On March 31, 1985, Vince McMahon changed the state of sports entertainment forever by introducing the world to WrestleMania. The Grandest Stage of Them All represented everything pro wrestling had to offer, with incredible matches, over-the-top superstars, and countless unforgettable moments. Since then, 32 subsequent WrestleMania’s have followed, each of them containing a show stopping number or two somewhere on the card. Typically, these moments come during the most anticipated match of the show, which in theory should always be the main event.
Let’s face it—not every WrestleMania was created equal, as some of them have been much better than others. The same is true for the headlining contests, with some going down in history as the best wrestling matches of all time, and others almost instantly forgotten the second cameras stop rolling. That said, the cream of the crop are more than historic enough to make up for any weaker years and help WrestleMania maintain its reputation as the Showcase of Immortals in one way or another. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that only the biggest and most obsessive wrestling fans can remember every single bout to end the Show of Shows, so take our quiz and find out how many you know by trying to name the WrestleMania from its main event.
Hulk Hogan vs. André The Giant
Quite a few WrestleMania main events could be described as the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, and yet no one bout better exemplifies that old cliché than Hulk Hogan vs. André The Giant. The war began when Bobby “The Brain” Heenan got in André’s ear about how Hogan never offered him a title shot despite his reputation, bringing out a side of The Giant so terrifying his decades as a friendly face were instantly forgotten. Naturally, Hogan’s WWE Championship was on the line, and only through the sheer force of Hulkamania was he able to defend it.
The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Round Two
Without question, the two most popular WWE superstars of the Attitude Era were The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and they both had a number of WrestleMania main events to prove it. Arguably the most important bout either man would ever wrestle was their second headliner at the Showcase of Immortals, where Rock entered the ring as the incredibly popular WWE Championship, defending against an increasingly paranoid Texas Rattlesnake who felt winning that belt was absolutely necessary to his career. Austin would achieve his goal of defeating The People’s Champ, albeit at the cost of shaking hands with the devil.
Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan
Especially in the WWE Universe, it sometimes feels like hard work isn’t always worth the effort. No matter how good a given wrestler is, there’s no promise they’ll fit in with Vince McMahon’s idea of a “superstar,” and good looking yet bland talents like Randy Orton will always get pushed above them. Unless, of course, the crowd gets so behind them even McMahon has no choice but to listen. That’s how Daniel Bryan made his way into this WWE Championship match, and not only that, he somehow won, beating two handpicked “stars” and getting the crowd to explode in applause by doing so.
Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
No superstar ever rose through the ranks of WWE faster than Brock Lesnar, who debuted the night after one WrestleMania and found himself in the main event of the next year’s edition. Lesnar couldn’t have asked for a better opponent in his first major headlining contest, temporarily ending a lengthy feud with Kurt Angle that saw both men put on some of the best matches they had ever wrestled. In this particular bout, Lesnar came out on top yet again, albeit not before almost breaking his neck with a botched Shooting Star Press.
Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase
When the WWE Championship was upheld in a controversial match mere months prior to a scheduled WrestleMania, using the event to host a tournament that would crown a new champion was an idea that basically wrote itself. 14 men entered hoping to win the gold, though it was “Macho Man” Randy Savage and “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase who survived to the very end. In the end, Savage bested the greedy millionaire and was crowned the new champion, although his “friend” Hulk Hogan soon arrived and kinda stole the spotlight.
Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior
In a certain respect, any wrestler getting their first shot at the WWE Championship might consider it their “ultimate challenge.” Officially speaking, though, the only true Ultimate Challenge in WrestleMania history was when the top prize in the company and the WWE Intercontinental Championship were on the line in the same match, with Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior respectively putting their gold up for grabs in a winner take all affair. The Warriors and Hulkamaniacs were both on hand in full force, yet with the power of destrucity, somehow The Warrior prevailed.
Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart
Technically speaking, Bret Hart and Yokozuna were the first pair of wrestlers to main event back-to-back WrestleMania’s, although a certain someone kind of messed it up the first time. If nothing else, at least Vince McMahon gave them a proper redo, this time with Yokozuna the unstoppable monster and Bret Hart the conquering hero fans hoped would finally slay the beast. Lex Luger had a shot at doing the same earlier in the night to no avail, but the Hitman would overcome the odds and recapture his WWE Championship at long last.
Shawn Michaels vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Oh, hell yeah. The rise of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was anything but sudden, as the Texas Rattlesnake had been opening up cans of whoop ass left and right for a solid two years before he finally appeared in a bona fide WrestleMania main event. Austin got there by winning his second Royal Rumble, and he wasn’t going to let the charismatic show stopper Shawn Michaels prevent him from achieving his goal of wrestling domination. Not even the looming presence of Mike Tyson could slow Austin down, as it was kick, wham, Stunner, and the Austin era had truly began.
The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
When a seemingly throwaway match is suddenly hailed as one of the greatest in sports entertainment history, it only makes sense that WWE would do it all over again the next year with even greater promotion. Not only did Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker tear the house down at one WrestleMania before they were booked to do it again in the headlining spot, but it could be said the two had feuded on and off for more than a full decade, making their battle one for the ages without any stipulations thrown in.
Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff
Any wrestler in the 1980s would have been happy to have Hulk Hogan as their tag team partner, but given the Hulkster’s international fame, it made sense he would settle for a TV and movie star in Mr. T instead. Not that his enemies would take kindly to the move, as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff were all the more furious Hogan would bring in a Hollywood actor to steal the spotlight at the Grandest Stage of Them All. That said, Mr. T wasn’t even the only celebrity on the scene, with Muhammad Ali serving as the guest referee.
The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Round One
Prior to becoming equally popular to his rival, The Rock was a villain through and through, doing his best to represent Vince McMahon’s warped ideals as The Corporate Champion. With this in mind, chances are “Stone Cold” Steve Austin hated Rocky more than ever during their first WrestleMania headlining affair, which he earned by beating the snot out of McMahon at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Despite constant interference from the Corporation, Austin overcame the odds and became WWE Champion once more, ready to raise hell across McMahon’s company for a long time coming.
Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan
No matter how friendly they try to be, when two explosively colorful personalities get close enough, tensions between them are eventually bound to explode. Throw in a woman who seems to like them both, and the fact her boyfriend happens to be outrageously jealous, and the perfect recipe for an emotional feud has been set. That “Macho Man” Randy Savage was reigning as WWE Champion and Hulk Hogan kept stealing his spotlight was only icing on the cake, making this main event one of the most memorable in Mania history.
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
Love him or hate him, Roman Reigns has been ordained as the next face of WWE, and he’s already earned a number of headlining bouts at WrestleMania to prove it. More so than any WWE Championship victories Reigns has to his name, this particular contest will likely go down as one of the most integral to his legacy, standing toe to toe with The Undertaker on a stage where he had nearly gone undefeated. Sure, it might have meant a little more if Undertaker hadn’t already lost his Streak, yet Reigns victory was still significant when the Dead Man said goodbye.
Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice
Considering neither Hulk Hogan nor Sid were WWE Champion heading into their WrestleMania headlining contest, in retrospect, one might wonder how they earned the spot. It’s not like the earlier match between Ric Flair and Randy Savage, which was for the gold, couldn’t have sold out an arena on its own, meaning the only explanation lies in Hogan’s notorious ego. Of course, this is hardly surprising, as the Hulkster’s issue with Sid Justice likewise started when Hogan envied Sid for outlasting him in the Royal Rumble.
John Cena vs. The Rock – Round One
After seven long years, The Rock returned to his home in the WWE Universe to host a very special WrestleMania, yet from the moment he stepped back inside the ring, The Great One’s attention was elsewhere. In The Rock’s absence, he noticed a large number of WWE superstars trying to take his place as The People’s Champion, and Rocky was none too pleased by the fact John Cena might even be succeeding at replacing him. The only logical solution was a Once in a Lifetime match at the Grandest Stage of Them All so Rocky could prove he was still on top.
Edge vs. The Undertaker
Even in retrospect, the decision to have Edge and The Undertaker’s match for the World Heavyweight Champion close out WrestleMania seemed a little out of nowhere. The same show featured a much more heavily promoted WWE Championship match between Triple H, Randy Orton, and John Cena, which definitely seems like the bigger match on paper. That said, let’s not forget Edge and Undertaker are incredible performers in their own right, and the two managed to turn a seemingly routine match into something special, kicking off one of the biggest feuds of the year in the process.
Triple H vs. The Big Show vs. The Rock vs. Mick Foley
Bigger is not necessarily better, as WWE proved by holding an entire WrestleMania featuring only one sole singles match. The headlining contest that year took the trend to its furthest boundaries, breaking the tradition of giving the Royal Rumble winner a WWE Championship match by making The Rock share the honor with both Big Show and Mick Foley. As though this confusion wasn’t bad enough, the biggest heel in the world at the time, Triple H, walked out of the show with his gold held high.
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
Depending on how exactly one defines a Money in the Bank cash-in, this WrestleMania main event may have technically just been Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns, with Seth Rollins merely showing up for the fiery finale. Of course, said explosive ending included Rollins besting both Lesnar and Reigns to win the WWE Championship, shocking the world after a long match already full of surprises with how brutal and hard hitting it was. Considering the low expectations Reigns brought into this match, the whole show could be called a huge success—too bad things haven’t gone quite the same for Roman since then.
Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy
Splitting WrestleMania into three wasn’t the best idea Vince McMahon ever had, and unfortunately, that wasn’t even the biggest issue headed into this particular main event. While it goes without saying that Hulk Hogan was the biggest WWE superstar of the 1980s, his mere presence alone wasn’t enough to make a wrestling event special. Hogan also needed a pretty important rival to defend his gold against, and King Kong Bundy was more of a run-of-the-mill villain than an arch nemesis type. Not even taping up Hogan’s ribs due to a “brutal attack” nor putting the two in a cage could make up for Bundy’s shortcomings.
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
For many of the rivalries mentioned throughout this quiz, one mere match is far from enough to permanently quash whatever issues the involved wrestlers have. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart knew this before the bell even rang, and that’s why WWE decided the two should do contest for a full hour, in the first ever Iron Man match televised by the company. Amazingly, neither man would score a single fall over the full 60 minutes they did battle, necessitating a sudden death overtime that saw HBK prevail by playing some Sweet Chin Music.
Chris Jericho vs. Triple H
After The Rock and Hollywood Hogan tore the house down, the rest of this WrestleMania was pretty much a walk off, placing Chris Jericho and Triple H in a unique position. It didn’t matter that their battle was contested over the Undisputed WWE Championship, as fans were already emotionally exhausted, and let’s face it—Triple H’s original comeback as a heroic babyface hadn’t really been working in the first place. Chris Jericho did what he could to save this one, but with Stephanie McMahon pigeonholed into his corner, it didn’t have that great a chance in the first place.
Yokozuna vs. Hulk Hogan
On paper, the main event of this WrestleMania was supposed to be heroic WWE Champion Bret Hart defending against the foreign menace Yokozuna, and it’s not like that didn’t happen. Through Mr. Fuji’s devious interference, Yokozuna toppled the Hitman and became the new champion, only for the power of Hulkamania to rise again and assert himself during Yoko’s victory celebration. Fuji’s hubris got the best of him and he immediately challenged the Hulkster on his client’s behalf, and a mere leg drop later, the gold changed hands for the second time in five minutes.
Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit
Hindsight being everything, this particular match probably never would have happened. WWE doesn’t like admitting Chris Benoit used to work for the company, let alone in a major enough role he could headline the Showcase of Immortals—and we haven’t even gotten to the part where he wins the match yet. Backing up a bit, Benoit entered the match by winning the 2004 Royal Rumble, and looked to topple Triple H’s seat on the throne as World Heavyweight Champion. Shawn Michaels may have meddled his way into the match, but Benoit couldn’t be stopped—he would, however, later get erased.
Sid vs. The Undertaker
Crazy like a fox, Psycho Sid Vicious twice climbed his way to the top of sports entertainment and became WWE Champion. Sid also main evented two WrestleMania’s, though ironically, most fans consider the one he walked into as the top dog in WWE his weaker performance. On the other hand, The Undertaker put on the best show possible in defeated the Psychotic One, reclaiming the gold that had eluded him for nearly six years and beginning what was then called the Dark Age of the WWE Universe.
Triple H vs. Randy Orton
Some matches simply don’t turn out the way they’re supposed to, and WrestleMania has never had a contest make this clear quite the same way as Triple H and Randy Orton’s headlining WWE Championship bout. As per usual, things began when Orton won that year’s Royal Rumble, adding another layer to his already intensely personal feud with his former mentor and future boss. Unfortunately, none of the intensity was visible in the slow and plodding match, and the already bored crowd appropriated reacted by voicing their displeasure.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor
Quite frankly, the state of WWE in the mid ‘90s wasn’t great. Things were so bad that for their yearly Showcase of Immortals, the company needed to look outside of wrestling into the greater world of sports and call in a ringer, somehow getting NFL star Lawrence Taylor to make his first appearance in a wrestling ring. If nothing else, at least LT wasn’t thrust into a WWE Championship match before he was ready, instead facing off with rising heel superstar Bam Bam Bigelow.
Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan
All right, look—all American patriotism is probably always going to have a place in sports entertainment someway or another, but forcing it down fans throats almost never works. Case in point, turning the American war hero Sgt. Slaughter into an Iraqi sympathizer during the Persian Gulf War, and then going on to reward him for it with a WWE Championship reign. Sure, fans were happy to see Hulk Hogan conquer the bad guy yet again, although the ridiculous circumstances leading to that conclusion greatly cheapened the effect.
Triple H vs. Batista
For such a simple gesture, turning a thumbs up into a thumbs down became one of the most iconic moves in Batista’s career. After winning the Royal Rumble, the Animal’s cohorts in Evolution wanted him to leave Raw for SmackDown and consolidate their power, rather than see him challenge the power of group leader Triple H. Batista almost went with the plan, only to change his mind and beat Triple H all the way to the Grandest Stage of Them All, where he usurped his former leader’s status as World Heavyweight Champion.
The Rock vs. John Cena – Round Two
As it would turn out, Once In A Lifetime is just one of those things wrestling promoters say that doesn’t actually mean much, like “no holds barred” or “you’re fired.” The Rock and John Cena were far from done with their war after a sole encounter, and with The Great One making regular enough appearances to reclaim the WWE Championship, it was inevitable the two would square off again. Obviously, no stage would do except WrestleMania, so although it invalidated the tag line from the year before, it was a natural conclusion that Rock and Cena would headline the show for a second time.
Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper
The early years of WrestleMania involved as much experimentation as it was a yearly blow off to the biggest feuds in the WWE Universe, and no event made this more clear than WrestleMania 2. Unlike all other WrestleMania’s, the second incarnation featured three full shows from three separate locations across the United States, all obviously featuring their own special main event. One of these featured Roddy Piper and Mr. T continuing their long war of words with a boxing match, which Mr. T managed to win by DQ when Piper refused to follow the rules.
John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels
Just because a match comes slightly out of nowhere hardly means it can’t be a classic, especially with wrestlers like John Cena and Shawn Michaels involved. This WrestleMania headlining contest almost didn’t happen, the original plan calling for Cena to face off against Triple H in a rematch from the year prior. However, HHH found himself injured en route to the show, so his buddy HBK stepped up to take his place. The crowd in attendance were rewarded with a fantastic match, making up for any shortcomings related to the modest promotion it received.
Triple H vs. Roman Reigns
A perfect microcosm of why WWE fans have been rejecting the product, when people were having trouble accepting Roman Reigns as a top star, Triple H took matters into his own hands by making a comeback and winning the WWE Championship for the fourteenth time. Of course, not even the meanest heel in recent wrestling history could get fans to cheer for Reigns, as he was booed out of the building from the beginning of this match to the end, even as he “heroically” beat The Game and started his own fourth run as the champ.
The Miz vs. John Cena
Poor, poor Mike Mizanin. The wrestler better known by his nickname The Miz was in the midst of his first and thus far only WWE Championship reign en route to this WrestleMania, appropriately also the sole Showcase of Immortals he would headline. Unfortunately for Miz, despite walking in and out of the match as champion, he was at best the third most important person involved in it, far outshined by both his opponent John Cena and “special guest enforcer” The Rock. That the match wasn’t very good didn’t help Miz out in the slightest.
John Cena vs. Triple H
Ever since Raw and SmackDown started promoting separate World Champions, the main event of WrestleMania has been harder to predict than ever before. Although Rey Mysterio won the Royal Rumble the year of this bout, and went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship at this show, it was John Cena and Triple H’s arguably less promoted battle for the WWE Championship that went on last. This was probably a bad idea in retrospect, as the crowd was worn out by the time it was over, booing Cena out of the building after what was supposed to be a heroic defense.
The Dream Team vs. The British Bulldogs
The third and final WrestleMania 2 main event also serves perhaps the least memorable in company history, although not for lack of effort from the performers. The villainous Dream Team of Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake had been reigning as WWE Tag Team Champions for quite some time, making fans rabid at the thought of The British Bulldogs taking the belts away from them. Throw in Ozzy Osborne as their corner man, and it looks like a pretty great main event for a mid-level show—just not 1/3 of WrestleMania.