After the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view went off the air Sunday night, it was official, the main event for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX would pit titleholder Randy Orton against Royal Rumble winner Dave Batista. Unfortunately, it's a match that no one particularly wants to see headline a card of such magnitude. But this isn't the first time WWE has gone down this path, either.
Here are seven WrestleMania main events that no one really wanted to see.
WrestleMania VIII: Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice
Build for one of the biggest WrestleMania matches of all-time began in October of 1991 when Ric Flair came to the WWF carrying the "Real World's Championship" and calling out Hulk Hogan. The writing was on the wall -- Hogan vs. Flair for the title at WrestleMania. But something funny happened along the way. These two megastars had a round of "meh" matches on the house show circuit, and there was the looming cloud of steroid accusations involving Hogan. Suddenly, the WWF's biggest star was being shown the door, and he was no longer getting a title match against Flair, who won the belt at the Royal Rumble. Instead, he was put in a retirement match with Sid, who had eliminated him from the Rumble and was likely being positioned as the next big heel to face Hogan at SummerSlam. The match wasn't very good, awkwardly ending in a DQ when Papa Shango missed his cue, but did give us the return of the Ultimate Warrior, even if he didn't look anything like his former self.
What we wanted: Ric Flair (c) vs. Hulk Hogan
They finally had their match in WCW years down the road. For what it's worth, Flair did have a really good WWF Championship match with Randy Savage at WrestleMania. And, here's just some food for thought -- if Hogan had stayed the course with Flair, Savage likely would've faced Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and Undertaker would've wrestled Sid Justice, which could've derailed the Streak before it even started (if Sid was indeed in line for a monster push as a heel title contender). Instead, 'Taker turned face and defeated Roberts, who was on his way out as well.
WrestleMania 13: Sycho Sid (c) vs. Undertaker
History unfairly looks down on Sid, in my opinion. He was really the first "Attitude Era" WWF Champion, even if his initial title reign began in 1996. The fans at Madison Square Garden in 1996 loved him, and he was a real tweener character in the main event that proved guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin could flourish later on. The problem was Sid was never truly committed to pro wrestling. Because of his disappearing acts, Sid isn't as reveled as he probably should be in pro wrestling lore. Nevertheless, this is about WrestleMania main events, and this one felt thrown together with no story and not a lot of heat. Why? It wasn't the original plan. Shawn Michaels was expected to carry the WWF title into the event for a rematch with Bret Hart, but some combination of creative differences and injuries (remember Shawn losing his smile?) threw those plans out the window. The reshuffled card gave us this match instead. On the bright side, the undercard featured that amazing Hart-Austin submission match that made Stone Cold Steve Austin.
What we wanted: Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Bret Hart or Bret Hart (c) vs. Steve Austin
Looking back, I think fans were itching for a Hart-Michaels rematch, but Austin was really heating up at the time and, realistically, Michaels wasn't an option for whatever the reasons. It probably worked out best for all involved, except Bret, who was sent packing for WCW in the fall after the Montreal Screwjob.
WrestleMania 2000: Triple H (c) vs. The Rock vs. Big Show vs. Mick Foley w/ a McMahon in every corner
This main event wasn't entirely off, but many of the additions were swerves for the sake of swerves. In fact, you may recall that, at one point, the main event was Triple H vs. Big Show. Then the Rock won his way back into the match, and finally, two weeks prior to the event, Mick Foley was added to the fray, each with a McMahon in their corners. It was the first WrestleMania main event title match that wasn't a traditional one-on-one encounter (in fact, with the exception of a women's match, none of the matches at this WrestleMania were standard singles matches) and that never seemed to sit well with the fans.
What we wanted: Triple H (c) vs. The Rock
When the dust settled at the Royal Rumble, this was the match that appeared on paper. And there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. But at the time, WWE was still in a ratings war with WCW Monday Nitro (sort of) and needed to put on exciting and meaningful matches during the two months in between the events. Fans would get no shortage of Triple H-Rock matches over the next few months, with the two trading the title back and forth, but many still wish these two had a WrestleMania showcase to themselves (and one that saw the Rock emerge victorious, rather than the heel Triple H).
WrestleMania X8: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Triple H
For what it's worth, I think this match probably belonged on the card, it just shouldn't have been in the main event spot. Triple H had returned from injury and won the Royal Rumble as a babyface. Despite being the most hated heel in the company, the fans gained new respect for him when they learned he finished the match in which he suffered the injury (the first of many torn quads) and appreciated him working so hard to rehab and return. Jericho was an unlikely victor in December when a four-man tournament was held to unify the WWF and WCW championships, a culmination of the failed Invasion angle. I don't think many expected him to hang onto the belts until WrestleMania, but nevertheless, that's what happened. The build to the match, which centered more around Stephanie McMahon than the championship, was awful, and while the match itself was OK, it couldn't live up to the Match of the Year that preceded it on the card. This would become a problem for Triple H again a few years later.
What we wanted: The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan (or for that matter, Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan)
Much like many fans are saying right now about WrestleMania XXX's apparent main event, the WWE can't be this blind, right? For some reason, no one expected Hulk Hogan to get the hero's reaction he did in his first singles match in the WWE and at WrestleMania in nearly a decade. The match itself wasn't off-the-charts, but it was a great piece of storytelling with a raucous atmosphere. It truly was a dream match scenario and one that should've closed the show over the championship match (a mistake WWE would make again in the next WrestleMania on this list, but avoid at the 26th and 28th incarnations of the event). One thing that always bugged me though, was that Stone Cold wasn't put in this position to face Hogan, the Rock was. Recently on his podcast (which, if you aren't listening to on the reg, you should start) Austin has said he was in a bad place at the time, hurting and frustrated with creative, and there was some question about who would do the job between Austin and Hogan. For those reasons, the match never came together and Austin instead beat Scott Hall in the undercard. It was no place for a luminary like Austin and, perhaps to no one's surprise now, he infamously walked out of the company a few months later.
25th anniversary of WrestleMania: Triple H (c) vs. Randy Orton
Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble by last eliminating Triple H, with help from the Legacy. This was the start of what would be a fairly dominating year for Orton. Heading into the No Way Out PPV, where both the World and WWE Championships were being defended in Elimination Chamber matches, Edge was WWE Champion and Cena was World Champion. A collision course with Cena, renewing what at the time was still a budding rivalry, seemed imminent and would've been appropriate for a landmark show, since these two had risen to the top roughly the same time, but because of injuries, never really had a proper culmination of their feud. Then something odd happened, Edge dropped the WWE title (ultimately to Triple H) and then entered himself in the chamber later in the show and left with the World title. A double main event of Cena vs. Orton and Triple H vs. Edge was suddenly reversed, and then Big Show was thrown into the World title match and we got some memorable (albeit hokey) build to Orton vs. Triple H that, for the first time on television, recognized the Game as a member of the McMahon family. Heading into it, it didn't seem like *that* bad of a main event, but since the match itself failed to deliver quaility, featured a bad finish with Triple H retaining and killing Orton's momentum, and also had to follow the epic Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker match, this will be remembered as an awful WrestleMania main event.
What we wanted: Before the event, WWE Champion Edge vs. Triple H and World Champion John Cena vs. Randy Orton; After the event, Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
Edge and Triple H never met on a big stage in singles competition (sans a less-than-memorable match at the Great American Bash in 2008 which revolved around Edge cheating on Vickie Guerrero with their wedding planner, who we now know and love as Alicia Fox), whereas what, at the time, would've been a somewhat fresh Cena-Orton affair was done to death in fall of that year, with five consecutive PPVs pitting them against one another over the title. Obviously, the feud has been revisited again recently. Micheals and Taker would face each other in a WrestleMania rematch the following year, which ended up being Michaels' final match of his career.
WrestleMania XXVII: The Miz (c) vs. John Cena
It wasn't necessarily that this was a bad choice at the time -- as far as the Miz has fallen in many's eyes, at this point, he was absolutely on fire as a heel and a WrestleMania collision course with Cena seemed inevitable (although WWE did tease Orton vs. Cena a couple times at the end of 2010 before the Miz won the title). The problem was that once the Rock was introduced as the guest host for the event, the focus went from the WWE Champion Miz to Cena and the Rock.
What we wanted: John Cena vs. The Rock
Fans were hoping to see these two face off in a dream match at the 27th edition of WrestleMania. Instead they settled for the match being booked a year in advance for WrestleMania XXVIII the next night on Raw. It's funny how quickly things change, because two years later, the WrestleMania main event that no one wanted to see was ...
WrestleMania 29: The Rock (c) vs. John Cena
During the 1000th episode of Raw, the Rock returned to announce he'd be getting a WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble. At the time, babyface CM Punk was champion, but was facing John Cena for that title in the main event of the evening. At the end of the night, Punk began his heel turn on the Rock and fans began to see the writing on the wall as the narrative played out over the next few months: Punk was going to drop the belt to the Rock, who would then face Cena in a "Twice in a Lifetime" main event, in which Cena would get his win back from prior year's WrestleMania against the Rock, and regain the WWE Championship. Because, in the eyes of some, the previous year's "Once in a Lifetime" main event failed to deliver, they didn't want to see it again.
What we wanted: CM Punk (c) vs. John Cena
Many fans wanted Punk to enter the show as champ and face Cena in the main event. Once the Rock won the belt, others hoped he would be added to make it a Triple Threat. Neither happened. He did end up having a Match of the Year candidate with Cena on Raw a week after the Elimination Chamber for the right to face the Rock at 'Mania that only reinforced wanting to see WWE's two top full-time stars battle it out on the grandest stage.