The Miz was victorious in the main event of WrestleMania 27, but his fortunes have changed a great deal over the last year. Less than three months after WrestleMania 27, Miz was out of the WWE Championship picture and having matches on pay-per-view (PPV) against Alex Riley.
And now he's found himself in a position where he might not even compete in a match at WrestleMania 28.
Has any performer that headlined a WrestleMania event one year before ever fallen as far down the card in the next year as The Miz? I will investigate this topic with a straightforward process where I will observe where every single WrestleMania headliner appeared on the WrestleMania card in the following year, to see how far down the card they landed.
Let's get to it, Cagesiders.
First I need to define my use of the term "WrestleMania headliner." For the sake of this investigation, the WrestleMania headliners are the performers who competed in the final match of any given WrestleMania event. This means that Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase headlined WrestleMania 4, rather than Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. This also means that Triple H and Chris Jericho headlined WrestleMania 18, rather than Hogan and The Rock.
There is only one case where I stray from this hard definition and that is for WrestleMania 9. Technically, the last match on the card was Hogan vs. Yokozuna. But the match lasted less than thirty seconds and was basically an impromptu match that was never promoted or pushed prior to the event. So I am going to pretend that this match never existed, and I am going to consider the headliners for that show to be Bret Hart and Yokozuna.
And I am not including any managers or special referees or special commentators as headliners for a specific WrestleMania event either.
With this definition in hand and assuming that John Cena vs. The Rock will headline WrestleMania 28, the first 28 WrestleMania events have produced a total of 61 headline performances from 31 distinct wrestlers. Hulk Hogan leads the way as he has seven of these 61 headline performances. Here's the complete list of each wrestler's name and how many events he headlined.
7 events - Hulk Hogan
6 events - Triple H
5 events - Shawn Michaels
4 events - The Rock, John Cena
3 events - Bret Hart, Steve Austin, The Undertaker
2 events - Randy Savage, Yokozuna, Sid
1 event - Roddy Piper, Mr. T, Paul Orndorff, King Kong Bundy, Andre The Giant, Ted DiBiase, The Ultimate Warrior, Sgt. Slaughter, Bam Bam Bigelow, Lawrence Taylor, Mick Foley, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Chris Benoit, Batista, Edge, Randy Orton, The Miz
My investigation will only consider 58 headline performers out of these 61 instances, as there is no way to know how far down the card Cena or Rock might fall by next year's show, and we also do not currently know where Miz will appear on the card for this year. So those three instances will be ignored.
So which of these 58 headliners fell down the card the most in the following year? I will judge this by calculating a percentage of how far along the card a WrestleMania headliner appeared on WrestleMania in the following year. For example, The Big Show headlined WrestleMania 16 but then his match at WrestleMania 17 was third on the card out of 11 total matches. Therefore his percentage for that card was 3 out of 11, which is about 27-percent. I am using this method just to have a quick way of organizing this list of the 58 headline performers. I do understand that context matters and a match that is at the 50-percent mark of the card isn't always in a worse spot than a match that is at the 75-percent point on the card. I will try to add context when appropriate, but feel free to add or correct any important context that I don't discuss. A score of 0-percent means that the headliner did not wrestle on the WrestleMania card in the following year, whereas a score of 100-percent means the performer once again headlined the show the following year.
Here are the results for where each performer appeared on the WrestleMania card in the year after they headlined the event, ranked from the lowest percentage to highest percentage, with any ties listed in chronological order. I provided a lot of information in this list at the expense of readability. There are really only 3 cases to interpret, and here is how to interpret each case:
Case 1: 0-percent
Anybody with a score of 0-percent falls in this case. These are the guys that headlined WrestleMania one year but then did not compete at WrestleMania in the following year. They completely fell off the card. Here is one way you can interpret Batista's line for this case: "Batista, who headlined WrestleMania 21, did not wrestle at WrestleMania 22 due to injury."
Case 2: 100-percent
Anybody with a score of 100% falls in this case. These are the guys that headlined WrestleMania one year and then once again headlined WrestleMania in the following year. They did not fall down the card at all. Here is one way you can interpret Randy Savage's line for this case: "Randy Savage, who headlined WrestleMania 4, also headlined WrestleMania 5 in a WWF championship match against Hulk Hogan."
Case 3: Other
Everybody else falls in this case. These are all the guys that headlined WrestleMania one year and then wrestled again at WrestleMania in the following year in a non-headlining match. So these guys all slipped down the card to varying degrees but remained on the card. Here is one way to interpret Paul Orndorff's line for this case: "Paul Orndorff, who headlined WrestleMania 1, fought against Don Muraco in an opening match of WrestleMania 2."
Now on with the results:
Sid (WM 8-9) - 0-percent, No longer employed by WWF
Bigelow (WM 11-12) - 0-percent, No longer employed by WWF
Lawrence Taylor (WM 11-12) - 0-percent, Retired
Shawn Michaels (WM 12-13) - 0-percent, Injured, Lost Smile, Special Guest Commentator during Main Event
Sid (WM 13-14) - 0-percent, No longer employed by WWF
Shawn Michaels (WM 14-15) - 0-percent, Injured
Steve Austin (WM 15-16) - 0-percent, Injured
Mick Foley (WM 16-17) - 0-percent, Retired
Batista (WM 21-22) - 0-percent, Injured
Triple H (WM 22-23) - 0-percent, Injured
Shawn Michaels (WM 26-27) - 0-percent, Retired
Paul Orndorff (WM 1-2) - 8-percent, vs Don Muraco
Randy Orton (WM 25-26) - 20-percent, vs Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase Jr.
Ted DiBiase (WM 4-5) - 21-percent, vs Beefcake
King Kong Bundy (WM 2-3) - 25-percent, with 2 midgets vs Hillbilly Jim and 2 midgets
Chris Benoit (WM 20-21) - 25-percent, Money in the Bank Ladder Match vs Kane, Jericho, Edge, Christian, Shelton
The Big Show (WM 16-17) - 27-percent, Hardcore Title Match vs Kane, Raven
Roddy Piper (WM 1-2) - 33-percent, Boxing Match vs Mr. T, Main Event of NY portion of the show
Mr. T (WM 1-2) - 33-percent, Boxing Match vs Piper, Main Event of NY portion of the show
Triple H (WM 25-26) - 40-percent, vs Sheamus
Sgt. Slaughter (WM 7-8) - 44-percent, with Boss Man, Virgil, Duggan vs Repo Man, Mountie, Nasty Boys
The Ultimate Warrior (WM 6-7) - 50-percent, Retirement Match vs Randy Savage
Chris Jericho (WM 18-19) - 55-percent, vs HBK
Shawn Michaels (WM 23-24) - 55-percent, Career Threatening Match vs Ric Flair
Andre The Giant (WM 3-4) - 56-percent, vs Hulk Hogan, interfered in main event
Hulk Hogan (WM 3-4) - 56-percent, vs Andre The Giant, interfered in main event
Randy Savage (WM 5-6) - 57-percent, with Sensational Sherri vs Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire
Yokozuna (WM 10-11) - 57-percent, Tag Team Championship Match with Owen vs Smoking Gunns
Brock Lesnar (WM 19-20) - 58-percent, vs Goldberg
Hulk Hogan (WM 8-9) - 62-percent, Tag Team Championship Match with Beefcake vs Money Inc
Shawn Michaels (WM 20-21) - 62-percent, vs Kurt Angle
Steve Austin (WM 17-18) - 63-percent, vs Scott Hall
Triple H (WM 18-19) - 66-percent, World Heavyweight Championship Match vs Booker T
Bret Hart (WM 10-11) - 71-percent, vs Bob Backlund
Bret Hart (WM 12-13) - 71-percent, vs Steve Austin
Undertaker (WM 24-25) - 75-percent, vs HBK
Undertaker (WM 26-27) - 75-percent, vs HHH
John Cena (WM 23-24) - 77-percent, WWE Championship Match vs Orton and Triple H
The Rock (WM 17-18) - 81-percent, vs Hogan
Kurt Angle (WM 19-20) - 83-percent, WWE Championship Match vs
Chavo Eddie Guerrero
Undertaker (WM 13-14) - 87-percent, vs Kane
Edge (WM 24-25) - 87-percent, World Heavyweight Championship Match vs Cena and Big Show
Triple H (WM 16-17) - 90-percent, vs American Bad Ass Undertaker
Hulk Hogan (WM 1-2) - 100-percent, WWF Championship Match, vs King Kong Bundy
Hulk Hogan (WM 2-3) - 100-percent, WWF Championship Match vs Andre The Giant
Randy Savage (WM 4-5) - 100-percent, WWF Championship Match vs Hogan
Hulk Hogan (WM 5-6) - 100-percent, WWF Championship Match, vs Ultimate Warrior
Hulk Hogan (WM 6-7) - 100-percent, WWF Championship Match vs Slaughter
Hulk Hogan (WM 7-8) - 100-percent, vs Sid
Bret Hart (WM 9-10) - 100-percent, WWF Championship Match vs Yokozuna
Yokozuna (WM 9-10) - 100-percent, WWF Championship Match vs Bret Hart
Steve Austin (WM 14-15) - 100-percent, WWF Championship Match vs The Rock
The Rock (WM 15-16) - 100-percent, WWF Championship Match vs Triple H, Big Show, and Foley
The Rock (WM 16-17) - 100-percent, WWF Championship Match vs Austin
Triple H (WM 20-21) - 100-percent, World Heavyweight Championship Match vs Batista
Triple H (WM 21-22) - 100-percent, WWE Championship Match vs Cena
John Cena (WM 22-23) - 100-percent, WWE Championship Match vs HBK
John Cena (WM 27-28) - 100-percent, vs The Rock
This list provides compelling evidence that Miz could make history if he does not compete in a match on the WrestleMania PPV this year (and dark matches don't count). 11 of the 58 headliners did not compete at WrestleMania in the following year, however every single one of these 11 performers were either injured, retired, lost their smile, or were no longer employed by WWE. Miz could be the first man to stay healthy and active and not even appear on the card one year after headlining.
But what if Miz does end up in a match at WrestleMania? Would he still take the crown as the headliner who took the biggest tumble down the card? It certainly depends on who he competes against. He might find himself in the assumed tag match pitting Team Teddy Long vs Team John Laurinaitis. Maybe he will come out and take the show hostage and issue an open challenge to anybody, only to be squashed by Brodus Clay or a returning face from the past. Or perhaps he can find a tag partner real fast and end up in a multi-team match for the tag titles. Could he steal the show and ruin the main event by coming out and destroying both Rock and Cena?
The point is, if Miz does get a match on the card then we should see what his competition is when it comes to falling down the card. Who on the above list represents the biggest fall down the card? Here are my top candidates:
King Kong Bundy headlined WrestleMania 2 in a Steel Cage Match against Hulk Hogan. One year later he was in a mixed tag team midget match against Hillbilly Jim at WrestleMania 3. Ouch.
Sgt. Slaughter headlined WrestleMania 7 against Hulk Hogan. When you headline WrestleMania 7 against Hulk Hogan, you lose to Hulk Hogan. When you lose to Hulk Hogan, you alleviate the pain by paying for multiple hookers. When you alleviate the pain by paying for multiple hookers, you wake up several hours later and find out that your entire life's savings of $5,000,000 in cash that you were hiding under the sofa is gone. When you find out that your entire life's savings of $5,000,000 in cash that you were hiding under the sofa is gone, you can no longer afford to pay for that luxury monster truck that you purchased last month. When you can no longer afford to pay for that luxury monster truck that you purchased last month, the Repo Man comes by to take away your luxury monster truck. When the Repo Man comes by to take away your luxury monster truck, you wrestle in a match against the Repo Man at WrestleMania 8. Don't wrestle in a match against the Repo Man at WrestleMania 8.
Paul Orndorff headlined WrestleMania 1 and then curtain-jerked WrestleMania 2 in a four-minute match. I don't remember much about his feud with Muraco, so perhaps some Cagesiders can chime in and help me remember how far Orndorff's star power fell in the year between WrestleMania 1 and WrestleMania 2. Is this example not as bad as it initially looks since there were only 4 matches on the NY portion of the event, and the other three matches included names like Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, and Roddy Piper?
Ted DiBiase headlined WrestleMania 4 and then had the privilege of competing against Brutus Beefcake the following year at WrestleMania 5. In fact he had to deal with the Beefcake at WrestleMania 9 as well. What gives?
Randy Orton headlined WrestleMania 25 and then landed in the second match of WrestleMania 26 against obviously inferior midcarders Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. Orton actually had a long history with these guys unlike his current WrestleMania feud with Kane, but it still seemed like a no-brainer that Orton would destroy these guys and move on to more important things. Just like it seems like a no-brainer that Randy Orton will defeat Kane and move on to more important things. This is just one more example of how Randy Orton has been out of the main event picture over the last couple of years.
Randy Savage headlined WrestleMania 5 and then ended up in a match in the second half of WrestleMania 6 against the legendary Dusty Rhodes. That doesn't sound too bad until you remember that it was a mixed tag match with the polka-dotted Dusty Rhodes accompanied by Sapphire. This probably isn't as bad as the others I already talked about, but I just cringe everytime I see that version of Dusty Rhodes.
So will Miz steal the thunder from all of these former WrestleMania headliners by not even wrestling at WrestleMania this year? Or will he end up in a match that can beat out one of these past WrestleMania falls from grace? Do you think that guys like Bigelow and Sid actually fell further than the Miz since WWE decided to part ways with those guys, whereas at least The Miz is still employed? Will The Miz end up wrestling in a match against the Repo Man? Will Miz lose his smile and thereby end up on the 0-percent list by technicality? Did I miss expanding on any obvious examples of performers who mightily fell down the card, such as Big Show or Brock Lesnar or Chris Benoit?
Let me know what you think about this, Cagesiders.