As we head towards the thirtieth anniversary of WWE WrestleMania, there are the matches that did happen. The all-time classics that you’ve seen so many times that you watch them when you close your eyes. We know of Steamboat/Savage, but did you know that Vince McMahon almost wrestled at that card? We all know that The Ultimate Challenge WrestleMania VI, but did you know that there were three other main events that were considered? I’ll be honest, some of the matches discussed here you’ve probably heard of, but these of these matches I didn’t even hear of. So, sit back and read about the absurd and potentially missed classics that almost happened, but didn’t. Fifteen matches and this piece isn’t some form of top ten lists, just fifteen WrestleMania main events that never happened. Should they have happened? That’s for you to decide.
1. Ray Lewis vs Triple H (WrestleMania X7)
Coming off of a year chock full of awards (Super Bowl MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, unanimous All-Pro selection, Pro Bowl starter) and the leader of one of the stingiest defenses in NFL history, I can see why the WWE might be interested in Ray Lewis for WrestleMania X7. Maybe have him appear in a backstage segment and have him tackle a mid-card heel, but the WWE had bigger plans for him. In 1995, the WWE got some much needed good publicity when Lawrence Taylor worked WrestleMania XI, so it made sense for them to capture lightning in a bottle twice. The Observer at the time had reported that the match against Triple H was the most likely scenario. The Ravens organization would have intervened since there was the possibility of Lewis getting seriously hurt, plus Lewis had a stigma attached to him after the double murder trial. If it did happen, I wonder who The Undertaker would have been booked against, but that’s for a different article.
This was one of the matches that when I found out that it almost happened, made me do a double take. If I had a drink in my mouth, I would have done a spit take. Much like discovering as a kid that Vince McMahon was a heel in Memphis (Youtube “McMemphis”), the thought of Vince McMahon in a match in 198 frocking 7 is nuts. From the 12/1/86 Wrestling Observer:
“Vince & Bruno vs. Davis & Jesse (I’ve been hearing this rumor since the summer and completely dismissed it at first, but every week on TV this nightmare is coming closer to reality)”
I can understand why they would book this. Before you think that I’ve gone, let me explain and once again remind you that I survived The Black Scorpion. It makes sense since Ventura/McMahon/Sammartino had been the announce crew when Superstars of Wrestling started and Ventura always made fun of his hosts. Ventura also saw no problem with the actions of one Danny Davis, corrupt referee so thus we have a tag match. The match would not have been great by any means since you have two non-wrestlers and two retired wrestlers, but I think Ventura would have got some major heat pounding on Vince. This contest is funny to think about in hindsight since Vince would go onto have problems with both Bruno (Drug usage by the talent, content of the product) and Ventura (Money). The injury to the Dynamite Kid saw the company change direction and place Davis in a six-man tag with the Foundation against The Bulldogs and Tito Santana. I know that the match wouldn’t go on last, but it would have received a substantial matter of hype.
Now, we go down the WrestleMania VII rabbit hole and we see why Hogan vs Warrior might have been the best option available.
3. Hulk Hogan vs Zeus (WrestleMania VII)
From the fantastic, underrated and sadly not updated anymore wrestling blog The Pro-Wrestling Chronicle’s Fourteen Weeks in 1990 series:
“With 1990 now officially underway, Wrestlemania VI from Toronto, Ontario on April 1st is on everyone’s mind. The rumors circulation in late 1989 had one of the following four matches being the strong possibility: 1) Hulk Hogan vs. Brutus Beefcake after a heel turn; 2) Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior after a heel turn; 3) Hulk Hogan & Elizabeth vs. Randy Savage & Sherri; 4) Hulk Hogan vs. Zeus.”
In the end, we got Hogan vs Warrior, but it’s weird to look back at those original main events. There was also a rumor of a Roddy Piper heel turn and joining up with Bobby Heenan to go after Hogan. I know what you’re thinking: Why in the blue heel would Zeus headline against Hogan? Would your head explode if I told you that Vince offered Zeus a contract to work for the company full time? It almost happened according to Dusty Wolfe, who worked with Zeus throughout his run (Training him, helping him adjust to life on the road). Wolfe responded to a post on the Wrestling Classics message board a few years back talking about Zeus:
“He actually did well for what was expected of him. He had no training(which did show) and still filled a role as a monster. I’ve always agreed the angle was just a wee bit too much. BUT, if Zeus chasing Hogan wasn’t making money, the entire angle would have ended the first time they faced in the ring. If I remember correctly, Vince added a PPV with the tag main event. Could be wrong there, but I seem to remember a Dec PPV right after Survivor Series that year.
And the office did offer Zeus a wrestling deal that would have started that Jan as a part of the regular crew.”
With Zeus starting in January, it seemed very possible that Zeus would enter the Rumble at thirty and win the Rumble taking out Hogan or a top-level face (Jake Roberts maybe) since Warrior was being protected. I don’t know how many jobbers Pat Patterson would have sacrificed to the ghost of Vince Sr. to make it a good match, but I think it would have been a lot of them. While many people like to say that the Hogan/Zeus feud was a flop, the PPV numbers for the feud were pretty solid: 566,591 for Summerslam. 426,417 for the Survivor Series and 212,709 for the discounted movie/cage match combo. In the end, I don’t know if Zeus could handle the schedule, plus full time training since his training was sparse when it all started. It should be noted that the rumor started in PWI who wasn’t exactly on the best grounds with the WWE at the time.
4. Hulk Hogan and Miss Elizabeth vs Randy Savage and Queen Sherri (WrestleMania VII)
If the thought of Vince McMahon in a ring made me double take, then the thought of Miss Elizabeth in the ring in 1990 made drink a pot of hot coffee and spit in the face of my closest enemy. The idea of Miss Elizabeth getting in the ring, much less getting physical is just wrong. Then again, there might be that moment when Savage could possibly get a hold of her and makes you think what would happen? Would Savage actually hit her? Or would he finally come to his senses? Of course, we would have seen Hulk beating up Sherri some more since it’s okay to beat up women if you’re Hulk Hogan. This would be another interesting one, but I don’t think Randy would go for it; he was crazy enough about protecting Elizabeth. Seeing Liz pull off the leg drop would have been cool though.
5. Hulk Hogan vs Brutus Beefcake (WrestleMania VII)
Does the thought of Hogan vs Zeus make you cringe and possibly give you nightmares? Well, what does Brutus Beefcake vs Hulk Hogan as the main event on the biggest card of the year make you want to do? I can understand why this match was considered, the last few partners of Hogan (Andre, Macho, Orndorff) that turned on him lead to big money feuds, but Beefcake in that role is quite a stretch. For one, the previous guys were established stars and while Beefcake had only began to receive a serious push in 1989. The bigger question is, whether or not fans would have bought Beefcake as a serious threat to Hogan. The only feasible option would be to have a manager make Beefcake believe that Hulk was holding him back and go on from there. Heenan would have been best for that role or go the continuity route and have Jimmy Hart in the role. Luckily, the match never happened.
And to think, the main event was going to be Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair if Hogan hadn’t shown up.
So, what would have been the best option? Well, I honestly think the mixed tag match would have been the best option. Hogan and Randy would have done the good majority of work and Sherri was a good enough worker to make Elizabeth look good. Since we’re talking about WrestleMania’s that occurred north of the border, let’s take a look at the matches that almost happened at WrestleMania X8.
6. Kurt Angle vs Sting (WrestleMania X8)
Now, I should note that Sting and Kurt Angle had a really good match at Bound for Glory 2007 even though it’s a bit overbooked and Angle hit Sting in the face with a baseball bat. Plus he manages to nail a 450 knee-drop, but it’s a good match overall. We almost had the match in 2002 with Angle at his peak, according to Dave Lagana:
“Sting was approached that year to make his WWE debut and wrestle on the big event. Once he was introduced to the brand, it was pitched that at Wrestlemania 18 Sting would face Kurt Angle. If you remember, Kurt was eventually thrown into a match with Kane with little setup. The deal apparently fell apart as Sting wasn’t willing to work the full WWE schedule. Now nine years later, we might finally get to see Sting in WWE.”
No doubt this would have been a good one, Sting might have some ring rust but I think working with Angle is a smart move. Angle was floating around at the time after the Triple H feud was done, so I think with a feud with a guy like Sting could get him going again.
7. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania X8)
When the nWo debuted in the WWE (A moment I got to witness live) and attacked Steve Austin, I wasn’t thinking we’d see Austin vs Hall, I thought we were getting Austin vs Hogan. Red and yellow vs black tights and boots, Hulkamania vs Austin 3:16, saying your prayers vs beer drinking, Whatcha gonna do vs that’s the bottom line. Hey, I’m not complaining about Hogan vs Rock but I’m probably wasn’t the only kid who thought we’d be getting Austin/Hogan. I know that a lot of people think that both men would refuse to work with each other, but you have to remember one key fact about Hogan in 2002. He had no creative control at all and what we ended up getting was “Humble Hogan” probably the best version of Hogan in a long time. He had some fresh talent to work with (Lesnar, Jericho, Angle, Rock, Edge, UnAmericans) and he seemed to be motivated in the ring. I think if they actually did this match, Hogan would have put Austin over. I also had the finishing sequence stuck in my head for about five years: Austin grabs the boot, turns Hogan around, KI CK WHAM STUNNER. One of the great never was matches, to only happen in video games that use a screen cap from a real match when uploaded onto Youtube.
WrestleMania 22 is a good event, but unfortunately injuries and the death of Eddie Guerrero caused the company to change the top-half of the card. If the original card had been in place, it could have come close to challenging WreslteMania X7 for best WrestleMania ever.
8. Shawn Michael vs Eddie Guerrero (WrestleMania 22)
According to former WWE writer Court Bauer, the originally planned match for Shawn Michaels was set to face Eddie Guerrero in what would have been a classic.
“We had talked about a fascinating idea. I’m not the biggest Bruce Prichard fan but to his credit, I believe it was Bruce Prichard who pitched putting Eddie Guerrero at WrestleMania against Shawn Michaels … Being the heartthrob in Mexico, and a mercurial figure south of the border, and the American version being HBK. They had never really worked before, and you would’ve had such a great dynamic between the two with heel Eddie vs. Shawn. That’d be your ‘tear the house down,’ high quality match at WrestleMania 22 in Chicago.”
“Vince was like, ‘God damn that’s really appealing. We could parallel their careers. What kind of footage do we have of Eddie outside of WCW? We could do some impressive packages.'”
Damn, just damn. The thought of these two getting twenty plus minute’s in-front of a hot Chicago crowd makes me sad we never saw it. Michaels/McMahon was a fun brawl, but Eddie vs Shawn had the potential to unseat Steamboat/Savage as the greatest WrestleMania match of all time.
9. Batista vs Randy Orton (WrestleMania 22)
Before his death, Eddie Guerrero was set to get a run with the World Heavyweight Championship and would probably drop the belt back to Batista or Orton at some point. The match between Orton and Batista was supposed to be the battle of Evolution’s crown jewels, the two hand-picked future champions. So it made sense for both men to meet at WrestleMania for the WHC. After Eddie’s death, it still seemed like we would get Batista vs Orton till Batista injured himself. This once against caused yet another reshuffle of the Mania card, changing a potential class much in our next entry. This was the unfortunate start to Smackdown becoming the cursed brand with whomever the top star suffering some form of an injury.
10. Kurt Angle vs The Undertaker (WrestleMania 22)
After Eddie’s death and Batista’s injury, Kurt Angle was given the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE decided to push Rey Mysterio. This was the start of Eddiesploitation, as the company started something that made the Sgt. Slaughter stuff in 1991 look downright tasteful. What it devoid us of, is a match between Kurt Angle and The Undertaker. According to Angle, he was tapped to be the man who ended the streak:
“It was considered back in 2006. The person who wanted to do it was Undertaker himself. I was flattered, for him to go to Vince McMahon and pitch it. Undertaker at that point never had a five-star Wrestlemania moment match. He figured that the only one he could do it was me, at the time. Thank God a couple of years later he had Shawn Michaels, and it worked. But Undertaker really wanted to have that match, he asked Vince to push our match back from No Way Out to WrestleMania and, since I was champion they wanted me to keep the title, Undertaker was willing to take the loss. To me that meant a lot because Undertaker had a lot of respect for me — and I had more respect for him than he did for me.”
Now, Kurt Angle and The Undertaker had an awesome match at No Way Out 2006 and a pretty good rematch on Smackdown, but these two guys at WrestleMania would have been excellent. It’s kind of funny; the casket match against Henry sticks out like a sore thumb since the Deadman would go onto have a great run of WrestleMania matches after his return at WrestleMania XX. As for Angle ending the streak, Angle has said some crazy shit since leaving the WWE, but he was held in pretty high regard by a lot of people in the company. I would have liked to been a fly on the wall for that booking meeting, that’s for sure.
So, here would be the top half of the WrestleMania 22 card if the injuries didn’t happen:
-John Cena vs Triple H for the WWE Championship
-Batista vs Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship
-Kurt Angle vs The Undertaker
-Shawn Michaels vs Eddie Guerrero
-Mick Foley vs Edge
-Bret Hart vs Vince McMahon (Discussed, didn’t happen)
11. Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair (WrestleMania VIII)
It was the match that many fans had dreamed about, the top guy from the NWA vs the top guy from the WWE. Yet, somehow the WWE let this some slip through their fingers. The main theory behind the match never happening is that the matches didn’t draw well when they first happened. Here are the some of the numbers available for what they drew according to The History of the WWE website, the best source for this type of stuff. Nine dates drew in the 10,000 plus range
The other dates drew in the 6,000-8,000 range with the lowest number in WCW territory at 4,500. The biggest problem in my opinion came from the fact that the WWE was immersed in the steroid scandal. You can’t have Hogan, the guy who’s in the middle of this whole scandal win the belt. Hogan was also working on a hasty “retirement” to get some of the heat stemming from the scandal off of him. If you want Flair to win, the match would have to go on mid-show, so what’s the main event then? The WWE had the golden goose of match that everybody wanted to see, but the steroid problem prevented it from happening. WWE’s loss would be WCW’s gain as the big showdown at Bash at The Beach drew over 300,000 buys the highest since 1989 and the Havoc rematch drew over 297,000 buys.
12. Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels II (WrestleMania 13)
On screen, 1997 was the start of something special for the WWE. The company was slowly transitioning into the Attitude Era and the roster was stacked. Bret, Austin, Taker, Michaels, Sid, Vader, Foley, Owen, Bulldog, Goldust, LOD, Shamrock, Pillman some guy named Maivia, and Triple H. Yet, backstage the environment was becoming a toxic one. The Kliq still had power in the company and Shawn Michaels was the apple of Vince’s eye and both Michaels and Hunter were on the booking team. Bret Hart wasn’t an angle either, but he would end in a contract dispute that would see him sign with WCW. It seemed pretty logical that Hart and Michaels would meet in a rematch of WrestleMania XII with Bret getting the W, setting up the key third and final match. Yet, Michaels suffered a mysterious knee injury that forced him to vacate the title and claimed that he had effectively lost his smile. The reality was that Michaels refused to job to Bret and to be honest; we ended up getting an all-time classic between Hart and Austin. What happened after is well known and the end result has been covered so much we needed a 300 minute documentary on whether it was a work. You know, what does make me angry about Montreal is the fact that people forget how good the match is. It’s a great hate-filled brawl in-front of a super-hot crowd.
13. Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior II (WrestleMania VII)
Speaking of sequels to matches that didn’t happen at WrestleMania, let’s talk about Hogan/Warrior II. As I talked about in my previous article, the Hulk Hogan/Ultimate Warrior match was the only match that stood a chance in hell of drawing a good number at the Coliseum. The biggest problem came down to the fact that Warrior bombed as the top guy. From the people at Pro Wrestling Only:
1990: 10,404 attendance for shows with Hogan / 4,778 attendance for shows without Hogan
Shows without Hogan saw an attendance dip of 5,626 less people than shows with Hogan headlining. Now of course, you have to remember that Warrior was stuck that Warrior was stuck working with guys that Hogan had trounced. In the previous year, Hulk had thoroughly taken out both Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase, who were expected to be threats to Warrior. Before he left to film Suburban Commando, Hulk also took out Perfect so Warrior was working with left overs. There was Rude who was the first big challenger, but you should remember that Warrior beat him in the feud last year. After that, Rude had a feud with Piper but he was floating around after the Piper feud. He was stuck working with Sunka in a rather forgettable WrestleMania match. Things got so bad they stuck Warrior in six mans with the new and hot Legion of Doom against Demolition, plus tags with Von Erich against Rude/Perfect in the Summer.
14. Bret Hart vs The Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania IX)
According to his book, Bret Hart was set to face Warrior for the belt and I think it’s an interesting scenario. Bret wasn’t draw well as champion, so would Vince panic and put the belt back on Warrior? The bigger question would be if Warrior was willing to put Hart over? Would we finally see the long-rumored Ultimate Warrior heel turn? Well, we’ll never know since Warrior was fired for getting busted with HGH along with the Bulldog. I think it would have been a pretty good match, but it makes me wonder what the original plans for Yoko would be. Would we see a possible showdown with Hogan, and would Hulk beat him? Yoko was being built as a monster as soon as he debuted. Gives me an article idea considering WrestleMania IX is a card that has potential, it just needs to be retooled.
15.Sting vs The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVII)
“I wouldn’t say it was utter nonsense, that’s not true!” laughs Sting. “It’s a dream match that fans would want to see. It was close. I’m glad things turned out the way they did.
“There are so many variables. Let’s just say that I turned it down for the same reasons I always have. Something in me never trusted what would happen up there, based entirely on the track record with other WCW guys and everything that went on after Vince bought WCW.”
I’ll be honest, I know that a match between a fifty-year old man and a guy coming off an injury may not be the best match, but it’s a match I’ve always wanted to see. I personally think the window has passed. I know it sounds weird, but WrestleMania XXVII was the perfect event for the match to take place. With the card taking place in Atlanta, it made sense for the guy who essentially bled WCW to try to end the streak. It felt perfect, but after seeing some of the Taker’s recent Mania matches, I don’t know if Sting could work at that level. I think The Undertaker is better working with younger guys, which is pretty broad statement when you realize that The Undertaker is 48. Now I feel old since I remember watching him debut.
There you have, it, fifteen WrestleMania Main Events that never happened.