The biggest pro-wrestling extravaganza of the year is rapidly approaching. WrestleMania 36 is all set to emanate from Tampa, Florida on April 5, 2020, and the road to WrestleMania has already begun. Drew McIntyre, who was once a part of 3MB alongside Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater, will be challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE title at The Show of Shows. After what happened at tonight's RAW, we might be in for a WWE NXT Women's title match between Rhea Ripley and the 2020 Women's Royal Rumble winner Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 36.
As we move closer to 'Mania, more matches will be announced. Meanwhile, let's take a look at a certain aspect of The Grandest Stage Of Them All that is bound to catch your interest. WrestleMania is the epitome of pro-wrestling, and is known for giving the fans top-tier matches that they usually don't get to see elsewhere. The highlight of the event is the final bout, that's usually contested for a World title. But has this always been the case? There are a bunch of instances where a non-title match overshadowed the World title bout, and ended up headlining The Show of Shows. Let's take a look at these matches.
#5 Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow
At the 1995 Royal Rumble, Bam Bam Bigelow confronted and attacked Lawrence Taylor, National Football League Hall of Famer, who was watching the show from ringside. This led to a match being set up for 'Mania. The WWE title match between Shawn Michaels and Diesel went second-to-last, while Bigelow and Taylor collided in the main event. Taylor won the contest after hitting Bigelow with a jumping forearm.
#4 Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff
Going into the very first WrestleMania, Hulk Hogan was WWE Champion. Vince McMahon had taken a huge gamble with WrestleMania that could have gone either way, and he went out of his way to turn this event into something the fans wouldn't be forgetting for a long time. The inclusion of Mr. T in the main event of the show was a step in this direction. This made sure that Hogan wouldn't be defending his WWE title at the event, but the fans were still hyped up for the huge tag team match that was going to headline the show.
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali was appointed the referee for the main event, and he got involved in the match at one point, when he punched Piper to restore order. Hogan and Mr. T won the match to a huge pop, and WrestleMania's success made sure that it would continue to be WWE's biggest show of the year for a long time to come.
#3 The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels
At WrestleMania 25, The Undertaker faced Shawn Michaels in what many deem as the greatest match in WrestleMania history. There were many who wished that this match headlined the show, instead of Triple H vs Randy Orton for the WWE title. This wish turned into reality at next year's WrestleMania, where Shawn Michaels faced The Phenom again, with the former's career on the line.
Edge vs Chris Jericho for the World Title and John Cena vs Batista for the WWE title took a backseat for the legendary duo, who closed out the show, with The Deadman putting down Michaels for good. The final image of the show was HBK standing in the middle of the ring, with 72,000 fans cheering for the fallen legend. This would be Michaels' retirement match, and he announced the same on the RAW after WrestleMania. Michaels did come out of retirement 8 years later, to reunite with Triple H in a winning effort against The Brothers of Destruction.
#2 The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns
The 2017 Royal Rumble match saw Randy Orton eliminating Roman Reigns to punch his ticket to the main event of WrestleMania 33. Unfortunately for Orton, he didn't get to headline the show. Earlier in the match, Roman Reigns had eliminated The Undertaker and the duo had an intense staredown. This led to a match being scheduled at The Show of Shows.
At WrestleMania 33, Reigns put down The Undertaker and became only the second person to do so at a WrestleMania. Reigns was booed out of the building the next night on RAW when he uttered that memorable line: "This is my yard now." The Phenom hinted in the end that this was his final match, but came back at next year's 'Mania to squash WWE legend John Cena. WrestleMania 33 saw Brock Lesnar defeating Goldberg for the Universal title, and Randy Orton defeated Bray Wyatt for the WWE title, but the big-time feeling that Reigns vs The Undertaker provided made sure that it would be the match that closed the show.
#1 The Rock vs John Cena
At WrestleMania 27, The Rock cost John Cena his match against WWE Champion The Miz, and the two Superstars faced off on the RAW after WrestleMania to a huge pop. A match was set up between the two for WrestleMania 28, with 12 months to build up to the same. For the next one year or so, Cena vs The Rock was heavily promoted by WWE.
At WrestleMania 28, The Undertaker defeated Triple H inside Hell in a Cell, with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee. CM Punk defeated Chris Jericho to retain his WWE title, while Sheamus was crowned the World Champion after squashing Daniel Bryan in a matter of seconds. But there wasn't a chance of any of these bouts headlining the show when WWE had something of the caliber of The Rock vs Cena. The "Once In A Lifetime" dream match was won by The Brahma Bull. At next year's WrestleMania, Cena returned the favor by defeating The Rock for the WWE title.