As we all know by now, Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns isn’t happening at WrestleMania.
It’s tough to blame Reigns for not wanting to put his health at risk for this nonsense. I’m sure some people will, but I’m not one of them. In this timeline we’re currently stuck in (perhaps the darkest?); folks like Roman whose immune systems aren’t the best need to be extra careful. It puts a bit of a damper on WrestleMania, but at this point, what hasn’t put a damper on WrestleMania?
Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg isn’t the first WrestleMania match to get cancelled. Here are five more!
5. Tons Of Funk & The Funkadactyls Vs. Rhodes Scholars & Bella Twins (WrestleMania XXIX)
We saw this story play out on the very first episode of Total Divas. Due to some matches running long (Undertaker vs. CM Punk got the heat for it on the show), the intergender tag scheduled as a cooldown match between two big matches was eliminated from the card. Some suggested the whole scenario was planned to happen for Total Divas, but actually having a match would have been better for the show. Establishing your main characters as being the most expendable part of WrestleMania wasn’t a great look.
This was the last time a match got bumped for lack of time. Once WWE Network existed, time was no longer an issue.
4. The Headshrinkers, Jeff Jarrett, Rick Martel, & I.R.S Vs. The Smokin’ Gunns, Bob Holly, Tatanka, & 1-2-3 Kid (WrestleMania X)
The story on this one is that the Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon ladder match went double its allotted time. I find that a bit hard to believe, even in the Russo Era I don’t remember seeing any 10 minute ladder matches. In any event, this got cut, but WWF at least gave us the ridiculous excuse that the heel team was arguing over who the captain of the team was. I don’t know why they thought they were working Arena Mexico.
3. Big Show vs. Shaquille O’Neal (WrestleMania 33)
The two big men had agreed to meet on the WM stage several months beforehand. Personally, I had some doubts the entire time it was rumored because it wasn’t like Shaq was in the best physical condition of his life. They teased it once while Shaq was still active, but this was years after Shaq had retired, and the big man was on the Charles Barkley diet. The match would have been atrocious.
Apparently WWE really wanted it to happen, but from what Shaq says, they weren’t quite sure what they wanted to happen. They gave him a couple of ideas, then said the match was cancelled, then wanted to put it back on, but Shaq had already made other plans. I’m glad it didn’t happen, even though SportsCenter would have shown a highlight. Sometimes things aren’t meant to be.
2. Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair (WrestleMania VIII)
Hogan vs. Flair was expected to be one of the best feuds of the 1990s. It had the perennial WWF Champion against the man who had been NWA Champion for most of the 1980s. Finally, people were going to see who was better. The match was even announced for WM, but the storyline led to Hogan wrestling Sid Justice while Flair defended the WWF Championship against Randy Savage.
What happened? A number of issues. For one, Flair vs. Hogan didn’t draw as well as everybody expected. Once fans in a market saw the match once, they didn’t care about seeing it again. Hogan ended up “retiring” after WM, and it made more sense to not have him lose to Flair in his retirement match. (If they were sold on Flair as their top guy, it would have made sense to have Hulk lose to him. They weren’t.) Finally, there was the bigger issue behind both of these issues: wrestling was heading into a downswing due to problems the WWF created for themselves and nothing they were going to do would break attendance records.
1. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 13)
It was supposed to be the long-awaited rematch from WrestleMania XII. After taking some time off after losing to Shawn, Bret would return, a little embittered & envious of Shawn. Shawn won the WWF Championship back from Sycho Sid at the Royal Rumble, while Bret was involved in a controversial finish to the Rumble match that left the status of the WM main event in doubt. Bret eventually earning the shot against Shawn would have made sense.
Except Shawn vacated the Championship on an infamous Thursday edition of Raw. He lost his smile. To this day, he says that doctors told him he had a knee injury that was career-ending in nature. It wasn’t, and Shawn was back jumping around before WrestleMania. Undertaker & Sid got the main event slot while Bret had a submission match with Steve Austin. The submission match ended up being one of the best matches in WrestleMania history & was the best double turn I can think of. I still think Bret might have preferred a title match. Especially since he was likely to win!