As 2000 began, WWE was riding high with one of its best creative years ever. Meanwhile, WCW was taking a serious nose dive and putting out one horrendous show after another. ECW was trying to hang on but the writing was on the wall with them. Soon, WWE would swallow up both and take a fall in quality on its own with the brand extension. TNA would come along to try and fill the gap and ROH as well but it was still WWE dominating. Ups and downs would dominate for some time and that led to quite a few bad feuds and matches over the years. With WWE trying to shift around from Triple H's dominance to new stars in Cena and Batista to TNA doing their best to break out and often failing, the years of 2000-2009 were pretty rough to say the least.
As with any list like this, there are probably slews of terrible bouts at house shows that were worse than these as well as the various indies. However, these are notable for showing up at major shows, on PPV or even free TV and being utterly wretched. Some are just painful to watch, others helped set their companies back big time and at least one can be tied to the worst moments in that promotion’s history. Yes, we’ve seen bad stuff in previous decades and the last few years but the first decade of the 21st century had stuff that seemed to set wrestling back a much longer time. Here are 20 of the absolute worst matches produced in that decade and how fans have had a lot of lows to go with the highs.
20 Bradshaw & Trish Stratus vs. Chris Nowinski and Jackie Gayda
You can’t have a list of this decade’s worst battles and not include this match. At the time, JBL was still the hell raising Bradshaw and Trish was just starting to show her stuff as a real worker. The two faced Nowinski and Gayda with JBL and Chris soon brawling it out on the outside. This led to Trish versus Jackie, who proceeded to put on a display that made Eva Marie look like Ric Flair. No timing, bad bumps, falling over herself and selling a Trish bulldog about a minute late, it was utterly wretched. Even the commentators couldn’t hide their disdain with Jim Ross remarking “mercifully this is over” when Trish got the pin. Poor Jackie never recovered from it and her legacy in wrestling remains one of the worst women’s bouts ever.
19 Team 3D vs LAX - Lockdown 2007
Imagine Ed Wood directing a wrestling match. These two teams had a good feud going and could have given us something nice. Instead, TNA had the idea of the cage being “electrified” which meant dimming the arena lights and covering the ring in blue. Whenever someone touched the cage, the lights would flicker on and off and the guy would shake as if getting shocked. Just run that through your head. Somehow, guys could touch it with their feet with no problem but one touch of the hands and you’d hear the “electric” noises and the lights.
It was utterly laughable, a total distraction, the guys bleeding but you could barely see it and Team 3D finally getting the win but it barely meant anything after what we’d seen. Amazingly not the worst match on that show (as seen later in the list) but still an insane touch for this company.
18 Monty Brown vs. Trytan - Destination X 2005
TNA really had a push for Trytan, giving him video setups, making him look like this monster and clearly ready to make him a star. He finally debuted to face Monty Brown, a hulking guy dressed like the Terminator, imposing build, somber face…and it took about ten seconds in the ring to show he had utterly no skill whatsoever. He was stiff as hell, seemed unable to even understand how to take a proper bump, a kick that nearly went badly on Brown and the crowd hated him for the wrong reasons.
The lights went out as a masked Mideon attacked Brown and Trytan would soon be gone after all the build but this one match was enough for TNA fans to remember him in the wrong way.
17 Elimination Chamber - December to Dismember
So much has been written about this match but it still deserves attention. To cap off what was already earning the title of the worst PPV of the year, WWE decided to really tick off the ECW faithful by shoving the Chamber on them with guys who had no business in ECW. The idea of using weapons was intriguing but not really followed up on and RVD and CM Punk, the most over guys, were taken out while Hardcore Holly was not received well filling in. It was just remarkable to see the crowd turning on it, the fight getting worse before Lashley got the pin and the title. Truly the night the spirit of ECW died for good and you could understand Paul Heyman tearing up afterward.
16 AJ Styles vs. Frank Trigg - No Surrender ‘08
In one of their many attempts for “mainstream,” TNA decided to get MMA fighter Frank Trigg to join the company despite his lack of wrestling experience. Even worse, they put him against AJ Styles, a man who could out-wrestle just about anyone he wanted. Even worse than that, they decided the two would wrestle in five-minute rounds. Trigg was given the offense to sell MMA better than wrestling which would be okay if not for the fact TNA is a wrestling company.
The fans were openly chanting “we want wrestling” as Trigg used MMA moves more to take Styles down and teasing him winning but it was just the rest period between rounds. The second round began with Styles hitting a low blow on Trigg to get DQ’ed, as cheap an ending as you can imagine and thus TNA’s best guy was wasted on a MMA washout who would leave the company immediately. This is what happens when wrestling and other sports try to mix.
15 Kane vs. The Great Khali - SummerSlam ‘09
First, WWE was smart to only give these two six minutes. Second, those six minutes felt like an eternity. The infamously horrible Khali was just stomping with chops and shows of strength while Kane tried to use his “speed” against him. It was utterly sloppy to see and ugly as the crowd was clearly dying watching and you could see folks fleeing for the bathrooms. Amazingly, the ending of Kane hitting a running DDT for the pin was actually cool to see but not enough to salvage a battle even worse than most had expected.
14 Lex Luger vs. Sting - WWA The Retribution
WWA was the attempt to bring a new company together but failed thanks to the horrid mix of old-timers and green guys. In their debuts, Luger and Sting were to face off for the title and you’d think two guys who knew each other so well could pull off a great match. You’d be very wrong as we had some shoving, some stalling and then both guys getting the mic to cut promos in mid-match. Some weak kicks to Sting were sold like huge blows, Luger was clearly blown up in just minutes and then Jeff Jarrett entered to smash Sting with two guitars and let Luger win. No wonder this promotion faded in record time.
13 Scott Steiner vs. Road Warrior Animal vs. Sid vs. Jeff Jarrett - Sin
It’s fitting one of the final WCW PPVs could end with one of the most wretched matches ever. It started off with Sid defending the title against Steiner and Jarrett in what was just a lot of ugly bumps and fighting, stiff shots and all three looking bad doing it. Steiner and Jarrett were working together but doing a bad job of it and we saw Flair bringing in a mystery opponent with a mask. At which point, Sid took a jump off the ropes that ended with breaking his leg in one of the most gruesome injuries ever seen in wrestling.
With him just lying there and trying to limp, the entire match got worse before the mystery man entered to kick Sid, let Steiner win and then reveal himself as Animal. Even without Sid’s injury, this was one of the worst main events WCW ever put together and obvious how the company was going to be history soon.
12 James Storm vs. Chris Harris - Lockdown 2007
Given these guys were tag team partners for so long, you’d expect something good. Unfortunately, TNA decided to give them a blindfold cage match. Like all such battles, it was the two just stumbling around without any contact and running into the cage, a bump, a punch, more walking, etc. Even more laughable was that at a couple of points Storm’s hood came off but rather than keep it up like a heel, he pulled it back on. They finally got a few shots in on each other like a slam off the ropes before Storm finally realized he was the heel, took off his hood and hit a DDT for the win. Once again: Blindfold matches NEVER work, no matter how you frame them.
11 Sting vs. Abyss - Destination X 2007
Vince Russo will pop up a few times on this list for some wild ideas and this is one of his most notable. Sting and Abyss came out to a ring surrounded by candelabras and proceed to have a battle where Abyss picked up a “headstone” that was quite obviously paper mache but then Sting seemed to have trouble lifting it, like it was stone. Sting was hit in the stomach, which somehow made him bleed from the head and then a coffin was lowered from the ceiling, the two fighting it out before Sting finally stuffed Abyss into it. A horrid match and sight notable for the “FIRE RUSSO” chants echoing through the arena and how TNA took a serious fall in quality.
10 Booker T vs. Jeff Jarrett - Nitro
Vince Russo outdid himself here. For a Nitro show out of San Francisco, Russo decided to have the WCW title decided in a “San Francisco 49ers Match.” Booker T and Jarrett went at it with four boxes hanging from poles around the ring. One had a picture of Scott Hall, the second a blow-up doll, the third a “loaded” glove to use and the last one held the belt. Russo has always been “titles are props” but this was taking it a bit too far. The belt just fell out of the last box for the ref to give it to Booker and show how bad Russo’s tenure in WCW was.
9 Jamie Noble vs. Nidia - No Way Out 2004
What’s worse than a blindfold match? An intergender blindfold match. The backstory was Noble and Nadia being “trailer trash” who inherited money, Nidia spending most of it so Jamie attacked and “blinded” her so she wanted revenge. They put on their hoods and then engaged in “comedy” of Nidia pulling down his pants and kicking him in the rear before Noble pulled off the hood and hit a sleeper to win. It’s even worse than it sounds and proof that mixing two bad match concepts just make things horrific.
8 Brothers of Destruction vs. Kronik - Unforgiven 2001
Calling this a match might be a bit unfair. “Slaughter” would be a better term and one of the biggest highlights of how utterly mismatched the “Invasion” of WWF by WCW was. As the WCW tag champs, Kronik had some promise and push as they faced Undertaker and Kane for the belts. The result was a huge lopsided affair, Kronik getting in almost no offense whatsoever, totally destroyed by the Brothers and not even looking good doing it. This was just an excuse for the WWF guys to totally crush the WCW ones which is the perfect metaphor for this entire angle.
7 Boogeyman vs. Booker T & Sharmell - WrestleMania 22
Poor Booker T, a great worker who had absolutely no business involved in a feud this ridiculous. Stalked for weeks by the Boogeyman, Taker and wife Sharmell faced off with him at Mania in a very ugly battle, just a lot of running around, Sharmell kissed by the Boogeyman and drenched with worms and Booker having to sell for this rather untalented worker. Boogeyman got the win and you had to feel for Booker finishing yet another horrible fight far beneath him.
6 Undertaker vs. Big Show - Great American Bash 2006
This was going to be Taker versus Great Khali but Khali was suspended before the show so we got Big Show instead. This was ironic given this was the first-ever “Punjabi Prison” match meaning the ring was surrounded by a cage and then a cage of bamboo, four doors around, each with a referee that could only be opened for 60 seconds and you could win by climbing over the “spikes.” Amazingly, Vince Russo had nothing to do with this. It seemed Taker and Show had little idea how to work this wild battle, an ugly fight with lots of slow padding and fighting and the rules still making little sense.
It went 20 minutes, about twice as long as fans wanted and the action was just ugly to watch. Amazingly, WWE tried it again with Khali and Batista which was actually a bit better than this row that ranked high among the worst bouts of that year.
5 Reverse Battle Royal
He’s never confirmed it but most agree only Vince Russo could think this one up. The rules are just ludicrous: Seventeen guys on the outside fighting to get into the ring so you had a bunch of guys brawling and unable to complete one of the single easiest tasks for any wrestler. Then once you had eight guys inside, it turned into a regular battle royal to toss guys right back out. Once it was down to two, it turned into a one-on-one match. Amazingly, TNA had two of these despite the reaction to both being among the worst matches of all time and ranking among the dumbest sights ever seen in a wrestling ring.
4 Christy Hemme vs. Big Fat Oily Guy - Against All Odds ‘07
When you see stuff like this, it’s no wonder Jim Cornette’s tenure in TNA didn’t last long. After getting into fights with Kip James, Christy Hemme was given the chance to prove herself in the ring in a tuxedo match against the BFOG. The only slightly entertaining bits were listening to Mike Tenay and Don West moan over having to watch this (“Is it wrong to be rooting against Christy here?”) as BFOG was stripped down to expose his horrendous belly and hairy back, then finally down to a red thong.
In what may be the perfect capture of TNA, the cameras showed this oily fat guy in a thong before a fan sign of “TNA=Wrestling Matters.” No surprise Christy would be moved to just an announcer after that.
3 Pat Patterson vs. Gerald Brisco, King of the Ring 2000
Ugh. That’s all you can say about this. Long past their prime, Patterson and Brisco were set into a feud trading the Hardcore title and engaging in “funny” backstage bits. It culminated in a match that Shawn Michaels decided to make an Evening Gown battle. So you had two aged men fighting it out in drag right down to women’s’ underwear. It was agony as even Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross groaned over having to watch it and Crash Holly getting a huge pop sweeping in to pin Patterson and win the belt and end one of the worst sights of an otherwise good WWF year.
2 DDP & David Arquette vs. Jeff Jarrett & Eric Bischoff
The true moment everyone knew WCW was doomed. Vince Russo can spin this until doomsday but the fact remains that giving the World title to a third-rate actor just for some free publicity crushed any hopes fans had the company could rebound. Having it happen in a tag match was even worse as Arquette took advantage of Bischoff knocked down to cover him for the pin and the belt. Maybe matches on this list worse in overall quality but in terms of impact that did its company irreparable damage, this has to rank among the biggest ever and still why so many fans hate Russo.
1 Jenna vs. Sharmell - Victory Road ‘09
Few things TNA has done have been as utterly wretched at this. Despite how their own Knockouts needed second jobs to make ends meet, TNA decided to throw a hundred grand at Jenna, a contestant on “Survivor” years ago and put her into a feud with Sharmell. The result is what many consider the worst battle ever put on a PPV, a horrid “match” with bumps and shoves that were all over the place, hair pulling, no real semblance of a battle and Awesome Kong forced to watch it all. It ended with Jenna getting the pin and then crushed by Kong but too little, too late to salvage a match that still ranks among the worst things TNA has given us.