WWE WrestleMania 33: Worst Matches in History of Legendary PPV
If WrestleMania is an annual showcase for the best performers in sports entertainment, it would be reasonable to assume that all of the Mania matches are equally superior. The opposite is true. There have been many mediocre to terrible matches over the course of 32 years. Every card has one or two outright stinkers.
There are a couple of reasons why. First, WrestleMania showcases the entire, active roster, and WWE Creative will rush storylines and throw performers together to make sure everyone has something to do. The result is superficial drama. It's difficult for both performers and fans to invest in a match's outcome.
The second reason is that the WWE is obsessed with creating "WrestleMania moments." And to do that, WWE Creative will insert needless stipulations and other superfluous nonsense to an already bloated card.
Here are the worst matches in the history of WrestleMania—the results of poor technical ability combined with unrealistic expectations.
The Rock vs. Erick Rowan (WrestleMania 32)
Imagine what it must be like to be Erick Rowan. One minute, you're walking out in front of the largest audience in WrestleMania history—over 100,000 people strong—with thousands of "fireflies" glowing in the darkness.
The next moment, you're getting pinned by The Rock in six seconds, setting a far more dubious record.
This travesty of a match accomplished nothing except for getting The Rock over for a cheap pop. The Wyatt Family, meanwhile, looked ridiculous. How could fans be afraid of Rowan after a stunt like this?
Adrian Adonis vs. Uncle Elmer (WrestleMania II)
In the early days of WrestleMania, there were a ton of middling to mediocre matches—true undercard matches—that would be more appropriate on an old episode of WWF Superstars.
This match between Uncle Elmer and Adrian Adonis is a representative stand-in for that sort of mediocrity. It featured two stereotypes—an overweight hillbilly and an overweight drag queen. It had one decent highlight—a diving headbutt that the Adorable One used to finish his opponent.
But the rest of the bout was forgettable—the WWE doesn't even keep photos of the match on its website.
Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzales (WrestleMania IX)
This awful match is a mainstay on any "Worst Matches" list, and for good reason. Giant Gonzales could barely move. Undertaker was still young and inexperienced. And the match ended with a disqualification, when Gonzales covered Undertaker's face with a chloroform-soaked rag.
There's a reason why this match is glossed over during any discussion of the Streak. It doesn't do much for Taker's scary Deadman image to see him being chloroformed.
There was an awesome vulture perched on a stand during Undertaker's entrance. But everything after that was unwatchable.
Melina vs. Ashley (WrestleMania 23)
In terms of technical quality, this women's championship Lumberjill Match was particularly bad. There was a lot of miscommunication—Melina botched the finish by forgetting to complete her bridge pin. The Lumberjills also played a minimal, insignificant role. Neither Melina nor Ashley got tossed out of the ring enough to justify their ringside presence.
A lot of women's matches during this time period were massive, group affairs, where it was impossible to discriminate one woman from another among the mob. The lack of clarity got even worse at WrestleMania XXV. More on that later.
Bart Gunn vs. Butterbean (WrestleMania XV)
The Brawl-For-All, a shoot tournament that WWE wrestlers competed in for cash, was a dumb idea. The Superstars, after all, were built for performance, not competition. But it took a unique sort of stupid to take Bart Gunn, who won the tournament, and place him in a boxing match against a super heavyweight professional boxer.
That's what the WWE did, and the results were not pretty. Bart Gunn got caught with a monster right hand that is still one of the most brutal one-hit KOs in the history of boxing. If people didn't think wrestling was "fake" before, they certainly thought it after watching this mess.
Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg (WrestleMania XX)
This match is proof that audience reaction matters. Brock Lesnar and Goldberg faced an angry, hostile mob of fans at Madison Square Garden. The fans knew that both wrestlers were leaving the company, and their chanting and booing rattled both performers. They wrestled a slow, listless match that was far from the epic confrontation the WWE had hoped for.
This year, fans will get a WrestleMania rematch between the two men. With any luck, it'll go better this time around.
Adam Bomb vs. Earthquake (WrestleMania X)
Adam Bomb had a great gimmick, a great body, and an intense work ethic. His move set was powerful and flashy. He was relatively young—in his late 20s when he debuted in the WWE.
So what did the WWE do? Why, put him in a squash match with an out-of-shape, over-the-hill Earthquake, of course! Adam Bomb got in zero offense, and the entire experience was a waste of his unlimited potential.
Adam Bomb tried to avenge his loss on the following Raw, where he fought a longer match with Earthquake. The only problem was that he lost. Again. And cleanly, this time.
From there, the writing was on the wall. Adam Bomb wrestled almost exclusively on WWF Superstars before the WWE released him in 1995.
Divas Battle Royal (WrestleMania XXV)
This match was hyped as a reunion of Divas from across the years—both Sunny and Molly Holly, for example were present. But the Divas Battle Royal was a debacle for two reasons. First, the women made their entrances during a Kid Rock mini-concert. None of the women got to connect with the crowd and have her individual moment.
Instead, the commentators introduced them while the match was going on, and they weren't able to identify who some of the women were until after they were eliminated.
To make things worse, the winner of the match was Santina Marella, who was really Santino Marella in a dress. Thus, a nostalgia, feel-good moment was turned into a cheap joke, and a man was highlighted at a match that was meant to celebrate women.
Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole (WrestleMania XXVII)
Terrible. The match lasted, minus its entrance and pre- and post-shenanigans, over 13 minutes—longer than six other matches on the card. Imagine what it must have been like to be a full-time wrestler and have one's match cut short to make room for this.
People were booing this segment not because they hated Michael Cole, but because they hated the whole concept.
Fortunately, WWE put this "feud" out of its misery after Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack on the air. Cole went back to being an unbiased play-by-play commentator, and everyone tried to forget that any of this awfulness had ever happened.
Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (WrestleMania XI)
This match had a solid buildup. Tons of video packages. Tons of interviews. Lots of press; the match made the local news in New York that evening. But in hindsight, fans can see this for what it was—a desperate grab for mainstream attention.
The WWE in 1995 was in a rebuilding phase. Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage had left the company, and the WWE was relying on its new stars to carry the torch. But apparently, WWE Creative didn't trust its new guys enough, because it made this gimmick match between Lawrence Taylor and Bam Bam Bigelow its main event at WrestleMania XI.
And what's more is that Bam Bam lost, to a guy who was gassed after the first three minutes in the ring.
This match was a line in the sand for the company. Were they going to resort to publicity stunts to sell their events, or were they going to work on developing their young talent? Thankfully, they chose the latter. But this match still stands, thanks to its placement on the card, as one of the worst matches in WrestleMania history.