As prestigious and acclaimed as WWE’s annual pro wrestling extravaganza is, not every match ever fought in the event’s illustrious history is the stuff of legend. Often, WWE crowds their annual super-card with non-wrestling participants such as famous actors, musicians, and sports stars. Admittedly, this tactic is part of what earns WrestleMania its mainstream attention, but that doesn’t mean various celebrity outsiders always make the show better.
In addition, sometimes marquee matches are shortened to the point of absurdity in order to make room for more time-consuming segments, such as the 20-plus minute classics that WrestleMania is known for. Other times, WWE simply devotes too much time and energy into a storyline or feud that just doesn’t really work on a true WrestleMania level. With this year's WrestleMania 33 still fresh on fans' minds, PopWrapped is ranking the top ten worst matches in the event’s storied history.
10. WrestleMania XXIV – Big Show vs Floyd "Money" Mayweather
Remember how we explained that WWE’s obsession with celebrity vs wrestler feuds usually ends up doing far more harm than good for the company and its stars? Boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather and the Big Show’s feud leading up to WrestleMania XXIV is one of those times.
The two men’s feud started at No Way Out in February of 2008 when Big Show threatened to chokeslam Mayweather’s kayfabe close friend, Rey Mysterio, during a promotional segment. Mayweather and his posse was in attendance and, in storyline, jumped the barricade and confronted Show.
Amused by this, Big Show mockingly dropped to his knees and arrogantly beckoned at Mayweather to hit him. Mayweather did so but ended up legitimately breaking Big Show’s nose, causing the giant to chase the much smaller Mayweather out through the crowd.
Reports are conflicting on whether the broken nose was pre-agreed upon or a case of Mayweather working unsafely, but, regardless, the incident led to a No Disqualification match between the two at that year’s WrestleMania. While intense, the match eventually devolved into absolute chaos, with the (ridiculously) much smaller Mayweather peppering Big Show with body shots before Mayweather’s posse began whacking Big Show with chairs. After eleven minutes, Mayweather slid on a pair of brass knuckles and delivered a stiff shot to Show’s jaw, awarding Mayweather the victory by way of the referee’s ten-count.
In the end, Mayweather and friends ran away from the match, making Big Show look insanely weak and awarding Mayweather a huge payday.
9. WrestleMania IX – The Undertaker vs Giant Gonzales
If you were watching WrestleMania 33 live from Orlando this year, you'll understand why The Undertaker is recognized as one of the all-time greatest performers in pro wrestling and WrestleMania history. In fact, "The Deadman" is so legendary he once held an undefeated streak of 21-0 at the “Showcase of the Immortals.” Despite this, not all of his ‘Mania matches were legacy-defining. One match in particular was Undertaker’s clash with Giant Gonzales at what was arguably WWE’s worst-ever WrestleMania, WrestleMania IX.
This match took place in 1994, a few years before “The Phenom” would truly gain notoriety as one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots, eventually putting on clinics with many of the biggest and brightest stars in the industry. In his early days such as this, however, Taker was often fed absolute garbage opponents that interfered with his ability to produce.
The problem with this match was Giant Gonzales, an allegedly 7’6” monster of a man who could barely move, let alone string together an exciting, athletic, and entertaining match. Due to Gonzales’s constraints, the match was slow, boring, and uneventful. Interestingly enough, this match is the only one of Undertaker’s streak victories that he won by disqualification, after Gonzales used a chloroform-soaked rag on him. Despite featuring one of wrestling’s true greats, the match’s poor quality and anti-climactic finish more than earns it a spot on our list.
8. WrestleMania XXVIII – Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus
Sheamus and Daniel Bryan’s match at WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami’s Sun Life Stadium didn’t have to be a bad one. The World Heavyweight Championship was on the line, the feud was hot enough, and both Bryan and Sheamus were quite talented in-ring. Unfortunately, the company made the call for this match, WrestleMania XXVIII’s opening contest, to feature a blow-off World Title change that occurred in a mere 18 seconds.
After the two men made their entrances, Daniel Bryan received a kiss from his storyline girlfriend, AJ Lee, only to turn around into a Brogue Kick from Sheamus, allowing the Irishman to steal the victory with a quick pin and become the World Heavyweight Champion.
While the crowd of 74,000 strong did pop for the surprise win, the match clearly didn’t allow either man involved to truly showcase what they could do inside the squared circle. Fortunately, the cheap shock-value match did have a silver lining, as it eventually launched Daniel Bryan into the successful babyface turn that made him a megastar with the company until his unfortunate retirement due to injury in February of 2016.
7. WrestleMania VII - Jake Roberts vs Rick Martel
What do you get when you take two ‘80s wrestlers with successful on-screen characters and decent in-ring skills, throw black sacks over their heads, and pit them against one another at WWE’s biggest annual pay-per-view event? A terrible match, a disappointed audience, and the seventh spot on our list.
The feud leading up to “The Model” Rick Martel and Jake “The Snake” Roberts’s feud was actually quite entertaining, but the company ruined it by booking a “blindfold” match at the seventh-ever incarnation of “The Grandest Stage of Them All.” While it was painfully obvious that both men could see right through the executioner-style black sacks over their heads, they still fumbled about the ring grasping at the air and tripping over one another in buffoonish fashion.
The contest went on for nearly nine excruciating minutes before Roberts successfully hit Martel with the DDT to score the pinfall victory. Had WWE simply decided to have the men square off in a simple one-on-one match, or at the very least added a reasonable stipulation such as a steel cage or no disqualification, this match could’ve easily been one of the better matches held at WrestleMania. But alas, it was not, and that’s why it makes our list.
6. WrestleMania XX - Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg
It may come as a surprise if someone told you that a rematch of the sixth worst match in WrestleMania history also occurred at this year’s event, 13 years after the match-up’s original showdown. However, that is exactly what happened. This time, the WWE Universal Championship was on the line, and the match was semi-decent, at least for a five minute bout between two middle aged muscle freaks.
Going into Brock Lesnar and Goldberg’s first clash at “The Show of Shows,” the fight was considered a dream match between two of the industry’s biggest powerhouses. However, in the months prior to the event, word had already gotten out that both men would soon be leaving the company for greener pastures and that their WrestleMania match was essentially the last big payoff they would receive on their way out. Because of this, neither Lesnar nor Goldberg’s heart was ever in their WrestleMania XX clash to begin with, and the Madison Square Garden crowd caught on very quickly.
The match started with a painfully-long stare down as a chorus of boos and “You sold out” chants directed at both men echoed around the arena. For several minutes, absolutely nothing happened. Finally, the behemoths locked up and began trading sluggish high-impact moves.
Goldberg eventually got the win, but the real pop occurred when the match’s special guest referee, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, laid out both men with a stunner and promptly exited the arena as the crowd erupted with delight.
5. WrestleMania XI – Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow
What can one really say about a WrestleMania main event between a retired professional football linebacker and a heavy-set, acrobatic wrestler? Many things, including that it was terrible and that it never deserved the main event slot at such an important event.
Former New York Giants linebacker, Lawrence Taylor, began a heavily publicized feud with one of wrestling’s best big men, Bam Bam Bigelow, in the Spring of 1995. Taylor mocked Bigelow at ringside following a match earlier that year, and the two eventually had a showdown in the main event of WrestleMania XI. As expected, Taylor’s complete lack of any professional wrestling training strongly showed here, and he was all but completely blown-up by the time he scored the win over Bigelow almost 12 minutes into the match.
Arguably, Bigelow never really recovered from his character’s damaged reputation after losing to an outsider at WrestleMania and eventually failing to capture the WWE Championship in a match against Diesel later that year. Bigelow left the company in late 1995 and never truly returned to pro wrestling prominence. He died of a drug overdose in January of 2007.
4. WrestleMania 2 – Adrian Adonis vs Uncle Elmer
This is the part of the list where we dive into the truly terrible. WrestleMania 2 was the highly-anticipated follow-up to Vince McMahon’s biggest gamble. The event actually aired in three different arenas across the country, beginning in Uniondale, New York, transferring to Rosemont, Illinois, and eventually concluding in Los Angeles, California
WrestleMania 2 also featured a ludicrous match between two of the worst gimmicks WWE ever created, Gorgeos George rip-off, "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, and hillbilly pig farmer, Uncle Elmer. The contest was booked as a laughable beauty vs beast feud and lasted a pathetic three minutes. After taking multiple comedic bumps throughout the bout, Adonis won with a diving headbutt and put an end to the travesty.
3. WrestleMania XXVI – Bret Hart vs Vince McMahon
After the infamous “Montreal Screwjob” it took Bret Hart, a beloved WWE icon, and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon nearly 13 years to bury the hatchet. The two men did so with a symbolic handshake on an episode of Monday Night Raw in early 2011. That would’ve all been well and good if McMahon hadn’t then kicked Bret Hart in the stones and launched the two into a sluggish, half-assed, outdated feud that culminated in a horrendous match at WrestleMania XXVI.
By the time this match occurred, Vince McMahon was 65 years old and Bret Hart had suffered multiple concussions and a stroke. This meant that both men were severely plagued by physical limitations, with Hart unable to take a single bump. To make matters worse, the match was booked in awful fashion, with Vince McMahon threatening to subject Hart to a “WrestleMania sized” screwjob by allegedly convincing the rest of the Hart family to turn on “The Hitman” during the match.
Eventually however, the entire Hart family ganged up on McMahon instead, allowing Hart to beat down Vince with a chair and lock in a pathetic Sharpshooter for the win. The bout was horrifically overbooked and painfully long, lasting over 11 minutes. Had Hart simply gotten his revenge by putting McMahon through the ringer for perhaps five to seven minutes, this would have gone much better. Instead, Hart’s legacy as an energetic and flawless in-ring worker took a bit of a hit, which lands this match on our list.
2. WrestleMania 21 – Akebono vs Big Show
As long as we live, many fans will never understand why WWE often dedicates so much time, money, and energy to completely ridiculous concepts that do nothing but tarnish the oft-criticized pro wrestling industry. Nevertheless, WrestleMania 21 featured one of those concepts, a so-called “sumo-match” between Akebono, a real-life Yokozuna, and WWE’s resident giant/comedy act the Big Show.
The “match” had no feud whatsoever. The build consisted simply of Big Show randomly challenging Akebono to a sumo match at WrestleMania and Akebono accepting. When the match actually took place, it lasted barely over a minute. Akebono won by tossing the 7-foot, 500 lb Big Show out of the ring (sans-ropes in order to supplement the “sumo” stipulation) like a small child.
Afterward, Akebono never appeared on WWE programming again, and the Big Show went on to feature in several serious and comedic feuds. The match had no purpose, no entertaining qualities, and was a colossal waste of marketing by the WWE. Akebono vs Big Show might be considered the single worst match in WrestleMania history, if it weren’t for the match occupying our number one spot.
1. WrestleMania XXVII – Michael Cole vs Jerry Lawler
Everyone who wanted to see two horribly aged, unathletic, television commentators engage in a bitter feud that lasted over four months and culminated in an appalling farce at WrestleMania please raise your hand. No one? That’s because that is probably the worst idea anyone ever had for a wrestling feud. The worst part? It actually happened.
Way past-his-prime wrestler-turned commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler began a feud with non-wrestling commentator Michael Cole in December of 2010 after Cole costed Lawler the WWE Championship in a TLC match against then champ, The Miz. For months, the two pasty, flabby men exchanged juvenile insults and absurd antics. Finally, the feud came to a head at a match (which also featured Jack Swagger as Cole’s “personal trainer” and Steve Austin as the guest referee) at WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta, Georgia.
The bout was completely unwatchable, featuring a dreadful cocktail of anti-athleticism, overbooking, and countless antics. Instead of Lawler quickly getting his sweet revenge against the despicable and arrogant Cole, Cole actually controlled most of the match. This was, of course, the equivalent of kayfabe suicide, as Cole was significantly smaller than Lawler and never had a lick of in-ring experience.
The catstrophe went on for fourteen straight minutes, longer than four of the card's matches actually featuring serious rivalries and real wrestlers. As if it couldn't get any worse, WWE's "anonymous general mager" (otherwise known as the worst angle in WWE history) made an appearance and reversed Austin's decision after Lawler's initial win, which made Cole the winner by DQ. The travesty finally ended when Austin stunned Cole and shared a beer with Lawler, thereby mercifully ending the worst match in WrestleMania history.
What do you think of our list of the worst matches in WrestleMania history? Is there any match you would add? Let us know in the comments below and we hope you enjoyed WrestleMania 33.