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Thirteen years ago this week, around 26,000 unfortunate souls shelled out $19.95 each to watch out-of-shape wrestlers from the 80s and early 90s (mostly 80s) put forth efforts so awful, that to even speak of them could violate a few laws. This is in addition to the approximately 2,000 people that were in attendance at the Casino Magic Hotel and Casino in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, some of whom probably paid more than $19.95 to see it in person.
What was seen that night cannot be unseen. It's the infamous Heroes of Wrestling PPV, and if it wasn't for this train wreck, we could have gotten more of them. Saying that this PPV was bad and a train wreck isn't doing it justice. It's generally regarded as the worst wrestling PPV ever. EVER.
Mind you, WCW was a walking corpse, ECW was two months into a TV deal that would ultimately bankrupt them, and the WWF was trying to find its way in the post-Russo era (though they've clearly had it more together than the others), so yeah, that was an accomplishment in and of itself.
If you are of the sadomasochistic mindset, or if you just like to watch a dumpster fire, here's the whole show in its entirety.
Before (and since) that night, we've seen many PPVs that people call the worst ever. I have news for you. Yeah, they were all bad. But they were all better than Heroes of Wrestling, including these twelve shows we wish we didn't put our money down for.
1. Wrestlemania IX (1993) When you mention bad PPVs, this atrocity is usually among the first to come to mind. In an honest moment, the WWF was in a pretty bad place for most of the mid-1990s, with the steroid scandal, the federal investigation and trial, and the rise of WCW. There were three championship matches (four actually, but I'll get to that in a minute), and none of them ended with a clean finish. Shawn Michaels gets counted out against Tatanka to hold on to his Intercontinental title, the Megamaniacs (Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake) get disqualified and lose the tag title match to Money Inc. (even with Jimmy Hart acting as a second referee), Mr. Fuji blinds Bret Hart with salt, and Yokozuna gets an easy win and becomes the new WWF Champion. But just seconds after Yokozuna's big win, Hulk Hogan immediately (a) calls bullshit on the ending and (b) gets himself a title match after Yokozuna challenges Hogan on the spot. The "match" is all of 21 seconds. Fuji hits Yokozuna with the salt, Yokozuna goes down, legdrop, pin, drive home safely. Hulk Hogan is the first five-time WWF champion ever. Huzzah. Oh, and this is in addition to a Mr. Perfect on his last legs against Lex Luger, two Doinks, and a match between The Undertaker and Giant Gonzales that makes Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler look like Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero.
2. Wrestlemania XI (1995) I once mentioned that a wrestling PPV that had BOTH Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy in 1995 (McCarthy was the reigning Playboy Playmate of the Year; Anderson the face of Baywatch, the most watched TV show in the world), possibly the two hottest women in the world at the time (if you're in your early 20s or younger, you'll just have to go with me on this) deserved better. This was right at the apex of the cartoonish/second job-gimmick/really bad storyline era. Granted, there's nothing wrong with catering to a young audience, but society as a whole was changing in the mid-90s, and the once cutting-edge WWF suddenly looked like they were far behind the times. On top of that, Diesel was not drawing as a champion. Here's how you knew right away this was going to be a bad night: technical difficulties during the National Anthem. And if you watched the show live on PPV that night, you also missed most of the I Quit match between Bob Backlund and Bret Hart (don't worry, you didn't miss much). The big selling points of the show were Pam, Jenny, and future NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, who quite honestly, didn't stink up the joint too bad against Bam Bam Bigelow. Except that Taylor-Bigelow... WAS THE MAIN EVENT. Taylor won, of course, but Bam Bam's career practically never recovered.
3. December to Dismember (2006) This was the rebooted ECW's lone PPV, and after watching it, you'll see why. Like Heroes of Wrestling, the awfulness of this show prevented a second one from happening. In fact, this show essentially ended single-branded PPVs; with all PPV shows since uniting under one brand, WWE. Attendance in Augusta, GA, was around 4,800 and just 90,000 people paid $40 for the PPV, making it the lowest buyrate in WWE history. The main event is an extreme elimination chamber match. CM Punk, the CLEAR crowd favorite, goes out first. Rob Van Dam, an ECW original, goes out less than two minutes later. By this point, the crowd is chanting "TNA!" and demanding refunds. They turned on this show, and they turned HARD. The final three are Test, Big Show, and Bobby Lashley, and no one in that building wanted to see them win (Lashley won, for the record). Oh, and the show ended about a half-hour early. Not even a Hardy Boyz reunion to kick off the show could save this train wreck.
4. Uncensored (1995) Here's a side little nugget: on the same week this PPV happened, Michael Jordan returned to the NBA after retiring a year and a half earlier (and failing at baseball while doing so), and Mike Tyson was released from prison after serving three years on a rape conviction. Including this PPV, one of these things is not like the other. Here's a hint, if you need help: one of these things featured a haphazardly and badly edited "King of the Road" match that got Dustin Rhodes fired (for blading), a no-disqualification match that ends in a disqualification, Ric Flair in drag, a falls count anywhere tag match that was BEYOND AWFUL, and an Indian strap match (no relation to the Apple Pie-errrrr-Yappapi Indian strap match of five years later) that was so overbooked, Vince Russo would say you should tone it down. Here's the big issue: Turner had a policy against excessive violence on their programming. It's hard to call a PPV Uncensored and be credible with a policy like that; just saying.
5. King of the Ring (1995) The previous year's show had Art "How much does this guy weigh?" Donovan and Owen Hart winning the tournament going for it, which is nice, I suppose. Amazingly enough, 16,590 people were at the Corestates Spectrum in Philadelphia for this farce of a show. The tournament itself had both The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels... and not much else (Razor Ramon got injured prior to the PPV and wasn't cleared to compete), and if things worked out, they could run into each other in the semifinals, with the winner likely winning the whole thing. Not so much. Shawn gets double eliminated with Kama (time limit draw), and immediately Philly rages (along with Shawn). Undertaker loses to Mabel (giving the 500+ pounder a bye to the finals) in the very next match, and this crowd has pretty much quit on this show. They raged even louder when Mabel beat Savio Vega (who, by the way, wasn't in the tournament when it started) in the final. As JD Dunn pointed out in 2007, the King of the Ring title went from Bret Hart to Owen Hart to Mabel. Wow. That's some perspective for you. At least they fixed it the next year. Some guy named Steve or something. Not even Bret Hart beating Jerry Lawler (finally) and the main event tag team match (which also stunk) could salvage this night.
6. Victory Road (2009) Everyone reading this, please repeat after me: MINUS. FIVE. STARS! That was Bryan Alvarez's assessment of this grease fire of a show (which is on YouTube, and if you have about an hour, you oughta go listen to it). Here's a rundown of the show in BotchaMania form. If you're not laughing or cringing at the end of those eight minutes, you don't have a soul. As for the show, Drowgoddess of BoredWrestlingFan puts it in perspective for you. By the way, the match she is referring to is the WrestleCrap Hall of Fame Jenna Morasca vs. Sharmell Sullivan match. Quote: "This "match" violates the Geneva Convention. Horrible, atrocious, awful, and brutally, painfully terrible don't do it justice. Let's take a look at who got left off the show tonight so that a cheap skank who won a trashy reality show in 2003 by getting naked for peanut butter (And I wouldn't know THAT much without research.), someone with absolutely NO instant name recognition, relevance, or mainstream crossover credibility, could get the pay-per-view payday and screen time. Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Suicide, Homicide (who just won the X-Division title in controversial fashion), Amazing Red (who is touted as the Second Coming), and Eric Young (who has done his best work lately) all got nothing. Not even a free pre-show match. TNA should be ashamed of themselves. Call it a "creative" decision all you want. It only shows fans that those guys and that title aren't worthy of anything." Unquote. I couldn't have put it better myself. And, in the very next segment, Kevin Nash buries every babyface on the TNA roster with one sentence. Quote: "After seven years, they're all in the same places they were when they started, and not on the level of the Main Event Mafia." Unquote. With a show and attitude like that, this company deserves to die in a dumpster fire.
7. Halloween Havoc (1998) Meng vs. Wrath. Alex Wright vs. Fit Finlay. Saturn vs. Lodi. A #1 contender's match for the cruiserweight title. A Rick Steiner interview at the top of the show. Maybe two of the four Nitro Girls performances. Just a short list of what was on the PPV, but could have-and probably should have-been cut out. But they were all on the show, and if you bought it, chances are you didn't see it all. Why? Just as the main event got under way, PPV viewers got treated to the blue screen of death. WCW ran over on its own PPV, and even with WCW telling cable companies they planned on running over, not all of them could clear a four-hour block for them. As a result, WCW had to refund a lot of people a lot of money. The cherry on top: the infamous Hogan-Warrior II, featuring a fireball that wouldn't light. The Goldberg vs. Diamond Dallas Page world title match had to be shown the following night on Nitro (by the way, it was a really good match). Ironically, this would be the last time Nitro beat RAW in the head-to-head ratings.
8. WOW Unleashed (2001) The Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California was the west coast equivalent of New York's Madison Square Garden. It played host to many Lakers championships, countless concerts, some of the last rehearsals of the late Michael Jackson, and auditions for both American Idol and The Voice. It was also home to great wrestling action for many years. This outfit, from David McLane (the guy that brought you Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling in the late 1980s-GLOW for short), was not among them. In terms of wrestling PPVs, this is Legends of Wrestling bad. In fact, it's probably 1A on some lists of worst wrestling shows ever. In fact, it would probably surpass Legends of Wrestling if more people knew about it. Before getting into how bad it was, consider the following for a moment: the show drew somewhere between 8,000 and 9,500 people in the Forum. The Forum, by the way, seats about 17,500 people, meaning they sold around half the house. That's more than the number of people that bought the show on PPV, believed to be around 6,000, a buyrate of 0.014. Not 0.14 (which is what WCW Slamboree did the previous year); 0.014, one-tenth of what Slamboree did. Now, about the show: thirteen matches, six of which didn't go past four minutes (in fact, the first four all finished in under three minutes). The production was so awful, Ring of Honor (ROH) would tell them you need to step your game up (sorry, ROH fans, but if you ordered an iPPV from them in the last year or two, you know I'm right on this). Blown spots EVERYWHERE. Bizarre booking ALL THE TIME. Plus, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Lee Marshall did not look like they wanted to be there, and who could blame them. (Heenan did turn up two months later at a much better show, Wrestlemania X-Seven.) Oh, here was the hook of the PPV (and in retrospect, this was smart because they knew the wrestling wasn't gonna cut it): a swimsuit contest... which they never announced the winner of. Needless to say, stations across the country started pulling the show following this hot garbage. [Side note: (totally unrelated) I'm not sure this was an omen or not, but this show was on the same weekend as the XFL debut. Not saying, just saying.] For what it's worth, John Powell's review of the show from Slam Sports Canada should give you a chuckle. Women of Wrestling shut down shortly after the debacle, but McLane won't stay down: there is a reboot of WOW in the works. So why is this better than Heroes of Wrestling? Well, let's be honest: some of the competitors were easy on the eyes. Can't say that about Heroes.
9. New Blood Rising (2000) Two years ago, I watched this show with some friends, and yeah, I felt violated by the end of it. How bad was it, you ask? Well, the opening match had six of the better workers in WCW at the time (Three Count vs. Yung Dragons)... and Tank Abbott in a shirt... with nipple holes. I swear to you, I do not make this up. They're in a ladder match fighting for a gold record. The third match is the infamous JUDY BAGWELL ON A FORKLIFT match, featuring the return of the man most responsible (though he didn't want to be) for killing WCW, David Arquette. JUDY BAGWELL... ON A FORKLIFT. We also get a mud wrestling match leading to a miscarriage angle (think Terri and D-Lo Brown, 1999). At least Stacy and Tylene "Major Gunns" Buck looked hot. The Kiss Demon gets squashed in under a minute by Sting in a "special main event" (KISS-you know, the band?-had it written in their contract that their guy, The Demon, had to be a "main eventer". This is how WCW got around it.) Then there's the Canadian Rules match that changes on the fly. The triple threat match featuring Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, and Goldberg was booked beyond all fuck (complete with Goldberg "shooting" out of the intended finish-and the announcers saying as such. Look, I know wrestling is inherently choreographed, but don't be so out there with it). And by the time the main event ended between Booker T and Jeff Jarrett (which featured two ref bumps by the way), Vancouver was raging and pelting trash into the ring, not at Booker T, but the state of WCW. They insulted the intelligence of every wrestling fan that watched wrestling for what it was: entertainment, and had the gall to feed this to you. [Side note: two weeks later, the WWF put on what was regarded as one of the better SummerSlams EVER, featuring the original TLC match, and Kurt Angle legitimately getting a concussion when a table broke, leaving The Rock and Triple H to essentially carry the match on their own (and surprise, surprise, it was pretty good).] Know what the WWF didn't do? Acknowledge that it "wasn't in the script". Know what Summerslam 2000 didn't have? JUDY BAGWELL... ON A FORKLIFT.
10. The Great American Bash (2004) The 1991 version of the show is also on that list of worst PPVs ever, but at least that one had an excuse: Ric Flair just left WCW, whom by the way recently split with the NWA, and they had to hold that show together by duct tape and copper wire. The 2004 version had the concrete crypt. IN THE MAIN EVENT. Kenzo Suzuki beat Billy Gunn. Mordecai beat Hardcore Holly. Neither winner was around at the end of the year. Luther Reigns also won a match. Yeah. Eddie Guerrero's only run as WWE Champion ended, and John "Bradshaw" Layfield's long (and disappointing) reign of terror began in a bullrope match with a finish straight out of the... wait for it... 1991 Great American Bash. Oh, and did I mention the show ended with Paul Bearer covered in cement? CONCRETE CRYPT.
11. The Great American Bash (1991) Upon further review, yeah... this was BAD. In excusably bad. When people are audibly chanting "WE WANT FLAIR!" (Who by the way, doesn't work there anymore) during the main event (Lex Luger vs. Barry Windham for the WCW title) of one of your signature shows, you know the show is shit. But I'll get back to that in a minute. The show opened with a scaffold match. With "Capture the Flag" rules. Yeah. For the younger folks, the scaffold match is far and away one of the most dangerous in wrestling, and there's a reason why you don't see it anymore: the loser takes a good 15-to-20-foot plunge to the mat below. Not fun. I mean, it's a hell of a visual (see any ECW scaffold match, particularly one with tables below), but still, if you're participating in one, not fun. By the way, I recommend you NOT participate in such a match. EVER. Yeah, the "capture the flag" rule took the possibility of someone falling (you know, the best part of the match) out of play. So why have it on scaffolding? GAHD. Scott Hall (as Diamond Studd) and Kevin Nash (as Oz) both lumber in consecutive matches. Former tag team partners Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson wrestle in a much slower paced match than expected (I mean, they were the FREAKING ROCK AND ROLL EXPRESS). A six-man tag match that had no eliminations for thirteen minutes (and all five eliminations in the final four minutes. Makes no sense to me either). El Gigante, the Great Khali of the 1990s (younger folks, just go with it), no sells being beaten on with a wrench. Sting vs. Nikita Koloff disappointed. Now to the cage match: yeah, it was bad on all fronts. Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone, God bless their hearts, tried their best to ignore the "WE WANT FLAIR!" chants. The belt, though legend says it was an old Western States Heritage title belt with a metal plate on it, was actually an old Championship Wrestling from Florida title belt with a metal plate on it. Why? Well, Ric Flair took the NWA title belt with him to the WWF when he didn't get his deposit back. The replacement belt: not ready in time for the show, seriously, you can't make this shit up. And Lex Luger inexplicably turns heel. I mean, it's a Russo-level swerve, one that happens out of nowhere and makes no sense. After being built up for months as WCW's next babyface, he heels out and wins the world title to "WE WANT FLAIR!" chants. Oh, and guess what? There's more. Yeah. Bonus match involving Missy Hyatt (1991 Missy Hyatt was fucking... win. Here's the proof. I will fight anyone that disagrees). And by that, I mean a kidnapped Missy Hyatt. See, apparently, the Maryland State Athletic Commission forbids both excessive blood (a world title match was stopped because of such a ruling once) and man-on-woman violence, so we never got to see Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman) get his ass kicked by possibly the hottest woman in wrestling at the time. Heyman gets tagged in, clotheslined by Rick Steiner, and that's the match. And the show. I'm not kidding. WCW's "new era": same as the old one. And a harbinger of things to come.
12. SuperBrawl X (2000) This was during the Kevin Sullivan booking era between the two Russo runs in WCW, so it shows how bad a spot WCW was in, and in all honestly, they have no one but themselves to blame. Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko all bailed just before the last PPV. In their place: a returning Hulk Hogan (who went on a radio show prior to the PPV and said that no one under 40 can draw in WCW. I wonder why) to feud with a 41-year old Lex Luger. The show: eleven matches on the card, which, by the way, was run down at the START OF THE PPV. This is time lost right there. The first six matches fail to crack the six-minute mark, and one of those six matches, the Jacket on a Pole match, featured Tank Abbott threatening to kill Big Al Green with a knife he pulled out. I'm not kidding. You have to see it to believe it. Another one featured America's most expensive "special main eventer", Dale "The Kiss Demon" Torborg. Kidman vs. Vampiro is a botchfest. At least the tag title match was not complete hot garbage, though it's inconsistent. There's a James Brown appearance... unadvertised, by the way. $25,000 American that cost WCW. The Texas DeathMatch between Terry Funk and Ric Flair is actually pretty decent. But the show goes downhill after that. Luger-Hogan sets up ANOTHER Sting-Luger feud and ANOTHER Hogan-Flair feud. And the three-way involving Sid, Jeff Jarrett, and Scott Hall for the world title ends in eight minutes and with the final WCW appearance of Rowdy Roddy Piper. For the record, just 40,000 buys for this PPV. WWF No Way Out, held the same month, did nearly half-a-million (it was billed as Mick Foley's possible final match). The Monday Night Wars were over long before Shane McMahon walked on Nitro in Panama City.
The dirty dozen of wrestling PPVs. I was going to go to twenty (and I probably still will), but after describing these atrocities in wrestling history, my head's had enough. So keep this in mind while we lament on the state of wrestling in 2012: as bad as it is now, there's much worse out there. And it's better than Heroes of Wrestling.
So... what's the worst PPV you've ever seen?