WrestleMania has always been pushed as WWE’s biggest show of the year and many times, it reaches that potential. There are countless amazing matches, exciting blow-offs to lasting feuds, memorable moments, and acts of eye-popping athleticism.
But the thing to realize is that WWE is most certainly not perfect. If you were to marathon every WrestleMania non-stop, it would take you about four or five days. For every excellent Shawn Michaels match, there’s a head-scratching celebrity segment that would have knocked a title match off the card due to time restraints.
So let’s celebrate the badness that intertwines with the Macho Madness. The bowel movements that stand alongside the Yes Movement. The political masturbation that can be watched by the whole Cenation.
Here are the 100 worst WrestleMania moments.
100. HACKSAW’S BOOGER
Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Bad News Brown took each other on in a battle of the most inexplicably-protected wrestlers of late-80s WWF. They were so protected that within a couple minutes, the match ended in a double disqualification. Hacksaw was able to send Bad News packing, but also packing was Hacksaw’s nostril.
To the animated disgust of Jesse Ventura, Hacksaw had this gigantic snot covering his ‘stache. You already forget that Bad News was ever a factor because even as Gorilla Monsoon tried to talk up Hacksaw’s valor, Ventura talked over him and won’t stop pointing it out. I can’t blame him.
We’re starting pretty high-brow on this list. Let’s keep it going with talk about poop.
99. MARIA MENOUNOS’ SKIDMARK
Legend has it that in the main event of WrestleMania 13, Sycho Sid pooped himself. If that’s true, then at least it wasn’t noticeable (except to the Undertaker when performing the Tombstone) because he was wearing black trunks.
Extra host and WWE fan Maria Menounos got to team up with Kelly Kelly against Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres. I’m not going to bemoan the match too much because it already has Kelly Kelly in it and that’s damning enough.
There were three factors in this match that mixed in an unfortunate way. First, Maria Menounos wore white pants as part of her ring attire. Second, she and Kelly Kelly performed the Stinkface on Eve. Lastly, Eve was caked in fake tanner.
Put that recipe together and you have Menounos wrestling with a big, brown streak on her pants. Granted, she neither smelt it nor dealt it to the second stage, but having people debate whether or not you shit yourself is not the WrestleMania moment you want to be remembered for.
98. KURT ANGLE VS. KANE
In the early ’00s, Kane was in his prime. Whether he was being the iron man in Royal Rumble 2001 or having better-than-they-have-any-right-to-be matches with Albert, the guy’s 20+ year career was at its best here. Kane and Kurt Angle had a handful of matches around this time and they brought out the best in each other. Like, I’ve had more fun watching Angle vs. Kane than Angle vs. Benoit a lot of the time. They just matched up extremely well and had a good dynamic.
It made sense to put them in a match at WrestleMania X-8, especially since they didn’t have much else going on. On the Grandest Stage, the two put on a match that was sadly mediocre and seemed off much of the time. This was most notable in the end, when Angle reversed a chokeslam into a roll-up where he was supposed to put his feet on the ropes. He couldn’t hold him down or get one leg on the ropes in any way that looked acceptable and the match simply ended in an ugly mess.
97. CRUSH CAN’T HANG AROUND
Randy Savage and Crush had one of the best blood feuds of the early ’90s and it came to a head at WrestleMania X in a unique match that was like a cross between Falls Count Anywhere and Last Man Standing. The wrestlers had to pin their opponent on the outside, then they had sixty seconds to return to the ring or they lost. At a glance, it was befitting of paying off Savage’s intense desire to destroy Crush decisively.
Near the end, the two seemed to realize that it’s a lot easier to win if you go backstage to pin your opponent, giving them enough travel time to offset the minute-long countdown. Savage pinned Crush, but rather than go back to the ring, he decided to tie his legs up with wires, hoist him up, tie the wires into a knot, and leave him there to dry. It was a cool enough visual and traded visceral victory for outright humiliation.
Unfortunately, the second Savage finished, he kicked Crush and walked away. The action knocked the knot loose and Crush simply fell to the floor. Just laying there with a wire tied around his ankles, pretending he couldn’t escape.
It’s little different than if Savage won his big grudge match by tying Crush’s shoelaces together.
96. THE PRESIDENTIAL GUEST
WWE making jokes about the president or presidential hopefuls has always been murder to watch. Remember the Obama vs. Hillary wrestling match? The time the actual John McCain cut a promo about sending the Undertaker after Bin Laden? Or George W. Bush dropping n-bombs because Cryme Tyme stole his wallet? Yeah…
At WrestleMania X, a Bill Clinton impersonator was in attendance, passed off as the real deal. As Todd Pettengill interviewed him, they played it straight for the most part until revealing that sitting behind “Mr. President” was none other than Irwin R. Schyster. The payoff was that IRS talked up how great a job Clinton was doing as president. Because, you see, he was a heel. That’s supposed to mean he was NOT a good president. Eh?
To drive it home further, he said how much he approved of how Clinton’s raised taxes. Though to be fair, as pointless as this bit was, it was nice to see IRS act genuinely happy for once. The guy’s usually so mad.
Fake Clinton would show up a few more times throughout the years, such as the following Survivor Series where he poured popcorn down Sunny’s cleavage.
95. THE BLINDFOLD MATCH
I’m giving this a low ranking because I don’t hate it as much as everyone else. Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Rick “The Model” Martel had a fantastic feud based purely on the idea that it was less about setting up a fight and more about Jake catching Martel. Ergo, they did a match where they would wear black hoods to cover their eyes…even though it was pretty apparent that they could see through the mesh.
Despite the crowd being hot for the match, it did get really boring because the two had to stumble around and pretend they couldn’t find each other to grapple. I used to say that the match would be really good if they just cut out five minutes or so, but I just checked and realized for the first time that the entire match is just over eight minutes. Good God, time moves at half speed for this bout.
94. THE FALL OF KING KONG BUNDY
One thing that’s sad to see in wrestling PPVs is watching how far someone can fall in a year while still being employed. Like how Lex Luger went from challenging for the title at WrestleMania X to being in a tag match in the opening of WrestleMania XI.
King Kong Bundy is one of the more notable examples, just based on watching him over the first three WrestleManias. In the first show, he famously destroyed his opponent within seconds. In the second show, he had risen up so far that he main evented and challenged for the world championship against Hulk Hogan in a cage. Then he proceeded to fall so far down the card that by WrestleMania III, he was taking part in a quick comedy match where he teamed up with some midget wrestlers against Hillbilly Jim and some other midget wrestlers.
It must suck when your gimmick is nigh-unbeatable monster and suddenly Andre the Giant just turned heel, making you obsolete. I feel bad for the guy.
93. THE SHAMPOO WAR
There have been many great reasons for wrestlers to battle it out at WrestleMania. Long-lasting hatred. Betrayal. One-upmanship. Jealousy of success. A lot of time that means jealousy of championships and stuff.
For Booker T, it was jealousy of Edge getting to star in a Japanese shampoo commercial. No, really, that’s why they were having a match at Booker’s very first WrestleMania. Because Booker T didn’t get the endorsement deal. I swear, I could probably do a list of the worst Booker T storylines because that guy was a magnet for them.
The whole thing was deemed so dumb that not only were there signs in the crowd pointing it out, but even Jim Ross at one point yelled, “They’re feuding over shampoo!”
Then again, Maria Menounos also had a match marred by sham poo, but we already covered that. (Editor’s note: boooooo! BOOOOO!)
The big selling point of WrestleMania 23 was a singles match between Bobby Lashley and Umaga where they acted as proxies for Donald Trump and Vince McMahon. Whichever billionaire’s guy lost meant they had to get their head shaved. Each guy had a backstage segment to build things up. Lord knows Lashley and Umaga couldn’t be trusted to do that.
Trump’s was kind of lame, what with him no-selling the Boogeyman’s gimmick and acting nonchalant in his presence. Vince’s was far worse, mainly due to the direction.
Vince was visited by Stephanie and her baby daughter Aurora Rose. Vince proceeded to talk to the baby about how he was going to humiliate Trump. A good idea on its own, but they decided to film this monologue from the baby’s point of view.
Uh…yeah. Let’s roll our eyes and roll along.
91. FLO RIDA VS. HEATH SLATER
Wrestlers getting beat up by guest celebrities happens a lot, but usually there’s a good story in there. Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow worked. Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather worked. Hugh Jackman suckerpunching Dolph Ziggler worked. It’s all about the context and the story being told.
When guest performer Flo Rida got to verbally humiliate Heath Slater and then easily punk him out it just felt pointless and lazy because there was nothing more to it than a two-bit rapper overpowering a guy whose very job is fighting people. Heath deserved better. We all deserved better.
90. BROCK AND UNDERTAKER UNDERWHELM
People debate on whether or not they wasted the Undertaker’s Streak on Brock Lesnar. I feel that Brock beating the Undertaker was the right decision, mostly because it’s one of the few times when WWE took a good idea and saw it through in the long haul. Brock winning led to his run as this unstoppable god of a man who could win a match by picking up the ring and bludgeoning his opponent with it.
What sucked was the match itself.
Undertaker got knocked woozy early on and spent the rest of the match with a concussion, meaning Brock had to carry him through it. In an era where Undertaker matches were the automatic highlight, it was a letdown that such an important match was a snore until the unexpected ending. Had the match not been a snoozer, that three-count might have had a little more drama to it than, “Wait, what did I miss? I was playing Candy Crush Soda.”
89. RUN DMC’S WRESTLEMANIA RAP
Run DMC showing up to rap at WrestleMania should have been the coolest thing ever. Even their take on the DX theme still holds up as pretty awesome.
Their hyped appearance at WrestleMania V left a lot to be desired. It was less than two minutes of them rapping with lyrics that you could barely decipher and when you could hear what they were saying, it was the most generic wrestling-related stuff you could write. Like if someone explained the idea of wrestling to them in thirty seconds and they wrote around that.
No specifics about the show or anything. Just random references to piledrivers, bodyslams, and, “Who’s gonna lose?!”
The crowd wasn’t so into it either.
88. HOGAN FORGETS WHERE HE IS
The opening promo for WrestleMania XXX was basic, but brilliant. Hulk Hogan cut a promo, only to be interrupted by Steve Austin, only to be interrupted by the Rock. It was WWE’s Mount Rushmore in action, palling around and celebrating the show of shows.
Even though they were in the Superdome, Hogan had a couple slips of the tongue brought on by his own glory days and kept referring to it as the Silverdome. It took a bit for him to realize he messed up and Austin and the Rock made sure to give him hell for it.
It’s absolutely hilarious, but I kind of have to call it out.
87. THE DEADLIEST CATCH
This one’s mainly a situation of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not that WrestleMania is the right place or time for a two-minute, groan-worthy ad for the season premiere of Deadliest Catch where Mick Foley, Santino, and Keith Colburn punch crab meat until Ron Simmons appears to yell, “DAMN!”
It just so happens that this came less than a half hour after the infamous Sheamus/Daniel Bryan match and when fans are pissed that the match they were looking forward to was only eighteen seconds, the burn is stronger when they’re treated to a crappy Deadliest Catch commercial that’s ten times as long.
86. SURVEY SAYS
Ray Combs, host of Family Feud, got to be the guest ring announcer for an eight-man tag match between Big Boss Man, Virgil, Hacksaw, and Sergeant Slaughter against the Mountie, Repo Man, and the Nasty Boys. It was a fun, short match, preceded with a completely wild, cocaine-fueled backstage promo by the heels that needs to be seen to be believed.
No, for real. If you have the WWE Network, go find that promo from before the match. It’s absolute magic.
By being the ring announcer, Combs used the Family Feud survey gimmick to make fun of the heels. It’s painful to watch because even when he stumbled upon some okay insult comedy, he then ruined it by repeatedly mentioning the word “survey.” Like after insulting the Mountie, he’d just go, “It’s the survey! It’s what the survey said! The survey said it! The survey! It was the survey!”
He also never got around to introducing the faces, so he was pretty bad at his job.
85. SHAWN MICHAELS MISSES HIS MARK
This one’s minor, but it always bugged me. Diesel defended the title against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania. Michaels had Sid in his corner. At one point, Sid removed the top pad from one of the turnbuckles, thereby exposing the metal buckle. Wrestling logic states that someone has to hit that buckle, much like Chekhov’s gun.
Near the end of the match, Diesel grabbed Michaels by the legs and slingshotted him into that very corner. Unfortunately, they screwed up the distance. Michaels did indeed hit the corner, but he came short of the exposed top turnbuckle and hit his head on the middle one, which was still padded. Diesel’s win was completely decisive and Sid’s appearance in the match was totally pointless.
Michaels couldn’t even blame Sid for failing him, so their immediate split was pretty funny.
84. HOGAN DROPPING SLURS: THE PREQUEL
Hey, remember that time when Hulk Hogan was filmed saying racist stuff and even outright said that he was a racist, but people then defended him by saying, “What? Hulk Hogan’s not a racist, even though he literally said he is!”
Two WrestleMania moments popped into my head when that happened. One was Hogan yelling, “THANK GOD DONALD TRUMP’S A HULKAMANIAC!” but that’s not going to be on this list because that’s one of the best promos ever. It involved Hogan pretending to do the backstroke in order to leave the room.
The other is a promo he did in the middle of WrestleMania IX. When asked about the main event between Bret Hart and Yokozuna, Hogan threw his hat into the ring and said that he wanted a match against the winner. Seems reasonable. After all, he’s Hulk freaking Hogan.
The problem was his choice of words.
“That’s why right now, Bret Hart, I’m issuing the challenge to either you or the Jap!”
Whoa! Jesus, Hulk! Not cool.
83. NO CAPTAIN MEANS NO MATCH
Sometimes matches have to be cut due to time. It happens. It’s understandable, as long as it isn’t because of some lame sketch or musical performance.
At least just tell us that the match will be removed because of time constraints. We’ll understand.
Otherwise, you get the situation at WrestleMania X, where IRS, Jeff Jarrett, Rick Martel, and the Headshrinkers were so into a backstage disagreement over who would be captain of the team that the match simply didn’t happen. Good going, guys.
Just imagine the kayfabe reaction of the face team, losing that big PPV paycheck because their opponents decided not to just play Rock, Paper, Scissors.
82. WRESTLEMANIA CHANGES VENUES
Let it be said that there’s two kinds of heel heat in wrestling. The kind that gets people enraged at the bad guy and the kind that makes people not want to even watch them or anything related to them. In other words, X-Pac Heat.
The big villain of early 1991 was Sergeant Slaughter. He not only became champion, but he was championing Iraq over the US while we were at war in the Middle East. Why, Slaughter was so hated, that according to WWF, they had to move WrestleMania from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to the smaller Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena because they were worried about security issues.
In actuality, the ticket sales weren’t so hot and they went to the smaller venue to make it look less embarrassing. I guess the dumpy, middle-aged Popeye wasn’t capturing the anger of the nation as well as they were hoping.
81. THOSE CHEESY VIDEO PACKAGES
WrestleMania 13 and XIV
No matter how bad WWE can get at times, the one thing everyone can agree on is that their editing crew is amazing. Their production staff could make a PPV match between Great Khali and Titus O’Neil look must-watch with a well-edited video package.
In the older days, they would be more straightforward, showing the important clips from the months leading up to the PPV, merely labeling them by date.
In-between, there were some growing pains where they decided what they needed was narration. And not cool narration by someone like Keith David. I mean having Todd Pettengill and later Michael Cole try to dramatically explain the storylines. Pettengill’s great if you want something light-hearted and goofy, but when you have him trying to add gravitas to Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin, holy crap, you’re in for some cringing hokeyness.
80. FANDANGO’S BIG WIN
In Chris Jericho’s latter years, he decided to use his veteran status for good. He wanted to show up every now and again and put over new talent. It’s a truly honorable mission statement that’s given us some hits and misses due to the WWE’s creative decisions.
One that Jericho admittedly regrets is losing to Fandango at WrestleMania. It was Fandango’s first PPV and the fact that he got to pin Jericho seemed like maybe they were going to go somewhere with him. Even though the way he rolled up Jericho for the surprise pin looked horrible and awkward.
Even at the next night, Fandango became a big sensation when the Raw crowd sang his theme during his match. It was done ironically, mostly, but it was still fun enough that Fandango and the WWE easily could’ve capitalized.
Their attempts to latch onto it failed and Fandango quickly fell down the card, making his high-profile win over the first Undisputed Champion completely pointless.
79. FABULOUS MOOLAH VS. VELVET MCINTYRE
This Women’s Championship match was already doomed because Moolah sucked, but the ending is awkward enough to get its own entry. As the opener of the Chicago section of WrestleMania 2, this match went an entire minute and twenty-five seconds, ending curiously after McIntyre missed a splash off the ropes and got easily pinned.
As the legend goes, the impact of that splash caused part of McIntyre’s top to snap. She basically had a wardrobe malfunction and had to end the match ASAP before her nipples could make a run-in. That would end up being her one and only WrestleMania appearance. Yikes.
Coincidentally, commentator Elvira later admitted to being way into the idea of getting to see Terry Funk’s accidental dong later in the night. I’d ship it.
78. THE ORIGINAL INTERVIEW FORMAT
It took three tries before WrestleMania figured itself out. The first year may have had some sparks of potential in there, but the format for all the non-wrestling stuff was certainly raw and chaotic. For instance, Lord Alfred Hayes would constantly be standing around the entrance, reciting lines with the confidence of someone with a gun to their head. Just stammering nervously while annoyed wrestlers would rush past him before or after their matches.
Several interviews would involve the interviewer talking to a wrestler on his right, who would stare at the camera as if it was his opponent and yell about what he was going to do. The interviewer would then turn to his right and the opponent would be standing there, doing the exact same thing. At no point would anyone acknowledge that the two wrestlers were a couple feet away the entire time.
If they did any regular interviews, they did it in a way that spoiled the matches. They would interview the soon-to-be-loser first and after the match interview the winner.
Then there’s Andre the Giant’s victory ramblings, where they simply cut away mid-promo because what the hell was he talking about?
77. TODD PETTENGILL AND THE PHOTOGRAPHERS
Crush vs. Doink the Clown just happened and it debuted the concept of there being multiple Doinks in a way that was kind of creepy and out there. It ruled.
After the match, Todd Pettengill went into the stands to discuss the two Doinks with the first people he could find. It turned out to be two Japanese photographers who appeared to know very little, if any, English. When asked about the Doinks, one just kind of mumbled in Japanese as he didn’t know what was being asked. The other gave the most over-the-top laugh possible.
Todd then just namedropped Yokozuna because Japan and was once again rewarded with that one guy’s insane laughter. Having hit his awkward quota for the day, Todd then moved on.
76. RHYTHM AND BLUES ROCK OUT
For some reason, if a wrestler has a musical gimmick, they run a single song into the ground for years and any time a second song is written, it’s this huge thing. They dedicated a segment to Rhythm and Blues (Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine as a Honky Tonk Man clone) revealing their new song, “Honka Honka Honkey Love,” accompanied by Jimmy Hart and two backup singers called the Honkettes.
They were also driven to the ring in a pink Cadillac by Diamond Dallas Page, which was neat.
There’s a fine line between performing bad for the sake of heel heat and performing bad because you are bad, but I think Rhythm and Blues were more the latter. It didn’t reek of bad singing, but just a collection of people who probably should have rehearsed a couple more times. They screwed up their lyrics, screwed up their timing, and just came off as a mess. It’s pretty hard to watch.
Luckily, the Bushwackers showed up to destroy their guitars and at least make it fun.
75. UNDERTAKER’S NBC THEME
When doing the zombie gimmick, Undertaker has always been about having the most badass entrance and entrance music. At WrestleMania XXVII, he got to walk out to “Ain’t No Grave” by Johnny Cash, something so awesome that the only better choices are other Johnny Cash songs. I wouldn’t have minded “When the Man Comes Around,” personally.
Months later, NBC aired a one-hour WrestleMania special based on showing the highlights of that show. When it came time to show the Undertaker’s entrance, they didn’t spring for the rights to play “Ain’t No Grave.” They didn’t even just overlay Undertaker’s main theme.
They used “ET” by Katy Perry. For the Undertaker. I…what?
74. OH GREAT, IT’S MUHAMMAD HASSAN…AND EUGENE
I’ve said it many times before, but Muhammad Hassan was one of the worst characters WWE’s ever given us. They took a touchy and rather important subject – the bigoted treatment of Muslim Americans in light of 9/11 – and turned it into a heel character. A heel who said that bigotry was wrong and then turned out to be a literal terrorist. Holy shit. It was cringeworthy and gross.
Also cringeworthy and gross? Eugene, the mentally-challenged nephew of Eric Bischoff. Put the two of them in one segment? Now you got a stew going.
Eugene came out to talk about all the sweet moments of WrestleMania past. Hassan walked out, angry that he didn’t get to be in a match and instead beat up Eugene. He was then beaten up by Hulk Hogan, who thankfully has nothing problematic to his name.
73. SABLE VS. TORI
People give Sable guff for her lack of in-ring skills, but she always had enough natural charisma to carry herself and make it look like she knew just enough. Yet she looked like a wily veteran when put in a match against Tori, who showed up dressed as a cross between Cheetara and Giant Gonzalez.
Their match was mercifully pretty short, but whenever it started to get passable, Tori would botch something and it would fall apart. Then Nicole Bass made her debut via run-in and I’m done.
72. HACKSAW TRIPS OVER HIS PATRIOTISM
A couple entries back I mentioned the idea of singing badly for heel heat. Nikolai Volkoff did that by singing the Russian National Anthem, which got people steamed both for his singing and for the song celebrating a rival country. When he pulled that at WrestleMania III, noted boogermeister Jim Duggan ran out to stop him.
It was perfect. The patriotic American was going to shut up the loud and obnoxious Russian. It’s just that of all the explanations Hacksaw could come up with, he did the one that had me shifting my eyes.
“This is America! The land of the free!”
Uh…jeez. Ix-nay on the whole eedom of speech-fray, Jim. It doesn’t really reflect well on you threatening to beat up a guy for expressing himself while bragging about how in love with freedom your country is.
71. BRODUS CLAY’S MOMMA
The behind-the-scenes guys were all, “Hey, we’re running low on time. We don’t have time to do this dance number where Brodus Clay comes out and dances with a bunch of women dressed as grannies with giant, fake butts.”
Then John Cena was all, “I don’t usually use my political pull, but I’m putting my foot down! Either let Brodus Clay dance with old women or I walk!”
“Yes sir, Mr. Cena!”
And so, “The Funkasaurus” celebrated his doofy gimmick at the Showcase of the Immortals by dancing to his theme song (or, well, Ernest Miller’s theme song) while surrounded by a handful of backup dancers dressed as Brodus’ mother.
Then a year later, his match was pulled for time.
We’re at a point where this is still very recent and Brodus is still wrestling, just in another company, so we’re aware of the context. This segment’s going to raise so many questions a generation or so down the line.
70. TRIPLE H’S SECRET ORIGIN
Very early in his WWF career, Triple H made his WrestleMania debut while facing the returning Ultimate Warrior. The match ended in mere moments and had the Warrior completely no-sell the Pedigree. He flattened Triple H and it became one of those things that you’d laugh at whenever you got annoyed at Triple H burying younger talent years later.
But really, it’s kind of foreboding. It’s like this is where it all began. Getting crushed by the Warrior helped mold Triple H and gave him the drive to be the man who would needlessly clown the rising talent.
69. SNOOP DOGG’S TALENT SEARCH
Three years after getting to punch out Santino, Snoop made his return to WrestleMania through a segment where he went through the wrestlers who didn’t have spots on the card and listened for whoever had talent. We got William Regal rapping, Khali and Beth Phoenix singing “Summer Loving,” Zack Ryder singing “Friday,” and Yoshi Tatsu singing “We Will Rock You” while Chris Masters jiggled his pecs.
I should note that this is the second time where they did a lame talent show segment featuring Chris Masters jiggling his pecs to music.
At the end, Hornswoggle showed up and…really, I can just stop there. Hornswoggle showed up. That’s all you need to know.
68. WWF WRESTLEMANIA FOR THE NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
Listen, it’s called WrestleMania. It counts.
In 1989, Acclaim released the first WWF game for the NES. WWF WrestleMania featured a roster of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, Ted Dibiase, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Honky Tonk Man. It also featured terrible gameplay that was less Pro Wrestling and more like a frustrating version of Double Dragon.
Rather than grapple with your opponents, you spent the game running around the ring, trying to increase your health by acquiring bouncing wrestler-specific items like Macho Man’s sunglasses or Hulk Hogan’s crucifix. You could punch, kick, attack off the top rope, perform a single throw, or…actually, that’s it.
Man, this was one of those rentals where you knew that your weekend was busted.
67. THE YEAR OF PART-TIMERS
Sometimes when building up to a big PPV match, one guy has to carry the story on his back. Maybe his opponent is injured or there’s an air of mystery or he’s paid by appearance. Either way, they have to sell an upcoming match with minimal-to-zero interaction. It happens.
Too bad with WrestleMania 31, it happened three times for three of its biggest matches, leading to an absolutely dreadful month of build.
First you had the title match where WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar only made a couple appearances for set up his battle with Roman Reigns. When it came time for them to finally coexist in the ring on the go-home Raw, they just played tug-of-war with the belt and looked like children.
Triple H and Sting was another match and featured Sting a couple times. That meant having to rely more on Triple H and Stephanie promos.
Then Bray Wyatt spent weeks cutting promo after promo about wanting to face the Undertaker. It became mindless, especially since Wyatt never had anything new to say and Undertaker wasn’t going to show up until the PPV itself. So instead, he set a rocking chair on fire with lightning and that was good enough.
66. JIMMY SNUKA: WALKING DEAD
Chris Jericho took on the team of Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, and Jimmy Snuka in a handicap match. A lot of it was screwy, but Steamboat singlehandedly saved it from being a total in-ring travesty by reminding everyone that he was Ricky goddamn Steamboat. Piper was out of shape, but he at least had the effort.
Snuka, on the other hand, looked like Hell. At 65, he kind of staggered around the ring like someone covered in cement. Rigor mortis had already kicked in. Thankfully, he was the first opponent taken out by Jericho.
65. ORTON DEFEATS LEGACY
In a Triple Threat, Randy Orton went over his former protégés Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Jr. in what was, in a vacuum, a pretty sweet match. Orton defeated his partners decisively and moved on with his career, finding new life as a top face.
While the match itself was good, the stuff surrounding it is a bit hard to look back on. For a long while, Orton commanded Rhodes and Dibiase and they worked as a strong trio. Then the cracks started to surface and Orton started to go over-the-line. Normally, this would have led to one or both of them to strike against Orton and get some big face-turn momentum. The crowd was certainly rabid for it.
Orton had a match with Dibiase where Dibiase struggled with his every instinct to fight back despite the crowd cheering him on. Another time, Orton RKO’d Dusty Rhodes and the crowd chanted for Cody, hoping he’d do something. On replays, they replaced it with a “CENA!” chant. WWE spun its wheels for months to the point that when Orton attacked Rhodes and Dibiase, the fans cheered because at least somebody was doing SOMETHING!
Orton standing tall perfectly showed off how ineffectual the writing staff was around that time.
64. ANIMAL’S ELIMINATION
The dark match for this event was a big Raw vs. SmackDown battle royal. Although it featured a bunch of guys who lacked the importance of making the main show, it did have Road Warrior Animal. The event took place in Chicago and it made plenty of sense to make the crowd happy via their exclusive match.
Animal lasted to the end, facing the heel duo of Viscera and Snitsky. Viscera carried Animal on his shoulders and Snitsky shoved him. Although Animal was supposed to hold on and perhaps flip Viscera out of the ring, he instead fell to the floor himself. Snitsky and Viscera suddenly stiffened up, not knowing what to do.
They improvised and Viscera ended up winning despite being an extra-large jobber.
63. CESARO’S TICKET TO OBLIVION
In the pre-show for WrestleMania XXX, Cesaro broke up with his tag partner Jack Swagger. Later in the night, Cesaro became an extra name in the Andre Battle Royal. By the end, he was able to pick up finalist Big Show and bodyslam him over the top rope, looking like a million bucks in the process.
So how did WWE capitalize on this star-making development? They had him remain heel and hang out with Paul Heyman for several months, losing match after match while Heyman ignored him in order to discuss how great Brock Lesnar was. It was so mind-blowingly screwy that Steve Austin had to rant about it to Vince during his podcast interview.
62. BIG SHOW VS. AKEBONO
Big Show saw Akebono around and was all, “Hey, you’re pretty cool. Want to go do a sumo match?”
I guess this was going to be a build-up towards getting Akebono into WWE as an active wrestler, but that didn’t happen. Instead all we got was a sumo match where the setup went on forever and it meant looking at a lot of dude cheeks.
The only real highlight was Big Show breaking into his taunt during the very brief match. It was adorable.
61. TRIPLE H VS. JERICHO: MAIN EVENT
WrestleMania ended with Chris Jericho defending the Undisputed Championship against Triple H. On paper, that sounds like it deserves to be the main event and it was even a pretty swell match to boot!
It’s just that the entire crowd was too spent to care. It followed up on the Rock vs. Hulk Hogan, which was a far bigger match, championship be damned. Not only was it a more exciting match, but it actually had a good story going into it, as opposed to Triple H feuding with Stephanie McMahon while Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho was thrown into the background. Triple H’s win had too little drama and simply didn’t measure up to the epic Hogan/Rock dream match.
Triple H apparently pushed to have his match go on last and defended his decision in one of the documentaries. A later documentary had him pretend that never happened by saying, “Yeah, Rock vs. Hogan should have been last. Don’t know what they were thinking about putting Jericho and I as the main event. Crazy.”
60. THE HARDCORE INVITATIONAL BATTLE ROYAL
One of the most entertaining parts of the Attitude Era was Crash Holly winning the Hardcore Championship and then giving it new life by introducing 24/7 rules. As long as a wrestler had a referee with them, they could challenge Crash for the title wherever and whenever. Soon it became a bit too overwhelming for him, so he suspended the 24/7 gimmick and put the belt on the line at WrestleMania in a match against a dozen challengers.
The whole thing was boring and aimless. The idea was that there was a 15-minute time limit. During that time, you had to pin the champion. If you did that, then you became the target. Once the clock ticked down to the end, the last man to score a pinfall would be the winner.
It would have been a nothing match and barely worth thinking back on, but they totally botched the ending. Crash was the champ at the time and Tazz put him in the Tazzmission. Hardcore Holly took a jar of candy, shattered it over Tazz’s face and went to pin Crash. The plan was for Hardcore to be too late and have the buzzer go off mid-pin. Instead, the ref started too soon, tried to stop himself, then ultimately just let Hardcore get the win. He handed the belt to him, everyone looked completely confused, and rather than go on to the next segment, the commentators dedicated a chunk of time to looking at the replay of the ending.
59. BLACK AND WHITE PIPER
And now Roddy Piper’s inexplicable blackface.
Piper had a feud going with Bad News Brown, who claimed Piper was totally racist, simply as a way to get in his head. Piper decided to double down (or half down?) in response by showing up at WrestleMania with half of himself painted black. It was never fully explained why he did that. Something about how it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white or whatever. Either way, it’s one of those WrestleMania Moments WWE doesn’t really like to focus on.
The match ended with a fart of a double count-out back when such a thing didn’t lead to a bigger match. The feud simply ended.
58. BRET HART VS. BOB BACKLUND
Months earlier, Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund was a WWF Championship match with a title change on PPV. Then the company’s focus became about Diesel and Shawn Michaels, so the big blow-off was a forgettable I Quit Match. Piper was the guest referee.
Despite their best efforts, it was a slog of a bout with any momentum broken by Piper holding a mic up to the wrestlers to ask if they wanted to quit. Bret finally got Backlund in a crossface chickenwing, Backlund screamed gibberish, Piper acted like that meant he quit, and the match ended.
Bret would later call that the worst match of his career.
57. THAT WAS NEVER NINE SECONDS
Wrestling is a house of lies. We know that. Everything is about suspension of disbelief and accepting fiction, much like other forms of entertainment. It’s okay for them to lie to us all the time.
The caveat is when the lie is something directly in our faces. If Randy Orton kicked Cena in the head and the commentators claimed that Orton hit Cena with a chair, it would stick out like a sore thumb because we just saw that totally did not in any way happen. In a situation like that, you’d have to call bullshit.
That’s how I feel about Bundy vs. Special Delivery Jones at the first WrestleMania. The idea was that Bundy would squash Jones in mere seconds, showing him off as this unstoppable monster in a high-profile show. And that’s fine! That’s great! Bless ‘em for that.
Unfortunately, they kept insisting, for whatever reason, that the match was nine seconds long. A new record. Except the match itself was twenty-four seconds. Even without a stopwatch, anyone could tell that twenty-four seconds does not feel like nine seconds.
You had him squash Jones in under half a minute. Go with that. You don’t need to insult us.
56. REGIS AND THE JAPANESE
WrestleMania VII had a match between Demolition and the visiting team of Genichiro Tenryu and Joki Kitao just because. There was no angle going into it and the whole thing was over in four minutes. It was just a thing that happened featuring some guys from Japan.
Backstage at the show, they did a running gag about Regis Philbin getting stuck with the more unfortunate interview jobs. This included talking to Tenryu and Kotao, except they didn’t speak English. Realizing he was backed into a corner, Regis then started going the racist route by saying, “Toyota!” and “Isuzu!” to get some kind of reaction out of them.
Then he started talking to them like Tarzan and, yeah, let’s just go to the next one.
55. SUSAN ST. JAMES
WrestleMania 2 had the big three-venue gimmick going on and while I’ll talk more about that later, one thing that deserves its own entry is the commentator situation. The Los Angeles section of the show had Jesse Ventura, the unbearable Lord Alfred Hayes, and Mistress of the Dark Elvira. I never found Elvira to be as bad as everyone said she was and she seemed pretty into it despite being kind of lost.
Chicago had Gorilla Monsoon, Mean Gene, and Cathy Lee Crosby. Crosby was completely forgettable due to rarely ever having anything to say. Can’t get in trouble if you keep your mouth shut.
But New York? Oh God. Or, should I say: uh oh.
The team was Vince McMahon and Susan St. James, a minor celebrity who starred in a forgotten sitcom. She’s become infamous as one of the all-time worst commentators, rivaled only by Art “How Much Does This Guy Weigh?” Donovan a decade later.
St. James spent her entire time on commentary repeating “Uh oh!” again and again. No matter what happened, she would just yell that exclamation. Though to be fair, she’d take a break now and again to say, “Watch this!” or refer to Mr. Fuji as being Chinese.
54. THE DEATH OF RYBACK’S PUSH
WWE had the idea for a main event story that would be told over three years. First, Rock would attack John Cena during a title match. Second, they would have a match and Rock would win, deemed “Once in a Lifetime.” Third, they would have a rematch for the title and Cena would win. That one was famous for the constant “Twice in a Lifetime” joke, but it sounded like a decent plan.
The problem was that it meant cannibalizing the roster and putting all the eggs in Cena’s basket in a time when WWE desperately needed more stars. CM Punk had to become a heel because being top heel was a better alternative than being the third biggest face.
At least Punk had his success. WWE repackaged Nexus member Skip Sheffield as Ryback and built him up as a neo Goldberg, taking out multiple opponents at once while demanding they feed him more. He really caught on and they pushed him into the main event. He was the breath of fresh air they needed.
Unfortunately, they were so set in Rock vs. Cena II that they couldn’t pull the trigger on Ryback. Instead, he just lost all of his title matches for one reason or another. His mystique fell apart due to never winning when it mattered and the final nail in the coffin was WrestleMania 29 where he lost to Mark Henry. WHY did they have their should-be star lose to Mark Henry in a match where nothing important was on the line? I have no idea.
Regardless, Ryback then turned heel, lost a feud to Cena and fell down into midcard Hell.
53. SHAWN MICHAELS VS. EL MATADOR
Michaels vs. Tito Santana is one of those matches that should have been awesome. It’s the very definition of an early-90s hot opener. Instead, the two guys could simply not get on the same page. They had no chemistry and made a ten minute match feel like twenty, finally ending when Tito went for a bodyslam, fell to his back, and got pinned.
Michaels would point out in his autobiography that he felt completely disappointed in what a dud this match was.
Even worse was this one fan in the crowd near the mic who would not stop screeching about how much she hated Michaels. By the second match, they caught on and either moved the fan or fixed the sound.
52. THE SHOW THAT WILL NOT END
WWE tends to make their big PPV shows four hours because bigger is supposedly better, but WrestleMania 32 went so over-the-line that it was comical. While the show itself was scheduled for four hours, it also had a two-hour pre-show that featured three matches. The lengthy show was pretty middling for the most part and while there were moments that woke us up like Shane McMahon jumping off the Hell in a Cell, there weren’t any truly great matches in all this time. Especially the massive letdown that was Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar.
Towards the end, things got into fever dream levels of weird with Shaq showing up in a battle royal unannounced and the Rock wielding a flamethrower. Because the WWE Network is Vince’s baby, they didn’t need to worry about overruns, so the main event – and I’ll get to that baby soon enough! – went about a half hour after 11.
WrestleMania 32 lasted six and a half hours. In addition to the Hall of Fame, NXT TakeOver, and the following Raw. WrestleMania 33 will have all of that plus a live SmackDown the Tuesday after. God help us…
51. DONALD TRUMP IN ACTION
So going back to this match, Bobby Lashley (or “Bobby Lindsay” according to Trump) faced Umaga as representatives of Trump and Vince respectively where the losing billionaire would get his head shaved. Steve Austin was the referee and even the barber chair got an entrance.
Obviously, Trump wasn’t going to lose, even though part of the selling point was, “Wouldn’t it be wild if Trump lost all that crazy hair?” Normally, he would have just been yet another celebrity having fun in the background of a WrestleMania match.
Too bad they decided to have him actually be active. For instance, at one point, he tackled Vince and delivered the only punches more laughable than Shane McMahon’s. Then after the match, Austin kicked Trump and delivered a Stunner. It…wasn’t pretty.
Say what you will about Shane McMahon’s punching ability. At least he could sell a Stunner.
50. DROWNING POOL: STORYTELLERS
There have been a lot of musical performances throughout the years at WrestleMania and it was never so emphasized than at WrestleMania X-8, where the show was dominated by 00s buttrock bands Saliva and Drowning Pool. Just saying, “Saliva performed and I wasn’t a fan,” probably isn’t good enough for this entry, but luckily Drowning Pool went beyond.
As I said earlier, the storyline for Triple H vs. Chris Jericho was especially bad. It was really about Triple H feuding with Stephanie McMahon and pranking her while Chris Jericho had to go walk a dog and clean up feces. Rather than try to salvage this with the company’s usual package-editing magic, they decided to instead have Drowning Pool explain the story via singing the song “Tear Away.”
For real, they were introduced via Lillian Garcia saying, “And now to tell you the story of tonight’s Undisputed WWF Championship match, platinum recording artists Drowning Pool!”
And so, they played their song in front of random footage of Triple H, Jericho, and Stephanie doing stuff. Like Stephanie applying ointment to herself because she was breaking into hives. WRESTLEMANIA!!
I just looked up the lyrics to the song. Kind of odd for Triple H and Stephanie to claim that their story would be summed up with repeated yells of, “I don’t care about anyone else but me!” but thanks for giving us a joke that writes itself.
49. RODDY PIPER VS. GOLDUST
One of the hallmarks of wrestling is for the heel to get his just desserts from the face kicking the crap out of him. It’s rare, but there are times where it gets so excessive that it’s just kind of weird and hard to watch. Like the time John Cena stripped Michael Cole to his underwear and covered him in barbecue sauce. The hell was that?
The first half of WrestleMania XII revolved around Piper and Goldust having a Hollywood Backlot Brawl, which started out as this pre-filmed hardcore match taking place outside. Then Goldust escaped and they replayed footage of the OJ Simpson police chase while pretending it was Piper driving after Goldust.
Finally, it reached the arena and Piper laid into Goldust’s balls like crazy. Like, he was so offended at Goldust making homosexual passes at him that he went to town on Goldust’s package to make sure he could never, ever use his weenage ever again. It went from, “That’ll teach him!” to, ”Um, okay, this is kind of hard to watch.” Especially when Piper stripped off Goldust’s outfit to reveal lingerie underneath.
I was talking to X-Men ’92 writer Chris Sims about this and he perfectly described it as like watching a half-hour hate crime.
48. THE FALL OF EDDIE GUERRERO
King Kong Bundy and Lex Luger are famous for going from losing WrestleMania title shots to slumming it in nothing matches a year later, but Eddie Guerrero’s story is even sadder. Eddie went into WrestleMania XX as WWE Champion and not only retained, but he returned at the end of the night to stand tall and celebrate in the ring with his good buddy and fellow world champion Chris Benoit.
So where did the year take him? Well…to the opening match. Where he lost. Oof. That’s a drop if there ever was one.
Stings even more when you remember that that was Eddie’s final WrestleMania appearance.
47. THE D’LO/TEST TAG TEAM
Here’s a perfect Vince Russo example of a really cool concept that went absolutely nowhere at mach speed.
The pre-show featured a battle royal to figure out the #1 contenders for the tag titles, held by Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett. Instead of featuring established tag teams, it instead featured 21 individuals where the final two would become a makeshift tag team. There is so much potential in an idea like that. The battle royal itself lasted just over four minutes. It had D’Lo Brown (face) and Test (heel) at each other’s throats, only to realize that they were suddenly a team because Droz and the Godfather eliminated each other.
When they had the title match, it didn’t even last four minutes. D’Lo and Test lost. Okay, sure. I suppose that would make sense. Now these two guys had a legit beef with each other and this could springboard them into a feud.
Oh? They didn’t even feud after that? It was just completely pointless and didn’t build into anything? Awesome.
46. TRIPLE H VS. SHEAMUS
Not a bad match by any means, but the angle behind it always bugged me.
A lot of the guff Triple H gets for holding down talent comes from the way he words stuff. Like the time he hyped up his match with Undertaker by saying that nobody in the locker room was even close to their level. That’s not really helpful.
Triple H was going into WrestleMania with the beginning of a rivalry with Sheamus. As expected, this was going to stretch on for the next couple months. In fact, Sheamus put Triple H on the shelf via an attack with a pipe in their rematch.
But it didn’t matter. Not according to Triple H. To build their match, Triple H laid it out that their WrestleMania match was the only one in their feud that actually mattered because it was Sheamus’ first WrestleMania. And Sheamus indeed lost. It didn’t matter that they kept going. They already deflected the stakes into the match that Triple H won, so what’s the point?
45. THE TAG TEAM UNIFICATION MATCH…WILL NOT BE SEEN TONIGHT
The tag team of Miz and John Morrison were absolute gold as long as they lasted, starting as a makeshift tag team and becoming a duo that really brought out the best in each other. All while starring in their own brilliant web show The Dirt Sheet. As World Tag Team Champions, they got into it with WWE Tag Team Champions Carlito and Primo. Yes, there was a point where there were two separate tag titles.
The feud was meant to lead them into WrestleMania 25, where they would unify the titles in a Lumberjack Match. Despite being kind of important, the match was then shoved into the pre-show due to time restraints. And this wasn’t like one of those things where you could just watch it on TV before the PPV started. This was just a dark match. The best you could do was wait for the DVD to be released and watch it from there.
As for what knocked them off the show…? We’ll get to that later down the list.
44. MARY TYLER MOORE
There are few moments as awkward in wrestling as Mary Tyler Moore at WrestleMania. I would rather watch Sid Vicious’ leg snap in half than have to relive this interview segment. It’s easier to get through.
Sean Mooney noticed Mary Tyler Moore near the front row and decided to chat with her. She started off talking up the experience, but it was pretty apparent that she simply didn’t follow wrestling. She was very polite about it, but you could tell she was trying to dodge mentioning that this simply wasn’t her thing.
Mooney didn’t catch on and kept prodding her, like asking if she’d be there for WrestleMania VII. Then he started grilling her about Rhythm and Blues, who had yet to come out. Moore smiled and tried to fake her way into answering correctly. By the time he realized he was only getting one-word answers, Mooney thankfully moved on.
43. THE MEGA MANIACS VS. MONEY INC
After a year of doing movies and stuff, Hulk Hogan returned to help out his buddy Brutus Beefcake against the tag champs Money Inc. The BFFs teamed up at WrestleMania to challenge for the tag titles and let loose with a surprisingly solid match. Mainly because Hogan didn’t do his usual singles match bullshit and allowed everyone else to shine. It was more about putting over Dibiase and IRS in order for Beefcake to look better by beating them up.
The tag titles weren’t in the cards, though, and the Mega Maniacs had to lose. And so they did, in the most ridiculous way possible.
With the ref knocked out, Hogan used Beefcake’s metal mask as a weapon to knock out IRS and Dibiase. Jimmy Hart removed his jacket and put it on inside-out so that it was striped. He counted the pin and they celebrated as if they won the belts. Another referee arrived to disqualify them. The Mega Maniacs reacted by beating up the referee and celebrated for forever while Hogan’s theme looped a handful of times.
The celebration involved opening up IRS’ briefcase to find a bunch of money. Hogan held said money while making thrusting motions. Beefcake also tried to convince Hogan to join him in cutting and strutting. It just kept going and kept getting more and more surreal.
42. TERRI RUNNELS VS. THE KAT
In what was the only one-on-one match on the entire card, Terri and the Kat had a Catfight Match with Val Venis as the referee. Rather than pinfalls or submissions, all you had to do was throw your opponent out of the ring. Not even over the top rope. Kat was accompanied by Mae Young while Terri had Fabulous Moolah in her corner.
The match was thankfully brief, featuring nothing but catfight tackles and struggling. While Mae Young was too busy making out with Val, Kat eliminated Terri twice, but Moolah simply dragged Kat out of the ring and threw Terri back in. Val turned around, ended the match and Terri won.
Afterwards, Mae hit the Bronco Buster on Moolah, poisoning libidos for years to come.
41. WWF SUPER WRESTLEMANIA
Going back to video games, I need to mention my never-ending hatred of LJN’s WWF Super WrestleMania for SNES. I’ve been ranting about it for 25 years and I may never fully get it out of my system.
So I was hyped out of my mind for this game. A pretty big roster, decent graphics, and the ability to do Survivor Series matches. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this game.
I got it, took it home, and went to one-player mode. I picked Hulk Hogan and my opponent was the Undertaker. I ended up winning the match. Rather than go to the next challenge, the game asked if I wanted a rematch or to go to the main menu. There was no title chase in this game! No one-player mode at all!
It got worse. Despite the roster, the only differences between the wrestlers were cosmetic. Everyone was the same height, same speed, strength, and had the same exact set of moves. There weren’t even finishers! The best you could do was pick Savage and do a generic top-rope elbow, pretending it was good enough.
Biggest buyer’s remorse I had in that decade. Fuck that game, man.
40. THE INSTANT REPLAY DEBATE
There are a handful of WrestleMania moments that are not on the version shown on the Network. Usually, there’s a good reason. Mickie James getting explicitly grabby with Trish Stratus and then licking her hand might be a bit too risqué. Ultimo Dragon tripping over his own cape is better left on the cutting room floor. Then there’s the musical rights.
WrestleMania VII has a five-minute sketch that is omitted from the Network. In fact, it only aired once on the original PPV. Otherwise, it was missing from the VHS release, the DVD, and the box set. And why is it missing? Because it’s terrible. It’s so, so terrible.
Taking place after the epic and emotionally-draining Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage match, Vince McMahon made his lone appearance on the show, hosting a debate about instant replay between George Steinbrenner and Paul Maguire. See, football just started using instant replay and it was a huge deal and since Ultimate Warrior just lost the title to Sergeant Slaughter due to interference, Vince talked about whether or not WWF should adopt it as well.
The comedy couldn’t be any dryer and flatter. After several minutes of this, Vince chose to check the instant replay of the debate itself, only to see the Bushwackers as referees, tangled in VCR tape.
When it returned to the arena, Bobby Heenan looked embarrassed beyond belief.
39. BOBBY HEENAN VS. THE RED ROOSTER
The writing was pretty great. Bobby Heenan was not only managing Rick Rude against Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior, but he was also going to wrestle his former client the Red Rooster later in the night. Heenan helped Rude cheat and pin the Warrior. Warrior was meant to rough up Heenan, less than ten minutes before his match with the Rooster. Although unnecessary, Rooster would take advantage of the weakened Heenan and easily defeat him, giving him his second dose of comeuppance in one night.
This is where the “unfortunately” comes in. Unfortunately, when Warrior gave Heenan the Gorilla Press, he legitimately injured him by aggravating an existing neck injury. When Heenan came out for his match against the Rooster, he seemed to be in terrible pain and the half-minute match couldn’t end fast enough.
38. A NIGHT OF AUDIO ISSUES
The 11th WrestleMania had its share of problems, but the live broadcast was hurt the most by constant sound issues. When they announced the person singing “America the Beautiful” in the opening, nobody could hear it. There were multiple backstage segments with either no audio whatsoever or no communication between the commentators and Nicholas Turturro.
The problems were so excessive that McMahon and Lawler had to rerecord all their commentary for the video release.
37. THE HUCKSTER VS. THE NACHO MAN
With the rise of WCW Nitro and the acquisition of Hogan and Savage, Vince McMahon decided to constantly make fun of WCW with a series of vignettes about Billionaire Ted, the Huckster, the Nacho Man, and Scheme Gene. The parody skits culminated in a pre-show match between Huckster and Nacho Man with Vince and Lawler’s silhouettes imposed over it like Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Huckster and Nacho were depicted as being old and out of shape in an arena filled with other old people. Billionaire Ted acted as the referee as the two proceeded to keel over within minutes. Then a representative from the FTC arrived and made Billionaire Ted fall over and die from a heart attack, thereby ending the series.
As hypocritical as it was, I did get a laugh when Huckster collapsed and an EMT came to his rescue. Lawler asked, “Is this the part where the ring fills up with all the Huckster’s friends?” and Vince realized, “Uh, I think it did.”
36. MIZDOW BREAKS LOOSE
For months upon months, one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster was Damien Mizdow. As the Miz’s copycat stuntman, he won the hearts of the fans and they built up the eventual split where Mizdow could easily spring out as a breakthrough face. The whole thing wrote itself.
WrestleMania should have been the blowoff between the two. Instead, the two finally split during the pre-show as part of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Mizdow got rid of Miz and then faced the Big Show. Mizdow lost.
Afterwards, the Miz/Mizdow feud went on for a few weeks and took care of itself on TV, never even reaching PPV. The writing was stupid and Miz won in the end. Damien Sandow dropped even lower in status after teaming up with Curtis Axel as a team of Mega Powers impersonators.
Then they stopped showing up on TV after Hogan became toxic from all the racist stuff. Sandow was eventually released from WWE and went on to gain some weight and slum it in TNA.
35. JOHN MORRISON’S CAREER SUICIDE
One of the matches at WrestleMania XXVII was John Morrison, Trish Stratus, and Jersey Shore star Snooki taking on Dolph Ziggler and LayCool. You’d think I’d be including this match because of Snooki being there, but no. She actually did a pretty great job with her few moments of in-ring competition.
The story here comes from her teammates. See, Trish Stratus returned for a one-off WrestleMania match and Morrison’s girlfriend Melena was less than thrilled behind-the-scenes. She was incredibly angry over it, feeling that Trish stole her spot.
Let me just say, Melena insisting that Trish stole her spot is like me complaining that I would be main eventing this year’s WrestleMania if it wasn’t for Roman Reigns. Melena was so low on the card that she was never going to be an option.
After Snooki’s team won, the trio celebrated. Trish went to go hug Morrison and he went out of his way to elude her. Due to Melena’s feelings over the matter, Morrison gave Hall of Famer Trish Stratus the cold shoulder and it was the beginning of the end for Morrison’s WWE career.
I mean, it all worked out because he’s currently on the absolute best wrestling show, but it was still a bad gesture.
34. NATHAN JONES FADES INTO THE BACKGROUND
Before he was PERFECT! IN EVERY WAY! in Fury Road, Nathan Jones had a brief WWE career that went nowhere. He starred in some excessively badass vignettes that built him up as this uncontrollable ex-con out to tear the faces off everyone in his line of vision, but then he became the Undertaker’s NXT Rookie.
The plan was a tag match of Undertaker and Nathan Jones vs. Big Show and A-Train, but it was decided that Jones was too awful in the ring to salvage at the time. They had to write him off by having him beat up backstage, thereby making it a handicap match. Jones did at least show up at the end to pull off a roundhouse kick (the one thing he could do convincingly) and allow Undertaker to keep the Streak alive.
33. WRESTLEMANIA: THE ALBUM
I had this album. I was 12 years old and I had this album. What was I thinking?
The album featured a bunch of songs that were mainly wrestlers cutting promos, cheesy music occasionally kicking in, and random soundbytes thrown in. I could talk about this CD of nuttiness forever, but I might as well just focus on the “WrestleMania” song itself.
A song about WrestleMania that begins with, “ARE YOU READY…FOR THE SURVIVOR SERIES?!” and Mena Gene asking, “Who will survive?!”
In a track made to hype up WrestleMania IX, it featured the likes of Bret Hart, Tatanka, the Nasty Boys, Big Boss Man, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan rambling about whatever.
Bret Hart was at the show and lost his WWF Championship. Tatanka was there and failed to win the Intercontinental Championship. Hacksaw was selling an attack from Yokozuna and missed it completely. The Nasty Boys missed the show and were gone within a week or so. Big Boss Man was gone from the company weeks before WrestleMania even happened.
As corny as the whole thing is, I do want that Randy Savage “Speaking from the Heart” song played at my funeral. It’s strangely inspiring.
32. THE MISS WRESTLEMANIA BATTLE ROYAL
At WrestleMania 25, “the 25th Anniversary” because WWE doesn’t understand how numbers work, they decided to hold a 25-Diva battle royal for the right to be crowned Miss WrestleMania. To make it a bigger deal, they invited names from the past. People like Jackie Gayda, Molly Holly, Joy Giovanni, and Sunny. Sunny, who was actually wrestling her first WWE match via this battle royal.
Meanwhile, Trish Stratus and Lita had the foresight to turn down the invitation. Especially Lita, who found out how the match was going to end.
Despite the big collection of Divas, there were no introductions for any of them and when the match happened, the commentators barely even noticed who was involved. Just several minutes until, “Oh, hey, Molly Holly’s in there too. That’s a thing.” Then she would get thrown out and nobody would pay it any mind.
In the end, it was all about getting Santino over in his “twin sister” persona Santina Marella. She eliminated Beth Phoenix as a way of turning Santino face and sadly putting an end to the ever-so-entertaining Glamarella.
31. BAM BAM BIGELOW VS. ONE MAN GANG
In the opening round of the big tournament for the vacant WWF Championship, Bam Bam and One Man Gang had a rather one-sided hoss battle. Bam Bam had the advantage for a couple minutes and things were fine until the incredibly lame ending.
As Bam Bam ran across the ropes, Gang’s manager Slick pulled down the top rope. Bam Bam fell out, got back onto the apron, fought off Gang for a few seconds, then reentered the ring, ready to keep fighting. All the while, the ref loudly counted to ten, even while Gang was clobbering Bam Bam. Yes, somehow standing on the apron and being kept from reentering was grounds for a count-out. Even Ventura was confused when the bell rang because he knew it was a stupid way to write Bam Bam out of the bracket.
30. THE END OF ZACK RYDER
Zack Ryder wasn’t perfect, but he was a man who deserved his success. He used social media to build his brand before WWE even cared about such a thing and got a major following despite being treated as one of the biggest jobbers. For a time, WWE gave in and had him with the United States Championship, but soon buried him with authority by making him the third wheel in the John Cena vs. Kane feud. Ryder looked like a joke the entire time and got the worst of it, whether he was interacting with Cena, Kane, or would-be romantic interest Eve.
Once it was time to set up Cena vs. Rock, Eve was revealed to be a gold digger out to use Cena and Ryder. They finished off the Cena part of the story by having him publicly slut-shame her. As for Ryder, he never got revenge on anyone.
To make matters worse, WrestleMania featured a twelve-man tag match between Team Johnny (John Laurinaitis’ team of David Otunga, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Miz, and Drew McIntyre) and Team Teddy (Teddy Long’s team of Santino, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder, Great Khali, and Booker T) where the winning captain would become general manager of both Raw and SmackDown. Coincidentally, Eve started to befriend Ryder again.
Everyone knew where this was going and could see it coming a mile away. At the end of the match, Eve distracted Ryder to cause him to lose to the Miz, then kicked Ryder in the balls afterwards. There was no follow up to this other than Ryder releasing a music video online about Eve being a “hoski.” It was the exclamation point on WWE’s decision to ruin Ryder for daring to succeed against their intentions.
29. WRESTLEMANIA XI’S CELEBRITY INTRO
WrestleMania XI didn’t have much going for it. There was a title match built on a heel challenger, a football player doing a one-off against a midcarder, the least-memorable Undertaker match, and two former champs being stuck in a less-than-exciting I Quit Match. Having Lawrence Taylor in the main event as well as Pamela Anderson involved in the title match were their biggest gets, so they went full ham on it.
Rather than build on the matches, the intro proceeded to talk about all the previous ten WrestleManias…and how they had celebrities. After all, it’s not like they had anything else to talk about. Not with Hogan and Savage off in WCW. So they just showed images of Ray Charles, Robin Leech, Chuck Norris, and anyone else who qualified. What’s funny is how by the time they got to WrestleMania IX, the best they could show was Jim Ross in a toga, an elephant, and a quick shot of Natalie Cole watching from the audience. That’s all they had.
After finishing the trip through memory lane, they hyped up all the celebrities showing up at this show via having them mingle with the top faces. Jonathan Taylor Thomas flexing with the Allied Powers, Nicholas Turturro trying to find Undertaker’s pulse, Salt-N-Pepa rubbing Bret Hart’s abs, and so on.
28. THE PLAYBOY PILLOW FIGHT
Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle had a match based on the fact that both of them were featured in Playboy. The ring was filled with a bed and lots of pillows while the women were in evening gowns. Despite the setup, it started up okay with the two pulling out enough energy and even a couple actual moves to keep the crowd interested.
That went down the tubes the moment Torrie decided to take her tiny dog and shove its ass into Candice’s face. I mean, that would kill interest both in a wrestling sense and a “let’s watch two women have a sexy fight” sense. It all fell apart and the stupidity set in.
The highlight of the match would be when Candice reached under the bed and pulled out a Playboy and started shoving it in Torrie’s face while screaming. That sure was something.
27. THE BENOIT THING
This one’s a hard part to include and even rank. After years of hard work, Chris Benoit won a hell of a main event match against Triple H and Shawn Michaels to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Then the WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero ran out, the two embraced, and celebrated to end the show.
Then, over the next couple years, bad stuff happened. Eddie’s body succumbed to the damages of drug abuse and Benoit’s own madness engulfed himself and his family. He became the “bad word” of WWE. The one they would never mention on air or even let you search for on the WWE Network. That he even shows up in the WWE Encyclopedia is seen as an amusing novelty.
I’m not saying WrestleMania XX was to blame for what happened (unless you want to get into semantics and I currently don’t) or that WWE should have had the foresight to predict that this would happen or anything like that. Some people can separate Benoit the person from footage of Benoit the performer. Most of the time, I’m one of those people.
But at the end of the day, an emotional moment of friendship and a life of hard work paying off is eternally marred as being uncomfortable and a reminder the dark side of the business.
26. THE IRON MAN MATCH
That’s right, I said it!
WWE will always talk about how great Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels was. They’ll call the Iron Man Match one of the best matches in WrestleMania history. In WWE history, even!
Sorry if you’re a fan, but I hated it. It’s a boring, plodding match where the story is that nothing happens for an hour. Outside of Michaels accidentally kicking a bystander, it was a ton of two guys pacing themselves for a match that would never fully pick up.
And hey, bad matches will happen. The issue is that it overwhelmed the show. WrestleMania XII was under three hours. The Iron Man Match went over an hour. Plus intros, celebrations, the ref going over the rules, and several hype videos. One match took up about half of the entire show and that stings if you didn’t dig it.
25. UNDERTAKER VS. BIG BOSS MAN
Prior to the days of the PG Era and the match being watered down by getting its own PPV, Hell in a Cell was a godly match. The ultimate, most vicious grudge match. So it was really head-shakingly bad when it got wasted on this during its glory days.
Undertaker was one of the top heels. Big Boss Man was a midcard heel who worked for Vince McMahon in a time when Vince and Undertaker were feuding. Rather than just do a regular match between the two, they decided to make it Hell in a Cell for extra emphasis.
It simply didn’t work. Both guys were heels, so the crowd didn’t have a favorite. Neither was known for bumping, so it’s not like either could take the Michaels/Mankind spot to make things memorable. The only time the Cell was put into use during the bout was when Boss Man handcuffed Undertaker to it, but Undertaker accidentally broke free anyway.
Once it was over, Undertaker summoned the Brood to hang Boss Man from a noose. He was murdering a man and Michael Cole downplayed it by asking if it was symbolic. Then he happily segued into footage of fans enjoying the weekend.
24. THE KID ROCK CONCERT
Musical performances usually have that feeling of, “Why are we watching this on a wrestling show that we paid for?” but they’re usually harmless because they’re just a couple of minutes and it’s done. Not so much with Kid Rock, who got over ten minutes of performance in the middle of a WrestleMania that had to remove a match to make time.
A match that ended up being shorter than Kid Rock’s time on stage.
As he played a medley of his greatest hits, you’d get the occasional expression of excitement from people in the crowd, though a lot of the time it was just people pumped to be in front of a camera. The best part came early on when he lifted his microphone to the sky so the crowd could finish off his line, only to get complete silence.
23. TRIPLE H VS. STING
The hell was that?!
Sting finally appeared in WWE after being the one major WCW guy who never did. He interfered in the big Survivor Series 2014 main event and caused Triple H and Stephanie to lose power…for a couple weeks because nothing matters in WWE anymore. While the fans were into the idea of Sting vs. Undertaker, Triple H was just as viable a challenger and was more qualified as a ring general.
Even ignoring Sting doing the odd Undertaker-esque stalking, the build was head-scratching. “The Vigilante” Sting (and not “a picture of Sting” as JBL once claimed him to be) attacked Triple H. Triple H and Steph claimed, “I get it, this is all about WCW losing to WWE years ago.”
Sting pointed out, “Not really? I’m a vigilante. You’re corrupt villains. Ergo…”
“I can’t believe you’re still mad about WCW!”
“That’s not the story of what’s happening, guys.”
“What, the story that WWE defeated WCW years ago and you’re mad about it? What else story would there be?”
And when it came time for the match, which was introduced by Arnold Schwarzenegger and a Terminator army, JBL wouldn’t shut up about how much WCW sucked and were a bunch of losers and WAH WAH WAH BLACK HELICOPTERS MAGGLE. The New Age Outlaws and the New World Order brawled on the outside because…WCW?
Triple H won. Not only did Sting lose his big debut match, surrounded by a big circus of how WCW lost, but he ended up shaking Triple H’s hand. Triple H reminded everyone he was still heel about an hour later.
22. THE MILLER LITE CATFIGHT GIRLS
For those who don’t remember, Miller Lite used to do a bunch of commercials about two women getting into arguments over “great taste!” and “less filling!” and it would lead to catfights and stuff. The two ladies, Tanya Ballinger and Kitana Baker, showed up at WrestleMania.
Hosted by the Coach, the two were going to have a catfight on a large bed with only pillows as the weapons. Then Stacy Kiebler and Torrie Wilson arrived, demanding to be added. The bell rang and while the Miller Lite girls just jumped on the bed, Torrie and Stacy rolled around on the floor, including over the Coach.
Then they pulled down the Coach’s pants and pinned him because any excuse to end this was a good one.
21. THE LIMP BIZKIT PHOTOSHOP CONTEST
This is another incident that’s missing from the WWE Network and it’s probably for the better. Limp Bizkit’s song “My Way” was the theme to WrestleMania X-Seven and lent itself to one of the all-time best promo packages for Austin vs. Rock. Seriously, go look it up if you haven’t seen it before.
They held a contest over who could create the best album cover for Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. A guy named Will Borschert won and…look at it.
Just look at that image. When you’re done reading the rest of this article, go back and look at it one more time.
20. TRIPLE H VS. RANDY ORTON
On one hand, Randy Orton was in the middle of doing some of his absolute best character work in his entire career and really came into his own as the company’s top heel. He was despicable, conniving, and straight-up awesome. On the other hand, Triple H kept getting his payback in advance. Rather than make WrestleMania the big blow-off, Triple H would routinely get his hands on Orton and destroy him, ruining all the drama.
By the time they hit the main event of WrestleMania, there was no real gas in the tank. Especially since it was deemed that if Orton got himself disqualified, he would lose the title. For such a grudge match, it didn’t have much of a hook.
Then the two guys hit their finishers within the first minute, making them sluggish and tired for the rest of the match. Something that you’d zone out if you saw it on Raw was in the top spot of the biggest show of the year. It finally ended when the ref let them know that they were running out of airtime and needed to end it.
Both guys went on to admit that they thought the entire thing was a big mistake.
19. EIGHTEEN SECONDS
Daniel Bryan was World Heavyweight Champion and was put in a title match against Royal Rumble winner Sheamus. People were pumped for what was going to be a great match. Sure, Bryan was going to lose – and it was the perfect time for him to do that – but at least we’d get to see one of the best wrestlers compete as champion on the biggest stage.
Sheamus then pinned him in 18 seconds in the opening match.
The crowd was pissed because while he was getting his comeuppance, Bryan was also getting cheated out of getting to perform this high-profile match. WE were getting cheated out of getting to see it. It deflated a lot of people and the rest of the show did very little to make up for it.
Not to mention it would have made far more sense to use the 18 second storyline in Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes based on the build of Cody making fun of Big Show never having a great WrestleMania moment.
Many would have me rank this much higher on the list, but it did at least help Bryan’s career in the long run. Sheamus’, not so much.
18. JOHN CENA VS. THE MIZ
In a time when the company seriously needed some new blood in the main event, Miz’s sudden rise to WWE Champion was deemed a good enough choice at the time. When put into the main event of WrestleMania, he naturally got to take on John Cena, the biggest star.
Too bad the champion was nothing but a third wheel.
The build was really about John Cena vs. the Rock, who was simply the guest host of the show. So much emphasis was put on those two possibly coming to blows that Miz was stuck hanging out in the background, being forgotten about and talked down to.
The match itself wasn’t very good and ended in a double count-out at the end, where Miz endured a concussion. The Rock appeared, demanded the match restart, cost Cena the match for the sake of building up two more WrestleMania main events, and Miz won in the most useless way possible.
Miz had zero momentum after that and lost to Cena so badly in the following months that his career never recovered. The way he would remind people that he won the main event of WrestleMania to this day is more depressing than a reminder of how impressive he is.
17. THE DX BAND PLAYS “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL”
“All please rise… Here is the D-Generation X Band, led by lead singer Chris Warren, to perform the alternative, new wave version of the themes ‘America the Beautiful’ and our national anthem.” – Howard Finkel
That just about says it all, doesn’t it? It’s removed from the Network version of WrestleMania XIV, but it’s out there on the internet. You can take my word for it in that it’s unbearable.
At the end, Jim Ross tried to save it by mentioning freedom of expression. The fans were free to express their own opinion of the performance by booing the hell out of it.
They booed “America the Beautiful.” And they were right to do so!
16. BRET HART VS. VINCE MCMAHON
In another reality, this could have been fun. Sad to say, the reality we live in features a Bret Hart who suffered multiple concussions and a stroke. A Bret Hart who could literally die from taking a regular bump. A Bret Hart who was put in a match against Vince McMahon while we all knew that nothing could happen.
The smoke and mirrors used to try and make this watchable were thin and cracked. Vince brought out whatever Hart family members would agree to show up and acted like they were on his side despite how transparent it was that they were going to turn on him.
Then Bret beat Vince with a chair. Forever. Long past any catharsis. It just wouldn’t end. Bret eventually made Vince tap to the Sharpshooter, ending the nightmare.
15. BROCK LESNAR’S SHOOTING STAR PRESS
The idea was sound. Brock Lesnar was capable of doing a Shooting Star Press and pulled it off a few times in FCW. On TV, he hadn’t done it, so having him use it to win the WWE Championship at the main event of WrestleMania was perfect. He dropped Kurt Angle with the second F5 and climbed the ropes.
Unfortunately, the ropes were too slick and Angle was set up too far away. Rather than step back from the stunt, Brock jumped up and flipped forward. He ended up missing Angle and landed headfirst into the mat. If he didn’t have an oak tree stump as a neck, it easily could have killed him.
Concussed and with a swollen head, Brock picked up Angle and just did a third F5 to finish him. Afterwards, Angle was both annoyed and confused over what was going on, before showing concern and respect to a new champion who obviously had no idea where he was.
14. PIPER’S PIT FEATURING MORTON DOWNEY JR.
If you’ve never actually seen this bit, you might be confused. Why would I include this segment? WWE plays this one all the time as one of Piper’s greatest moments. And yeah, that bit at the end where Downey kept blowing smoke in his face and then got blasted with the fire extinguisher was indeed classic.
The twenty minutes prior is why it’s on this list. It killed the crowd, was unfunny, and Downey himself barely had anything to do other than smoke off on the side and fling cigarettes while Piper had dialogue with Brother Love.
If you want to see Piper and Brother Love talk about kilts for too long, than go ahead. If you want to see Brother Love run around in red underwear, then this is for you. If you want to see Downey get sprayed with a fire extinguisher? Just skip to the end and spare yourself of the rest of the crap.
Coincidentally, the DVD version removed the part where Brother Love got his kilt torn off, meaning Piper would get distracted by Downey, turn away, and Brother Love would have simply teleported out of existence. It’s pretty funny and bizarre.
13. MR. PERFECT’S HEEL TURN
I never really cared about Lex Luger one way or the other. If anything, I sort of liked how he existed in WWF to have a Hogan-like face who simply failed so the more interesting faces could rise in his place. Him failing to defeat Yokozuna at WrestleMania X is seen as the true ending to his main event run, but there’s more to it than simply not becoming champion.
Luger lost because Mr. Perfect was brought in as the guest referee. Cornette and Mr. Fuji tried to interfere in the ending, but Luger took care of them. Perfect seemed too confused to know what to do and wouldn’t make the count. Luger got frustrated and put his hands on him, causing a disqualification. Backstage, the two got in a tussle with Perfect verbally defending his actions while Luger figured Perfect had it in for him.
Then Perfect was gone. The intended program between the two was off the table. What we got was Luger being screwed over and having no avenue for revenge. Perfect was in no shape to be an opponent and Yokozuna lost the title to Bret Hart.
THAT was the final nail in Luger’s coffin.
12. TRIPLE H VS. ROMAN REIGNS
It’s funny how the story of WrestleMania changes over the course of three years. In WrestleMania XXX, the fans pressured WWE into going against their usual nature. Then in WrestleMania 31, WWE appeared to be going an obvious route against the wishes of the fans, but swerved us with an ending that made everyone happy. Then came WrestleMania 32 where the company’s MO was, “We’re fucking doing this.”
Despite dangling the possibility of Dean Ambrose’s inclusion in our faces, WWE was very adamant about doing Roman Reigns vs. Triple H no matter what. And sure, that was the natural conclusion. This is the bed they made and they needed to sleep in it…thanks to Seth Rollins’ snapped leg ruining the initial plans. The problem came from the pairing. You had the unpopular face without the natural charisma to get people behind him against the self-insert heel who can’t help but want to get his shit in and make things about him. They took a very basic wrestling story and made it too easy to cheer the bad guy.
They even kept Roman away from the arenas for most of the lead-up just because they were in places like Chicago and Philadelphia, which ESPECIALLY wouldn’t cheer him on.
By the time they had the match, after hours and hours of WrestleMania 32 wearing the fans down, the thing was a snoozer with a muted crowd. After a half hour, Roman Reigns won and we could move on with our lives.
Bonus points for making the ending of the 2016 Royal Rumble match extremely predictable.
11. JAKE ROBERTS VS. RICK RUDE
WrestleMania IV was all about a one-night, 14-man tournament. Considering there were non-tournament matches in there, that meant it was going to be a long night. They were off to a good start. Even if the first round had stinkers like Bam Bam vs. One Man Gang, at least they were smart enough to make them quick and energetic. They had momentum going.
The final first round match was Jake Roberts vs. Rick Rude. Normally, this would have been a fantastic match, but the point of it was to draw it out into fifteen minutes so they would both lose via time limit. Time limit draws tend to be the worst, especially when the point of doing them is just for showing that it’s a thing that can happen.
It meant that they wrestled knowing that they were just killing time, more noticeable when Bobby Heenan yelled at Rude to stop wasting time and finish him. The match was not only completely boring, but it absolutely killed the rest of the show.
Hogan vs. Andre also ended with both guys getting eliminated from the tournament, but at least it was quick and had a pulse.
10. DANIEL BRYAN VS. SHEAMUS: ROUND 1
A year before “18 Seconds” happened, Daniel Bryan was preparing to make his WrestleMania debut against US Champion Sheamus. WrestleMania XXVII had very, very little to look forward to, but at least we’d get to see this cool midcard battle.
Just hours before the show, Bryan and Sheamus were bummed to discover that the match would be moved to the pre-show. It became a Lumberjack Match and after four minutes, it erupted into a no contest. It was restarted as a battle royal and the Great Khali won.
In review, Daniel Bryan and Sheamus had a match and somehow the Great Khali won. And the only way you can watch it is by buying the DVD set of maybe the worst WrestleMania ever.
9. UNDERTAKER VS. GIANT GONZALEZ
Undertaker had been face for a year and they realized that they needed to have him fight something powerful to distract him from being in the title hunt. Giant Gonzalez – WCW’s El Gigante repackaged – was brought in to tear him apart at Royal Rumble ’93. Goofy appearance aside, it did a good job doing what it was supposed to do.
Then it came time for their match and hoooooly shit was it a stinker. Undertaker wouldn’t figure out how to be watchable for at least five years and his meager moveset was cut to pieces by a guy too tall to take chokeslams, Tombstones, and the like. Giant Gonzalez complemented that by being one of the worst wrestlers in history and selling in the most hilarious way possible.
The match was a total dud and ended because, get this, unbeatable monster Gonzalez used chloroform on the Undertaker. They made sure never to mention that whenever the Streak came up. Afterwards, the crowd chanted for Hogan and that probably would’ve been a better use of the Hulkster than what we ended up getting.
Plus, just as a reminder, this match involved a “naked” wrestler who had pubes drawn on his costume.
8. HULK HOGAN VS. SID JUSTICE
Hogan vs. Sid is a textbook example of what NOT to do when writing your main event WrestleMania feud. It started off with their Royal Rumble incident, where Hogan looked like a total douche and the commentators had to paint the picture so that Sid was the real jerk. Then Sid turned on Hogan in a tag match after Hogan kept talking over him in the pre-match promo. Regardless, Hogan singlehandedly beat up his opponents of Ric Flair and the Undertaker.
Hogan was set to face Flair in a title match at WrestleMania, but when Sid destroyed the set of Brutus Beefcake’s Barbershop, Hogan decided to forego the title shot and instead face Sid in a grudge match. Which was somehow the main event. It was also built up as Hogan’s possibly final match.
It was basic, even for a Hogan match. Once Hogan made his comeback, Papa Shango – who had nothing to do with Hogan or Sid – was supposed to run out and break up the pin after the legdrop. He missed his cue, so Sid kicked out. Sid’s manager Harvey Whippleman got on the apron, Hogan attacked him, and that meant Hogan won by disqualification.
Papa Shango finally arrived, followed soon after by the random return of the Ultimate Warrior. Hogan was gone for a year and Sid left within a couple weeks, so the only aftermath to come out of this WrestleMania main event was Papa Shango making the Ultimate Warrior vomit via voodoo magic.
Meanwhile, Randy Savage won the WWF Championship midway through the show.
7. EDGE VS. ALBERTO DEL RIO
In a vacuum, Edge vs. Del Rio is a good match. A great match, even. But context is a thing that exists and with context, this one’s frustrating.
WWE had been building up Alberto Del Rio like crazy. So much so that the guy who wrote his WWE.com profile accidentally left in the line where he asked his editor if it was good enough, seeing as how Del Rio was going to be a “big deal fairly quick.” He was protected, went over Rey Mysterio immediately, and won the big 40-man Royal Rumble.
Del Rio beating Edge at WrestleMania seemed like a sure thing because it was the absolute right thing to do. ESPECIALLY when they chose to have him lose to Edge’s buddy Christian several times going into the show. Not having him beat Edge after that would just be bewildering.
The match ended up being the first one on the PPV, meaning that Del Rio won the biggest Royal Rumble for the reward of curtain-jerking. Then he lost to Edge cleanly. Then Edge and Christian proceeded to utterly humiliate Del Rio by destroying his car.
Shortly after, Edge found out that his neck was in worse shape than he realized and had to retire immediately. Christian proceeded to defeat Del Rio for the vacant title and was immediately jobbed out to Randy Orton.
Del Rio would get a couple world title runs in the years that followed, but he’d never be able to reach the level that they were building towards.
6. BART GUNN VS. BUTTERBEAN
Wrestling is pre-determined for a reason and Brawl for All is that reason. WWF decided to hold a legitimate MMA/boxing hybrid tournament on the undercard for several months. The plan was that Dr. Death Steve Williams was going to dominate and would look like such a badass that he could be shoved into a main event program with Steve Austin. If that was done in a fictional way, that could have worked, but like I said, it was legitimate and Dr. Death got his ass knocked out by Bart Gunn.
Bart proceeded to win the rest of the tournament. A tournament that put several people on the shelf because, again, it was REAL FIGHTING. Rather than reward Bart for his shocking victory, they decided to gamble all their chips in a fight that he could never win by putting him in a boxing match against the golem-like Tough Man champion Butterbean.
After a lengthy setup where they introduced the judges (including the final WWF appearance of Gorilla Monsoon) and so on, Butterbean destroyed Bart Gunn like he was nothing. Bart was swept under the rug by the company and was never talked about again, outside of a battle royal appearance over a decade later.
5. BILL GOLDBERG VS. BROCK LESNAR I
When WWE built up Brock Lesnar as their new star, a showdown with Goldberg was a definite. The seeds were planted as early as Survivor Series and when it became apparent that they would face off at WrestleMania, it was believed that it was a big enough match to main event the show if they wanted, even if there weren’t any titles involved. With Goldberg’s contract up, Brock’s win was an easy pick and it would easily pop him back into the title hunt immediately.
Except Brock also wanted out as he was sick of the wrestling schedule and all the traveling. He was granted his release with WrestleMania being his final show. He and Goldberg proceeded to have a match in front of an entire arena who knew that neither guy was going to be with the company as of Monday.
The crowd was not happy and they let the two wrestlers know. In response, the two put on one of the absolute worst high-profile matches that went on for nearly fifteen minutes. Just nothing but fans booing them, letting loose with negative chants, and the two wrestlers doing nothing of interest throughout. Goldberg ended up winning because he at least gave notice.
The only beloved name in this match was Steve Austin, the guest referee. He proceeded to drop both guys with Stunners afterwards as the fans sang, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”
One of the biggest dream matches in wrestling history and it was a total joke. Thank God they’re never going to try that ag–OH GOD DAMN IT!
4. JERRY LAWLER VS. MICHAEL COLE
For those who weren’t watching around the time or flat-out forgot, the best storyline going into WrestleMania XXVII was between two commentators. Michael Cole had been a total douche on commentary – dating back to Daniel Bryan appearing on NXT – to the total detriment of the product. Having your play-by-play guy play an obnoxious heel is never a good idea, especially when there’s minimal comeuppance. Watching PPVs from that era is rough.
That was what made this match seem must-watch. Michael Cole was finally going to get destroyed by Jerry Lawler. We could see Cole get beat up, maybe take a piledriver, and finally get on with our lives.
The match went on about as long as Goldberg vs. Lesnar and at least that one had two guys who knew how to work a match instead of just one. This one had Michael Cole beating up Lawler for far too long to the point that it killed the crowd. The match should have been about a third as long, but it just kept going until Lawler made his comeback and defeated Cole by making him tap out to an ankle lock.
Sadly, that wasn’t the end. The Anonymous Raw GM (ugh) chimed in by saying that referee Steve Austin was too biased and in response, Cole was awarded the match. This feud kept going for a couple more months, well past its expiration date, and we got to hear Cole constantly bring up how he was undefeated at WrestleMania.
3. HULK HOGAN VS. YOKOZUNA
After Yokozuna cheated to defeat Bret Hart via salt to the eyes, Hulk Hogan showed up to defend Bret’s honor, even though he and Bret had nothing to do with each other at this point. Yokozuna had Mr. Fuji offer Hogan a title shot on the spot, Bret told Hogan to accept, and via a cheating backfire, Hogan won the title in seconds to end the show.
Hogan was instantly on top again after they spent months building up Bret as the next big thing. Still, I can defend it because in terms of the original plan, it was the perfect setup. It could have set up Hogan dropping the title to Bret at SummerSlam and passing the torch to a different style of wrestler instead of a different flavor of Hulk Hogan. It would have been a great storyline and WrestleMania IX wouldn’t have been remembered for Hogan’s political bullshit.
Instead, Hogan wasn’t into the plan, dropped the title back to Yokozuna at King of the Ring, and flew the coup. Bret got thrown into an endless feud with Jerry Lawler and they tried to plug-and-play Lex Luger as the new top face. The whole thing was a gigantic mess and its badness is legendary.
2. BOOKER T VS. TRIPLE H
Booker T went into WrestleMania as the challenger for Triple H’s World Heavyweight Championship and it looked like he was going to become the new champion. On the way towards WrestleMania, WWE signed Bill Goldberg to a contract and they figured that maybe Triple H should retain, as a Triple H vs. Goldberg title match would be a better battle to build towards than Booker T vs. Goldberg.
That would have been fine, had they been telling virtually any other story than, “Black people can’t be champion.”
That was what the story was. Triple H and Ric Flair would run down Booker T with racist subtext in the air so thick that you couldn’t breathe. It would have made it great when Booker T proved them wrong by winning the big one, but, as I just said, that was no longer the plan.
Triple H won. Not only did he win, but to make it even worse, he dropped Booker with a Pedigree, waited an excessive amount of time to make the weakened cover, and got the pin. While 99% of wrestlers would be able to kick out after all that recovery, Booker T didn’t. The match was over, the feud was over, and both guys moved on.
The claim that Triple H buries people gets thrown around a lot, but man, Booker T got buried.
1. THOSE POOR, POOR NEW YORKERS
I’ve just spent over 17,000 words badmouthing WWE’s decisions and situations. Yes, there are a ton of bad moments in WrestleMania history and there are a handful of WrestleManias that are outright horrible overall. The great thing about it is that there’s no WrestleMania that’s completely bad. They all have their silver linings. If you went to WrestleMania IX, then you at least got to see the Steiners vs. the Headshrinkers and the utter awesome weirdness of Crush vs. Doink. WrestleMania 29 was a letdown, but that CM Punk vs. Undertaker match was pretty sweet.
Even WrestleMania 2 had some good stuff mixed in there. The people who watched in Chicago and LA got to see several enjoyable matches, like the British Bulldogs vs. the Dream Team, the Funks vs. Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog, and the big battle royal.
New York, though? Damn. They got the shaft and they got it bad.
Like the other two venues, they got four matches. First match was Paul Orndorff vs. Don Muraco, which started off with some crazy energy and chemistry before ending in a double count-out after four minutes.
After that came Randy Savage vs. George “The Animal” Steele, which may in fact be the worst Randy Savage match of all time that doesn’t involve a Doomsday Cage. In fact, the jury’s still out on that one. That one was five minutes.
Jake Roberts beat George Wells in a three-minute squash match, only remembered for Wells foaming at the mouth after the final bell.
Then the main event. Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T in a boxing match. I talked about Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn earlier as the pitfalls of doing a legit boxing match, but at least it was an entertaining 35-second trainwreck. Piper and T did a worked fight that was over thirteen minutes of tedium and finally came to a close when Piper performed a bodyslam and they disqualified him.
That was the show for the New York crowd. Twelve and a half minutes of bad wrestling followed by thirteen minutes of bad fake boxing. Then they got to sit around and watch projections of the better WrestleMania 2 cards going on across the country.
On the bright side, at least they didn’t have to listen to Susan St. James!
Gavin Jasper misses the early-90s WrestleMania theme song. And the ring carts. Follow Gavin on Twitter!