Can't win them all.
For every Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin or John Cena, there has, unfortunately, been some stars horribly ill-suited to the glory of the WrestleMania limelight. In classic WWE fashion, most of these duds have arrived because a certain head honcho with a fondness for bodybuilding and ill-advised wars with the NFL won't accept audience defeat.
Other times, it's as simple as a bad angle not ensuring the crowd investment that could've been secured with smarter booking. Perhaps most frustrating of all are those wrestlers who clearly ooze ability and potential but, for some intangible reason, just can't ignite the heat they need.
WrestleMania's the Mecca of pro wrestling whether modern promoters want to admit it or not. It's why every indie under the sun comes to town on WrestleMania weekend. The crown jewel of Vince McMahon's ruthless takeover of the wrestling industry, it represents the mainstream (and financial) pinnacle of the industry. Fans from several generations will probably fondly recall a main event from some point in the event's long history.
For all the glitz, glamour, blood, sweat and tears though, its not immune to failure as the following ten superstars(?) inadvertently found themselves proving.
10. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XII)
'The Heartbreak Kid' is fondly remembered for being one of the most innovative, gifted big match performers of all time. As iconic and influential as his work has become, it doesn't change the fact that Michaels simply did not draw much during his initial stay at the top of the card.
In 1996, the powers that be were finally ready to pull the trigger on Shawn Michaels becoming the WWF's leading man. He won the Royal Rumble and moved into a feud with then-real life nemesis, Bret Hart. Segments leading up to the show portrayed Michaels as a prime, elite level athlete, knocking out handstand push-ups and spending wholesome time with his original wrestling teacher José Lothario.
Bret Hart, meanwhile, was portrayed as a slightly bitter, slightly past his prime champ ironing out his cardio on a bike machine. Despite the lacklustre presentation, Hart's promos were complex and three-dimensional, telling the tale of a weary warrior fronting an organisation that didn't appreciate him. It was compelling and made Hart far more interesting to fans than white meat babyface Michaels.
At the event, an alarming number of attendees reportedly ditched the show during the main event, frustrated by the bout's slow pace and uninterested in seeing Michaels' inevitable coronation. Curiously, this was not the last time a 'Mr WrestleMania' 'Mania main event proved disappointing. WrestleMania XXVI, built around his retirement match with The Undertaker, was the lowest drawing Show of Shows in seven years at the time.