Since its inception in 1985, the larger-than-life event known as WrestleMania serves as World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) version of the Super Bowl year after year. The one-night extravaganza sets the tone for future events, regarded as the most important evening of the whole year.
WrestleMania is not only a good precursor of what’s expected to come for the rest of the year, but is also marketed as the one night that could change a performer’s career, hence the fixation on “WrestleMania moments.” Careers have been made at the “Grand Daddy of Them All,” given how many memorable encounters wrestling fans have witnessed over the course of three decades, while some wrestlers suffer from such pitiful performances on the big stage that their WWE futures go up in flames.
Diehards would name athletes such as Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, and John Cena as some of Mania’s most vibrant superstars of years past, given the wars they’ve participated in. Apart from these superstars, dozens of competitors became familiar faces at the massive event, while some found themselves one-and-done for a number of different reasons.
With the amount of superstars that have been featured at WrestleMania, it’s difficult to remember every single face as the years progress. For example, some of the biggest stars from other wrestling companies have tussled at Mania, yet because they didn’t have memorable WWE careers, they are largely forgotten.
Here’s a list of former WWE superstars you forgot competed at WrestleMania, featuring a mix of icons, underrated technicians, and women from the squared circle:
15 Butch Reed
Taking place from inside Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, WrestleMania 4 featured a one-night tournament to crown a new WWE Champion. “Macho Man” Randy Savage, who went on to win the title over “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase in the final, faced the tough Butch Reed in the first round.
Reed, who was accompanied by Slick, was best known as one half of Doom, a team consisting of Reed and Ron Simmons that would later win tag team championships in both World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).
Reed made two WrestleMania appearances in his WWE tenure.
14 Christy Hemme
Best known for her work in Total Non-Stop Action (TNA) Wrestling, Christy Hemme once had a title match at the “Showcase of the Immortals,” coming up short against Trish Stratus at WrestleMania 21 in Los Angeles’ famed Staples Centre.
Accompanied to the ring by the Canadian’s most notable rival, Lita, Hemme’s WrestleMania career lasted less than five minutes.
13 Ahmed Johnson
Ahmed Johnson was touted to be one of WWE’s brightest stars, but couldn’t quite get it together.
The former WWE Intercontinental Champion participated in back-to-back Mania events, first teaming up with WWE Hall of Fame members Yokozuna and Jake “The Snake” Roberts against the dream team of Camp Cornette (Owen Hart, The British Bulldog & Vader) at WrestleMania 12, followed by another six-man tag encounter at WrestleMania 13 where Johnson paired up with The Legion of Doom against The Nation of Domination (Faarooq, Crush & Savio Vega) in a Chicago Street Fight.
The first African-American to win a singles title in WWE holds a 1-1 record at the “Show of Shows.”
12 The Harris Brothers
If you’re having a hard time thinking of when The Harris Brothers lent their services to WWE, it should be noted they didn’t exactly go by that name while under contract.
Jacob & Eli Blu, two shaggy-looking wrestlers that went by The Blu Brothers, started off their WWE careers being accompanied by Dutch Mantel (as Uncle Zebekiah, who would later become Zeb Colter). Their first Mania appearance saw them open the show at WrestleMania 11, losing to Allied Powers, a team made up of Davey Boy Smith and Lex Luger.
Years later, the Harris Brothers appeared at WrestleMania 14 as part of the 15-team battle royal to determine the No. 1 contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championship, this time competing as Skull & 8-Ball, two members of The Disciples of Apocalypse, Crush’s motorcycle gang.
11 The Can-Am Express
Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon (who often competed as Dan Kroffat) were known as The Can-Am Express in the wrestling world, a team that won AJPW’s All Asia Tag Team Championship five times, the ECW tag team titles once, and had a Wrestling Observer Newsletter five-star match against Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi in 1992. The two men, who both stood under six feet tall, competed all over the world including Japan, Mexico, and Canada.
They made their WWE pay-per-view (PPV) debut at Survivor Series 1996, winning their traditional Survivor Series match as the sole survivors, defeating the WWE tag champs at the time, Owen and the Bulldog.
The push didn’t last long, though, and they never won championships in WWE. They both made only one Mania appearance, competing against The Godwinns, The Headbangers, and The New Blackjacks at WrestleMania 13 in a four-way elimination tag match.
10 Genichiro Tenryu & Koji Kitao
WrestleMania 7 took place inside Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles, CA, featuring 14 matches as part of the PPV broadcast.
Numerous celebrities appeared at the star-studded event, including Regis Philbin, Willie Nelson, Alex Trebek, Chuck Norris, and others. Given the opportunity to interview two relatively unknown Japanese wrestlers, Philbin prepped both Genichiro Tenryu and Koji Kitao for their match against Demolition’s Smash & Crush, which lasted just under five minutes. Americans audiences may not have known who the two were, but Tenryu was one of the best Japanese wrestlers to ever live. Kitao was no slouch either, and both men competed as sumo wrestlers, too.
9 Dan Spivey
Dan Spivey’s underrated gimmick in the mid-1990s, Waylon Mercy, who honored Robert DeNiro’s character in Cape Fear, inspired Bray Wyatt’s transition from Husky Harris. But before acting as the floral-print wearing madman, though, Spivey was a great worker in All Japan Pro-Wrestling (AJPW), winning the World Tag Team Championship with the brutish Stan Hansen.
Competing at only one WrestleMania in his career, Spivey was a participant in WrestleMania 2’s famous battle royal in the Rosemont Horizon which pitted WWE superstars alongside professional football players such as William “The Refrigerator” Perry, Ernie Holmes, and Russ Francis, to name a few. Spivey was eliminated by The Iron Sheik, lasting just over four minutes in the battle royal.
8 Dean Malenko
“The Man of 1,000 Holds” was a member of The Radicalz, the four WCW superstars that jumped ship from WCW to WWE in early 2000. Along with Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, who proved himself to be one of WCW’s best Cruiserweight titleholders, should have made a huge splash in WWE, but couldn’t quite adjust to his new home simply because his skills were overlooked in favor of the company’s obsession with charisma and entertainment.
Malenko participated in his first and only WrestleMania, losing to Rikishi & Chyna while having Guerrero and Saturn by his side at WrestleMania 2000. Unlike Benoit and “Latino Heat,” Malenko wasn’t a major player when looking back on Mania history.
7 Alundra Blayze
As part WrestleMania 31 festivities this past year, Alundra Blayze was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame for her contributions in the squared circle, along with her time in WCW, where she tossed the WWE Women’s Championship in the trash.
She was synonymous with the women’s title during the 1990s, feuding with the likes of Bull Nakano and Bertha Faye as WWE’s prominent female athlete. Blayze competed at WrestleMania 10 against Leilani Kai, successfully defending her title in just over three minutes.
6 Michael Hayes
The Fabulous Freebirds would have been perfect for WrestleMania, given the nature of the show, which has often featured over-the-top entrances and made wrestlers feel like rock stars while commanding arenas with close to 100,000 attendees.
Unfortunately, only one member of arguably the best tag team of the 1980s competed at WrestleMania, and it didn’t last long.
Along with the likes of Doink, Duke Droese, Kamala, Repo Man, and The Gobbeldy Gooker, Michael “P.S.” Hayes competed in the 19-man gimmick battle royal at WrestleMania X-Seven. He wasn’t exactly in shape, yet it’s not like it was an issue considering the state of his opponents. One Man Gang eventually eliminated Hayes.
5 The Rock n’ Roll Express
Speaking of The Freebirds, one of their rivals, The Rock n’ Roll Express, also lent their services to WWE in 1998, mainly due to Jim Cornette’s NWA invasion which featured stars such as Jeff Jarrett and The New Midnight Express.
Sadly, wrestling fans never got the chance to see The Rock n’ Roll Express compete against The Freebirds at the “Show of Shows,” but they did see both Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson participate in the same battle royal as The Harris Brothers at WrestleMania 14. The team didn’t last as long as The Headbangers, The Godwinns, or The Midnight Express, yet both Morton and Gibson can look back on their careers and say they competed at the “Grandest Stage of Them All” during a short stint with WWE.
4 Dory Funk Jr.
The legendary Funk family - seen as pioneers in the wrestling industry - shed pints of blood for the business and their peers over the course of numerous decades.
Terry Funk, who also wrestled as Chainsaw Charlie, holds a 2-0 record at Mania, yet he wasn’t the only Funk who competed at the event Vince McMahon created to propel WWE to new heights. Terry and his older brother, Dory Funk Jr., defeated the team of Tito Santana & Junkyard Dog in a tag team match at WrestleMania 2 that set the tone for the Steel Cage Match featuring Hogan against King Kong Bundy.
The Funks were inducted into the 2009 class of the Hall of Fame for their contributions, competing all over the world and each winning an abundances of championships.
One of ECW’s most extreme superstars, Sabu was perhaps the most recognizable figure in Paul Heyman’s now defunct promotion, thanks to his patented wrestling attire and images planted in wrestling minds of his body in mid-air.
Vince McMahon’s ECW venture was a shell of its former self, and the chairman never understood the appeal of the promotion, hence the abysmal failure it was from 2006 to 2010. At WrestleMania 23, a team labeled as The ECW Originals took on The New Breed in a match that is best forgotten. Sabu, who was victorious in his only WrestleMania match, teamed up with Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, and The Sandman, and this was arguably the best tandem possible to represent ECW.
However, Sabu was a good fit for WWE considering his reckless style was best suited for small gymnasiums and cozy venues.
2 The Brain Busters
Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were member of the popular Four Horseman stable, and while they found much of his success in Jim Crockett Promotions and involved in big storylines, they weren’t major players on WWE’s main event scene. They participated in one tag match at WrestleMania and were known as The Brain Busters, two gifted athletes from Bobby “The Brain” Heenan’s powerful stable, The Heenan Family.
Both Blanchard and Anderson were subpar technicians in the ring, and their skills led them to winning the NWA World Tag Team Championship twice, as well as a tag title reign in the WWE.
They feuded with teams such as Demolition, The Rockers, and The Hart Foundation, and at WrestleMania 5, the future champs were at the forefront of Strike Force’s demise. In Anderson and Blanchard’s only Mania appearance, in which they won, Rick Martel abandoned Tito Santana, facilitating a Brain Busters win via spike piledriver.
1 Harley Race
One of the all-time greats to ever grace the squared circle made two WrestleMania appearances, yet they don’t come to mind all that easily.
Former NWA World Champion Harley Race joined WWE in the late-1980s, immediately being recognized as “King” after winning the 1986 King of The Ring tournament over Pedro Morales. Involved in a strong feud against The Junkyard Dog, Race toppled his foe at WrestleMania 3, in front of the faithful jam-packed into Michigan’s Pontiac Silverdome.
After winning his Mania debut, Race participated in a battle royal the following year at WrestleMania 4, where the Dog got his revenge by eliminating the man that beat him the year before. Race was among four other men as the final five participants, which also included Bret Hart, Paul Roma, and winner Bad News Brown.
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