The 1990s were seriously up and down times for the wrestling business. It began still clinging to the cartoonish antics of the ‘80s with both WWE and WCW trying to forge ahead while the various territories struggled to survive. ECW would shift things up for some more adult themes and action as the New World Order and the Attitude Era changed things dramatically. Wrestling continued onward with feuds and programs that did their best to entertain fans and create some great times. Sadly, this decade was marked with a lot of bad to go with the good and that includes the feuds.
Sometimes it’s the workers involved, guys who never should have been given pushes but ending up in programs that got major attention. Other times, they’re major stars who should have been able to deliver a great feud but bad booking and circumstances pushed them into terrible stuff. Horrible matches, bad gimmicks, needless drama that turned into comedy, it’s astounding just how many feuds in the decade were plagued by all this. Sure, a bunch from the indies that count but it’s the big ones that always take attention and a lot to fill the slots. They can involve huge stars or jobbers, big stables, one-on-one, even celebrity involvement at times, all failing to click in any way. Here are 15 of the worst feuds of the 1990s and how a decade that gave us a lot of good also provided plenty of bad.
15. Crush vs. Doink the Clown
The original Doink was actually a damn clever idea, an evil clown who came out to sinister music, popping balloons with a cigar and more. That didn’t help in his feud with Crush, pushed as a bright babyface muscleman but not quite connecting as well as fans had hoped. At WrestleMania, they went at it in a bout notable for two Doinks entering for a “mirror” bit before beating Crush. This moved to other bouts involving a fake arm and other “fun tricks” that just came off laughable in the wrong way and it hurt Crush’s push big time. Plus, it would lead to the transformation of Doink from sinister heel to annoying face that ruined a lot of fun from an interesting gimmick.
14. Big Bubba vs. John Tenta
A good worker for his size, John Tenta had been Earthquake in WWF and moved to WCW as Avalanche. He was put in the Dungeon of Doom as the Shark (even made to change one of his tattoos to fit) for a bad run. He finally announced he’d be just himself but of course WCW had to mess that up. He and Big Bubba Rogers fought with Rogers cutting off Tenta’s beard. He followed that by shaving off half of Tenta’s head, Tenta talking of keeping it as a reminder of his shame and soon losing his beard as well.
The two had several very poor matches, both not seeming that motivated and the fight slow with too much attention paid to Tenta being bald and such. There wasn’t even a resolution as Tenta left the company in 1997 with no blow-off, ending several years of bad gimmicks and pushes that included this wretched feud.
13. Diesel vs. Mabel
1995 was one of the worst years in WWE history and here’s a prime reason. Diesel was not taking off anywhere near as hoped as champion thanks to Nash’s poor abilities in the ring. For some reason, Vince decided the best solution was to take long time comedy worker Mabel, turn him heel, make him King of the Ring and push to the main event. Given the 450 pound man had very little ring ability, their matches were horrible to say the least, including one of the worst SummerSlam main events ever. Putting two big, sloppy guys in the main event is a key reason WWE lost a fortune in ’95 and fans still look back on it in pain.
12. Alex Wright vs. Disco Inferno
Put two comedy workers in a feud and the results can be ugly. Alex Wright had some talent but was better known in 1997 for his terrible dance moves that annoyed fans. The Disco Inferno was just a guy doing bad dancing himself. When Disco danced with the Nitro Girls, Wright interrupted for them to start doing “Dance-offs” that wasted time. Their matches weren’t much better trading the TV title but the dancing continuing to be the focus. Amazingly, they would later turn into partners as the “Dancing Fools” to continue being among the more annoying acts of an otherwise strong period in WCW.
11. Big Boss Man vs Big Show
Late 1999 was not a great period for WWE as they tried to rebound from the loss of Russo with still some bad writing of their own. When the Big Show won the title, the idea for his challenger would be the Big Boss Man, not quite a guy fans saw as a main eventer. It was set up with Boss Man mocking Show over his dead father and that soon led to the infamous moment of Boss Man crashing the funeral and dragging the coffin containing Big Show’s dad with Show riding on top of it. Their match at Armageddon was a train wreck to put the feud to bed but still insane this was pushed so majorly when you can see how much in poor taste it all was.
10. The No Limit Soldiers vs. West Texas Rednecks
Yet another sign of the idiocy of WCW. Signing on rapper Master P for nearly $200,000 an appearance, WCW had him create a stable of black guys in camo that were set up as the faces. They soon got into a feud with Curt Hennig, Barry and Kendall Windham and others who forged the West Texas Rednecks. The problem was that the Southern-based WCW crowds backed the Rednecks over the Soldiers for both the gimmick and the Rednecks fighting the larger Soldiers.
The Rednecks recorded a great song “Rap is Crap” that got some serious play but because they were the heels, WCW killed it fast. Indeed, the entire program was marred as the fans cheered the Rednecks so WCW ended it all after some terrible matches, meaning they blew tons of money over nothing. Even by their standards, a true waste.
9. Jay Leno vs. Eric Bischoff
Desperate to give WCW some mainstream press no matter what, Eric Bischoff decided that rather than target a professional athlete, he would go after…Jay Leno. For weeks, Nitro would be hijacked by Bischoff doing a late night comedy bit where he just read off Leno jokes and took shots on the host, wasting slews of time. Then he and Hogan invaded the real “Tonight Show” only to be fought off by DDP. This soon led to the Road Wild main event with Jay Leno actually shown manhandling superstar Hogan. The faces won the match to put this to bed but that this was even conceived, let alone pushed as a huge deal speaks a lot on why WCW lost the war.
8. The Gang Wars
Race and wrestling rarely work out very well and here’s a key example. In 1997, Farooq cleaned house of the Nation of Domination to form an all-black unit. Crush responded by getting some biker guys together as the Disciples of the Apocalypse to fight back. That was followed by Savio Vega putting together some Puerto Rican guys into Los Boricuas. The battles that followed were a true mess, brawls with all three factions going at it and more than a few disturbing ideas of racial fighting amid the matches. It really just petered out to no true resolution and yet another reason why expecting wrestling to present racial stuff in a good light is a faint hope.
7. Hulk Hogan vs. Dungeon of Doom
Hands down the most ludicrous stable in wrestling history, the Dungeon was led by Kevin Sullivan who amassed a force of Kamala, the Shark (the former Earthquake), Ed Leslie as the Zodiac, Loch Ness, Meng and the Giant to destroy Hulk Hogan. They were shot at a “cave” that looked like a cheap set with Hogan invading for some atrocious acting and the various matches terrible to say the least. The feud dragged for months, including one of the worst War Games ever, the Monster Truck roof battle, the Yeti, the addition of Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, Zeus from “No Holds Barred” and culminating in the infamous Doomsday Tower match. Remarkable how WCW would kick off the New World Order just months later following such an insane program.
6. Ric Flair vs. Junkyard Dog
This was the choice for the worst feud of 1990 and it’s hard to disagree. When Ole Anderson got the book in WCW, he was trying to fill time until Sting returned from injury and throwing most anyone against Ric Flair. He signed guys to cheap deals which included the Junkyard Dog. Even at his height, JYD was a poor worker who was covered by booking and charisma but by 1990, his weight was a major issue. He and Flair had no real chemistry in the ring, their matches incredibly boring as Dog was blown up in minutes and even Flair had trouble carrying him to anything near a decent match. It was dropped after a few weeks but still notable for how Flair really couldn’t carry anyone to a classic, let alone someone as over the hill as JYD.
5. Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Doink
As noted before, the original Doink was an interesting character as an evil clown but once he was turned into a true jokester and face, it took a nosedive. In late 1993, Doink started to target Bam Bam Bigelow with various pranks on Bigelow and Luna Vachon, dousing them with water and such. This set up a match at Survivor Series with Bigelow, Bastion Booger and the Headshrinkers taking on The Bushwhackers and Men on a Mission dressed as Doink and to call it horrible is to give it a break. Bigelow, who didn’t deserve to be in a feud this ridiculous, was soon teaming with Luna against Doink and Dink, including a bad WrestleMania match. Once more proof clowns and wrestling very rarely mix well.
4. The Ultimate Warrior vs. Papa Shango
You knew this was coming. Even by the cartoonish standards of the early ‘90s WWE, this was utterly ridiculous. The Ultimate Warrior made a big splash returning to WWE in 1992 and seemed ready for a huge push. Instead, he was put into a feud with Papa Shango, a “witch doctor” who was soon putting curses on the Warrior. These involved turning his hair into black goo and then making him puke on camera. Seriously. The matches weren’t any better with truly bad work but the crazy antics surrounding them were what made the feud so poor. It was ended cold with Warrior moving to a title match against Savage but still one of the more memorable (in a bad way) bits of WWE in that decade.
3. Sting vs. The Black Scorpion
When Sting won the NWA World title in 1990, he should have gotten a great reign. Sadly, Ole Anderson was doing the booking and came up with the idea of creating a mystery opponent called the Black Scorpion. He was shown in shadows and speaking through a voicebox, hinting at a past with Sting and Ole seemed to truly believe the Ultimate Warrior would jump ship to do this. It just got worse with The Scorpion showing up to perform magic tricks like turning an audience member into a tiger and then masked doubles sent to fight Sting.
It all came to Starrcade as it finally dawned on WCW they needed someone to fill the mask out. So after four UFOs dropped doubles of the Scorpion, we finally got the real one to fight Sting in a cage match, beaten and unmasked to reveal himself as Ric Flair. An incredibly stupid program that ruined what should have been Sting’s rise to the top and kicked the decade off in poor style for WCW.
2. The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez
Anything involving the man considered the worst wrestler of all time is deserving of a place on this list. It all began with Gonzalez showing up to eliminate The Undertaker from the Royal Rumble. They then moved on to a bout at WrestleMania where the Taker was clearly over his head trying to get anything close to a real thrilling battle against this horribly ungainly man.
Cut to stealing the Taker’s urn and fighting Paul Bearer, bad promos and a truly terrible match at SummerSlam. You had to feel for Taker having to put up with this garbage and fans agonized watching a feud that redefined slow-moving.
1. Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior
It was going to be the big rematch the world had waited years for but instead turned into one of the greatest debacles in WCW history. When the Warrior emerged to face Hulk Hogan in 1998, fans were excited, even after the Warrior’s opening promo dragged on way too long. But then came the slews of bad stuff like appearing and vanishing in smoke and the insane bit of the Warrior appearing in a mirror that Hogan saw but Bischoff claimed he couldn’t despite the fact the fans could clearly see it as well. Their encounter at Fall Brawl was an ugly fight where the Warrior twisted his knee and tore his bicep. That led to the horror of Halloween Havoc, easily one of the worst matches of all time with bad timing, bad moves, Hogan blowing a fireball attempt and more. It’s telling that Hogan himself actually takes blame for much of this and how such an epic encounter turned into the ultimate disaster.
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