As the current leader of the wrestling world, WWE is looked at as something to build on and for fans to enjoy. It’s hard to put up with all that pressure and that includes pay-per-view. Over the years, WWE has pushed PPV as the big bit for the company, a key way to make money and get stars over. When it works, it’s great. When it doesn’t…it can be very, very bad.
When one mentions terrible PPVs, WCW often pops to mind and TNA has given us some stinkers as well. But it only makes sense that having the most PPVs of all time, WWE has also given us the most number of worst PPVs ever. Sometimes they can be redeemed by a great match but far too often, they are cards that are up to down terrible and nothing can save that. Some are low-key, some are the biggest shows of the year. They involve major stars who usually turn in terrific matches but here just send out utter garbage. Bad turns, bad booking and terrible pushes for the wrong people, they all combine for shows that make fans wish they’d never spent money on. Here are the 20 worst PPV events in WWE’s history and a reminder of how bad this company can get.
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20 SummerSlam 1995
This was one of the worst years in WWE’s history, packed with bad shows. SummerSlam was a key example. We did have a fantastic ladder match between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels for the IC title, but that all this wretched card had. The opening matches of Hakushi/1-2-3 Kid and Hunter Hearst Helmsley/Bob Holly were short and rough and while it was fun to see Barry Horowitz win over Skip, it was still a lifelong jobber coming on top over a more deserving star. The Undertaker/Kama casket match dragged way too long as did the horrible Bret Hart/Isaac Yankem battle. Bertha Faye won the Women’s title over Alundra Blayze in a bout that deserved more time.
The topper was Diesel vs Mabel, one of the worst PPV main events ever, horribly slow and plodding with interference from Lex Luger and Mo before Diesel won with a cheap second rope elbow. Ramon/Michaels is great but not enough to make this show worthwhile.
19 King of the Ring 2002
The last KOR PPV went out with a whimper, not a bang as WWE was reeling from Steve Austin suddenly walking out on the company. The Hardyz against Steven Richards and Raven was short and bad and Ric Flair versus Eddie Guerrero was a too slow match as neither guy seemed able to gel with the other. The Kurt Angle/Hulk Hogan battle was also a letdown with Angle winning by submission despite Hogan looking stronger in what looked like a comedy match.
The show did a good job elevating Brock Lesnar despite a so-so win over RVD in the finals. However, the Undertaker/Triple H main event was terrible as both men were battling through injuries to make this a slow match. When the only worthwhile thing is a backstage promo of The Rock, Booker T and Goldust, you know a show is bad.
18 New Year’s Revolution 2005
Emenating from Puerto Rico, this show had a good main event but the rest was just garbage. Eugene and William Regal retained the tag titles on Christian and Tomko in a bad opener and the Trish/Lita match was marred by injury to Lita. Maven was a bad challenger for IC Champion Shelton Benjamin and the Muhammad Hassan/Jerry Lawler battle was atrocious, made worse by how there was no commentary with Jim Ross, who was in Lawler’s corner.
As noted, the Elimination Chamber was actually pretty good, a fantastic brawl that helped elevate Batista to main event status before HHH won. But that didn’t make up for a very weak card.
17 1992 Survivor Series
Shifting from the Hogan era to the “New Generation,” this card broke away from Survivor Series tradition with only one elimination match (Nasty Boys and Natural Disasters vs. Money Inc and the Beverly Brothers) which was pretty bad. The Headshrinkers beat High Energy, Yokozuna literally crushed Virgil, the Big Boss Man beat Nailz in an overhyped battle and the Tatanka/Rick Martel match was a waste.
For months, the show was promoted as Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior facing Ric Flair and Razor Ramon but Warrior left literally days before. So, Mr. Perfect was turned face to fill the gap and while the match was surprisingly good, it still threw off fans after so much hype. The main event of Bret against HBK was good but Shawn wasn’t the superstar athlete he would become, so not as epic as it could have been. It was still a transition period and showed how WWE still had a ways to go to adjust for fans.
16 WrestleMania XI
One of the worst Manias of all time as evidenced by the main event. The Allied Powers and the Blu Brothers was a waste, Razor Ramon beat Jeff Jarrett by DQ and the “I Quit” match between Bret Hart and Bob Backlund was far too slow given its promise. Undertaker and King Kong Bundy was a slow and agonizing battle and while the title match between Diesel and Shawn Michaels was good, it only made Shawn look better, not the WWE champion.
Of course, there’s the main event as Bam Bam Bigelow was beaten by former NFL player Lawrence Taylor which may have gotten WWE mainstream attention but ranks as one of the worst Mania main events ever. It somehow fits as this was perhaps WWE's worst year.
15 SummerSlam 2007
WWE was still in shock over the Benoit murder/suicide and that sent a pall that this show couldn’t overcome. That wasn’t helped by how so many on the roster were about to get hit by wellness policy suspensions. Kane and Finlay had a rough opener while the IC title Triple Threat dragged with Umaga retaining.
Rey Mysterio’s return against Chavo Guerrero was too slow while the Divas battle royal was lukewarm. We had Stone Cold coming to a “beer drinking contest” that was just an excuse to deliver a Stunner to MVP and CM Punk came up short against ECW Champion John Morrison.
HHH’s return bout was overblown for a quick finish over Booker T and the Batista/Khali battle was a horrible sight. John Cena and Randy Orton did polish it a bit with a good main event but it was obvious real life tragedy threw this entire show off badly.
14 Great American Bash 2005
Despite a good build, this show turned out poor, kicking off with Animal and Heidenreich forming a new Legion of Doom to win the tag titles but the fans never accepting this pairing at all. Booker T and Christian had a too-short match as did Chris Benoit and Orlando Jordan. That was followed by Undertaker against Muhammad Hassan in a match with interference by masked men and Hassan crushed which basically pushed him out of the company for good.
The Rey Mysterio/Eddie Guerrero battle was marred by the terrible Dominic storyline and the main event of Batista against JBL was ended by JBL winning by DQ. The entire show just thrown off by too much bad booking and creative decisions.
13 Bragging Rights 2010
After boosting the Nexus to prominence, WWE soon managed to ruin it on this show. While the Ziggler/Bryan opener was good we then had Cena and Otunga teaming up to win the tag belts from Cody Rhodes and Dew McIntyre followed by Ted DiBiase versus Goldust, both matches not advertised at all.
The Buried Alive match between Kane and Undertaker was as bad as you could imagine with Kane winning and the big “RAW vs. SmackDown” tag match was a letdown.
The main event was Orton and Barrett for the title with Cena attacking Barrett so he won by DQ, but Orton retained and beat Cena and Barrett down. So the Nexus were made to look weak overall and continued relying on Cena.
12 Armageddon 2003
Another sign December just isn’t a good month for PPVs. The card kicked off with Mark Henry dominating Booker T totally until Booker pulled off a surprise win. The RVD/Randy Orton match was good with Orton winning the IC title, but the Jericho/Christian versus Trish/Lita match was rough to say the least. Shawn Michaels beat Batista despite being pounded around while the tag team match was a mess of teams and spots without real flow and storyline.
For the main event, Goldberg defended the World Title against HHH and Kane in an overbooked battle that ended with HHH regaining the World title, the last thing the crowd wanted. A fitting capper to a pretty rough year for WWE.
11 Battleground 2013
The first Battleground was one of the lowest ordered shows ever and for good reason. Alberto Del Rio beat RVD in the opening match, The Great Khali and Santino faced the Real Americans in a terrible tag match and Curtis Axel’s IC title match with R-Truth was rough as well. The AJ Lee/Brie battle was ugly and Bray Wyatt against Kofi Kingston was truly poor. The CM Punk/Ryback match was truly rough to watch as Punk did his best to salvage the battle.
Finally, the main event of Orton and Daniel Bryan ended with a terrible non-finish. A total mess of a show and no wonder fans stayed away from it.
10 In Your House: D-Generation X
One of the last In Your House PPVs, this 1997 show came with WWE still reeling from the events of Montreal and it showed. Sgt. Slaughter, clearly past his prime, lost to HHH in a dragging Boot Camp match. Butterbean and Marc Mero had a terrible “Toughman contest,” and Jeff Jarrett beat The Undertaker by DQ.
We did have the fun of Stone Cold Steve Austin against The Rock in an IC Title match, but the main event was truly awful with Ken Shamrock beating Shawn Michaels by DQ so Michaels kept the belt. No wonder folks at the time truly thought WWE was going out of business with the quality they presented then.
9 Armageddon 2004
December PPVs just aren’t that good, it’s pretty obvious. An opening tag team match was good but it was downhill from there as the Bashams, Hardcore Holly and Charlie Haas had a terrible match, Cena against Jesus (remember him?) and Big Show beating Kurt Angle, Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns in one match.
The main event was a Fatal Four-Way of JBL, Eddie Guerrero, Booker T and Undertaker for the title, which sounded good but dragged way too long, going almost half an hour before Heidenreich of all people interfered to allow JBL to retain. Just too much bad to overwhelm the promise and a poor show in many ways.
8 King of the Ring 1999
This is when it became clear Vince Russo’s writing was getting out of control. The tournament bouts were poor with Road Dogg pinning Chyna, Billy Gunn over Ken Shamrock by the ref stopping the bout and Gunn winning the whole thing despite how poorly suited he was for a major run. We had Mideon and Viscera beating the Big Boss Man in a handicap match, The Hardyz and the Brood in a fair match but not as great as they’d do in the future and The Undertaker and The Rock in a quite bad title match.
The main event of Steve Austin against the McMahons in a ladder match was a wildly overbooked mess with the McMahons winning by cheating, not the way to send a crowd home happy, especially after such a bad show. A clear sign how things were getting rough for the Attitude Era and Russo leaving was actually a good thing for WWE.
7 Unforgiven 2003
This terrible card opened with the Dudleyz winning the tag titles in a handicap tables match. That was followed by Test and Scott Steiner in a terrible match with Test winning and thus Steiner had to be his “property.” A Divas tag match was surprisingly good thanks to Lita and Trish as partners but the Shane/Kane battle was just a total mess of a “brawl” that did nothing to help either man. That was still far better than the horrid match of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler against Coach and Al Snow.
The main event of Goldberg beating HHH for the World title was marred by HHH looking too strong and a weak ending. Just a truly poor card given its promise and star power and showcasing HHH’s ego running wild to make sure he came off better even in losing the belt.
6 The Wrestling Classic
One of the first ever wrestling PPVs, this was dominated by a tournament that was basically a dry run for what would become the King of the Ring. It was pretty damn bad despite some attempts to liven it up like Davey Boy Smith versus Ricky Steamboat as the bouts lasted about five minutes each with far too many bad ends. Randy Savage was set to have a great run with big wins…only to lose in the finals, by count-out, to the Junkyard Dog.
Even a Hulk Hogan-Roddy Piper match couldn’t help as no battle on the card ran more than 10 minutes. A poor show that would have been bad for free, let alone on the fledging PPV market and a letdown of the time.
5 In Your House 4: Great White North
You have a show in Canada and you put Bret Hart in the dark match. That’s a sign it’s going to be bad. Smoking Gunns against Razor Ramona and 1-2-3 Kid was fair, but Goldust’s debut was rough with the crowd and Yokozuna against Mabel set new depths in terrible “big guy” fights. We had the infamous bit of Dean Douglas being rewarded the IC title when Shawn Michaels had to forfeit and then immediately losing it to Ramon.
As for the main event, Diesel and Davey Boy Smith had a horrible ending with the Bulldog winning by DQ, hardly the best way to sell him to crowds. Yet another sign of a terrible year for WWE and even a Canadian crowd couldn’t salvage it. Legend has it, even Vince screamed out about how horrible it was when the show ended. He was right.
4 Great American Bash 2004
After a great run in 2004, the “SmackDown” brand hit a major stumbling block with this show. The Eddie Guerrero/JBL bull rope match was a good brawl but too much poor stuff like John Cena facing Booker T, Rene Dupree and RVD in a rough four-way match, Luther Reigns vs. Charlie Haas, Sable vs. Torrie and Mordecai vs Bob Holly.
The main event of The Undertaker beating the Dudleyz and then burying Paul Bearer alive. A terrible show with one of the worst PPV main events of all time and a sign of the brand turning their fortunes to the worst just when they were taking off.
3 WrestleMania IX
The worst WrestleMania of all time, accept no substitutes. The Caesar’s Palace setting may have sounded great but on TV, it looked cheap and far less crowded than it truly was and having everyone in robes and other outfits was just stupid. The bouts were not only bad but idiotic from two Doinks attacking Crush, Undertaker vs the always terrible Giant Gonzalez, Razor Ramon vs Bob Backlund and highly hyped Mega-Maniacs vs Money Inc match ended with the faces losing by DQ.
What everyone remembers is the main event as Bret Hart, the most over guy in WWE, lost the title to Yokozuna…who less than a minute later lost it to Hulk Hogan in an impromptu main event. Still the worst Mania ever and a “highlight” of a rough period for WWE.
2 King of the Ring 1995
Yes, it’s 1995 once more, showing again how bad a year this was. The tournament had bad moves like Shawn Michaels and Undertaker being bounced in the opening round, while names like Savio Vega was put in the finals. It ended with the obese and horrible worker Mabel winning and becoming King, intended to push a new heel but the fans hated it from the start.
Meanwhile, Bret Hart beat Jerry Lawler in a “Kiss My Foot” match and the main event was Diesel and Bam Bam Bigelow against Sid and Tatanka. Yes, not even a title match to try and salvage this, a true low point of an already low year for the company and even the strongest fan can't put up with this horrible event.
1 December to Dismember
It’s never a good sign when most of a PPV card isn’t announced before the show even begins. That no doubt helped it become the lowest ordered PPV in the company’s history and those who did buy regretted it. This was the sign the WWE's revival of ECW was an epic disaster and showed off big-time with a show as far away from ECW as you could get. MNM fought the Hardy Boyz, Balls Mahoney had a bad match against Matt Striker, ECW mainstay Tommy Dreamer was beaten down by the Great Khali and a terrible intergender match took place as well.
That all led to the Elimination Chamber main event, with Hardcore Holly replacing Sabu, RVD pinned early, weapons used to poor effect and finally coming down to Bobby Lashley beating Big Show to win the ECW title and the show ending in under two hours. Reportedly, Paul Heyman was in tears afterward and you can’t blame him as this was a slap in the face for ECW and even on its own terms, a terrible PPV “event” that has to top this list.
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