Wrestling has a long and proud tradition within territories all across the United States and indeed the world, but the business never truly took off until Pay Per Views and special shows became a thing. Since that point we’ve seen some incredible shows like Starrcade, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam and WrestleMania, and even today we are beginning to see more and more shows like this with many independent companies across the world putting on PPVs. Like most things in wrestling, however, there have been so many presented that it’s hard to keep things fresh and creative, with the WWE especially as they run over 12 PPVs a year. As such, we tend to see companies struggle to come up with new, exciting names.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any good ones out there today, as there is, but for every WrestleMania, Survivor Series or Royal Rumble, there’s twice as many bad ones, so today we are going to explore the 10 best and 10 worst named PPV events in wrestling history from all across the globe.
20 Worst – One Night Stand
The original ECW One Night Stand shows in 2005 and 2006 were fantastic, and they were exactly that, a One Night Stand for ECW to show off the product that they made so universally loved under the WWE banner. But once the company revived ECW, it continued on as a WWE product, and instead of seeing the best ECW legends, we saw John Cena, Randy Orton and Batista, and that completely ruined not only the idea, but the name itself. Following that, the show progressed into simply being called Extreme Rules, a show where all the matches must come with some kind of "extreme" stipulation, and that’s a great idea, but for the several years that WWE presented it as a WWE show completely ruined the name, thus its inclusion on this list.
19 Best – TNA: Bound for Glory
For all the negativity that is sent GFW's way these days (lots of it is certainly deserved), they were certainly one of the most creative and best wrestling companies on the planet for quite some time, and while something like "Bound for Glory" isn’t the most creative, it makes this list for being so simple, and as TNA/Impact/GFW’s answer to WrestleMania, it certainly worked as a name. Obviously the event was never going to become as big as WrestleMania, but during TNA’s prime, it was an amazing show and genuinely felt like the biggest event on their calendar. While it’s not as good as Starrcade, Wrestle Kingdom or WrestleMania, it certainly is simple and good enough to warrant a place on this list.
18 Worst – Over The Limit
The problem with WWE today, and ever since the company went in a more PG direction is just how generic everything sounds, so when they ran an event called Over The Limit from 2010 to 2012, fans hated it because it was about the most generic sounding event you could think of (funny story, it was replaced in 2013 by Battleground, which actually challenges this event for most generic name of all time). We can sort of forgive WWE for a lot of the bad ones, as they were trying something different, but what was the point of this event? Bragging Rights and One Night Stand we can forgive because we see the idea behind it, but this was just another generic name in a company that had become more so by the year. Although Battleground isn’t much better, it’s certainly not as bad as Over the Limit.
17 Best – ROH: Death Before Dishonor
Ring of Honor has been easily the best independent wrestling promotion in the United States since it’s inception around 15 years ago, and have served as a proving ground for guys like Austin Aries, CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens, and they have come into their own in recent years with events like Supercard of Honor, Final Battle, Best in the World and War of the Worlds, but the best of the lot is easily Death before Dishonor. Not only is it a fantastic name for a PPV, as it represents the respect and the honor that is so important in a wrestling-focused promotion like ROH, but it has hosted some of the best matches the company has to offer, and it just sounds like something you have to tune in to see.
16 Worst – Global Warning
During the Attitude Era, the WWE had some truly fantastic PPV names, but it seems like when they left their home United States that talent just went away, as the UK exclusive event was known as Insurrextion, which is bad, but not as bad as "Global Warning," the name of a one time event that occurred down under in Australia. The event was actually a fairly good one, and drew a record crowd of 56,000 in Melbourne, but it sounds like something someone came up with in the spur of the moment, and somehow no one backstage questioned it. We’ve not seen the WWE come back to Australia with a live PPV since this, and while the terrible name probably isn’t the reason for it, we’d like a better one if they ever did return.
15 Best – PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 18: The Show We Can’t Call PROGRESSleMania For Legal Reasons
Outside of TNA, ECW, WCW and WWE, we don’t see too many independent promotions using creativity for the naming of their events, but Progress Wrestling, the hottest company in the U.K. at the moment are masters at it, and to be completely fair, we could have used the majority of their 53 chapters for this list, but this one in particular stands out above the rest. Unlike those promotions, Progress run events not in an annual order, but just every month or so (hence the chronological naming of the “chapters”), and each one comes with a unique tag line. Like the name suggests, the company wanted to use the name "Progresslemania" for one of their shows, but were blocked for legal reasons, so management found a very creative way around it, and ended up being one of the best names for an event I’ve seen.
14 Worst – Fatal 4-Way
We will talk more later about the problems with naming a PPV event after a match type/stipulation, but in most cases, those matches are rare, exciting things that you can understand, so why on earth would the WWE think it’s a good idea to name a PPV after a basic Fatal 4-Way match? Like you’d expect, the event featured several Fatal 4-Way matches, but it’s just such a basic title for a show that it’s stupid, and thankfully the WWE came to their senses as only one show was ever run in 2010. To be fair, the event wasn’t as bad as most were around 2010, but it has to be one of the dumbest names for a wrestling PPV in history, even by WWE’s low standards.
13 Best – WCW: Starrcade
WCW’s Starrcade was the answer to WrestleMania, but some can say the early editions of the event were much better than the grandest event in Vince McMahon’s company. Still, it’s safe to say they both have fantastic names, as Starrcade, like WrestleMania was a simple name that let the fans know they were in for something special, but one that stood for something much more in WCW. Starrcade represented the glitz and glamour of pro wrestling, so fans knew they were going to be treated to a high-class event full of suits and cocktail dresses, and it was named perfectly. This is something that WWE should definitely look to bring back, as it would give fans something different than their terribly named events these days and would be welcomed back with open arms.
12 Worst – Capitol Punishment
WWE makes some odd decisions sometimes, and while we can mostly live with them, as it at least means the company is trying new things and taking risks, but this one made no sense, as it was the WWE making a politically themed event in 2011. Despite being in the PG Era, they decided to name it after the death penalty as well, making this a massive slip-up in many ways for the company. The onetime event in 2011 was headlined by R-Truth and John Cena, so you knew there was no way it was coming back, but who would have thought it was a good idea to have a politically themed PPV for a wrestling show? The marketing revolved a lot around Barack Obama, even though he was not involved in the show at all, which makes it even weirder, and we are sure it’s something the WWE would just like you to forget.
11 Best – NJPW: Wrestle Kingdom
Unfortunately, New Japan Pro Wrestling was terrible for such a long time, but that was until the “Big 4” (Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi) broke out in the 2010s, where they began reaching new heights. That was on the back of their fantastic tournaments, incredibly stiff and entertaining wrestling, and their WrestleMania equivalent known as Wrestle Kingdom. With main events like Tanahashi vs. Okada and Omega vs. Okada over the last two years, it’s an event you have to check out, and while it’s probably not as good as WrestleMania or Starrcade, it certainly is a great name, and helps with the aura that the show itself has built. New Japan doesn’t quite have the PPV calendar that WWE have, and that’s not always a bad thing. While one can argue Wrestle Kingdom is better than WrestleMania, the name falls just short, but it’s still fantastic.
10 Worst – WCW: Hog Wild
Whether you loved WCW or you hated them, they weren’t afraid to take risks, and their events became famous for how over the top the decorations and how good the ideas were behind them, and this is a perfect example of a show that was a fantastic in idea and execution, but lacked a good name. The idea behind the event was to have it at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which again gave it the unique feel that WWE lacked at the time, but the name Hog Wild was not only terrible, but had to be dropped a year later due to a potential trademark issue. The event was free, which again became a huge issue, but the name itself was just horrible, and while "Road Wild" isn’t much better, it’s certainly an improvement over Hog Wild.
9 Best – Judgment Day
Before the WWE went into its PG era, the PPV names weren’t toned down, as we used to have names like Vengeance, Armageddon and No Way Out, but instead they were all replaced with the likes of Battleground and Payback. But during that era, the best name the WWE came up with for a PPV was Judgment Day which ran from 1998 to 2009. While it’s not exactly based on a creative theme or idea, the thought of a villainous heel facing their "Judgment Day" certainly made sense from a storyline perspective, and it was one of the favorite events of wrestling fans worldwide on WWE’s calendar. If not for WWE’s venture into the era of PG, this would likely still be a yearly thing, and no offense to today’s shows, shows like Battleground, Payback and Roadblock don’t even hold a candle to the likes of Judgment Day.
8 Worst – Bragging Rights
This may become a bit of a theme throughout this article, but the years from 2009-2012 in WWE weren’t particularly good at all, and while we can give them credit for trying new PPV ideas and concepts, not many of them were very good, and Bragging Rights was one of the worst. With the brand split returning over the past year, an event which sees the two brands competing head to head isn’t bad, and could certainly make a comeback, but the name "Bragging Rights" makes it seem so unimportant and just boring. There was also the problem that SmackDown was not even comparable to RAW at the time, so no one believed they’d be able to compete, but competing for "Bragging Rights"? How lame.
7 Best – PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 44: Old Man Yells at Cloud
We’ve already mentioned how unique and great Progress Wrestling’s events names are, and this is another example of that, and for the people out there (and we know there’s a lot of you) that dislikes Jim Cornette, you will appreciate this one. As the story goes, Jim Cornette was talking online about a match he saw in Progress, and was a little critical of it (big surprise, right?), so like the humorous people they are that run progress, they decided to take a shot back, with a beautiful Simpsons reference to boot. For anyone out there who doesn’t watch Progress, their video on demand service is one of the best available, as they are consistently putting on better wrestling shows than any company in the world, but for the purposes of this list, you can’t argue how great a name that is for a show.
6 Worst – Tables, Ladders And Chairs (and stairs)
The idea of naming a Pay Per View after a match stipulation isn’t great, but we’ve now got Elimination Chamber, Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank and more, so it’s something we can’t complain too much about. But in 2014, the WWE decided to added stairs to the name of the event, and while it’s not that much different, it was just horrible. Even worse is the reason for it, and Erick Rowan was competing against the Big Show in a stairs match that couldn’t have been more boring if it tried, so thankfully the company dropped the stairs a year later. The TLC name just rolls off the tongue, and with the stairs added to the end, it just added an uncomfortable part to an already established name, and was something that wasn’t necessary, as the company could have just had the match without adding it to the name.
5 Best – ECW: Barely Legal
ECW was a phenomenal wrestling company, and they captured the hearts of a generation and are still loved today, 17 years after they folded, and the reason for this love was that they gave the fans what they truly wanted in a time where mainstream wrestling was beginning to struggle. Things would pick up when the competition between the three promotions grew, and they had some truly fantastic PPV names when they finally got their product onto PPV. There were so many different ones we could have used for this, but it was a very hard list to narrow down, so we went with Barely Legal, which is simple and a perfect representation of their product at the time, and if you go back and watch some of the events, the name does indeed ring true.
4 Worst – The Bash
The WWE have a really weird and annoying habit of shortening everything these days, whether it’s performers names, nicknames or even PPV names. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and shortening the classic WCW PPV "The Great American Bash" to simply "The Bash" was one of the examples where it certainly didn’t work. The lone event took place in 2009, and wasn’t a bad show overall, but to do such a thing to The Great American Bash, an event which dated all the way back to 1985 in Jim Crockett Promotions was a very bad decision, as it was as bland as anything we’ve ever heard. We are starting to notice a trend that the WWE between 2009-2012 were notorious for making such bad decisions when naming their shows, and while it hasn’t gotten much better, it’s certainly improved from horrible decisions like this.
3 Best – WCW: Halloween Havoc
As we’ve already noted, WCW, with Ted Turner's bankroll, were able to go above and beyond with the themes of their PPVs, as we saw them in all different kinds of settings, but the best PPV name that they ever had, while extravagant in theme, was just a simple wrestling show with a great set up called Halloween Havoc. It’s a fairly simple idea to name a PPV after an annual holiday like Halloween, but WCW went all in with it, and it certainly worked, and it is something that the WWE should certainly look to use themselves in the near future. This entry is probably more about how great the event was overall, rather than just the name, but altogether it is a fantastic idea, and one of the few things that WCW executed really well.
2 Worst – Great Balls Of Fire
We really don’t need to say a single thing about this name, because it’s obvious to absolutely everyone in the world how horrible it was, but somehow Vince McMahon signed off on it (presumably it was his idea), because balls. He’s had a horrible sense of humor for quite some time, and that is evidenced by the ridiculous things that some performers had to do throughout the Attitude Era, but this is 2017, surely someone backstage could have talked the boss out of this. Paying tribute to the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis isn’t a bad idea in theory, and the PPV and layout was presented fairly well, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was just a horrid name, and we hope that the name doesn’t stick around and become an annual thing.
1 Best – WrestleMania
WrestleMania is the biggest annual show in the history of the business, and while the name isn’t exactly anything wacky or creative, it’s simple enough, yet really does give the event a blockbuster feel. After 33 events, it just wouldn’t feel right if the biggest show in wrestling was named anything else. A lot of the event names on this list are based around some sort of theme, but the name has become synonymous with the grand stage that WrestleMania represents. A lot of people will consider other big PPVs like Survivor Series, Starrcade or even Royal Rumble as better named events, but at the end of the day, WrestleMania has become iconic worldwide to wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans, and for that reason and others, it has to be the best named wrestling event ever.