The main event of WrestleMania.
It’s the biggest match on the biggest show for the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. Only 37 matches in the history of the business can say they were the main event of WrestleMania. I’m talking about the relevant Real Deal Holyfield main events… the last match on the show… not those cop-outs by WWE saying that a certain show has two, three, and sometimes four “main event” matches. We’re less than two weeks away from adding two more matches to that list, but even then, 39 matches is a very exclusive club.
Let’s take a very brief (at least as brief as can be with this many things to list) look at those 37 matches and whether or not they deserved the spot they were given, shall we?
- Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff (WM1): Without this match being the incredible success that it was, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now.
- Hulk Hogan vs King Kong Bundy (WM2): The WWF continued riding the momentum of the biggest star in the sport.
- Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant (WM3): Arguably the biggest match in the history of wrestling.
- “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (WM4): You could argue that, maybe, the Hogan/Andre rematch would’ve been a better choice as the main event, but not only was a new star born in this match, but it helped to kick off one of the best stories that the company has ever told.
- “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Hulk Hogan (WM5): The ending of the aforementioned incredible story arc.
- Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior (WM6): The super rare (for that era) match that saw two mega face wrestlers go to war, this was another star-making match that was a wild spectacle.
- Sgt. Slaughter vs Hulk Hogan (WM7): Say what you want about the WWF using the real life Gulf War to push a wrestling storyline, but this was an easy choice to take advantage of the United States and their fervent patriotism.
- Hulk Hogan vs Sid Justice (WM8): Here is the first mistake Vince McMahon made in regards to Mania main events. The fact that the main event wasn’t Hogan vs Ric Flair is a travesty, but of the matches that actually took place, Flair defending the WWF Title against Randy Savage should’ve gone on last. Not only was it the title feud, but it was the better feud, in general. A surprise return from The Ultimate Warrior at the end of the show isn’t enough to change that.
- Yokozuna vs Hulk Hogan (WM9): Back-to-back mistakes, both involving Hulk Hogan. Draw your own conclusions about why we didn’t get Hogan vs Hart, but we got this instead. I don’t mind that Bret dropped the WWF Title to Yokozuna. Actually, I’d say it was the right move. Giving Yoko a title reign that only lasted a few minutes, though? Ridiculous.
- Yokozuna vs Bret “The Hitman” Hart (WM10): At the time, I would’ve said this was the wrong choice, but only because I wanted to see Lex Luger win the title. Switching the Luger and Hart match placements would’ve been difficult, though. That would either mean that Bret lost two undercard matches on the same show, or it would’ve meant that Bret defeated Owen Hart to prevent him losing those two matches. As the years have gone by, I think this was the right choice. I still like Lex Luger in that spot, but Bret made for a better champion, and it helped to move the “New Generation” forward with a new leader after Hulk Hogan left the company.
- Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow (WM11): While Lawrence Taylor’s performance is one of the better matches you’ll see from a non-wrestler, it still had no business being the main event. Diesel vs Shawn Michaels for the WWF Title was RIGHT THERE, and on top of that, the title match had the involvement of Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy, who were two of the biggest names on the planet at the time.
- Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (WM12): Take the two top stars in the company, sprinkle in some real-life heat between them, and you have a match that belongs in the main event. Besides, you can’t give a match 61:56 to work with and then have another match go out and follow that. That’s just not fair.
- Sycho Sid vs The Undertaker (WM13): Of course, the Submission Match between Bret Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is the more memorable match from this show. In some instances, that doesn’t matter. We’re not talking about what the best match from a particular WrestleMania was. We’re talking about what match was built the best, had the better story going in, and so on. However, this is one of those times where it does matter. Not only was the feud between Hart and Austin red hot, but they were also in and around the top of the card, essentially having a four-way feud with Sid and Taker for a while. The Submission Match should’ve gone on last. On the go-home episode of Raw before Mania, Sid defended the WWF Title against Bret. If you really wanted to pull the trigger, you could’ve had a title change on Raw, making Bret vs Austin for the title to make it even bigger.
- “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels vs “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (WM14): This was supposed to be the final match of Shawn Michaels’ career, even though we, as fans, weren’t supposed to know that. It also saw the birth of the “Austin Era” that helped the WWF go on to win the Monday Night War. Oh, and “Iron” Mike Tyson was involved. Nothing was ever going to top this for the WWF in 1998.
- The Rock vs “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (WM15): The two biggest stars in the company, continuing their feud that took them from the Intercontinental Title and stealing the show in the midcard to the WWF Title? Yeah, this deserved the last spot.
- Triple H vs The Rock vs Big Show vs Mick Foley (WM2000): With Steve Austin out of action after having neck surgery, these were the four biggest names on the WWF roster, all feuding over the WWF Title. To add to the spectacle, all four McMahons involved in the product were present for the match. Vince was in the corner of The Rock, and his wife, Linda, was in the corner of Foley, while Stephanie was in the corner of Triple H, and Shane was in the corner of Big Show.
- The Rock vs “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (WM17): At this point, with WCW being purchased by the WWF and having all of their top talent sit at home with guaranteed money contracts, Rock and Austin were the clear-cut biggest names in all of wrestling at this point in time.
- Chris Jericho vs Triple H (WM18): This was a huge mistake on the WWF’s part. Even Jericho and Triple H would admit to that. The Rock vs “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan was something special. Icon vs Icon. Era vs Era. Even without being able to predict the absolutely molten hot crowd for the match, it should’ve been the main event, and the two matches that came after it suffered because they had to follow it.
- Kurt Angle vs Brock Lesnar (WM19): You could say Austin vs Rock deserved the main event as the perfect “cap” to their Mania trilogy. You could say Hulk Hogan vs Vince McMahon deserved the main event as the two men most responsible for the company becoming what it did. You can’t say Triple H vs Booker T deserved the main event, because the build for that match was asstastic. In the end, though, the actual main event was the right choice, with two of the most accomplished amateur wrestlers of all-time that had reached the pinnacle of the professional wrestling world.
- Triple H vs Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit (WM20): This is another event that had a couple matches you could make arguments for. The Undertaker’s return to the “Deadman” gimmick as he faced Kane continued one of wrestling’s best, and most elaborate, stories. Eddie Guerrero vs Kurt Angle was always going to be an all-time classic. If they weren’t both headed out the door after Mania, you could even make an argument for Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar, especially with Steve Austin involved as the Special Guest Referee. I say the right match went on last, though. Triple H and Shawn Michaels were already involved in a long-winding storyline, but throwing the crowd-favorite Benoit as the Royal Rumble winner was just the icing on the cake.
- Triple H vs Batista (WM21): Sure, JBL vs John Cena would go on to become the more “important” match, launching Cena’s main event career, but come on… that slow burn to Batista breaking away from Evolution was just wonderfully done. Live crowds were eating it up with a spoon. Batista and Triple H earned this main event.
- John Cena vs Triple H (WM22): Cena was starting to morph from WWE’s biggest face to WWE’s biggest tweener (in crowd reaction only), and Triple H was the perfect opponent at the time to help that tweener reaction grow. Cena’s fans hated Trips, and those who hated Cena were huge fans of the “cool” heel Triple H was.
- John Cena vs “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (WM23): If you remember, the original plan for the main event that year was a rematch between Cena and Triple H, but Trips’ quadriceps injury led to a change of plans. The Undertaker, as the Royal Rumble winner with a WrestleMania win streak that was really starting to get noticed, going after Batista’s World Heavyweight Title could’ve been an option. The feud between Donald Trump and Vince McMahon was probably getting the most airtime, but with them only being in the corners of Bobby Lashley and Umaga, respectively, that was never going to close the show. Just imagine if the match would’ve been Trump vs McMahon instead. THAT could’ve been the main event.
- Edge vs The Undertaker (WM24): I was in attendance for this one, and even then, it seemed odd that this match was the main event. It could be argued that this was the fourth biggest match on the card based on the build leading up to the show. Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair was definitely bigger. Randy Orton vs John Cena vs Triple H was, perhaps, bigger. Floyd Mayweather vs Big Show was bigger. Not taking anything away from Edge or The Undertaker. That’s just how it goes some years.
- Triple H vs Randy Orton (WM25): Here’s one where hindsight really alters the way we look at things. Coming out of the show, The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels is all anyone could talk about, and for good reason. It was one of the best WrestleMania matches of all-time. The build to it was big, too, but it was the quality of the match itself that everyone remembers. That causes a lot of people to forget just how much time and effort went into building Triple H vs Randy Orton. That was the stretch where Orton took out Vince and Shane McMahon with punt kicks, hit Stephanie McMahon with an RKO, and hit Stephanie with a rope-assisted DDT on a separate occasion (this was the memorable attack where Orton kissed an unconscious Stephanie in front of Triple H, who was handcuffed to the ring ropes). If you take off the rose-colored glasses, it’s easy to see why Trips vs Orton went on last.
- The Undertaker vs “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (WM26): It’s also easy to see why Taker and HBK got their main event spot a year later. After their classic the year before, they upped the ante in 2010 by having Michaels put his in-ring career on the line to get another shot at ending The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. WWE wasn’t going to make the exact same mistake two years in a row and let these two kill the heat of the actual main event.
- The Miz vs John Cena (WM27): Like many people, I think The Undertaker vs Triple H was more main event worthy. Don’t get me wrong… there was nothing wrong with the Miz/Cena build. In fact, it was actually done rather well. Taker and Triple H were a part of a three-year story arc, though, with Shawn Michaels becoming obsessed with ending Taker’s streak and having that obsession cost him his career, only for his best friend to try and get revenge on the man who retired him. Honestly, if The Rock wasn’t involved in his beef with Cena, I think we would’ve seen Taker and Triple H main event this one.
- John Cena vs The Rock (WM28): Vince McMahon apparently learned his lesson from not having Rock and Hogan close the show ten years prior. There was never a doubt here.
- The Rock vs John Cena (WM29): Again, there was never any doubt, no matter what else was on the card.
- Randy Orton vs Batista vs Daniel Bryan (WM30): As soon as the Daniel Bryan vs Triple H match was made, everybody knew what that result would be, and therefore, everybody knew what was going to be the WrestleMania 30 main event. The WWE Universe wouldn’t have allowed anything else that year.
- Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns (WM31): I guess you could make a case for Sting vs Triple H being the main event, based on the historical importance of Sting’s first WWE match, but realistically, this was going to be the right choice. Seth Rollins inserting himself into the match in the manner that he did only solidifies my stance. Can you imagine that moment happening in the middle of the show? I sure can’t.
- Triple H vs Roman Reigns (WM32): This was certainly the match that got the biggest build, that’s for sure. In another world, the Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar match could have a shot at ending the show, but if Brock really gave zero fucks about the match like people have said, it’s probably for the best that the match went on in the middle of the event.
- The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns (WM33): Let’s forget about the quality of the match for a moment, shall we? I completely understand why this match went on last. It was viewed as a “passing the torch” type of moment, with Reigns as the “Big Dog” trying to show dominance and tell the world that the “yard” was his now, and not belonging to The Undertaker.
- Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns (WM34): They had their WrestleMania moment “stolen” from them by Seth Rollins three years earlier, so it made sense to give them another one-on-one shot. AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura was an option, but it didn’t have the star power or the long-term story build that Lesnar/Reigns had. Daniel Bryan’s return to the ring was a big deal, but nobody was expecting Bryan and Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to main event. What SHOULD have gone on last was John Cena vs The Undertaker, which is a match that was 12 years in the making, and had not been given a big stage whatsoever through the years. The match also should’ve gone longer than 2:45 in an absolute squash for Taker, but you’d have to think it would have if it was in the main event.
- Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch (WM35): The Women’s Revolution was on fire, and it was only a matter of time before they had a WrestleMania main event. This was the perfect storm for it to happen, with Ronda Rousey’s mainstream star power adding to a red hot build with the biggest stars in the women’s division. There were a few other choices on this card, with the best option being Daniel Bryan vs Kofi Kingston, but this was the year that belonged to the women.
- The Undertaker vs AJ Styles (WM36): With two nights of WrestleMania, that changed things up tremendously. Now, two matches would get final billing. Night one didn’t feature a ton of “main event” type matches, but this deserved to get the nod over Goldberg vs Braun Strowman. First and foremost, Braun was a last-minute addition to that match after Roman Reigns requested to be removed from action due to being at higher risk for COVID, so there was no build for the match. Also, with it basically being The Undertaker’s farewell match, it made sense to put it on last and close the night out on that note.
- Brock Lesnar vs Drew McIntyre (WM36): This one just made sense. Lesnar had been pushed as an almost unstoppable monster for a long, long time. McIntyre, coming off of a Royal Rumble win where he eliminated Lesnar along the way, looked like a million bucks. This was a big-time clash. There was no doubt here.
So, now that we’ve looked at the past, it is time to look at the present. As of this very moment (5:04am EST on 3/31), there are currently six announced matches for each night of WrestleMania this year. With two more episodes of Smackdown, one episode of Raw, and two more episodes of NXT before Mania rolls around, there are bound to be more added. Last year’s event saw nine matches, counting the pre-show, on each night, with the unannounced dark match between Drew McIntyre and Big Show to close out night two.
Lots of matches, but I’m here to talk about one of them and one of them only.
It’s a match that has gotten a lot of buzz, especially on social media. You’ll see the tweets and the posts about the match, talking about how much the competitors deserve to be in the WrestleMania main event. They even had a Twitter hashtag dedicated to them, and it spent a lot of time on all sorts of trending lists…
I’ve spent a lot of time consuming everything that has been leading up to WrestleMania. The shows have been watched, the promos have been listened to, and the stats have been crunched. I’ve even read a bunch of columns and think pieces from all corners of Cathy Kelley’s internet. I don’t know how else to say this, so I’m just going to come out and say it…
With everything we’ve been given, Sasha Banks vs Bianca Belair has absolutely, positively no business being in the main event spot for night one of WrestleMania.
There. I feel better now.
Again, you have to look at what is leading up to WrestleMania, not what is possibly going to happen AT WrestleMania. I have high hopes for the match itself. I know both women are going to go in there with chips on their shoulders. They’re going to give us something special, no matter what slot their match fills. This build that we’ve been dealing with, though? Ho. Ly. Shit. It has been poor, to put it mildly. Oh, it started off really well. It just fell into the toilet quickly. WWE’s incredibly lazy booking took something that could’ve and would’ve been special, and turned it into head-scratching moment after head-scratching moment.
Sasha and Bianca’s path started by having Reginald, of all people, get involved. At the time, he was still affiliated with Carmella, and there were times when it seemed like we were actually getting a storyline about Reginald and Sasha flirting with each other. Then, it transitioned into WWE’s obsession over having either the Raw or Smackdown Women’s Champions involved in a feud with the Women’s Tag Team Champions. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax decided to interject themselves into the story, and we still had to deal with Reginald’s involvement. There was a six-person tag match that saw Sasha and Bianca team up with Reginald to take on Nia, Shayna, and Bayley. With those names involved, of course it was Reginald who scored the pin. This led to a Women’s Tag Team Title match at Elimination Chamber, where the Smackdown Women’s Champion was pinned in a match that went less than ten minutes. Was that it? Of course that wasn’t it. Reginald continued to be involved in the story before randomly being moved over to be the boy toy for Nia Jax. Then, Sasha and Bianca lost a tag match to Natalya and Tamina. Motherfucking Tamina. This time, it was Bianca who took the pin. Within six weeks of the Royal Rumble, WWE had booked the women’s Rumble winner and, arguably, the hottest female act in the company to be involved in a weird romance angle with a sommelier and had them both take a pinfall loss.
That had to be it then, right? No, you silly fool.
Sasha took yet another pinfall loss, this time in a Women’s Tag Team Title rematch at Fastlane.
At a time when you want to make your Royal Rumble winner and the champion of their choosing look as strong as possible, WWE decided to go in a different direction altogether. Sasha Banks has been on the losing end of three matches in the last 38 days. If you want to add to that, Sasha was also on the losing end of two matches leading up to the Royal Rumble, when she teamed with… Bianca Belair. Bianca has been on a literal win/loss/win/loss/win/loss/win pattern for her matches since winning the Rumble, and if you’re broadening the search, she lost four out of five matches to close out 2020 and start up 2021.
Folks… I get it. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair are beloved all over the internet. They can do no wrong in the eyes of many. I also get how historic the match is. Hell, I WROTE ABOUT IT a few weeks ago. I don’t need to be told about that. It still doesn’t mean “black woman vs black woman” is enough of a story to make a match into a WrestleMania main event. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t. The people saying this are the same folks who feel Naomi should be a ten-time champion by now, and were also calling Jade Cargill the “future of the AEW women’s division” before they had even seen her perform a single move in a wrestling ring. Somebody make it make sense.
Bobby Lashley vs Drew McIntyre isn’t a match that has had a year’s worth of build or anything, which is what has the door cracked open for Sasha and Bianca right now. As strong as Lashley has looked, he was still, technically, a midcard wrestler until a month ago. Both he and McIntyre are riding huge waves of momentum heading into Mania, and that’s where the difference is for me. Again, WWE took a surefire touchdown and fumbled the ball almost immediately when it comes to Belair and Banks. Two months of “anything you can do, I can do better” is all that was needed. Have Sasha win some matches, and have Bianca win some matches. That’s it. They both look great going into Mania, and then you have them tear the house down together. How do you screw that up?!?
I hate that I have to keep saying this, but again, I’m just talking about the build and how we’ve reached this point. When all is said and done, I think Banks vs Belair is going to end up being rated higher than Lashley vs McIntyre. Not because the WWE Title match is going to be weak, but because I just feel Sasha and Bianca have something special cooking. This has never been about what the better match will be. It’s not about the better entrance music, the better in-ring gear, who has been champion longest, or who has the most Twitter followers. WrestleMania is about the story. It always has been, and it probably always will be. The story that is there, not the story that could’ve been there. With the story and the build that we’ve been given, there’s just no reason to have Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair go on last on April 10th.
Now that I’ve said all this, watch the night one main event end up being Braun Strowman vs Shane McMahon.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Kenny Omega vs Matt Sydal: I’ve talked about this type of thing in the past, but this match was another instance of something being “predictable” and still very enjoyable. This was the Matt Sydal of old, and I’m glad to see him back and getting a chance to shine. Definitely my favorite match of the week.
- Daniel Bryan: He has, once again, found himself placed into a main event match at WrestleMania after it was already announced as a one-on-one contest. The last time it happened, it led to one of the best moments in WWE history. Will he be as lucky this time around, or is he being placed into the match because WWE booked themselves into a corner with not wanting Roman Reigns or Edge take a pin? Time will tell.
- Riddle vs Sheamus: Another Sheamus match, another physical fight. It is becoming tradition at this point. These two are going to have some fun in this feud. Oh, and… spoiler alert… this won’t be the last time Riddle makes this week’s rankings.
- The New IWGP World Heavyweight Title Belt: It was revealed to the world, and it got everyone talking. I’m in the middle with my thoughts on the new design. It doesn’t look anywhere near as bad as some people are making it out to be, but it also isn’t the all-time classic that others are making it out to be. It’s… fine. The problem is that the belt didn’t need to be made in the first place, because New Japan REALLY shouldn’t have combined the old IWGP Heavyweight Title with the IWGP Intercontinental Title, but that’s a different argument for a different day.
- Getting WALTER vs Tommaso Ciampa: Oh, this is going to be fun. Ciampa may very well be insane. Lucky for him… you need to be insane to step foot in the ring with WALTER. In one booking move, Ciampa goes from treading water a bit to being in one of WrestleMania week’s most exciting matches.
- Titus O’Neil: He’s one of the WWE Hall Of Fame’s newest inductees as the recipient of the Warrior Award, and it is incredibly deserved. People immediately dumped all over the announcement, talking about what Titus did and didn’t accomplish during his in-ring career, but they’re missing the entire point here. This is the Warrior Award. It’s not about who had the best matches or who won the most titles. You’d think people would know this, considering the fact that Titus is the first actual wrestler to be given the Warrior Award. He puts in countless hours of charity work, both for WWE and on his own. He is a huge part of the Tampa community, and he deserves to be rewarded for the work that he does.
- Darby Allin vs John Silver: A battle of the “misfit toys” that don’t look like people who would shine on a huge WWE stage (no, that isn’t a knock on them), this was an entertaining match for the TNT Title. It’s a shame that Silver ended up injuring his shoulder here, but he revealed that there’s no real structural damage, and will still be out of action for at least a month. He’s really been picking up steam with his performances over the last few months, so I’m hoping this injury doesn’t sidetrack him too much.
- Riddle Doesn’t Remember, Bro: I don’t care if it was scripted or if it was a legitimate promo botch. All I know is that Riddle messing up his line during a backstage promo with Asuka made me laugh. Just seeing him admit that he forgot what he was talking about and then walking away as Asuka stood there awkwardly… that was entertaining to me.
- Tay Conti: I’ve written about this topic in the past, but watching Tay Conti’s continued improvement in the ring further shows that people learning the WWE Performance Center style of wrestling aren’t exactly receiving the best training. I’m not talking about the independent wrestling stars that come to NXT. I’m talking about the young signings that sign with WWE with little-to-no experience. I have always been a strong proponent of wrestlers traveling the world and learning different styles from here and there. Many of my all-time favorite wrestlers are those who have spent time learning the ins and outs of British wrestling, Puroresu from Japan, Lucha Libre from Mexico, as well as more “American” styles. The training that Conti is having now, combined with what she did with NXT, is making her a better wrestler, and it shows in her performances.
- The Great Khali: Another announced WWE Hall Of Famer, Khali’s appeal is what he has done… still doing, actually… for the professional wrestling scene in India. Yes, he’s a former World Champion and has feuded with many of the top wrestlers WWE has had to offer in the last 15 years, but the fact that he has opened so many doors for so many people is commendable, and I’m glad he’s getting rewarded.
This Week’s Playlist: “She’s Like The Wind” by Lumidee & Tony Sunshine… “He Still Loves Me” by Walter Williams Sr. & Beyonce… “Loves Me Like A Rock” by The O’Jays… “EL MAKINON” by KAROL G & Mariah Angeliq… “CONTIGO VOY A MUERTE” by KAROL G & Camilo… “BICHOTA” by KAROL G… “Streets” by Doja Cat… “The Boys Of Summer” by Don Henley… “The End Of The Innocence” by Don Henley… “The Living Years” by Mike & The Mechanics… “Endless Summer Nights” by Richard Marx… “Come Around” by Collie Buddz… “Gimme Love” by Collie Buddz… “Wade In Your Water” by Common Kings… “Come On Pretty Baby” by Cityside… “Love Season” by J Boog… “Did You Know” by Fiji… “You Won’t Be Alone” by HIRIE… “One More Chance” by Leylani… “Coming In From The Cold” by Sean Na’auao… “Let’s Hook It Up” by B.E.T… “Let’s Hook It Up, Part 2” by B.E.T… “Brothers & Sisters” by SOJA… “Show Me” by Nesian N.I.N.E… “No One” by Maoli… “So Incredible” by Maoli… “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Maoli… “Darling Angel” by Rebel Souljahz… “Nothing To Hide” by Rebel Souljahz… “Endlessly” by Rebel Souljahz