Taking a look at the 25 worst, most misguided wrestling companies may give fans a new appreciation of WWE. The rock bottom of the sport is disturbing at times and at others, just boring.
Wrestling fans dissect and question WWE's booking, talent and direction ad nauseam.
Certainly they've had their share of poor decisions, but they’ve been consistently one of the best promotions for many years.
Meanwhile some independent, national and Japanese promotions have tried to take wrestling to new levels of depravity. The list includes promotions that hire porn stars, dress up a man like a mummy, or are owned by rapping clowns.
Let the horror begin.
At its best, WCW arguably had a superior product to WWE. Their cruiserweight division produced classic after classic. The nWo is one of the most famous and popular stables of all time.
They had a great roster and a focus on wrestling over spectacle. Too bad it didn't last.
The worst of WCW was painful to watch.
They were Hogan-centric for far too long, attempted goofy gimmick matches like Viagra on a Pole and made a litany of questionable decisions.
What is too over the top is a matter of opinion, but surely most people would agree that RoboCop shouldn’t have been involved with wrestling.
Vince Russo defends his decision to book David Arquette as WCW Champion as saying that it was good publicity. The effects of publicity stunts are short-lived. In the end, they stink of desperation.
Lowlights: the Yeti, Road Block, the Shockmaster, Arachinman, David Arquette and Vince Russo as WCW champs.
The short-lived Global Wrestling Federation lasted from 1991-1994. Despite financial issues and horrid storylines like an announcer who believed he was Elvis, GWF was seen on ESPN nationally.
GWF in some ways was ahead of its time, using angles that broke down the "fourth wall" before CM Punk. Their roster boasted some memorable names: JBL, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Booker T and X-Pac are all GWF alum.
The then WWF sued Global Wrestling Federation for having too similar a name, but the two parties settled out of court.
What did GWF in was its budgeting issues and poor storytelling. Moon rocks, bungee cords and amnesia were all unfortunate angles.
Bringing in a celebrity to boost ratings is not a bad idea unless Cecil Fielder is that celebrity.
Total Nonstop Action has fallen into many of the same traps that did WCW in—gimmick matches that fail at being funny or entertaining, shoddy storytelling and overexposure of the older wrestlers.
Why on Earth is Hulk Hogan still wrestling? Why did someone give Vince Russo a job after what he did with WCW?
Sadly, TNA's roster has some immense talent like Chris Sabin, AJ Styles, Matt Morgan and Samoa Joe, but they continue to underuse them. Jeff Jarrett left WWE on terrible terms and wanted to start his own thing.
I applaud him for his efforts and for trying to provide some competition for WWE, but their shows are generally painful to watch.
TNA tried a hexagonal ring and then decided against it. Though they've consistently had better female talent than WWE, they continue to point the women’s division in the same sex over substance direction.
Jarrett booking himself as a champion so many times has been a mistake. If that were the only major flaw of the company, many fans may not mind.
But there is plenty wrong with TNA and it may not last much longer.
Low lights: Fish market street fight, Reverse battle royal, Jeff Hardy drugged up at Victory Road.
Ian Rotten started IWA-Mid South in Louisville, Kentucky. IWA-Mid South is famous for its death matches though they do have a reputation for being the starting point for future stars.
Wrestlers like CM Punk, Low-Ki and AJ Styles have come through IWA-Mid South at one time.
Ian Rotten, a botch-happy wrestler, puts himself into his own product far too much.
Though it has often been one of the better independent promotions when relying on its wrestling, IWA-Mid South too often depends on the shock value of barbed wire, thumbtacks and the like.
Bringing a hip-hop element to a traditionally rock and metal sport like wrestling isn't a bad idea, but limiting yourself to a bevy of thug characters across the roster is.
The Urban Wrestling Federation promises to bring the hood to the ring which likely only sounds appealing to a scarce few.
The end result is a lackluster product. Most fans don't want wrestling to devolve into an imitation of gang warfare.
The Urban Wrestling Federation is one of many independents to focus too much on hardcore matches. Lifeless brawls occur backstage or in parking lots.
In 2005, Italian promotion Nu-Wrestling shifted into Nu-Wrestling Evolution which focused on showcasing former American wrestlers.
When your best wrestlers include Heidenreich, Mr. Anderson and Scott Steiner, you know you’re in trouble.
NWE toured Europe and was seen on TV in Britain, France and Italy. It drew viewers primarily because it is one of the only games in town.
Ultimate Warrior was never a great wrestler, but imagine how much worse he'd be after a 10 year absence when he was 49 years old. This is the man NWE chose to headline a 2008 event against Orlando Jordan.
i-Generation Superstars of Wrestling toured Australia in 2000, putting on one major event.
Their roster included aging greats like the Road Warriors and WWE '80s castoffs like Tatanka and the Barbarian. Mimicking the Nitro Girls, i-Generettes danced between matches.
Ted DiBiase Sr. provided commentary which was a great decision. An equally great idea was having Curt Hennig main event their first and only pay-per-view, Superstars of Wrestling.
Unfortunately, that match was against Dennis Rodman. WCW's experiment with Rodman and Karl Malone was painful enough, but booking him again, to a main event no less, was a foolish choice.
How did a promotion that had a roster with the likes of AJ Styles, Sting and Eddie Guerrero fold after only two years of existence?
You can attribute much of WWA's failure to its main event matches often lasting five or less minutes.
Randy Savage was booked to battle for Jeff Jarrett's WWA Heavyweight Title at their Revolution pay-per-view, but didn’t show and was replaced by Brian Christopher.
Fans of course, felt cheated. It was a constant feeling for the WWA audience. An out of shape Lex Luger main evented WWA events, but allegedly refused to wrestle for more than five minutes.
Bret Hart decided to be involved with these guys as the kayfabe commissioner. I suppose he thought it might grow into something, but instead it disappeared with a whimper in 2003.
This British promotion is for adults only. If any perverts are enticed by the Triple X portion of the company's name, they'll be sorely disappointed.
The "X"s don’t stand for nudity but monotonous violence. Triple X Wrestling is heavy on the death matches, low on production value.
Their biggest stars as of yet have been "Hurricane" John Walters from Ring of Honor and (briefly) Daniel Bryan. Otherwise the roster includes mostly borderline talented British up and comers.
Despite all the promise their event names (e.g. Chop Him in the Face) imply, the product is often a snoozer.
Women of Wrestling is a campy all-female wrestling federation founded by the man behind Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
Stereotypes and flat characters are standard fare for WOW! Although it began in 2000, the overwhelming goofiness and poor camera quality will have you thinking you’ve traveled back to the ‘80s.
If fans were to look past the gimmicks, they'd soon notice that the wrestlers generally have little talent. When you hire models and actresses to be wrestlers, you can’t be surprised that the product is shoddy.
Shimmer is an example of a quality women's wrestling league. Women of Wrestling, on the other hand, is the result of a thrown together promotion with little regard for physical ability.
The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling looked like an episode of Laff-In, an Olivia Newton John music video and high school theater all rolled into one.
Big hair and botched suplexes pervaded every match. You can't expect to make Sherri Martels when you train actresses and stunt girls for six weeks before going on air.
Sly Stallone's mom presided over as the kayfabe owner of the company.
Before Little Fiji faced Little Egypt or Amy the Farmer's Daughter took on Babe the Farmer’s Daughter, fans were subjected to every performer's own "rap" song.
JD Star, like many other promotions, thought that the way to increase interest in women’s wrestling was to hire non-wrestlers to compete for them.
JD Star, a Japanese promotion started by Jaguar Yokota, attempted to promote "Athresses," a combination of athletes and actresses.
As you might expect, they were not superb performers in the ring.
The actual wrestlers in the company, like Aja Kong, resented having to work with these "beauty athletes." Fans were not as interested as the owners would have hoped.
Unlike much of Japanese wrestling, the promotion Hustle emphasizes the cartoony aspects of the sport.
Many of the wrestlers look like they bought their ring wear at a Halloween costume store. Many men have an over the top gay gimmick.
Generalissimo Takada, the major heel character, borrowed heavily from the look of M. Bison from the Street Fighter video games.
During a Hustle show the audience will watch clowns, Power Rangers rip offs and Yingling the Erotic Terrorist perform in the ring.
Seeing past all the soap opera elements, Hustle produces some quality wrestling. Kharma, Tajiri, the Great Muta and Team 3D have wrestled for them at some point.
Fans have to be 21 or older to attend Women's Extreme Wrestling aka Women's Erotic Wrestling events.
The all-female promotion has some intriguing elements. The wrestlers perform in TLC and hardcore matches—fare usually reserved for male wrestlers.
If that's where the extremeness came from, they might have a valuable product. Instead, WEW tries to make wrestling erotic which is about as interesting as two sorority girls mud wrestling in a kiddy pool.
One match designed to sex up the sport is the Adult Entertainer Oil Rumble Battle Royal Elimination Match. Past WEW events include Nude Booty Kick, Locker Room Lust and Battle of the Ho's.
A league where women's wrestling is taken seriously and given the hardcore treatment is a promising idea. What WEW is in actuality is a misogynistic pile of dung.
Pawning talent-lacking hot chicks off on wrestling fans is nothing new. Wrestlicious does it worse than most though.
Jimmy Hart helps run this ridiculous on purpose all-female promotion that tries to sell its stale wrestling product by dowsing it in sex.
Every character is a lazy caricature, from the mob girl with the bad accent to the Jersey Shore ripoff.
Wrestlicious features wrestling that makes Kelly Kelly look like a hall of famer and possibly the worst commentary of any promotion on this list.
Lowlights: Wrestlicious theme song, nun gimmick.
The Japanese promotion, Dramatic Dream Team, is a parody of the most over the top elements of wrestling.
The DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship is a play on the old WWE Hardcore Championship where the champ must defend against anyone at anytime. Former champions include a monkey, a ladder and a poster.
Matches see wrestlers battle blow up dolls. Gimmick matches include the campsite match.
DDT often resides on the border between funny and disturbing. For the most part, it's too goofy to enjoy.
Incredibly Strange Wrestling out of San Francisco, a poor man's imitation of Lucha Libre, put on wrestling shows that also feature live music. Bands like NOFX and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes have performed for them.
Harley Racist, Cletus "the Fetus" Kincaid and the Abortionist are some of the characters that wrestled for ISW. WWE failures like Mantaur and Beaver Cleavage would have been right at home in a ISW ring.
Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys fame apparently played a heel manager from time to time.
More performance theater than wrestling, ISW was an attraction at music festivals before quietly fading away.
The folks behind Houston-based Doomsday Wrestling thought if people loved comedy and they loved wrestling then of course they'd love a comedy wrestling show twice as much.
The problem is that the wrestling is atrocious and the comedy is nearly as awful.
Take the worst aspects of underground improv and Lucha Libre and don't forget to stick a man in a diaper and you have Doomsday Wrestling.
Watching Poopdeck Peterson and Dirty Sanchez battle it out in a ring the size of a trampoline will make few people laugh, leave fewer entertained and fewer still not regretting spending their evening on this debacle.
In the '80s, a group of teenagers began a wrestling show out of the basement. This surreal enterprise actually did reasonably well for a time.
The story of NWF Kids Pro Wrestling's growth as a company is an inspiring tale of entrepreneurship just as much as it is a creepy idea that should have been stopped before it got rolling.
Not only is it a supremely dangerous sports for kids to get involved with, it doesn’t appeal to anyone but a niche audience.
The wrestling, as you'd expect, wasn't very good. The gimmicks were mostly rip-offs of WWE characters. So guys like Mr. Wonderful Walker would face guys like Rattlesnake Jake.
It's hard to distrust anything run by rapping clowns, and JCW is no exception. The brainchild of the Insane Clown Posse, JCW is a promotion heavy on the thuggery, light on the political correctness.
They do have the most hilarious commentators of all time—you have to give that to them.
Juggalo Championship Wrestling is where old veterans go to tarnish their legacy.
Scott Hall, the Rock n' Roll Express, Sabu and Diamond Dallas Page have all graced a JCW ring.
It's hard to tell what of JCW is tongue-in-cheek self deprecating humor and what it is just a series of poor ideas. Any promotion where a zombie character named Evil Dead wins a battle royal is hard to take seriously.
Note: Every JCW video on YouTube other than this one is 80 percent profanity so I didn’t want to put them on Bleacher Report. Check them out though to get a better idea of what they’re all about.
If you watch Hornswoggle on WWE and wonder why there can't be more little people to laugh at and degrade? Then Micro Wrestling Federation has come to your rescue.
Little people wrestling is a tradition that dates back to a time where women were considered inferior to men and there were separate water fountains.
The people behind the MWF have decided to forgo any sensitivity or political correctness and take us back to that time.
I'm not saying that a little person can’t be a world-class athlete. There are surely men and women on the MWF roster with major talent, but they were not signed so we could be impressed by their agility and strength.
The MWF wrestlers were hired so we could laugh at them. The whole promotion is a sick joke one would assume would only draw the trashiest of individuals.
There is in fact more than one wrestling promotion built around laughing at little people. Extreme Midget Wrestling promises the baddest little show on Earth.
Performing in bars in cities like Omaha and Sioux City, EMW does everything that the Micro Wrestling Federation does but provides more extreme matches and pushes the controversy on their gimmicks further.
Novelty and spectacle can draw 100 crass people to a hotel ballroom for a look at "extreme" midgets.
Grab a beer, lower your standards and enjoy the show.
The Naked Women's Wrestling League tried to take out the violence, storytelling, spectacle and athleticism out of wrestling and replace it all with porn stars flopping around the ring.
Carmen Electra acted as spokesperson for this atrocious business venture.
WWE's Divas division is a watered down product as it is, but the women from time to time perform actual correct wrestling moves. In the NWWL, the action is tepid at best.
Though the name implies all nudity, some of the matches include women with clothes on.
An insult to our collective intelligence and one of the most degrading endeavors ever, this joke of a wrestling promotion is not worth anybody’s time.
Lowlights: Conception, allegedly not honoring Carmen Electra’s contract.
Aging stars, porn stars and bloody matches were the norm for Xtreme Pro Wrestling.
XPW is certainly not the only promotion to amp up the violence of wrestling to a barbaric level. They are also not the only ones to overuse sex as a way to draw people in.
But few companies are as perverse as XPW. Run by a porn producer for much of its lifetime, it starred porn stars and featured backstage promos that looked an awful lot like porn scenes.
XPW rings utilized barbed wire, explosives and scaffolds with no safety net, endangering wrestlers’ lives and still managing to put on uninteresting shows.
Terry Funk, Sabu and Juventud Guerrera have stepped into XPW rings. It's sad to see legends and promising stars involved with such a low-class organization.
Low lights: Scaffold matches, porn style promos, Gypsy Joe vs, New Jack.
Imagine ECW with far less talent and far more violence. Imagine men lacerating people in between botched moves in front of an audience of 50.
This is Combat Zone Wrestling.
This promotion prides itself on its "ultraviolence" where matches include smashing light bulbs over people’s heads, stapling their flesh and leaping from buildings.
I'm no prude. I like hardcore matches and a little bloodshed, but this is garbage.
CZW spits in the face of wrestling tradition. Their matches are serious gross out moments and cringe-inducing spots. It is backyard trash with a cult following.
Lowlights: John Zandig meat hooks incident, masked wrestlers hypnotizing opponents into dancing, wrestler named Blood’s severe leg and arm injury.