There are a lot of wrestling companies out there, and they stage countless events over the course of the year, but there is no denying that WWE's WrestleMania trumps them all. Many of the greatest matches in the history of professional wrestling have taken place on the 'Mania stage. However, some of the worst have happened at the show of shows as well.
The WrestleMania platform is great in most respects because it allows the talent to thrive in front of millions of people. While great performances are magnified, though, the same is true of poor showings. If a bad match happens on Raw or SmackDown, fans might talk about it for a day or two, but it gets forgotten about soon after. When a bad match happens at WrestleMania, however, it is forever encapsulated.
For every fan that still talks about Randy "Macho Man" Savage against Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat at WrestleMania III, there is another that continues to bash Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar from WrestleMania XX. Wrestling fans tend to have great memories, so when something falls flat at the Super Bowl of professional wrestling, it never fades into obscurity.
Here are the 10 worst matches to occur over the course of the first 28 WrestleManias in WWE history. We can only hope that WrestleMania XXIX doesn't add any duds to this list.
Although the match between Randy "Macho Man" Savage and One Man Gang at WrestleMania IV doesn't get talked about as much as some of the other failures on this list, there is no doubt that it is among the worst in WrestleMania history.
One year after having arguably the greatest match ever against Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat at WrestleMania III, Savage was tasked with wrestling four matches in one night at WrestleMania IV.
After "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase paid off Andre the Giant to win the WWE Championship and hand it over to him, the title was vacated and a tournament was put in place to determine a new champion at WrestleMania IV. Savage reached the semifinals, where he faced the massive One Man Gang, while DiBiase awaited him in the finals.
Most of the matches that night were brief since there were so many of them, but few ended so strangely.
One Man Gang was in control for much of the contest, as he used his size advantage to toss Savage around. When the referee's back was turned, Slick handed One Man Gang his cane, which Gang used on Savage. That would have been fine, but OMG continued to take swings at Savage with the cane once the referee turned around, so he was disqualified.
Gang essentially threw away a chance to win the WWE Championship for no reason, as Savage went on to beat DiBiase in the finals.
With John Cena vs. The Rock, Triple H vs. The Undertaker and CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho on tap for WrestleMania XXVIII, the World Heavyweight Championship match between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus didn't receive a ton of hype. Even so, the hardcore fans were extremely excited about it, as Bryan and Sheamus are among the best in-ring workers in the WWE.
Rather than being treated to a classic bout, however, it was over in the blink of an eye.
After turning face in the summer of 2011, Sheamus went on an absolute tear and won the 2012 Royal Rumble. He was the obvious favorite to beat Bryan at 'Mania, but nobody could have expected it to go down the way it did.
Once the bell signaled the start of the match, Bryan called A.J. up to the apron and gave her a kiss. As soon as he turned around, Sheamus delivered a Brogue Kick and pinned him to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.
All told, the match lasted a mere 18 seconds. In one respect, it was actually good for Bryan, as it garnered him a ton of fan support. But at the same time, fans got a glimpse of what they could do at Extreme Rules when Sheamus beat Bryan in a two-out-of-three falls match. I found that to be the best match of 2012, and it could have easily happened at WrestleMania.
It wasn't an awful decision in retrospect, but fans were definitely robbed of an awesome encounter on the big stage.
The Hell in a Cell match is considered to be one of the most brutal and vicious match types in all of professional wrestling. Because of that, most of the Hell in a Cell matches that have taken place over the course of WWE history have been entertaining. A few have inevitably fallen flat, though, and it can easily be argued that the worst ever took place at WrestleMania XV when The Undertaker took on The Big Boss Man.
Taker's Ministry of Darkness and Vince McMahon's Corporation were feuding heading into WrestleMania, so McMahon decided to send his supposed muscle after The Undertaker in the form of The Big Boss Man.
The match went on just before "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Rock in the main event, and it didn't even come close to living up to that bout. It was extremely short for a Hell in a Cell match, as it lasted less than 10 minutes, but that may have been a good thing based on the action we did see.
Boss Man controlled the early part of the match, using his nightstick on Taker. But The Phenom eventually got the upper hand and won with the Tombstone.
The true ridiculousness happened after the match's conclusion as The Brood descended from the arena roof onto the cell roof. They dropped a noose through the top and The Undertaker proceeded to hang The Big Boss Man. It was a fittingly terrible end to a horrible match.
It isn't uncommon for a heated feud to conclude at WrestleMania in a match involving a stipulation of some kind. Normally, the stipulation is something sensible like No Holds Barred or Falls Count Anywhere.
But that wasn't the case with Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Rick "The Model" Martel at WrestleMania VII.
Instead, they proceeded to engage in one of the strangest 'Mania matches ever, as they were both blindfolded.
I suppose the stipulation made sense in the context of their rivalry, as Martel sprayed Roberts in the eyes with his "Arrogance" cologne and severely compromised his vision. Roberts sold the injury for quite some time and continued to wrestle despite his "handicap."
In order to even the odds between Roberts and Martel, their WrestleMania VII match became a blindfold match, which meant that both men had to wear bags over their heads. What ensued was an awful contest that consisted mainly of Roberts and Martel walking around the ring in disarray.
Roberts happened to bump into Martel late in the match, which allowed him to execute a DDT. After feeling around on the mat for a few seconds, he was able to cover The Model and mercifully end the match. The only entertaining thing about the entire ordeal was Roberts draping his snake over Martel afterwards.
Perhaps a blindfold match sounded good in theory at that time, but it definitely didn't deliver.
The history between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon is well-documented, as the bad blood dates all the way back to November of 1997. At Survivor Series in Montreal, McMahon orchestrated a ruse that later became known as "The Montreal Screwjob." Hart expected to beat Shawn Michaels and retain his WWE Championship, but McMahon called for the bell when Michaels had Hart in the Sharpshooter.
This marked Hart's last appearance in the WWE until Jan. 4, 2010.
It was an absolute shock to see Hart back in a WWE ring based on the way things ended. He and Michaels made amends, and Hart wanted to do the same with McMahon, but Vince remained combative.
Hart and McMahon feuded for a couple months, and it was ultimately revealed that they would face each other at WrestleMania XXVI in a No Holds Barred match. It was clear that neither Hart nor McMahon were going to do anything crazy at their age, but most fans were still excited to see them lock horns.
The match started on a sour note, with Hart's family surrounded the ring. McMahon claimed that he had paid them off and they were working for him. That ended up not being the case, as they all helped Bret instead.
A few minutes of Bret beating down McMahon would have been enough, but it dragged on longer than 10 minutes and was simply boring. Hart ultimately got his revenge by making McMahon tap out, but it wasn't what fans expected it to be.
The Undertaker is synonymous with WrestleMania due to his unprecedented 20-0 streak. But not even The Phenom is immune to having a bad match here and there. In fact, many of his early 'Mania matches were nothing special, as he didn't have quality opponents. The prime example of that was Giant Gonzalez.
Billed at an exaggerated 8'0", Gonzalez debuted at the 1993 Royal Rumble and immediately targeted The Deadman.
At first, their feud was pretty interesting, as Gonzalez was really Taker's initial challenge from a physical standpoint. It soon became apparent that the giant had no in-ring skills whatsoever, though, and that ultimately marred their WrestleMania affair.
There was only so much that Gonzalez could do, so even though their match lasted less than eight minutes, every single second was painful for the viewers. The entire bout essentially featured Gonzalez using rest holds and Taker trying to battle back.
The contest ended when Gonzalez's manager, Harvey Wippleman, handed him a rag soaked in chloroform. Gonzalez placed the rag over Taker's mouth, which caused him to pass out. The referee called for the bell and The Undertaker won by disqualification.
Interestingly enough, WrestleMania IX marks Taker's only 'Mania win by something other than pinfall or submission. It's a shame that it came against someone as incompetent as Giant Gonzalez.
While most WrestleMania matches tend to look good on paper, some of them are doomed to fail from the start. That was certainly the case when it came to the match between Jerry "The King" Lawler and Michael Cole at WrestleMania XXVII.
The feud between Cole and Lawler had been brewing for quite some time, and it dominated WWE programming heading into 'Mania. Most fans seemed to hate it from the start, but the WWE soldiered forward and made it a featured bout on the card.
Things had gotten very personal between Cole and Lawler, so King was eager to get his hands on Cole. He did exactly that early in the match, but Jack Swagger got involved and allowed Cole to gain the upper hand.
Cole carried the pace of the match, and that should tell you how unbelievably bad it was.
Lawler eventually regained control thanks to some involvement from special guest referee "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and King was able to win the match. The anonymous Raw general manager chimed in afterward, however, and said that the decision was reversed due to Austin's actions. That meant that Cole was declared the winner.
The entire thing was senseless, as the point of the match should have been Lawler getting revenge.
Perhaps the only thing that keeps this match from being No. 1 on the list was Austin hitting basically everyone except Lawler with a Stunner following the bout.
When a match happens at WrestleMania despite not being announced ahead of time, the odds are pretty good that it won't be an entertaining bout. That was true at WrestleMania IX when Hulk Hogan took on Yokozuna in the main event.
The scheduled main event featured Bret Hart defending his WWE Championship against Yoko. Hart came up short, and Yokozuna seemingly ended the show as the new WWE Champion.
Ever a fan of being in the spotlight, Hogan challenged Yokozuna to a match immediately after, however.
The match was only 22 seconds long, as Hogan evaded Mr. Fuji's salt, hit Yokozuna with a leg drop and won the WWE Championship yet again. Many of the fans in the crowd seemed to be happy at the time, but it was a terrible decision in retrospect and never should have happened.
Hogan's feeling was that WrestleMania should always end with a face standing tall, so he was able to convince Vince McMahon that the smart move was to have him defeat Yokozuna. He ended up dropping the belt back to Yokozuna at King of The Ring anyway, though, so his victory was unnecessary.
Hogan was on the way out, so all his win did was overshadow Yokozuna and Hart for no reason. Had Yokozuna beaten him, then this match wouldn't even be on the list, as it would have further cemented Yokozuna as the WWE's top heel.
This was nothing more than an ego stroke for Hogan, and it remains arguably the worst main event in WrestleMania history.
Heading into WrestleMania XX, there wasn't a single WWE fan who wasn't looking forward to Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar. Goldberg and Lesnar are two of the most impressive physical freaks in professional wrestling history, so the potential for a top-flight encounter was obvious.
To make things even better, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was added as the special guest referee.
It became known prior to the match, however, that Goldberg and Lesnar planned to leave the company, so the fans were livid.
It can be argued that the live crowd contributed to the awfulness of the match, but I would argue that Goldberg and Lesnar brought it upon themselves. The first few minutes of the match featured the two of them staring at each other and exchanging words. There was literally no action whatsoever until Austin got the ball rolling.
Goldberg and Lesnar proceeded to kick out of each finishers until Goldberg hit a decisive Jackhammer to win the match.
Lesnar flipped off the crowd after the bout, which prompted Austin to lay him out with a Stunner. Austin and Goldberg then pounded some beers together until Austin gave him a Stunner as well.
For as bad as the match was, the fans were ultimately left satisfied due to Austin's involvement. That is the one and only thing that stopped me from declaring Goldberg vs. Lesnar the worst WrestleMania match of all time.
Big Show has never been known for having great WrestleMania matches, but his bout at WrestleMania 21 took the cake in terms of futility.
Rather than competing in a normal match, Big Show proceeded to face renowned sumo wrestler Akebono in a sumo contest. That sounds extremely bad in and of itself, but it was made even worse, as we were subjected to both Big Show and Akebono wearing what amounted to diapers.
The match itself was over in the blink of an eye, as Akebono tossed Big Show out of the ring in roughly one minute. Luckily, the rest of the card was quite strong or else WrestleMania 21 could have easily been ruined by Big Show vs. Akebono.
There was really no rhyme or reason to having the match. It made Big Show look stupid, and Akebono wasn't a big enough celebrity to draw more viewers. Considering Booker T was relegated to the pre-show battle royal, the WWE might as well have developed a feud between him and Big Show instead.
I can give Goldberg vs. Lesnar a pass to some degree since the idea behind the match was logical and it could have been great. But Big Show vs. Akebono never had a prayer.
Cody Rhodes used Big Show's match against Akebono as a running joke last year prior to their WrestleMania XXVIII match. When a match becomes a punchline, then that is proof positive that it fell flat in a major way.