When fans plunk down their money for a pay-per-view event, they expect their money’s worth. That works a lot in wrestling and far too many times, fans have been burned badly. From shows that have been horrible from start to finish to good shows marred by a bad main event, too many times fans have realized they wasted their money. Many will complain it’s grown in the last few years but really, from the start of the PPV industry, WWE has given us shows with poor endings. Bad main events, some bad skits, the wrong guy going over, it all happens and makes the show and WWE themselves look weaker.
There are slews of choices, many from the last few years but even looking back at the start of PPV, WWE has given us bad endings. They involve everything from a terrible bout to a “celebration” that fans hate and just make viewers want to demand instant refunds.
Over the decades, too many shows have ended this way but here are the biggest. Here are the 15 worst ways WWE ended a PPV and fans were livid about plunking down money for such a show. Hopefully you're not spending over $50 for a PPV anymore.
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15 Survivor Series 2000
The Survivor Series has been home to some nutty stuff in the past but this was something else. A year before, Steve Austin had been run over by a mystery car, kicking off a wild mystery with Rikishi taking the blame for it. It turned out that Triple H was the mastermind behind the attack (which made more sense anyway) and he and Austin were soon going at it in a wild feud. The match was a massive brawl extending through the arena and the Radicalz got involved to get beaten back by Austin. Triple H eventually got into a car to try and run Austin down, with Austin giving chase. Austin got his hands on a crane and used it to pull Triple H’s car into the air, hold it a few stories high and then let it drop. So the PPV ended with our hero trying to commit vehicular homicide.
Even crazier was Triple H coming back a couple of weeks later, barely looking scratched and making this one of the nuttiest antics in WWE history.
14 Over the Limit 2011
A famous bit in WWE was The Rock beating Mick Foley senseless at the 1999 Royal Rumble and Foley seemingly saying “I Quit” only for it to turn out to be a recording. Over a decade later, WWE decided to revive the idea and make it even dumber. John Cena faced The Miz in an “I Quit” match with Miz slamming Cena several times with a chair. He slapped on a weak finisher for the ref to hear Cena say “I Quit” and give the title to The Miz. However, the ref suddenly saw that Alex Riley had a cell phone with a recording of Cena saying the words from a promo. The match was restarted with Cena chasing The Miz up the ramp and slapping him in the STFU to get the real submission. This was easily one of the worst ways to keep Cena looking strong that WWE has ever done.
13 King of the Ring 1999
One of the nuttier feuds in WWE, Steve Austin had been feuding with The Undertaker who promised he was working for a “Greater Power.” It turned out to be Vince McMahon under a hood, resulting in a lame payoff. To salvage it, the idea was Linda installing Austin as CEO to drive Vince crazy for a few weeks. It led to a match with Austin against Vince and Shane with a briefcase containing the CEO rights hanging over the ring. Naturally, Austin dominated the two McMahons, beating them severely. However, when he went for the briefcase on a ladder, the cable holding it suddenly rose up out of his reach.
It was a childish addition with the briefcase lowered when the McMahons went up but then going back up when Austin went after it. In the end, the McMahons won to make themselves look like jerks but the fans hated such a cheap finish. What made it especially bad was that we never found out who in fact kept raising and lowering the briefcase.
12 Hell in a Cell 2014
It was as if someone was channeling the booking of 2000 WCW. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins went at it for the WWE title, a good match going back and forth. However, having it in Hell in a Cell seemed off as there was no blood and the shots not as epic as expected. Still, it built up well with Ambrose getting Rollins down and ready for the pin. Then the lights went off, chanting was heard and a hologram of Bray Wyatt appeared from a lantern in the middle of the ring. Ambrose stared in wonder before Wyatt showed up to attack and lay him out, letting Rollins get the win. It was completely ridiculous to watch and a topper of one of the dumber years WWE has seen in a while.
11 WrestleMania XXVII
When The Rock made his major return to WWE in 2011, it was massive, fans ecstatic to see him back and it seemed to push Mania more. However, the show turned out rather poorly, The Rock more of a distraction than a good guest host and the show had too many bad matches. The main event had John Cena challenging The Miz for the WWE title and it was expected Cena pull off the big babyface title win or for The Rock to affect the match in a cool way.
The match was quite bad, especially for Mania and the fans grew bored with it as it went on. The Rock intervened when the match ended in a double countout, restarting the match. He then interfered when the ref was distracted to attack Cena, laying him out a Rock Bottom allowing Miz to get the win. The Rock then laid out Miz with a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow and celebrated as the show went off the air... So The Rock essentially cost Cena the WWE title, despite him having already failed due to the countout.
It was completely pointless and thus, the big show of the year ended with The Rock standing over the two wrestlers just to set up the next year’s show with Cena and made this one a total waste.
10 TLC 2014
As crazy as the Hell in a Cell match was for Ambrose and Wyatt, this was even nuttier. It was clear in 2014 that Dean Ambrose was taking off with fans as the real star of The Shield break-up but even then WWE was reluctant to give him any push. Instead, he was stuck in this feud with the Wyatt family, fighting it out with Bray Wyatt in the main event, an odd choice for a topper. They brawled it out with Ambrose pulling out major spots like leaps off a ladder and had Wyatt down and ready to win the match. Ambrose grabbed a monitor but instead of hitting it, took a moment to admire his own image inside it. At which point, the monitor “exploded” into his face to blind him, allowing Bray to get the win. A truly lame way to finish a big brawl and it showed how WWE was reluctant to acknowledge what a big deal Ambrose was.
9 Battleground 2013
Easily the worst PPV of the year, this card showcased the rough idea by WWE on how Daniel Bryan wasn’t “the guy” despite being more over than anyone in the company. Once again, Bryan and Randy Orton were going at it for the World title and it was felt at the least, fans could get a good result. Instead, the bout was rough, both guys not seeming to click well together and there was too much interference.
It came to The Big Show jogging down to the ring to lay out Bryan at the orders of Brad Maddux. Then, for no reason, Show punched out Orton too. He then walked out, leaving both guys down and the match ending in a no contest. So fans wasted 60 bucks on a horrible no-contest that made the Big Show a bigger deal than either of these guys and topped a terrible show.
8 December to Dismember
The night the spirit of ECW truly died. Fans had been worried for a while about this WWE revival of the brand and how it brought too much WWE flavor to things. But no one could have foreseen this horrific PPV with bad matches and a short running time. Topping it was an Extreme Elimination Chamber match between CM Punk, Bob Holly, Rob Van Dam, Lashley, Big Show and Test. Even with weapons added, it was a lame idea and looked terrible to watch with Punk and RVD, the two most popular guys with the crowds, eliminated fast.
It eventually built to Lashley, a big beefy guy with a rough moveset, the total opposite of an ECW favorite, winning the title. The fans booed loudly as it was seen as the worst PPV of that year (and one of the worst ever) and more than a few ECW fans joined Paul Heyman in crying over seeing the name fall so far.
7 Royal Rumble 1999
We get to 1999, which was the year Vince Russo’s wilder tendencies began to take over and it began with the Rumble. Vince McMahon had forced Steve Austin to come in at #1 and promising to ensure he'd lose. But commissioner Shawn Michaels forced Vince to be #2. They fought it out before Austin was beaten down by The Corporation and taken away in an ambulance. Vince then spent the match in the commentary booth taking shots on Austin while everyone else fought it out. Austin came out to chase McMahon back in the ring and beat him down and was on the verge of eliminating him when The Rock came out.
The Rock managed to help McMahon eliminate Austin and win the Rumble. Thus, you had Vince celebrating with his stooges and Austin stewed, a very poor ending for the fans and made worse by how McMahon “stepped down” from a Mania shot the next night. The first major sign of how Russo’s writing was going to do more harm than good to WWE.
6 Over the Limit 2012
This show had Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk but it wasn't put it the main event spot. Instead, John Cena faced John Laurinaitis as part of one of the worst feuds WWE had ever seen. The match was mostly Cena slamming Laurinaitis around, beating him down and dominating easily. The bit with them at the commentary table was funny but still not worthy of a high place on the show. It built up to the ref getting knocked down as Cena finally seemed ready to win a match he could have finished off a dozen times already.
The Big Show, fired by Laurinaitis, forced him into the ring as Cena got Johnny Ace up for an AA…and then Show punched him to allow Laurinaitis to win. A wretched “swerve” to top a match that most felt should have been for free TV and not headlining a good PPV.
5 SummerSlam 1993
It’s one of the more baffling booking decisions WWE has ever made. When Hulk Hogan left in 1993, Vince decided he could just take anyone and make them into a Hogan-like hero. He chose Lex Luger, a guy many had been calling “the next Hogan” for years and gave him an All-American gimmick. “The Lex Express” had Luger going around touring, setting himself up as a big hero and the fans backing him up. By every bit of logic, this meant that SummerSlam should have seen Luger winning the belt off of Yokozuna. The match unfolded as expected, Luger making a big comeback to knock Yoko out of the ring…where he was counted out. The faces came to celebrate and balloons floated down but it meant nothing as Luger hadn’t won the belt.
It made him look a choke artist to the fans and ruined the push, as Luger’s career in WWE never got big again and it's amazing how badly WWE dropped the ball here.
4 2015 Royal Rumble
When you misjudge your audience, it’s a bad thing. And few recent examples for WWE are as clear as in 2015. To fans, it was totally obvious and logical: Daniel Bryan wins the Royal Rumble and goes to WrestleMania to face Brock Lesnar for the title he was forced to give up. Bryan was hot, incredibly over, he had it all and fans wanted it badly. Leave it to WWE to massively screw it up by deciding to ignite the Roman Reigns push for the main event. Shockingly, WWE decided to have Bryan eliminated from the Rumble early to break the hearts of the fans. Thus, poor Roman had no chance when he entered, literally booed for his every move and dumping out the far more popular Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler at the hands of Big Show and Kane didn’t help.
When Rusev seemed ready to dump Roman, he was cheered and even an appearance by The Rock couldn’t get the fans cheering Roman on. A clear sign his push was marred from the start and it caused a massive backlash against WWE.
3 Survivor Series 1997
Some might argue with this given how it all turned out. But for its time, you couldn’t get a better example of a terrible PPV ending. After months of feuding both on screen and behind the scenes, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were ready to go at it for the WWE title. The back and forth has become legendary as Bret made it clear he didn’t want to lose in Canada and certainly not to Michaels. The match was a wild brawl ending with Michaels getting Bret into the Sharpshooter and Earl Hebner immediately calling for the bell.
It was soon clear Bret had been screwed and spat at Vince before smashing the TV monitors around. The locker room came as close as it ever has to open revolt with Vince and the backlash from fans was big. It died down eventually and was the turning point to launching the “Mr. McMahon” character but at the time, seeing one of WWE’s biggest stars massively screwed over and humiliated was a very bad ending.
2 WrestleMania IX
Still regarded as the worst Mania of all time, the Caesar’s Palace theme didn’t work as expected, the crowd looking much smaller on TV and the “Roman” setting dumb. It wasn’t helped by a horrific undercard like Undertaker vs Giant Gonzalez and Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake losing to Money Inc. The main event had Yokozuna facing Bret Hart for the WWE title, Bret seemingly on his way to victory before Mr. Fuji threw salt in his eyes and Yokozuna won. Hogan, who had no relationship with Bret, came out to check on him and Fuji challenged him to a match. Waved in by Bret, Hogan pinned Yoko in 30 seconds to win the title. So to accommodate Hogan’s ego, WWE let him win the belt despite being out of the company for a year and nursing injury to boot. After a good run as champion, Bret was pushed aside and a fitting capper for the worst Mania of them all.
1 The Great American Bash 2004
After a good run as the better show against RAW, things started to falter for SmackDown in 2004. This show is a clear indicator. Despite a good undercard, including Eddie Guerrero vs JBL, the main event was one of the absolute worst in the history of WWE. After weeks of feuding, The Undertaker faced the Dudley Boyz in a handicap match with Paul Bearer locked in a case with Paul Heyman threatening to unload cement on him. Seriously.
The match was a disaster, The Undertaker dominating the Dudleyz to win and then marching to Heyman. As Heyman backed down, Taker grabbed the switch and pulled it himself to pour cement onto his own manager. So the PPV ended with our hero killing off his longtime aide and it wasn’t even the start of a heel turn. A topper to a bad show and a standout of some of the horrible stuff WWE would be going through that year.
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