In pro wrestling, promoters will look for anything that will make them stand out from the rest of the pack in the hopes of attracting more viewers to their shows. TNA had the six-sided ring for years, promotions in Japan and Mexico have insane death matches featuring an odd assortment of weapons, even the short lived Wrestling Society X had matches that featured piranha tanks and electric cages. Yet with each good idea, there are always at least five horrible ones and this list is designed to acknowledge those ideas. These are matches that are so bad that you cannot help but laugh when you watch them. For fans of bad movies, these matches are The Room and Birdemic of pro wrestling.
You watch these matches and ask yourself “what were these guys thinking?” These matches come off as the ideas that stem from an all-night bender and a dart board with attached pieces of paper with ideas written on them. While these matches are ranked, realize that there is no true way to rank the awfulness of these matches. This list is a look back at some of the bad and so-bad-it’s-good moments of pro wrestling as a way for fans to have that moment of nostalgia for a time when wrestling promoters did almost anything and everything to put butts in the seats. Many of these matches are why people look at pro wrestling as a cartoon for kids that is watched by adults who never matured past age 12.
So please read, enjoy, and feel free to share your feelings in the comments section. Let us know of any horrible gimmick matches that you remember seeing or any of these matches that you feel get a bad shake from fans.
15 World War 3 Battle Royal (WCW)
One of the four crown jewel events for the WWE is its Royal Rumble PPV, an event that signals the start of WrestleMania season and a match that has created numerous superstars over the years. WCW also had its own variation of the battle royal match, World War 3. Instead of 30 competitors, World War 3 featured 60 wrestlers spread evenly among three rings which were placed side by side.
As with traditional battle royals, the match starts with all competitors in their respective rings and wrestlers are eliminated by being tossed over the top rope, though later years a wrestler could be eliminated by pinfall or submission as well. The match sounds exciting in theory, but once it begins there is so much happening at the same time that it is difficult to get a read on anything specific happening. Even the announcers were at a loss for words when trying to pinpoint various things happening in the match.
14 Extreme Elimination Chamber (WWE)
December to Dismember was a mess of an event even before this match took place. With only two matches promoted for the event, this one included, the expectations were already pretty low for this match. Each person in the four-glass chambers had a weapon that could be used in the match (chair, table, barbed wire baseball bat, and crowbar), but that did not help make the match more exciting.
The baseball bat was only used a couple times despite being the most hardcore weapon in the match and the table and crowbar had issues being used within the cage. Worse is that while many expected CM Punk to walk away with the ECW Title, as Paul Heyman had lobbied for, the huge but vanilla Bobby Lashley ended up winning the strap. The event itself would also be the catalyst for Paul Heyman being fired by Vince McMahon.
13 Reverse Battle Royal (TNA)
Take everything that you know about battle royals. Now forget that. Now imagine how you could make an interesting match type hard to follow and boring. Once you have done that then you now know what a Reverse Battle Royal is. The combatants begin outside the ring and fight to get inside in order to become part of a traditional battle royal. Once the required number of wrestlers are in the ring they begin throwing their opponents over the top rope until only two are left. From there the two wrestlers have a traditional wrestling match until one of them are pinned, submit, or are counted out or disqualified.
12 King of the Mountain Match (TNA)
Another reverse style match, the King of the Mountain match was a backwards ladder match with a few other additions. The goal of the match was to take a title and place it upon a hook hanging above the ring, but if you were pinned or submitted you would be placed in a penalty box for two minutes. The match itself was a mess as the announcers had to constantly explain what the hell was going on and it did not help matters that many of the matches had dirty finishes such as referee Earl Hebner knocking a person off the ladder “accidentally” to allow for Jeff Jarrett to win the match, causing a flood of garbage to be tossed into the ring by the irate audience.
11 Kennel from Hell Match (WWE)
The storyline going into the match was bad enough, with Al Snow’s pet chihuahua being stolen by the Big Bossman and then that dog being cooked and fed to Snow. Both men would meet in a Kennel From Hell Match. The match was set up with a traditional cage placed around the ring and the cell was placed over the now caged ring, then in between the cage and cell are numerous Doberman dogs, who were apparently ready to attack any wrestler who got in their way.
Following one of the oddest wrestling angles of all time involving Al Snow’s pet Chihuahua being stolen by the Big Bossman and then that dog being cooked and fed to Snow, both men would meet in a Kennel From Hell Match The match was set up where a traditional cage was placed around the ring and the cell was placed over the now caged ring, then in between the cage and cell are numerous Doberman dogs, who were apparently ready to attack any wrestler who got in their way.
The overall goal of the match was to climb out of the cage and then exit the cell before your opponent did. Seems simple enough, except for the fact that the match ended up being a dud. The match was pretty straightforward despite the wacky angle preceding it, but what was worse was that the “vicious” dogs that surrounded the ring shockingly weren't all too invested in what was happening. Cameras even caught one dog doing its business ringside as Snow and Bossman fought each other, while another couple of dogs were seen engaging in the most primal act in the animal kingdom. Heck, even if one of the two wrestlers were overtaken by the dogs, they would have been more apt to have been licked to death rather than mauled.
10 Anything on a Pole Match (WCW)
Now I am not saying that all pole matches are bad, but WCW and booker Vince Russo took it to new lows with the numerous pole matches that they held. There were Lex-Flexer (some weird exercise tool) on a pole matches, Viagra on a pole, piñata on a pole, Judy Bagwell on a pole, and even a San Francisco 49ers pole match where each turnbuckle had a pole containing something over it (a blowup doll, a picture of Scott Hall, a coal miner’s glove, and the WCW Title). These matches were always chaotic and there was no real reason to have the matches at all, but Russo loved him some pole matches, so the fans had to endure each and every one of them.
9 AWA Team Challenge Series (AWA)
As the AWA was in a decline due to some of its biggest stars joining other promotions like the WWE and WCW, a series was created using the promotion's remaining stars in hopes for rekindling interest in the company. The roster was split into three teams that were headed by the top stars in the promotion: Larry Zybysko, Sgt. Slaughter, and Baron Von Raschke, and Col. Debeers would replace Slaughter during the series after Slaughter signed with the WWE. Teams would earn points based on wins and how they won, or by winning special matches, similar to the Bound For Glory Series in TNA.
It was an interesting concept in that the teams would be made up of heels and faces, forcing rivals to work together for a common goal, which was a million dollars that would be split among the members of the highest scoring team. What made this series so bad was that the matches were all performed in an empty auditorium with pink walls which the AWA claimed was to cut down on interference in matches, but was really because of poor ticket sales and cost cutting measures. The pièce de résistance of this whole thing was a turkey on a pole match where competitors actually fought over an uncooked turkey. The series would end with a traditional battle royal and the company would fold soon thereafter.
8 Electrified Cage Match (TNA)
While this gimmick has been done in other promotions, most notably MTV’s Wrestling Society X, though that promotion relished in its own campy nature, TNA held an electrified cage match at its Lockdown PPV. The match was between Team 3D and LAX who were fighting over the TNA Tag Titles. The match had all of the makings of a lame gimmick match as power lines were attached to the cage to give the appearance of danger and whenever a wrestler was thrown into the cage a buzzing sound would play in the arena and the lights would flicker off and on. The match was so bad that fans in attendance began to chant “fire Russo,” as many felt that this was the handiwork of TNA booker and gimmick lover, Vince Russo.
7 Punjabi Prison Match (WWE)
For some reason the WWE felt that they needed to give the vanilla and terrible Great Khali more screen time on TV and PPVs, so they decided to attach an equally terrible match to his character. The Punjabi Prison match is similar to the Kennel from Hell match in that the ring is surrounded by a standard cage, though this time made out of bamboo, and then the whole area around the ring and floor is surrounded by another, larger, eight sided cage.
The main difference here besides the bamboo is that the outer cage has no top like the cell in the Kennel match and the inner cage has four small doors that a wrestler can escape through, but they are only open for a minute before being shut and padlocked, making the wrestler have to climb over the cage. Also in the cage are a variety of gimmicky bamboo weapons that can be used. There would be two of these horrible matches, with Khali vs. Batista being the first followed by Big Show vs. Undertaker, meaning the matches were overall pretty slow due to the big men’s styles.
6 Junkyard Battle Royal (WCW)
In an attempt to build their hardcore division’s legitimacy up as well as the showcase the toughness of some of their lower card wrestlers, WCW decided to hold a battle royal in an actual junk yard with the winner being decided as to who was able to escape over the junkyard fence first. The action was chaotic as there were so many wrestlers doing so many different things that it became an overload for the senses. Cars were pushed over, fires were set, random objects were smashed, and the whole time the camera angles were changing so much that fans could hardly identify who was doing what to who. What’s worse is that many of the wrestlers were legitimately injured in the unforgiving environment and were out of action for weeks and months. Perhaps the junkyard was a metaphor for where WCW's creative direction was at the time.
5 Brawl For All (WWE)
In an attempt to capitalize on the growing popularity of toughman tournaments and the UFC, the WWE decided to have its own toughman competition where wrestlers would legitimately fight each other. The original idea was for Jim Ross’s friend “Dr. Death” Steve Williams to blow through his opponents and show he was a legit tough guy and receive a monster push. Unfortunately with the fights being unscripted, things can always change, including Williams being knocked out by eventual winner Bart Gunn.
Wrestlers were injured left and right, the fights themselves were pretty boring, and the fans couldn't care less about who won. Once it was all over, Gunn was pitted against actual boxer Butterbean at Wrestlemania XV and was knocked out in 37 seconds, rendering the whole tournament utterly pointless. Perhaps in a wrestling company, it is best to stick with, wrestling. Can you imagine a tournament like that today, with say, Big Show going up against Heath Slater?
4 Triple Cage (WCW)
Using the gimmick from the critically and audience reviled Ready to Rumble, WCW used its triple cage setup for a few matches following the release of the movie. The object of the match was to climb up to the top of the third cage and grab the title hanging above it, simple enough and it could have worked in principle. Unfortunately like scaffold matches where the wrestlers are high up, most wrestlers involved in the match were reluctant to do anything too major on the cages out of fear of falling. The first match using the gimmick did not help sell it to fans either as World Champion David Arquette defended his belt against DDP and Jeff Jarrett, ultimately ending in Arquette hitting Page with a guitar, allowing Jarrett to snatch the belt. The match was also in extremely poor taste, having taken place at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, the site of Owen Hart's tragic death, one year after Hart fell from the rafters.
3 Monster Truck Sumo Match (WCW)
At Halloween Havoc ’95, Hulk Hogan was set to face off against the Giant with the World Heavyweight Title on the line. Yet for some reason, WCW felt it necessary for the two to first battle it out on the roof of Cobo Hall in monster trucks designed to represent each wrestler. The two would try to push each other out of the circle surrounding them in what can only be described as an awkward face-off. Hogan would eventually win but then fight with the Giant on the roof before accidentally pushing him over the edge, sending him to the river below. Giant would return at the end of the PPV to fight Hogan for the belt, looking no worse for the wear and would defeat Hogan for the title after Hogan’s manager turned on him and hit the referee, causing a disqualification for Hogan and per the special rules for the match, giving the title to the Giant.
2 King of the Road Match (WCW)
At Uncensored ’95 there was a very peculiar match to open the show. It was between Dustin Rhodes and the Blacktop Bully in a King of the Road match. The match was set up where both wrestlers started in the back of an open trailer being hauled by a semi-truck. The goal was to get to the front of the trailer and blow the horn. The trailer was filled with hay bales to and various objects to be used as weapons, but the constant motion of the truck made it difficult for the wrestlers to put on a decent match. The match was also heavily edited due to both performers blading during the match and WCW having a no blood policy for matches. The end result was both wrestlers being fired after this horrendous match aired.
1 Chamber of Horrors Match (WCW)
Only happening once at Halloween Havoc, this four on four match was a debacle of epic proportions. With the entire main WCW crew dressed in Halloween costumes and the ring set up to look like a haunted house created by your local Boy Scout troop, this match was destined to fail. The goal of the match was to put your opponent in the electric chair that is lowered into the ring, strap them into it, and then flip the switch to “electrocute” them. Unfortunately, the switch that was used to turn on the chair kept falling down into the “on” position and the mechanics of Rick Steiner putting Abdullah the Butcher into the chair without Cactus Jack seeing was very clumsy. Add to it that wrestlers were beating each other with fake coffins and shrunken heads and the motion sickness inducing Refer-eye cam, this match will forever live on as a guilty pleasure laugh to wrestling fans of all ages.