Professional wrestling is at its best when things are kept simple because at its core, wrestling is really retelling the age-old story of good versus evil. Fans want to see the good guy triumph and get what he rightfully deserves for his efforts and they want to see the evil antagonist get their ass kicked for his or her misdeeds and have his sinister plans foiled.
These days however, seeing a match between two people to settle a grudge, to see who the better competitor is or over a championship doesn’t seem to be enough. To keep the interest of its audience, promotions continue to up the ante when it comes to creating intriguing matches that people want to plop down their hard-earned money to see. To create buzz, special stipulations are squeezed into the marquee often times promising major ramifications.
How many times have we seen matches where its stated “if Wrestler A beats Wrestler B, Wrestler B must have his head shaved/ is fired/ must retire / has to wear a dress / etc?” We’ve seen them all. Often times, these extra stipulations were hyped so hard that they promised to change the entire landscape of a promotion or claimed that things “would never be the same again!”
This list looks at those matches which had stipulations claiming to be so groundbreaking and world-changing when in the end nothing really would change at all. Other match lacked so much logic that it made you just wonder, “Why the hell did they even have this match to begin with?” Continue onto the pointless absurdity below.
15 Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart: Iron Man Match
In 1996, the WWE would introduce a match that had never taken place before between two of their brightest stars. Challenger Shawn Michaels and WWE Champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart would go one-on-one at WrestleMania XII in a 60 Minute Iron Man Match. The one hour affair was hyped to guarantee a winner which would be whoever would score the most decisions (via pinfall, DQ or submission) before the timer ran out.
When the match finally took place, Michaels and Hart would go the entire hour without scoring a single point and it’d be 0-0. The final minutes of the match showed Bret trapping HBK in the sharpshooter as the timer expired thereby saving HBK from submitting.
With the match concluded as a draw, Bret would retain the championship but WWE President Gorilla Monsoon would continue the match, ordering a sudden death overtime. HBK would win the contest two minutes in. So the question remains: What the heck was the point of the time limit?
This proved to be totally unfair for the Champion Bret Hart who had just survived 60 minutes and was also in a position to win with a Sharpshooter submission and it was a while before we saw the Iron Man Match again.
14 Sheamus Loses Kiss My Arse Match; Doesn’t Kiss Any Arse
Matches that involve the loser having to kiss anything hardly ever go well and this match was no exception. When Sheamus returned from injury in 2015, he had his sights set on Dolph Ziggler. Both men began to feud with each other leading up to the Extreme Rules PPV where every match has to have an often pointless stipulation to adhere to the theme of the show. Sheamus declared their match to be a Kiss My Arse match where the loser would have to kiss the winner’s bare posterior. After a hard fought matchup, Ziggler would come out on top with the victory so Sheamus would have to reluctantly pay up.
Sheamus would stall and try to escape the arena but the referee prevented him from leaving. Sheamus would only pretend to kiss Ziggler’s rear end, giving Ziggler a low blow followed by a Brogue kick. Sheamus would then make an unconscious Ziggler kiss his behind and leave to boos. Though it was all a ploy to get heat on the heel Sheamus, what is the point of a stipulation if the winner isn’t rewarded and the loser isn’t punished?
13 The “All Titles On The Line” Cluster Mess
In September of 1995 the WWE made an intriguing and unprecedented decision when they stacked the Main Event with all their main championships being defended into one match. It was In Your House 3 where WWE Champion Diesel and Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels would team up against Tag Team Champions Yokozuna and Owen Hart. The rules stipulated if HBK and Diesel won, they’d of course be the new tag champs. However if either Diesel or Shawn Michaels were pinned, they would lose their respective Championship. The WWE hyped the contest stating that regardless of the outcome, there would be a new champion but it didn’t quite work out that way.
On the night of the PPV, it was announced that Owen Hart would be unable to compete due to his wife being in the hospital giving birth to their second child. The match would still go down however with British Bulldog slotted in to take Owen’s place. Near the end of the match, Owen would emerge to interfere in the match, only to be pinned to crown HBK and Diesel as new tag champs. It would be a short-lived though as the match would be nullified the next night on RAW with the declaration that Owen Hart wasn’t the legal man. Call it clever on WWE’s part but this bait and switch likely made those at the arena and those watching on PPV want their money back.
12 Triple H Retires Mick Foley... Who Returns a Month Later at WrestleMania
The year 2000 was Triple H’s breakout year. He had the WWE Championship and like his music echoed during that period, it was “his time”. HHH’s first major feud as champ would be against Mick Foley who would assume the role of Cactus Jack. Triple H would succeed at successfully defending against Foley at Royal Rumble 2000. The next night on RAW, Triple H would agree to give Foley one more match in a match of Foley’s choosing. When Foley suggested Hell in The Cell, Triple H agreed on the condition that if he won, Foley’s 15 year career would be over. Foley accepted and the match was on.
At No Way Out, Triple H would survive Foley’s specialty and defeat him in the Hell in The Cell. This looked to be a fitting final chapter on Foley’s storied career but retirement looked a bit different for Foley. Instead of hanging up his boots not only was Foley unretired a month later, he was given a WWE Title Match and a Main Event spot at WrestleMania as part of a fatal fourway thanks to Linda McMahon fulfilling his last wish to main event a WrestleMania. Huh? If only we all could be rewarded as handsomely as Foley did for retiring.
11 Sable Loses a “Loser leaves WWE” Match, Is Back In 2 Weeks
We’ve seen our fair share of “the loser gets fired” matches and usually it results in a vacation for the losing opponent and a eventual return in some form of fashion, but bringing someone back on television almost immediately is just beyond lame. That’s what happened in 1998 when Sable was in the middle of a bitter feud with her former flame Marc Mero which culminated in a match where the loser would have to leave the WWE. Sable was given the choice of getting a representative to fight for her but she insisted she wrestle against Mero. Mero would refuse to fight Sable and lay down for her to get the easy pin, only to reverse the pin and cover Sable for the pinfall.
The sad moment saw Sable wave goodbye to her adoring fans as she left the WWE for good. Did I say for good? No it was only two weeks. Sable would appear on RAW exactly two weeks later and Vince McMahon would personally take credit for hiring her back without any explanation. Apparently in the sentence, “the loser will be kicked out of WWE forever!” forever means only a fortnight.
10 Ultimate Warrior vs. Macho Man Retirement Match
If there’s anything we’ve all learned being wrestling fans is that you’re never truly retired when it comes to wrestling so when a retirement match goes down, you can take it with a grain of salt. In 1991, The Macho Man Randy Savage was locked in a bitter feud with The Ultimate Warrior. It appeared that the WWE wasn’t big enough for the both of them so their marquee matchup at WrestleMania 7 would be declared a retirement match.
Ultimate Warrior would come out on top at the end of the contest, meaning Randy Savage’s career was over. This led to the beautiful post-match reunion with Miss Elizabeth and the Macho Man. Savage would stay away from in-ring competition for several months until he would be goaded into coming out of retirement by Jake “The Snake” Roberts. At least this un-retirement made logical sense as Savage would basically have to beg WWE President Jack Tunney to reinstate him. Still, why make it a retirement match if you’re not really going to stay retired?
9 Rey Mysterio Wins Tourney for WWE Title, Then CENAWINSLOL
Rey Mysterio at his size has done the unthinkable, capturing both the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Championship in his illustrious career. However you could put an asterisk next to one of those reigns which was tainted by a ridiculous impromptu match.
At the Money In The Bank 2011 PPV, Punk defeated Cena to capture the WWE Championship and subsequently left the WWE with the championship. With the company now without a WWE Champion, a tournament was held for the vacated title. Rey Mysterio would defeat the Miz in the finals of that tournament and become the new WWE Champion. He wouldn’t get to enjoy the belt very long as he would basically be forced by Triple H to defend the title against John Cena—a man who wasn’t even in the tournament and had just be reinstated—the very same night. This match was a total injustice to Rey Mysterio and rewarded John Cena for no reason. What was the whole point of the tournament then if someone not even in the tournament ended up with the Title?
8 John Cena Loses His Job, Gets It Back The Following Week
Brace yourselves folks because John Cena comes up in this list a lot going forward. Cena is the golden poster boy of the WWE, so you have to laugh when he’s placed in any type of situation where his “career is in jeopardy”. Surely he wouldn’t lose his job? And even if he did, not for one second should anyone believe that there’s a catch.
In 2010, The Nexus was wrecking havoc on the WWE and leader Wade Barrett had Cena on the team against his will due to an earlier ridiculous stipulation where if Cena lost a match, he’d be part of Nexus. At Survivor Series 2010, Wade Barrett was set to face WWE Champion Randy Orton and John Cena was the special referee. The stipulation was that if Barrett lost the match, Cena would be fired from the WWE. Cena would call the match down the middle and Orton would defeat Barrett. Cena would have an emotional farewell the next night on RAW.
Cena wouldn’t be gone for long as he would be back the following week to exact revenge upon the Nexus, sneaking into the arena to ambush the members one by one. The attacks forced Barrett to rehire Cena in a nonsensical turn of events. So all Cena needed to do to get his job back is trespass and assault people? Wish it was that easy for everyone who gets laid off.
7 John Cena Beats Batista in a Last Man Standing Match—With Duct Tape
Well what do you know? There’s John Cena again.
The rules of a last man standing match are simple. You have to incapacitate your opponent so badly that they are unable to answer a 10 count, similar to a boxing match. In the WWE, some of the most brutal matches that have taken place have been last man standing matches. At Extreme Rules 2010 however, the last man standing rules were abused in embarrassingly cartoony fashion.
John Cena would be going against Batista in a last man standing match and after 20 minutes of brutality, Cena would resort to a cheap tactic, using duct tape to tie Batista’s feet to the ring post so Batista would not be able to get to a standing position before the 10 count.
Batista would let it be known how lame of a trick this was by John Cena with a hilarious and bitter promo, “Duct tape? Are you serious? That’s something Hornswoggle would do!” Batista would claim the next night on RAW. For someone so heroic, this act certainly didn’t make John Cena look too good.
6 The Brawl For All Tournament
Due to the growing popularity of the MMA and Toughman contests, the WWE believed that they could do shoot fighting better in the squared circle than the UFC could do in the octagon so they came up with the Brawl For All Tournament. This 16 man tournament pit WWE superstars against each other in real boxing style fights.
Though it wasn’t a predetermined tournament, it was slated to be a vehicle for Dr. Death Steve Williams to receive a push but it ended up backfiring on the WWE as rarely used midcarder Bart Gunn would defeat Williams in the tournament finals. Bart Gunn would end up fighting against trained boxer Butterbean at WrestleMania and would get swiftly knocked out leading many to feel that the tournament—which was designed to make the wrestlers look tough— only made the WWE superstars look weak and unskilled.
Overall the tournament was a disaster and resulted in multiple wrestlers receiving legitimate injuries. It didn’t help that fans chanted “boring!” and “We Want Wrestling!” which were audible during the segments.
5 Edge and Booker T Have A Grudge Match At WrestleMania… Over Shampoo
Booker T and Edge have both enjoyed very successful careers. Between them there are numerous accolades: numerous tag team championship runs, impressive runs on top with the World Heavyweight Championship and King of The Ring wins. Edge and Booker’s have been inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame for their accomplishments and contributions.
Another common thing they share is the same blemish on their body of work which took place at WrestleMania X8 in 2002. On a card that was stacked with huge matches involving the Rock, Stone Cold, The NWO and Triple H, both Booker T and Edge needed to find a way to squeeze themselves on the lineup. The solution? A match between the two at the biggest show of the year with the winner having the glorious distinction of…starring in a fictional Japanese shampoo commercial. Yes folks, they were fighting over shampoo at WrestleMania. The outcome didn’t matter at all because the Japanese shampoo company wasn’t real nor was there any advertisement spot for the winner. At least they got a Mania payday out of the ridiculousness and provided us with a hilarious parody poking fun at the awful angle recently on the Edge and Christian Show.
4 The Undertaker vs. Triple H : End of An Era?
Back when The Undertaker still had an undefeated streak, Triple H tried for a second time and failed to beat the Undertaker at WrestleMania. After failing to leave the ring by his own volition at WrestleMania XXVIII, the Undertaker demanded that Triple H try again and see if he could finish the job. Triple H would refuse at first but eventually agree to a Hell In A Cell match at WrestleMania where they would end things once and for all. The match was dubbed “The End of An Era” and it was subtly implied that for the loser of the match, it would be their final match.
When the match finally took place, The Undertaker would succeed and defeat Triple H once again to keep his streak intact. However Triple H would not go into retirement and would wrestle again. So what was that “End of An Era” talk all about? With the WWE being vague, it was left up to fans to interpret it how they saw fit.
3 The Authority Loses and Disbands Forever? Nah
Consisting of the husband and wife duo Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, the group known as the Authority would dominate WWE programming through 2013 and 2014, holding down various stars all in the efforts of doing what was “best for business”.
The WWE locker room and fans had their fill of their shady antics and finally it seemed like they would be no more when at Survivor Series 2014 a traditional ten man tag would take place between Team Cena and Team Authority. The stipulations were that if Team Cena lost, they would all be fired. If Team Authority lost, the Authority would no longer be in power.
At the Survivor Series PPV, Team Cena would defeat Team Authority with some help from a debuting Sting and the Authority would lose their power and would have to leave RAW. The stipulation was upheld but only for a month as the Authority would be reinstated by John Cena—who had been given power by Vince McMahon to be the only person who can reinstate the Authority and who was coerced into doing so to save WWE Hall of Famer Edge from being injured by Rollins.
So with a bit of convoluted abusing of the rules, the Authority was back in power and things returned to the status quo. Sigh.
2 The Undertaker Saves Paul Bearer, Then Unsaves Him
In a sequence of events that left us all scratching our heads, the Undertaker would do the unthinkable and get rid of his longtime manager Paul Bearer, for absolutely no reason.
In 2005, the Dudley Boyz would enrage The Undertaker by abducting Taker’s manager Paul Bearer. Paul Heyman would make a challenge to the Undertaker by stating that if he ever wanted to see Bearer again he’d have to align himself with the Dudley Boyz. Taker would refuse and eventually a match would be booked with the stipulations being that if Taker would win, Bearer would be freed by captivity. Had Taker lost however, Bearer would be cemented inside of a glass chamber that he was held in.
At The Great American Bash PPV, The Undertaker would successfully defeat the Dudleys in a handicap match saving Paul Bearer from certain doom. However for reasons unknown, the Undertaker would have a change of heart and would pull a lever on the cement truck, which filled the chamber Bearer was trapped in with cement, drowning him. Taker remained a face, mind you, and got away with murder apparently. All this makes us wonder what the point of the match was if Undertaker wanted Bearer gone anyway?
1 Shane Loses Chance to Control RAW, Gets Control Anyway
In a bizarre turn of events that defied all sorts of logic, Shane McMahon lost a match with major stipulations and rewards had he won, and was rewarded anyway!
Shane McMahon had been away from the WWE for seven years and made his triumphant return in 2016 to confront his sister and father Stephanie and Vince McMahon, claiming that they are killing the company with their terrible abuses of power and decision making. Shane wanted power of RAW and Vince stated he’d give him power over RAW if he could beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania in a Hell in A Cell match. If Shane lost, he would have to relinquish control of a lockbox of Vince’s business secrets.
With the odds stacked against Shane, he was determined to beat Taker at Mania and gave a valiant effort but fell short. The next night on RAW, Vince would gloat over his son’s loss but then, unexpectedly, would give Shane a trial run as the main authority figure over RAW, which led him to sharing powers with Stephanie. How generous of daddy Vince, giving Shane exactly what he asked for despite losing his match, rendering the Hell In a Cell match absolutely pointless. I’m done, my head hurts.