The SmarK Rant – The Worst Wrestlemania Matches EVER
Scott, any chance of a Top Ten Worst? the list for potential candidates has grown sizably over the last few years, and the commentary always gives the matches some sort of value.
Yeah, sure, why not. Here’s the ground rules, though, to keep it fair:
1. No battle royales. They always suck and the list would get tiresome quickly because I hate them so very much.
2. Because the Divas are not generally trained professionals and can’t be held to the same standards, I’m going to attempt to refrain from including them unless it’s a REALLY shitty match.
3. Quick squashes which never had a chance to be either bad or good will generally get a pass, because ‘At least it was short’ is the mantra by which I keep my sanity sometimes.
4. Dull matches are not what I’m looking for here — I want spectacular car wrecks that give me something to talk about in response to my smart-ass friends who think the segment they’re watching is the worst ever. It’s no good to pull out Rude v. Roberts from WM4 because it’s just offensively boring, not actively bad. To truly trump the argument I need a match from this list where I can say ‘Oh yeah? Well I remember watching a Wrestlemania whereâ€¦’
5. Finally, no boxing matches, Brawls for All, or Sumo matches. Anyone can fuck up something they’re not regularly trained at, I’m looking for people who get paid to WRESTLE who apparently can’t do that well enough to entertain me for 5-10 minutes.
(Note: I cannot in good conscience include Huckster v. Nacho Man, partly because it was not on the proper Wrestlemania broadcast and partly because they were not attempting to do a real match.)
I’m gonna give a free pass to the first couple of years because they were still finding their way with the show, but by 1987 they would have known better, so that’s our starting point for candidates.
Honorable mention #1: Brock Lesnar v. Goldberg.
This one is a special case because although a legendary bad match, it’s so fascinating as a bad match that it goes all the way around and becomes good again by way of the crowd reactions and all the revisionism that went into the DVD editing of it. It’s really not even close to making the list based on quality alone, but it was a rare match with circumstances so unbelievable and crazy that that people still talk about it today and often grossly exaggerate the lack of quality. But yeah, it sucked. From Wrestlemania XXâ€¦
Austin is of course the special referee. The crowd reactions here are immediately fascinating, as the MSG crowd is apparently aware of the imminent departures of both men and has no interest in liking this match, no matter what. Then they focus on Lesnar, chanting â€œYou sold outâ€ at him so loud that JR has to acknowledge his departure. Then they move onto â€œThe Goodbye Songâ€ as both guys seem unsure of how to handle things. Finally, they make contact at 2:46 after endless stalling, and the crowd viciously turns on the match right from the first lockup. And you thought Philly was mean. They do an extended fight over the lockup, which the crowd has no patience for. Another lockup and the carnage from the crowd continues. At this point, Iâ€™d have had Austin just stun both guys and move onto the next match. Next chant: â€œThis match sucksâ€. Who knew they played bingo at MSG? They fight over a shoulderblock and both go down, and the crowd sympathizes with no one. Next up, the old standard â€œboringâ€ chant. Goldberg finally gets things going with a press slam on Lesnar, but the spear misses and he hits the post. Brock pounds away and gets a suplex for two. Brock goes to a neck vice, which was exactly what the match didnâ€™t need. That goes on for far too long before Goldberg escapes with a hiptoss, but they collide and both are out, and the crowd turns on them again. Brock gets two. Crowd lets us know that this match sucks again. Brock works him over in the corner, but Goldberg comes back with clotheslines and the neckbreaker, as now the crowd is chanting for Hogan. God, theyâ€™ve gone nuts. I knew it would happen someday, but I just didnâ€™t think it would be MSG going over the deep end before the rest of the city. Spear gets two. Brock comes back with the F5 for two. Brock goes for his own spear, but misses, and Goldberg finishes with the spear and jackhammer at 13:41, giving the match a sarcastic round of applause for being over before going silent again. Austin thankfully redeems things somewhat by laying out both guys with stunners. As a match, nothing interesting, but as a bizarre sociological experiment, this was tremendous. Â½*
Honorable mention #2: Bad News Brown v. Roddy Piper
So this one is not necessarily the WORST match in my list of candidates, but it stands out as the most needlessly offensive to anyone who isn’t a member of the KKK. It’s not bad enough to make the list as a match, though, so it gets a pass. From Wrestlemania VIâ€¦
And now your one giant step for racial harmony, as Piper comes out with one side painted in blackface and the other side white. They tussle to start and fight on the mat, but the ref keeps separating them. What is this, the UFC? Piper slugs away and does some biting the corner, but Brown lays him out from behind and gets a fistdrop for two. Slam and elbowdrop get two. Piper pokes him in the eye and slugs away in the corner, but Brown returns the favor by thumbing him in the eye, and he pulls apart a turnbuckle. Piper whips him into it, as irony proves to be just as ironic in Canada as in the US, and Piper pulls a white glove out of his tights. Presumably loaded. Piper slugs away with it and goes up with a fistdrop, then knocks Bad News out of the ring and they brawl to a double-countout at 4:44. This didnâ€™t go anywhere, but it booked more as a teaser for a future house show feud than as a WM blowoff. *
10. Crush v. Doink the Clown.
Well you had to know we’d begin the list with a Wrestlemania IX match, to me the shock was that IX was fairly low-key on this list, with only two entries. This one is a stupid feud between two people who embodied the cartoon character spirit of the early 90s with one of the dumbest ideas in history for the finish. So I think it qualifies, even if it’s a little short to be truly epic bad.
This is a pretty infamous match. Doink the psychotic clown was always a very cool gimmick. Crush attacks Doink before the bell, sportsman that he is. There’s TOO MANY BRIGHT COLORS HERE. Crush is decked out in neon yellow, orange and purple. Doink has red, blue and yellow, with green hair. This is going to wreck my TV screen. Meanwhile, the match sucks the meat missile. Crush goes for the Kona Kompactor, but the ref gets bumped and Doink rolls out and tries to crawl under the ring. Crush throws him back in and applies the Kompactor, but Doink II comes from under the ring and decks Crush with a prosthetic arm, and a beatdown results. Doink I gets the pin when the ref wakes up. A supremely bad idea. -**
9. Hulk Hogan v. Sid Justice
First appearance (of two) for Sid here, and this one makes the list because we lost Hogan v. Flair to getâ€¦this. From Wrestlemania VIII:
This was SUPPOSED to be Hoganâ€™s retirement match, but he just kept coming back. The show is running long at this point, too. Sid attacks him to start, and Hogan punches him out of the ring and finishes his posing. We start proper as Sid knees him in the gut and pounds away in the corner. Hogan slugs him out of the ring. Back in, Sid calls for the test of strength like every other idiot heel in WWF history, and gets Hogan down to his knees, but he fights back up again. Sid takes him into the corner with knees, and chokeslams him. Sid stops to give his â€œDo unto the manâ€¦â€ line to the camera and the match is suddenly 10x better, since Sid isnâ€™t doing anything. He uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS and Hogan bails, so Sid follows and hits him with Harveyâ€™s medical bag. Wonder if that was George Zahorianâ€™s bag? Back in, Sid uses the VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DOOM as I go change my laundry. Hogan fights out, so Sid sideslams him and powerbombs him, but itâ€™s Hulk Up Time, punch punch punch big boot legdropâ€¦and then a very interesting moment as Papa Shango was supposed to run in and break up the count, but misses his cue, forcing Sid to kick out. That was to protect Sid, but in retrospect they neednâ€™t have bothered, since he was gone weeks later anyway. Itâ€™s a DQ at 12:26 for no adequately explored reason, and Papa Shango finally gets out there for the beatdownâ€¦until Ultimate Warrior makes a shocking return and blows the roof off the place. Good thing they had his music ready. Well, Hoganâ€™s good Wrestlemania match streak ends at 3. Â¼* Some cosmetic changes to Warrior had people guessing that it wasnâ€™t Jim Hellwig, but believe me, I wasnâ€™t that lucky.
8. Intercontinental title match: Rocky Maivia v. The Sultan
From Wrestlemania 13, another show that was just a bad idea all around but surprisingly only gets two entries. This was a glaring case of Vince not being able to see the forest for the trees, as his pet project Rocky Maivia was stuck into a high profile position well before he was ready, and an injury to planned opponent Marc Mero left the green rookie at the biggest show of the year against the unmotivated Sultan as a result. The crowd was of no hope in easing Rock’s nerves here, although he would get better, of course.
Wow, welcome to Bizarro World. Who would have EVER, I mean, EVER thought that Rocky would end up main-eventing what should turn out to be the biggest Wrestlemania ever? And a three-time WWF champion with a huge following? And that the Sultan would get successfully repackaged as a dancing sumo wrestler and get almost equally over? Rocky gets *no* pop. For the record, this was supposed to be Rocky getting beaten like a dog by ‘Wildman’ Marc Mero, but the injury to Mero that put him out for almost a year prevented it, and so we get the Sultan, evil Arab. Rocky tries more stuff here than today (dropkick and a couple of other moves) but it doesn’t look very good. The dreaded ‘Rocky Sucks’ chant makes it’s PPV debut here. Several times, and very loud. Terrible match. The Sultan is former Headshinker Fatu, for those who don’t know. The Sultan hits a headbutt off the top but only gets two. Sultan…moves…so…slow. Lots of resting. I’m soooo glad Rocky had a personality transplant in late 97. Faarooq is probably less glad, of course. The crowd is downright hostile towards the Rock, even booing him as he powers out of a chinlock. Rocky makes the superman comeback, hulking up and drawing no reaction from the crowd. He nails a belly-to-belly for two and hits his ‘Layin the Smack Down’ DDT, setting up a flying bodypress, but the Iron Shiek is distracting the ref. Sultan gets a superkick and a piledriver for a couple of two counts, but Rocky rolls Sultan up out of nowhere for three. Crowd isn’t appreciative. Vince, who is many things, is not stupid. He heard the crowd reaction and took the title off Maivia soon after, then re-tooled him into The Rock a few months later. The rest is history. The Evil Foreigners work over Rocky, but Rocky Johnson makes the save. -* A horrible match.
7. Steve Blackman & Al Snow v. Test & Albert.
From Wrestlemania 2000. Head Cheese, Test, and early Trish Stratus, three things are a recipe for disaster.
Okay, quick word of explanation here. Blackman and Snow were Head Cheese, as Snow engaged in a quest to find a personality for Blackman. Test & Albert were Trish Stratusâ€™ first stint in the WWF, which just shows how incredibly far sheâ€™s come as a character and a worker since her debut in 2000. For one thing, sheâ€™s no longer overly muscled and freakishly tanned. Nor does she wear 6 inch lifts in her boots. Test starts with Blackman, but gets superkicked. Snow comes in for a quick double-team and Snow slugs away, but Test clotheslines him and brings in Albert. Test gets the big boot. Snow comes in with an enzuigiri on Albert, but they beat on him in the corner. Albert gets double-teamed in the Head Cheese corner and they get a double-clothesline for two. Snow suplexes him for two. Blackman kicks him down for two as things get REALLY ugly and the match just falls apart. Snow & Blackman work Albert over, but he comes back with a butterfly suplex and makes what appears to be a hot tag for the heels, as Test comes in and cleans house on Head Cheese and gets a sideslam on Snow for two. I donâ€™t get this at all. Double powerbomb on Snow, so devastating that Snow pulls up his tights in mid-sell, gets two. JR apologizes about 18 times for the match as Snow hits Albert with a quebrada outside, and Blackman pounds on Test to set up a Decapitation double-team on Test for two. Albert baldobombs Snow and dumps him, and presses Test onto Blackman for two. JR keeps burying the match as Blackman superkicks Albert, but Albert basically no-sells and Test finishes Blackman with a flying elbow at 6:59 to end the suffering. If this wasnâ€™t in the running for Worst Match of the Year, it should have been. -**
6. WWF title quarterfinals: Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant.
I feel bad about picking on broken-down Andre, but really Vince was just milking the poor guy for whatever money he could make off him by this point. This was a rare outright horrible match on a show where everything else was just kind of boring. From Wrestlemania IV:
The whole saga is recapped for those who need it. This feud is one of those cases where they started out with a bad match and got worse each time. Andre attacks to start, as vigorously as he could move by that point, and pounds Hogan with the CLUBBING FOREARMS. Having seen Hogan wrestle Big Show a million times, Andre really doesnâ€™t look that tall here. Hogan fights back with clotheslines and goes after Dibiase, then rams him into Andre and starts throwing chops. Andre falls into the ropes and gets tangled up, so Hogan capitalizes by tearing his shirt off and posing. Well, no one ever said he was a great strategist. He slugs on Andre to no avail, and Andre finally goes down. He drops elbows, but Andre chokes him down on the mat. Andre is painfully slow here. Dibiase gets his shots in from the outside, and Andre chokes him from behind and turns it into a VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DOOM. And we move to tape #2. Thatâ€™s the worst tape break Iâ€™ve ever seen. Anyway, Andre continues choking, but Hulk miraculously comes back, which is a development I didnâ€™t expect at all. Punch punch punch clothesline and Hogan goes for the slam, but Dibiase brings in a chair and breaks it up. Our combatants fight over it, and itâ€™s a double DQ at 5:14, giving the winner of Dibiase v. Muraco a free trip to the finals. Horrible, horrible stuff, as Andre was obviously in no shape to be out there. -** Hogan, sportsman that he is, beats up Virgil and nearly kills him with a suplex on the floor because he didnâ€™t want to go down with him. And then he slams Andre too. What a hero.
5. Giant Gonzalez v. The Undertaker
And here’s your other entry from IX. This is a bad match used as a touchstone against which most other bad matches are rated, and IT’S NOT EVEN THE WORST ON THIS LIST.
Undertaker has a vulture with him. That’s about the most interesting thing here. A truly wretched match, topped only by their Summerslam 93 rematch. Gonzalez ‘sells’ like he’s being poked with Scott Hall’s tazer gun, and moves like he’s got a pole shoved up his ass. After 18 hours of excrutiating non-action, the Giant gets a chloroform-soaked rag and smothers Undertaker into unconsciousness, drawing the DQ. -***
4. WWF World title match: Sid v. The Undertaker
Back to Wrestlemania 13 for the main event, which again wouldn’t be memorably horrible in a midcard position, but this was the match that Vince wanted to build to as the focus of the promotion for months beforehand. People were actually expected to put down $40 to watch THIS MATCH. Actual money. Undertaker had been proven to be carryable by Bret Hart and Sid could be carried by Shawn Michaels, but neither of them is wrestling in this match, unfortunately.
Because it’s a special occasion, UT is wearing his original ‘grey rubber gloves and torn sleeves’ outfit. HBK is doing commentary, working through the pain of the smile-ectomy he went through which put him out. Undertaker has gone through a year of shitkickings from Mankind, and this is his reward for loyalty. Sid gets the clear-cut heel pop. Bret Hart makes his way to the ring and grabs a mike, sending threats to Shawn, telling off Undertaker, and claiming Sid screwed him. So Sid powerbombs him. Served him right. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your heel turn. Undertaker attacks Sid from behind and we’re underway. Undertaker hammers Sid a few time and slams him for a two count. Ropewalk shot, but Sid won’t sell. UT charges the corner but gets caught in a bearhug for resthold #1. And that uses up a couple of minutes. Big boot and Sid pushes him over the top rope, then into the Spanish announce table. Bad night for the foreign announcers. Sid drops UT on the railing a couple of times, then slams him through the table. Vince announces that this was changed to a no-DQ match beforehand. Sid rolls UT in for two. CAMEL CLUTCH OF DEATH is resthold #2. Double axehandle off the 2nd rope, and Sid stalls. Ugly powerslam gets two. And a couple more. Sid drops the leg for two. And a couple more. I like that he keeps trying for the pin, forcing UT to keep kicking out. UT hits the flying clothesline, but Sid no-sells. They fight to the floor. Back in the ring, UT misses an elbowdrop. Sid goes into resthold #3. UT breaks and powerslams Sid for two. UT applies a VULCAN NERVEGRIP OF DOOM for resthold #4. Sid escapes and they both hit a big boot at the same time for a double KO spot. Sid is up first for a two count. Another double axehandle. A sort of clothesline-like type thing off the second rope gets two. Match…..moving……so……slow. UT blocks another 2nd rope attempt, but Sid no-sells again and slams UT, then heads to the top rope. UT does the zombie situp and crotches Sid. Slam off the top, and UT goes to the top. Flying clothesline gets two. UT goes for the tombstone, but Sid reverses to his own. It only gets two. Sid dumps UT, and Bret is back. He wallops Sid with a chair from behind and gets dragged off by referees. UT takes advantage and rams Sid into the steel. Back in the ring, UT chokeslams Sid for two. UT misses…whatever…coming off the ropes and Sid powerbombs him. Nope, here’s Bret again. Sid knocks him off the apron, but walks right into the tombstone and gets pinned. Way screwy ending. UT wins his second World title. Crap match. 1/2* This was, for all intents and purposes, the last appearance of Sid.
3. Hollywood Backalley Brawl: Goldust v. Rowdy Roddy Piper
From Wrestlemania XII, as drugs once again prove how dangerous they can be by making me sit through the first of many nostalgia comebacks by Roddy Piper, due to Scott Hall’s suspension. I suppose you can play the ‘it’s not intended to be an actual match’ card, but I’m gonna play the ‘It’s my list’ card, which always wins. This was EXCRUCIATING to sit through. You might argue as well that it was somewhat ahead of its time, foreshadowing the hardcore matches of the future, but I argue that all it reminded me of was Dustin’s truck match in WCW against Barry Darsow.
This was supposed to be Ramonâ€™s match, but he was in rehab and on his way to WCW, so itâ€™s noted homophobe Piper who gets moved into the feud. This is a pre-taped segment that takes place in an alley in â€œHollywoodâ€. Goldust pulls up in a gold Cadillac, where Piper is waiting. Piper smashes in his windows with a baseball bat and basically mugs him. He rams Goldust into a dumpster and tosses garbage cans at him. The editing here is pretty obvious. He whips out his firehose and sprays Goldust down. Geez, thatâ€™s not Freudian AT ALL, Roddy. Piper lays in some stiff shots, but gets low-blowed. Goldust runs him over with the Caddy (cue stuntman!) and drives away. Piper follows in a white Ford Bronco as we head back to the arena, where we find a dead crowd as a result of a long pre-taped segment. Piper & Goldust arrive back at the arena and fight to the ring. Goldust works on the knee and gropes him a bunch. Goldust hits the LIPLOCK OF DOOM, causing Piper to go berserk and apply a groin claw and knee to the groin (does anyone else see the scathing irony there?) and finishes by ripping Goldustâ€™s clothes off to reveal S&M gear. Goldust flees, I guess essentially conceding the match. Total junk, but the crowd loved it.
2. Blindfold match: Jake Roberts v. Rick Martel
From Wrestlemania VII, and this was a TOUGH call to make. In the end, though, there was some small modicum of entertainment value to be derived from the marks in the audience guiding the ‘blinded’ Roberts to victory with their cheers, so it ends up at #2 instead of taking the coveted top spot. Otherwise, the gap between 2 and 3 is HUGE, as at least everything else on this list underneath #2 can be called a ‘wrestling match’ in some form. This was just two guys in see-through ‘blindfolds’ stumbling around a ring for 7 minutes, like ballet for the blind and stoned.
This is a legendary match, for all the wrong reasons, as Martel blinded Jake to set it up. Maybe it was just the cheap rotgut he was drinking at the time? So yeah, both guys are wearing hoods, which they can obviously see through in reality. The idea is that Jake points to where Martel is, and the crowd cheers to lead him on. They wander around the ring and Jake trips Martel up for two. Martel pounds him on the mat and tries a backdrop, but Jake just moves out of the way. Now, why wouldnâ€™t someone do that all the time? Talk about exposing the inherent logic gaps of the business. They bump into each other again, but they canâ€™t find each other. Nothing like non-contact to spice up a match. Martel finally gets a slam, but Jake just stands up to dodge an elbowdrop. Martel accidentally gropes Damian and retreats to the other corner. Jake finally finds him and grabs a headlock, but Martel dumps him. Martel follows like an idiot and grabs a chair, but of course canâ€™t find him. Back in, Martel gets a backbreaker and the Boston Crab, but Jake powers out. Martel is dazed, DDT, goodnight at 6:09. Thereâ€™s a reason why you donâ€™t see many blindfold matchesâ€¦wellâ€¦ever, really. -***
And finally, what other alternative could there possibly be for the worst match in the history of Wrestlemania?
1. Heck in the Cell: Big Bossman v. Undertaker
This one had ‘bad idea’ written all over it as plain as the eyebrow on Vince Russo’s forehead, but that’s never stopped them before. Punchy-kicky to start. And that goes on for good long while before they fight outside. Absurdist line of the night, from (who else), Michael Cole the Little Goatee Wearing Bitch: He declares that Hell in a Cell is dangerous because you can get your fingers caught in it. Lawler does me proud by responding to that one for me. Bossman cuffs Taker to the cell as a spontaneous ‘boring’ chant starts. Undertaker does a bladejob best described as a polite concession to the expectations of Philly fans and the match format. Bossman gets rammed to the cage and joins the Gig Club, although really it’s about 0.0000004 Muta between them and I’ve seen menstrual flows that were more inspiring. Someone get these losers some aspirin and a ‘Best of Muta’ tape, STAT. Meanwhile, the ongoing saga of which side of the arena can do a bigger ‘boring’ chant continues. Sadly, I’m not sitting close enough to the rear speakers to make an informed judgment on the matter. UT mercifully tombstones and pins Bossman at 9:46. Call it -***1/2, and that’s generous. The Brood rappels from the ceiling and HANGS the Bossman, which was of course forgotten by the next night, because CRASH TV = RATINGS.
Sadly I had this list at 25 items before I whittled it down to 10, so Wrestlemania has been just as famous for stinkers as it has for great matches.
Tags: Big Bossman, hell in the cell, Jake Roberts, Rick Martel, Scott Keith, sid, SmarK Rants, undertaker, wrestlemania, WWE