Ah, WrestleMania. The biggest show of the year by the largest wrestling promotion on the planet. Traditionally, it’s a place for the best and brightest to shine by putting on spectacular matches. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Some of the worst matches in history have actually taken place at WrestleMania, and sadly, some of them have even been the main event of the show, the match that is expected to be the centerpiece of the entire experience. We’ve exhaustively studied every single main event (in this case, “main event” means “the final match of the evening”, because we’re traditionalists) from the history of WrestleMania, and come to a decision on the ten absolute worst main event matches to take place at WWE’s climactic show.
10. Triple H vs The Rock vs Mick Foley vs The Big Show – WrestleMania 2000
You wouldn’t think that a WrestleMania that aired in the midst of a time where WWE was the most popular it had ever been could be on this list, but here we are. Technically, this wasn’t a horrible match, but it is one that was sunk by being horribly over-booked. The original plan, and match everyone had been salivating for, was Triple H vs The Rock, with WWE’s biggest star attempting to take down the McMahon-Helmsley Era once and for all. But then things kind of spiralled out of control. First, Big Show was added into the mix as part of a story line where he disputed Rock’s Royal Rumble win with video footage showing that Rock’s feet had touched the ground before his. And then Mick Foley was added just before WrestleMania, despite having retired at No Way Out, so that he could realize his dream of being in the main event of WrestleMania. The match itself was a mess, as Big Show was a terrible wrestler at that point and Mick Foley had been enjoying retirement and all the lack of exercise that went with it. In the end, it did come down to Triple H and The Rock, but WWE just couldn’t help themselves and booked a swerve ending, as Vince McMahon turned on The Rock and gave the victory to Triple H, the first time ever that a heel had won the main event of WrestleMania. They would ultimately have Rock face Triple H one-on-one at Backlash a month later, and that match, as expected, was very good, and showed that they probably should have just done it at WrestleMania, as originally planned.
9. Randy Savage vs Ted DiBiase – WrestleMania IV
In all honesty, this match probably wasn’t terrible, as matches go. It’s almost unfair to compare it to other WrestleMania main events because both men were forced to wrestle multiple times in the same night as part of the WWF Championship tournament, and by the end of the night they were likely both pretty worn down. But this match earns its spot because the entirety of WrestleMania IV, dominated by a tournament that was featured a whole bunch of terrible matches, was one of the longest and most boring Pay Per Views ever. By this final match, the crowds (and wrestlers) were burned out beyond belief, and while they do try, almost nothing was going to save the show short of an all-time classic. Savage and DiBiase did put on a serviceable match, but it was focused more on the people outside the ring (Hogan and Andre), so Savage’s ultimate victory was almost a sideshow to everything going on around it. It needed to be great, and it wasn’t, and with so many better main events than this, it gets squeezed into the bottom ten.
8. Hulk Hogan vs King Kong Bundy – WrestleMania 2
This WrestleMania was just a cavalcade of bad ideas. There’s a reason why this show is generally only remembered for a decent battle royal involving NFL players, because everything else was pretty terrible. The entire gimmick of splitting the Pay Per View over three different cities probably seemed like a cool idea on paper, but it breaks up the momentum of the show (what little it had) too much, and by the time the show started in the third city, the fans there were tired and restless from having to wait for the first two-thirds of the show to finish. Knowing that they were going to have to sit through this as their main event of the evening couldn’t have helped. King Kong Bundy was never really treated like he belonged in the main event, he was just another guy for Hogan to beat, and everyone knew it. The step down in hype compared to the main event of the first WrestleMania is incredible, and in retrospect, almost anyone would have been a better choice (a Hogan-Piper singles match probably should have been what they went with). The match itself is terrible, as Bundy was neither under-rated nor a good big man worker, he was just a big guy who could barely move, and absolutely nobody was giving him a chance to beat Hogan. There’s a reason he was fighting with midget wrestlers on the undercard at the next WrestleMania while Hogan was taking on Andre in the main event, after all.
7. Hulk Hogan vs Sergeant Slaughter – WrestleMania VII
More than enough ink has been spilled about this terrible idea from the mind of Vince McMahon, turning American hero Slaughter into an Iraqi sympathizer during the Desert Storm conflict in an attempt to sell out a 100,000 seat stadium. On the bright side, due to their incredibly tasteless main event angle, they had a ready-made excuse for when they were forced to move the show to a much smaller, indoor venue, claiming that they were worried about death threats against Slaughter (while the death threats were real, the move was motivated by the fact that ticket sales were abysmal). With the angle dying a slow and painful death, the match itself was nothing to write home about either, as Slaughter was several years past his prime at this point, but still dominated the majority of the match with a slow, plodding style. And to think, WWE decided to do this instead of running a Hogan-Warrior rematch because they felt like Warrior was bombing so hard as WWF Champion that they needed to get the belt off him and onto a theoretically better option for selling tickets. It’s hard to believe that match would have made less money than this abomination.
6. Randy Orton vs Triple H – WrestleMania 25
Given the prestige of headlining the 25th WrestleMania, and the build to this match, it should have been epic. Both men pulled out all the stops to show off exactly how much they hated each other. Orton attacked Stephanie McMahon while a handcuffed Triple H watched, Triple H broke into Orton’s home and threw him through a picture window, Vince and Shane McMahon got involved in defense of their “family”, Orton got a doctor to blame his outbursts on a psychological condition, seriously, this feud had everything. It was all building up to what was expected to be a massive blow-off match in the main event of WrestleMania, where both men would finally settle the score once and for all. But despite all the hype and all the work that went into building a match based on two guys who absolutely hated each other, the match itself was…just boring. Despite spending weeks tearing into each other in increasingly violent ways, Triple H and Randy Orton went out and wrestled a standard match that wouldn’t have been out of place in the main event of your average Raw. There was no passion, no heat, and no intensity, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker had torn the house down earlier in the evening, setting an incredibly high bar for Match of the Night.
5. Hulk Hogan vs Sid – WrestleMania VIII
This was actually the first WrestleMania since the first one where the WWF Championship was not defended in the final match of the evening, and the first where neither man was even WWF Champion. WWE billed the show as a “double main event”, but chose to put a very good WWF Championship match between Ric Flair and Randy Savage in the middle of the show and end with Hogan vs Sid. If you know anything about WWF history, and specifically Hulk Hogan, you can probably guess why they made that controversial choice. Sid is an interesting dichotomy in wrestling, as he was incredibly popular despite possessing almost no wrestling or promo ability. He was really tall and muscular, though, and it was impossible to deny that he did have a certain presence, and that was enough to keep him employed as a pro wrestler in WWE and WCW for many, many years. But at a certain point, it does come back to wrestling, and this match was just plain bad. It did feature two notable historical occurances, though. Firstly, Papa Shango missed a cue and was too late to break up the pin, so Sid kicked out of Hogan’s legdrop finisher, which was considered an impossibility at that point. And secondly, it featured the shocking return of the Ultimate Warrior after a long absence, as he saved Hogan from a post-match beat down.
4. The Undertaker vs Sid – WrestleMania 13
Remember all that stuff we just said about Sid? Well, it still held true five years later. Throw in the fact that The Undertaker was still in the phase of his character where he did everything very, very slowly, and you can probably guess why this match wasn’t very good. It also was an incredibly odd choice for the main event, as WWE was forced into a corner thanks to Shawn Michaels vacating the title a month before the show with his infamous “losing my smile” speech. Originally, the plan had been for Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels to have a rematch from WrestleMania XII, but with Shawn allegedly contemplating retirement due to a knee injury (the general consensus is that Shawn was faking in order to not have to lose to Hart at WrestleMania, as his injury miraculously healed immediately afterwards), plans were thrown into disarray and somehow this is what we ended up with. In the long run, it actually ended up working out, as Undertaker got to win his first WWF Championship at WrestleMania, and having been denied his rematch, Hart was paired with the rising “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and the two went on to have one of the best and most important matches in wrestling history. That doesn’t make this match any better, but it’s interesting from a historical perspective. Speaking of history, some people claim that this is the rumored match where Sid took a crap in his pants, but that has since been debunked.
3. Chris Jericho vs Triple H – WrestleMania X-8
Honestly, this match might have been okay. The build for it was terrible, as Jericho was portrayed as subservient to his manager, Stephanie McMahon, and was literally forced to walk her dog (hilarity allegedly ensued). Triple H had made his long-anticipated return from a crippling quad injury and was incredibly popular, but had also spent his recovery time turning into a smaller version of the Hulk and had almost none of the mobility that he’d had prior to the injury. The good news is, nobody at the Pay Per View cared, because the long-awaited Hulk Hogan vs The Rock match happened on the same show, and by the time the main event rolled around the crowd was spent, giving the match absolutely no reaction as all the energy was visibly gone. Triple H won a mostly pedestrian match while the crowd snored, capping off his heroic comeback in a decidedly mediocre fashion, and began a title reign that ended up only lasting a month, as WWE decided to give Hulk Hogan one more run thanks to the crowd reactions at WrestleMania.
2. The Miz vs John Cena – WrestleMania XXVII
As much as people mock The Miz now, he really did deserve his run as WWE Champion. He worked really hard and got his character over as a massive jerk, and he was (and is) quite good at that. However, in the lead-up to WrestleMania, he was increasingly shoved into the background as more and more attention was paid to his opponent, John Cena, and Cena’s interactions with the guest host of WrestleMania, The Rock. At this point, Cena vs Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII was basically a certainty, and for some reason, WWE decided to use WrestleMania XXVII not as the usual climactic event, but instead as a way to build to a bigger main event the next year. Thus, Miz and Cena went out and had a match that would have been mediocre by any standard, and it ended when both men were counted out after a big spot involving the barricade (in addition to being a bad finish, Miz suffered a concussion). But The Rock came out and restarted the match, then hit Cena with a Rock Bottom to give Miz the win. It made absolutely no sense and made the WWE Champion look terrible, but at least it set up a match that wouldn’t happen for another year and would have been hugely anticipated no matter when they got around to announcing it, right?
1. Bret Hart vs Yokozuna/Hulk Hogan vs Yokozuna – WrestleMania IX
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the worst WrestleMania main event happened at the Pay Per View that many consider to be the worst WrestleMania of all time. It’s bad enough that the originally advertised match between Hart and Yokozuna was short and, typical of Yokozuna matches, not very good, ending when Mr. Fuji blinded Hart with ceremonial salt, allowing Yokozuna to pick up the victory. But then Hulk Hogan, who was basically on his last legs as a good guy in the eyes of the WWF fanbase, hit the ring and goaded Yokozuna into an impromptu title match, which lasted roughly thirty seconds and saw Hogan actually win the title, erasing months of building Yokozuna as a new gigantic monster heel. It truly was the last gasp of Hulkamania at the time, as Hogan would drop the belt back to Yokozuna a few months later at the inaugural King of the Ring Pay Per View and be gone from the WWF by the end of the year, making it a monumentally stupid decision by all involved.