WWE WrestleMania 2016: Worst Matches in History of PPV

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2016

WWE WrestleMania 2016: Worst Matches in History of PPV

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    Undertaker and Giant Gonzalez.
    Undertaker and Giant Gonzalez.credit: wwe.com

    WWE WrestleMania is coming up on April 3, and many fans can't wait for the industry's biggest event to happen.

    Roman Reigns is getting another shot at immortality, as he is set to face Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Dean Ambrose will continue on his main event quest by facing Brock Lesnar. And The Undertaker will face Shane McMahon in Hell in a Cell.

    They're just three of the matches booked so far.

    But while some fans are looking forward, many are looking back. It's the past that is intriguing, mostly because of the great matches and legendary stars who made the company what it is today. Unfortunately, it's also a past that brought fans some of the worst matches in history.

    WrestleMania is not just any event, of course, and many believe there should be no room for error.

    But that is exactly what fans find when looking back over WrestleMania's colorful history. The good, the bad and the ugly are all there, and every year seems to bring at least one match that will eventually make the list.

    Some Manias actually featured more than one match worthy of making the countdown.

    WrestleMania 32 will hopefully exceed expectations, but if history holds true, then one or more matches may indeed be featured among the worst of the worst.

8. Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole, WM 27

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    Color commentators typically work heel, while the lead commentator does play-by-play. This is how the business of professional wrestling has usually always worked, and it's almost always a success.

    But in WWE's seemingly ongoing effort to change things for the sake of changing them, Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole found themselves playing role reversal for WrestleMania 27. Cole's inexplicable behavior caused him to be irritating and annoying, and Lawler felt out of place as a sympathetic commentator.

    When their Mania match was booked, many fans likely shook their heads in disgust. If only WWE had listened to them.

    It was a truly bad match, one that accomplished nothing for either guy.

    The contest was a sideshow attraction, one that had no meaning or lasting effects. This was a match better off not happening. And if it had to happen, it should have been on Monday Night Raw.

    Even Stone Cold Steve Austin's presence as special guest referee was not enough to save this one.

    Eventually, Cole and Lawler re-assumed their spots and the company went back to business as usual. But this match stands out as one that never should have happened—especially on the grandest stage of them all.

7. Bart Gunn vs. Butterbean, WM 15

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    Any time a match other than a wrestling match takes place at WrestleMania, the results are usually not good.

    This is especially true here, as fans really didn't know what to make of Brawl for All. Was it boxing, or was it wrestling? Was it meant to be a hybrid? Was it a work or a shoot?

    There were too many questions, which led many fans to disconnect from it all.

    This was not good for Bart Gunn, who had done exceptionally well going into WrestleMania. But just the idea of Butterbean coming in was too much for many to handle.

    He was a big guy but seemed out of place, and while he did get a pop for knocking Gunn out, this match continues to be an oddity to this day.

    It serves as a reminder to fans of just how silly WWE can be. 

    WWE is meant to be a pro wrestling company, and featuring toughman competitions with novelty acts is just not part of the program. The fact this match took place at WrestleMania shows once again how WWE can get it so wrong in such a big way.

6. Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar, WM 20

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    Goldberg is a man who left on his own terms.

    He did what he felt he could do in WWE, and though he was handcuffed by difficult booking, he did not look back after leaving. He's been asked so many times by fans whether he was coming back and he's surely had more than one opportunity to do so.

    But Goldberg was happy to walk away and move on with his life. If those fans who want him back watch this Mania match, they may change their minds. 

    Goldberg can't totally be blamed for this contest. Neither can Lesnar. This one was a prime example of bad timing and no chemistry. Goldberg and Lesnar just couldn't connect with the crowd, and that crowd knew it was both men's last match in WWE for the foreseeable future.

    The audience checked out on this one and did not give the match a chance. Of course, if the match had hit the mark, the fans could probably have been won over, but that was not the case.

    What was supposed to have been a WrestleMania match was nothing but a video game match with novices working the controllers. The only redeeming quality here was Stone Cold Steve Austin, again in a special guest referee capacity, but he couldn't fix it.

5. Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez, WM 9

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    The problem with featuring a 6'10" zombie in the ring is that, eventually, he's going to run out of guys to fight.

    That's where a man such as Giant Gonzalez comes in. Not only was he big and not only was he strong, but he represented a true threat to The Undertaker. WWE had no choice but to pair them together, and if that match was going to happen, then Mania needed to be the place.

    But sometimes, what sounds good on paper is not necessarily successful in reality.

    This match was a mess from start to finish. What should have been a clash of the titans was nothing more than a case of a top guy working with someone who needed to be carried.

    Taker himself may have been OK with this, but the fans were not.

    There was no way to sell a story because Gonzalez was so inept in the ring. Undertaker could only do so much. By the end of it, the audience was likely waiting for the punchline.

    But this joke was not funny, and there has perhaps never been more of a waste at Mania for The Deadman than this booking.

4. John Cena vs. The Miz, WM 27

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    Video packages for WrestleMania 27 featured The Rock and John Cena.

    The Great One had come back and was beginning a war of words with WWE's top guy. Fans sat back and watched as the stars from the company's past and present traded shots. It was the early stages of a rivalry that would see them work two historic matches.

    The problem is one of those matches did not take place at WrestleMania 27.

    The Miz was almost completely lost in this one, and the fact is fans likely didn't even know he was there. Rubbing shoulders with two of WWE's most legendary stars was great for him, and he was surely appreciative of the opportunity.

    But other than give him a match he could continuously brag about, nothing of any value came from this.

    The bout itself was not good, and the crowd didn't care all that much. It did not feel like a WrestleMania match and likely would not have worked as a main event on Raw. WWE might not have had any other option that year, but this bout was nothing but a way to kick off Cena vs. Rock.

    Cena has had some great Mania moments, and Miz hopefully has some on the way. But for fans, this is not a great one for either guy.

3. Big Show vs. Akebono, WM 21

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    Big Show is a team player.

    No matter how many times WWE has made him look silly or put him in ridiculous situations he couldn't possibly get over in, Big Show always makes the best of it. Many fans have always wanted better for him and to see him get past the comedy.

    But he continually finds himself right back in the same spot.

    Show's match with Akebono at WrestleMania 21 was likely not meant to be comical. And perhaps it wasn't. But if fans were not laughing, they were probably looking away.

    This match just did not fit in at the Showcase of the Immortals.

    Big Show is a pro wrestler, and he deserves to be showcased as such. Akebono is a sumo champion, and that's what he should do. Both men obviously took this seriously, but it was poorly conceived and fans were just not buying it.

    The World's Largest Athlete is still fighting to overcome the image he's been saddled with over the years, and this match contributed to that.

2. John Morrison, Trish Stratus & Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler & LayCool, WM 27

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    Celebrities in pro wrestling are in no way a guaranteed hit.

    Merely being famous is not enough; actors, athletes, and musicians can love the product from afar, but that does not necessarily translate to crossover success. That is especially true for someone who is not an actor, athlete, or musician.

    Nicole "Snooki" LaValle came from the reality world of MTV, and she probably should have stayed there.

    WWE has always craved the pop culture spotlight, but this was too much. LaValle had no business being in the ring, and she didn't deserve to be associated with the legendary Trish Stratus, who redefined women's wrestling during her career.

    John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler were guilty by association. They were trapped in a bit of bad booking that may have gotten their names out in the world but did nothing to further either man's career.

    This was not about building a storyline for anyone, and it wasn't even about getting anyone over. This was about WWE once again chasing the young and trendy crowd, with less than stellar results.

    Some celebrity matches bring positive press, while others entertain and make fans happy. This match did neither.

1. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus, WM 28

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    Daniel Bryan tearfully said goodbye on a recent edition of Monday Night Raw, leaving a grateful fanbase on its feet. His in-ring career ended much too soon, and the legacy he leaves behind will never quite be matched by any other Superstar.

    But in 2012, WWE couldn't wait to job him out.

    Bryan's path at that time was just beginning, and main event glory was not yet on his radar. Sheamus was a hot babyface, and Bryan was an entertaining heel. The match would likely have been a good one and a great way to kick off the night.

    When the bout suddenly ended, the crowd was obviously into it. If getting the win over was the only criterion, then it perhaps was not a train wreck in theory.

    However, this was not about Bryan finding his way even through adversity. This was about WWE wanting to create a memorable moment at the expense of an established veteran, a guy who had worked a lifetime just to get there.

    This was not a match. It was a joke.

    Bryan went along with the plan, of course, and in the end everything worked out for him. But many fans are still wondering whether the company would have elevated him had CM Punk not left. His success in WWE may have been thanks to the fans, but this moment had nothing to do with his ride and did not have to happen.


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