One could write a series of books on the various match types professional wrestling organizations have invented to captivate audiences. From the ever-popular ladder match which can fit in anywhere, to the pay-per-view spawning Hell in a Cell match, WWE has been at the forefront of pioneering exciting and unique match types over the years.
While WWE has seen its fair share of successful match types, not every invention has been a hit with the fans or the performers. Ignoring tasteless shades of an era past (i. g. tuxedo/evening gown matches), one-off failures like House of Horrors, and silly challenges such as bodyslam challenges and arm-wrestling matches, the five overarching match types listed here are the worst which have been invented.
While the matches associated with each category might not be the worst ever, they are certainly among the low points inside—or outside—the squared circle. Honorable mentions upfront go to the Bull Rope match.
10 Worst Type: Burning Ring Matches
There isn't much appeal in the minds of most to being surrounded completely by fire. With the Inferno match and the Ring of Fire match, this is exactly what happens. A normal wrestling ring is surrounded completely by burning panels.
Aside from the inherent danger to the competitors, there are a couple of issues with these matches. In the case of the Inferno match, the objective is to catch your opponent on fire; chiefly that superstars aren't being paid to murder or cook one another, thus the attire worn by competitors can often be telling of who will take away the win.
9 The Worst Burning Ring Match
Honorable mention goes to the one and only Ring of Fire Match held between Bray Wyatt and Kane. This lackluster match was simply a toned-down Inferno match without the danger inherent in setting your opponent on fire and didn't necessarily warrant its own variant.
The worst match of this variant goes to Armageddon 2006 where Kane found his first victory in a match of this type despite being involved in all four Inferno matches and the one and only Ring of Fire match. At Armageddon, neither competitor was overly impressive, with MVP being extinguished on the ramp following a disappointing finish.
8 Worst Type: Dual-Cage Matches
While these match types are less similar than the Inferno match and the Ring of Fire, this category will envelop the poorly received Punjabi Prison match and the infamous Kennel from Hell match.
Essentially, these stipulations expand upon the classic steel cage match and expect the participants to escape not only one structure, but a second inner structure as well. Since steel cage matches typically have a drawn-out buildup to an eventual escape, these bouts almost invariably play that theme out twice, with the second occurring in less than optimal space.
7 The Worst Dual-Cage Match
Honorable mention here goes to Big Show and Undertaker at The Great American Bash 2006 for breaking through the outer structure and creating a pointless ruling that the first to land should win.
Quite possibly the worst match of all time belongs to this category. At Unforgiven 1999, Al Snow and Big Boss Man competed in the Kennel from Hell match. This was a steel cage inside of a Hell in a Cell where competitors were expected to escape both structures while rottweilers patrolled the space between cages.
Unfortunately, this idea sounds much better than it played out. For starters, the dogs all had handlers holding their leashes. Next, the only signs of aggression displayed by the dogs were toward one another in the form of barking. While both competitors attempted to play up the situation, it came across very lacking.
6 Worst Type: Blindfold Matches
This match type is most disappointing for its unrealistic presentation. The premise here is that one or more of the competitors has their head covered with a hood and is thus rendered incapable of seeing their opponent. The problem is that the presentation fails to convince many of the premise.
While the legacy of this stipulation has been tarnished, the original incarnation between Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Rick “The Model” Martel was quite an entertaining bout between two extremely talented superstars. Both played their roles extremely well and captivated the crowd.
5 The Worst Blindfold Match
Honorable mention to John Cena for imitating Jake Roberts in a 2005 edition of Raw. Unfortunately, Cena insisted on pointing directly to the corners while attempting to find an un-blindfolded Daivari.
The worst match of this type goes to Triple H and D-Lo Brown on the 10/07/2002 edition of Raw. Both superstars over-sold their inability to see to the point that this was little more than a comedic affair. The ultimate finish saw Ric Flair distract the referee while Triple H removed his hood and gave D-Lo the Pedigree for the win, adding an unnecessary underhanded twist to a match which hinged on inherent disadvantage.
While this was great for keeping in character for the Evolution duo, it was a far cry from the entertaining affair originally played out at WrestleMania VII.
4 Worst Type: Pole Matches
Pole matches have been written about extensively and never fail to come up on lists of this nature. While the premise has potential as a variation of the fan-favorite ladder match, the execution couldn’t be further away.
In pole matches, an object is placed on a pole as a win condition, such as in a ladder match, or as a weapon to assist in the match. Competitors climb the pole, retrieve the item, then either win or continue the match. The suspended items range from cash prizes to weapons all the way to family members.
3 The Worst Pole Match
While Judy Bagwell on a forklift was one of the more absurd examples of this match, the honorable mention for this category goes to the 11/29/2011 edition of Smackdown, where 9 WWE Divas competed to obtain mistletoe from a pole in order to obtain a kiss... which never occurred.
Worse than either of the above matches, was a WCW match from the 7/31/2000 edition of Nitro. While these entries have been confined to WWE thus far, the “Viagra on a Pole” match between Shane Douglas and Billy Kidman must be the worst Pole match in history.
As disappointing as the buildup to this match was, it was the finish which really sets it apart. During a distraction from Torrie Wilson, Kidman climbs the pole and retrieves the Viagra, only for Douglas to execute The Franchiser, break the bottle, then show the referee a portion of the bottle in victory. Truly an exclamation point on a failed match in a failed category of wrestling history.
2 Worst Type: Hog Pen Matches
Thankfully, this match has only occurred three times. Unfortunately, each of the three were completely terrible.
Originally, the rules to the match were relatively simple. This was a no-DQ match where the objective was to throw your opponent into an actual hog pen. If you’re unfamiliar with that term, it is a housing structure for pigs.
The first match of this type was between Triple H and Henry Godwinn on the 12/17/1995 edition of In Your House where Triple H would emerge victorious to continue his undefeated streak. The second match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff would occur as a part of the “Redneck Triathlon” at Bad Blood 2003.
1 The Worst Hog Pen Match
Honorable mention is to the debut of this stipulation for sheer disgust. The pen in question was the most legitimate of any in this series.
The worst Hog Pen match to occur was at Extreme Rules 2009. This would see Santino Marella in a handicap match against Vicky and Chavo Guerrero. Everything about this match was geared at entertainment, but the match itself was neither very entertaining nor consistent.
The entirety of the match would negate the established rules, taking place entirely in the hog pin and seeing Santino pin each of his opponents individually to eliminate them. Further, the introduction of “slop” buckets would add an extra level of grit to an already grimy match.