Longtime fans of WWE and professional wrestling have been of the opinion that Vince McMahon, the owner of WWE, likes to push Superstars who are muscled-up behemoths. Over the course of the past several decades, Vince McMahon has pushed the likes of Hulk Hogan, Triple H, Kane, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and many more who fit the bill.
WWE's premier event, WrestleMania, usually features large athletes in the main event, barring a handful of exceptions with the recent one being this year's event, where three women headlined The Show of Shows. There have been numerous instances where Vince McMahon actually pushed small-sized Superstars, with a bunch of them main-eventing WrestleMania!
In the following list, we will take a look at five instances when Vince McMahon decided to push small wrestlers.
#5 Finn Balor
After having a decorated career in NJPW, Prince Devitt aka Finn Balor signed with WWE in 2014. He was pushed almost immediately and went on to hold the NXT Title on one occasion. After WrestleMania 32, Balor was drafted to Monday Night Raw during the Superstar Shakeup.
Balor won a Fatal Four-Way match on Raw, by defeating Rusev, Cesaro, and Kevin Owens. Following the victory, Balor defeated Roman Reigns to bag a shot at the top title on Raw, and met Seth Rollins at Summerslam 2016. Balor won the match and became the first-ever Universal Champion, but had to relinquish the title due to a shoulder injury he had suffered during the match. WWE managed to not ruin his character in the coming years and he is still one of the most popular Superstars on the main roster, currently carrying the Intercontinental Title.
#4 Rey Mysterio
Soon after Eddie Guerrero died, WWE came up with a storyline that saw Rey Mysterio promising to win the top title on SmackDown Live in memory of his best friend. The Royal Rumble match in 2006 saw Mysterio enter in at #2 and compete for almost an hour in the free-for-all. He managed to eliminate Randy Orton to win the match, but was soon robbed of the opportunity by The Legend Killer at No Way Out. SmackDown GM Theodore Long inserted Mysterio in the World Title match at 'Mania, making it a Triple Threat bout featuring Rey, Orton, and World Champion Kurt Angle.
In one of the most emotional moments in WWE history, Rey Mysterio pinned Randy Orton to win the match and become World Heavyweight Champion for the first time in his career. Years later, Mysterio won the top title on two separate occasions, cementing the fact that Vince McMahon had full faith in him as a main event Superstar.
#3 Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero never managed to break through the lower card in WCW and was regularly featured as a Cruiserweight Superstar. Upon arriving in WWE, he competed against top talents like The Rock and went on to hold the European Title and the Intercontinental Title on several occasions.
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On the road to WrestleMania 20, Eddie won a battle royal on an episode of SmackDown and competed for the WWE Title against Brock Lesnar at No Way Out. In one of the biggest upsets in WWE history, Eddie defeated Lesnar after interference by Goldberg. The Latino Superstar successfully defended the WWE Title against Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 20. Eddie's reign lasted until The Great American Bash, where he lost a Texas Bullrope match against JBL. He never won the title again, and tragically passed away in late 2005. Eddie was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
#2 Daniel Bryan
Bryan came in as a member of the rowdy group from NXT's first season, Nexus. The group's infamous attack on Monday Night Raw in 2010 led to Bryan being let go for "being too violent". He came back at Summerslam to join John Cena's Team WWE, which eventually defeated The Nexus in the main event of the night.
Soon, Bryan was elevated to the main event, and won the WWE Title by defeating Cena at Summerslam 2013. A shocking heel turn by Triple H led to Randy Orton cashing in his MITB contract on Bryan and winning the belt. This resulted in the Yes Movement gaining huge coverage and getting mainstream attention, eventually leading to Bryan defeating Orton and Batista in the main event of WrestleMania 30 to become the champion. The storyline is regarded by many as possibly the greatest underdog story WWE has ever come up with.
#1 Shawn Michaels
Was there anyone else who was worthy enough to bag the first spot?
Shawn Michaels is widely regarded as the greatest wrestler of all time by many. He came in as a tag team competitor alongside Marty Jannetty, and the duo showcased their athleticism in a bunch of early WrestleMania events against WWE's premier tandems. Michaels soon split with Jannetty in one of the best heel turns of all time, and carved his own path as a main event player.
He went on to compete in a string of classic WrestleMania encounters, which earned him the moniker of Mr. WrestleMania. Michaels, along with Bret Hart, carried an entire era in WWE during the mid-90s. He held the WWE Title on several occasions and was rightfully inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in the year 2011.