Unless you have been living under a rock, every wrestling fan knows of the controversy surrounding this year's Royal Rumble being won by Roman Reigns. It has practically been a mirror result of last year, with the returning Batista emerging as the Rumble winner and WrestleMania number one contender, met with an equally unpopular reaction. Last year WWE listened to fans and changed the WrestleMania main event and some fans expect - or at least hope - the company may do the same this year due to acknowledging the controversy surrounding the current Brock Lesnar versus Roman Reigns main event. Especially with the announced Fast Lane main event having Reigns defend his spot against the fans' chosen man, Daniel Bryan.
Many fans think this is a new phenomenon, ushered in solely by fan revolt, and in a sense they are correct. WWE changing plans directly because of the audience reaction is fairly unheard of for WrestleMania season, but that is only because they have never been met with such wrath.
It is not uncommon however for the projected WrestleMania event to change from what it seems to be at the end of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view - i.e. the man who won the Rumble challenging the WWE Champion at the climax of the show. In fact, WWE has done it a staggering 12 times since the stipulation was introduced to the 30-Man Battle Royal in 1993. That is 55% of the events between then and WrestleMania XXX last year.
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12 WrestleMania 13
At the close of the 1997 Royal Rumble the stage for WrestleMania had been set. Stone Cold Steve Austin had won his first ever Rumble and looked set to be challenging Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship. That isn't quite how things transpired though.
The following night, WWE President Gorilla Monsoon stated that Austin would not receive his championship match due to being eliminated prior to his victory - unbeknown to the referees - and he, along with three others, would compete at In Your House: Final Four for the number one contendership. This would actually end up being for the championship itself thanks to Shawn Michaels legitimately surrendering it due to supposedly not being willing to drop the title to Bret Hart (the Final Four winner).
This changed all of WWE's plans and the following night they had Bret lose the belt to Sycho Sid who would defend against his rival, The Undertaker. A dull and uninspired main event, it is of little wonder why it has mostly been forgotten. Fortunately it did also leave Bret Hart and Stone Cold to meet in their historic I Quit Match during the show, so it wasn't all bad news.
11 WrestleMania IX
Technically, WrestleMania IX did have the expected main event as Bret Hart defended his WWE Championship against the Royal Rumble winner, Yokozuna. However, that is not how the night, nor the championship picture, would end.
In probably the worst WrestleMania ending of all time, after successfully capturing Hart's championship Yokozuna would immediately launch into an unadvertised defense against Hulk Hogan. A mere 22 seconds later, Caesar's Palace witnessed their second WWE Championship crowning of the night as Hogan's hand was raised.
This terrible scenario was inevitably the result of backstage politics. The actual details are murky and disputed, but Hart believed that Hogan was ducking him. Vince McMahon had originally told Bret that Hogan would drop the title to him, only for plans to change during Hogan's negotiations ahead of his move to WCW and he agreed instead to drop the title to Yokozuna at King of the Ring.
10 WrestleMania 25
In 2009, Randy Orton was the leader of Legacy - a group of second and third-generation superstars who viewed themselves as superior to the rest of the roster. This attitude even extended to the McMahon family, resulting in him punting Vince the week before the Rumble. Orton would win the Royal Rumble and secure his job with a claim of IED that meant he was not responsible for his actions. With Orton continuing his tirade against the McMahons, he defeated Shane at No Way Out before attacking Stephanie.
At the close of the Royal Rumble event, the WWE Champion was Edge. Naturally it made little sense for Orton to challenge his fellow heel, especially in midst of the McMahon feud. So at No Way Out, Triple H captured the WWE Championship in an Elimination Chamber match.
This would lead to Triple H inserting himself in the Orton-McMahon issue, coming to the aid of his real life wife Stephanie and goading Orton into choosing his championship to chase.
9 WrestleMania 2000
WrestleMania 2000 had a unique main event in many senses. It is the only Fatal Four Way WrestleMania main event in history and the first to have the heel walk out as champion. At the end of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view though, the stage seemed perfectly set for a standard WrestleMania main event with The Rock challenging Triple H for the WWE Championship.
It would turn out that The Rock's feet had touched the floor before eliminating The Big Show, whether this was scripted is still something that fans argue about to this day. This would see Rock forced to defend his title shot at No Way Out, a match that Big Show would win. Meanwhile, Triple H's issues with Mick Foley would continue, leading to Foley being forced to retire before getting reinstated thanks to Linda McMahon.
The end result was the four-way at WrestleMania, with a 'McMahon in each corner'. This does seem to be the original plan, including a hint from Linda McMahon during an interview at the Rumble event, although Foley and Show were eliminated early to pave the way for a Rock/Triple H showdown.
8 WrestleMania XXIV
John Cena made a big suprise return as the final entrant in the 2008 Royal Rumble match. Returning months earlier than expected from his torn pectoral muscle injury, Cena would win the match to earn a WWE Championship opportunity at WrestleMania against Randy Orton.
Instead, Cena decided he couldn't wait to get his hands on the man who had taken him out of action months prior, and made the unprecedented move of cashing in his championship match at No Way Out. Unfortunately for Cena, it would prove to be a move that would backfire as Orton got himself deliberately disqualified to retain his title.
With no number one contender for WrestleMania, both brands would hold Elimination Chamber matches at No Way Out to establish respective number one contenders. Triple H would win Raw's chamber, and challenge Orton. Cena would find himself reinserted to the match due to the controversial ending of his title shot, creating a Triple Threat that Orton would win to keep a hold of his championship.
7 WrestleMania VIII
This wasn't strictly a case of the Royal Rumble winner getting a championship opportunity, as the 1992 Rumble was for the WWE Championship, but it is such a notable change that it couldn't be overlooked.
Ric Flair emerged as WWE Champion after winning the Rumble and everything looked set to finally have the mega-clash between "the man" from WCW against the WWE's top star, Hulk Hogan. WWE even held a press conference to announce as much, where President Jack Tunney announced Hogan as the number one contender for WrestleMania VIII.
However, the feeling backstage was that Flair's arrival in the WWE hadn't gone down as well as planned with audiences so the match was nixed in favour of a double-headliner card. Flair would defend against Randy Savage, and Hogan would face Sid Justice. Flair and Savage would have a good main event match, but this would truly go down as a missed opportunity in the annals of history.
6 WrestleMania 22
Two years earlier, another man lost his WrestleMania shot at No Way Out at the hands of The Viper. Rey Mysterio made history winning the Royal Rumble from the second spot, lasting a record breaking 62 minutes and 12 seconds - a record that still stands to this day. The man who he eliminated last would goad Rey for weeks, claiming that the masked man couldn't defeat him in an ordinary singles match and only won the Rumble by "devine intervention" (a reference to Rey having dedicated his Rumble performance to his late friend Eddie Guerrero).
Mysterio put his opportunity on the line at No Way Out, but would soon regret it after Orton used the ring ropes to his advantage to win. World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle hung onto his title against The Undertaker, so only one half of the equation changed.
SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long would intervene, displeased at Orton's actions, and, in an almost identical style to the previous entry, placed Rey back into the match creating a Triple Threat for the World Heavyweight Championship. Unlike John Cena before him, Rey would take advantage of being granted a second chance, and captured the gold.
5 WrestleMania XXVI
To avoid repeating their mistake the previous year, WWE made the main event of the 26th WrestleMania the highly anticipated rematch between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. This much was clear even as far back as January, so when The Undertaker walked out of the Royal Rumble as World Heavyweight Champion it was clear that he would not be defending against Royal Rumble winner Edge.
Edge himself seemed destined to face off against former partner Chris Jericho, whom he won the Tag Team Championships with just before he got injured. It was clear to the majority of viewers that something had to give. Cue Elimination Chamber, where Undertaker would defend his title against five other men - including Jericho.
Shawn Michaels would cost Undertaker the championship, coercing The Deadman to finally accept his challenge to a rematch. It would also leave rivals Edge and Jericho to clash for the championship.
4 WrestleMania XV
It may seem ridiculous to suggest, but the first of the Rock-Austin WrestleMania trilogy was originally The Rock versus Vince McMahon. Obviously this wouldn't have actually happened, nor was it intended to, but at the close of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in 1999, that was the scenario.
Understandably, Mr McMahon didn't wish to go to WrestleMania as the challenger to his hand-picked corporate champion. He thus chose to give up his championship opportunity just happy to have stopped his arch-rival Austin from getting there. WWE Commissioner Shawn Michaels put a stop to the plans, as he informed Vince that if the winner could not make it to WrestleMania for any reason, then it must go to the runner-up - Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Austin offered to put his WrestleMania match on the line if he could get a one-on-one match with McMahon, inside a steel cage at St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Austin would only just survive the match, when the arrival of The Big Show would inadvertently send Austin to the floor for the victory.
Side note; the WWE even toyed with the idea of inserting Mick Foley into the main event to make it a Triple Threat with Austin and The Rock, but ultimately decided a one-on-one match was the way to go.
3 WrestleMania XX
When Chris Benoit managed to win the Royal Rumble as the first entrant in 2004, it had been expected he would go on to face WWE Champion Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. With the brand extensions in place, it had been assumed that superstars were restricted to their own roster - in this case SmackDown. But this was not the case.
Raw's 'sheriff' Stone Cold would reveal that Benoit had taken advantage of a loophole that specifies the Rumble winner challenges for "the World Championship" and Benoit had decided to insert himself in the middle of the long-running feud between World Heavyweight Champion Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
The three would meet at Madison Square Garden at the 20th edition of WrestleMania, where Benoit would emerge victorious in one of the greatest main events in the history of the show before celebrating alongside his best friend, Eddie Guerrero, as the World and WWE Champions respectively.
2 WrestleMania X-Seven
As with their first Mania encounter, Rock versus Austin Part II wasn't what was on the cards, at least not on screen, following the Royal Rumble. When Austin won his third Rumble match, the WWE Champion was Kurt Angle, who had retained with the help of Austin who himself had a major issue with Angle's challenger, Triple H.
Perhaps surprisingly, Austin and Triple H would wrap up their feud at No Way Out rather than WrestleMania which seemed natural. Also at the event, The Rock and Kurt Angle would meet once more for the WWE Championship they had feuded over for months. Rock would emerge victorious, regaining the championship he had lost to Angle four months earlier. That set up a WrestleMania main event between the two hottest acts in the entire WWE.
WrestleMania X-Seven has gone down in many fans minds as the ultimate Mania. Undoubtedly part of the reason is the classic main event between the two storied rivals. Austin would win the gold but no one could predict how, as he joined forces with Mr McMahon in front of his own Texan crowd.
1 WrestleMania XXX
While some would argue X-Seven's change is the greatest, Angle and Austin could have had a fantastic main event in place of the historic one. Very few would argue in favour of wanting Randy Orton defending against Batista. The storyline was a natural one, and actually made sense, but fans did not want to see it in the main event of WrestleMania.
Batista had just returned after a four year absence and won the Royal Rumble to face his former Evolution stable-mate Randy Orton at WrestleMania. Fans however were sick of seeing Daniel Bryan held down, and immediately turned on the product itself after Bryan didn't even take part in the Rumble match, with the majority of the wrath going to Batista.
WWE was forced to change plans to include Bryan, with him facing Triple H in the opening contest to earn a spot in the main event match. Bryan would win and go on to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, completely against WWE's original plans.
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