Going into the 2017 Royal Rumble a few weeks ago, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the upcoming WrestleMania 33 this April. With all of the new superstars seemingly growing into new roles in the WWE, there was some hope over who would win the 30-man battle royal. It was a chance to develop a new star as part of the transition into a new generation of the WWE. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Fans were bummed they didn’t see the debut of Samoa Joe or someone new getting a push. Instead, Randy Orton won the 2017 Royal Rumble match and a main-event spot at this year’s WrestleMania 33 – or so it seems.
Orton being in this year’s WrestleMania wouldn’t be the first time the wrong superstars were being placed in what is designed to be the biggest match for WWE on their grandest stage. When looking at the history of WrestleMania, there are a number of classic matches that actually were not technically the main event.
Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker were arguably part of the best match of the night, even though they were third to last on the card. However, they were able to have their rematch close the show at the main event of WrestleMania XXVI. And there are other matchups that don’t get the recognition on the card order they should have deserved.
Additionally, many WWE Superstars weren’t able to live up to the expectations of being in the main event of WrestleMania.
The following are the top 15 WWE superstars who were not deserving of certain main event matches at WrestleMania.
15 Lawrence Taylor (WrestleMania XI)
While not a traditional WWE Superstar, he’s one of the few celebrities to appear at the biggest stage of the WWE and compete. Taylor was viewed as one of the best in the NFL and was a dominant force for the New York Giants. But he was booked to compete in a match against Bam Bam Bigelow, who will also be mentioned on this list. It was merely a publicity stunt that got non-wrestling fans to hear about WrestleMania XI.
It’s a shame because the rest of the card had a lot of matches that were more deserving of the main event spotlight. In fact, anything was better than having a football player against Bigelow in a mediocre match that only got a lot of attention because of the other NFL players who stood in Taylor’s corner – including Reggie White and Steve McMichael.
14 King Kong Bundy (WrestleMania II)
WrestleMania II had a lot of issues. After the success of the first one, the WWE decided to have three events in three different cities, each with their own match card. However, the main event saw Hulk Hogan defend the WWE Championship against King Kong Bundy inside a steel cage. It wasn’t necessarily a terrible match, but Rob McNew of 411Mania considered it worthy of free television instead of WrestleMania.
King Kong Bundy was a big man who didn’t have the redeeming abilities that men like Andre the Giant and Big John Studd had during this time. It helped fill a heel void for Hogan to defeat on the WWE’s biggest stage of the year, but a better villain choice could have been someone like George “The Animal” Steele or Nikolai Volkoff.
13 Sid (WrestleMania VIII and 13)
Whether you know him best as Sycho Sid or Sid Justice, the man famous for saying that he had “half the brain that you do” was in the main event of WrestleMania two times. At WrestleMania VIII, Sid was in the main event against Hogan. This was not for a championship as Randy Savage would actually defeat Ric Flair for the WWE Championship earlier that night. In all honesty, Savage and Flair should have ended the night since they were able to put on the better performance.
Fast forward five years down the road and Sid was back in the main event at WrestleMania 13. At this time, he was the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and was up against The Phenom, The Undertaker. Sycho Sid was not the greatest big man in the WWE and it certainly showed during the 21-minute match. However, it did lead to Undertaker’s first WWE title win in over five years, which was long overdue.
12 Bam Bam Bigelow (WrestleMania XI)
There’s no denying that Bam Bam Bigelow is considered one of the better big men in recent wrestling history. He was a big name for not only the WWE but also World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling. At nearly 400 pounds and with a flame tattoo on his skull, he was someone who developed quite the draw. However, his one chance to main event WrestleMania was a mistake, and not because of Bigelow or anything that he did.
The issue had more to do with him facing football star Lawrence Taylor. While Diesel and Shawn Michaels competing for the WWE Championship was not a five-star title bout, it was more deserving than an NFL player in a mediocre match. Bigelow deserved to be in a WrestleMania main event, but not like this.
11 The Miz (WrestleMania XXVII)
The Miz was impressive through most of 2016 as the WWE Intercontinental Champion. He has shown a fire since winning the WWE Championship in 2010 that we haven’t seen in a long time. However, it seemed that The Miz would not be able to maintain the momentum from his push to the main event picture after winning the WWE Championship. This led to one of the worst WrestleMania main events in recent memory.
The Miz would successfully defend the WWE title against John Cena, with some help from The Rock. The reason The Miz should not have been in the WrestleMania main event that year was because he was never able to build on his push. It was as if he worked as hard as he could to get to that point and then became complacent.
10 Yokozuna (WrestleMania IX and X)
When viewing some of the best big men in WWE history, Yokozuna certainly earned his place at the big boys’ table. However, the way he was booked into winning the WWE Championship was odd at best. After defeating Bret Hart for the championship, he was beaten only a few minutes later by Hulk Hogan. It felt like a wasted championship reign, but he was able to reclaim the title shortly after at the 1993 King of the Ring.
Yokozuna would find himself placed in the main event of WrestleMania X, this time losing the WWE Championship to Hart. It wasn’t the match deserving of the spotlight, especially after Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels tore the roof off of Madison Square Garden in the first ever ladder match in company history for the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
9 The Big Show (WrestleMania 2000)
When looking at the poster for WrestleMania 2000, the two faces that pop out at you are that of Triple H and The Rock. Those two were the only ones you really needed for the main event of the new millennia of WrestleMania. Instead, the rivalry had to include a McMahon in every corner of the main event for the WWE Championship. Stephanie was with Triple H, Vince with The Rock, Linda with Mick Foley and Shane with The Big Show.
The four-way bout became befuddled. The Big Show was not even necessary for the rivalry and wasn’t able to contribute much to the dynamic that is Triple H and The Rock. If anything, Big Show hurt the match more than he helped it. It might not have been the worst match on the card, but the title match was part of the overall card and is considered one of the worst in WrestleMania history.
8 Sgt. Slaughter (WrestleMania VII)
One of the more ridiculed main events in WrestleMania history was back at WrestleMania VII when Sgt. Slaughter was the WWE Champion. The man certainly deserved to be a title holder. Unfortunately, the storyline he had was the result of the creative team forcing a bad gimmick on an iconic character. During the height of the Gulf War, the WWE booked Sgt. Slaughter to become an Iraqi sympathizer.
This would set up him to defend the WWE Championship against the “American hero” Hulk Hogan. This was during a time in which the WWE had a lot of talent on the card with wrestlers who were better suited for the heel role against Hogan. Instead, having Sgt. Slaughter as the top heel didn’t have the effect the WWE was probably hoping to achieve.
7 Roman Reigns (WrestleMania 31 and 32)
One would have thought the WWE would have learned its lesson about the company trying to force stars the fans didn’t accept. Just one year after the fans were heard and Daniel Bryan main-evented WrestleMania XXX, Roman Reigns got a main-event push despite the boos from the crowd. It wasn’t that he was terrible in the ring. He just wasn’t necessarily considered ready by popular opinion.
Regardless, the WWE booked Reigns to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31 -- the match that saw Seth Rollins successfully cash in Money in the Bank. One year later, the fans were not happy about the extremely predictable storyline that saw Reigns defeat Triple H for the same championship at WrestleMania 32. In short, Reigns has never been accepted as a babyface and was a poor choice for both main events.
6 Batista (WrestleMania XXX)
With fans having become very supportive of Daniel Bryan, they were hoping the WWE would have given him a chance to win the 2014 Royal Rumble. However, he wasn’t even in the 30-man battle royal that was eventually won by Batista. Despite being a six-time world champion in the WWE, fans looked at him as an overrated superstar who only got a push because of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie coming out around that time.
Batista deserves a lot of credit for being able to embrace the heel persona by telling the fans to “deal with it.” It certainly helped build up the underdog storyline for Bryan to find his way into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Batista and Randy Orton. However, Batista was not at the condition he once was. Besides, Orton and Bryan could have done well without the Animal being involved.
5 Randy Orton (WrestleMania XXV)
The best match of the night was obviously the war that took place between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. The two veterans were able to show the rest of the WWE locker room how to put on a great main event. Unfortunately, Randy Orton and Triple H didn’t find a way to follow that classic with one of their own. It’s sad because the buildup for the match was done correctly with Orton attacking Stephanie McMahon and Triple H going to Orton’s house for an attack of his own.
The problem is that Orton has often had some good matches in his career but he’s never really been able to stand out in his main event opportunities. It’s part of the reason why some fans aren’t necessarily excited about The Viper winning the main event opportunity at this year’s WrestleMania.
4 Mick Foley (WrestleMania 2000)
Earlier on this list, it was mentioned that The Big Show was unnecessarily placed in the main event of WrestleMania 2000. The same could be said for Mick Foley. Despite being the Hardcore Legend, he didn’t really add much to the last match of the card that night. But the WWE decided to make additions to a rivalry bout between Triple H and The Rock for the WWE Championship.
Foley was someone who had just announced his retirement at No Way Out 2000 after failing to beat Triple H. But he was asked by Linda McMahon to compete for the WWE Championship in what would become a Fatal Four Way with a McMahon in every corner. After the match, Foley wouldn’t be seen wrestling for four years. As mentioned earlier, the main event turned out to be one of the biggest reasons it was viewed as a down year for WrestleMania.
3 Triple H (WrestleMania 32)
Roman Reigns wasn’t the only person guilty of not deserving to be in the main event of last year’s WrestleMania. The fans were completely against Reigns being pushed to win the main event. It was also a storyline that was completely predictable for several months before the two faced each other at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It was pretty much confirmed once Triple H came out at No. 30 in the 2016 Royal Rumble for Reigns’ WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
All in all, it was a pay-per-view that didn’t do well according to many reviews. Triple H wasn’t the same wrestler who was able to successfully headline previous WrestleMania cards for world championships. It was a night in which fans had more fun watching Chris Jericho defeat AJ Styles in a great singles match that was buried in the middle of the card.
2 The Rock (WrestleMania XXIX)
Through most of 2011 and 2012, CM Punk was showing why he was the "Best in the World." As the WWE Champion, he had the longest championship reign in the modern era of the WWE. Unfortunately, he was used to make the WrestleMania rematch between John Cena and The Rock more “interesting,” which was supposed to be “Once in a Lifetime” at WrestleMania XXVIII. The Rock would defeat Punk for the WWE Championship at the 2013 Royal Rumble.
This set up the “twice in a lifetime” match where Cena would win the title. Punk, who more than deserved to be in a WrestleMania main event, got a moderate consolation prize for his efforts with a match against The Undertaker. While he lost, the list of superstars to face the Phenom on the WWE’s grandest stage is still prestigious.
1 Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania IX)
WrestleMania IX probably had one of the most awkward bookings in WWE history, outside of the Montreal Screwjob in 1997. Unfortunately, this one also involved Bret Hart on the short end of the stick. The Hitman was entering what was originally scheduled to be the main event against Yokozuna. Hart would lose the WWE Championship and then was saved by none other than Hulk Hogan from a further attack.
Hogan would then have an impromptu championship match, in which he defeated Yokozuna in about 30 seconds. It was confusing to watch as the title changed hands twice in a matter of minutes. What was worse is that Hogan would actually drop the WWE Championship back to Yokozuna only a few months later. When looking at the big picture, there was just no need for Hogan to get the final win at the end of WrestleMania IX; it was just pointless.