Professional wrestling is not “fake” like many people say. It is 100 percent real; real contact and real moves that result in real pain and injuries. The only thing that isn’t “real” as people say is the outcome of the matches. They have to end a certain way so that the story goes on and people come back to keep on watching. Professional wrestling, then, is a lot like theater. It is a television show like any other with a plot and a script.
This is why wrestling feuds are so important. They are the backbone of any wrestling promotion. A good TV show is judged by how its story is presented and the same goes for professional wrestling. The product depends on the creative element. Better storylines result in a greater viewing audience, and that is what’s best for business.
Sometimes in WWE, a match can be set up without any or much build. For instance, though it wasn’t quite the blockbuster WWE was hoping for, Triple H vs. Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 32 would have been a whole lot worse had there not been any kind of buildup.
The very best feuds can sell a wrestling event in and by themselves. Take The Rock vs. John Cena at WrestleMania 28 for example. That was one of the best buildups to one of the best WrestleMania main events ever. At the time, we knew it was a “Once in a Lifetime” match and it could have sold WrestleMania by itself.
But, there are some feuds that are downright awful and actually turns people away. For every Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, there is a Jerry Lawler vs. The Miz. Let us now take a look at some WWE feuds that were simply below even the lowest expectations.
Here are the Top 15 Worst Wrestling Feuds of the 2000s.
15 Brock Lesnar vs. Hardcore Holly - 2004
These days when you hear “Brock Lesnar”, you immediately jump in your seat and smile because someone is going to Suplex City soon (though now it seems that all he can do is suplex and F5 and then go home, but that’s a topic for another day).
One fine SmackDown in September 2002, Brock delivered a devastating power bomb to Holly that broke the latter’s neck. It was the result of poor communication during the match. Brock did not do it on purpose as many people claim.
Naturally, this injury became the backbone of a rivalry between the two when Holly returned. However, the buildup to their Royal Rumble 2004 match was terrible. Hardcore Holly did not come out swinging like he should have. He didn’t really look like much of a threat to Lesnar. And, this showed during their match, which lasted all of six minutes. One F5 was enough for Brock Lesnar to clinch victory and for the two to go their separate ways.
14 Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero - 2006/7
When a wrestling fan hears a match between Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero, he/she would look forward to it. These two can work a really good match together.
In 2006, a feud between these two began and it naturally had a lot of potential to it. Rey and Chavo grew even closer as friends after Eddie’s death. Chavo celebrated with Rey after the latter won the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 22. However, when the Great American Bash came around later that year, Chavo turned on Rey, causing the latter to lose his title to King Bookah.
The feud between them was centered on Eddie Guerrero—a big mistake. It showed both Superstars as nothing more than fumes of Eddie’s legacy.
What’s more, they didn’t even have good matches that could have at least helped the feud. They first had a match at SummerSlam 2006 that was a bore-fest and then had another at No Mercy that was better but still not as good as it should have been. They had an I Quit match on SmackDown that resulted in a knee injury for Rey. Rey then came back many moons later for a match with Chavo at SummerSlam 2007 and then another I Quit match on SmackDown. The latter two matches were okay, but the feud was long since stale.
13 CM Punk vs. The Undertaker - 2009
At WrestleMania 29, they had the match of the night. However, four years earlier, they had a rather dreary feud. Unfortunately, people expected a lot as The Undertaker’s last match had been versus HBK at WrestleMania XXV and CM Punk had been absolutely awesome versus Jeff Hardy throughout the summer.
Punk was World Heavyweight Champion at SummerSlam after beating Jeff Hardy. When The Deadman returned, he challenged Punk for the World Title in a submission match at Breaking Point.
The first failure of WWE was to not give this match the kind of build it deserved. The second failure was making it the main event of that show. You would think that WWE would at least have come up with a shocking turn of events to at least make this more interesting once the show was over. They sort of did. CM Punk won in something that resembled the Montreal Screwjob. Oh and the event actually took place in Montreal.
They went again at Hell in a Cell 2009 and 10 minutes later, The Undertaker was World Heavyweight Champion. It was poor booking and poor execution in a feud that could have been so much more.
12 Triple H vs. Randy Orton - 2004/5
In 2004, out of nothing more than jealousy, Triple H violently excommunicated Randy Orton from Evolution. This was only one night after Randy Orton had beaten he who remains nameless in WWE for the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam. Triple H wanted the World title (shocker) and he demanded Orton simply hand it to him.
Today, Randy Orton can pull of being a beloved babyface. Back then, he simply couldn’t. He was not one fans could get behind even when Evolution attacked him.
Triple H and Randy Orton faced off at Unforgiven a month later and after a terrible match, Triple H won the title. Simply put, WWE had put too big a weight on the still narrow shoulders of a young Randy Orton. The feud went on for a bit but it was never going anywhere. Randy Orton was not coming through as a face.
11 Matt Hardy vs. Edge - 2005
It is hard to understand WWE sometimes. Edge and Lita were having an affair behind Matt Hardy’s back. Matt was livid when he found out. He revealed his findings but WWE would have none of it. So, they fired Matt and put Edge and Lita together on TV and pushed them as far as they could go.
Matt returned after a few months to feud with Edge (and Lita). It was a real-life situation turned into a wrestling feud. Some would think of it as despicable, but so far at least, it was working. Everyone was behind Matt and everyone absolutely loathed Edge and Lita.
But WWE somehow managed to ruin it. Somehow, Kane got involved.
Matt and Edge faced off at SummerSlam that year in one of the worst matches ever. After a feud like that, one would expect a near-classic match at the very least. Edge beat Matt like the latter was the worst rookie in the world. To make it worse, Matt had started to bleed oh so slightly when the official decided it was unsafe for him to continue, and promptly ended the match.
They did have a good match at Unforgiven but in the greater context, it didn’t matter as that feud was already ruined.
10 Batista vs. King Booker - 2006
It all started with a bit of backstage heat between Batista and King Bookah. Batista said something about the SmackDown roster and Booker responded in kind. The two had a bit of a physical confrontation that many say Booker T won.
Still, this kerfuffle had nothing to do with the feud they were already slated to have through the summer of 2006. It seemed like one of those feuds between two lower-card performers; a feud that had no real backbone and nothing to inspire fans to pay any attention.
They had a match at SummerSlam that was as dull as the entire feud, as was their match at Survivor Series.
9 Triple H vs. Chris Jericho - 2002
In 2000, Triple H and Chris Jericho had a wonderful feud. In 2002, they had an equally terrible feud. This time, Triple H was the good guy and Jericho the bad guy.
Triple H had just returned from injury and weeks later, won the Royal Rumble. This meant it was going to be him versus Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Championship at WrestleMania. The only problem was that Stephanie McMahon had to enter the fray, only in Jericho’s corner.
The feud between Triple H and Jericho, then, was less about the title than it was about the marriage of Hunter and Steph. Their WrestleMania main event followed the classic match between The Rock and Hulk Hogan (much like Triple H vs. Randy Orton at WrestleMania 25 followed The Undertaker/HBK classic).
They had another match in the Hell in a Cell at Judgment Day 2002 but it hardly mattered because the feud was as good as dead.
8 Kurt Angle vs. Triple H - 2000/1
Again, Stephanie McMahon was at the center of this one. Kurt Angle wanted the billion dollar princess for his own (even though he claimed time and again that they were just friends). They kissed, and naturally, Triple H was livid. The rivalry went on for weeks until they finally met at Unforgiven with Mick Foley as the special guest referee.
It was a 17-minute disappointment.
7 John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis - 2011/12
We have seen the hero vs. evil boss angle many, many times in professional wrestling. It is a staple that, if done right, can yield genuinely good results. But this one was done wrong right from the start.
The only really good part of this feud was the comedy element it had. Otherwise, it was a bit dull to watch.
They met at Over the Limit (in the main event, no less) and it looked like an easy victory for Cena before the Big Show intervened. There’s not much else to say about this. It was a pure waste of time and money for everyone.
6 Brie Bella vs. Nikki Bella - 2014
Nikki Bella was a wonderful Divas Champion. She was a heel (sometimes face), her matches were solid and she holds the record for the longest title reign.
But, before all that glory, she had a feud in 2014 with her sister Brie. Originally, this was a good feud with the Authority at the center of it. But, for some reason, Nikki turned on her sister during that SummerSlam match between Brie and Stephanie.
The promos between the sisters were full of insults and were very awkward to watch. Jerry Springer came along to mediate, and that just made the whole thing worse.
So, Nikki and Brie faced off in a match where the latter lost and then as stipulated, had to serve as Nikki’s servant (slave) for a month. For some reason, toward the end of this slave-labor month, Brie helped Nikki win the Divas title and suddenly all was well between them. The Bella Twins were back and there was no explanation as to what had happened.
5 The Invasion - 2001
The Invasion promised to be one of the greatest wrestling storylines of all time, but that kind of expectation (and the execution itself) was a big part of why it failed so spectacularly. To fans of both WWE and WCW, this was the rivalry to end all rivalries. This storyline should have spanned an entire year at least. However, it was rushed and muddled in six quick months.
For starters, they should have secured guys like Goldberg and Sting early on. They had the capital and would surely have made all the money back from buying out their contracts.
Even so, they had people like Booker T and Chris Jericho to call upon. They could have approached this story in a better, more meticulously constructed fashion.
Simply put, what could have been never became. The WCW Invasion storyline failed spectacularly.
4 Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg - 2004
The rivalry itself was good. However, the match ruined everything.
It began with Brock Lesnar, WWE Champion, interfering with the Royal Rumble match and causing Goldberg’s elimination at the hands of Kurt Angle.
Stone Cold, in his capacity as sheriff, gave Goldberg tickets to the next pay-per-view event, No Way Out. Golberg and the WWE Champion had a confrontation earlier that night that ended in Goldberg being escorted out by security.
Brock Lesnar faced Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Championship later that same night, only for Goldberg to come back and interfere in the match. As a result, Eddie was able to execute a Frog Splash to win the match and the title.
This led to a WrestleMania match between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar, with the special guest referee being Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Rumors flew that both Goldberg and Lesnar would be leaving WWE after WrestleMania, which didn’t sit well with the fans.
The match was terrible and the fans jeered both competitors. It was a sorry ending to what could have been a great feud.
3 Jerry Lawler vs. The Miz - 2010/11
This was one of the worst WWE title feuds in living memory.
Randy Orton had just beaten Wade Barrett of the Nexus against all odds to retain his WWE title when Mr. Money in the Bank, The Miz, ran down to the ring and cashed in to win the belt. So far, so good. Miz and Orton was probably going to be a decent feud.
Rightly so, Miz defeated Randy Orton at the Royal Rumble in 2011. But, going a month back, The Miz had faced WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler for the WWE title in a TLC match and won. That in itself was a wasted opportunity by WWE to book The Miz against someone who could actually be seen as a credible threat.
Then, soon after the Royal Rumble, Jerry Lawler got another shot at The Miz’s WWE Championship (why?) at Elimination Chamber. Miz retained the title after his protégé Alex Riley and Michael Cole had interfered with the match.
This was a horrible, horrible feud at a time when an unconvincing champion like The Miz needed some big victories (such as the one over Randy Orton) prior to that WrestleMania XXVII main event.
2 Triple H vs. Scott Steiner - 2003
These two started their feud by competing in arm wrestling contests and this was done to show the world how amazingly strong Scott Steiner really was. That was seemingly all he could do because at the time, he was unable to wrestle any sort of decent match.
Triple H vs. Scott Steiner happened at Royal Rumble 2003 and even Triple H struggled to make that match interesting. All Steiner could do was one suplex after another (see Brock Lesnar). The match was terrible and the fans let WWE know as much. This rivalry was very quickly stopped in its tracks, but not before a Triple H victory at No Way Out.
1 Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole - 2010/11
It is unfortunate that a wrestling legend such as Jerry Lawler has to appear twice on this list. But, to be honest, all of the King’s wrestling successes came prior to his WWE days. As if that terrible feud with the Miz wasn’t enough, he had to be put in a feud with Michael Cole (granted, the Miz feud was so that he could feud with Cole).
Michael Cole cost Lawler the WWE Championship on multiple occasions and also continually attacked and insulted Lawler and his family on commentary.
Jerry’s son got involved, as did Jim Ross. It was all very uncomfortable and very poor. Then, at WrestleMania XXVII, the two commentators faced off with Stone Cold Steve Austin being the special guest referee. Jerry Lawler won the match only for the anonymous General Manager of Raw to overturn the result.
There was a “Kiss My Foot” match not long after that Jerry won but it was still a terrible and overly humiliating rivalry for everyone involved.