For Your Consideration…The 24 Worst Matches in Wrestlemania History

    For Your Consideration…The 24 Worst Matches in Wrestlemania History

I know, I’m late and the format’s all wrong, but I’m going to do a quickie look at the 24 worst matches in Wrestlemania history, in chronological order. Okay, all of them are not “worst” matches but rather moments where mistakes in booking were glaringly obvious. (P.S. Thanks for all of the feedback to last week’s column, I assure you I’ll do a thorough analysis of Mania for next week).

Wrestlemania I:
Tito Santana versus The Executioner

I’m starting the list off in an unimpressive manor in the exact same way the WWE started off the first Wrestlemania. Yes, it’s true that Vince never envisioned Mania to become as big as he had hoped, so in hindsight I would believe that he would have gone with a better opener. My issue is that Santana/Executioner would hardly, as Gorilla used to say, “be a main event in any arena in the country”.

I don’t fault the WWE for going with Tito to open the show because he’s a reliable hand and possessed some name recognition with the fans. I also don’t fault them for going with Buddy Rose under the mask because, again, they could count on him. On the other hand, the blah card for Mania I did have some moments that could really kick off the show. My suggestion? Starting things off with Windham and Rotundo versus the Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff. It was a great “moment” and something that would have guaranteed a big pop. You’ve got the evil tag champions against hungry young superstars, which would set the pace for every Mania to come. Instead, we opened the first granddaddy of them all with midcarder against generic guy in a mask…hardly the best way to show you’re doing something new and exciting.

Wrestlemania 2:
Ricky Steamboat v. Hercules

Most people here would put Piper/Mr. T, and for good reason. No, I’m not faulting the WWE for trying something different, but instead I’m faulting them for not doing Piper/Orndorff, which was the clear feud at that time. On the other hand, this was already a stacked show and Wrestlemania was not yet THE destination for all feuds to end. Plus, having T there for more celebrity name recognition wasn’t a bad idea.

No, I fault the WWE for putting on Steamboat/Hercules. You see, Vince back then had this thing for big guys who were jacked up, unlike today…hehehe. Get it? It’s ironic. Anyway, this was originally Steamboat/Hart, but they thought Hercules was going to be the bigger draw. My gripe is that we could have let Bret Hart have an earlier shot at the big time in a match that could have made his career years before he broke out as a singles superstar, not to mention the fact that Steamboat would follow up Hart with his Mania 3 match against Savage.

Wrestlemania III:
King Kong Bundy & Lord Littlebrook & Little Tokyo v. Hillbilly Jim & Haiti Kid & Little Beaver

I know it’s a cheap shot to pick the midget match, but I have a few good reasons. First, there’s the presence of King Kong Bundy. Look, a lot of people took issue with Bundy main eventing Mania 2. The clear biggest match the company could have done would have been Hogan/Piper, which I consider the best Wrestlemania match to never happen. Either way, Bundy got the chance to main event and he didn’t embarrass himself. How then do you explain such a fall from glory?

Wrestlemania III was the biggest stage the WWE had ever played, so the first giant gap in logic is why they would murder Bundy’s credibility so soon? Even if it was just Bundy flattening Hogan’s friend Hillbilly Jim it would have been a better option for him. Adding midgets just decreased all credibility that the match could have had. Sure, Bundy flattening the midget got him a lot of heat, but it didn’t get him or the WWE any real mileage. On top of it, having midgets on a high profile show just fed the idea that wrestling was nothing more than a sideshow joke, which is a shame when you had Steamboat/Savage AND the magic that was Hogan/Andre.

Wrestlemania IV:
Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant

Wrestlemania IV is a forgettable show that I guarantee in hindsight that Vince would have rebooked if given the chance. You all kinda remember Mania IV, right? It was the whole Title Tournament thing. The problem with doing a tournament (as the WWE learned with King of the Ring) is that you can’t expect guys to go out there and do three or four full matches in a night. Instead, you got a lot of three minute matches where guys get put away like they’re in a Survivor Series match.

The “main event” for this show was Randy Savage and Ted Dibiase. Vince couldn’t do a straight up “Million Dollar Man” versus “Macho Man” main event because I guarantee Donald Trump would have had a heart attack that he was hosting the first Mania to not feature Hogan in the main event. So, instead of elevating the WWE’s stock by trying to push a new guy as the top contender, we got the charade that was the tournament.

I won’t argue that the right two guys got put in the main event. I’ve always been a Dibiase fan, and I think that his character could have continued to generate money if not for his injury and foolish decision to go to WCW and be a footnote in nWo history. I’ve also always been a Savage fan, though Vince’s (rightful) hatred of the guy has done nothing but bury him in the WWE history books.

My pick for the Worst Moment of Mania IV is Hulk Hogan versus Andre the Giant. Why am I so upset with it? Because we already had Hogan/Andre at Mania once. It was a magical moment (as I said above) where the stars aligned and the entire wrestling world joined together for one collective mark-out moment. What was the point of tarnishing such a great bout with this DQ infused shmozz?

Selling the PPV on the back of a Hogan/Andre rematch on paper seemed like a decent idea, but everything from the booking to the placement on the card was wrong. Having Hulk and Andre whacking each other with chairs wasn’t going to sell any further tickets, on top of the fact that the entire match building up to the DQ finish was abysmal. I know that Hogan didn’t need to be in the main event, but frankly he didn’t need to be in the tournament. Why not just book this as a special attraction and clear the path for a NEW champion?

Vince has only struck re-match gold once with Austin and The Rock, so I guess we can be thankful that this terrible match taught him to be careful about trying to recreate great matches.

Wrestlemania V:
Bad News Brown v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan

I like Bad News Brown. I think his style and his attitude was so far ahead of his time that Steve Austin should send his family royalties. I get that Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Duggan was a good soldier and deserved a payday, but why the hell did it have to be here?

Wrestlemania V is the second in a line of LONG pay-per-views. Wrestlemania IV and Wrestlemania V is probably still going on in some alternate universe. The problem was that Vince didn’t quite get the concept of making every match an event. This show had some great storyline matches and the biggest main event on the planet, but there were so many filler matches.

The toss-up for worst match was either this or Dino Bravo beating Ronnie Garvin (my buddy Andre made a plea for Heenan/Rooster but I’m too much of a Heenan mark to ever bury him). I picked this one because it went to a DQ finish. Wrestlemania doesn’t need to have matches that could have aired on Prime Time. As an astute wrestling fan, I understand that you want to get people seen by as many eyeballs as possible, and Vince wanted people to see Brown. So why not have him go over? Have him cheat to win. Have him do SOMETHING other than be outsmarted by Duggan and resort to a chair and a double-DQ. This didn’t add anything to the show. Having Brown beat Duggan would have catapulted him into the top heel slot, but instead we got…well…this.

Wrestlemania VI
Roddy Piper v. Bad News Brown

Again, I’m putting two guys I really like on this list. First and foremost, I love the fact that the WWE put Bravo over Garvin at Mania V only to have him lose to Duggan who then gets squashed by Earthquake, but they couldn’t put Brown over Duggan to set him up as a legit challenger for the belt.

This is a great on-paper match. The ideal match would have been to see Brown and Bret Hart do their thing, but the Hitman was too busy winning the tag titles in record time. Instead, we got Bad News Brown facing the half-black half-white Roddy Piper. I wanted so bad for Piper’s shtick to be funny, but it wasn’t. It was lame then and now just seems horribly racist. The worst part? Just like at Mania V, this match goes to a non-finish.

It really makes me wonder if the only reason Brown was held down was pure racism? I can’t really buy that because if it were racism then there’d be no better heel than a ghetto black guy for white audiences to hate. If Vince really believed there was money in it, he would have preyed on ugly and hateful stereotypes about race for personal gain. Instead, I just think this was a case of a guy ahead of his time that nobody could market. Either way, this match was just awful and made both guys look bad.

Wrestlemania VII
Blindfold Match: Rick Martel v. Jake Roberts

I like both guys, blah, blah, blah. The reason so many guys I like or think were marketable are on this list is that they were all wasted opportunities. This match was one of the “on the head” kinda picks because everyone thought this match was terrible. In fact, for that reason alone I almost didn’t add it to my list. If the match were decent, would anyone remember it with such strong conviction?

Nobody can argue that the right guy went over, but Jake would have benefitted a whole lot more from a clean pin over Martel instead of the gimmicked blindfold nonsense. Why not give them ten minutes? You could have easily cut some of the squashes (Earthquake over Valentine; Mountie over Santana) and given two capable stars a chance.

On a side note, I refuse to hate the whole Hogan/Slaughter thing because it was not the distasteful angle people thought it was. It was a great way to get heat on Sarge and to ensure that Hogan would have full crowd support. Good American Hero versus Evil Foreign Menace is always a recipe for success.

Wrestlemania VIII
Money Inc. v. The Natural Disasters

Again, there is a point to be made that this show had the wrong main event. The main event for this show should have been Hogan/Flair. How the hell did the WWE not make a billion dollars off of that match? That alone is the single biggest screw up in WWE booking history, even worse than Hogan/Piper. Oh well, I digress…

You couldn’t have had Savage/Flair main event the show with the planned finish of Hogan/Sid. Having Papa Shango attack Hogan and then having Warrior do the dramatic run-in to save his friend was a solid “moment”. In hindsight, knowing how much of a bust Shango would be and how Sid would sort of spin his wheels for several years and that Warrior would never get back to the levels he was at two years earlier and that Hogan was going to testify against Vince and possibly kill the business, I think Flair/Savage would have been the way to go.

Now, I picked Money Inc. versus the Natural Disasters because the screwjob finish was unnecessary. A quick recap: Jimmy Hart turned on Quake and Typhoon to help Money Inc. This was for the tag titles. It ended in a DQ.

I have one rational question I’d like to ask: WHY THE HELL DID THEY GO WITH A DQ FINISH ON THE BIGGEST SHOW OF THE YEAR? It wasn’t like they couldn’t switch the belts back the next week if they wanted. Why not give us a feel-good moment? I know we had a big one with Savage winning, but putting this non-finish so close to the non-finish main event didn’t make any sense. Having the good guys beat the bad guys would have played wonderfully in the new “WWe’re for kids” mentality. It was a cheap win that cheapened the biggest show of the year. Oh well, a minor gripe.

Wrestlemania IX
Tie: Bret Hart v. Yokozuna, Hulk Hogan v. Yokozuna, Undertaker v. Giant Gonzales

I tried to not do a cop-out, but I got no choice in the matter. You see, this is the infamous “Vince has no faith in Bret Hart so he has him lose to Yokozuna only for Hulk Hogan to come in, rescue Hart and win the title” match. Yes, that is the official title of the match. From a booking perspective, there are about a billion questions one has to ask.

First, what was the goal of this match? Bret Hart was a young and vibrant challenger who has proven his worth to Vince over several years. Hart wasn’t a WCW guy or an NWA guy, which meant that McMahon had the chance to carve him out in his image. Instead, Vince had a knee-jerk reaction and put the gold on Hulk. So now you’ve killed your evil challenger Yokozuna who holds the belt for ten seconds. You kill Bret Hart who looks like he can’t get the job and is at best Hogan’s bitch. On top of all o fit, you wuss out on just giving us Hart/Hogan in the main event, even if it was Hulk going over.

Imagine the possibilities that would have come from Hogan going over Hart. Vince could have tapped into that whiney Bret persona years before it became a trademark for his heel character. You then have a strong heel fighting a veteran face all over the country. On top of all of it, with the fans wavering (at best) about Hogan, Bret could have been the anti-hero that Austin would become years later.

But no…let’s have Hogan go over the Samoan guy pretending to be a Japanese sumo wrestler in the main event of the biggest show of the year. Makes sense. This could never backfire.

Oh, and Gonzales/Taker is on here for two reasons. One, the match sucked. It is beyond awful, and aside from the bodysuit should be burned from our memories. Two, and most importantly, Taker didn’t beat Gonzales. His streak is a fraud because he couldn’t pin this giant jobber. Instead, Gonzales used chloroform to draw a DQ. That’s right folks. Taker “won” the match via disqualification due to outside intoxicants.

Wrestlemania X
Earthquake v. Adam Bomb

Mania X is a great card. Two insanely awesome matches (Bret/Owen and HBK/Razor) and a feel-good finish with Bret winning the belt made this a great show. On top of that, you got Savage experimenting with ECW style and a chance to see Johnny Polo on PPV. Okay, so the entire card isn’t great. Men on a Mission sucked. The Doink & Dink versus Bigelow and Luna sucked. Luger/Yoko kinda sucked.

I chose to go with Earthquake/Bomb. Why? Well, Men on a Mission was at least a point in time where Vince was trying something new. They were hardly the Public Enemy and they bombed, but he tried. Luger not beating Yoko was fine with me because Luger/Hart would have been terrible (and Vince would have been tempted to put Luger over). As for Doink? Dink was over like Hornswoggle is now, so why not let them have their little moment? Get it? Little moment? They’re midgets. It’s funny. Screw you.

So, I picked this one, because Earthquake went over. Tenta’s string of odd squash wins at Mania could have made this list any year, but I chose this one because he never should have gone over Adam Bomb. Adam Bomb looked pretty cool for the time, and even though he sucked, he was better suited for Undertaker cannon fodder, not Earthquake cannon fodder. There was no real reason to bury the young talent under the weight of the old, so for that I put it on the list.

Wrestlemania XI
The Allied Powers v. The Blu Twins

Again, this card on paper makes sense. HBK/Diesel works because Diesel was actually pretty over for a short time. Bam Bam and LT drew international headlines. Razor/Jarrett always seemed to have decent bouts. So, by default I go with this.

This match is on here as a reminder to Vince that he needs to pay attention to contracts. I honestly believe the Allied Powers could have worked as a tag team. Bulldog and Luger were both mildly over and could be counted on to not completely suck (though they often phoned it in). Had Vince known that Luger was about to book a flight to Atlanta, he would have done this a little differently.

My pick? Have Owen and Yoko already hold the tag belts and come into Mania fighting Luger and Bulldog. Yokozuna and Luger already have a long history. Owen Hart and Bulldog have their family connection. There’s the obvious feud, why not do it at Wrestlemania? Instead we got the Gunns dropping the gold to the great team of Owen & Yoko and we get this disasterpiece to open the show. Oh well, it could have been worse.

Wrestlemania XII
Hunter Hearts Helmsly v. The Ultimate Warrior

Again, a solid but unspectacular card. My gripe with this match is two-fold; first, the WWE knew they were going towards a Mero/HHH feud so why choose to start it AFTER Hunter gets flattened, and second, why the hell did they have Warrior kick out of the Pedigree?

Look, I know Hunter was a nobody and seeing him get flattened by Warrior was a logical move. But unlike the fans, the WWE had the BOOK in front of them and saw that they were going to do a strong Mero/Hunter feud. How were fans supposed to buy Mero as a credible face when he’s going in there against a guy who lost to the Warrior in the blink of an eye? More importantly, how can anyone get beat by the Pedigree when Warrior was able to kick out in no time flat?

The Warrior return yielded no fruit (except for that awful Warrior comic book and the great time on RAW where Warrior ran out to the ring, hated his entrance, ran into the back to redo it only to find out that RAW that week was live and he screwed up royally), so why not have him flatten someone you DIDN’T have plans for. And I don’t mean plans in the “eventually Hunter’s gonna be world champ” vein, but rather the “Hunter needs to put over this new guy we paid decent money for” vein. It could have been worse. They could have put Warrior over Austin.

Wrestlemania XIII
The Undertaker v. Sid

The Undertaker worked his ass off and deserved the rub, but the match was terrible. I was actually a fan of Sid’s work around that time, with him having some great outings with Michaels on some of the RAW’s from that era. Sadly, this match was not a great outing. In fact, it was only memorable to me because of the odd run-in’s by Bret Hart. Why the hell did the WWE bother to get him involved at all? He beat Austin and now was cemented as a tweener, why try to bring him back to the land of faces? Also, why the hell didn’t Vince think that the Undertaker couldn’t beat Sid clean? For those reasons, I picked this match. Next.

Wrestlemania XIV
Triple H v. Owen Hart

I don’t fault the guys involved for their match being on this list. In fact, it’s a good match. One of young Hunter’s best. I put this match on here because of the fact that Owen Hart lost. Owen, the only Hart brother to stay, had the white hot angle and feud. Owen/Michaels would have made a lot of money and had some great matches. Instead, he got shoved off to Hunter and eventually Michaels had to touch gloves with Austin (one has to wonder if Michaels would have dropped the belt if his back wasn’t hurt, but I digress…).

This match was for the European Title, and Hunter losing to Owen would have saved Owen’s face turn. Instead, he spiraled deeper into aimlessness and ultimately wound up in the Nation.

Now, I know the win by Hunter here was essential. His winning and Shawn’s losing was what lead him to throw Shawn out of DX and then the next night deliver the “dropping the ball” speech that brought back X-Pac. I know that Hunter going over was the right thing for the business, but in terms of what was right for the storyline it should have gone to Owen.

Wrestlemania XV
Undertaker v. Bossman – Hell in the Cell

There was a lot bad on this show. I remember how confused I was about Russo switching Billy Gunn and Road Dogg in their respective matches. You can’t build up the Hardcore division around Road Dogg and build up the IC match around Gunn and then just switch them. It was stupid and made no sense. In any other year, I would give them the honors.

But this year had THIS match. This match that was so boring and so painful and so stupid that it’s amazing it didn’t kill the HITC gimmick forever. Yes, this is the match where the Undertaker hangs the Big Bossman, which accomplished nothing. The only positive thing here is that it was good to see two guys from the 80’s being kept fresh and working together at Mania. Then again, they sucked so bad that maybe this is why putting guys from the 80’s in the ring would end poorly.

Wrestlemania XVI
Steve Blackman & Al Snow v. T&A

Headcheese was an entertaining little gimmick, and given the right amount of build-up, this would have gotten over like gangbusters. Instead, they took the entertaining tandem and fed them to Test and Albert, two guys who were going nowhere fast until Trish Stratus came along to…uh…use them to get herself to the next level. The match was forgettable and in the end Snow and Blackman could have used the win. Blah.

Wrestlemania X-7
Chyna v. Ivory

I’ve avoided putting women’s title matches on here because by law they will normally suck unless they featured Trish or Lita. This match had neither. If I’m going to have a bad women’s match, let it at least feature a hot chick. This match had neither. On a supercard that had so many great matches, this was a phoned in token match and one of the points in time where we got sick and tired of pretending that Chyna was attractive. Just make it go away.

Wrestlemania X-8
Scott Hall v. Steve Austin

This was hardly a dream match, and stands as a monument to the horribly stupid nWo angle. I know we all loved Rock/Hogan, but the “dream” match would have been the nWo against Rock & Austin. Hell, we never even got to see Hogan and Austin lock horns, which is the “biggest match ever, blah blah blah”. Instead, we got this oddly placed midcard match where Austin dragged around the at this point talentless Hall and had a dull and listless match. Knowing that Steve only had about two more Mania’s in him, I doubt Vince would have allowed this charade to go on again.

If Vince had such knowledge, I’m sure he would have fed Hall to the Undertaker and done Austin/Flair. Or, short of that, used Edge or Booker T to mix up with some combination of these guys because at this point they were fighting over a shampoo commercial.

The match was sad and nowhere near the quality we expect from Stone Cold. On top of everything else, it made no sense why Hall and Nash would turn on Hogan considering Hall couldn’t get the job done earlier even with his crippled friend in his corner.

Hall/Austin was a time capsule dream match that, unlike Hogan/Rock, couldn’t deliver, so it never should have.

Wrestlemania XIX
A-Train & Big Show v. The Undertaker

So this was supposed to be a tag match featuring Nathan Jones, but instead it turns into a handicap match. A terrible handicap match. My biggest grievance here is the same one I had about King Kong Bundy; you can’t have a guy who just main evented Mania a few years ago plummet this far down the card. Big Show versus Taker would have sufficed. We didn’t need A-Train.

One has to wonder just how bad the Colossus of Boggle Road was for him to be pulled from this match. Remember folks, they chose to KEEP A-Train in the match. Jones must have been THAT bad. Regardless, doing a handicap match with two monsters and having Taker (with an assist from Jones) beat them just killed any cred the monsters had. Thankfully for Big Show, Paul Heyman’s booking would put the belt back around his waist, but this match is just a giant glaring screw-up. How do we know this? When they show footage of Taker’s streak, they only show him getting offense on A-Train.

Wrestlemania XX
Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hottie v. APA v. The World’s Greatest Tag Team v. The Bashams

Because nothing says Wrestlemania like the Bashams. This pay-per-view extravaganza was a monument to the giant WWE roster, where not one but TWO four way tag matches were booked. It was a toss-up over which match to pick, but I picked this one because Rikishi went over. Wrestlemania XX was (WAS) one of the greatest feel-good shows ever. You had two new babyfaces going over in the two world title matches, you had Booker and RVD already leaving with the tag belts and you had a bald Molly Holly. Did the WWE even need to put over Scotty and Rikishi?

This match should have been a platform for the WGTT, but it wasn’t. It was another monument to Vince’s love of fat people dancing (cue Big Dick Johnson). The contest was a useless time filler and should have been cut.

Wrestlemania 21
Trish Stratus v. Christy Hemme

Clearly, I’m amending what I said earlier about women’s title matches. Mania 21 is a rock solid card with very little holes. This match has a gaping hole and that is Christy Hemme. Vince had to put her in this match because she was the Diva Search winner and the Playboy cover girl and had the “buzz”. Her storyline was as hackneyed and paint-by-numbers as it goes; champion belittles challenger, challenger vows to win, challenger wins. Except here she lost. And she can’t wrestle. And it wasted valuable segments that could have been used for anything else. And it meant that we couldn’t keep ultra hot heel Stratus because there was no credible babyface. And it meant that Vince would keep trying with the Diva Search to find a true winner. Ugh.

Wrestlemania 22
The Boogeyman v. Booker T and Sharmell

I thought for sure I was going to put Booker T on the list for Wrestlemania XIX, but in hindsight it was a smart decision to not put the belt on him. Face Booker doesn’t generate any buzz, but British accent royal Booker does. Sadly, this match served to get the Boogeyman over…which it didn’t. It also served as a reminder that the WWE had no idea how to properly use Booker at this point, but King Bookah was pure genius. As it was, this was a terrible comedy match, a waste of time, a burial of a once and future champion and a lame attempt to get over a doomed gimmick.

Wrestlemania 23
The Great Khali v. Kane

I had a real moral issue with selecting this pick because I wanted to give it to Lashley/Umaga. How pissed must Vince be about Bobby Lashley? This was the second time in five years that a monster superstar turns tail and leaves the company mid-push. Bobby wasn’t the greatest, but he got the biggest push of his career being in this slot. Any face would have killed to be in such a high profile match, and he takes it for granted and goes to ultimate fighting. I hate Bobby Lashley.

With that said, this one’s a no-brainer. Khali was terrible and Kane somehow has gotten a pass on this list, so here it is. Burying Kane for the sake of getting over the terrible Khali has Stephanie’s fingerprints all over it. It wasn’t as bad as jobbing Taker to him, but it was close. Just a terrible and dull match with the abysmal push of Khali at Mania joining the Earthquake push (though at least Earthquake made money).

Wrestlemania XXIV
Batista v. Umaga

I saw Wrestlemania XXIV live. I was pumped for seeing my first live Mania, but I was worried that we’d get a clunker. Instead, we got a great Taker/Edge main event, a solid triple threat title match, the Mayweather circus and a solid Money in the Bank ladder match. My pick for the worst was either this or JBL/Finlay. I was going to pick Finlay/JBL because they had Fit job to Bradshaw for no reason, but it didn’t bother me as much as I thought. THIS match bothered me.

Having animosity towards Batista isn’t hard. He was given all of the tools to succeed and was massively over and then…well…nothing happened. He won the belt and then got hurt. And won the belt and got hurt again. He was always injured and never found his groove. He desperately needed a heel turn, but instead of that we got this. This match also qualifies for the whole “wasting a main eventer” thing even if Taker/Batista last year was like the fourth match on the show.

These two guys fought under the lame guise of “brand supremacy”, but mainly because the WWE had nothing for either superstar to do, and you don’t want to waste having two top guys NOT be on your show.

In hindsight, the WWE should have stuck Batista in the Money in the Bank match (which only had seven participants thanks to Jeff Hardy’s bust) and then done Umaga/Kane, but neither of those moves would have set the world on fire. This match was basically two rudderless monsters thrown together for the sake of being on television, and they both phoned it in. Flash forward a year and neither guy is even on the card.

The worst part? Batista wins the match for Smackdown and gets drafted the next night. Whoops.

Whew, there you have it, twenty four worst matches in Mania history. Agree? Disagree? E-mail me at awheeler316@yahoo.com

This has been for your consideration.

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