Back in the 1980s, the WWE was known for having very safe and tame matches. It was the classic good guy versus bad guy stories that got kids hooked into it, and many still watch it today. As those kids grew up, though, they wanted to see something a little edgier, and that’s where the Attitude Era came into play.
That era gave us some of the strangest and most brutal matches of all time in the WWE, giving us offensive storylines that probably wouldn’t swing today. A lot of the matches got scaled back in terms of violence once the PG Era came around, but the late 1990s and early 2000s gave us a lot of disturbing matchups that probably shouldn’t have happened.
These are the kind of matches that you either felt uncomfortable watching it from the get-go. There are some matches that may have been fun for you to watch as it was unfolding, but looking back on it now, they might make you squirm.
You won’t see too many recent matches on this list, with only one coming after the year 2005. You also won’t see any matches older than 1998, because that’s when it seems that the matches really got ramped up into a Rated R setting. Between intergender beat downs, extreme blood loss and lack of general safety, there were a lot of disturbing matches in the era.
Which ones stand out as the most disturbing of all time, though? Here are the 20 matches that had you looking away from the screen out of horror or disapproval.
20 John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar - Extreme Rules 2012
19 Undertaker vs. Vince McMahon - Survivor Series 2003
18 Pat Patterson vs. Gerald Brisco - King of the Ring 2000
17 Al Snow vs. Big Boss Man - Unforgiven 1999
16 Edge vs. Mick Foley - WrestleMania 22
15 Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man - Wrestlemania XV
14 Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker - No Mercy 2002
13 John Cena vs. JBL - Judgment Day 2005
12 Zach Gowen vs. Brock Lesnar - Smackdown, 2003
11 Shane McMahon vs. Steve Blackman - SummerSlam 2000
10 Vince McMahon vs. Hornswoggle - Raw, 2008
9 Stone Cold, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vs. The Hardy Boyz and Lita - Monday Night Raw
8 Chyna vs. Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco - Monday Night Raw
7 Triple H vs. Cactus Jack - Royal Rumble 2000
6 Edge, Lita and Mick Foley vs. Tommy Dreamer, Beulah McGillicutty and Terry Funk - One Night Stand 2006
5 Stephanie McMahon vs. Vince McMahon - No Mercy 2003
4 Eddie Guerrero vs. JBL - Judgment Day 2004
3 Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon - King of the Ring 2001
2 The Rock vs. Mankind - Royal Rumble 1999
1 Mankind vs. Undertaker - King of the Ring 1998
When people talk about the match that got them into watching the WWE, this is usually one of the first ones that gets brought up. That still doesn’t mean that it wasn’t the most disturbing match of all-time. The match seemed like it was over just after starting when Mankind got tossed off the top of the cell and through the announce table. After being carried away on a stretcher, Mankind came back just to get put through the cell’s ceiling and onto a bed of thumbtacks. How Mick Foley survived that match is a complete mystery, and it really cemented him as the “Hardcore Legend”.
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