The Super Bowl of Wrestling. The biggest show of the year. The granddaddy of them all. Call it whatever you want, but once a year, WrestleMania is the event to experience.
Even casual bystanders hoot and holler when WrestleMania rolls into town to celebrate another year in the sports entertainment industry. Some of the greatest moments this business has seen happened at WrestleMania, and with them, some of the greatest performers of any generation have stepped into the ring.
But not all of those competitors have been what they were cracked up to be. Do you remember the hype surrounding The Red Rooster? Or the unwanted thong escapades of Akebono? Be it celebrities or ham and eggers, WrestleMania also has had its fair share of duds.
Here now, submitted for your approval, are the 26 Worst Competitors in WrestleMania history in honor of WrestleMania 26. Some of these are wrestlers who were just awful in the ring, and others were too wacky to fit into the squared circle, let alone on this stage.
These superstars make you want to fast forward rather than rewind or relive the magic.
Ted Arcidi was a can’t-miss strongman who made his way to the World Wrestling Federation in the mid-80s thanks mostly to Ken Patera. Arcidi had a great look, and, like most men his size, nothing else.
Vince McMahon shuffled the deck and put Arcidi on one WrestleMania card, competing in a 20-man over-the-top battle royal that prominently featured NFL superstars as well. Sadly, Arcidi was outshined by his inexperienced, NFL opponents and ousted soon after the match started.
He disappeared almost as quickly, when he was released by the company in order to make room for the comeback of, ironically, Patera. Despite his brief run, Arcidi managed to get himself an LJN action figure, pictured here. That may be his entire list of notable accomplishments in professional wrestling.
Steve Keirn is known nowadays as a WWE executive with a talent for up and comers, who also makes the occasional run-in to prevent further disruption between active competitors. Back in the early 90s, the WWF gave him one more run as an alligator wrestler named Skinner.
Skinner, a gimmick borrowed directly from the previous decade’s Outback Jack (who himself was a take on Crocodile Dundee), failed to attract any buzz or attention. The audience generally panned his antics and forgot about the glory days of Keirn with Stan Lane and the Fabulous Ones. His lone WrestleMania appearance: Squashed in 71 seconds by Owen Hart.
We all know that the Great Khali is a terrible wrestler. In fact, it comes as no surprise that Khali makes the list, not because of his in-ring inabilities, but because of the WWE’s insistence on getting the big man over on the biggest stage it has.
Khali has competed in only one WrestleMania match since his debut, and not surprisingly, it stunk. He fought Kane in a general snooze fest that was, well, not as bad as 90 percent of the other Khali matches. But for Khali to get put over the Big Red Machine was just numbing enough to make the list.
File this one under “missed opportunity.”
Tori debuted for the World Wrestling Federation during the best period of the Attitude Era as a rabid Sable fan possessed with protecting the top diva in the company. She feuded with Sable right up until WrestleMania 15, in which it was assumed she could dethrone the queen and win the women’s championship.
If this all sounds familiar, it likely reminds you of the original Mickie James/Trish Stratus storyline that WWE executed perfectly. Unfortunately, it did no such thing with Tori, who was a dud on both the face and heel side of things. She was flattened by Nicole Bass before Sable beat her in an all too forgettable contest.
There are very few redeeming qualities in a match featuring Uncle Elmer. A mountain of a man who weighed in at just over 400 pounds, Elmer wasn’t technically sound nor was he pretty. Often, he was clad in overalls and a T-shirt to hide his all-too-obvious imperfections.
Entering WrestleMania 2, Elmer was slated to finish his feud with “Adorable” Adrian Adonis, who would make this list as well if it weren’t for the fact that he took a terrible gimmick and made it entertaining. Elmer, on the other hand, had a knack for boring the audience into a drunken haze.
Adonis defeated the hillbilly, ending any future Uncle Elmer pushes indefinitely. Keep in mind that this contest went on just 15 minutes before the main event between Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy.
From overweight to overrated. Jackie Gayda appeared to be as talented as the rest when she burst out of the crop of talents from Tough Enough 2. Then she burst out in one of the worst, botch-filled matches of all time on live TV before bursting out of her top as well.
All this went down before she participated in a Playboy Pillow Fight at WrestleMania 20 and a battle royal at WrestleMania 25. Neither match is memorable for any good, feminine reasons. In fact, Gayda is memorable only for all the notes previously mentioned. Who else did she dethrone to become a Tough Enough prodigy that year? Matt Morgan, Shad Gaspard, and John Morrison.
Torrie Wilson made the WWE a lot of money when she posed nude for Playboy. She also made a lot of fans cringe when she participated in not one but TWO Playboy Pillow fights on the WrestleMania Stage. What else do you need to know?
Enter the celebrities, I guess. When Bart Gunn ran the table in the WWF’s Brawl-for-All Shoot fighting tournament, it became apparent that the WWF could market Gunn as a legit tough guy who could take on real tough guys from outside the wrestling world.
So the WWF hired Butterbean to appear for one contest with Gunn at WrestleMania 15. Butterbean clobbered Bart for roughly 30 seconds before knocking him out cold. The match was pointless and did nothing but hurt the business, considering it showed a legitimate (sort of) tough guy knocking out the toughest of professional wrestlers.
Butterbean wouldn’t enter a wrestling ring again until Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling, but that’s a story for another time and Tylenol bottle.
I know what you’re thinking: Who? Koji Kitao competed at WrestleMania 7 alongside Genichiro Tenryu in an effort to diversify the WWF product as more of an international thing. Kitao came from an amateur background of sumo and mixed martial arts and, alongside Tenryu, managed to effectively end the run of Demolition as a tag team, dispatching the team with ease.
Kitao never appeared for the company on television again, as he allegedly was involved with another former Sumo, John “Earthquake” Tenta. The story goes that Kitao no-sold all of Earthquake’s offense and began to shoot on him. He was promptly fired. Tenryu managed to make appearance with the WWF throughout the early 90s.
WWE is a sucker for comedy bits. When it announced the addition of a new talent named The Boogeyman to its weekly lineup, there was potential for an Undertaker-esque character who bordered on the macabre. Instead, WWE delivered an aging, gyrating competitor who chewed worms.
At WrestleMania 22, he faced Booker T and Sharmell in one of the world’s worst handicap matches that sent the fans to the concessions. And of course, because this is WWE, he won the match.
Harley Race was a decorated wrestler who hit for real and would share a beer with you when it was all over. He was a wrestling traditionalist who cut killer promos and was known nationally during a time when the business was still very much regional.
When Race jumped to the WWF, he was repackaged as “King” Harley Race since he could not carry over his NWA legacy. But for whatever reason, this Harley Race was a wicked shadow of his former self who laughably appeared at only rwo WrestleMania events in active competition.
His first appearance was a pointless "loser must bow" match with Junkyard Dog. Not to be critical of JYD, but this was hardly the high profile Hulk Hogan feud Race was suited up for. He looked ridiculous and the match concept was ridiculous as well.
Then, he participated in the 20-man battle royal at WrestleMania 4, lasting until the final few entries before it ultimately came down to Bad News Brown and Bret Hart. Forget about what you know about the future Hart would have, because Harley Race, former superstar and NWA champion, couldn’t beat Bad News Brown.
Even during the embryonic stages of WrestleMania, it was rare to see your everyday jobbers on the card. One thing that really made the Mania special early on was that it was a showcase of the best of the best that the WWF had to offer. But on the eve of WrestleMania 2, the card had been so heavily booked that a few men may have slipped through the cracks.
One such wrestler, George Wells, was slated to fight the newest dastardly character, Jake “the Snake” Roberts. Wells was a veritable unknown who had made his living jobbing out to all the stars at the time, so much so that he made Brad Armstrong look like a pauper by comparison. After predictably losing to Roberts, Wells was part of one of the most memorable early moments in Mania history.
Roberts took his snake Damien out of the bag and draped him across his fallen foe. Wells lay on the canvas, writhing in horror while also foaming at the mouth. Poor George wouldn’t be seen in the WWF soon after, leaving this legacy above all others in wrestling history: He foamed at the mouth when he was tortured by a live snake.
It was voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s “Worst Match of the Year” in 1987. That alone should be enough to get the four combatants listed at No. 14, but to make matters worse, all four were little people.
Long before the kid-friendly Hornswoggle won the hearts of the audience, the WWF paired Little Beaver, Little Tokyo, The Haiti Kid, and Lord Littlebrook with Hillbilly Jim and King Kong Bundy in a six-man tag team match at WrestleMania 3. On a card mostly remembered for Savage/Steamboat and Hogan/Andre, King Kong Bundy’s blatant abuse of his partners and opponents, followed by a little people uprising, was unique to say the least.
It was also downright terrible to watch.
Now this one certainly seems like a surprise entry, but when you think about it, the Total Package was anything but at WrestleMania. His debut as the Narcissist was actually the pinnacle of his major WWF-PPV career, competing in a decent match with Mr. Perfect at WrestleMania 9.
When he somewhat unfortunately lost to Yokozuna at WrestleMania 10, the Lex-as-WWF-champion ship had all but sailed. He was then demoted to opening match by the time WrestleMania 11 rolled around, competing in tag team action with the British Bulldog.
While none of these matches sticks out as particularly good or bad, we have to remember that this is Lex Luger. Everybody expected better.
Enter one of the greatest urban legends in the history of professional wrestling.
It is widely believed that on the night of WrestleMania 2, the Fabulous Moolah was set to pass the torch to Velvet McIntyre as the new WWF women’s champion.
The match progressed for the most part as planned. As McIntyre built a serviceable offensive repertoire, she missed a splash off the top rope and was almost immediately pinned by Moolah, losing the match. Rumor has it that the reason this finish was so abrupt was that McIntyre’s shoulder strap had snapped, revealing more than was intended.
What supports that rumor is the fact that Moolah’s pin attempt was an unusual parallel press, covering any shred of nudity that could have escaped.
Embarrassing as it was, the match was one of the most memorable in WrestleMania history, if only for a changed finish and the subsequent end of McIntyre’s chances to be a superstar.
Terry Taylor was at one time a good wrestler, but you’d never know it due to the characters he played.
Perhaps no character was worse than the Red Rooster, a one-step-too-far kind of gimmick that was meant to play off of former manager Bobby Heenan’s detailed explanation of his young talents.
When the Red Rooster pinned Heenan at WrestleMania 5, most of the fans missed the contest due to disinterest or length, believing it to be part of the intermission. Taylor’s career never recovered. Just look at how ridiculous he appears and you understand why.
The Bolshevik Hat Trick, if you will.
Boris Zhukov first appeared at WrestleMania 4, losing in the aforementioned 20-man battle royal after he was hurled around by Ken Patera.
Zhukov’s WrestleMania 5 appearance? Would you believe he was so irrelevant at the time that he and Nikolai Volkoff weren’t even one of the top eight tag teams on the roster? Now Volkoff had a few great moments in Mania history before he started teaming with Zhukov, so he’s exempt from this one.
WrestleMania 6 was Zhukov’s time to shine. In their first Mania tag team match, the Bolsheviks were pinned before finishing the Russian National Anthem in the shortest tag match in WrestleMania history.
Americans will never understand sumo in the same way that you cannot expect the Japanese to embrace hockey. When Akebono, a sumo legend, appeared to face the Big Show in a sumo challenge at WrestleMania 21, the crowd was treated to decent sparring between mammoth combatants.
Or, at least they would have been had the American crowd had the patience for the art of sumo. To the average WWE fan, watching this match was more or less a five-minute slap fest between two fat guys in thongs that ended when Akebono hurled an off-balance Big Show to the ground.
At least Akebono had an excuse in that fans just didn’t understand his style of competition. “Money” Mayweather had no excuse when he was booed mercilessly by the Florida crowd in his “match” against the Big Show in 2008.
The only cheers during this contest came when Big Show looked like he was going to pummel Mayweather or when the bell sounded, indicating the match had ended.
Time for another Mania urban legend, and this one has to do with the wonderfully overbooked WrestleMania 10.
With one match already dropped from the card during the pay-per-view telecast (an eight-man tag match), Adam Bomb was scheduled to battle the aging Earthquake.
Bomb, having debuted recently, was on his way up in the company. Earthquake was on his way out to WCW. Logically, Bomb would beat Earthquake and be viewed as a threat to the top of the card, but instead the match took a bizarre turn when it was reportedly rewritten to fit within the event's time window.
Instead of being about Bomb’s push, it became about his manager, Harvey Wippleman, and ring announcer Howard Finkel. Earthquake quickly hit the ring and crushed Adam Bomb in 32 seconds. Bomb turned face and did approximately nothing but sell foam footballs with his logo on the side.
Don’t say you didn’t see this one coming.
Here was the biggest homegrown WCW star during the Monday Night Wars finally debuting at the WWE’s biggest event, and in Madison Square Garden against Brock Lesnar.
What was supposed to be one of the biggest WrestleMania moments of all time certainly was, and for all the wrong reasons. Goldberg and Lesnar delivered 15 minutes of pose downs and rest holds that saw both men nearly get booed out of the building by a crowd that knew neither was committed to staying in the wrestling business.
Goldberg won, but the biggest pop he received that night was the one that saw him take a Stone Cold Stunner from Steve Austin. He didn’t wrestle another match for the WWE.
We’ve already given you one of Brock Lesnar’s biggest mistakes at a WrestleMania, but that just isn’t enough to land him on the list. So how about we give you the other one?
Lesnar had trained in Ohio Valley to have a high-flying aspect to his in-ring move set that we never saw when he began terrorizing the WWE. Most notable among these moves was a shooting star press, one of the hardest aerial assaults to pull off, especially for someone the size of Lesnar.
At WrestleMania 19, in the midst of a glorious match with Kurt Angle, Lesnar seized the opportunity to hit a never-before-seen-in-WWE shooting star press. However, Lesnar miscalculated the distance to Angle as well as his own general ring rust and literally derailed upon impact, crunching his head and neck against Angle’s side.
He won the match, but was groggy and staggering upon exiting the ring.
If you’re new to professional wrestling (Attitude Era to now), then I want you to imagine that the Great Khali isn’t the worst thing you’ve ever seen. I also want you to imagine he wears something much worse than suede sweatpants.
If you imagine something worse, you might come up with the image of Giant Gonzalez, one of wrestling’s biggest atrocities. Not only was he incapable of selling or hitting the most basic of moves, but he also wrestled in an airbrushed muscle suit with tufts of hair covering his crotch and buttocks.
There are no words to truly describe how bad that is.
Al Snow and Steve Blackman were inescapably hilarious together in 2000. For whatever reason, the WWF had decided to pair the two as “Head Cheese,” an off-kilter remark by Snow to make Blackman more interesting.
It didn’t stop there. While their weekly vignettes ranged from slightly humorous to gut-busting, their WrestleMania 2000 appearance was on the low end of the totem pole. Snow introduced a “mascot” for the duo named Chester McCheeserton, who was, in fact, a short Hispanic man in a cheese wedge costume that farted to cheer on Head Cheese.
I need write no more.
Ever want the definition for overrated? Look no further than Nathan Jones, the Colossus of Boggo Road.
His debut vignettes and promos were easily some of the best produced by WWE. This monster was set to become one of the biggest stars the industry had seen in the new WWE era.
There was, however, one slight problem: He just couldn’t wrestle.
In the way that Scott Steiner is bad because he can’t seem to time something right or keep his balance, Jones is the patron saint of bad. His debut was understated when he was paired with the undefeated Undertaker to take on Big Show and A-Train at WrestleMania 19.
But he was so incredibly bad that he was pulled from the match altogether, making it a handicap match for the Undertaker. Though Jones did show up for 45 seconds during the match, he continued to prove that he was more the clumsy Colossus than ever before. He tripped twice and missed a massive jumping spin kick by about four feet.
His career never took off, and his claim to fame became a reputation for lactating milk from his breasts due to steroid use.
When you’re looking for the worst, you can’t look any further than the original loser: S.D. Jones.
Reportedly losing in nine seconds (though it was at least 15 longer) to King Kong Bundy was embarrassing at WrestleMania 1.
And while other men like Chavo Guerrero suffered the same fate, they at least had other Mania outings to back them out of the corner. S.D. Jones didn’t. He didn’t get in a shred of offense in his only payday on the big stage and lost what was the least defensible match in WrestleMania history.
No other man in the history of the business has quite the claim to fame as the epitome of jobber. You can take your Barry Horowitz, your Iron Mike Sharpe, and others and compare them, and despite the win-loss records, none was beaten quite as remarkably as Jones. He had two action figures made in his honor and still managed to lose dominantly.
If there is anything else the late “Special Delivery” needs on his resume to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, then I invite you to name it.