If you take a survey and ask the average wrestling fan what the greatest era in wrestling history was, 9 out of 10 times you are likely to hear them say, the Attitude Era. And don’t get me wrong here. After growing up with some of the slower paced, bland wrestling of the late 70s, followed by the gimmick-filled wrestling of the 80s (Zeus and Akeem The African Dream anyone?), I can honestly say that the Attitude Era offered a fresh, exciting new period in wrestling history.
It was a time when millions upon millions of viewers would tune in to the Monday Night War every week. Storylines were captivating, and pay per view rates were going through the roof. Best of all, unlike the WCW, WWE introduced us to a new crop of superstars who would go on to not only become household names, but who would make their presence in the business felt for a generation to come.
But like everything else in life, the Attitude Era was far from perfect. When you are encouraged to push the envelope week in and week out and your creative team includes the infamous Vince Russo, there are bound to be more than a few misses among all of those hits. Please remember that while this was the era that gave us Stone Cold Steve, Austin, The Rock. D-Generation X and Hell in a Cell, it also gave us Gillberg, The Oddities, countless bra and panties matches, and Naked Mideon.
Here’s a look at 15 of the worst matches from the Attitude Era.
15 Survivor Series Elimination Match - British Bulldog and the Mean Street Posse vs. Val Venis, Mark Henry, Gangrel and Steve Blackman - Survivor Series 1999
The 1999 Survivor Series pay per view may be remembered for Kurt Angle making his PPV debut. It may also be remembered for the Big Show not only winning a handicap Survivor Series Elimination match early in the night, but defeating Triple H and The Rock for the WWE Championship in the evening’s main event. What may not be as easily remembered is that it included FOUR traditional Survivor Series elimination matches. The most lackluster of those which featured the British Bulldog and the Mean Street Posse against Val Venis, Mark Henry, Gangrel and Steve Blackman.
Things looked bad for Davey Boy’s team as Blackman eliminated Pete Gas with a martial arts kick, Gangrel took out Rodney with The Impaler, and Henry hit a Big Splash on Joey Abs. Bulldog fought back by eliminating Gangrel and Blackman, but the numbers game turned out to be too much. Henry would splash the Bulldog, followed by a Money Shot from Val for the win. Not the worst match in Survivor Series history. More like a mid-carder mish-mosh.
14 Viscera vs The Godfather (Winner Takes Hos Match) - Monday Night RAW - October 25, 1999
The set-up took a lot longer as the in ring action lasted just a little over two minutes. In the end, The Godfather sets up the Ho Train. Mark Henry takes him out and Viscera finishes him off with a splash. Henry adds a splash of his own after the bell for good measure. As if all that wasn’t bad enough, the two leave with most of the hos behind them. The ones who stay behind to check on the Godfather suffer the wrath of Viscera and are taken out by ambulance.
13 The Undertaker vs. The Big Boss Man - Hell in a Cell - WrestleMania XV
After being buried alive at Rock Bottom: In Your House, The Undertaker would make his return to TV on the January 11, 1999 edition of Monday Night RAW. Sitting on a ceremonial throne with Paul Bearer and the Acolytes by his side, The Deadman would begin putting together what would become The Ministry, with his sights set on The Corporation, more specifically, Vince McMahon and his family. The next few months came to a boil when Vince McMahon would book a match between the Undertaker and The Corporation’s Security, The Big Boss Man at WrestleMania XV.
Up until that point, there had been four previous Hell in a Cell matches. That includes 'Taker’s unforgettably brutal contest with Mankind at the 1998 King of the Ring. HIAC was quickly becoming the most bad-ass match in the history of the company. Unfortunately, the first Hell in a Cell match to ever be held at WrestleMania would also be the one that began to tarnish that reputation. The "highlight" of what was easily the worst Hell in a Cell match to that point was the members of the brood descending to the top of the cage, cutting the roof open and sending down a noose so that The Undertaker could literally HANG Boss Man in front of a capacity crowd. Definitely not one of your more memorable WrestleMania moments. Not intentionally anyway.
At No Mercy in 1999, Mae Young helped The Fabulous Moolah defeat Ivory to win the Women's Championship. Yes, you read that correctly. Senior citizen The Fabulous Moolah defeated Ivory to win the Women’s Championship. So of course it seemed only fitting that on the October 21 episode of SmackDown, Moolah would defend her title against none other than 76-year-old Mae Young. The hardest job here was for announcers Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler, who struggled mightily to make the match sound the least bit credible. To Mae’s credit, she did take a few bumps and even got the referee involved.
11 The New Age Outlaws vs. Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie - Dumpster Match - WrestleMania XIV
What do you do when you have an opportunity to bring a true hardcore legend in for your biggest PPV event of the year? You cover his face, change his name and give him a chainsaw of course! The stipulation of the match was weird enough on its own. Whichever team forced their opponents into a dumpster and closed the lid would become the Tag Team Champions.
10 Hardcore Battle Royal - WrestleMania 2000
WrestleMania 2000 has a reputation of being one of the most poorly received PPVs of the Attitude Era. This special gimmick match did nothing to help that reputation. What it did manage to do, was give some screen time to a whole lot of mid-card talent. All of whom were trying to beat the clock and walk away with Crash Holly’s Hardcore Championship. The challengers for this little gem included everyone from Tazz, Funaki, Viscera and all three members of the Mean Street Posse.
9 Bart Gunn vs. Butterbean – WrestleMania XV
In an attempt to give the WWE even more attitude during the Attitude Era, the idea for Brawl for All was born. Professional wrestlers who had been trained to put on matches where it only LOOKED real would now be taking part in a series of boxing matches that actually WERE real. What could go wrong there? Bart Gunn won the weekly tournament that had several of the guys on the roster suffering legit injuries.
This lead to another not so great idea. Let's have the winner of Brawl for All make himself look even tougher by having him face Butterbean at WrestleMania XV. For those who don’t know or don’t remember, Eric “Butterbean” Esch was a real deal 300 plus pound super heavyweight boxer. So after weeks of watching his star rise on the television tournament, Bart Gunn was knocked out in less than one round on the company’s grandest stage of them all.
8 Jacqueline vs. Ivory, Gravy Bowl Match – SmackDown – November 25, 1999
There are two of these not-so-instant classics to shake a finger at. But for right now we’ll stick to wagging our disappointed digit at the original. On the Thanksgiving episode of SmackDown, divas Ivory and Jacqueline actually locked up in a pool full of gravy. I suppose this was the best way Vince McMahon could come up with to honor one of our nation’s most time-honored holidays.
7 Sable vs. Marc Mero – RAW Is WAR, May 11, 1998
Marc Mero is someone you kind of have to feel sorry for. He managed to make a bad Little Richard gimmick work for him in WCW. At least it worked enough to get him a contract with the WWE. He debuted as Wildman Marc Mero and that didn’t work. Then he tried to use his amateur boxing background to his advantage as Marvelous Marc Mero. To no one’s surprise, that didn’t work either. Sad to say, but the only thing fans seemed to really like about Marc Mero was his wife Sable.
6 Chyna vs. The Stooges – RAW Is WAR – January 18, 1999
For the Attitude Era this all started off as pretty harmless. Chyna agreed to take on Corporate Stooges Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco in a handicap match. Chyna dispatches the stooges quick and easy right? Well yes, but no. Instead of the squash match most people were probably expecting, we were treated to low blows (including one to Chyna), the 9th wonder of the world getting a double handful of stooge nuts, and let's throw in some inappropriate groping to make it all complete,
5 Marc Mero (w/Sable) vs. Butterbean (Toughman Match) – In Your House: D-Generation X – December 7, 1997
The match did get Mero some hear with the fans. I’ll give him that. But mostly is just made Butterbean angry and made the fans want even more of Sable….and less of Mero. At the end of the third round, Butterbean held Mero in place by the hair with his left hand, wound up, and hit his opponent with a bomb of a right. Mero went crashing to the canvas and was only saved by the bell. Butterbean came out angry and anxious to end things in the fourth, which he nearly did with one monster shot that layed out Mero.
4 Pat Patterson vs. Gerald Brisco - Hardcore Evening Gown Match - King Of The Ring 2000
To refresh your memory, during the Attitude Era the Hardcore Championship had a 24/7 rule attached to it, meaning the belt could be defended anywhere, anytime, day or night. It made for some interesting encounters, as well as some really bad ones. The worst of which had to be wrestling icons Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco fighting for the title against each other…in drag. You read that correctly. Two Hall of Famers in dresses, wigs and make-up, in a match against each other. A hardcore match no less.
3 Jeff Jarrett vs. Goldust - Striptease Match - In Your House: Rock Bottom
In December of 1998, the WWE closed out the year with The In Your House: Rock Bottom PPV from the General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia. The main events featured Stone Cold Steve Austin facing The Undertaker in a Buried Alive match for a spot in the 1999 Royal Rumble, as well as The Rock and Mankind for the WWE Championship. Aside from those two matches, there’s not a whole lot to remember about this particular pay per view. One of the less memorable encounters saw Goldust in a one on one match with Jeff Jarrett.
Yawn, right? But in true Attitude Era fashion, there was a stipulation designed to make things more interesting. If Goldust wins, Debra strips. If Jarrett wins, Goldust strips. This stipulation suddenly turns Goldy into the most popular wrestler in the company. Goldust loses thanks to a guitar shot. But before Goldust has to take anything off, Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes out and reverses the decision.
Debra starts her striptease, but Jarrett and The Blue Blazer make the save and cover her up before she gets to anything good. So that would pretty much take away the one reason the Vancouver crowd was into this match in the first place.
2 Too Much vs. Al Snow & Head - King of the Ring 1998
Before they were “Too Cool,” Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty Too Hotty were just Brian Christopher and Scott Taylor, and they were known as the team of Too Much! Way back in 1998, Al Snow and his mannequin head companion were trying to get a foot in the door of the company by attempting to secure a meeting with Mr. McMahon, while Too Much was an up and coming young tag team looking to make its mark on the main roster. The solution was simple. Pit the two teams together with an opportunity for Al Snow (and Head) to sit down and have his meeting with Mr. McMahon on the line! Now in defense of everyone involved, the wrestling in this match wasn’t too bad.
Al Snow was already an established ring veteran, and Too Much was a fairly talented, up and coming tag team. So it definitely wasn’t the wrestling. It was the CONCEPT that was utterly ridiculous. Watching Al argue with this “partner” sitting atop a corner turnbuckle was amusing to a degree. Watching special guest referee Jerry “The King” Lawler give instructions and warnings to Head in the corner made me smile a little, I'll admit. But Al Snow losing the match because Christopher took out a bottle of head and shoulders, thus allowing him to pin both head AND shoulders to the mat? That was a little bit “too much” for me.
1 Al Snow vs. Big Boss Man - Kennel From Hell Match - Unforgiven 1999
When I mentioned to people that I know that I was putting together a list of some of the worst matches of the Attitude Era, almost every single one of them said, "you're putting in Al Snow and the Big Boss Man in the cage with the dogs, right?". Well of course I am. Not only am I putting it in, but it's my number one. I might be alone here, but I've always felt that Al Snow was a bit underrated and underappreciated. So when he scored a fairly high profile feud with The Big Boss Man, not to mention what could have been seen as a Hell in a Cell match, I was really excited for him. Until I watched it. For those who don't know, don't remember or have blocked it out, the match had both a cage and a cell structure surrounding the ring.
It also featured a team of "trained attack dogs" in between the two structures. One wrestler had to basically knock out the other to escape the "kennel," while the announce team sold the creatures surrounding them as legitimately capable of tearing a man limb from limb. This match could have been seen as something different. Something completely unique even. The problem was that the "trained attack dogs" were clearly not vicious at all. Unless you consider peeing on the floor or mounting each other vicious. Al Snow won the match after blasting the Boss Man with his signature "Head" mannequin. Not before both men etched their names into wrestling history for competing in one of the worst matches of all time.
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