By Nick Perkins, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@WesternRebel)
This week, it was announced that the Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch match will be the *actual* main event of WrestleMania 35. Quite frankly, that’s exactly where it belongs. The story is the longest, richest and arguably, most controversial. It’s certainly the match that will evoke the most passion, even with all of the silly, needless buildup surrounding it. More than anything else, it’s the only match that really deserves the main event spot.
Speaking of the word ‘deserves,’ many fans are of the belief that Charlotte Flair does not deserve to be a part of the match.
“The main event should be a one-on-one match!” fans cry out in anger.
While this may be true, to a point, there can be no denying that Charlotte Flair deserves the opportunity just as much as Becky Lynch, and probably even more so than Ronda Rousey. Like it or not, Charlotte has been the one constant in the “Women’s (R)evolution.” She was there in the beginning and, if she’s anything like her father, she’ll be there at the end.
It’s not a case of WWE “handing” her anything, either. Charlotte has proven herself time and time again. She proved herself against Sasha Banks. She proved herself against Becky Lynch. She even proved herself against Ronda Rousey. ‘Deserves’ should not even be debated at this point. All three women deserve to be in the main event.
So let’s focus on the other argument, which is that the main event of WrestleMania needs to be one-on-one.
This has been a debate that’s been argued for years. Now, keeping in mind that the main event of the very first WrestleMania was a tag match, we can still nonetheless understand why some fans prefer a single showdown match, as opposed to a multi-person match. They don’t think a Triple Threat match could tell the same story as a single’s encounter. But these fans are forgetting about one important thing- history.
History has proven that Triple Threat matches can evoke just as many emotions and feel-good moments as a single’s match. Here, in a very particular order, are five of the best Triple Threat matches in WrestleMania history.
5. Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boys vs. The Dudley Boys (WrestleMania 17, 2001): The tag team scene in the early 2000’s was unlike anything WWE had seen before or since. These three teams, especially, stole each and every show they were a part of. Five of the six competitors held a world championship at some point. But before that, there was this – an epic TLC match on the proverbial grandest stage of them all.
This match was both a rematch of the previous year’s ladder match and of the very first Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match from the previous summer. All three teams had something to prove and they proved it in spades on that night.
WrestleMania 17 has been called the greatest WrestleMania of all time, and this match was a big reason why. All three teams deserved the spotlight and boy, did it shine. WrestleMania 17 featured many great matches and moments. But the Triple Threat TLC Tag Team match may have been the best of them all.
4. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks (WrestleMania 32, 2016): Quick, name another match from WrestleMania 32. Can you? Off the top of your head? That’s because other than one match, WrestleMania 32 was largely forgettable. It was, in fact, a show begging to be stolen and three of the four horsewomen were eager to do just that.
This would be the match to determine the new Women’s Champion. Diva would become a retired term, even an insult for some. Becky, Charlotte and Sasha probably never wanted to be divas. They wanted to be wrestlers and, on that night in Texas, they were the very best of ‘em.
3. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania 31, 2015): It was a match nobody expected, but it became a match that will never be forgotten. Originally, Roman Reigns was scheduled to face Brock Lesnar in a (gasp!) singles match. But it wasn’t a match that anybody wanted. (For further proof of this, check out their rematch from WM 34).
To be fair, Reigns and Lesnar actually put on a very entertaining, hard-hitting match. It was well-fought, if somewhat forgettable. That was, until Seth Rollins decided to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and make the match a Triple Threat. Suddenly, it was the irresistible force vs. the immovable object vs. the unstoppable attraction. It was awesome.
When Seth Rollins curb stomped Roman Reigns to capture his first WWE Championship, fans were in shock. It was one of Mania’s most memorable moments and it proved how valuable a third person in a match could be.
2. Triple H vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 20, 2004): When it’s not being completely ignored (for obvious reasons), WrestleMania 20 is usually regarded to be a pretty average show, save for a few big matches and a raucous New York crowd. Historians are quick to admire the closing shot of WrestleMania 20, which featured newly-crowned World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit embracing fellow champion and best friend Eddie Guerrero.
What is sometimes forgotten to time or tragedy, is the match that preceded that moment. Triple H put the World Heavyweight Championship on the line against his former best friend and the winner of the 2004 Royal Rumble. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit was, probably, the best-wrestled WrestleMania main event of the previous 20 years. It had drama, intensity, and various stories being told throughout the match.
The final moment of Benoit making Triple H tap out to the Crippler Crossface, felt like vindication for all of the fans who followed Benoit throughout his career. It was a win for a ‘wrestler,’ not just a ‘sports-entertainer.’ Benoit vs. Triple H would have been a fine match, but the Triple Threat match at WrestleMania is the stuff legends are made of.
1. Daniel Bryan vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 30, 2014): Speaking of legends, it was originally supposed to be ‘The Legend Killer’ Randy Orton taking on the returning Batista. But 2014 was Daniel Bryan’s year and there was no way WrestleMania 30 could have ended with anything but Daniel Bryan holding up the World Titles.
Fortunately for WWE (unless they wanted a legitimate riot on their hands), that’s exactly how WrestleMania ended that year. But the match that preceded it was, arguably, the greatest Mania main event of all-time. Bryan, Batista and Orton all had something to prove, mostly that they belonged in the main event. Orton and Batista had to prove it to the fans; Daniel Bryan had to prove it to the boss. All three of them did just that. They proved, to themselves and to their doubters, that they deserved their places in the history books.
This Sunday, at WrestleMania 35, three women are trying to do the exact same thing. The match should be exceptional; we’ve come to expect nothing less. But it’s the story that will turn it into something more. And, like it or not, this is their story. All three of them. And all three of them deserve to be in the main event.
So forget your critiques for a moment. Just sit back, take in what will be a hell of a match, and let history repeat itself.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest PCO, who discusses the ROH and NJPW G1 Supercard event that will be held on April 6 at MSG, taking crazy bumps at age 51, what he still wants to accomplish in pro wrestling, and much more.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Frank Zarrillo discussing his film "The Wrestler: A QT Marshall Story", which includes appearances by Matt Riddle, Damian Priest, Gerald Brisco, Kevin Kelly, Steve Corino, and many more, the involvement of Marshall's wife and mother, and much more. Stick around after the interview for Powell's audio review of Wednesday's AEW Dynamite television show...