The 1990s were an incredibly innovative time for wrestling and perhaps the most eventful decade in the industry's history. So much changed over the course of 1990 to the new millennium. The territories had been picked off one by one by Vince McMahon, WCW was just starting to emerge as a potential no.2. By the mid 90s, WCW was right up there with WWE, even surpassing them, but by the time 2000 came around, they were on their death bed.
A big phenomenon that emerged in the '90s, one that would define the industry in many ways, was the emergence of pay-per-views. By the time the '90s arrived, the WWE had a strong staple of four main pay-per-views; Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series. They would add King of the Ring in 1993. As WWE produced more PPVs, WCW decided to produce more than them, with WWE eventually trying to catch up to WCW, who made PPVs a monthly affair.
In such a rush to produce 12 PPVs in which their fans would eat up, both WWE and WCW seemed to throw everything at fans and see what would stick. The WWE introduced In Your House, which were two-hour shows that costed less to order, while WCW would instead find a different theme for every month. When you're talking about two major companies with monthly pay-per-views, that meant at one point, wrestling fans had 24 a year, meaning there would be a lot of bad ones.
With less weekly programming than today, the wrestling business was all about selling PPVs by the content that was produced on their television shows. It was inevitable with so many that some stinkers would emerge. With 1995 being perhaps wrestling's worst year, we probably could have just made a list exclusively of bad 1995 PPVs, but in the interest of balance, we've gotten most of the decade covered. Here are the worst wrestling PPVs from the '90s.
15 SummerSlam '93
Oh what could have been. Had the WWE been able to follow through on the initial plan of Hulk Hogan vs. Bret Hart for the WWE Championship, this could have been the ultimate passing of the torch show from one generation to another. Instead, Hogan refused to drop the title to Hart, dropped it to Yokozuna and Lex Luger was pushed as the American hero that would bring the title back to the United States.
The show was headlined by Luger and Yokozuna, and despite Luger winning by countout, meaning he didn't win the championship, he was paraded around by fellow superstars for his cheap victory. The rest of the show is featured a brief grudge match of Jerry Lawler beating Bret Hart by DQ, after Hart refused to release a Sharpshooter, Ludvig Borga defeating Jannetty and another potential classic in Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect was wasted on another countout finish.
Overall, a show of missed opportunities.
14 King of the Ring '99
The WWE was pulling ahead of WCW in 1999, but by mid-year, they had hit a rough patch. The King of the Ring tournament was a huge letdown, with so many top stars absent from the tournament. The semifinals were comprised of mostly DX members and Billy Gunn became one of the least inspiring tournament winners.
The Undertaker and The Rock fought a decent match, with 'Taker retaining his title, before Stone Cold fought the McMahons in a ladder match for control of the company. The match had some good spots, with Austin burying the McMahons in ladders, but it also included the mysterious briefcase that kept getting pried from Austin and it was never explained who did it.
13 Halloween Havoc '98
The Hogan/Warrior match was pretty much enough to put this PPV on the list on its own. It's arguably the worst match in wrestling history as you couldn't find a match with worse timing than this one.
The rest of the show was nothing to write home about either, with 12 matches crammed into the card. Worse yet, the show went off the air before the conclusion of the DDP/Goldberg world title match, so WCW had to show the ending the next night on Nitro for free.
12 Over the Edge '99
I struggled with including this one, as the WWE has essentially erased this show from memory, unless you watch it yourself on the network. The fact this show went on past Owen Hart's death gives the wrestling industry perhaps its darkest eye.
Hart's death deflated the show and justifiably so, as it was incredibly unfair to the wrestlers to have to work following a colleague's death. The main event saw Stone Cold and The Undertaker end with a Shane McMahon fast count, but by that point, who really cared about the match results?
11 Fall Brawl '99
Hulk Hogan's heel run in WCW had ended and he was back in the red and yellow. The storyline going into this Sting/Hogan main event was that Sting couldn't trust that Hogan had changed. It turned out by the end of the night, Sting would be the one who couldn't be trusted, as WCW turned him heel by accepting interference from Lex Luger and hitting Hogan with a baseball bat to help win him the world title.
The rest of the show didn't have much else to offer, other than a comedy of errors.
10 Halloween Havoc '95
Ah, there's 1995. This year was marred by Hogan fighting one monster heel after another and he was battling Kevin Sullivan's Dungeon of Doom. Hogan battled The Giant, Paul Wight for the world championship and of course, out came The Yeti, wrapped in what appeared to be soiled toilet paper.
Jimmy Hart caused a disqualification, turning on Hulk Hogan after he had placed a stipulation in the match that if Hogan lost by DQ, he'd lose the title.
The rest of the card had Johnny B. Badd defeating DDP in a terrible match, as well as a Sumo Truck battle between Hogan and The Giant.
9 Great American Bash '91
Things got off to a terrible start with this card, with Stunning Steve Austin batling in a Capture the Flag, Scaffold tag team match. Too confusing? Exactly. He and Terrance Taylor would lose to Bobby Eaton and P.N. News. The wrestlers essentially wrestled the whole match trying not to fall, which had you both concerned and bored.
You can see El Gigante (Giant Gonzales) on this card, lumbering around taking on One Man Gang.
The night was concluded by a two-minute main event in a handicap steel cage match, featuring Arn Anderson and Paul Heyman against Rick Steiner. Throughout the match, you can hear the fans chanting "We want Flair!"
8 In Your House: Great White North
Let's see, perhaps the biggest star in your company is Canadian and you name the event In Your House: Great White North, due to the show being in Winnipeg. Oh, but let's not put him on the main card. Despite Bret Hart being massively over in Canada, he was relegated to announcer, as British Bulldog took on Diesel for the title, beating Big Daddy Cool by DQ after interference from Hart.
The show also featured an abomination of a match with Yokozuna taking on Mabel to a lame double countout finish.
Shawn Michaels would have to forfeit his Intercontinental title after being beaten up at a Syracuse bar, handing the title to Dean Douglas. Douglas would lose the title minutes later to Razor Ramon, in another weird finish, where Douglas was counted down, despite his foot being outside the ring.
The Canadian crowd sure got screwed on this one.
7 WrestleMania XI
We have here one of the worst WrestleManias in history. You know a show isn't going right when Bret Hart can't even have a good match. That's becasue he was saddled with Bob Backlund in an I Quit Match, where Roddy Piper (guest referee) wouldn't stop shouting "what'dya say?!!" into a microphone. The wired mic following Piper around made the match incredibly hokey.
Shawn Michaels gave Diesel a decent match, although the crowd didn't really give heat to Michaels, who turned face the next night.
Finally, you have Lawrence Taylor getting a main event spot against mid-carder Bam Bam Bigelow. This show never once screamed "WrestleMania" to the audience and that's always a failure on the biggest show of the year.
6 In Your House: Beware of Dog
Another PPV where things didn't go right, the show suffered a power outage in Charleston, so the second half of the show had to be re-broadcast on a second night. The card seemed backwards, as Shawn Michaels and British Bulldog were mid-card on the eventual broadcast due to said power outage.
The only saving grace of this card was a fantastic strap match between Steve Austin an Savio Vega, whose victory forced DiBiase to leave the WWE.
Undertaker and Goldust in a casket match for the Intercontinental Championship seemed like an odd feud and the event didn't generate much interest.
5 WrestleMania IX
Many have pegged this the worst WrestleMania. The hokey togas, the over-the-top decorating of Caesar's Palace and the weak card has a lot to do with that.
We have perhaps Undertaker's worst WrestleMania match, paired with Giant Gonzales. We had Money Inc. against the Mega Maniacs (Hogan and Brutus Beefcake) in a lame tag match.
Finally we had a main event of Yokozuna against Bret Hart, in which salt to the Hart's eyes somehow prevented him from raising a shoulder before a three count. We then had Hogan snatch the title from Yokozuna in an impromptu 30-second match to cap off some terrible booking.
4 Uncensored '96
A Doomsday Cage Match... Doesn't that just scream cheesy 90s to you? This was The Alliance to End Hulkamania against Hogan and his friend/rival Randy Savage. Even for typical Hogan overcoming the odds, this was ridiculous and he and Savage barely sold any offense and won the 8-2 match quite decisively.
The rest of the card provided an intergender match with Col. Robert Parker defeating Madusa, The Booty Man defeating DDP and The Giant topping Loch Ness (Giant Haystacks). Uncensored never was a great PPV.
3 King of the Ring '95
Easily the worst King of the Ring tournament ever and it could have been epic. Vince McMahon inxplicably decided to have both The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels eliminated in their first matches of the night, while Savio Vega and Mabel advanced to the finals, with Mablel getting the win. Luger, Bulldog and Razor Ramon were left out of the tournament altogether.
Bret Hart's Kiss My Foot match against Jerry Lawler was probably the one bright spot of the evening.
Diesel wouldn't even defend his title, instead teaming with Bam Bam to defeat Tatanka and Sycho Sid. All competitors turned in a dismal performance to end a crappy show.
2 Uncensored '95
This event was WCW's worst PPV ever, as "the ultimate surprise" was promised, naturally getting people to assume it was The Ultimate Warrior. Instead a poor excuse of a clone came out, called The Renegade. Hogan didn't really need his help, as he no-sold a lot of Vader's offense in their title match, ruining one of the company's best heels. Hogan won the strap match by dragging Vader and an interfering Flair to all four corners.
We also got a boxer vs. wrestler match with Arn Anderson taking on Johnny B. Badd, a dangerous King of the Road match with Dustin Rhodes against Blacktop Bully and Sting having to job to Big Bubba Rogers.
1 Heroes of Wrestling
Fosstone Productions felt they could play off the resurgence of pro wrestling by putting together a series of wrestling shows consisting of past stars. Unfortunately, they couldn't fill their card with many household names.
This was bad because Jake Roberts was in no shape to compete, clearly intoxicated in a main event tag match that saw him team with Yokozuna to take on Jim Neidhart and King Kong Bundy. The show took place in 1999, but the production values were so bad, you would have thought it was 1979. Yoko, Neidhart and Bundy looked genuinely embarrassed, just waiting for the match to end.
The show was consisted of older wrestlers, many of whom were in no shape to deliver like they had a decade prior. This show just never should have taken place.