SCRAPING THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL
(THE ONE THAT WAS HELD IN VINCE'S SPARE BEDROOM)
Welcome, Cagesiders, to a 29-part series of articles that will carry us to WrestleMania 30 on Sun., April 6, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. We're looking back on each of the past 29 main events and ranking them from worst to first. Bear in mind we are only looking at the true "main" events for each show, so no Rock vs. Hulk Hogan, no Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair, no Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero.
Just the match that went on last.
I know, one of those is not like the others. Technically Savage vs. Flair was billed as part of a "double main event" but we're sticking with just the show-closers.
Our countdown begins at the bottom, the valley, the pits, the absolute nadir of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
The year was 1995 and even though we were still a year and change away from the formation of the nWo, and even though we were still months away from the launch of WCW Monday Nitro, there was no question which wrestling promotion had the momentum in the war between Vince McMahon and Ted Turner.
Just one year earlier, however, WrestleMania 10 had been a smashing success at Madison Square Garden. A new face of the company had seemingly been anointed and rising stars were ready to be showcased. Though it seemed like Bret Hart was the future, Vince McMahon seemed to be using the Canadian wrestling sensation to keep the belt warm. Bret mid-carded King of the Ring (the main event was Roddy Piper vs Jerry Lawler) and though his feud with brother Owen was the hottest thing the company had, it was runner up on the SummerSlam card to Undertaker vs...Undertaker.
Let's move on.
By Survivor Series, someone (Vince) thought it would be a good idea to give Bob Backlund another title run. Because why not. So Bret dropped the belt to Bob (on the undercard) who promptly dropped it to Kevin Nash. Nash retained against Bret at the Royal Rumble and headed to WrestleMania to face Rumble winner (and former tag partner) Shawn Michaels.
Now there's no doubt that Bret was the better worker and all around better performer compared to Diesel, but he was busy in his money feud with Bob Backlunzzzzzzzzz. To be fair, Backlund's crazy heel persona was actually pretty great, but the mid-card was no place for Bret Hart in 1995.
And apparently the main event was no place for HBK and Diesel, though their long-running feud (the seeds of which were planted years ago) seemed like the perfect Mania storyline: HBK, the high-flying bundle of charisma, takes on his former tag partner and current WWF champion. If Shawn had been a babyface and Nash a heel it would have been perfect for HBK to overcome the odds and win the belt. But the roles were reversed; the title match became a David vs. Goliath match where Goliath was the good guy.
It was just all wrong.
I'm not saying the title match should have main-evented (although you better have a whale of a non-title match to justify bumping the flagship championship of your promotion from the top spot); I'm saying the storylines from top to bottom in mid-1994 to mid-1995 were so out of whack that this PPV was doomed to suck. With so much working against the show, why not have a non-title match go on last? It can be the fancy toothpick atop the crap sandwich!
Which takes us to our main event, here dubbed the worst main event in WrestleMania history. Why the worst? Where to start?
In this corner, last seen losing a tag match at Royal Rumble: Bam Bam Bigelow.
Was he a good worker? Sure. Did he do good work in his career? No doubt. Should he have capped off WrestleMania? Over Bret Hart? Over the current champion Diesel? Over Rumble winner Shawn Michaels?
In the other corner was Lawrence Taylor, still regarded as one of the greatest football players of his generation, and among the best defenders ever.
Not a wrestler.
And he WON! I mean, of course he won, the celebrity always wins. But this isn't some novelty match in hour one. This is the main event of WrestleMania. And it featured as its MAIN event a mid carder vs. a football player.
So remember, CM Punk, it could have been a LOT worse.
This WrestleMania was doomed, and the feeling of doom only permeated throughout the night. Held in the Hartford, CT Civic Center, the event was the lowest attended WrestleMania in history. More people attended any of the three mini-shows that comprised WrestleMania 2 than attended this one. The crowd that was there wasn't particularly happy to be there either.
Looking at the whole show it's clear why this was the marquee match and that's partly why it deserves its place at the bottom. Vince had bungled Bret's championship run-seemingly because he never really believed in it, and had hot-shotted the title to Diesel without a solid enough feud in place for him to carry a WrestleMania. This main event is the worst, not only for featuring a non-wrestler, and not only for pushing more deserving guys down the card, but also because it highlights the desperation of Vince McMahon in a period of turmoil. He was desperate -- without a hot angle on his hands -- to recreate the mainstream exposure he had in the Rock-n-Wrestling days.
But this was a swing and a miss.
Sound off in the comments, Cagesiders. Do you think this is the worst main event in WrestleMania history? Should Shawn vs. Diesel have closed the show? Was this not the worst stretch of booking in Vince's career?
Odds are if you disagree with the placement of this match, the one you think is the worst will be coming up soon. I arranged these in three groups. There are the top 10 best matches, the middle 9 okay matches, and the bottom 10 worst matches.
Tomorrow's main event probably made a younger Mick Foley throw a brick through his TV and write a letter to his congressman, asking "does the World Wrestling Federation hate its fans?"