When I was a kid, my friends and I would often play wrestling at school. We’d each get to be 3-4 different guys and have elimination matches. Of course, we always wanted to do dream matches. I liked to be Sting and my friend was always the Ultimate Warrior. Naturally, we HAD to wrestle. Why? Sting vs. Warrior was a huge dream match!
So much has changed since then in the world of professional wrestling, but some things never change. Daniel Bryan is currently teaching us that the plucky underdog is still a character fans can get behind. The Undertaker is still awesome. And when I watch my son play with his mountain (seriously, we have a spending problem) of wrestling figures, I see that kids STILL seek out dream matches: CM Punk vs. Bret Hart, Andre the Giant vs. Big Show, and Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan have ALL happened in his federation.
But that’s the thing about fantasy booking and dream matches…it doesn’t go away as we get older. True, I don’t go to the playground with my friends to wrestle anymore, and one day my son will tire of his figures, but as long as he stays a wrestling fan, he’ll think about what matches he wants to see, usually matches that never seemed to happen.
And what better place for those matches than WrestleMania? We’ve all got our “What if?” matches, our dream scenarios, and I’ve got some too. What I’ve done is created a list of WrestleMania matches I think we absolutely SHOULD have gotten. Matches that I think the fans wanted to happen, but for whatever reason, never came to be.
Keep in mind, these are matches that theoretically COULD have happened, so no dead guys, nobody who was working for other promotions at the time (sorry, Bruiser Brody vs. Hulk Hogan), and no guys who were not wrestling anymore. Here’s my list of matches I feel like we absolutely SHOULD have gotten at WrestleMania. Take a look!
WrestleMania II – Hulk Hogan vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
What we got instead: Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy in a steel cage match, Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T in a boxing match
At first, I thought about making this the WrestleMania I dream match, but, the truth is, the inclusion of Mr. T as a huge celebrity in the main event helped make Mania a huge success. Still, why not give us Hogan vs. Piper as well as including T there? Some would say it’s because Hogan/Piper was the title match at “The Wrestling Classic”, but that match ended in a DQ, leaving the door open for another match where Hogan finally got a pinfall win over Piper, something we never got on a WWE Pay Per View. In fact, fans would have to wait until 1996 to see a Hogan/Piper match with a clean finish! The problem with that is it was a WCW PPV, Hogan was the heel and it wasn’t even for the title!
There’s no arguing that what WWE did instead was successful, as they made money hand over fist in this period, but WrestleMania II seems to suffer a bit in history. It’s a very forgotten PPV. King Kong Bundy was fine as a monster for Hogan to vanquish and the match isn’t actively terrible, but it certainly could have been done on a Saturday Night’s Main Event without issue. I have to think that if we got the definitive Hogan/Piper blowoff at WrestleMania II, it would not only be a better match, but in the history books, Mania II would be much more memorable.
WrestleMania VII – Legion of Doom vs. Demolition
What we got instead: Legion of Doom vs. Power & Glory, Demolition vs. Kitao & Tenryu
I am sure I speak for a lot of fans when I openly wonder why this one didn’t happen. It seems like such a layup move and you wouldn’t even have to deal with the issue of who to put over: Demolition was clearly wrapping up their run and LOD was new to the company, so having them win makes total sense. Would the match be good? Maybe, maybe not. But it was certainly a dream match that fans thought we would see from the moment Hawk and Animal showed up.
Even if you weren’t salivating at the thought of seeing that match, it STILL makes sense compared to what we got instead: Demolition getting crushed by a team WWF fans didn’t know and wouldn’t see again was an odd decision, but you have to assume it was a part of the relationship the company had with Tenryu’s SWS promotion in Japan.
We also saw LOD steamroll the poor team of Power & Glory. This team had a lot of potential and a great finishing move, and it really bummed me to see them be treated as such an afterthought here.
If we shuffled the card around and got the dream match of LOD/Demolition, we could STILL see LOD get a decisive win; remember, Demolition was pretty much done as a unit so they didn’t need to look strong.
Where does that leave Tenryu & Kitao and Power & Glory? I guess you could have them face each other, but I have another idea. What if we split up ANOTHER tag match on that card: The Rockers vs. Haku and the Barbarian? Don’t get me wrong, that was a VERY fun match and I would hate to not have it, but the Rockers vs. Power & Glory would probably be a lot of fun, and Haku/Barbarian vs. Tenryu/Kitao could be a super stiff power match.
Giving up a good Rockers vs. Barbarian & Haku match may bother some people (I’m looking at YOU Justin Rozzero) but the Rockers were so good at this point, they would put on a great match with anyone. Wouldn’t Rockers/Power & Glory, Haku & Barbarian/Kitao & Tenryu and the dream match of LOD/Demolition be just as good quality wise, only with a HUGE dream match happening as well?
WrestleMania VIII – Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan
What we got instead: Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice
The first entry where what we got is probably better than what we wanted simply from a quality standpoint, as Flair/Savage is one of the greatest WrestleMania matches in history. However, Hogan vs. Sid sucked, had a crap finish, and OH YEAH, IT’S HULK HOGAN VS. RIC FLAIR!!!!!
I know, I know, I’ve heard the reasons too: They had them do a house show circuit and business wasn’t what they expected, but I call BS on that. There’s a difference between doing a house show run and programming two guys in a WrestleMania feud. Simply put, Hogan vs. Flair was the match fans always talked about in the late 80s and early 90s. WWF had a chance to do it and balked. Three years later, WCW did it and it was a huge success. Of course it was a huge success!
So if we get Hogan/Flair, where does that leave Savage and Sid? Do you pair them off with each other? Seems like the easiest option and simply bill it as a #1 contenders match, setting up your next title feud. Of course, you’d also have to rebook the finish of the Rumble which could be tricky.
You can run the Flair/Savage feud ANYTIME as it wasn’t Mania centered, and that could easily have headlined SummerSlam of that year, and Hogan/Sid there as well if they had stuck around. In a perfect world, Flair/Hogan would happen at WrestleMania and what we got instead still happens, just a few months down the road.
WrestleMania IX – Randy Savage vs. Bret Hart
What we got instead: Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart, Randy Savage on the announce team
This one is purely from a “Wouldn’t these two have an AWESOME match” camp rather than dream match territory. I don’t know that people were clamoring to see Hart vs. Savage, but if it was offered, I’m sure it would be well received. Bret went into Mania as champ, and I think having him win here would cement him as a major player. Instead, he lost and we got one of the worst Mania endings in history as Hulk saved the day by winning the title.
So how do we get there? Simple. Savage wins the Rumble instead of Yokozuna. How do you protect Yoko though? Don’t put him in the Rumble. Give him a squash over someone at the Rumble and showcase him on Mania, setting him up for a title match at King of the Ring, where he would defeat Bret instead of Hogan. So who could Yoko face at Mania? How about Big Boss Man? He was on the way out (he actually left the company mid-March, but I’m sure he could be convinced to stick around for a Mania payday) and you may get a decent big man match with Yoko going over strong as Boss Man is out the door. Meanwhile, Bret beats Savage in a classic and we head towards Bret/Yoko at the first ever KOTR, which would now need someone else to take the crown, but hey, one show rebooked at a time.
WrestleMania XV – Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon
What we got instead: Steve Austin vs. The Rock, Vince McMahon interference
Here’s one where what we got was probably a better match PLUS maybe featured a bigger star on the other side in The Rock, but let’s be honest: Austin/McMahon is one of the biggest feuds in wrestling history and many believe the teased Austin/McMahon match on Raw in April 1998 is what turned around the Monday Night Wars. But while Rock may be a bigger star, the story was Austin vs. Vince, and that’s the match we wanted to see most.
The problem of course is that Vince wasn’t a full time wrestler, but we’ve seen him in brawls before and since then. You could also argue that the match needed to be at a non-Mania show (we got it the month before at St. Valentines Day Massacre) simply because it needed to be Austin beating Vince from pillar to post. Another reason people think it shouldn’t have happened is because Austin needed to win the title at Mania, since he was the biggest star.
My counter to that considers the time when this show took place. In 1999, we were at the peak of Vince Russo and the Attitude Era. If you could EVER get away with having your hottest act in a match NOT for the title at Mania, it would be here. Titles changed hands all the time, and Austin could theoretically win it anywhere after Mania, from as early as Raw the next night to a more likely Backlash title win. Besides, Austin had already won the title at Mania the year before, so it’s not like we would be robbed of that moment.
So how could we get Austin/McMahon at Mania, and what would we do to do instead? Extend the Rock/Mankind feud by not having a match the night after the February PPV, and have the debuting Big Show NOT cost McMahon the match in February (and looking like a dummy in the process) and Austin doesn’t get his Mania title shot. So he instead opts for a match with Vince, who happens to have a huge giant in his corner.
WrestleMania 2000 – The Rock vs. Triple H
What we got instead: The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Big Show vs. Mick Foley
I would even add to this one: Not just the Rock/Triple H singles match, but a Rock WIN at Wrestlemania. Mania XVI had a lot of potential, but wound up being ultimately average. The fact that the card was so overloaded with tags and multi-person matches was odd too, and the main event wasn’t immune to this, but if we didn’t do it like this, HOW COULD WE HAVE A MCMAHON IN EVERY CORNER?
Triple H winning will always be a bad move in my book, even though the rematch at the next show did great business. I believe the company was so hot and Rock was such a huge star that even if he had the belt, the rematch could have done big money. Heck, why not have the four-way match in April??? Rock/Triple H was a natural feud and fans wanted desperately to see Rock take The Game out. Mania was the perfect moment for it, and instead we got two extra guys shoved in there and the wrong guy winning.
So what should they have done? I’d leave Foley off the card completely. He was in bad shape, didn’t add to the match and had JUST lost a retirement match a month prior. As far as Big Show is concerned, he was going nowhere fast as a heel (he’d be a babyface by the next PPV), so why not turn him face after backfired interference from Shane in the February match? Then give us Shane vs. Big Show, allowing Show to look strong and Shane to do some crazy bumping.
WrestleMania x8 – Hulk Hogan vs. Steve Austin
What we got instead: Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock, Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall
This is definitely one where I won’t complain with what we got instead: Rock/Hogan is one of the most iconic matches in wrestling history. Still, like Hogan/Flair earlier on the list, the sheer CHANCE of having Hogan vs. Austin is a big deal. I feel like whoever they went with would have been a home run. So why did we get Rock over Austin? Many seem to think Hogan wouldn’t match up well with Austin’s brawling style and the match would suffer. That may be the case. I tend to think they thought they’d be able to do BOTH, but didn’t know how much longer they would have The Rock. Interesting enough, the opposite turned out to be the case, as Austin only had another year left in his career and Rock has come back multiple times since then. If they went with Austin/Hogan here, we could have gotten Hogan/Rock at Mania 19 or even 20.
WrestleMania XX – Goldberg vs. The Undertaker
What we got instead: Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar, Undertaker vs. Kane
Hey, ANYTHING to spare us from the Goldberg/Lesnar match should be considered a win, right? But if Goldy was walking out the door anyway, why not pit The Streak vs. The Streak? Goldberg is a perfect Mania opponent for Taker, and this was before Taker’s matches brought the workrate, so an average match isn’t a dealbreaker. I actually think this match would be a big deal and the crowd wouldn’t totally turn on it, but would instead support Taker 100%. Plus, Goldberg was on the way out, so having him lose probably wouldn’t be an issue.
What would we do with Brock then? Maybe a rematch with Eddie? Eddie/Kurt was really good, but I’m sure Eddie/Brock would be too. How about a three-way for BOTH title matches?
WrestleMania XXX – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
What we’re getting instead: Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H, probably Bryan/Triple H vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista
There’s not much I can say to this story that hasn’t already been said. It’s pretty clear that Bryan wasn’t intended to be in the title match, and this is a change from the original plans. Interesting enough, I think the ORIGINAL plans (from late December to early January at least) were Bryan vs. Triple H, with Punk vs. Orton. Batista coming in changed that, moved Punk down a spot, and left Bryan out in the cold.
Of all the matches on the list, this is certainly the least of the “dream matches”- the DREAM that fans want to see is Bryan winning the title. It took us way more roads to get there, but it seems like we are now going to arrive at that point. Still, if we’re going back to August when all this started, the perfect end to the story would be a Bryan Rumble win, vanquishing Triple H at Elimination Chamber and then defeating Randy Orton at WrestleMania. We won’t get it, but as long as we get to chant YES! and see Bryan holding the belts, I think we’ll be OK with it.
So what do you think? Any big dream matches left out? I’m thinking I missed something from the 20-30 range, but maybe I need to check them out again. I could watch them on the Network…or I could buy them on DVD off Amazon. And so can you, by clicking on the link right on Place to Be Nation! Thumbs up, cheap pop!