Only 28 matches in WWE history have had the honor of closing out the show at WrestleMania. With WrestleMania XXIX just around the corner I felt now was the perfect time to look back at the many classic (and not so classic) main events and rank them from 1-28.
28) WrestleMania II – WWF Champion Hulk Hogan defeats King Kong Bundy (with Bobby Heenan)
The 1986 edition of WrestleMania was one of the most unique productions ever for the WWE. They held the three hour event in three separate arenas throughout the United States. The final hour was held in Los Angelas with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan once again in the main event. This year he would take on King Kong Bundy in a steel cage match.
The match, to say the least, was less than stellar. Bundy and Hogan had little chemistry in the ring but the event was still a success nonetheless.
27) WrestleMania VIII – Hulk Hogan defeats Sid Justice (with Harvey Whippelman)
WrestleMania VIII really messed up the booking heading into the event. Ric Flair had joined the WWF after many years with rival WCW and everyone was clamoring for a Hogan vs. Flair matchup at the biggest event. For whatever reason we didn’t get this as the main event.
Instead the WWF put on a double main event. Earlier in the night Randy Savage defeated Ric Flair to win his second WWF Championship. Although their was no title involved Hogan and Sid Justice went on last with Hogan again winning the less than memorable main event.
26) WrestleMania IX – Hulk Hogan defeats Yokozuna for the WWF Championship
The scheduled main event for WrestleMania IX was between WWF Champion Bret Hart and challenger Yokozuna. Hart had the upper-hand in match before Yokozuna’s manager, Mr. Fuji, interfered by throwing salt into the champion’s eyes. This lead to Yokozuna getting the upperhand and defeating Hart for the title.
Hogan came to ringside to check on Hart and was challenged to a match by Mr. Fuji. Hogan accepted, and following Mr. Fuji mistakenly hitting Yokozuna with salt in the eyes, Hogan hit a leg drop and became the new WWF Champion in just 22 seconds.
25) WrestleMania XXVII – WWE Champion The Miz (with Alex Riley) defeats John Cena
The Miz was an improbable main eventer, but after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract no one was able to take the strap off of him heading into WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta.
John Cena and The Miz put on an average match. Both superstars were able to hit, and kick out of, a finisher on each other. The match ended in a double count-out after both competitors were knocked out on the concrete beyond the barricades.
WrestleMania host, The Rock, restarted the match under no-disqualification rules. The Rock then proceeded to hit Cena with a Rock Bottom allowing The Miz to pin him for the win. The Rock would then hit The Miz with a spinebuster and People’s Elbow to finish off the event.
24) WrestleMania XI – Lawrence Taylor defeats Bam Bam Bigelow
For the first time in ten years the WWF put a non-wrestler into the main event of a WrestleMania. This time there was no way to hide the lack of ring experience for Lawrence Taylor since it was a singles match.
Taylor is an all-world athlete and was able to perform a few impressive moves, but on the whole this match was purely put on to gain mainstream press for the WWF. Not a great match but a memorable one.
23) WrestleMania XIII – The Undertaker defeats Sycho Sid to become WWF Champion
The Undertaker’s sixth victory at WrestleMania came at WrestleMania XIII against Sycho Sid in a no-disqualification match. The match was actually passable even with the less-than-graceful in-ring work of Sid. This is a testament to the talent of The Undertaker.
Bret Hart eventually cost Sid the match by distracting the champion, which allowed The Undertaker to hit Sid with a Tombstone to win the match and move his record to 6-0 at WrestleManias.
22) WrestleMania XXV – WWE Champion Triple H defeats Randy Orton
A heel Randy Orton had tormented Triple H’s family by punting one McMahon after another. He also kissed and gave a DDT to Stephanie McMahon, Triple H’s wife. This lead to the main event of WrestleMania XXV between WWE Champion Triple H and Randy Orton.
The actual match between the two started out very hot, with both Orton and Triple H hitting their finishers on each other. After the kick-outs the match turned a bit slow. The match had a mediocre finish to not only the match, but also to the pay-per-view after Triple H hit Orton with a sledgehammer and a Pedigree for the 1, 2, 3.
21) WrestleMania XXI – Batista defeats Triple H (with Ric Flair) for the World Heavyweight Championship
Evolution was coming apart at the seams, and after Batista won the Royal Rumble he decided to challenge his mentor Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship in the main event at WrestleMania XXI.
The match was a back and forth contest that didn’t quite live up to the hype. Batista would win the title after hitting Triple H with a Batista Bomb and getting the 1, 2, 3.
20) WrestleMania X8 – Triple H wins Undisputed Championship against Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho became the first Undisputed Champion in WWF history by defeating both Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock on the same night. He put this title up against Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania X8.
Jericho focused on the bandaged leg of Triple H throughout the match to set him up for the walls of Jericho. There were some big spots including Jericho tossing Triple H through the Spanish announce table after reversing a Pedigree. Jericho then went for his own Pedigree which was reversed by Triple H. Triple H was then able to hit the Pedigree on Jericho and win the WWF Undisputed Championship for the first time.
19) WrestleMania VII – Hulk Hogan defeats Sgt. Slaughter (with General Adnan) for the WWF Championship
The 1991 edition of WrestleMania had a very controversial angle with WWF Champion Sgt. Slaughter becoming a sympathizer for Iraq during the Gulf War. Hogan, being a real American, took exception to Slaughter’s actions and after winning the Royal Rumble challenged Slaughter to a match for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania.
Like many Hogan matches, this main event is remembered more for the story surrounding the match than the actual in-ring work. A bloody Hogan would Hulk up and pin Slaughter following a big leg drop to win his third WWF Championship.
18) WrestleMania 2000 (XVI) – WWF Champion Triple H defeats Mankind, The Big Show and The Rock
The main event at WrestleMania 2000 was a four-way elimination match that had a McMahon in the corner of every superstar.
The Big Show was the first eliminated after being targeted by the other three competitors and The Rock hit him with a Rock Bottom. Mankind was next out following two Pedigrees and a steel chair shot from Triple H. This left The Rock and Triple H to duke it out for the title. Vince McMahon, who was in The Rock’s corner turned on The Rock and hit him with a steel chair. This allowed Triple H to pin The Rock and remain WWF Champion.
17) WrestleMania XXII – WWE Champion John Cena defeats Triple H
Chicago hosted John Cena’s first WrestleMania main event where he successfully defended his WWE Championship against the challenger Triple H.
The match between the two was a solid back and forth affair. The two superstars couldn’t keep the other down. Triple H kicked out of an FU and Cena blocked a Pedigree from Triple H. Cena was able to reverse the Pedigree into the STFU, forcing Triple H to tap, thus retaining his WWE Championship. This would mark the third straight main event loss for Triple H.
16) WrestleMania I – Hulk Hogan and Mr. T (with Jimmy Snuka) defeats Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (with Bob Orton)
The year was 1985 and a new a Super Bowl of wrestling was being promoted by WWF’s owner Vince McMahon. In order to sell the event McMahon pulled out all the stops to make sure the event was huge, and this included bringing in Mr. T for the the main event.
Hogan and Mr. T would win the very first main event in WrestleMania history that night. Although the actual match wasn’t an artistic masterpiece, the match has a special place in WWE history and helped launched the WrestleMania brand into what it would become in future years.
15) WrestleMania V – Hulk Hogan defeats Macho Man Randy Savage for the WWF Championship
The Macho Man held the WWF Championship belt for an entire year after winning the title in the main event of WrestleMania IV and put the belt on the line against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania V.
The duo had been a dominating tag team over the previous year as the “Mega-Powers” but had a falling out when Savage took exception to Hogan getting too familiar with Miss Elizabeth. This led to a feud that culminated with Hogan beating Savage and regaining the WWF Championship once again.
14) WrestleMania X – Bret Hart defeats Yokozuna for the WWF Championship
At the 1994 Royal Rumble we saw the final two competitors eliminated at the same time. To accommodate the two winners both Lex Luger and Bret Hart would get WWF Championship matches at WrestleMania X. Lex Luger chose to face WWF Champion Yokozuna first. Bret Hart would have to face his brother Owen in a match earlier as well and then take on the winner of the Luger and Yokozuna match in the main event.
Yokozuna would defeat Luger while Hart lost to Owen. The odds were not in the favor of the challenger heading into the match. However, after a failed bonzi drop, Hart was able to get the pin and become the new WWF Champion.
13) WrestleMania IV – Macho Man Randy Savage (with Miss Elizabeth and Hulk Hogan) defeats Ted DiBiase for WWF Championship
WrestleMania IV was a unique event. It was the first time that Hulk Hogan wasn’t in a match to close the show (though he was in the corner for eventual winner Randy Savage) and was the only time that the WrestleMania event was a tournament for the WWF Championship.
Randy Savage would defeat Ted DiBiase to win the WWF Championship with the help of a well placed steel chair from Hogan square into DiBiase’s back. After a flying elbow and a pin the Macho Man had been crowned the new WWF Champion.
12) WrestleMania XXIV – The Undertaker defeats World Heavyweight Champion Edge
The Undertaker won an Elimination Chamber match to become the No. 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship and took on Edge in only his second career WrestleMania main event at WrestleMania XXIV.
This match was a fantastic bought between the Ultimate Opportunist and the Dead Man. After Edge hit The Undertaker with a TV set while the ref’s back was turned, Edge attempted to give The Undertaker a Tombstone Piledriver – The Undertaker’s own finisher. Undertaker reversed the move and hit Edge withe the Tombstone instead, only getting a two count. Edge then delivered two spears to The Undertaker, the second of which was turned into the Hell’s Gate by The Undertaker. Edge was unable to get out of the move and was forced to tap.
The Undertaker won the World Heavyweight Championship and moved to a perfect 16-0 at WrestleManias.
11) WrestleMania XXIII – WWE Champion John Cena defeats Shawn Michaels
In one of John Cena’s greatest matches, he was able to defeat Shawn Michaels in the main event of WrestleMania XXIII in Detroit. The match was a hotly contested battle between two of the best in the business.
During the match there was a lot of action. Michaels even hit Cena with a piledriver onto the steel ringside steps. Following a series of failed finishers from both Cena and Michaels, Cena put Michaels into the STFU. Shawn dramatically reached the ropes for a rope break, but Cena was able to execute the move once more. The bloodied Michaels was unable to reach the rope and had to tap out. For the second year in a row Cena had won the main event at WrestleMania with the move.
10) WrestleMania XXVIII – The Rock defeats John Cena
The night after WrestleMania XXVII, The Rock challenged John Cena to a fight at WrestleMania XXVIII. A year in advance the WWE Universe already knew the main event for the following WrestleMania.
The match had a big fight feel and the Miami crowd was electric in anticipation for the bout. After exchanging finishers, Cena had the upper hand on The People’s Champion. Cena went for a People’s Elbow onto The Rock, but that backfired. The Rock reversed the move and hit Cena with a Rock Bottom and pinned Cena to win the match.
9) WrestleMania XIX – Brock Lesnar defeats Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship
The main event of WrestleMania XIX involved two legit superstars with amateur wrestling pedigrees. Their match did not disappoint anyone in the crowd at Safeco Field.
The back and forth match a technical and physical slugfest. Angle was recovering from a neck injury, but that didn’t hold him back from leaving everything out on the mat. Lesnar took risks that 300-pounders just don’t normally take. His botched shooting star press from halfway across the ring is one of the most memorable moments in the history of the event. This is easily one of the top main events of all time.
8) WrestleMania XX – Chris Benoit defeats World Heavyweight Champion Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a triple threat match
Chris Benoit won the 2004 Royal Rumble and used that victory to challenge World Heavyweight Champion Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania XX. Shawn Michaels respected the fact that Benoit earned that spot but had been cheated out of Triple H’s title on multiple occasions and felt he deserved another shot at it.
This all lead to an absolutely fantastic triple threat match between the three at WrestleMania XX. Benoit was put through the announce table by both Michaels and Triple H. He recovered just in time to break up a Triple H pin. Benoit dodged a Sweet Chin Music from Michaels and threw him out of the ring. Benoit was then able to counter a Pedigree from Triple H and lock in the Crippler Crossface onto the champ. Triple H would tap, making Benoit the new World Heavyweight Champion.
7) WrestleMania X-Seven – Stone Cold Steve Austin defeats The Rock for the WWF Championship
For the second time in three years the WWF Championship would be contested in a no-disqualification match beyond Steve Austin and The Rock at WrestleMania. This match was awesome. They fought in the crowd, both men were bloodied and they even hit each other with the other’s finishing move.
The end of the match was one that no one could have seen coming. Austin, after years of defying Mr. McMahon joined forces with his old nemesis. McMahon distracted The Rock and gave Austin a steel chair to hit The Rock with. Austin hit The Rock with 16 straight chair shots before pinning The Rock to become the new WWF Champion. The last images of the event were Austin and McMahon shaking hands and downing a few “Steveweisers.” Even though the heel run of Austin wasn’t great, the shock of the moment is a lasting one.
6) WrestleMania VI – Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior defeats Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship
WrestleMania VI was one of the most anticipated main events in the history of the event. For the first time ever the main event was a title vs. title event with both belts on the line. The Ultimate Warrior was riding a wave of momentum into the event and was able to pin Hogan for Hogan’s first loss (other than a double disqualification against Andre the Giant two years earlier) at a WrestleMania.
The match is remembered fondly despite the total lack of in-ring chemistry and artistry between the two superstars. However, this was a match that didn’t have to be a five-star match to still be important.
5) WrestleMania XXVI – The Undertaker defeats Shawn Michaels in the Streak vs. Career match
For only the third time in WrestleMania history the main event was not for a championship belt. Following perhaps the greatest WrestleMania match in history the previous year, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels had a rematch in the main event of WrestleMania XXVI.
In what would prove to be Shawn Michaels’ final match, the two superstars tore the house down in one of the greatest main events in WrestleMania’s vast history. Both men would hit, and kick out of, multiple finishers. Only a third Tombstone Piledriver finally put down Shawn Michaels. In a show of respect The Undertaker left the ring to Michaels who thanked the crowd as he left the ring for the final time.
4) WrestleMania XV – Stone Cold Steve Austin defeats WWF Champion The Rock
For the second straight year the odds were stacked against Stone Cold Steve Austin as he challenged for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania. The Rock had been anointed as the Corporate Champion after aligning himself with Vince McMahon’s Corporation.
The match started like gangbusters as they immediately took the battle to the outside of the ring to start the no-disqualification match. They would fight in the crowd and on the entrance ramp before returning to the ring. Mr. McMahon would help The Rock get the upper hand on Stone Cold until Mankind entered as the new referee. Austin would dodge a Corporate Elbow from The Rock and hit him with a Stunner to win the WWF Championship.
3) WrestleMania XIV – Stone Cold Steve Austin defeats Shawn Michaels to win WWF Championship w/ Mike Tyson as special guest enforcer
In one of the biggest main events in WrestleMania history, Steve Austin was challenging the WWF Champion Shawn Michaels. The odds were stacked against the Texas Rattlesnake. The DX-affiliated Tyson was placed as the special guest enforcer to the match.
Austin overcame the odds to beat Michaels and ushered in the attitude era of the WWF as the new champion.
2) WrestleMania XII – Shawn Michaels defeats Bret Hart for the WWF Championship
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels had one of the greatest feuds ever and their crowning achievement of the feud had to be the main event of WrestleMania XII. Hart was the reining WWF Champion and Michaels was the Royal Rumble winner.
The match was contested under the iron man match stipulation. There would be a one-hour clock and whoever had the most pins by the end of the hour would be declared the WWF Champion. The two battled back and forth for the whole hour, but neither could get a pin or submission. They needed extra time as the match went into sudden death. Shortly into sudden death Michaels tuned up the band and hit Hart with Sweet Chin Music to win the match and become the new WWF Champion.
1) WrestleMania III – WWF Champion Hulk Hogan defeats Andre the Giant
In one of the biggest matches in WWE history Hulk Hogan body slammed and pinned Andre the Giant in front of over 90,000 fans in the Pontiac Silverdome in 1987.
This was an all time classic match that helped define WrestleMania. The image of Hogan lifting and slamming Andre to the mat is one of the most iconic images from the history of the event and will be remembered forever by fans. Easily one of the most important moments ever in professional wrestling.