Last week I wrote about the 10 biggest matches in WrestleMania history. I noted then that while a few of them may have felt epic, they weren’t executed very well.
In fact, in its over the last 28 years, several WrestleMania main events have failed to deliver. In some cases, expectations were low to begin with because of the competitors involved (See: Sid Eudy.) In other cases, expectations were quite high, but for whatever reason, the wrestlers involved didn’t meet them.
Here’s my list of the 10 most disappointing WrestleMania main events in history. I should note, that some of these matches may have been entirely watchable—and, in fact, better than other Mania main events not included on this list. But when fans are expecting a great match, a good one may not be enough.
10. Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice—WrestleMania VIII: This stinker closed out 1992’s edition of WrestleMania. It was billed as Hulk Hogan’s retirement match, and did, indeed, mark the end of Hogan’s career as a full-time WWE performer. If 12 minutes of terrible-looking punches weren’t enough for you, the finish was also blown when Harvey Whippleman missed his cue to break up Hogan’s pinfall on Sid, leading to the DQ. And so, in a match that was meant to solidify Hogan’s immortality, Sid definitively kicked out at 2. I should note that the long-awaited dream match of Hogan vs. Ric Flair was initially penciled in for this slot, but was scrapped for this mess instead. If there was a bit of solace, it’s that Flair took on Savage in a very good co-main event earlier in the show.
9. Sid vs. The Undertaker—WrestleMania 13: I’m detecting a pattern. Alas, it’s fair to say that Sid was the least talented wrestler to ever headline a WrestleMania. What’s more, he got to do so more than once. In 1997, he put over the Undertaker in an appallingly bad bout to give the Dead Man his second world title. Not to pour too much blame on Sid, 'Taker also had a hand in making this one of the slowest, dullest Mania matches in history. In the WWE’s defense, they initially planned on going with a Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels rematch from the previous year, but a Michaels injury put the kibosh on that. If any good came out of the changes it’s that Hart ended up taking on Steve Austin at the event in a bout that is still considered one of the great Mania matches of all time.
8. Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena—WrestleMania 23: It’s hard to believe that “Mr. WrestleMania” himself, Shawn Michaels, was involved in a disappointing Mania match. But in 2007, fans had very high hopes for this bout, pitting the red hot Cena against the supremely talented Michaels in front of 80,000 fans in Detroit. The closing minutes of the match were very solid, leading up to Michaels tapping out. But the first half-to-two thirds remained in first gear, and even teetered on boring. I should note that a rematch between Cena and Michaels a few weeks later on Monday Night Raw lasted nearly an hour, and was considered by many as the match of the year. I’ll also mention that this match too was the product of an injury forcing the WWE to scrap its original plans for the WrestleMania main event: a WrestleMania 22 rematch between Triple-H and Cena.
7. Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper, WrestleMania 2—This was one of three main events for the 1986 edition of WrestleMania, which was contested in three different cities. In Long Island’s very own Nassau Coliseum, Mr. T took on “The Rowdy One” in a boxing match that was supposed to capitalize on T’s starring role in “Rocky III.” WWE tried to garner a lot of mainstream publicity by promoting a brutal slugfest between these two rivals. But instead, we got a sloppy, sleepy affair that ended in the fourth round when Piper was disqualified for bodyslamming Mr. T. The highlight of the fight was Piper’s pre-match promo, where he vowed to not only quit wrestling if he lost, but also quit “dating girls.” He then turned to his bodyguard Bob Orton, put his arm around him, and assured, “I’ll stick with you.”
6. Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart—WrestleMania X: This bout was disappointing for a few different reasons. For one, many fans (myself included) assumed that the show would end with the long-anticipated match between Hart and Lex Luger, who got a crack at Yokozuna’s world title earlier in the night, but got screwed by guest referee Mr. Perfect. Instead, we got this rematch of the previous year’s WrestleMania main event, which wasn't much good either. Hart, who won the contest, did his best to get a match out of the big Samoan, but it was tough to do with just 10 minutes. It didn’t help that Hart and Yoko had to follow to great matches earlier in the night: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon in a ladder match, and Bret against his brother Owen.
5. Chris Jericho vs. Triple-H—WrestleMania X8: Like he would do seven years later, Triple-H has blamed the dead crowd reaction to this match on the fact that it had to follow one of the most epic WrestleMania bouts of all time (The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan.) In this instance, he has something of a case. Jericho and Triple-H actually had a fine contest in the main event slot of WrestleMania, but it needed to be much more than that in order to get the fans excited after what they had just seen. That is, the fans that hadn’t already left Skydome. It didn’t help that the build up to this bout, which was won by Triple-H, was pedestrian at best, with the storyline something to do with Jericho running over Triple-H’s dog. You think that’s lame? Earlier in the night, Booker T and Edge wrestled over a shampoo commercial.
4. The Rock vs. Triple-H vs. Mick Foley vs. The Big Show—WrestleMania 2000: This was back when WWE was fixated on multiple-person matches. In fact, the solitary one-on-one match at the 16th WrestleMania featured “The Kat” Stacy Carter taking on Terri Runnels (with Van Venis as special referee.) And so, rather than pit WWE’s top babyface, The Rock, vs. WWE’s top heel, Triple-H, in the logical main event of the biggest show of the year, WWE chose instead to make this a fatal four-way with a McMahon in each corner. Even more head-shakingly dumb, The Big Show and Foley (who claimed to have retired just three weeks earlier) were eliminated in relatively short order. That left the bulk of the bout to be contested between, you guessed it, Triple-H and The Rock. Triple-H won the bout, which wasn’t terrible, but was unnecessarily overbooked, to say the least.
3. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels—WrestleMania XII: Including this match on this list may seem absurd to some fans. But, again, this is not a list of the worst WrestleMania main events in history, but rather the most disappointing ones. And, I’m sorry, but this match just wasn’t great. And considering the participants involved, and the fact that they had 60 minutes to work with, it should have been. In reality, Hart and Michaels spent much of the hour in rest holds, eating away time on the clock. The idea of having no pinfalls scored in the regulation 60 minutes may have seemed novel, but it also robbed the bout of the suspense that usually some with iron man matches. What’s more, the finish was botched, with Michaels missing his first super kick during the sudden death final minutes of the match, and then having to deliver a second one in order to get the win.
2. Triple-H vs. Randy Orton—The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania: In 2009, Randy Orton and Triple-H took part in one of the most heated and personal feuds in recent history. Orton physically attacked Triple-H’s father-in-law, brother-in-law and even his wife, Stephanie. Triple-H responded by breaking into Orton’s home and throwing him out of a window. With the blood boiling so hot, fans expected an absolutely wild brawl between these two enemies. Instead, they were treated to an entirely routine, and largely mediocre, match won by Triple-H. “The Game” likes to blame the lukewarm reaction to the bout on the fact that it had to follow what is largely considered the greatest WrestleMania match in history: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. But, the truth is that Edge, Cena and The Big Show had their three-way bout right after HBK-Taker, and put on a very good match that fans were into. There's a more valid reason why fans weren't that excited about Triple-H vs. Orton: It wasn't very good.
1. John Cena vs. The Miz—WrestleMania XXVII: Here’s one that all of you should remember. A year ago, WrestleMania was built around The Rock’s involvement as “host” of the show, while the WWE championship match between John Cena and The Miz was treated as something of an afterthought. It was up to Cena and The Miz to prove to the world that they were the real stars of the show, but instead they put forth a humdrum 15-minute effort that culminated in a… double count-out? When The Rock predictably came out and restarted the match, fans hoped to see Cena and The Miz kick it into high gear and deliver a satisfying ending. But instead “The Great One” immediately knocked out Cena, allowing The Miz to get the pin. Can you smell a lame finish?