Big matches are what makes WWE such an extremely popular sport in the World and big stars and established names are what reap the dollars for the company and elevate its level to the top of the food chain. We’ve seen WWE advertise some ‘fantasy matches’ which became real when the wrestlers found themselves going toe to toe in their time in the WWE; we've seen some matches between hugely popular superstars or some crunch, rivalry matches which we’ve always wanted to see promoted over months by the WWE before the event actually goes down, hence reaping all kinds of fans to watch their favorite superstars fight against each other.
Ever since WrestleMania III when Hulk Hogan vs the mighty Andre The Giant was publicized over the moon by the WWE (who let whole of America know that the bout was going down) we’ve seen the advertising team of WWE work their way into hyping up some fan favorite matches in order to get as many sets of eyes possible on it. But sometimes the advertising doesn’t reap rewards as the booking is shoddy and perhaps even the wrestlers cannot find that chemistry to provide 5 star matches.
Often terming these kind of anticipated matches as ‘once in a lifetime’, WWE tries to gather as much attention towards it as possible and often this persistent promoting hampers the effect of the match. The fans go in anticipating an amazing fight but are often disappointed because it turns out to be something they see in every pay-per-view, and often causes backlash on the wrestlers. Because these matches are of such mammoth hype, they’re mostly taking place in prime PPVs like WrestleMania or SummerSlam so that even more people can witness it. Some of these matches live up to the billing, while others just succumb to the hype and turn out to be disappointments.
15 Jeff Hardy vs Matt Hardy - WrestleMania XXV
The Hardy Boyz were one of the most exciting tag teams of the Attitude Era, debuting in 1998 and gaining many a fans during their time in the tag team division. After breaking up, both had compelling singles career with Jeff winning his first WWE Title in 2008. But Matt betrayed Jeff during his match in the Royal Rumble against Edge, making him lose his championship. This boiled to an Extreme Rules match between the two being announced for WrestleMania and many were ecstatic at watching the two go at each other. The thing is, everyone wanted a match where the technical abilities of both are shown without the weapons and where tension could be felt. The match did have some good spots, but it was mostly Jeff doing the work and Matt didn’t shine enough which left everyone wanting more of this rivalry.
14 Vince McMahon vs Bret Hart - WrestleMania XXVI
Ever since the Montreal Screwjob, there has been a very real hatred between Vince McMahon and Bret Hart which cooled down in 2009 when Bret agreed to return to the company. Bret would be the special guest of RAW and even managed to make peace with Shawn Michaels on TV. But when he asked to do the same with Vince McMahon, he got kicked in the crotch. This resulted in a feud beginning between the two as members of the Hart family Natalya, David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd were turned as heels against Hart and a No Holds Barred match set for WrestleMania XXVI. With Bruce Hart as special referee, the tides turned on Vince McMahon as every Hart member turned on him as Bret gave him a royal thrashing, hitting him with the chair over 10 times and making him submit. The thing is, even though everyone loved watching Vince get spanked, the match itself was horrible as these old men scurried around and even the chair shots felt fake and the match was thrashed afterwards.
13 Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose - Survivor Series 2015
Ever since The Shield broke up and Seth Rollins decided to link himself with The Authority, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose have gone their own paths. The ‘brothers’ have always seemed to have each others’ back and team up to take down the bad guys. But when it came to winning the WWE Championship in Survivor Series 2015, it was to each his own. They went to the finals of a World Title tournament and faced each other in what could be regarded as a lackluster match. Maybe because of having to compete earlier in the night, it didn’t have the intensity everyone would’ve liked and an obvious Reigns win didn’t really help to win over fans either. The lack of an actual heel or an OMG moment in the match made it a regular, dull affair of a bout which everyone was excited to see.
12 Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins - Battleground 2015
When Triple H tried to ‘brighten’ his ‘diamond’ in Seth Rollins who was going through a rollercoaster WWE title reign by introducing the unstoppable beast, it built up what was looking like a mouth-watering match because of both the stars amazing ability to entertain and diverse styles. The build-up to the match was amazing with some great segments, but the match was so one sided that it felt very harsh on Rollins. Because of WWE booking Lesnar as someone who just can’t lose, he dominated the whole match which even ended abruptly with the return of the Undertaker. This could’ve been an amazing match if both were given more freedom, but felt to be just bland.
11 The Rock vs CM Punk - Royal Rumble 2013
During his pipebombs in 2011, CM Punk laid the smack down on The Rock in some shoot promos on live TV. So it’s fairly obvious that the People’s Champ was pissed and came looking for Punk in 2013 when The Second City Saint was reigning WWE Champion. Having held it for over a year, Punk was feeling invincible and got his fair share of strong words for the Rock who announced he would be challenging for his title in the Royal Rumble. The match was helped with some epic promo-work by two of the best talkers of all time and had an amazing vibe going onto it. The match itself was good but never really felt to be that big of a personal rivalry, and the ending was absolutely terrible. The Shield came to help Punk get the win over the Rock, but the match was restarted and the Rock ‘overcame the odds’ to win his first championship in WWE in over 10 years. The match ideally should’ve been booked better at somewhere like Wrestlemania, but instead was shoddily booked to end a terrific championship reign.
10 The Wyatt Family vs Brothers of Destruction - Survivor Series 2015
This match on paper seems such a good match-up between the original demonic, mystical legends of the WWE against the up and coming young devils and promises to be quite a hard-hitting battle with eye-popping antics. So when Undertaker and Kane teamed up to take on the menacing Wyatt’s in Survivor Series, one couldn’t helped but be excited by the possibilities of it. Instead we got a match where the Wyatt’s(mostly Luke Harper) had to carry the old guard and it was extremely underwhelming to say the least. It got more disappointing when one could spot Luke Harper literally helping the Undertaker hit him with the Tombstone Piledriver to end the match and we were left wondering what could’ve been if the Brothers of Destruction were some years younger and more fitter.
9 Armageddon Hell in a Cell - Armageddon 2000
Placing six of your top superstars inside the monstrous hell in a cell and letting them rip each other apart. Good choice in order to get every wrestling fan’s attention right? Quite right as this never-before match was never again repeated, mostly because of the actual matches’ chaotic disappointment. The thing which lands this match in this is that the match was promised to be six men to be INSIDE or atleast around the cage and most scampered outside to the romp to fight. The match itself had some pretty great moments, but how it was handled and the lack of using the steel to brutalize the match and the lack of sense of being trapped inside this structure turned it into underwhelming.
8 Hulk Hogan vs Shawn Michaels - SummerSlam 2005
This battle between two top stars of their era was built superbly by the WWE and the feud felt like a personal, egotistical battle between the two and one could expect an epic to go down in Summerslam. But because of Hogan deciding to decline to work after Summerslam in more matches against HBK, the heart break kid decided to make a mockery of the Hulkster in their match. Michaels oversold every move so hilariously that the match was more funny than enthralling and was soon turned from an epic clash to a joke. Even Hogan was surprised at Michaels’ antics but had to bite back and take the win in this match which has been joked over by fans who expected it to be a classic, but instead got a laughter-riot.
7 Undertaker vs Kane - Unforgiven 1998
The first ever ‘Inferno Match ‘ between The Undertaker and Kane was hyped heavily in WWE TV who promised it to be something like ‘hell on earth’ itself. Paul Bearer promised that one man had to light another on flames in order to be victorious and this ignited an excitement for the viewer. The match itself felt to be brutal at times with the moves these big men were pulling, but with WWE’s safety issues and inability to put the fear of burning into the viewer itself during the match probably deterred what was promised and expected by those watching. In the end, Kane did burn but only for a short while as the WWE’s ‘safety first’ attitude deterred the full potential of the match and left the crowd wanting so much more of it.
6 Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker - WrestleMania XXX
These two had met when Lesnar was in Smackdown and had given us some stunning matches prior to their meeting at the grandest stage of them all in 2014. The Undertaker’s undefeated looked to be in serious danger when he was challenged by the unstoppable beast incarnate Brock Lesnar who was ruling the roost in WWE since retuning. The match itself was promoted amazingly because of the masterful Paul Heyman who hyped it up superbly, but everyone was sure that the Deadman would find a way to overcome the odds again. Lesnar dominated Taker early during the match and delivered many suplex’s and F5’s but that couldn’t keep The Deadman down. But Lesnar was not to be defeated on this night as he ousted everything Taker threw at him and countered to more Suplex’s and a vicious 3rd F5 was enough to get the 1-2-3. And Just like that, The Streak had ended. It was a surreal and shocking moment for everyone who couldn’t grasp what was happening, and it caused much backlash because no-one wanted the Streak to die and are still angry about the result. This gamble didn’t seem to work for the WWE.
5 Big Show vs Mark Henry - Money in the Bank 2011
Even if most fans like to see exciting, athletic bouts among light-weighted superstars, the possibility of two mammoths taking on each other has everyone discreetly licking their lips. When Big Show vs Mark Henry was finally announced in 2011, everyone thought it could be a hard-hitting contest. Henry was going through the best phase of his career, demolishing anyone who comes on his way and Show wanted to stop that. The match itself was extremely dull with both trying to overpower each other and surprisingly had a very quick finish. Not even given 10 minutes for a World Title match made it a disappointment with Henry devastating Show in the end by breaking (kayfabe) his ankle which had some fans relieved at not having to go through this again.
4 Stone Cold vs Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XIV
One could say that this match was one which officially kicked off the Attitude Era and it had a lot of attention surrounding it when it went down. WWE got a hold of Mike Tyson to be on DX and on Michael’s side during the match as an ‘enforcer’ and the promos were really amazing which created a polarized audience having to choose between The Rattlesnake or DX. But because of HBK’s back injury, the match itself wasn’t as smooth and compelling as the promos’ suggested it would be and it needed a lot of typical attitude era antics in order to get the audience into it. One can’t really blame WWE for HBK not being able to compete 100% in the match, but considering the build-up they had going into the match, one expected a lot more ‘wrestling’ than ‘entertainment’ in it.
3 The Rock vs John Cena - WrestleMania XXVIII
Termed as ‘Once in a Lifetime’, The Rock vs John Cena to headline Wrestlemania 28 was set literally 1 year before the event itself in the RAW after Wrestlemania 27. During this year, The Rock was mostly not even seen in WWE TV while Cena worked his ass off and mocked The Rock throughout the year on WWE TV as well as social media. The Rock and he had a heated twitter war for a long time, but things picked up when The Great One returned to WWE TV 2 months before the match itself. This started the beginning of some epic promo’s where the rivalry got very real among the two. The match itself wasn’t technically brilliant like CM Punk vs Chris Jericho earlier the night and neither did it fulfill the culmination of a year’s hype as the ‘Entertainment’ part prevailed over Wrestling yet again in the WWE, who contradicted themselves by having them headline once again the next year.
2 Triple H vs Sting - WrestleMania 31
It was ‘The WWE Guy’ vs ‘The WCW Guy’ with something people were waiting to see for years. It was the debut of ‘The Icon’ Sting in a WWE Ring and at the grandest stage of them all. Sting had made his debut in the earlier Survivor Series to help get the Authority out of WWE, but they would return soon and Triple H would seek out the vigilante. Sting would terrorize HHH and set up a match at Wrestlemania, which had the agenda of WWE vs WCW sketched underneath it. But one could say the match was probably a decade late as both wrestlers are beyond their prime and not even close to what they were capable at their peaks, as the match was changed when the NWO came to help Sting with DX helping HHH. In the end The WWE Guy won but the antics in this match erased all the anticipation a fan had towards watching this fantasy match.
1 Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg - WrestleMania XX
This match was something like when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object as both powerhouses saw incredible runs in their respective companies before colliding with each other. It all started when Goldberg screwed over Lesnar in No Way Out to make him lose his championship to Eddie Guerrero, and as a result they had a feud which had its boiling point in Wrestlemania in a match with Stone Cold as special referee. But the thing was, Goldberg was on his way out of the company and many smarks knew that and realized how this was being done just to get it over with. The match itself started with the two scanning each other for the first 3 minutes and finally got some offence in on each other. Because of their hard-hitting style of wrestling, the match itself was pretty intense but the crowd let them have it, taunting the wrestlers and criticizing even the irrelevant mistakes. The MSG crowd was livid with these two’s attitude and let them have it and this ‘clash of the titans’ was reduced to a mockery by the crowd and one of the most epic failures in Wrestlemania history.