???Wrestlemania Main Event???

The Main Event of Wrestlemania. The ultimate prize for every single WWE superstar. About as coveted and as prestigious a match as you could get. Of course every year there can only be one match that closes the show of shows, and in recent years (this year more than ever) what match and who should go on last is often a topic of debate amongst WWE fans. As recently as Wrestlemania 33 it wasn’t known going in to the show on the day what would go on last, even last year it emerged the decision to close with Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns was made very close to show time, and even closer was the choice to change the finish. Ideally they want a big celebration for a babyface (at least most of the time) to cap off Wrestlemania, the lack of such was behind why the decision was made not to do the big coronation of Roman Reigns in New Orleans to an inevitable chorus of boos… and then they went ahead and did it in Brooklyn at Summerslam some months later anyway… and now going in to this years MANia they were at one stage calling both Seth V Brock AND the Women’s triple threat ‘the main event’. In this blog I will go through year-by-year looking at what match closed Wrestlemania (because as CM Punk will tell you, however WWE want to dress it up as ‘double’ or even ‘triple’ main events, the LAST match is the main event and always will be) and look at if WWE made the right choice. Some years maybe they chose the wrong match on the card to go last, maybe some years they had a long term plan but for one reason or another couldn’t make the match they had planned and maybe some years Hulk Hogan will come out and play Billy Big Balls and waltz in and win the title. This should be good fun…

WrestleMania 1 – Madison Square Garden; New York City: 31/3/85. WWE Champion Hulk Hogan & Mr T (with Jimmy Snuka) defeated Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff (with Bob Orton) – Special Guest Referees: Muhammad Ali and Pat Patterson, Guest Ring Announcer: Billy Martin, Guest Time Keeper: Liberace accompanied by The Rockettes

Given it was the first Mania it was clear that Vince McMahon wanted as many eyes on his main event of his premier showcase event and did so by putting in as many big names as he could. He did, and clearly 34 years later it worked out well so it can hardly be criticized. Perhaps the better wrestling story would’ve seen Hogan defending his title in a straight singles match against Roddy Piper, but all things considered this star studded contest made plenty of sense.

WrestleMania 2 – Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena; California: 7/4/86. WWE Champion Hulk Hogan (C) defeated King Kong Bundy in a Steel Cage Match to retain the WWE Championship. // Nassau Coliseum; Uniondale. Mr T defeated Roddy Piper in a Boxing Match. // Rosemont Horizon; Illinois. ‘The British Bulldogs’ (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid) (with Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne) defeated ‘The Dream Team’ (Brutus Beefcake & Greg Valentine) (C) (with Johnny Valiant) to win the WWE Tag Team Championship

Yes before we go anywhere the 2nd WrestleMania was held in THREE locations!!! So looking at the final match of each card; a popular babyface team with celebrity guests accompanying them winning the tag titles in one city, a huge celebrity beating a rival in a boxing match that built on the story of last year’s event to close the Uniondale Mania and finally man of the moment Hulk Hogan beating a big, bad guy in a cage to keep his championship. The main event matches pretty much did their job.

WrestleMania 3 – Pontiac Silverdome; Michigan: 29/3/87. WWE Champion Hulk Hogan (C) defeated Andre The Giant (with Bobby Heenan) to retain the WWE Championship.

Not much of an argument here. One of the biggest and most famous matches in wrestling history, ‘The Irresistable Force meeting The Imovable Object’ was about as much a WrestleMania main event worthy match as there ever has been.

WrestleMania 4 – Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall; New Jersey: 27/3/88. Randy Savage (with Miss Elizabeth) defeated Ted DiBiase (with Andre The Giant) in a tournament final to win the vacant WWE Championship.

So… this was odd… Andre The Giant SOLD THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP to The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. In disgust WWE President Jack Tunney stripped him of the title and a tournament was made for WrestleMania to crown a new champion. Eventually we reached a point where the scheming DiBiase would face off against THE MACHO MAN!!! And of course Savage got the win and the title and we all had a great and happy moment… but of course Hogan had to get his two-pence in and got involved, hitting DiBiase with a chair before Randy Savage hit his big elbow for the win. It wasn’t Hogan, and it was WWE putting over the next guy, so at this stage a change was apparently welcomed.

WrestleMania 5 – Atlantic City Convention Hall; New Jersey: 2/4/89. Hulk Hogan defeated Randy Savage (C) to win the WWE Championship.

With Miss Elizabeth at ringside THE MEGA POWERS EXPLODED! In somewhat of a theme of the early few WrestleMania’s the main event built from a story from the previous year, which is refreshing in the modern age looking back. A story told over many months that saw The Macho Man grow cynical and paranoid at both Hogan’s stardom and his closeness with Savage’s then wife Miss Elizabeth. Of course, Hogan won… because… Hogan… but nonetheless the long build and star power meant this more than fit the bill of WrestleMania main event.

WrestleMania 6 – SkyDome; Toronto, Canada: 1/4/90. Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior defeated WWE Champion Hulk Hogan in a winner takes all match to win the WWE Championship and retain the Intercontinental Championship.

Yes you did read that right, Hulk Hogan LOST in the main event of a WrestleMania! After many years Vince McMahon had finally decided he needed a new top guy, he chose the Ultimate Warrior. Beginning with a showdown in that year’s Royal Rumble Match Hogan and Warrior were set on a path that led to ‘The Ultimate Challenge’. Warrior won to a huge reaction at the apparent changing of the guard… the key word there being ‘apparent’… but at the time it was received very well.

WrestleMania 7 – Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena; California: 24/3/91. Hulk Hogan defeated WWE Champion Sgt. Slaughter (C) (with General Adnan) to win the WWE Championship.

Yep HIM again… so a couple of things here; it was gulf war time so WWE decided it a great idea to turn US military-inspired hero Sgt. Slaughter into an IRAQI sympathizer with Saddam lookalike General Adnan by his side to take on Mr USA Hulk Hogan. Originally this event was planned to be in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with a reported potential attendance to be 100,000. But that didn’t happen; WWE said it was due to potential security threats towards the pro-Iraqi champion, others said it was simply down to WWE not being able to fill the venue. Of course Hogan won, but you knew that already right? It was very much of the time this one, looking back it’s hard to comment on but I guess it fit the time…

WrestleMania 8 – Venue Hoosier Dome; Indianapolis, Indiana: 5/4/92. Hulk Hogan defeated Sid Justice (with Harvey Wippleman) by disqualification

Hulk Hogan (can you believe it?) closed Mania… RANDY SAVAGE vs RIC FLAIR for the WWE Championship was in the middle of the card… You be the judge… So WHY did Hogan go last? Well 1. because he’s Hogan and 2. it was billed as his ‘last match’… in reality he took a hiatus with the upcoming steroid trial of WWE and Vince McMahon on the horizon… he would comeback of course (looking suspiciously less muscular)…

WrestleMania 9 – Caesars Palace; Nevada: 4/4/93. Yokozuna (with Mr Fuji) defeated Bret Hart (C) to win the WWE Championship.

WHAT YOU SAY… NO HULK HOGAN? Yes Royal Rumble winner Yokozuna won the title from Bret Hart after Mr Fuji threw salt in the former champion’s eyes allowing for his man to capitalize. A finish not really Mania main event stuff but…THEN… guess what FUCKING happened… HULK HOGAN came out to complain about what had happened! And in his anger wanting justice he… demanded a match for HIMSELF against Yokozuna for the title immediately (after he had said earlier in the show he wanted to face the winner in the future)… and sure enough TWENTY TWO SECONDS later, after Mr Fuji threw salt aimed for Hogan at Yokozuna it was… once again… HULK HOGAN who closed Wrestlemania as WWE Champion. An ending befitting of (widely regarded as) THE WORST WrestleMania of all time.

WrestleMania 10 – Madison Square Garden; New York City: 20/3/94. Bret Hart defeated Yokozuna (C) (with Mr Fuji and Jim Cornette) to win the WWE Championship – Special Guest Referee: Roddy Piper.

Before we start I’m delighted to tell you that Hulk Hogan WAS NOT on this WrestleMania!!! Let’s in 2019 try to forget that WWE wanted Lex Luger to be Hogan’s replacement and had him jointly win the Royal Rumble with Bret Hart… only to have him lose his title match in the middle of this show by disqualification. Let’s rejoice that a legitimately great wrestler that was loved by the fans won the championship in the main event from a big, bad heel. WWE just about got this one right.

WrestleMania 11 – Hartford Civic Center; Connecticut: 2/4/95. Lawrence Taylor defeated Bam Bam Bigelow (with Ted DiBiase).

Former American Football Star Lawrence Taylor was bought in to headline WWE’s biggest event in a year widely recognized as one of their worst in terms of where their product was at. I guess when you think of that it makes sense to bring in a big star to get mainstream publicity to an event that would’ve probably otherwise seriously flopped. Closing WrestleMania with Champion Diesel (accompanied by Pamela Anderson) defeating Shawn Michaels (accompanied by Jenny McCarthy and… Sid…) sounds… questionable… so maybe they did the best with what they had at the time?

WrestleMania 12 – Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim; California: 31/3/96. Shawn Michaels (with Jose Lothario) defeated Bret Hart (C) in sudden death overtime 1-0 in a 60 Minute Iron Man Match to win the WWE Championship.

ALLLLLLLLLLLL THE YES’ for this one! A year later and WWE was getting back to greatness. A classic between to huge names in the main event of WrestleMania. What a concept!!!…

WrestleMania 13 – Rosemont Horizon; Illinois: 23/3/97. The Undertaker defeated Sycho Sid (C) in a No Disqualification Match to win the WWE Championship.

SYCHO SID IN THE MAIN EVENT OF WRESTLEMANIA? AGAIN??? Well… SOMEBODY lost their smile didn’t they… Well that’s what he said but the non bullshit answer was Shawn Michaels didn’t want to return the favour to Bret Hart, so somehow SID vs Undertaker was the main event… and Bret Hart? Well, he had… a match on this show… that you may want to check out… But as far as the main event goes just blame Shawn Michaels…

WrestleMania 14 – FleetCenter; Boston, Massachusetts: 29/3/98. Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Shawn Michaels (C) to win the WWE Championship – Special Outside Enforcer: Mike Tyson.

Put it this way, around this time I’d presume Jim Ross would have decided he should sell BBQ Sauce, because business was BOOMING! 1998 was the beginning of the biggest era in professional wrestling, and here “The Austin has begun” as JR so rightly said. Just a tonne of good stuff here, it marked the first end of the in-ring career of HBK but it was the start of a new era that would elevate the entire industry to heights it may never reach again.

WrestleMania 15 – First Union Center; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 28/3/99. Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock (C) in a No Disqualification Match to win the WWE Championship – Special Guest Referee: Mankind.

The two biggest stars in the history of the business in the biggest match of the biggest show at the peak of popularity for the business. Enough said.

WrestleMania 16 – Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim; California: 2/4/00. Triple H (C) (with Stephanie McMahon) defeated The Rock (with Vince McMahon), Big Show (with Shane McMahon) and Mick Foley (with Linda McMahon) in a Fatal 4 Way Elimination Match to retain the WWE Championship.

AH YES… ‘A McMahon in every corner’… oh boy… The first time a heel won the main event of WrestleMania and OF COURSE it had to be Triple H didn’t it? WHY OH WHY was this not just Triple H vs The Rock? Instead we got this over-booked shite?! They did what they should’ve done here a month later at Backlash when a returning Steve Austin helped The Rock win the title, yet still in what was the WWE’s most successful year ever they somehow didn’t hit a home run with their biggest match…

WrestleMania 17 – Reliant Astrodome; Houston, Texas: 1/4/01. Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock (C) in a No Disqualification Match to win the WWE Championship.

The main event of the most critically acclaimed Wrestling event maybe of all time was between the two biggest stars in the history of the business. Austin’s heel turn (and the symbolic end of the Attitude Era) to win the match aside and what happened as a result of that… in the build up? This was EXCEPTIONALLY booked.

WrestleMania 18 – SkyDome; Toronto, Canada: 17/3/02. Triple H defeated Chris Jericho (C) with Stephanie McMahon to win the Undisputed WWE Championship.

When I began this blog I was of the opinion this was the RIGHT call to go last; it was Triple H having returned from injury to win the Rumble winning the title… but now I’m with the majority I admit I was wrong. The story of this match was more between Triple H and Stephanie as THE UNDISPUTED CHAMPION played 3rd wheel… on the same show as a little match between THE ROCK and… HOLLYWOOD HULK HOGAN (Yes, HE’SSSSSSSSSSSS BACKKKKKKKK!!!…) … Icon vs Icon should’ve gone last shouldn’t it? And I don’t think anyone else thinks otherwise.

WrestleMania 19 – Safeco Field; Seattle, Washington: 30/3/03. Brock Lesnar defeated Kurt Angle (C) to win the WWE Championship.

A match remembered for Brock Lesnar’s missed shooting star press closed what was an awesome WrestleMania. In what was the anointment of Lesnar as the top guy on Smackdown it was a pretty big moment, not that Lesnar knew what day of the week it was at the time after nearly paralyzing himself in the match with his botch. Nonetheless this was every bit worthy of the main event spot.

WrestleMania 20 – Madison Square Garden, New York City: 14/3/04. Chris Benoit defeated Triple H (C) and Shawn Michaels to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

For obvious reasons I don’t want to talk too much about this match. I’ll just say it was absolutely fantastic, and the ending led to what was a great feel-good moment at the time.

WrestleMania 21 – Staples Center, Los Angeles, California: 3/4/05. Batista (C) defeated Triple H (C) with Ric Flair to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

At the time this was pretty much WWE crowning Batista as the number 1 guy in the company. On the undercard of this show was John Cena beating JBL for the WWE title, in what was him being crowned as the number 2 guy. Within months in became clear that it was Cena who was number one but at the time having The Animal dethrone The Game to close Mania made total sense.

WrestleMania 22 – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois: 2/4/06. John Cena (C) defeated Triple H to retain the WWE Championship.

I guess this made sense. Just like 12 months prior Triple H did the job to the number one guy in the company, but it seemed the Illinois crowd was already beginning to very-mildly rebel against Cena as despite Triple H being a heel going in he was cheered by the crowd every time he came close to winning. All things considered though this was fine to go on last.

WrestleMania 23 – Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan: 1/4/07. John Cena (C) defeated Shawn Michaels to retain the WWE Championship.

Much like 12 months prior most wanted HBK to win, most knew Cena would win and didn’t mind… too much… Cena was by far and away the number one guy at this point so it probably made sense going on last (Taker winning the world title from Batista and the Battle of the Billionaire’s aside having both had better and more hyped builds).

WrestleMania 24 – Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando: 30/3/08. The Undertaker defeated Edge (C) to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

No complaints from me with this one; 2 all-time greats in a good match after a near year-long story between the two… and this wasn’t even the end of it! A fun fact about this is that it was on the same card as Shawn Michaels retiring Ric Flair (I’m going to pretend Ric’s TNA run never happened), Ric was offered the chance for his match to go on last on this show, but he declined stating that the main event match should be about the championship. Ric Flair doesn’t really come across as humble on TV, but this was a very selfless act indeed so good on him.

WrestleMania 25 – Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas: 5/4/09. Triple H (C) defeated Randy Orton to retain the WWE Championship.

Going in to this match given the personal nature of the rivalry it was every bit worthy of the WrestleMania main event, but 2 things killed any chance this match had. Firstly there was the stipulation that if Triple H was counted out or DQ’d he would lose his title, which given the entire story was Triple H trying to get his hands on and decimate Orton really pulled the rug from underneath them here as they were so limited in what they could do. Secondly this match had to follow HBK and Undertaker having one of the best matches in WrestleMania history and John Cena winning the world title , so amazing to think the Mania main event was in a death spot but it was. Also didn’t help the match itself was about as formulaic and frankly boring as you could get and was really a damp squib off the back of the giant build up.

WrestleMania 26 – University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona: 28/3/10. The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels – No Disqualification ‘Streak vs Career’ Match.

A rematch of the best WrestleMania match in modern times, The legendary undefeated WrestleMania streak of The Undertaker vs the Hall of Fame career of Shawn Michaels, an UNBELIEVABLE build up… need I say more?

WrestleMania 27 – Georgia Dome, Atlanta: 3/4/11. The Miz (C) (with Alex Riley) defeated John Cena to retain the WWE Championship.

Remember at Mania 18 when the champion in the main event was only the 3rd most important person in the story? Well less than a decade later we had the same incredible scenario. The Miz (don’t even get me started on how 2011 Miz, aka 1/10 as good as 2019 Miz, was champion winning the Mania main event… it was a low point in WWE around this time) initially retained his title with a double count out against John Cena, that was until WrestleMania 27’s host The Rock ordered for the match to be restarted with only pinfalls and submissions being decisive. In somewhat of a shocking move Rock cost Cena the match and the championship, and then for good measure Rock Bottomed The Miz to close the show standing tall. Yes WrestleMania closed with neither man in the main event standing tall… but unlike with Hogan some years prior NOBODY cared… because… well it was THE ROCK for crying out loud. This (whilst appearing an odd match to close a WrestleMania with) was all of course the beginning of the build to…

WrestleMania 28 – Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida: 1/4/12. The Rock defeated John Cena.

10 years on from a mammoth match-up of icons involving Dwayne Johnson NOT closing WrestleMania, and much to CM Punk’s (WWE Champion at the time) fury, in The Rock’s hometown of Miami the biggest money-match in recent WrestleMania memory that had a full year of build closed out WrestleMania 28. This edition of the show of shows is remembered for two matches; the ‘end of an era’ HIAC match Taker vs HHH and for this titanic main event. With regards to it closing the show, you’d have to say if Hogan vs Rock should’ve ended Mania 18 then with the same logic this was the right match to close the show especially with it being in Rock’s hometown and with it being the most hyped up match leading to the event by a country mile. Only surprise was the result. In modern wrestling everything with the build and way this was set up tells you John Cena (company face) would be more likely to win against the part-time returning legend right? Well at the time it seems this was generally a shock, but of course nobody really knew this wouldn’t be the last time we’d see The Rock in WWE…

WrestleMania 29 – MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey: 7/4/13. John Cena defeated The Rock (C) to win the WWE Championship. 

TWICE in a lifetime… yep, naturally given their greed the WWE chose to follow up the biggest money-making match in modern WWE history by… doing it again of course… CM Punk was denied what was a warranted spot in the Mania show closer in favour of Rock v Cena 2… yeah of course Cena won this time but that was blatantly obvious going in. Much to the delight of… hardly anyone tbh…

WrestleMania 30 – Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana: 6/4/14. Daniel Bryan defeated Randy Orton (C) and Batista to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. 

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!! EVENTUALLY WWE JUST about got it right for the main event of WrestleMania 30. A brilliant match to rival that of 10 years prior to close the biggest show of the year, lets just be grateful they figured it out in the end because it was very close to being a LOT less well received.

WrestleMania 31 – Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California: 29/3/15. Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman V Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. 

One of the most underrated WrestleMania’s of all time had arguably the most dramatic ending there has ever been, and it was caused by neither man in the advertised main event. Whilst the crowd were totally against the idea of Roman getting his moment here, and were more than behind ‘heel’ Brock Lesnar the match itself was pretty good. And then “who can capitalise?” asked Michael Cole as Lesnar and Reigns lay down exhausted in the ring… enter Mr Money in the Bank SETH ROLLINS! So this was Vince’s idea to please the crowd and put off the Roman coronation a little longer in 2015, considerably better than his plan for 2018 I’d say…

WrestleMania 32 – AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas: 3/4/16. Roman Reigns defeated Triple H (C) with Stephanie McMahon to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. 

Urgh… not the best of Mania’s was closed with a match people didn’t want to see, because they knew this was the only result that was going to happen. Way too long, felt like a slog at home watching it I can recall. But this was prime Roman Reigns era stuff, and in front of a claimed 100,000 people in attendance and with Seth Rollins out injured, this was WWE once again anointing their new main star on the biggest stage possible… regardless of public opinion… again…

WrestleMania 33 – Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida: 2/4/17. Roman Reigns defeated The Undertaker in a No Holds Barred Match. 

3rd time lucky was perhaps WWE with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania… On a show where it wasn’t clear from between 4 or 5 matches on the card what would close the show until the show itself had begun, it was eventually made clear that this epic match-up of icons from different generations would close out WWE’s 2nd WrestleMania in Orlando. And just as he had less than a decade earlier The Undertaker was the final show of this Mania… only not as the victor. Roman won of course, but the ceremonial placing down of his gear and then a theatrical farewell seemed to indicated that we had seen the final match of the legendary Phenom. And with those events after the match in mind, in reality this was the only match that could’ve ended the show. It would’ve made a million times more sense had Taker retired for real that night, but hey… wrestling… maybe in hindsight with his recent outings in mind he should’ve called it a day for real here. But I think we are all liars if we say we didn’t pop HARD when he returned a year later on the grandest stage of all once again.

WrestleMania 34 – Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana: 8/4/18. Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman defeated Roman Reigns to retain the Universal Championship. 

In what was, in terms of the live crowd at least, the worst received WrestleMania main event since… the last Roman title match Mania main event… the crowd chanted all sorts of stuff during what was a brutal and stiff match up. Everyone hated both men involved, and everyone in the Superdome payed no attention to the match presuming they’d be seeing Roman get his big win at the end of it… and then he lost… which was very weird (he got his moment 4 months later but still it was and remains an odd case and one of Vince getting cold feet… again…). With regards to it going last once again there were a few matches on the card that could’ve been in that spot, but me personally felt this should end the show, crowd reaction aside, but I of course was under the impression Lesnar was losing and leaving, which neither happened… so this was what it was… not one that will be remembered alongside the main events of 17 or 3 that’s for sure!!!

So as you can see WWE seem to have around a 65-70% success rate with booking their WrestleMania main event booking; so whilst we all want to see Becky Lynch end the show as champion… don’t count on it!!!

Josh.

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