Because ten is not enough.
In the nearly three-decade history of WrestleMania, wrestling fans have been treated to over 250 matches and countless moments and memories that are still talked about to this day. Moments like Hulk Hogan slamming a 525-pound Andre the Giant, Shawn Michaels diving from a ladder to a prone Razor Ramon, and Brock Lesnar nearly killing himself in the name of making history. Matches like Savage-Steamboat, Austin-Rock, TLC, and Undertaker-Michaels are still being talked about to this very day.
And then there are these matches. They're talked about for all the wrong reasons. Whether it was because of the quality of the wrestlers, the length of the match, or the circumstances surrounding it, there are some matches that aren't exactly looked at in a great light. In fact, this dozen is a list of the worst WrestleMania matches EVER. As in the history of EVER. As with any list, it is subjective, but it's hard to argue against these.
For the purpose of this list, I'm only picking 12, so some will not make the cut. So, since you have decided not to avert your eyes, let's take a trip to the bottom of the WrestleMania barrel.
NOTE: This is not a countdown, merely a list.
15 minutes. That's how deep last year's WrestleMania broadcast was in before they were on the second match. If you take away the National Anthem and the intro and pyro, that clears about ten or eleven minutes. About a minute each for the two participants (three if you count Daniel Bryan's then-valet AJ), and if my math is correct, that doesn't leave a hell of a lot of time. This farce lasted all of eighteen seconds. A kiss, a Brogue Kick of Fear, and drive home safely.
Sheamus begins a six-month run as the World Heavyweight Champion with serious fan backlash. As for Daniel, well, it's hard to argue he didn't benefit from the "match" too. He got a catchphrase, a couple shirts, and he's arguably more over than the man that beat him. These two deserved better, especially after they were bumped the previous year. It was a major blemish on an otherwise well-done WrestleMania. P.S. #Occupy is no longer a thing. But YES! still is.
2. WrestleMania XXVII: Michael Cole vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the guest referee:
WrestleMania is usually the night where long-time feuds come to a climax. This hasn't exactly been the case in recent years, but once in a while, you hope for someone to get their comeuppance with the world watching (i.e. McMahon, Vincent).
Case in point: WrestleMania XXVII, which should have been the comeuppance of one Michael Sean Coulthard at the hands of one Jerry O'Neil Lawler. It should have been swift and severe justice served to the man that physically and mentally tormented the WWE Hall of Famer for months. Or at the very least, a comedy match. But instead, it brought everybody watching it down. This match lasted fourteen minutes, and if you include entrances and other filler surrounding the match, it's nearly a half-hour. That's 12% of the show. That's a lot of real estate for a match that shouldn't matter much.
The worst part: Jerry Lawler's one and only WrestleMania win is yanked away via reverse decision thanks to the anonymous RAW GM. (Second: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus got bumped on the day of the show for this. Third: The feud dragged on for two more months.) That is a reason to rage quit life, or at the very least demand a refund for this garbage. If people didn't turn on this show before this match, they certainly did after it. I know I did. (Side nugget: this was the first WrestleMania bout to end on a DQ since The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock at WMXIV)
It was more than a decade in the making, and Vince McMahon was finally about to have a very physical version of a "Come to Jesus" meeting with the man he screwed in Montreal all those years ago. In an ideal world, Vince would have taken a swift and severe ass kicking, Bret would have gotten the Sharpshooter and the match would have been done. No way would this have been a comedy match given the circumstances.
Here's what really happened: Vince got his ass kicked, but not nearly severely enough. Bret looked slow and old. And the plot twist of Bret's family being paid-for-by-Vince lumberjacks is nullified before the opening bell. It was cringeworthy and not fun to watch. Plus, say what you will about the positives of going PG, this ass kicking didn't feel complete enough given the events of the past.
Setup: Randy Orton wants to be the next Triple H. Randy Orton, legend killer, kills Vince McMahon dead after nearly being fired by McMahon. Randy Orton kills Shane McMahon dead. Randy Orton kills Stephanie McMahon dead and makes out with the corpse. Triple H, naturally, seeks revenge. By the way, it is around this time that it was finally acknowledged on WWE programming that Triple H is Vinnie Mac's son-in-law.
So how does our hero seek said revenge? By invading the home of Randy Orton, legend killer, with a sledgehammer.
After all this (and Orton's group Legacy getting owned the Monday before WrestleMania by the family McMahon), we should expect an intense bout or something. Except that then-GM Vickie Guerrero adds a rule that should Triple H get disqualified or counted out, he loses the belt. It didn't matter; Orton got crushed. He also got punted in the skull, sledgehammered in the face, and corpsed via Pedigree. The crowd was visibly dead for this one (and, really, you can't blame them.
Two matches earlier: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels). By 2009, we were burned out on Orton-Triple H, and this match didn't help matters.
The WrestleMania VIII encounter between Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice was billed as Hogan's final match in the history of ever, as he was set to do his thing in Hollywood. But Hogan whipped out his...creative control card and waved it for the world to see at WrestleMania IX. The upstart Yokozuna had steamrolled the entire WWF roster since his debut on Halloween 1992 and defeated WWF Champion Bret "Hitman" Hart (who, ironically, won the WWF title just days before Yokozuna's debut) in the main event of WrestleMania IX.
But... like Street Fighter IV, here comes a new challenger! Hulk Hogan immediately calls bullshit on the ending and Yokozuna, through his manager Mr. Fuji, challenged Hogan to a title match. Big ego, yes, but Hogan's a smart man. He's not gonna turn down a title match (hell, even Hart encouraged him to do it). Fuji tries the salt in the eyes tactic that worked on Hart, but backfires here. Clothesline, leg drop of doom, drive home safely. Hulk Hogan is the first five-time WWF Champion ever.
If it led to Hogan vs. Hart at Summerslam, sign us up for it. But it didn't, as Hogan lost to Yokozuna two months later at King of the Ring with, ironically, a legdrop, and Hogan left for Hollywood, and eventually, WCW. Both main eventers get thrown under the bus in favor of the guy from Hollywood. And it's not the first time.
6. WrestleMania XI: All of it:
I know it's cheating, but I'm including all of WrestleMania XI in one entry because this show was BEYOND AWFUL (and it wasn't even the worst WWF show of 1995 if you think about it). In terms of bad WrestleMania events, ones that are called the worst ever usually have a redeeming match or two:
WrestleMania 2? The tag title match. WrestleMania IV? Macho Man Randy Savage's four wins. WrestleMania VII? Savage vs. Warrior. WrestleMania IX? Shawn Michaels vs. Tatanka or Steiners vs. Headshrinkers.WrestleMania 13? Hart vs. Austin.WrestleMania XV? Rock-Austin I. WrestleMania 21? Money in the Bank or Angle-Michaels. WrestleMania 25? Undertaker-Michaels I. WrestleMania XXVII? Triple H-Undertaker III.
WrestleMania XI? None of the above. You knew it was going to be a bad night when they had technical difficulties during the "America the Beautiful".
As for the matches: Luger and Bulldog vs. The Blu Brothers? Meh. Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett? If you've seen it once before this, you've already seen it, and it ends in a DQ (a big WrestleMania no-no). Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy? Probably the second or third worst Mania match for Undertaker, and the outcome mattered little (it was about the urn!). Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund in an "I Quit" match? Their Survivor Series match the previous year was light years better (hell, Hart in his autobiography called the WMXI bout his "worst PPV match ever".
This, by the way, was before his WMXXVI bout.) Smoking Gunns vs. Yokozuna and Owen Hart? HUGE derp moment at the end. Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel? WORST. JACKKNIFE. EVER. Shawn lands on his feet. Seriously, go look at it. How do you screw that up?
So after that mess of a show (yeah, Diesel-Michaels was for the WWF title and it didn't get to end WrestleMania), we wrap it up with Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow. A football player vs. a midcarder in the main event on the year's biggest show. And you wonder why people turned on the show (and the company in general) by this point. Bigelow's the good soldier here and does the J-O-B on the PPV, but because it wasn't one of his better efforts, the stigma of this match follows him for the remainder of his career and life.
It did have some highlights... four to be exact: Jenny McCarthy's and Pam Anderson's boobs. They weren't real, but they were spectacular.
Oh, you say it's not possible for Undertaker to have a bad WrestleMania match, you say. Well, if your wrestling viewership began only recently, I can see why you would have that opinion. Allow me to beg your indulgence and take you back to 1999, where the Ministry of Darkness was looking to hostily take over the WWF, and he would do anything to make it happen, even stalk (and eventually kidnap) Vince's McMahon then-22-year old daughter Stephanie.
The story gets all sorts of bizarre from here, but that's for another day. But Hell in a Cell V (remember, there were two Hell in a Cell matches on Monday Night RAW, one before and after the infamous Undertaker-Mankind encounter) will be best remembered for Cole's "you could get a finger caught in there" line, a lack of brutality the first four Cell matches had, and... let me think...oh, yeah, A SIMULATED HANGING. A HANGING GLOSSED OVER ON COMMENTARY BY MICHAEL COLE.
And if it mattered that little on commentary, he probably knew why: Boss Man was on RAW just eight days later showing no signs of injury. In the Hell in a Cell compilation DVD, two matches didn't make the cut: the one from Summerslam 2008 (because it was too late in production to include it), and this one. No one complained. Two men who have seen better days athletically put up only the second biggest stinker of WrestleMania XV.
That honor goes to the WWF Women's Championship match that occurred earlier that night. On a night where as many as eight matches were flirting with a subzero rating from Wrestling Observer Newsletter, only this match broke the floor. In fact, no WrestleMania match since this one has matched or rated worse than this -2 star classic (not even Cole vs. Lawler. That got a one. Really, Dave?).
While Sable and Tori are certainly nice to look at... wait, let me take that back. Tori was not easy on the eyes that night. She took the honors of having the second worst airbrushed wrestling outfit in the history of ever (Giant Gonzales and his hairy naked ass still takes the cake). She also took the honors of being perhaps the most incompetent wrestler ever at a WrestleMania, and that includes Snooki.
I mean, at least Snooki looked like she knew what she was doing. Snooki didn't botch a lot, and that's probably primarily because she didn't have a chance to. Tori and Sable had five minutes, and all of it stunk. Sable doesn't bump (primarily because her contract forbids her from doing so. I'm not kidding). Tori botches even basic maneuvers, like a sunset flip or the Sablebomb reversal. Pretty sad, because Tori was once a pretty competent indie wrestler (she was on GLOW as Terri Power for crying out loud).
Anyway, this mess ends when bodybuilder/minotaur Nicole Bass beats on Tori and Sable picks the bones. Sable's ego was a runaway train by this point, so the WWF wasn't exactly sorry to see her quit or be sued for $110 million by her in June. The suit was settled out of court two months later, probably in part due to people probably wanting to sue for emotional distress after seeing arguably the worst women's match in the history of WrestleMania.
A match featuring two of the baddest mofos (three if you count the referee) to ever step foot in a wrestling ring should provide for some pretty compelling action.
This match did have a bit of a backstory: Lesnar eliminates Goldberg from the Royal Rumble two months earlier, and one month later, Goldberg gets payback by costing Lesnar the WWE Championship. Lesnar and Goldberg were on separate brands at the time, so this would be the only chance Brock would get at his payback.
But when match time came, that was not the story. Goldberg's contract expires after the show, and he's not coming back. And as it turned out, neither is Brock Lesnar, as he announced the Tuesday before WrestleMania he's leaving too-for the NFL, leaving more than half of his seven year, $45 million deal behind. Well, at least as long as they put up a decent effort going out, the Madison Square Garden crowd won't have a lot to bitch about.
But Lesnar and Goldberg didn't even do that, and the NYC crowd shat all over this one, and deservedly so. The only man trying out there was Austin, and he was the referee. So when this fifteen-minute nightmare ended (Goldberg won, by the way), MSG exploded in cheers. And they had a virtual orgasm (ok, that may be overdoing it a little) when Austin stunned both Lesnar and Goldberg. (Small bit of irony: Austin, citing creative differences, would be gone a month later too.)
10. WrestleManias 23-XXVIII: Every divas match:
I know, I know, I'm cheating again. But sometimes, they all have to go in one big pile. Thus, every divas match since the Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James classic from WrestleMania 22.
Here's the list: Melina vs. Ashley (23), a Lumberjill match won by Melina in three minutes. Beth Phoenix & Melina vs. Ashley & Maria (XXIV): the lights went out during this match dubbed Bunnymania. Not even Snoop Dogg could save this one. 25th Anniversary Divas Battle Royal (25): a 25-woman battle royal featuring past and present WWE Divas (Sunny was there, but both Lita and Trish Stratus weren't. What does that tell ya?
Side nugget: this was Candice Michelle's final WWE TV appearance) that was won by Santino Marella IN DRAG. Oh, and Kid Rock performed.
5-on-5 divas match (XXVI): Vickie Guerrero gets the win for her team with THE WORST SPLASH IN THE HISTORY OF MAN. THE HISTORY OF MAN.
Laycool & Dolph Ziggler vs. The Brunette Mafia (XXVII): Depending on who you ask, there were actually five or even six divas in the match, and it's Michelle McCool being the good soldier and jobbing to Snooki.
Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres vs. Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos (XXVIII): Yeah, this feud started on Extra, and ended in a match that went fourteen minutes (including intros and such), or about 12 minutes too long, with Maria getting a stain on her white pants in a very questionable spot. Beth is the good soldier here, eating the pin for the guest Maria. By the way, if you had zero as the number of divas in this match still employed by WWE ten months later, you're a winner.
Most of these matches (hell, all of them for that matter) had a good bit of eye candy, but it's empty calories in the end.
Big Show in a mawashi (that's what sumos wear for their matches). Need I say more?
Let's be blunt. Many of the early Undertaker WrestleMania encounters were flat out duds. At WMVII, he squashed future Hall of Famer Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka in just over four minutes. The next year, he beat Jake "The Snake" Roberts all the way out of the WWF. Among the pre-Kane encounters, only his WrestleMania XII match with Diesel could be considered good.
But this one from WMIX was bottom-of-the-barrel. But then again, what else would you expect when your opponent was once known as El Gigante? Early 1990s-WCW was bad, but even by those standards, El Gigante was AWFUL. So if you were looking for a high-quality encounter between seven-footer Undertaker and eight-footer Gonzalez (complete with naked airbrushed bodysuit), you were not gonna get it here (or anywhere for that matter).
And, not surprisingly, this match ends in a disqualification (Gonzalez smothered The Undertaker with an ether-soaked cloth), my biggest pet peeve regarding a WrestleMania match. Because this basically continues the feud, and in this case, it continues for five more excruciating months before finally ending at SummerSlam.
Even by cheating, I couldn't fit every bad match in the context of this post. But this post hopefully has covered the gamut of really bad Mania matches. All we can hope for is come six weeks from now, there won't be a match that challenges for next year's list. But someone will try.
Worst WrestleMania match, anyone?
The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.