World Wrestling Entertainment, formerly the World Wrestling Federation, defeated any and all challengers during the pro wrestling wars of the 1990s and 2000s, and, thus, those running the company are able to formulate aspects of history as they wish. The result is that certain matches that happened in the WWE, World Championship Wrestling and other promotions have been hyped to be bigger, better and more important than they actually were at the time and/or than they are in the current wrestling climate. Not all of the overrated matches everyone pretends to love mentioned in this piece are awful or worth ignoring. They, merely, are not as good as some within the WWE and also pockets of wrestling fans would lead you to believe.
It should come as no surprise that this list is largely dominated by some of the biggest names and best wrestlers to perform in North American promotions over the past four decades. After all, these all-time legends of the industry have impressive resumes filled with incredible and entertaining matches. Logic suggests fans, observers and supposed experts would overrate contests featuring these wrestling icons for one reason or another. As with star ratings or any other rankings, this list of “overrated matches” comes down to opinion. It’s quite possible one of the matches spotlighted in this piece is a favorite of yours. Maybe, just maybe, some reasoning will cause you to go back, watch these 15 matches and then change your original thoughts regarding these bouts that will admittedly be remembered for years to come.
15. Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage vs. The Outsiders: Bash at the Beach 1996
The reality here is that there may be no more important WCW match from the 1990s than this one, but that doesn’t mean the actual encounter was any good once the bell sounded. Lex Luger being taken out early via an injury angle didn’t help matters, as Sting, Randy Savage, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash produced a largely forgettable affair during which fans were waiting for the third member of the Outsiders to appear.
We don’t even need to watch the match 20 years after the fact thanks to the WWE Network and online video services, as we can skip ahead to the legendary promo Hulk Hogan cut after he turned heel on WCW. Hogan’s post-match interview is the only saving grace of the match.
14. Team WWE vs. Team Alliance: Survivor Series 2001
In a way, it’s fitting the final act of the horrible “Invasion” storyline would be included in a list of overrated matches even though WWE.com articles have praised the contest over the years. As with most significant elimination matches, this one left fans waiting for over a half-hour before the story became interesting.
Perhaps worst of all is that the feud between the Alliance — team WCW and team ECW — and the WWE came down to four WWE performers: Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Steve Austin and The Rock. Add in that nobody with any knowledge of the business could believe, for even a second, that the Alliance had a chance of winning, and this goes down as one of the most overrated matches in Survivor Series history.
13. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley: NXT Takeover: Respect
It’s no coincidence two Iron Man matches make this list. Fans have, over time, been conditioned to know only the last five minutes or so of such contests truly matter, and that was the case when Sasha Banks versus Bayley headlined NXT Takeover: Respect in a match that included a 30-minute time limit.
While Banks and Bayley deserved to headline a Takeover event before being called up to the main roster, they should’ve been given the opportunity to do so at the first ever NXT Takeover: Brooklyn show. That was arguably the best WWE match of 2015, and it was also much better than this encounter regardless of how historic it was at the time. The final few minutes of the iron man match is fun to watch, but that’s about it.
12. The Rock vs. Steve Austin: WrestleMania X-Seven
A passionate wrestling fan could easily make the argument WrestleMania X-Seven is the most overrated WrestleMania in history, but that’s a different topic for a different time. The Rock versus Steve Austin, the main event of X-Seven, isn’t necessarily a horrible match worth forgetting, but it also isn’t even one of the best contests they worked with each other.
This no disqualification encounter is mostly remembered for Austin turning heel and linking up with the Mr. McMahon character, a decision that backfired on the WWE. Stone Cold was never again as popular as he was in his prime during the Monday Night Wars, and the company has never since reclaimed the magic and popularity it had at the beginning of the 2000s.
11. Sting vs. Ric Flair: Clash of the Champions 1988
Those of you who are younger fans hoping to one day work in the industry should view the Sting versus Ric Flair match from the 1988 edition of Clash of the Champions if only to watch how one individual can carry another for 45 minutes. No disrespect meant to the Stinger, but that’s exactly what happened here.
The Nature Boy did all he could to make Sting, still relatively green as a worker compared to what he would become, look like a million dollars during this encounter that ended in a draw, and history teaches us this contest launched Sting’s WCW popularity to a new level. That may be true, but Sting and Flair had far better matches than this overrated showdown in later years.
10. The Undertaker vs. Triple H: WrestleMania XXVIII
By the time these two all-time WWE greats entered the ring to do battle at WrestleMania XXVIII, the idea of Undertaker facing either Shawn Michaels or Triple H at the biggest show of the year had become old and tired. It didn’t help matters the Heartbreak Kid was inserted into the Hell in a Cell contest as the special referee and also that he took away from the contest with his antics inside of the ring.
Fans may remember some special moments, such as Triple H earning a near fall thanks to Sweet Chin Music and a Pedigree. There are plenty of highlights from this WrestleMania encounter, but you can view them in a package via a website such as YouTube without having to see the entire match.
9. Hulk Hogan vs. Goldberg: Nitro July 1998
Hulk Hogan and Goldberg were never going to have a classic match 20 years ago, but this encounter is nevertheless remembered because of the crowd’s massive pop generated when the undefeated WCW performer hit the Hulkster with the Jackhammer to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
The spear that occurred before that and the final ten seconds of the match are all you need to see, though, as the rest of the bout doesn’t live up to the hype and reputation created by WWE history. What’s most frustrating about this match for fans who lived through the Monday Night Wars is that WCW gave it away for free on television. No wonder the company was out of business by the time March 2001 came to an end.
8. Ric Flair vs. Big Van Vader: Starrcade 1993
Ric Flair may very well be the best overall pro wrestler in the history of the business. One reason is that he could play the evil heel or sympathetic babyface versus just about any opponent. Flair was an ideal undersized face to go against the monster known as Big Van Vader at Starrcade 1993, and the two managed to tell an interesting story.
Unfortunately, the match doesn’t live up to what you may have read about it over the years, and that especially rings true for those of you who have watched other tremendous Flair matches during your tenure as a fan. The finish of the match, an ugly and unbelievable roll-up pinfall, is only another reason why this bout is overrated regardless of how many viewers may have enjoyed it back in ‘93.
7. Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior: WrestleMania VI
It’s easy for fans who grew up watching the WWE or pro wrestling, in general, at a time when Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior were two of the biggest stars in the industry to think on this match fondly and remember it as an epic encounter between two larger-than-life personalities. That’s fine and all, but the match isn’t even decent.
A large percentage of the WrestleMania matches that have occurred over the past several years are better than Hogan versus Warrior, and even the biggest fan of either performer would have to admit both wrestlers worked better bouts during their WWE runs. Sure, this match is way better than the disaster that occurred when Hogan and Warrior wrestled in WCW, but we’d all be better off pretending that never happened in the first place.
6. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant: WrestleMania III
Knowing all we know now about the physical state of Andre the Giant when he entered the ring for this showdown with Hulk Hogan, the match is actually somewhat difficult to watch. Andre could barely move around the ring with any real pace, and Hogan, who never had a reputation for being one of the better technical workers in the history of the industry, did all he could to put on a show for fans cheering him on.
This overrated match will never be forgotten so long as the WWE exists because of Hogan body slamming the big man before hitting the leg drop and winning the main event, but the memory of that moment is the only highlight you’ll ever need to see in the future.
5. Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker: WrestleMania XXX
The WWE, not to mention both Brock Lesnar and Undertaker, were rather fortunate it was decided beforehand that the phenom would lose to Lesnar and see his famous undefeated WrestleMania streak come to an end at WrestleMania XXX. We learned, after the fact, Undertaker suffered a legitimate concussion early on in the contest, and we can only guess what would have happened had the final five minutes or so of the encounter been booked differently.
Both men deserve credit for fighting through an unforeseeable setback en route to attempting to put on a show, but the match is overrated because of who scored the pinfall and what that outcome meant. Had Undertaker won, this may not even be in a top-ten list of his WrestleMania appearances.
4. 1992 Royal Rumble
Take a spin around the Internet when researching the best Royal Rumble matches of all time, and you’ll probably see the 1992 battle royal near or at the very top of those lists. That doesn’t mean the match is any good, though, as it’s still a lackluster battle royal that went on way too long and that bored fans for over 30 minutes. The two best parts of the 1992 Royal Rumble involve commentator Bobby Heenan repeatedly informing the audience that certain events occurring inside the ring were not “fair to Flair” and also the epic promo Ric Flair cut after he won the Royal Rumble and the World Championship.
A 10-minute highlight reel of this Royal Rumble could be enjoyable, but you don’t need to see any more.
3. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar: WrestleMania XIX
All things considered, Kurt Angle versus Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XIX may be the biggest letdown for a WrestleMania main event in history. Angle and Lesnar were both accomplished in-ring workers at the time, but Angle desperately needed some time away from the ring to recuperate from accumulated injuries.
While their WrestleMania match wasn’t a complete dud, it may be the worst bout the two had during their initial runs underneath the WWE umbrella. Of course, we’ll never forget watching Lesnar spike himself trying a Shooting Star Press he never should’ve attempted because Angle was so far away from the corner when Lesnar left the top rope. While that moment was incredible to behold, it’s also another reason this match is overrated.
2. The Undertaker vs. Mankind: King of the Ring 1998
It should be made clear that putting the Undertaker versus Mankind Hell in a Cell match from the 1998 King of the Ring so high on any list of overrated matches is not meant to take anything away from the very real physical punishment Mick Foley suffered during this encounter. Those spots, rather than the match as a whole, are what remain fresh in the minds of fans who watched it live decades ago, and commentator Jim Ross was spot on when he yelled “won’t somebody stop the damn match!” after Mankind fell through the roof of the cage.
Perhaps these two could’ve had an entertaining brawl under different circumstances, but the match as it exists should never be attempted by anybody, anywhere, at any time.
1. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels: WrestleMania XII
We’ll just come right out and say it, this 60-minute iron man match is boring and a chore to watch. Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and the WWE tried something different for the main event of WrestleMania XII, and maybe things would’ve gone better had the two been involved in a bitter on-screen blood feud that included a handful of memorable fights.
That wasn’t the case, though, and so fans who attended WrestleMania XII and who ordered the show via Pay-Per-View witnessed a lackluster affair between two babyface wrestlers who did little of note for the better part of an hour. Michaels’ “boyhood dream” came true on this fateful evening, but Vince McMahon using those words as HBK celebrated afterward is the only real highlight of the match.