Pro wrestling has given us countless displays of nonsense over the years. Even in its’ early days, fans felt like they were at a carnival sideshow watching two grapplers go at it for hours on end…..namely, because they were at carnival sideshows, but that’s beside the point.
Our eyes have been subjected to some bizarre and downright awful moments. For example, Triple H making love to a purported corpse, the worm-eating Boogeyman, elderly women slammed through tables, and the walking ball of disgust that was “Adorable” Adrian Adonis come to mind.
If you listened to Triple H’s recent appearance on Stone Cold Steve Austin, you probably remember his somewhat apologetic sentiment in regards to the creative process. Basically, he said they swing and miss just like the rest of us.
Boy, was he right.
WrestleMania season is in full effect, and you’re about to embark on a month and a half-long journey of sorting through top 10 lists of the event’s greatest moments and matches.
However, like all major sporting and entertainment events, miscues and disappointments can be found littered throughout Showcase of the Immortals’ illustrious past. So, let’s dive right in.
It’s time to book the worst WrestleMania using actual matches from the show’s past.
Pre-show – Rockabilly vs. Flash Funk, WrestleMania 13
Is there any doubt that “Badass” Billy Gunn & 2 Cold Scorpio could have a pretty good match? Not likely. That’s not the reason for selecting this match as the pre-show match. It’s more of a nod to 2 of the late New Generation, or early Attitude Era gimmicks that were pretty laughable.
Can you imagine the annals of wrestling history remembering either of these two in these characters?
Opening Contest: King Kong Bundy vs. S.D. Jones, WrestleMania I
How about a classic 24-second squash to get the show started off on the completely wrong foot? King Kong Bundy may be one of the most feared big men in wrestling lore, but he was never known for putting on continual barnburners. As for Jones, he may well be one of the WWE’s earliest forms of ‘enhancement talent.’
Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb, WrestleMania X
Let’s follow our opening squash match up with…….another squash match! Flip the calendars back to 1994, and you’ll witness a 35-second contest that saw Earthquake defeat Adam Bomb.
Makes sense, right? Let’s have a guy we pushed several years ago to be a rival of Hulk Hogan meaninglessly defeat this guy we’re trying to push as a strong part of our future.
Brawl for All: Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn, WrestleMania XV
WrestleMania is all about the special attractions, right? Someone, somewhere had the idea that wrestling fans wanted to see the champion of the WWE’s glorified bar fight tournament, the Brawl for All, take on Butterbean.
Butterbean, mind you, is a professional prizefighter. It was and is, to this day, one of the WWE’s dumbest, however, most comedic, decisions.
Lumberjack match: Flair/Carlito vs. Chavo/Helms, WrestleMania 23
From the “what? why?” files, 2007 saw Ric Flair attempt to take Carlito under his wing, and mentor him up to the main event. Why? Because…you know…ol’ naitch liked Carlito. Also, why were Chavo Guerrero and Gregory Helms teaming up?
Who knows? This was a totally random lumberjack match, which warrants its’ totally random spot on the card of the worst WrestleMania ever.
Womens Championship: Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme, WrestleMania 21
In 2005, the WWE found itself in a weird transition period for the divas division. Coming off of Molly Holly having her head shaved bald at WrestleMania XX, after a great match against Victoria, and being a year before the rise of Mickie James as legitimate championship material, competition for Trish Stratus was scarce.
While Christy Hemme went on to make a good name for herself in the wrestling world, she simply wasn’t ready to hang with the greatest women’s wrestler of all-time in 2005. It didn’t hurt her cause that she was on the cover of Playboy that year, and the Playboy girls usually got a spot on the ‘Mania card.
Tag Team Championship: JJ/Owen Hart vs. D-Lo Brown/Test, WrestleMania XV
D-Lo Brown & Test won a battle royal to earn a shot at Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart’s Tag Team Championships. They weren’t even an established team. This did little for either of them, and it certainly didn’t make Jarrett & Hart look strong in victory.
Is that how thin the Attitude Era’s tag team division was? Search for a worse tag title match in WrestleMania history. That’s a challenge!
Sumo-wrestling match: Akebono vs. Big Show, WrestleMania 21
Again, WrestleMania is all about the special attraction, right? In 2005, it was determined that the Big Show would wrestle Japanese sumo wrestler, Akebono, in a sumo-wrestling match.
If that wasn’t odd and undesirable enough, Show was relegated to wearing the sumo garb. No fan should be held witness to this.
Intercontinental: Rocky Maivia vs. The Sultan, WrestleMania 13
If you were presented with an Intercontinental Championship match featuring The Rock vs. Rikishi, you’d probably be a bit more eager than seeing these two tangle in their 1997 guise. At the time, Maivia wasn’t getting over as the way-too-happy rookie, and The Sultan wasn’t exactly breaking barriers.
Quite frankly, The Sultan hadn’t discovered the Stink Face yet, and Maivia hadn’t raised any eyebrows (pun totally intended).
Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon, WrestleMania XXVI
Jaws dropped across the wrestle-verse in 2010 when the WWE announced that Bret Hart would return to the ring for one final match, against none other than Vince McMahon. Finally, retribution for the 1997 Montreal Screwjob!
Nope – instead of a fine fight, fans were treated to what felt like 20 solid minutes of Hart repeatedly hammering McMahon with a steel chair. Nothing more, nothing less.
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar, WrestleMania XX
Ah, 2004 – WrestleMania XX, and the quintessential WrestleMania flop.
In what some consider the first incident where the “internet voice” crapped on a match, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar spit out a dud, and the crowd was brutal. Earlier in the WrestleMania season, word leaked that neither man would be pursuing contracts with the WWE past WrestleMania.
Talk about the wheels falling off – no one cared about this match anymore, and it took a special guest referee named Stone Cold Steve Austin, and a couple of stunners, to garner any positive reaction from the New York City crowd.
WWE Championship: John Cena vs. The Miz, WrestleMania XXVII
The Miz deserves a lot of credit for the heat he generated in late 2010 and early 2011. There was a period of time when he seemed poised to be the next great heel in the WWE, and he was getting all the right reactions wherever the show took him.
The biggest problem with The Miz was his somewhat awkward, inconsistent wrestling style. He was known as a guy who needed to perform opposite a solid worker to put on A+ matches.
The same could be said for John Cena. So, should expectations have been tampered a bit? Yes. Still, it’s the main event of WrestleMania and magnetic personalities can only cover so much.
The personalities didn’t cover 2 minutes. The main event of WrestleMania XXVII was flat, and the crowd was largely exhausted after the first epic ‘Mania encounter between Triple H and The Undertaker.
Even after The Rock gave a patented Rock Bottom to Cena, the crowd was only mildly pleased.
It was far from the worst wrestling match of all time, but in the context of being the biggest match on the biggest show of the year? It definitely warrants consideration as the worst WrestleMania main event in history.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for @WrestlingNewsCo, and is a Tennessee Titans Staff Writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.