WWE’s Wrestlemania is once again on the horizon, and as is common, there are some planned matches that fans are feeling missed the mark a bit. Fans can’t be too disappointed, though, because we’re used to the WWE not always listening to the popular opinion. In fact, we’ve missed out on quite a few Wrestlemania dream matches over the years that many people felt sure would happen.
Now, sometimes the match WWE gives us instead of the popular match is great in its own right, but it does become a bit baffling how often there have been two huge names we’ve waited years to see clash, only for it to never happen. Whether it’s due to WWE writers postponing for too long, being out of touch with the fans, or wrestlers simply getting injured or retiring at inopportune times, we’ve definitely been deprived of some classics. So as yet another Wrestlemania draws near, we look at 15 WWE Wrestlemania dream matches fans have always wanted to see.
15. STEVE AUSTIN VS GOLDBERG
When WWE and WCW were both at their peak in popularity, Steve Austin and Goldberg were arguably the biggest stars for their respective companies. Steve Austin was a foul-mouthed brawler who wasn’t afraid to face off with anyone no matter the odds. While Goldberg was equally as fearless due to him having one of the most impressive and dominant win/loss records of any wrestler alive. The crowds would go nuts any time either wrestler appeared on the shows, so seeing the two men face off was one of the biggest matches fans could imagine.
What sounded impossible eventually entered the realm of reality when WCW went out of business, and a lot of their big stars started making their way over to the WWE, including Goldberg. Unfortunately, this blockbuster of a match had all the pieces in place literally just 24 hours too late. Wrestlemania XIX against the Rock was Stone Cold’s final match for the company due to an accumulation of nagging injuries. But the very next night after the Pay-Per-View special, Goldberg debuted for the WWE! We all hoped that maybe, just maybe, Steve would have one more match in him to take on Goldberg at Wrestlemania XX. Alas, the closest we got was Austin refereeing Goldberg’s abysmal match against Brock Lesnar.
14. THE UNDERTAKER VS KURT ANGLE
Once the Undertaker’s winning streak at Wrestlemania became acknowledged, the WWE wasn’t foolish enough to waste any more of his opponents on small names. Every year had to have him facing a major contender to convince fans that this might be the year the streak was broken. One of the few slip ups in that routine was in 2006 when the Undertaker got put into a Wrestlemania match against Mark Henry. Henry is a fine wrestler, but he wasn’t even one of the top 10 guys in the company at the time. The match everyone had really been hankering for that year was another fight between the Undertaker and Kurt Angle.
At No Way Out 2006, the Undertaker challenged Kurt Angle for the world championship in a losing effort. But after the match, the Undertaker got in Kurt’s face and warned that things weren’t over between them. It seemed like an obvious setup for a rematch at Wrestlemania that fans would have loved. Both guys had such a presence about them, they were both great technical wrestlers and they were two of the biggest names at the time. There’s no doubt Angle and Undertaker would have been the better Wrestlemania match, but unfortunately, they never shared the biggest stage of them all together.
13. SHAWN MICHAELS VS THE ROCK
As hard as it might be to believe, looking back, not only have Shawn Michaels and the Rock never had a Wrestlemania match, but they didn’t even get a chance to work together in a major program during their careers. Shawn had to take a multi-year hiatus from the WWE due to a legitimate back injury after he lost to Steve Austin at Wrestlemania, and this was right around the time the Rock was catching fire in the company. And then when Shawn came back for a renaissance period years later, the Rock was on his way out to pursue his acting career. Therefore, these two perfectly missed getting to face off against each other in their careers.
The chemistry the two would have had together is obvious. The Rock is widely acknowledged as perhaps the best talker the company has ever had, so he could have made a rivalry against anyone into a great storyline. And Shawn Michaels is on many a person’s list as one of the top in ring performers to ever set foot in the WWE. When you take two of the best in their respective abilities and pair them together, magic is bound to happen. Unfortunately the Heartbreak Kid against the Great One is now just one of the biggest missed rivalries of their era.
12. DANIEL BRYAN VS SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
Admittedly saying fans always wanted to see this one isn’t quite exact since this wasn’t even on a lot of people’s radar until Nakamura left New Japan Pro Wrestling for the WWE. But once we knew Nakamura was coming, dream opponents for him came in rapidly, and Nakamura himself said a big part of him coming to America was that he had always wanted to wrestle Daniel Bryan. But as misfortune would have it, right as Nakamura was getting ready to come in to the company, Daniel Bryan officially announced his retirement due to the concussions he had sustained over his career.
This was the match fans never knew they wanted until it was on the verge of being a reality, but then it was snatched away as quickly as hype for it began to build. The charisma levels of both wrestlers alone would have sold the match, with Nakamura being a legit superstar in Japan, and Daniel Bryan being one of WWE’s most popular performers since the days of Steve Austin. Their in-ring styles would have complemented each other as well since they both have such kick heavy offenses. While Bryan has made no secret about the fact he is still considering competing once his WWE contract expires (despite doctor’s advice that he shouldn’t), as long as Nakamura is in WWE, this match will never happen.
11. EDDIE GUERRERO VS SHAWN MICHAELS
It seemed like Shawn Michaels just couldn’t put on a bad match ever since he returned to the WWE after his back injury. He faced all the company’s biggest names and often put on the best match of the night. At Wrestlemania he just put on a classic match year after year with opponents like Kurt Angle, Ric Flair, John Cena, Chris Jericho, and the Undertaker. One of the last big names who HBK had yet to take on was Eddie Guerrero. Word is that match is exactly what was in the works before tragedy ruined those plans.
At just 38 years old, Eddie was found dead in his hotel room during 2005. It was something that shook the WWE and the wrestling world as a whole. Eddie was known as not just a fantastic wrestler, but a great person as well, so his passing deeply affected a lot of people. Obviously, the potential for a match is the least of what people miss about Eddie. When people think about what Eddie would have been doing had he survived, fans know he would have kept on doing what he loved. Eddie no doubt would have been with the WWE for years and likely would have loved the opportunity to wrestle Shawn at Wrestlemania as much as his fans would have loved seeing it.
10. CM PUNK VS DANIEL BRYAN
While wrestlers who come from independent promotions (meaning companies that don’t have major TV deals like WWE does) are frequent performers in today’s WWE roster, even just a few short years ago that wasn’t the case. Both CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were huge names in Ring of Honor, but for the WWE there was a giant question mark if indie wrestlers could translate their popularity to the mainstream wrestling fan. But seeing as how both men have left a legacy of being two of the most popular WWE wrestlers of the last decade, it’s safe to say they lived up to their reputation.
ROH fans always would have loved to see Punk and Bryan main event Wrestlemania, but eventually even casual fans couldn’t deny their massive popularity. Punk became known as the most outspoken guy in the company, and Bryan was the ultimate underdog. They were both beloved and it seemed inevitable they would get a chance to shine at the WWE’s biggest pay-per-view at some point. Had their careers been a bit longer, that may very well have happened, but Punk eventually got fed up with the company and left, while Bryan had to retire not too long after due to concussion-related injuries. The indie stars proved they had it all, but their long careers caught up to them before they could truly reap the benefits of their stardom.
9. BROCK LESNAR VS RANDY ORTON
When it was announced this match was happening at SummerSlam 2016, fans were thrilled. Besides one match in Randy’s rookie years, these two had never touched. So seeing these two go at it in their prime was one of the few main event level matches left for Brock in WWE. And in the build up to the match, Randy was being built as legitimate competitor for Brock, so many were expecting an unpredictable match. Unfortunately what we got was a mess in more ways than one.
As Brock has done ever since adopting his “suplex city” gimmick, he dominated the majority of the match and left Orton to get very little offense in. It wasn’t the back and forth match fans had been hoping for between two main eventers. And the ending, while shocking, was also abrupt and genuinely reckless by the WWE. To make it look like Orton couldn’t continue, he was beaten down and bloodied to lead to the match being stopped. The problem was the match’s producers legitimately had Brock elbow Randy in the head to cause an actual laceration instead of using fake blood. This led to Orton getting a real life concussion to end a match fans had had high hopes for. We wanted this to be an unpredictable match held at Wrestlemania, but instead, it was a typical Lesnar squash match at an okay SummerSlam.
8. DANIEL BRYAN VS SHAWN MICHAELS
While people just wish Shawn Michaels would come out of retirement to face any good opponent, many people genuinely believed HBK would put on one more match to face Daniel Bryan. They already had a backstory together since Bryan was legitimately taught how to wrestle by Shawn, so their rivalry could have had a student trying to overthrow the teacher spin on it. Yet obviously HBK wouldn’t come back even for this match, and now Bryan is retired due to injury, so there’s no chance of this happening now.
The strange thing is the WWE seemed to be planting seeds for the match during the height of Bryan’s popularity. Shawn Michaels delivered Sweet Chin Music to Daniel Bryan during a hell in a cell match to cost Bryan the world title. When HBK appeared in the company again to explain why he did it, Bryan attacked Shawn and put him in the Yes Lock. To a wrestling fan this spelled out an obvious build for a match between the two, but nothing more came of this rivalry. Shawn was still fit and capable of performing, but he just couldn’t be convinced to go back on his retirement.
7. CM PUNK VS STEVE AUSTIN
Ever since CM Punk delivered his famous pipe bomb promo in 2011, he became the WWE’s biggest rebel since the days of Steve Austin. They were both anti-authority figures who cut scathing promos against their opponents and were hugely popular among fans for their fearlessness in telling it like it was. And Austin had always teased that he might have enough gas in the tank for one more match, so what better opponent than the rebel of the present generation against the rebel of the last generation?
There were plenty of hints dropped that the match might actually occur, starting with Punk’s 2011 promo featuring him wearing one of Austin’s famous shirts. The two would go on to stare each other down backstage during a later show, and even promote one of WWE’s games by getting into a heated conversation of who would win in a fantasy match between them. Due to the long-term injuries to Austin’s knees as well as his neck, the match was always unlikely. But now even that slim chance has dropped to just about an impossibility thanks to Punk’s extremely bitter departure from the WWE several years ago. These days, Punk won’t even touch a wrestling ring and has instead been giving it a go in the UFC.
6. D-GENERATION X VS THE NWO
Most people only talk about singles matches for their dream matches, but factions are also huge in the industry. Just look how many stars were elevated thanks to New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Bullet Club. But the Bullet Club is in large part inspired by the biggest groups that were around in the ‘90s, WCW’s nWo and WWE’s D-Generation X. They were both antiauthority groups with cool merchandise, so obviously they were both hugely popular to kids in the ‘90s. But with how divided wrestling loyalties were back then, there was always the question of which group was better.
By the time nWo arrived in WWE, they were past their prime and the group was plagued with injuries that kept them from resembling anything close to their WCW days. Plus DX wouldn’t have its reunion for a few more years, so the clash of these groups was not destined to happen. The closest thing we got was both groups heavily interfering when Sting fought Triple H at Wrestlemania, but that wasn’t the official match we wanted these groups to have in their prime. An elimination style match between both teams at Wrestlemania around 15 years prior was what would have been awesome. The wars these groups could have had are sadly just the stuff of daydreams now, though.
5. AJ STYLES VS SHAWN MICHAELS
Now that AJ Styles is finally in the WWE, many people openly call him the greatest performer the company has seen since Shawn Michaels. However, it’s not like AJ’s skill went unrecognized before then. Even when he was in TNA, AJ was one of the company’s top stars thanks to his incredible athletic ability. People always knew he would put on a fantastic match with anybody, so seeing him face Shawn, who frequently stole the show, just seemed like the perfect match.
Years ago, no one seriously expected any huge name from TNA to ever appear in the WWE, but the past couple years really kicked down the doors thanks to guys like Samoa Joe showing up. And then AJ showed up and fans couldn’t wait to see him face all the top names. But everyone knew his closest equal had retired years ago, and fans were hoping that if anyone could get Shawn to come back for one more match, that it’d be AJ. Unfortunately, this is just another match where the key people were late to the boat, and Shawn is adamant about not wanting to be a guy who keeps coming back for one last match. Therefore AJ and Shawn will remain two of the greatest to have never wrestled each other.
4. STEVE AUSTIN VS HULK HOGAN
This is another match that seemed like it was right on the cusp of happening only for the rug to get pulled out from underneath. When Hulk Hogan returned to the WWE after an absence of many years, he returned as part of the nWo in his Hollywood Hogan persona. He was immediately hugely popular again and it was an obvious deduction that he would be facing either Steve Austin or the Rock at the upcoming Wrestlemania X8. Both guys had rivalries with the nWo at the time, so it was a toss-up as to who would face the leader of the group.
We can’t take anything away from the Rock vs Hogan being the match they went with since that fight was one of the best Wrestlemania matches there is. Austin getting a Wrestlemania match against Scott Hall instead didn’t seem right at all. Austin vs Hogan would have been the biggest match of the present era vs the biggest star of the previous era. Unfortunately even if Austin had gotten the match, we’d probably just be left a bit sad that the match with the Rock hadn’t happened. Wrestlemania X8 was really just an impossible situation where one or the other of WWE’s biggest wrestlers would have to be left out in the cold.
3. BRET HART VS KURT ANGLE
While Bret Hart was never the most captivating guy when talking on a microphone, there’s no denying he was one of the best technical wrestlers that the business has ever seen. Bret could make just about any opponent look great because he had such a thorough knowledge of holds and submissions that watching him take a match to the ground could go a thousand different ways. Nowadays most wrestlers just slap on a chin lock that sends the crowd to looking at their phones. If Bret could be in his prime again and have just one more match, who better for him to face than Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle?
Admittedly Angle outclasses Bret in terms of promos by a wide margin, so he would probably have to carry that aspect of the feud, but in the ring, you have to imagine they would have been stellar together. The technical abilities of both guys are astounding, so even watching them mat wrestle would have been a treat. And since they both utilize leg submissions, it would have been great to watch them mirror the other’s strategy as they each knew the perfect counter for every move. If this match had ever happened at all it would have been incredible, but at Wrestlemania, this likely would have been looked upon as one of the best matches in the company’s history.
2. RIC FLAIR VS HULK HOGAN
Just like Austin and Goldberg were the two biggest stars from rival promotions in the ‘90s, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan were the biggest names from the ‘80s. Critics can say whatever they want about Hogan’s in-ring ability, but there’s no denying that he and Flair dripped with charisma that most wrestlers today could only dream of having. Seeing the two of them battle at Wrestlemania just made sense. Then Flair actually made his way into what was then the WWF, so all signs pointed to this dream match being on the schedule.
Flair was the world champion heading into Wrestlemania VIII, so him facing off with Hogan seemed like the obvious choice. To the bafflement of many, Flair was paired off to face Randy Savage, while Hogan got a match with Sid Justice. There’s no dispute that Flair and Hogan was originally the planned match, but there are lots of different stories for why it didn’t happen. The two would face off on smaller WWF shows, in WCW, and even competed against each other long past their prime in the WWE as well as in TNA, but fans will always look back and wonder why the two weren’t given their chance to shine at Wrestlemania.
1. STING VS THE UNDERTAKER
There’s really no other recent match on this list that came so tantalizingly close to happening only for fans everywhere to get denied. Sting was the last big WCW star who had never worked for WWE, but with his age catching up to him, he finally made the jump after so many years and left TNA behind for WWE. It seemed like a guarantee that we were at long last going to get this dream match. Fans were puzzled when Sting was put into a feud with Triple H for Wrestlemania who, while a great wrestler, was not who anyone had been asking to see.
It turned out losing to Triple H would be Sting’s only Wrestlemania match since after one more pay-per-view match against Seth Rollins for the world title, Sting got injured and was diagnosed with a career-ending condition of spinal stenosis. The gist of that diagnosis meant Sting had to call it quits or he could risk loss of function in his body, so there was officially no chance of him wrestling safely again. Sting openly admitted a major reason he came to the WWE was to fight the Undertaker and finally have the showdown of WCW’s greatest anti-hero against WWE’s dead man. Now fans are just a bit bitter that Sting’s only Wrestlemania was devoted to a match nobody had been clamoring for.
Are there any other dream matches you wish we could have seen? Sound off in the comments!