"The show must go on."
In the build-up to this year’s WrestleMania, the Swoggle Squad has analyzed the Show of Shows inside and out. Particularly, we have looked at Mania main events and opening matches like our version of the Zapruder film. Who has been in those matches? What did they mean to the show? How dead did these shows start or how poorly did they close?
In this vein, I have decided to create my own epic WrestleMania matchups.
WrestleMania opening matches versus WrestleMania main events. Which one is better?
I haven’t planned any results out yet. I am making this up as I go along. IMPROV!
Let’s get to it!
Tito Santana vs. The Executioner VERSUS Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff
As I mentioned in my “Ranking the Rumbles” article, I am not one of those people who puts the inaugural version of something in high regard. Just because something is the first of its kind doesn’t mean it can’t be topped. Without the first Mania main event, Mania surely wouldn’t take off like it has. That fact is merely on the participants involved, not what actually happened in the squared circle. The match itself is a mess and underwhelms on such an immense level. Meanwhile, Tito and Buddy Rose (known by many for his blow-away diet years later) set the tone in just under five minutes. In any context, Tito Santana and Buddy Rose will beat out Mr. T wrestling.
OPENING MATCH: 1, MAIN EVENT: 0
Paul Orndorff vs Don Muraco VERSUS Hulk Hogan vs King Kong Bundy
This concept is in trouble early. Hogan and Bundy are technical wizards in the ring like I am a former outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but in this scenario, a paint-by-numbers main event beats out a poorly booked, botch-filled opener between two guys whose nicknames were wholly inappropriate.
OPENING MATCH: 1, MAIN EVENT: 1
Tom Zenk and Rick Martel vs Bob Orton and Don Muraco VERSUS Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant
Hulk versus Andre is one of the most famous matches in wrestling history. It set all kinds of records and inspired so many current Superstars to become wrestlers themselves. All that being said, the match is the most drizzling of drizzling shits. The atmosphere carried this in everybody’s minds but mine. Z-Man, congratulations! You just beat Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant in something (in all honesty, the opening tag match is very good).
OPENING MATCH: 2, MAIN EVENT: 1
Twenty-Man Battle Royal VERSUS Randy Savage vs Ted DiBiase
It’s pretty hard for any match to be regarded as better than another on this awfully booked show, but two of the greatest workers one-on-one is going to top 20 random motherfuckers every time. Bret Hart destroying Bad News Brown’s trophy did earn some bonus points, though.
OPENING MATCH: 2, MAIN EVENT: 2
Hercules vs Haku VERSUS Hulk Hogan vs Randy Savage
I remember loving the Hercules/Haku match as a kid. I also remember eating my boogers as a kid. Plus, the Mega-Powers exploding is a very underrated Mania main event.
MAIN EVENT: 3, OPENING MATCH: 2
Rick Martel vs Koko B. Ware VERSUS Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior
To this day, Hogan and Warrior are still paying penance to Satan for allowing their match to be so great. I am 98 percent sure that Martel and Koko could wrestle each other on any other day in the history of the world (particularly the day of Halloween Havoc 1998) and win this. Twenty-two years ago in Toronto, Terry and Jim exerted an effort and that takes the W here.
MAIN EVENT: 4, OPENING MATCH: 2
The Rockers vs Haku and The Barbarian VERSUS Sgt. Slaughter vs Hulk Hogan
Only Shawn Michaels could make The Faces of Fear look so good. Also, Slaughter vs Hogan doesn’t get hardly enough crap for being crap. Marty Jannetty is winning this one because he needs a pick-me-up.
MAIN EVENT: 4, OPENING MATCH: 3
Shawn Michaels vs El Matador VERSUS Sid Justice vs Hulk Hogan
In these two matches, HBK has gotten his wins back from SummerSlam 2005. BROTHER! BROTHER!
MAIN EVENT: 4, OPENING MATCH: 4
Shawn Michaels vs Tatanka VERSUS Bret Hart/Hulk Hogan vs Yokozuna
Both matches have awful endings despite solid in-ring action.
Only one of these matches has two awful endings, though.
OPENING MATCH: 5, MAIN EVENT: 4
Bret Hart vs Owen Hart VERSUS Bret Hart vs Yokozuna
Until Dolph Ziggler does it, Bret Hart is the only person competing against himself when it comes to opening matches versus main events. As great of a moment it is when Bret topples Yoko and finally takes the WWF torch for good, there isn’t a greater opening match in Mania history than Bret and Owen. Seriously, watch this match during the Divas match and Orton/Kane match this Sunday.
OPENING MATCH: 6, MAIN EVENT: 4
Lex Luger and British Bulldog vs Blu Brothers VERSUS Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow
WOOF! The amount of crap WM IX gets for being crappy is warranted, but WM XI gets no attention because it is THAT bad. That being said, LT does an admirable job (and would surely be a celebrity Hall of Fame inductee if he weren’t raping underage girls every other week) and Bam Bam works his ass off to make the match decent. Additionally, Lex Luger and the Harris Boys will never win a contest that involves the word “better” or “best” in it.
OPENING MATCH: 6, MAIN EVENT: 5
Camp Cornette vs Yokozuna, Jake Roberts and Ahmed Johnson VERSUS Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart
I was tempted to stop at Ahmed Johnson.
OPENING MATCH: 6, MAIN EVENT: 6
The Headbangers vs The Godwinns vs The New Blackjacks vs Furnas and Lafon VERSUS Undertaker vs Sid
Wrestlemania XI, you have been dethroned already! Ugh…I don’t even know. This is like picking between two dogs in a kennel. One has leprosy and the other already has been euthanized. Getting a crowd reaction wins out here. At least the big men get some rises out of the audience. The four-way tag match elicits the response of Steve Blackman reading a VHS manual.
MAIN EVENT: 7, OPENING MATCH: 6
Tag Team Battle Royal VERSUS Shawn Michaels vs Steve Austin
Battle Royals screw everything up. Granted, HBK vs Stone Cold is very good, but it is forever hampered by HBK’s back/attitude. The Battle Royal is hampered by the involvement of Los Boricuas, the Truth Commission, and the sheer fact that the New Midnight Express were the runner-ups.
MAIN EVENT: 8, OPENING MATCH: 6
Billy Gunn vs Al Snow vs Hardcore Holly VERSUS The Rock vs Steve Austin
Starting to pull away…
MAIN EVENT: 9, OPENING MATCH: 6
Big Boss Man and Bull Buchanan vs D-Lo Brown and Godfather VERSUS Triple H vs Big Show vs The Rock vs Mick Foley
Starting to pull away…
MAIN EVENT: 10, OPENING MATCH: 6
Chris Jericho vs William Regal VERSUS The Rock vs Steve Austin
The answer is obvious, but Jericho and Regal deserve props for such a great opening match. If that match tanked, this Mania could of stumbled out of the gate as opposed to setting an awesome pace. Rock and Austin, on the other hand, delivered in the exact opposite way that the main event of Mania I did. Not so great hype, AMAZING MATCH.
MAIN EVENT: 11, OPENING MATCH: 6
Rob Van Dam vs William Regal VERSUS Triple H vs Chris Jericho
I am going to throw everybody off here. HHH and Y2J always gets dumped on because of the Rock/Hogan match that stole the show. I dump on it because it is plodding and uninspired. Meanwhile, RVD and Regal have such contrasting styles that you expect a train wreck, but instead get one hell of a six-minute match. I might be in the minority here, but just think of Stephanie making Jericho walk HHH’s dog in the build-up to the main event and tell me I am wrong.
MAIN EVENT: 11, OPENING MATCH: 7
Matt Hardy vs Rey Mysterio VERSUS Brock Lesnar vs Kurt Angle
It is still a travesty that Matt Hardy, at his V1 peak, and Rey Mysterio got so little time to kick off a WrestleMania. If they were given a few more minutes…well, they would still lose to the classic first encounter between Lesnar and Angle, but at least it would be closer.
MAIN EVENT: 12, OPENING MATCH: 7
John Cena vs Big Show VERSUS Triple H vs Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit
…or in WWE’s world…
John Cena vs Big Show VERSUS Eddie Guerrero vs Kurt Angle
Whichever world you live in, the results are the same.
MAIN EVENT: 13, OPENING MATCH: 7
Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio VERSUS Triple H vs Batista
There is nothing necessarily wrong with the Evolution main event…if it were the main event at Unforgiven. It just doesn’t feel like a Mania main event. Despite Mysterio fumbling with his mask for 60 percent of the match, it still outshined Paul McMahon and the Deacon.
MAIN EVENT: 13, OPENING MATCH: 8
Kane and Big Show vs Carlito and Chris Masters VERSUS John Cena vs Triple H
Because Tope is not doing a Wrestling’s Most Important Facts: WrestleMania edition, I will provide one for you right here: All three of Big Show’s wins at WrestleMania have come in tag matches. In fact, he is 3-0 in tag matches at Mania. Another important fact with Big Show: He will be 0-3 in being a part of opening matches that were better than main events in this article.
MAIN EVENT: 14, OPENING MATCH: 8
Money in the Bank won by Mr. Kennedy VERSUS John Cena vs Shawn Michaels
This is undoubtedly the closest match-up of them all. Cena and HBK had a great match that invested the crowd throughout. However, they seemed to be on different pages in a couple different moments in the match, and they proved to do better work on Raw a few weeks later with their amazing 50-minute match. The MITB match was the right amount of chaotic, unpredictable and entertaining. If I had a choice of watching one match over and over again, I would go with the beginning of the end of Mr. Kennedy’s career.
MAIN EVENT: 14, OPENING MATCH: 9
Finlay vs JBL VERSUS The Undertaker vs Edge
Remember what I said about Savage and Hogan being an underrated Mania main event? Taker vs Edge is GROSSLY underrated. It starts slow, but eventually develops into a fantastic bout that had a lot of people thinking the Streak was ending. Finlay and JBL put on a nice little brawl, but Edge vs Taker almost stole the show back from “I’m sorry; I love you.”
MAIN EVENT: 15, OPENING MATCH: 9
Money in the Bank won by CM Punk VERSUS Triple H vs Randy Orton
Even if HHH vs Orton tore the house down, I would be biased here because Punk winning a second time was a genuine mark out moment for me. Thankfully, HHH vs Orton disappointed on a “X-Men: Last Stand” level and makes this debate not a debate at all.
MAIN EVENT: 15, OPENING MATCH: 10
Big Show and The Miz vs John Morrison and R-Truth VERSUS Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker
I refuse to write more than ten words explaining this.
MAIN EVENT: 16, OPENING MATCH: 10
Edge vs Alberto Del Rio VERSUS John Cena vs The Miz
It is still weird that the opening and closing matches in one Mania were contested for the Heavyweight Titles for both shows. Edge and Del Rio was pretty forgettable, but I chalk that up to the result and its spot on the card. It is a good match after additional views. Cena and Miz is pretty awful on first sight and even worse on any other sight. Miz…it is still my fault, man. I am sorry.
MAIN EVENT: 16, OPENING MATCH: 11
So, the main events win, but the opening matches put up a good showing, especially when the final tally should be Main Events: 27, Opening Matches: zero. Who knows where this score will go in the wake of WWE deciding that World Title matches can open the show now?
If CM Punk and Chris Jericho open up the show in six days, odds are against the main event already.
Now, allow me to watch every WrestleMania opening video and force it to compete against every WrestleMania recap video. Vince’s snarls against Saliva songs! LET THE BATTLES COMMENCE.