughter
WrestleMania VII featured Sgt. Slaughter in the main event against (once againnnnn) Hulk Hogan. The character of Slaughter in this scenario is what makes him number one on the list. Sure, the WWE has long had characters that supposedly hate everything America. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. However, in Slaughter’s case, it was dreadful and a poor excuse to put the belt back on Hogan. After defending America against characters like the Iron Sheik, Slaughter returned to the company after a few years away, only to turn on everything America. He defeated The Ultimate Warrior at the Royal Rumble to setup the clash with Hogan.
Obviously, America had to win so Hogan once again got the pinfall victory. This was a real miss by the WWE as they could’ve easily kept the belt on the Ultimate Warrior for the full calendar year and given the fans a rematch from WrestleMania VI with the two hottest names in the industry.
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