Mount Rushmores of Wrestling is a series that breaks down the cream of the crop of professional wrestling in our quest to come to a consensus on the top four of any given category. In today’s edition we’re looking at the best wrestlers to never main event WrestleMania.
Shan O’Blivion: “Sierra, hotel, India, echo, lima, delta.” The Shield feels like a fever dream to me at this point. The team faction consisted of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose, and they started out as mercenaries for CM Punk of all people. The Shield grew in popularity over the years but even as the de-facto leader of the group, Ambrose just never seemed to fit in with WWE. In 2019 Ambrose would end his contract with WWE and moved to AEW (which was just getting off the ground at that point). He changed his ring name to Jon Moxley and went on to main event more than half of AEW’s PPVs. Revolution’s not so explosive finale had me thinking about how good Mox/Ambrose is. He’s one of the best in the business. Considering that Reigns and Rollins have both technically main evented WrestleMania, there’s definitely an alternate universe out there that Ambrose had too.
Ryan Perry: There are a few different considerations to take into account when measuring what makes a wrestler great: workrate, promo skills, charisma, lasting power and cultural impact. When considering those there are so many names that come to mind: Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, Eddie Guerrero; the list goes on, but none have quite touched popular culture like Rey Mysterio. While he famously pioneered the style adopted by a generation and broke barriers for smaller wrestlers in the WWE, Mysterio also became as synonymous with pro wrestling in popular culture as the RKO and the YES! Movement. So one begins to wonder why a pioneer, a workrate star, and one of the foremost memorable wrestling stars in popular culture never got the opportunity on the Show of Shows. Even worse, he’s never been WWE champion for more than a day. It is important to note that WWE technically classifies his WrestleMania 22 match as a main event, but it isn’t what went on last and everyone knows that all that matters is the finish. Mysterio deserves to have gone on last as the face that brought a generation of children into wrestling, and a little bit of wrestling into mainstream culture.
Shan: It’s no secret that Punk has gotten into his fair share of controversies. So we’d all be lying to ourselves if we tried to say that we didn’t know why Punk has never main evented WrestleMania. The fan favorite was Mr. Money in the Bank for two years running and WWE Champion twice. Not to mention that he’ll go down in history as one of WWE’s best promos. Fans liked him because he openly mocked WWE and other superstars, WWE liked him because fans liked him. Unfortunately for Punk he was a little too genuine for WWE, ad libbing and going off script pretty often. Though while most of those moments ended up pretty harmless, Ol’ Vincey couldn’t have anything going wrong at the biggest match of the year. In my opinion this isn’t a case of bad booking or WWE not seeing his talent, this was just another one of WWE’s weird preservation tactics.
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Ryan: Considering Steamboat’s WrestleMania pedigree, it must be considered only a product of his time that he never main evented the big one. At WrestleMania 3 Steamboat and Macho Man Randy Savage set the bar by which all WrestleMania matches would be judged afterward, and established an aura of excellence around the Intercontinental Title which hasn’t left it to this day. It’s this same match which opened up the door for more athletic challenges in wrestling and allowed for more psychology and smaller wrestlers to excel. Steamboat himself was always a precursor to the more athletic style wrestler which would come to dominate the modern wrestling landscape. Considering all of this he would have been a landmark contender to close out the Showcase of the Immortals, with more athleticism and genuine wrestling ability than almost anyone else who main evented in his time with the company.
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