If you watch professional wrestling long enough, you start to spot certain tendencies. While this mostly extends to being able to spot certain moves before they happen, it also means you’re able to smell a heel turn coming from a mile away or know when a bad comedy segment is about to air so that you can change the channel. It’s a lot like watching any popular television show in that you simply get to know the characters and writers in a way that allows you start anticipating things that perhaps weren’t necessarily meant to be anticipated.
One of the more useful ways this skill presents itself is in the ability that many pro wrestling fans have to spot a bad match coming from a mile away. Although you want to believe that any match could end up being great, the truth is that there are certain elements of a match that fans can often recognize as warning signs that something truly awful is about to happen. Most of the time this is a simple matter of two not-so-great wrestlers being paired up with each other, but sometimes it extends to being able to recognize when a match has been put on the card as simple filler.
On special occasions, a match can come along that greatly exceeds the expectations of everyone watching it that sometimes you can’t even process what it was that you just saw. They may be the exception to the rule that bad matches are easily spotted, but the feeling of witnessing one is often an incomparable wrestling experience that is capable of producing more joy than any other. These matches may have looked like they were going to suck, but they instead turned out to be something truly great.
15 Triple H vs. Sting – WrestleMania 31
14 Roman Reigns vs. The Big Show – Extreme Rules 2015
13 El Torito vs. Hornswoggle – Extreme Rules 2014
12 The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family – Battleground 2014
While few thought that a match between these teams would be a complete disaster, there still wasn’t much hope for anything particularly memorable given the history of mediocre battles they had. But what we got here wasn’t a battle, it was an absolute war. Under the 2 out of 3 Falls stipulation, these teams worked a classic tag match that somehow just kept getting more intense as it went along.
11 Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon – WrestleMania XIX
10 Diamond Dallas Page vs. Goldberg – Halloween Havoc 1998
9 Bill Alfonso vs. Beulah McGillicutty – ECW As Good As It Gets 1997
Maybe this sounds cynical, but matches between full-time referees and former models usually have about a 110% chance of being the worst thing to ever take place in a wrestling ring. So imagine everybody’s surprise when referee Bill Alfonso took on valet Beulah McGillicutty and put on one of the most hardcore matches in the history of the incredible hardcore ECW promotion. These two made up for their lack of ring experience by simply laying into each other with everything they had.
8 Rick Rude vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WrestleMania V
7 John Cena vs. Umaga – Royal Rumble 2007
6 The Rock vs. Triple H – Judgement Day 2000
5 Sheamus vs. Big Show – Hell in a Cell 2012
4 Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon – WrestleMania X-Seven
3 Stephanie McMahon vs. Trish Stratus – No Way Out 2001
2 The Undertaker vs. Batista – WrestleMania 23
1 Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar – WrestleMania 31
On paper, this match looked to be the worst WrestleMania main events in some time. Not only was the match itself one that nobody really asked for, but the build-up to it had been nothing short of dreadful. Lost in this pre-match apathy, though, was the fact that Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns were both actually having great matches around this time. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been that surprised, then, to see them go out and put on a powerhouse showcase here. Of course, we definitely should have been surprised by the appearance of Seth Rollins whose cash-in conclusion sealed this match’s reputation as a WrestleMania great.
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