Before the digital age took over, the WWE relied heavy on print marketing to help promote upcoming events. One of the best ways to do this was with an official pay per view posters. Displayed at arenas, home video stores, and malls, a lot of these posters have ended up becoming an iconic piece of pro-wrestling history. Posters for WrestleMania VI and early Royal Rumble posters typically come to mind. Some of these others probably ended up sending the graphic designer on a job hunt.
Not every poster can be a winner, but some of these design choices are just odd. The designs may have tried too hard to fit in with a theme of the pay per view or used a Superstar in a way that just made no sense at all. Scroll through these posters to relive the pay per view memories and wonder how some of the designs ever got approved in the first place. No one on the WWE roster is spared through these peculiar designs. This includes legends and Superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Yokozuna, The Big Show, Triple H, and Randy Orton.
15 Royal Rumble 1998
Stone Cold Steve Austin has always been known to be as tough as nails, but someone in the graphics department took it a little too literally for the 1998 Royal Rumble poster. The design features nails emerging from the back Austin's skull with the Royal Rumble logo tacked right onto his cranium. As if that wasn't enough, the PPV details are apparently tattooed to his neck.
The design is certainly eye-catching, but not in a good way. It was used for months and kind of gave away that Austin was winning the match and heading to WrestleMania.
Surprisingly, Austin came out at the Rumble event, with no nails stuck in his head. Just a pissed-off attitude and the skills it took to take the victory for the second consecutive year in a row.
14 WWF Invasion
The Invasion storyline failed from the beginning and this terribly photoshopped PPV poster showcases one of the main reasons why. Instead of making the invasion about WCW and ECW taking over the WWE, Vince McMahon made it a personal battle between him and his son Shane. The fused together image of their faces looks eerie and the father-son duo look too similar to make the poster really stand out in any way.
The WCW and ECW invasion part of the story is only featured on small logos near the bottom of the poster on the DVD. This is the same type of treatment that the factions would get during their time in the WWE. The poster would have been better off with a collage of the factions in some type of battle scene.
13 Royal Rumble 2005
When wrestling fans think of the Royal Rumble, it's not often that visuals of a romantic Broadway musical comes to mind. Well, that's exactly what happened in the WWE creative department when designing the 2005 Royal Rumble poster. Taking a page from West Side Story, the Superstars are split into two “gangs” and have goofy Donald Trump-style wigs placed on their heads.
In an odd move, Val Venis is among other top-level Superstars on the cover and Rey Mysterio wears a wig over his mask. The only Superstar not in a wig is JBL because, well, his hair looks goofy enough as it is. The whole poster comes off as silly, strange, and takes away from the serious implications that the Royal Rumble main event has.
12 Unforgiven 2008
Batista has been featured on some awesome WWE PPV posters. He has appeared on multiple posters for the Armageddon event and they created great keepsakes for WWE fans.
The 2008 Unforgiven poster would be a whole different story. In a strange design that is reminiscent of the climax to The Shawshank Redemption, Batista stands in the pouring rain, shirt wide open, and arms spread out wide as he glances up to a photography studio light.
The poster looks more like an ad for Batista's one man stage production rather than a wrestling event. It's overly dramatic, the theme makes no sense, and with a little editing, it could be the next cover for a paperback romance novel.
He should take his Drax the Destroyer blades and shred any of these remaining posters to pieces.
11 Money in the Bank 2011
The Money in the Bank PPV is a great gimmick PPV that is filled with entertaining matches and a lot of surprise moments. Advertisements for this event should rely on this theme and the epic action featured on the ladders.
Instead, the WWE's marketing team decided to create a poster featuring Big Show and Hornswoggle in pajamas, as they read a wrestling bedtime story together. Huh? Really take a few minutes to analyze how this poster came to fruition. Maybe it was a leftover still from an abandoned WWE Studios movie?
Either way, someone realized that this poster was strange and utter garbage. For the DVD release, an image of CM Punk was used instead of this ridiculous poster. It's probably not the most embarrassing thing that either Superstar has been a part of, but it's pretty high up there.
10 No Mercy 2007
Everyone knows that Randy Orton can pull an RKO outta nowhere, but who knew that he could do the same thing with doves?! Randy Orton was turned into some type of magician for the 2007 No Mercy PPV poster where he was seen cradling a white dove in both hands. With a menacing look on his face, it's hard to tell whether Orton was releasing the dove from years of torture inside a cage or if he was just planning his next meal. Either way, these questions would be left unanswered as Orton arrived at the event with no doves in sight.
Even though we didn't see any flying birds, Orton did make some maneuvers to magically win the WWE Title and leave as the newest champion.
9 ECW December to Dismember
December pay-per-view events are a great time to mix WWE imagery with some of the trademarks of the holiday. The ECW December to Dismember event did just that, but it left many more questions than answers. Not only was the event one of the worst in WWE history, but the poster was confusing and strange. It featured The Sandman sticking his arm out of a chimney and holding his trademark cane in the air. Does this mean that he's attacked Santa with the cane? Is he breaking into a home?! And how did he get down the chimney if he's holding the cane at a horizontal angle?!
Something more fitting would have been Santa Claus holding a barbed wire bat or ECW stars opening up some hardcore Christmas presents.
8 Survivor Series 1997
After years of standard elimination matches, the WWE decided to mix up their trademark Survivor Series event with a new concept called “Gang Rulz.” This poster represents 1990s cheesiness at its finest. Not only did they add a “Z” to rules, but the font comes off as lame. It's like your uncle trying to act cool during Thanksgiving dinner. This format wouldn't be seen again at the Survivor Series and ultimately resulted in overbooked matches that were confusing to watch and follow.
Aside from the “Gang Rulz” tag line, the rest of the poster features dark silhouettes of WWE Superstars. This is a terrible way to promote a PPV. No one will know who the featured stars are and it would be hard to bring in any new viewers.
7 No Mercy 2016
The new SmackDown brand is trying to beat WWE Raw in ratings and fan interest. For their second PPV event, they decided to promote “No Mercy” with a faux cologne ad featuring The Miz and his wife Maryse. The poster is overly contrasted and the WWE logo has been placed on a small bottle of cologne. This type of design doesn't exactly represent “No Mercy.” It looks like it belongs on in-store advertisements at Macy's and Kohls.
The Miz could have been used on the poster, but they should have shown his championship, opponents, or something that gives off a more aggressive vibe. The strange design does nothing to pique interest in the event and makes you wish that it was his career on the line against Dolph Ziggler.
6 Hell in a Cell 2013
The Hell in a Cell event has featured numerous memorable posters. There was The Undertaker with his white eyes and CM Punk as the devil to name a few. Then in 2013, R-Truth was featured on the poster. The design looks more like a resume head shot than a pro-wrestling event. R-Truth doesn't even wear a suit for his matches, in-ring segments, or interviews, so it was odd to see it here. The cell fence shadows fall upon R-Truth, making him look like an insurance adjuster rather than a performer in the ring.
To add to the strangeness, R-Truth wasn't even featured on the event. The poster would be the closest thing to him being in a match. Dean Ambrose was featured on the poster the next year in a smart move that helped make up for this strange dud.
5 Battleground 2014
The Battleground PPV is one of WWE's newest events, but they chose a strange way to promote it in 2014. The poster features Bray Wyatt in his upside-down pose with just a dark background. The Wyatts were used effectively on posters before, but this one made no sense. It looks more like a straight-to-video WWE Studios horror movie rather than an event poster. To be fair, a Wyatt Family horror film would probably be better than their attempt at remaking Leprechaun.
Wyatt would wrestle at the event, taking on Chris Jericho in a singles match. The eerie poster did him no favors as Jericho dominated the match and hit Wyatt with his "Codebreaker" finisher. Jericho pinned Wyatt cleanly and added another regret to Wyatt's whole Battleground event experience.
4 Unforgiven 2001
Ahh! What's on Stone Cold's head?! Wait? Another Stone Cold head? Three Stone Cold heads?! Just when you thought that nails coming out of a head was strange enough, we get this promotional poster that makes it look like Stone Cold Steve Austin has a pair of conjoined twins. The eyes in the center of the poster are also over-edited to make Austin appear a little crazy.
Sure, in-ring psychology is great for the WWE, but this takes the psychological themes to a whole other level. College psych classes could analyze this photo more than it should have been used for a WWE event. This is the second strange poster for the former WWE event.
The graphics department is now permanently "unforgiven" for these weird designs and creations.
3 Survivor Series 1993
The Survivor Series event used to be held annually on Thanksgiving, so it would only make sense that the promotional poster would feature a cooked turkey. But if you take a closer glance, you will realize that it is not an ordinary turkey, it is Yokozuna! Wearing his trademark tights and featuring an Japanese flag, it would appear as if Lex Luger plucked and cooked Yokozuna and then dressed him back in his sumo outfit.
Not only is the idea of baking a WWE Superstar disturbing, but Rick Steiner looks a little too eager to have the first bite of his fully-baked opponent. Tatanka ended missing the event and was replaced by The Undertaker. VHS releases of the PPV featured drawings of The Undertaker instead of him.
2 SummerSlam 2007
Years after Jackass was past its prime, the WWE decided to bring the crew in for a storyline at the 2007 SummerSlam event. The promotional poster featured the Jackass crew buried in sand as Umaga stood over them. This poster would have been fine if the angle actually took place at the event. After the death of Chris Beniot, the Jackass crew pulled out of their appearance, but the poster continued to circulate. Not only did the poster promote a cheesy angle that would not happen, but it featured none of the main feuds that would lead into WWE's second biggest event of the year.
The poster was eventually replaced with a large portrait of Triple H's head and a beach background. It was a safe bet, but underwhelming compared to Summerslam posters of the past and present.
1 Badd Blood: In Your House
Ignore the extra “D” in bad, or the pointless “In Your House” logo that was still barley being used back in 1997. Focus instead on the gruesome object in The Undertaker's hand. Yes, it's his own head. Wait? What? Yeah, it's confusing. The Undertaker is holding his own decapitated head for this sloppily edited poster. The fake Undertaker head looks like a pinata more than a skull and only adds to the strangest of the poster.
This event would not feature The Undertaker vs Undertaker rematch that no one was looking for, but actually had an instant classic as The Undertaker took on Shawn Michaels in the first ever Hell in a Cell match. If only the poster could have matched the greatness of that PPV.