For nearly 40 years, WrestleMania has been the biggest wrestling show in the world. WWE’s “showcase of the immortals” has gifted fans with unforgettable moments and all-time great matches. It remains one of the cornerstones of the professional wrestling industry.

Yet, for all its grandeur and history, WrestleMania is often a surprisingly reliable source of historically bad moments. The biggest show of the year sometimes lets us down in ways that no lesser event ever could. That’s especially true of the worst matches in the show’s history.

Before we dive into those matches, keep in mind that I tried to draw a line between “boring” and “bad.” So, while there are many matches from WrestleMania‘s early days that look bad through modern eyes, many of those matches were short and ultimately pretty forgettable. Instead, Iwe focused on the matches that left the darkest clouds over WrestleMania‘s history.

15. The Miz vs. John Cena (WrestleMania XXVII)

During the build to this match, it became clear that WWE Champion The Miz was just a supporting player in an ongoing feud between John Cena and The Rock. It was an ill-advised situation that could have been salvaged. If WWE played their cards right, The Miz could have emerged from this whole thing as a legitimized heel champion. The brilliant “Hate Me Now” video package he received at the start of this match only proved his potential at that time.

What we got instead was one of the worst (and certainly most baffling) WrestleMania main events ever. The Miz and John Cena dryly traded uninspired moves for about 14 minutes until an admittedly brutal spear spot outside the ring seemingly resulted in a double count-out. What would have been an all-time bad finish somehow got worse when The Rock came out to read a message from the anonymous RAW GM (remember those days?). Ultimately, the match was ordered to continue under No DQ rules. 

Whatever chance at redemption this nightmare had was shattered a few moments later when The Rock gave a Rock Bottom to John Cena and practically handed The Miz the surprise win. As many feared, the match was indeed just an elaborate set-up for next year’s Rock vs. John Cena WrestleMania showdown. This whole thing could have been a serviceable segment on one of the many forgettable RAW episodes of that era. Instead, it was a WrestleMania main event. 

14. The Kat vs. Terri Runnels (WrestleMania 2000)

For the vast majority of WrestleMania’s history, women wrestlers were given the absolute worst matches to participate in and were then asked to be grateful for the opportunity. It’s a tragically appropriate extension of how WWE often treated the very concept of women’s wrestling. While much of this list could have been filled with examples of those humiliations, this particular match does an admirable job of summarizing that tragic history of hostility and indifference. 

Despite somehow being the only singles match at WrestleMania 2000 (a truly bizarre stat), The Kat vs. Terri Runnels showdown wasn’t even for the WWE Women’s Championship. That title was being held by Stephanie McMahon as a prop in Triple H’s storyline. No, this 2:30 minute match was instead billed as a “Catfight” and came with all the man-stealing, hair-pulling, and clothes-ripping shenanigans WWE typically wanted you to associate with women’s wrestling around that time. 

On a show where WWE tried their hardest to get everyone on the card (much to the detriment of the event), these were the only two women to appear on the PPV as anything other than managers/valets. Remarkably, it’s still not the absolute low point for women’s wrestling at WrestleMania

13. The Bushwhackers Vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus (WrestleMania V)

There is a degree to which this match represents many of the forgettable and boring matches that plagued those early WrestleMania cards. However, there is just enough that’s “special” about this match to make it stand out. 

First off, The Bushwhackers’ entire gimmick (such as it is) was based on their ability to win over those typically hot ‘80s crowds who aren’t always looking for five-star classics. This match is a reminder of the horrors that occur when The Bushwhackers fail to elicit any excitement whatsoever.

Though mercifully only a shade over five minutes long, those five minutes are filled with botched moves, failed attempts to get the crowd involved, inappropriate grabbing, and moments where it looks like everyone involved simply forgot what they were supposed to be doing. To be fair, this whole match feels like an existential crisis. 

12. The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns (WrestleMania 33)

Roman Reign’s much-maligned run as a top babyface resulted in some of the worst WrestleMania main events in modern WWE history. And while his matches against Triple H and Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 32 and 34 deserve much of the hate they get, they at least featured opponents that still had something left in the tank. The same can not be said for his match against The Undertaker. 

About five minutes into this 23-minute match (a truly astonishing number), it became clear that The Undertaker had finally become a dead man walking. He was absolutely gassed and looked to be in noticeable pain as he struggled to perform even his simplest moves. The only people more exhausted than The Undertaker were those in the crowd who were nearing the end of what proved to be a torturous 7+ hour show. Ultimately, Reigns won (much to the chagrin of many fans at the time), and The Undertaker caught his breath long enough to piece together an in-ring retirement that was ultimately not his actual retirement.

That’s the worst thing about this match (besides the match itself, I mean). There was a world in which this entire thing could have been justified if Reigns had ended The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak at this show and given Undertaker a proper, definitive retirement. Instead, we got a match that The Undertaker later apologized for.

11. The Undertaker Vs. Giant Gonzalez (WrestleMania IX)

While I hate to pick on The Undertaker in back-to-back entries, it’s worth remembering that the legendary wrestler was in quite a few terrible matches during his illustrious career. Yet, few of those matches are as infamously, undeniably awful as this encounter that lowlighted one of the worst WrestleMania shows ever. 

Giant Gonzalez was one of the most limited performers in WWE history, and The Undertaker was still several years away from his performance prime. Even still, there are no expectations low enough to prepare yourself for what happens when an indifferent force meets an unsalvageable object. A seemingly endless series of weak strikes and vague holds culminated in a Greco-Roman chloroform spot that resulted in The Undertaker getting a humiliating DQ win. 

To make matters somehow worse, Giant Gonzales spent this entire match wearing a bodysuit airbrushed to resemble what a Yeti might look like if he was somehow concerned with modesty. The bodysuit, much like the crowd’s patience, threatened to wear thin. 

10. Red Rooster vs. Bobby Heenan (WrestleMania V)

There have been many bizarre squash matches in WrestleMania history designed to kill time and careers. This may be the ultimate example of a match that accomplished both. 

The build to this match was classic pro wrestling. Terry Taylor was a widely-respected wrestler who finally joined the WWE only to be humiliated by legendary heel manager Bobby Heenan who saddled him with the insulting gimmick of the “Red Rooster.” Taylor later turned against Heenan, resulting in this match. On paper, the payoff seemed simple. Taylor would show everyone what a great wrestler he was, destroy Heenan in the ring, and drop his Red Rooster gimmick on the way to a long and successful career. 

Naturally, that’s not what happened. While Taylor beat Heenan fairly quickly in an astonishingly boring affair, it was implied that the ease of his victory was the result of an injury Heenan suffered earlier that night. As if that wasn’t enough, the match ended with Taylor being beaten up by The Brooklyn Brawler: your favorite jobber’s favorite jobber. Taylor’s in-ring career lingered on, but he soon became an embarrassing footnote to a generation that should have known him as a star. 

9. Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel (WrestleMania VII)

The gimmick of a blindfold match is that you’re wearing a blindfold that prevents you from seeing your opponent. The problem with a blindfold match is that you’re wearing a blindfold that prevents you from seeing your opponent. It’s a contradiction that few wrestlers have ever managed to successfully navigate. Jake Roberts and Rick Martel were not two of those wrestlers. 

This match featured all the stumbling around and bumping into each other that you’d probably expect from this kind of contest. Hilariously, it also featured Jake Roberts almost immediately revealing a hole in his mask that allowed him to see. If you watch this as a “so bad it’s good” comedy match, it does have some value. 

Unfortunately, this match was supposed to be the culmination of a bitter feud involving two incredibly talented wrestlers. At a time when both these guys could have done something to help what turned out to be a pretty bad overall event, they were instead reduced to stumbling around the ring to honor a stipulation that made no sense.

8. Bray “The Fiend” Wyatt vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 37: Night 2)

When I start talking about a bad WrestleMania match involving Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt, it’s genuinely amazing that the only appropriate response is “Which one?” Yes, these two participated in two shockingly bad WrestleMania matches. And while I have a lot of “love” for their WrestleMania 33 encounter that involved a ring of digitally projected bugs, this spot has to go to the WrestleMania 37 showdown between “The Fiend” and Randy Orton. 

By the time this match rolled around, Bray Wyatt’s “Fiend” gimmick had lost most of its potential and momentum. After emerging from a giant jack-in-the-box, The Fiend briefly had a thoroughly uninspired match with Randy Orton under the glow of that annoying red light that bathed The Fiend’s matches as thoroughly as disappointment. Their brawl was mercifully cut short by The Fiend’s manager, Alexa Bliss, who started spewing black goo from her mouth for…reasons. A distracted Wyatt was beaten by Randy Orton shortly thereafter. After the match, The Fiend and Bliss disappeared and kicked off an angle that would never be entirely resolved.

In retrospect, it seems likely that there was something wrong here that goes well beyond the surprising lack of chemistry between these performers. Whatever may have been going on does little to justify a match that channeled some of the worst booking trends from different eras of bad WWE programming. 

7. Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania XX)

Throughout WrestleMania (and wrestling) history, there have been many bad or bland matches that were rescued by the live crowd. That is especially true of those early WrestleMania shows where a sea of largely non-cynical attendees hooted and hollered their way through otherwise dull affairs. But what happens when a crowd decides they are not only not into a match but actively desire to sabotage it? Well, you get this. 

Heading into WrestleMania 20, it was widely known that Bill Goldberg was going to leave the company after the show. Shortly before that event, though, many fans learned that Brock Lesnar had also decided to leave WWE after WrestleMania 20. So, said fans were forced to watch two guys who couldn’t care less dance around each other, talk some smack, and generally do everything they could to ensure they didn’t risk entertaining anyone on their way out the door. 

So, those fans decided to amuse themselves by mocking both wrestlers, screaming “Boring,” and cheering only for special guest referee Stone Cold Steve Austin. If the final day of school was a WrestleMania match, it would be this one. 

6. Akebono vs. The Big Show (WrestleMania 21)

Through little fault of his own, The Big Show has been involved in some of the more embarrassing WWE moments of the last 20 years or so. For reasons nobody will ever be able to explain, nothing seemed to amuse Vince McMahon more than to humiliate the giant wrestler who could have been a giant star. So, when Big Show says this WrestleMania match was the most embarrassing moment of his career, he’s saying a lot.

WWE decided to have The Big Show face legendary sumo wrestler Akebono Tarō in a worked sumo match at WrestleMania 21. The match had no real build to speak of, though even if it had been the culmination of a multi-year feud that spanned countries and sports, it wouldn’t have been enough to cleanse our eyes of what we witnessed that night. 

A visibly embarrassed Big Show and a thoroughly uninterested Akebono did not make the most of a match that had absolutely nothing to offer to humanity in the first place. Granted, the whole thing only lasted about a minute, but the impact of tragedies cannot be measured solely through time.

5. Mr. T Vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (WrestleMania 2)

WrestleMania 2 was an all-time bad show that saw WWE glue three different cards that occurred in three different cities into one closed-circuit event. Fans at the Nassau Coliseum leg of the event were treated to this mock boxing match between Mr. T and Roddy Piper as their main event. The idea was that Mr. T was tired of Piper telling him he wasn’t a real fighter. So, he would set out to prove Piper wrong by beating him in a “real” boxing match. 

At least that was the idea at the start of the night. While this match had no business headlining even a third of a WrestleMania card in the first place, it soon became clear that Mr. T was, in fact, a pretty terrible boxer who wasn’t capable enough as an in-ring performer to make up for that notable deficiency. In other words, the face had essentially proven the heel right by virtue of exhibiting his own incompetence. 

So, Roddy Piper proceeded to work over an exhausted and overwhelmed Mr. T for the better part of this match while Vince McMahon and guest announcer Joan Rivers (you heard me) provided the worst boxing commentary imaginable. “Showcase of the Immortals,” indeed.

4. Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon (WrestleMania XXVI)

At WrestleMania 19, Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan had a shockingly entertaining No DQ match that exceeded all expectations given each performer’s age, their animosity toward each other, and their many indefensible personal views, beliefs, and actions. At WrestleMania 26, McMahon tried to recapture that moment by taking on another of his notorious rivals, Bret Hart. 

Granted, Bret Hart is about 1000x the in-ring performer that Hulk Hogan ever was, but he had retired about 10 years before this match due to a seemingly career-ending injury. If Hart was ever capable of a comeback, it wasn’t in 2010, and it wasn’t in this match. Whether you love Bret Hart or not, words cannot adequately describe how sad it was to watch him try to make the most out of a match that he should have never been in on a physical (and possibly mental) level.  

The “action” in this one only lasted a few minutes, but this remains one of the most painful and awkward matches in WrestleMania history. 

3. “Miss WrestleMania” Battle Royal (WrestleMania 25)

During the aforementioned dark days of their women’s wrestling division, WWE often booked women’s WrestleMania matches that featured as many performers as possible. The idea was to give as many of those wrestlers a paycheck as possible without having to do something silly like book multiple women’s wrestling matches. Well, this battle royal will (hopefully) always be the low point of that approach. 

This match saw 25 “Divas” compete in a battle royal match which followed a live Kid Rock concert that ultimately lasted longer than the match itself. In the vast majority of human history, the worst possible offense would have been to give Kid Rock so much time to “sing” that you don’t even bother to introduce the participants of this match. On this night, though, the greatest insult was the decision to have the only women’s match on this card be won by Santino Marella: a male wrestler dressed as his comedy gimmick “sister” Santina.

For decades, WrestleMania was the grandest stage for some of the greatest insults to women wrestlers and, often, the entire concept of women’s wrestling. Even still, this match was the culmination of a truly shocking series of indefensible and unexplainable decisions.

2. Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna (WrestleMania IX)

Among many other things, Hulk Hogan is known as one of professional wrestling’s greatest (and therefore worst) politicians. For most of his career, Hogan was more than happy to sacrifice other wrestler’s careers and the overall success of the companies he worked for if he meant keeping himself in the spotlight. There are countless behind-the-scenes examples of Hogan throwing his weight around for the benefit of Hogan. This, however, may just be the most high-profile example of him doing that on-screen. 

The truly terrible WrestleMania 9 show seemingly ended with babyface Bret Hart losing to the unstoppable heel monster, Yokozuna. It was a shocking conclusion orchestrated not by Bret Hart and Yokozuna but by Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon. See, Hogan wanted to end the night as world champion. So, legend has it that he convinced McMahon to let him beat Yokozuna for the title at WrestleMania in an impromptu match. In return, Hogan would let Bret Hart beat him for the championship later that year.

Well, Hogan won the match, but that whole “letting Bret beat him” thing never happened. Hogan instead ended up leaving WWF for WCW not long after this show and eventually dropped the belt to Yokozuna rather than Bret Hart. The match (such as it is) is pretty bad, but it’s the audacity of its very existence that makes it such a low moment.

1. Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler (WrestleMania XXVII)

In the months leading up to WrestleMania 27, longtime announcer Michael Cole began to adopt a more “heelish” personality. That change in personality put him in direct conflict with fellow announcer Jerry Lawler. It began as a fairly interesting angle that quickly lost steam. Regardless, it was leading to a seemingly inevitable conclusion. Lawler would beat Cole at WrestleMania in the grudge match nobody wanted to see. At least it would almost certainly be over quickly. 

Instead, Michael Cole proceeded to defeat Jerry Lawler in a 30-minute match between a non-wrestler and a wrestler who was decades past his prime. Yes, you heard me right: 30 minutes. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler ended up getting as much (a little more, actually) time that night as The Undertaker and Triple H. What should have been a 1-minute match that saw the babyface destroy the heel turned into a half-hour-long heel victory filled with rest holds, run-ins, and enough embarrassing decision to fill a yearbook. 

Forget WrestleMania. There is a legitimate argument to be made that this is the worst WWE match ever and possibly one of the worst matches in the history of any professional wrestling company.

The post 15 Worst WrestleMania Matches of All Time appeared first on Den of Geek.

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