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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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