WrestleMania season is finally upon us! Long-time wrestling fans will know that this is the time to be paying close attention to the weekly show, as it’s traditionally when WWE brings out their best feuds and storylines. Even this year, with all the injuries, they’ve still managed to pull out Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker and Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose, two matches which are sure to light the AT&T Stadium on fire. Tradition has even shown that the company is willing to back down on its own stubborn ideas to give the fans a pleasing ending, such as Bryan winning big at WrestleMania XXX or Rollins cashing Money in the Bank in last year.
But for all the classic WrestleMania moments, for all the moments we remember fondly as reasons to keep watching WWE, there’s still the occasional…hiccup. WrestleMania is like a magnifying glass over the company – all the hits seem so much more sensational, but when it gets it wrong, it’s hideous. A mistake at any other PPV is just a mistake you’ll forget about it. But a mistake at WrestleMania will go down in history.
With this year’s installment of the Showcase of the Immortals coming fast, WWE must be crossing all their fingers that this year will be bereft of anything that’ll be making similar lists to this one for years to come, but now, these are the 15 worst feuds to grace the companies crown jewel WrestleMania over the years.
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15 The Boogeyman vs. Booker T and Sharmell - WrestleMania 22
The actual match was cut short because The Boogeyman was actually working injured, after tearing his bicep at a house show. That doesn’t excuse this actually being on one of the better WrestleMania cards for that period.
The build-up to this match was that The Boogeyman was scary and Booker didn’t like it. Booker T, the five-time, five-time, World Champion, the guy who should have beaten Triple H a few years before to hold the gold again, was spooked by a guy in paint who ate worms. The Boogeyman was fun during his relatively short run in WWE, but I felt that the build-up to his match with Booker and his wife Sharmell was shallow at best, and being placed between two great storylines on the card in Edge vs. Mick Foley and Mickie James vs. Trish Stratus really didn’t help this one.
14 Mark Henry vs. Ryback - WrestleMania XXIX
This match was literally a “spin-off” of a more interesting match. Ryback was due to face the Shield in a six-man tag match at ‘Mania, and was wrestling Henry on Smackdown when The Shield interfered. They powerbombed Ryback, after which Henry attacked The Big Guy.
After that, Ryback was taken out of the six-man tag and put in a match with Henry. Yes, this match was quite literally a rematch from Smackdown. It was just so strange, especially when Ryback’s replacement in the tag match wasn’t an exciting choice in The Big Show.
These two working an unexciting match, with a rushed storyline, at WrestleMania wasn’t a good booking choice, especially seeing as it was just a continuation of their Smackdown match.
13 Doink the Clown vs. Crush - WrestleMania IX
Doink the Clown was such a strange character. He vaguely worked at points as a creepy clown, but it was still surreal to see him in a ring as a wrestler. The feud started because of one of Doink’s villainous “pranks”, where he used a fake arm to attack Crush.
It was a light-setup for a match that Crush mostly dominated until a man who looked identical to Doink appeared from under the ring to give his fellow Clown a hand. As part of a WrestleMania line-up, it just didn’t fit.
The strange thing is that this wasn’t even Doink’s worst match or feud at WrestleMania, but it still deserves a place on this list, because every time Doink showed I felt like wrestling as an entertainment product was being devalued.
12 Chris Jericho vs. Fandango - WrestleMania XXIX
Chris Jericho deserves more than this. For WrestleMania XXIX he was given the task of putting over the newbie Fandango in his first match. Chris did his best with this, making fun of his name in the build-up and trying his best to make the guy look good in the match. And honestly, the match and feud were far better than they had any right to be, mostly because of Jericho’s astounding work.
But…it’s what happened afterwards that make this seem a lot worse in retrospect. They gave Fandango a win against one of their biggest stars and best heels, and then…put him on Main Event and Superstars. He was handed all the momentum in the world only for it to be squandered.
11 Big Show vs. Akebono - WrestleMania 21
Big Show’s had some pretty bad WrestleMania matches, which is sad because the guy has proven to be a hard worker, but it’s expected when you’ve been around as long as Show has that you’ll have a few stinkers. Still, to have one of the worst of all time? Eesh.
Having a short gimmick match (and at one minute, I mean short) at WrestleMania is mostly fine, it’s expected by fans that there’ll be some gimmicky things. But there was so much time devoted to this feud in the build-up. They had promos, weigh-ins, Akebono even had a match on Smackdown while Big Show looked on. It felt like the company was trying to justify it as a WrestleMania quality event rather than just admitting it was a gimmick match.
Floyd Mayweather earned his WrestleMania match against Big Show with an excellent segment at No Way Out that continued with other great segments. They even had a weigh-in that was more entertaining! It was a gimmicky build-up to a gimmicky match, but it was a hell of a lot better than when they tried the same with Akebono.
10 Miz vs. Mizdow - WrestleMania 31
Damien Sandow is perhaps the most criminally underused worker in the company, and look for no greater proof than the poor handling of the potentially explosive feud at the last WrestleMania. He had been tag teaming with The Miz as his “stunt double” for over half the year, making him incredibly popular with the crowd. Everyone was eagerly anticipating the day that Mizdow turned on The Miz, seeing as the feud that would catapult Damien Sandow to the top.
And it finally happened at WrestleMania. In the pre-show. During a 30-man battle royal. Then after a few matches on Raw, Sandow was barely heard from again.
We had over half a year of build-up for this feud, only for it to be squandered away. Sandow could have reclaimed the momentum he lost after he failed his Money in the Bank cash-in, but instead he just plummeted down the undercard.
9 Vince McMahon vs. Donald Trump - WrestleMania 23
Okay, y’know, they did all they could to make this match entertaining. Making it fought by proxy between Umaga and Lashley with the special guest referee being Steve Austin made the match a lot more entertaining than it had any right to be. But…why did it even happen?
Whenever a segment from this feud was on, all I could think was Donal Trump relaxing on a private beach on some remote island, drinking from a cool glass of mineral water, before phoning Vince and saying “Hey, I need some more publicity, isn’t your wrestle thing coming up?”. Vince was probably on the other end of the phone, seeing the dollar signs in his eyes.
So we end up with Donald Trump as a babyface, which seems incredibly strange now, seeking to see Vince McMahon’s head shaved. But for all the promos and gimmicks, this was just two incredibly rich men flaunting their egos around at each other while two talented wrestlers found their talents wasted at WrestleMania. Thank Stone Cold for making this feud at least a little bit more than a battle between billionaires.
8 Kane vs. The Great Khali - WrestleMania 23
The inter-promotional matches rarely amounted to much feud-wise, and were mostly used as ammunition for the general managers. But at least occasionally we got good matches out of it between wrestlers who would otherwise not interact. That’s not quite the case here.
The Great Khali can barely move in the ring. He’s a slow giant who makes any match boring. I can’t think of a single wrestler who can work the guy to a good match, and that becomes incredibly obvious when he’s put in the ring with Kane.
Kane tries. By God he tries. He puts all his effort into a story of the “demon finally meeting his match”. He sells like a cruiserweight and manages to create an underdog story with him, the Devil’s Favorite Demon, as the underdog. But…when you’re against The Great Khali, it doesn’t matter what you do. It still looked like he was punching a statue. This would have been an interesting match on weekly TV or maybe a lesser pay-per-view at a stretch, but at the grandest stage of them all? Eh.
7 Doink and Dink vs. Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna WrestleMania X
Believe it or not, this feud was ongoing for over half a year. Doink the Clown had pulled a few pranks on Bam Bam which led to Bigelow seeking revenge. Originally scheduled for Survivor Series, the company deemed this feud too big for the event and stretched it to WrestleMania.
This match took place immediately after an epic 20 minute match between Owen and Bret Hart, and mostly featured Bam Bam Bigelow running around trying to beat up the miniature clown Dink. Eventually, he picked up a win with a diving headbutt onto Doink after around six minutes.
If this match was at Survivor Series, I’d be a bit easier on it. But The Showcase of Immortals wasn’t the place for this strange feud.
6 The Rock vs. John Cena - WrestleMania XXVII. And XXVIII. And XXIX
The spectacle was fine. The matches were fine. My problem with this feud was that it totally ruined a lot of the spectacle of WrestleMania.
It’s supposed to be the ending to the major storylines. The grand culmination of a year of wrestling. The Grandest Stage of them All should be your definitive ending point to a feud.
But here we have a feud that played out over three years, with each WrestleMania being the beginning, middle and end. The feud ruined the end of WrestleMania XXVII by making The Miz’s grand moment be about The Rock having a problem with Cena. WrestleMania XXVIII was fine, but ruined by the realization that it was merely the second act, part two in a three part series. Finally, their match at WrestleMania XXIX was ruined by the bland expectation of it all. We knew the results for the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber simply because they had set up this WrestleMania a year in advance. Likewise, everyone sort of gathered that Cena would get the win seeing as Rock got one the first time. The whole feud started off by ruining one ‘mania and ended by ruining another.
Like I said, the matches were fine. The spectacle of seeing those two wrestle was great. But…it definitely could have been booked a lot better.
5 The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzales - WrestleMania IX
Sometimes you have to wonder if the writers of the popular anime Attack on Titan were fans of Giant Gonzales. The near 8-foot giant wore a skin-tight suit with muscles painted on, and looked really strange. What was stranger was his ongoing feud with The Undertaker. By this point, ‘Taker should have been wrestling better opponents. Giant Gonzales was truly The Great Khali of his generation, slow and plodding while The Undertaker tried his best to make the match good. The strange usage of chloroform to end the match was a bad decision, and only prolonged the feud needlessly.
This was a terrible WrestleMania, and The Undertaker is talented enough to save a whole show. If he was working anyone else that night, we might look back at the show more favorably. But for now, it’s just another stinker in the worst WrestleMania of all time.
4 Yokozuna vs. Hulk Hogan - WrestleMania IX
Allow me to reiterate: WrestleMania IX is the worst WrestleMania of all time. The main event had a lot to do with that. Bret Hart was the rising star, the answer to the waning years of Hulkamania. But with Hogan recently returning, the company wanted to put the belt on him. Because even though Bret was proving to be a capable top babyface champion, Hogan was still seen as their main guy, despite the steroid allegations.
So, how do you change the titles between babyfaces at WrestleMania? Easy, you go via a proxy. Yokozuna beat Bret after his manager threw salt in his eyes, picking up the WWE Championship. Hulk Hogan immediately came out to “help” Bret, but ended up challenging Yokozuna for a match. Hulk won in 20 seconds and closed the show doing his regular Hulkamania shtick.
Hulk was asked to then drop the belt back to Bret and SummerSlam, but refused, saying he “wasn’t in his league”. When you think of Bret being screwed, your mind tends to go to the Montreal Screwjob – but The Hitman had been screwed before by this company in the finale to the worst Wrestlemania ever.
3 Triple H vs. Booker T - WrestleMania XIX
How can a match between two great competitors with a hot feud behind them turn up on this list? One word really: Racism.
Booker T is a black man. To say that doesn’t matter when it comes to him is naive. He is a man who grew up in an urban black area of Texas that was infamous for violence and crime. Booker fell into this, and ended up serving prison time for robbery. But he battled out of this, and found a salvation in wrestling, eventually becoming the top guy in WCW.
So when Triple H calls him a “violent thug”, it’s a good way to build heel heat while referencing his past. When Triple H said “People like you don’t get to be world champion”, it’s skirting incredibly close to the line of bad taste but it still works as heel heat. Booker T is a man who is being defined by his past, while trying to improve himself. The story works.
Until Triple H won. Now the story is…that Triple H is right. Booker T didn’t get the redemption in the story, he didn’t get the title and he didn’t prove Hunter wrong. His loss made it more than just a bad feud, it made it a genuinely uncomfortable moment in WWE history.
2 Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg - WrestleMania XX
Y’know, this feud probably did deserve WrestleMania. But one at a different time and place. This was a match between the two big destructive forces in the entire business, and should have been an explosive match. But it was both of their last matches in the company, and neither men cared.
The two man stared at each other while special guest referee Stone Cold tried to urge them to start. After a few minutes, the crowd got restless and started chanting “Goodbye” at the two wrestlers. It felt like an eternity before the two men finally locked up, and when they finally released they resumed staring at each other from across the ring.
It was the least entertaining match on the card when it should have been among the best. This should have been memorable for all the right reasons, but instead it’s memorable for all the wrong.
1 Michael Cole vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler - WrestleMania XXVII
Chances are if you've been watching WWE for a while, you saw this one coming. I like to throw in surprises in these lists, but there's no way this wasn't leading at number one.
When there’s a bad feud on WWE TV, at least it only takes up part of the show. If you’re not enjoying Roman Reigns vs. Triple H right now, then at least there’s Ambrose and Lesnar to look forward to later in the show. It's one of the benefits of having a diverse and expansive card.
But when the announcers are feuding, there’s no escape from it. Michael Cole using Jerry Lawler’s dead mother for heel heat was bad, but them bickering throughout Raw every week was so much worse. The fact it culminated in a 14-minute match at WrestleMania is insulting. This was the feud no-one asked for, but received in spades. Having a Face/Heel dynamic on the announce table is fine, but having it to go to these extreme lengths and taking time away from actual active wrestlers was despicable.
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