Professional wrestlers, it’s okay to have a bad night. Really, it is. You may be crucified briefly by maniacal fans who demand the best from you every time you go out and perform but you’ll be right back in their good graces by having a home run of a match your next time out. True legends are formed not just from singular moments but also from a consistent streak of great performances and a dedication to their craft in order to better themselves.
However, that isn’t to say that legendary wrestlers get to have their failures completely ignored or erased from history. When you screw up, you screw up. You can do your best to try and hide it, but eventually a writer on the internet will take time out of their day to look up some horrible stinkers from your otherwise spectacular careers.
Yup, it’s time to cover the top 15 worst cases of a wrestling legend stinking up the joint with a bad performance. A couple of ground rules though in this list though. First off, the match had to have been seen by a fairly large audience to warrant a spot. That means none of those god-awful Grand Masters of Wrestling DVDs featuring wrestlers like Jimmy Snuka or Iron Sheik competing way past their primes in front of an audience of several tens of people. Also, only one entry per wrestler or else we would have a certain Hulkster taking up valuable real estate of my article and we can’t have that. Another way a match can qualify for the list is if it highlights the worst aspects of a legend’s style.
As a final note, few of these matches are completely and utterly terrible. It’s just that you expect much more given the talent involved.
15. Shawn Michaels – SummerSlam 2005 vs. Hulk Hogan
Yes, it is true. Somehow Shawn Michaels found himself on a countdown of worst performances. Now truthfully I could have swapped this entry with his SummerSlam 1996 match versus Vader, but that was more a case of terrible booking than HBK turning in a bad performance.
Now of course I’m not an idiot, I know this match is hilarious. The way that Michaels bounces around the ring selling Hogan as an absolute destroyer is hilarious to look back on but utterly disappointing compared to what we could have had. Granted Hogan was limited at his age, but HBK’s refusal to play ball with Hogan’s political play to book himself as the winner ended up being memorable for the wrong reasons.
If anything this proves that even if Shawn Michaels stinks out the joint, at least it smells good.
14. Chyna – Survivor Series 1999 vs. Chris Jericho
From one DX member to another. Chyna may be ignored by WWE for being a general public train wreck, but she definitely left her mark on the company. Being a muscular, silent bodyguard who stood outside the ring for Triple H and Shawn Michaels was a perfect role for her. Then she started to wrestle full matches.
In her Intercontinental title defense vs Chris Jericho, all of Chyna’s in ring problems were on display. Her strikes looked like a lethargic kitten pawing at a ball of string, she moved like she had a board keeping her upright and worst of all she completely botched her Pedrigee off the top rope, the finish of the match. Let’s hope this one stays off the highlight reel in the fictional world where Chyna gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
13. Bret Hart – WrestleMania XI vs. Bob Backlund
At one point in time, Bret Hart held the record for having the most matches at WrestleMania. I’m sure Hart would want this one back though.
WrestleMania XI was such a terrible show that not even the Hitman was free of its talent-sucking vortex. Brushing off a feud which ended months ago, WWE pitted Bret Hart against Bob Backlund in a submission match. Problem was, Hart didn’t have time to work a limb much and was forced to rush through the match, making it a pitifully short submission match at about 10 minutes. Boring rest holds, Roddy Piper’s annoying officiating and Backlund’s bad selling make this dud one of the worst of Hart’s career.
And don’t forget, WHAT DO YA SAY!!!??!?!
12. Stone Cold – Backlash 2002 vs. The Undertaker
One could easily tell that by 2002 Stone Cold Steve Austin was running on fumes creatively speaking. Being put against second stringers of the nWo and placed in a feud with a heel Ric Flair general manager for most of the year, his Backlash 2002 match with Undertaker was the biggest sign that Austin needed something fresh. Oh and Ric Flair was a guest referee here.
In one word, this match would have to be called slow…. Sorry, almost fell asleep there. The match is a drawn out slug fest lacking any real intensity or drama. Austin is clearly bored of the creative direction of the company and it shows here. Most offensive of all is the length of this match; 27 minutes, about 12 minutes too long. Let’s all take a few Steveweisers and forget this thing exists.
11. John Cena – Over The Limit 2011 vs. The Miz
The biggest problem with John Cena that fans gripe about is his ability to make Hulk Hogan’s comebacks seem believable. Cena can be beaten to near death throughout a match and somehow defeat his opponent in five moves. Well Cena must have been feeling adventurous that night because he did it in one.
That’s right, after being beaten with kendo sticks, leather belts and chair shots, John Cena shrugged it all off and submitted Miz after one shot with the world title, a belt lashing and a STF. Positive side? The STF actually looked tight for once. Negative side? THE ENDING WAS TOTAL CRAP. This is by far the worst I Quit match ever and encompasses everything bad about John Cena.
10. Kevin Nash – SummerSlam 1995 VS. Mabel
Look, 1995 was a bad year for wrestling. Alright, that’s out of the way. Now here’s two reasons why that year sucked so damn bad: King Mabel and WWE Champion Diesel.
My eyes hurt when I watch this match, and that’s only partially because of Mabel’s pyjamas. The pace is punishingly slow (what do you expect?), the brawling is sloppy and Nash wins the damn match with a forearm smash from the MIDDLE ROPE. Do I have to keep talking about this? Let’s move on.
9. Randy Orton – WrestleMania 25 vs. Triple H
It’s been said before and it bears repeating here: the build-up to Triple H vs Randy Orton at WrestleMania was simply incredible. In the weeks leading up to this, Orton punted Vince and Shane McMahon, kissed Stephanie McMahon while Triple H was handcuffed to the ropes and to top it off Triple H ambushed Randy Orton in his home like a horror villain. Annnnnd then the match sucked.
Like the ‘Taker versus Steve Austin match, this one never gets out of first gear. Orton is supposed to be a vicious heel but keeps applying rest holds. It is true that both competitors were handcuffed due to this being a standard match (with the stipulation that Triple H would lose the title with a DQ) when it should have been No Holds Barred, but opening the match with an RKO moving at the pace of a snail definitely stunk the joint out at WM 25. Not that they could have beaten Undertaker vs. HBK for match of the night, but still.
8. The Rock – WrestleMania 29 vs. John Cena
The first match from these two surefire Hall of Famers wasn’t perfect but it still was greatly entertaining, a good build-up (Survivor Series team-up aside) and a creative finish. The rematch one year later had none of those things.
A few minutes into this match The Great One tore his adductor, abdominal muscle and suffered a hernia so unlike a lot of other matches, Rock had a genuine excuse for the bad match. Even so, rest holds galore, a turtle’s pace and the Rock’s general lack of cardio in his return matches all served to make this one of the worst showings by The Rock. This match also featured the worst example of too many damn finishers in today’s wrestling as they both traded finishers for what seemed like forever before a final AA gave Cena the win.
7. The Undertaker – WrestleMania XV vs. Big Boss Man
While The Phenom’s undefeated WrestleMania streak is revered as it should be, several matches early on in the streak were utterly dull. Worst of all is his Hell in a Cell match with Big Boss Man.
To put this in perspective, this match took place in the Attitude Era and was the first HIAC match since Mankind’s tumble off the top of the cell. While we shouldn’t expect anything like that, I expect a little more than this slow, plodding and not at all hardcore brawl. This is only the fourth Hell in a Cell match in history yet it is still the worst.
6. Trish Stratus – RAW vs. Jackie Gayda & Chris Nowinski
When normally talking about this match, all of the blame goes on Jackie Gayda and while she should take most of the blame, Stratus wasn’t exactly perfect either.
While Nowinski and Stratus’ tag partner Bradshaw were fine, Gayda and Stratus put on what could be called a train wreck. Trish missed her finish and screwed up on… something involving the second rope and offense from all parties made the Miz’s attacks look terrifying. Thank the lord this match was only about four minutes.
“Mercifully it’s over,” – Jim Ross. So very true.
5. Brock Lesnar – WrestleMania XX vs. Goldberg
Look guys we understand that you don’t give a crap and want to leave the company. But do you have to crap on this otherwise amazing WrestleMania card?
This was both Goldberg’s and Lesnar’s last matches from their early 2000s runs and the audience knew it, letting both wrestlers know how they felt about it. In return, Lesnar and Goldberg gave the fans the worst “Super-Heavyweight” style match ever seen. It went 14 minutes while feeling like 30, and it seems the only moves used by both are their signatures and finishers. How does a match with Stone Cold as guest referee end up being so damn bad?!
4. Jeff Hardy – TNA Victory Road 2011 vs. Sting
Hey look! I can actually show the full match here. In 2011 Jeff Hardy had reached his rock bottom from a lifetime of drug abuse and unfortunately, everybody saw it in the form of a TNA World Title debacle.
High off his ass, Hardy stumbles to the ring only to have Eric Bischoff come and buy him some time while also telling Sting that he has to end this match as quickly as possible. After some brief lock-ups Sting nails the Scorpion Death Drop and covers Hardy for the win as Jeff tries hard to break the count. This was the finish to a PPV that fans paid money to watch. When Sting visibly agrees with the chants of “This is bulls***!”, you know you stunk the joint out.
3. Hulk Hogan – WrestleMania VIII VS. Sid Justice
The year is 1992 and Hulkamania has slowed to a slow jog. I got an idea! Let’s book him against the Sid Justice/Vicious/Sycho and present yet another Hulk Hogan comeback main event over Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair for the WWE Championship!
Really. Hogan’s previous opponents at WrestleMania were all legends and now we’re supposed to buy Sid as being a threat to Hogan? All of Hogan’s standard motions are in this match and it is topped off by a lame DQ finish. In the main event of WrestleMania. It’s Hogan’s worst WWE match.
2. Ultimate Warrior – Halloween Havoc 1998 vs. Hulk Hogan
Oh my the amount of options for this man were numerous. But really, is there anything worse than a rematch that was eight years too late?
Any shred of stamina or drama these two men ever had was completely evaporated by this point in WCW and what we’re left with is two roided out slugs who botched move after move, spot after spot and commenced at the slowest pace imaginable. Cap it off with a weak as a baby bottom’s finish and Warrior not knowing how to sell and you have the ultimate turd in the career of the Warrior.
1. Triple H – Royal Rumble 2003 vs. Scott Steiner
And here it is. Vince McMahon’s wet dream: two herculean physiques with heads propped up on the top of gigantic traps slugging at each other for what seems like forever.
Rather than keeping this short and sweet, HHH and Steiner go at it for 18 minutes, about 10 minutes longer than either of these beefcakes could realistically go at any sustained pace. By this point Steiner was damaged goods physically due to weighing way too damn much and a nerve injury in his foot and Triple H’s post quad tear style led to a horrible match with dragged on and on with punches and sloppy suplexes. Both men’s bad cardio only made the match worse. And to cap it off, a DQ finish!
The worst match from the most obnoxious era of HHH’s career, no other legend can stink the joint out more Triple H at Royal Rumble 2003.
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