WrestleMania is essentially the World Series of professional wrestling. Every young sports entertainer’s dream is to perform on “The Grandest Stange Of Them All.”
While being a part of WrestleMania is an amazing accomplishment – despite what WWE would have us believe – it doesn’t guarantee fans will remember performer forever. To truly gain everlasting notoriety in the squared circle, a superstar must headline the most important pay-per-view in the business.
While fans will always remember a WrestleMania main eventer – it’s how they perform in the match itself – that determines the nature of these memories.
With that in mind, here are 5 WrestleMania main events that stole the show and 5 that flopped.
10 Lived Up: WrestleMania VI (Hulk Hogan Vs. The Ultimate Warrior)
The Ultimate Warrior is one of the very few wrestlers who can say – at least for a short while – that he was as popular as Hulk Hogan in his prime. Back in 1990, at WrestleMania VI, Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior put on a show. While neither wrestler was known for their outstanding ring work, both men delivered a memorable back and forth matchup that evening.
To the surprise of many fans at the time, The Ultimate Warrior emerged the victor. In those days, Hogan rarely lost a match. However, on that historic night, it was the Warrior who got the W, in the most memorable match of his Hall of Fame career.
9 Didn’t: WrestleMania 33 (Roman Reigns Vs. The Undertaker)
WrestleMania 33 is one of the few events that the pro wrestling media went a bit easy on. Honestly, there weren’t very many memorable matches, and nothing historically significant happened.
The main event was supposed to be The Undertaker’s last match in WWE. Taker would face Roman Reigns who was ice cold at the time. The promotion thought that having Reigns beat “The Deadman” might mark a turning point in his career. It was a match that no one wanted to see, and it ended up being one of the Undertakers least memorable WrestleMania outings. Moreover, Taker only stayed retired for about 5 minutes – thus taking away the only thing significant about the match.
8 Lived Up: WrestleMania XII (Bret Hart Vs. Shawn Michaels)
You won’t find many lists of great WrestleMania main events that don’t include the Iron Man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. The fact that these two stars wrestled for over an hour – and kept the fans on the edge of their seat – speaks to just how talented these men really were.
The pace and execution of the match were as close to flawless as it gets. If pro wrestling is indeed an art, then this match must certainly be considered a masterpiece. It’s one of the few time wrestling fans got to see two legendary in-ring performers compete in their respective primes.
7 Didn’t: WrestleMania VIII (Hulk Hogan Vs. Sid Justice)
These days, when fans recall WrestleMania VIII, most people remember the match between Ric Flair and Randy Savage or Roddy Piper taking on Bret Hart for the Intercontinental title. However, the match that closed the show featured Hulk Hogan taking on Sid Justice.
The match itself was dull as Justice and Hogan had little chemistry. Moreover having a WrestleMania main event end via disqualification is never a good idea – as it’s generally viewed as the pay-per-view where storylines are wrapped up. The match felt more like it was building toward a WrestleMania main event, then the main event itself.
6 Lived Up: WrestleMania XXVI (The Undertaker Vs. Shawn Michaels)
Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker are the 2 greatest WrestleMania performers of all-time – so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that these men tore the house down at WrestleMania XXVI, back in 2010.
This was a highly anticipated rematch, following the previous year’s WrestleMania performance, which fans and media alike raved about. Taker and Michael's match had impeccable timing, outstanding chemistry, and plenty of exacting near falls. Whether or not the rematch was better than the original is highly debatable. However, both contests are two of the best ever featured on wrestling’s biggest pay-per-view.
5 Didn’t: Bam Bam Bigelow Vs. Lawrence Taylor
To be fair, Lawrence Taylor put on a solid performance given that he isn’t a professional wrestler by trade. That being said, the match doesn’t stack up to other WrestleMania main events. When put next to matches like Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, this match just doesn’t hold up.
This one is more on WWE for putting this match last. Moreover, having a football player beating a WWE Superstar was a bad idea. Basically, from a storyline standpoint, WWE is telling fans that someone from another sport can come in and beat a guy who has been doing this his entire adult life.
4 Lived Up: WrestleMania X-Seven (The Rock Vs. Steve Austin)
This match featured two of the biggest stars of all-time at the height of their popularity in WWE. In truth, given how over they were at the time, the performers could have had a mediocre match and most fans probably still would have gone home happy.
However, Austin and The Rock’s No DQ match was exciting from start to finish. The contest was nearly 30 minutes long but seemed to be over in a flash. The main event is one of the reasons WrestleMania X-Seven is considered by many to be the best Mania ever.
3 Didn’t: WrestleMania 13 (Sid Vs. The Undertaker)
In truth, many fans don’t even remember that Sid versus The Undertaker was the main event. That’s because WrestleMania 13 is most commonly associated with the legendary “I Quit Match” between Bret Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – which is widely considered the match that launched The Attitude Era.
There wasn’t a ton of anticipation for the main event, and the match itself didn’t deliver. It was slow and felt much longer than then the official match time of around 21 minutes. The Undertaker has had some great moments at WrestleMania – this wasn’t one them.
2 Lived Up: WrestleMania III (Hulk Hogan Vs. Andre The Giant)
A conversation about WrestleMania main events wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Hulk Hogan versus Andre The Giant. Over 30 years later, it is still arguably the most memorable match in professional wrestling history.
There have probably been a million body slams done since, but none have been talked about more than the time Hogan hoisted Andre The Giant in the air and sent him crashing to the canvas. From a technical standpoint, the match wasn’t all that great, but it really doesn’t matter. This is the match that put wrestling on the map.
1 Didn’t: WrestleMania 32 (Triple H Vs. Roman Reigns)
WWE wasted a lot of potentially good pay-per-view main events trying to get fans to accept Roman Reigns – WrestleMania 32 is a classic example.
In a match that no one wanted to see, Triple H took on Roman Reigns with the world title on the line. After an extremely long undercard (the event was around 7 hours total), the match between Triple H and Reigns felt like it went on forever—in front of a disengaged audience. In fact, several audience members were chanting the names of wrestlers who had nothing to do with the match. Reigns who was supposed to be the babyface (good guy wrestler) was booed loudly after winning one of the worst main events in WrestleMania history.