The main event at WrestleMania used to be a sacred thing. It was something that every man (or even woman now) has ever dreamt of if their goal was stepping foot in a wrestling ring. That’s that “spot” you want to be in. It tells you that the company trusts you, that you’re the reason why all those thousands or people came to see this whole massive event in the first place. It tells you that you are at least one of the two best in that very moment.
Well, sometimes it did.
It made sense when you saw someone like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, or Bret Hart coming out last to end the biggest show of the year. Because they were the biggest star of the company, the headliner of every show leading up to the big show. Why wouldn’t they come out last? And why wouldn’t they be the champion or fighting for the title?
Usually, the common theme for sometime was that the WWE title match must go on last because it’s the title that represents the company. However, that’s not always the case, and it wasn’t so at the first WrestleMania, even though the champion, Hulk Hogan, was involved in the main event. In fact, that main event, which consisted of Hulk Hogan teaming with Mr. T going against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff, set a major precedent for the entire theme of WrestleMania and what it would become later on, even that of what the main event would be.
That first main event sent WrestleMania off into the stratosphere of sports and entertainment and pop culture. It wasn’t traditional wrestling, it didn’t have the best in-ring workers but it had the best in-ring entertainers. And that’s what WrestleMania has always been about — entertainment. Back in 1985, there wasn’t diehard wrestling fan purists besides the workers in the business themselves. In fact, there wouldn’t be the diehard crowds of today ridiculously chanting “CM PUNK. CM PUNK. CM PUNK.” if it hadn’t of been for that first WrestleMania and it’s main event. It brought people out of the shadows of their fears of embarrassment of being “rasslin’ fans” and made it cool to love, embrace and talk about wrestling. That generation that become proud owners of their wrestling fan cards then passed on to the generations of fans of today.
But is that main event spot so sacred as it once was? Is it the spot that every WWE superstar wants more than anything? I wouldn’t say no by any means, but a lot has changed over the years.
As we’ve already established, it isn’t always about the main title, and it doesn’t have to be. WrestleMania X8 is a classic example of that, as Triple H and Chris Jericho facing each other for the Undisputed title, had no business being main event over The Rock and Hollywood Hogan, two of the biggest stars in the history of the business. Secondly, there isn’t a main title any longer, there’s two, between the WWE title and Universal title.
I’m still not wild about the brand split. At times, it makes sense, then there’s others where I think it’s ludicrous. But, as mentioned, the WWE has changed drastically over the years. They’ve become bigger, stronger, and will for the unforeseen future, rule the entire wrestling industry. So, maybe WWE is bigger than just one main title … if that makes any sense. However, no longer is that coveted Royal Rumble victory as meaningful anymore either. The Royal Rumble match is always a treat for wrestling fans because it’s the beginning of ‘Mania Season. But I think with now having two titles again, it diminishes the Royal Rumble match a little, and even though as much as they may have to say it or want to say it or even believe it, the Rumble winner sometimes knows they aren’t even sniffing the main event at WrestleMania. Ask Alberto Del Rio, who was the opening match against Edge at WrestleMania 24 for the World title.
Look at this years card. The debate for a while now has been what match would main event the show. And as of today, the rumor is Undertaker and Roman Reigns. There’s a number of reasons why that could be. For one, who sticks out and is the big money draw for the company right now? You’re surely not going to put John Cena’s mixed tag match as the main event. Plus, how many times can Cena hold that spot without the show becoming John Cena-Mania?
There’s no one guy in the company now that’s over to a large degree. They’ve been trying with Roman Reigns, but who knows where that’s going to go. Go look at the poster for the past few WrestleMania’s. There isn’t a main focus on one but on multiple.
Does anyone remember the old posters back in the day where it had the main event of the two superstars on the poster? Remember Austin and The Rock for WM 17, Hogan and Savage for WM 5? Now nearly every major superstar is on the poster. However, that is with the exception of last year because who else would have main evented last year with all those injuries?
The WWE is a collective diverse group of superstars that is attempting to appeal to all genders, ages, sizes, and personalties. With WWE still looking for their next John Cena, the focus is now on multiple stars, and it has to be with multiple brands now. Therefore, WrestleMania has become a multi-main event show, even more so now than it has been years prior.
The show isn’t even constructed to crescendo into the main event anymore. Not that it wasn’t always the mindset of the entire roster, but everyone is now out to steal the show and make their WrestleMania moment. The years are now gone where it’s single digit in length of matches as most go beyond the 10-minute mark. The show is just longer now, with pre-show included, it was a 6 hour show last year. Your fans are exhausted by the time the main event starts because of the other card and segments, so whatever is delivered in that last spot, better be entertaining to say the least.
The main event isn’t what it used to be. The main event is what the best match is now, what steals the show, what people remember the most — or the last thing that completely exhausts the audience. While it’s still a coveted spot, the main event at WrestleMania is just not what it once was because of the structure of the show, the attitude of the fans, and every wrestlers mentality on stealing the show.
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