Just about every professional wrestler dreams of performing at WrestleMania, but not everyone’s experience on WWE’s biggest show of the year is created equal.
These days, it seems every warm body on WWE’s main roster gets onto the big show. Some may spend only a few seconds in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Others may play a bit part in a multi-person match. Then, there’s the select few who get a far more coveted spot on a WrestleMania card – a singles match. In WWE, you’re not one of the elite until you’ve gone one-on-one with someone on the grandest stage in sports entertainment.
At WrestleMania 32, three men will join this exclusive club – Dean Ambrose, Kalisto and A.J. Styles.
Last year, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Rusev and Sting got their first singles matches at a WrestleMania. Two years ago, there was only one new member – Bray Wyatt.
This kind of opportunity is not something to be taken for granted. Some of WWE’s most popular and revered superstars have had only one singles match at a WrestleMania.
WWE Hall Of Famer Paul Orndorff was part of the very first WrestleMania main event. His one and only singles match at a WrestleMania came the following year (vs. The Magnificent Muraco at WrestleMania 2). Another Hall Of Famer, Rikishi, got his only singles match at a WrestleMania when he faced The Rock at WrestleMania 13. Back then, he was known as The Sultan.
Some of the other big names who got only one singles match at a WrestleMania during their careers – British Bulldog (vs. The Warlord at WrestleMania VII), Jeff Hardy (vs. his brother Matt at WrestleMania 25), Ken Shamrock (vs. The Rock at WrestleMania XIV), Rob Van Dam (vs. William Regal at WrestleMania 18) and X-Pac (vs. Shane McMahon at WrestleMania XV).
Bart Gunn had a singles match at a WrestleMania (a Brawl For All match vs. Butterbean at WrestleMania XV). That’s one more than Billy Gunn and Road Dogg combined. Virgil has a singles match at a WrestleMania on his resume (vs. Ted DiBiase at WrestleMania VII). Maven got one too (vs. Goldust at WrestleMania 18). And who can forget George Wells, who faced Jake “The Snake” Roberts at WrestleMania 2?
WrestleMania 2000 notably had only one singles match on the entire card – Terri Runnels vs. The Kat.
Speaking of the women, it’s been nine years since we got a singles match between two women at a WrestleMania (Melina vs. Ashley at WrestleMania 23). It was looking like the streak may end this year, until Becky Lynch found her way into the Divas Title match involving Sasha Banks and champion Charlotte.
Adding another layer of absurdity to the history of women performing at WrestleMania, only two have had more than one singles match at the big show. You can probably guess that one is Trish Stratus (vs. Christy Hemme at WrestleMania 21 and vs. Mickie James at WrestleMania 22).
The other is Leilani Kai (vs. Wendy Richter at WrestleMania I and vs. Alundra Blayze at WrestleMania X).
Getting back to the men, WWE’s main roster includes some guys who had a singles match at a WrestleMania, and then drifted back down the card – Fandango (vs. Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 29), The Miz (vs. John Cena at WrestleMania XXVII) and Jack Swagger (vs. Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania 29). Meanwhile, many others are still waiting, including Cesaro, Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler.
It should come as no surprise that no one has had more singles matches at a WrestleMania than Undertaker. His career total stands at 22 heading into WrestleMania 32.
The next closest is Triple H with 17. Shawn Michaels had 13. Randy Savage has 10, thanks in part to the 4 matches he had in one night at WrestleMania IV. John Cena and Hulk Hogan also have 10.
Most Singles Matches At A WrestleMania
22 – Undertaker
17 – Triple H
13 – Shawn Michaels
10 – John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage
8 – Bret Hart, The Rock
7 – Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Kane, Jake Roberts
6 – Ted DiBiase, Brock Lesnar
5 – Kurt Angle, Edge, Hercules, Randy Orton, Roddy Piper, Ultimate Warrior
Even for the very best pro wrestlers on the planet, getting a spotlight singles match at a WrestleMania isn’t easy. Ric Flair had 3 WrestleMania singles matches during his career. Mick Foley had only 2, the same total as Daniel Bryan and Booker T.
Health, timing, luck and countless other factors all play a role in a performer’s place on a WrestleMania card. So, here’s a word of advice to Ambrose, Kalisto and Styles – take full advantage of the opportunity in front of you Sunday. No matter how good you are, it may not come again.