When it comes to making it in the professional wrestling business, there are certain milestones that performers generally agree they dream of one day hitting. Those points might include working for a major promotion like Ring of Honor or Impact Wrestling, arriving in WWE, main eventing an episode of Raw, or winning a world title.
It’s hard to top working the last match of a WrestleMania. Closing out the biggest show of the year indicates that a talent is entrusted to deliver in what is likely the most watched match of the year and a match that will live on in wrestling history—streamed and released on DVD for fans to consume over and over. Moreover, WrestleMania main events have to be legitimate draws.
WWE understandably has a tendency to go back to the same marquee stars for this spot, and it’s likely we’ll see performers Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar close the Showcase of the Immortals again. But which other performers will get this big opportunity? And which, despite their talent, are never going to get that specific nod? This article takes a look at five current Superstars who will main event WrestleMania, and five who won’t get the chance.
10 Will Main Event WrestleMania: AJ Styles
AJ Styles has had an unlikely journey through WWE. After working elsewhere, and becoming arguably the highest profile wrestler of his generation never to work in WWE, he arrived at the 2016 Royal Rumble. Since then, he has won world titles, beaten stars like John Cena clean, and is among the few modern stars to garner a WrestleMania singles match every year of his tenure, four shows running.
It's not a foregone conclusion that Styles will main event a WrestleMania, but WWE has demonstrated a trust in him to deliver in big match scenarios. The Phenomenal one is one big storyline, or the prospective beneficiary of a big star getting injured away from headlining a WrestleMania.
9 Will Never Get The Chance: Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston garnered the push of a lifetime this past spring when he unexpectedly vaulted into WWE Championship contention, then rode a wave of remarkable fan support all the way to winning the title from Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania. For as well received as Kingston’s push was, and as great as his match with Bryan was in particular, it’s hard to imagine that he hasn’t already peaked.
The best case scenario for Kingston is likely that he builds off his already substantial WWE Championship reign to become a sustained main event level presence for years to come. It’s hard to see him main eventing a WrestleMania, though, with newer talents of equal or greater star power looming, not to mention the prospect of part timers taking main event spots here and there in the years to come.
8 Will Main Event WrestleMania: Seth Rollins
There’s an argument to be made that Seth Rollins has already main evented a WrestleMania, given the way in which he inserted himself into the last match of WrestleMania 31 via Money in the Bank cash in. WWE and Rollins have established that it’s a major goal of his to properly main event, though, as an advertised participant in the main event match.
While plenty of stars want to main event but either aren’t that caliber of star or don’t have that kind of support from the WWE machine, The Beast Slayer has been thoroughly established as a top player and quite arguably the single biggest star in WWE who hasn’t yet main evented ‘Mania. By all indications, he still has a lengthy career ahead of him and is as likely as anyone to get that chance in the years ahead.
7 Will Never Get The Chance: Dolph Ziggler
When Dolph Ziggler returned to WWE to challenge Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship, his promos were largely rooted in the argument that he has never gotten the chance to be featured like Kingston, and that Kingston’s run to WrestleMania 35 should have been Ziggler’s. While the argument is debatable at best, there is a kernel of truth to Ziggler being a talented performer who never got a real chance at WrestleMania. After a decade of working at the mid-card level, and sometimes higher, he has yet to so much as garner a singles match at WrestleMania.
Ziggler may still get a one-on-one bout at ‘Mania, but the ship has long sailed on any chance of him properly main eventing. Short of a truly disastrous string of injuries at the top of the roster, or a push even more momentous than Kingston’s this past year, there’s no chance of The Show Off closing out the biggest show of the year.
6 Will Main Event WrestleMania: Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre’s journey through WWE has been nothing if not tumultuous. After debuting as a big deal, promptly anointed as a future world champion by Vince McMahon himself, McIntyre sunk down the ranks, winding up in the lower card before the company let him go. He had a strong run working with smaller promotions and growing as a performer before returning as a top star for NXT and getting his call up.
On the main roster, McIntyre has been largely protected and treated as an upper card threat. WWE has been patient on pushing him to the top, largely working as the muscle alongside first Dolph Ziggler and then Shane McMahon. However, if he can deliver on opportunities, he’s as well positioned as just about any full time Superstar to get a WrestleMania main event push sometime in the next five years.
5 Will Never Get The Chance: Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe has, in so many ways, exceeded expectations in his WWE run. Garnering a WWE contract at all seemed unlikely, given Joe was in his prime in an era when the company tended to shun talents who had learned their craft elsewhere, and focused performers with body builder physiques. Joe got a foot in the door with NXT and thrived, before arriving on the main roster. While he hasn’t necessarily been a top guy in WWE, he garnered quite a few world title shots and programs with upper tier talent.
But will Joe ever main event a WrestleMania? It didn’t seem likely on his way in, and while it seems more possible after the big opportunities WWE has afforded him, it’s still hard to imagine a circumstance in which WWE would go all the way with him in that most featured spot.
4 Will Main Event WrestleMania: Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens has had a more successful WWE run than most anyone would have expected of him, including the longest Universal Championship reign by anyone not named Brock Lesnar. But would WWE pull the trigger on placing him in a WWE main event?
Owens is far from a sure thing to be that prominently featured. Nonetheless, WWE has shown faith in him multiple times, including when he debuted on the main roster by cleanly defeating John Cena, the Universal title run, and getting pushed toward the top of SmackDown opposite Shane McMahon. His more recent run as a hyper-vocal critic of WWE, edging back toward face status has generated buzz, too. Owens is a talent WWE seems ready to take chances with. Given how often he has delivered, he has a shot of going all the way to the top at a future WrestleMania.
3 Will Never Get The Chance: Baron Corbin
There’s a relatively small crop of Superstars who get the opportunity to main event PPVs for WWE. For better or worse, Baron Corbin is among those talents. He’s a big man with good mobility who has proven himself capable of generating heat. However, the general consensus fans seems to be that they don’t’ buy him as a top level guy, and a fair number of critics would argue that he has “X-Pac heat,” suggesting that fans don’t want to pay to see him beaten, but rather simply don’t want him on TV so much.
Despite getting big opportunities like a run as a heel authority figure, retiring Kurt Angle, and winning Money in the Bank and the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, Corbin has struggled get over with a large segment of the audience. For all of the flack he gets, and his limitations as a worker, it’s difficult to imagine Corbin getting the nod to headline the biggest show of the year.
2 Will Main Event WrestleMania: Shane McMahon
When Shane McMahon first returned from his long spell away from WWE, he was greeted by excitement from long-term fans who remembered him from the Attitude Era and other prominent work. The bloom is well off the rose for Shane-O-Mac who retained some appeal as a special guest, but has since felt over exposed as a regular wrestler.
WWE has featured McMahon prominently enough since Crown Jewel that reasonable suspicions have arisen he could get a world title run. Time will tell, but if WWE does continue on that trajectory, it’s not out of the question that the boss’s son my get the biggest nod of all in headlining a WrestleMania, be it one on one or in a multi-man format.
1 Will Never Get The Chance: Finn Balor
Finn Balor is a popular talent who has stayed over with fans despite getting pushed unevenly over the course of his main roster tenure. WWE hasn’t shunted him to the lower card or off TV, and has even gone so far as to push him into the main event picture, including his Royal Rumble feud with Brock Lesnar. Nonetheless, The Demon King seems to have gotten his big opportunity with his Universal Championship run upon his main roster call up. It’s questionable whether he’ll ever get back to that status.
Another world title reign isn’t totally out of the question for Balor, but in a roster that includes Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, and the prospect of a number of part timers getting featured on top, it’s difficult to see a path for Balor to close out a WrestleMania.