Thursday, March 17, 2016

Top Ten Thursday: Worst WrestleMania Matches

Last week, I made the bold choice to rank my picks for the top ten WrestleMania matches. While that was fun, this week we go on the opposite spectrum, looking at the worst of the worst. There have been plenty of bad matches at WrestleMania and it was tough to narrow it down. Right off the bat, I'm not including any matches that were too short to really be matches, so that leaves out Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan, Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero, etc. Also, the history of women's matches in WrestleMania has mostly been bad and could probably take up an entire list so I tried to mix it up but the Playboy tags from WM20 and 24 nearly made it along with Melina vs. Ashley from 23 and a few others. This isn't a definitive list, just my picks for the worst.

10. Street Fight: Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon – WrestleMania XXVI

Four year earlier, Vince McMahon was involved in a really fun Street Fight against Shawn Michaels. Going back further, he also had enjoyable Street Fights against his son, Shane McMahon, and Hulk Hogan. However, by the time WrestleMania XXVI rolled around in 2010, Vince was really starting to get up there in age. Add in that he was facing Bret Hart, who was in pretty terrible shape at the time and couldn’t carry Vince, and that should have led to a simple concept. Make the match short and overbook it. They brought the Hart Family in, siding with Vince before quickly revealing they were still with Bret, and if that had to be done, they should have all helped beat up Vince. Once that was done, Bret could do one or two things, avenge the Montreal screwjob and beat Vince. Instead, they drew this out for about eleven boring minutes and gave Vince way more offense than he should have gotten. Whoever thought it should go that long and not just be a complete squash should have been canned on the spot. At least Bret did win.

9. Catfight: The Kat vs. Terri Runnels – WrestleMania 2000 

There have been worse WrestleManias, but WrestleMania 2000 may be the strangest. In an effort to get everyone on the card, without the benefit of a battle royal, there were no traditional singles matches. Literally every match was either a tag team, six man tag, Fatal Four Way or Triple Threat. The closest thing to a traditional singles match was this “Catfight” between the Kat and Terri Runnels. The rules were basically that of a Sumo Wrestling match (Akebono vs. Big Show nearly made this list by the way), where the loser would be the woman tossed out of the ring. Terri had Mae Young at ringside, while Kat had the Fabulous Moolah. Val Venis, seemingly the only healthy guy on the roster not booked, was the special referee. The match was pretty painful since neither girl was ever any good, but it was made all the worse by the overbooking finish. Thanks to distractions, Val Venis missed Kat win it twice and only saw when Terri threw her out of the ring, giving her the win. Nobody cared and the fans only popped when Kat stripped Terri after the bell.

8. Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice – WrestleMania VIII

Speaking of Sid, his WrestleMania 13 WWF Title match against Undertaker was very close to making this list. Instead, I went with his only other Mania appearance, and yes, this one inexplicably also main evented. Originally, the plan was for Hulk Hogan to headline this WrestleMania against Ric Flair. Apparently, the matches didn’t draw much on house shows, Hogan wanted to leave to act and the WWE was dealing with the infamous steroid scandal. Plans changed and Hogan was booked against Sid. They were given the main event slot and proceeded to have the worst main event in WrestleMania history. Hogan and Sid did a whole lot of nothing for about ten minutes before leading to a non-finish. Papa Shango was supposed to run in and break up the pin after Hogan hit the Leg Drop. He missed his cue so Sid kicked out, joining rare company. Shango still ran out and gave us a very anti-climactic finish, which set up the return of the Ultimate Warrior. Warrior would be gone again before the end of the year and Hogan was done outside of a lackluster first half of 1993 run until 2002.

7. Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal – WrestleMania XXV 

Originally, I wasn’t going to include any Battle Royals. Outside of a select few (WrestleMania XXX or WrestleMania 2), they’re usually unmemorable and feature a lot of standing around. I just had to include this for the sheer awfulness of it all. The WWE hyped this as a return for many Divas of the past. While it still probably wouldn’t have been very good, it could have been fun. What we got was far from fun. Greats like Lita and Trish Stratus turned down offers to return and the ladies who did return, were completely ignored. While ladies like Victoria, Gail Kim and others made their entrances, they weren’t even announced because we had to be subjected to a lengthy Kid Rock concert during this time. Yes, Kid Rock was more important than the Divas division. The eliminations were treated like they pretty much didn’t even happen and to make matters even worse, a man won. Santino Marella, a great comedy character, dressed in drag as his “sister” Santina Marella (in a rare totally unfunny gimmick for him) won the whole thing, rendering all of it pointless and making the Divas division a total joke.

6. WWF Championship: Yokozuna (c) vs. Lex Luger – WrestleMania X 

Interestingly enough, this is the only WWF/WWE Championship match to crack this list. In the summer of 1993, Lex Luger dropped his Narcissist gimmick and became a patriotic goof. He didn’t get over the way the company wanted him to. He got a title shot at SummerSlam but only beat Yokozuna by countout (and still celebrated like he won the belt, making himself look like an idiot). He and Bret Hart would co-win the Royal Rumble and both got title shots at WrestleMania. Luger went up first and their match had a special referee in Mr. Perfect. Their SummerSlam match wasn’t anything I would consider good, but it was far better than the rematch. This lacked drama, intrigue and by this point, Luger was, at best, the number two babyface on the roster. Much like the SummerSlam match though, Luger came out looking like a clown. He got himself disqualified by provoking Mr. Perfect and cost himself another big match. The match and Luger in general, were complete failures. Anytime someone gets pushed and comes up short often, you can kind of call it “Lugering”.

5. WWF Women’s Championship: Sable (c) vs. Tori – WrestleMania XV

The history of Divas matches at WrestleMania is not a good one. From Melina vs. Ashley to the Playboy pillow fights, Lumberjill and evening gown matches to the aforementioned Battle Royal, a lot of them have absolutely stunk. Some of those, like the pillow fights, really had no chance of being a good match. Considering the women involved in this one, it didn’t stand a chance either but at least it was an actual one on one wrestling match. They were given an actual storyline to work with that wasn’t too bad. Sable became a self-obsessed Diva while Tori debuted as her stalker. The WWE would this feud much better a few years later between Trish Stratus and Mickie James, who would go on to have the best women’s match in WrestleMania history. Still, it was fresh and alright here. Sable took advantage of Tori and it led to this match. The girls went out and had a rather horrible match that is only remembered, if at all, for the debut of Nicole Bass as Sable’s enforcer. Even with all of the bad women’s matches in Mania history, this was the worst.

4. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg – WrestleMania XX

Honestly, this was probably better than the Sable/Tori match. However, it ranks higher (or lower considering this list) because it was the most disappointing ever. Between the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Brock Lesnar and Goldberg were two of the best booked monsters in history. With both guys officially on the WWE roster during 2003, there was hope that they would meet. However, Goldberg was on Raw, while Lesnar spent his time on Smackdown. Starting at the 2004 Royal Rumble, the men began to interact, with Goldberg even costing Brock the WWE Championship. Their match was set and it could have been a glorious hoss battle. Instead, both men were set to part ways with the company and that information leaked to the masses. With WrestleMania XX taking place in New York City, in front of a smark crowd that knew all of this beforehand, the match got eaten alive. Both guys got mercifully booed out of the building and nobody cared about the result of the match since both men were on their way out. Even guest referee Steve Austin couldn’t save things. Goldberg won but both men ate Stunners after the bell.

3. Hell in a Cell: Big Bossman vs. The Undertaker – WrestleMania XV

I know that the WWF was in the midst of one of, in not their absolute hottest periods in 1999, but man, WrestleMania XV sucked ass. Most of the show was extremely lackluster but this match proved to be the worst of the worst. The Undertaker had just formed the Ministry of Darkness and was involved in an incredibly confusing angle with the Corporation and Vince McMahon. Right off the bat, the idea of a heel vs. heel angle didn’t come off as intriguing. Then, the Big Bossman was chosen as Undertaker’s opponent and that also didn’t interest most people. Bossman was really good in his prime, but he was way past it here. As if they knew this would be bad, especially given Undertaker’s string of garbage matches in 1999, they decided to have it take place inside Hell in a Cell. At this point, we’d only seen two Cell matches and both were classics. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels had the best Cell ever and then Undertaker pretty much killed Mick Foley almost a year later. This was not only a far cry from that, it would also go down as the worst Cell match of all time. There was no flow to the match, nobody bought Bossman as a threat and it totally sucked. The only memorable thing was Bossman being hung from the top of the cell after the match.

2. Giant Gonzalez vs. The Undertaker – WrestleMania IX

In the early 90’s, the WWE liked to book the Undertaker against seemingly larger than life characters who didn’t bring much to the ring. Giant Gonzalez totally epitomized that. He was nearly eight feet tall and legitimately towered over the Undertaker. It was a sight for fans to see. It would have been better if Gonzalez wasn’t in the ridiculous outfit that he was given, with airbrushed muscles and strategically placed body hair. If you could think of a weakness in a performer, Gonzalez had all of them. Those were completely exposed during the actual match, which was one of the worst I’ve ever witnessed. Undertaker had his fair share of duds during the streak but none topped this. Not only was it terrible but the finish was beyond awful. Of all of the Undertaker’s WrestleMania wins, this was the only one to not come via pinfall or submission as he scored a meager disqualification victory over the worst performer he ever faced. The fact that this was the worst match on one of the worst Manias and featured the one asterisk of Undertaker’s streak is nearly enough to top the list.

1. Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole – WrestleMania XXVII

Oh my goodness, this is atrocious. It honestly might have been the single worst wrestling match I’ve ever seen. I’ve admittedly never been a fan of Jerry Lawler but understand that he’s had a Hall of Fame career and deserved at least one WrestleMania moment. That’s fine. The problem was everything else about this idea. Michael Cole wasn’t a good heel. He was just incredibly annoying and had go away heat, rather than heel heat. Their rivalry took over shows, ruining plenty of matches with their squabbling. However, if they absolutely HAD to do Cole/Lawler as the one Lawler WrestleMania match, then it should have been Lawler squashing Cole to shut him up after months of him being a giant pain in the ass. Of course, we didn’t get that. Cole and Lawler inexplicably went on for more than ten minutes and featured a LOT of offense from Michael Cole for some piss poor reason. To make matters even worse somehow, after Lawler got his win, the anonymous General Manager chimed in and reversed the decision, giving Cole the win and allowing this horseshit feud to continue for a few more months. Words can’t describe how terrible this truly was.