As we quickly approach the 32nd WrestleMania, it looks to me that the BIGGEST WrestleMania has the possibility of being the WORST WrestleMania of all time. To be honest, it is the first time in years that I am not going to cancel any plans that may come up that could interfere with my watching the event live. Now granted WWE probably doesn’t care, as they already have my $9.99 for the month, but to a guy who has seen all of them when they were originally broadcast, it’s a bit disheartening. I mean we are only a few weeks away and there are only two matches (Lesnar/Ambrose & Styles/Jericho) that I want to see.
It is with the lackluster feeling about the upcoming WrestleMania that I started thinking about some of the worst ‘Manias and some of the most frustrating matches of those events. I decided to put a list together of what I consider the 15 most frustrating WrestlMania matches of all time. Now this list is not a grouping of horrible matches. If I put a list like that together it would be over 50, maybe even over 60. Nope, I decided to compile a list based on match results, bad angles, politics behind the match, over hyping and how much time it may have taken from other matches on the card. With the ground rules set, let’s get this list started.
# 15 – Fandango defeats Chris Jericho – WrestleMania 29
Here is the demarcation line in the career of one Chris Jericho. The once proud multi time IC and Heavyweight Champion began his slide from greatness from this match. Jericho had gone from beating the best in world to being the guy to put younger talent over. I get helping younger talent, but not on the wrestling world’s biggest stage, not in NYC, and not to somebody making his major promotion in ring wrestling debut! This is a guy who beat Austin and The Rock on the same night!! What hurts the legacy of this match even more is that Fandango has NEVER been considered more than a mid-card wrestler since. The only highlight for Fandango after this match was the crowd the next night on RAW singing his entrance music. This was the beginning of Jericho becoming a part time sports entertainer, rather than a full time wrestler. I’m hoping the Jericho we are currently seeing in his program with AJ Styles will undo some of the damage his reputation has taken with the fan base.
#14 – Akebono defeats Big Show – WrestleMania 21
This thing had such a huge buildup. Not that I was expecting much from the match, but I expected more than a minute and two seconds of match length. It was the first time Big Show was ever outweighed in a match, so it was intriguing. However, seeing Big Show in a diaper made me skip dessert at that night’s WM party I was at. Fans became impatient, as there was more non action than action. The match was just a total bust.
#13 – WWF vs. NFL Battle Royal – WrestleMania 2
Battle Royal’s were a great way to see top talent slug it out in a winner take all format. What was appealing about this one was the inclusion of the NFL stars, including 2 of the home town Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears, Jimbo Covert and William Perry. Remember folks no internet, and still kayfabe days, so some of us thought the NFL guys may put up a good showing. Forget it. It was the most rushed battle royal of its time. There were only 6 guys left in the match in less than 6 minutes and we were down to the final 3 (Andre and the Hart Foundation) at the 7:50 mark. The NFL guys really looked out of place. The highlight of the match was when Mean Gene oversold bouncing around when Perry jumped into the ring.
#12 – Lawrence Taylor defeats Bam Bam Bigelow – WrestleMania 11
More football players equals more frustration. First of all this was the main even as opposed to the WWF Title between HBK & Diesel who had just had their big break up. If the WWF title is the most prestigious thing your company has, and the object that everyone is shooting for, then it should ALWAYS be the main event. Of the 7 matches of the card that night, this was without a doubt the worst of the group. Also, get a load of some of the lumberjacks on Bam Bam’s team; Tatanka, Nikolai Volkoff, Kama, really? Seeing that trio only boosted LT’s confidence. Bam Bam did the best he could in trying to make this a good match, but he ended up overselling moves from LT. It didn’t get much better at the end when Bam Bam did a bad sell job of a knee injury after a moonsault. This was just another case of a non wrestlers in the squared circle.
#11 – Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal – WrestleMania 25
This was rough. Seven minutes and twenty-five seconds of my life I’ll never get back. What was frustrating about this was that it was possibly the poorest planned match in WrestleMania history and it happened on the event’s 25th anniversary. You knew this was going to be bad when the ring bell was rang twice after Kid Rock sang. The double bell was the signal for Justin Roberts to read the rules of the match, however some of the geniuses in the ring thought it was the bell to start the match. Roberts had to introduce the match over these titans of wrestling going at it. Layla was even eliminated before Roberts finished. It was so bad that Mae Young wasn’t even announced as guest time keeper. You see Candice Michelle, who was next to Mae, even shrug her shoulders as if to say “ok I guess we’re blowing this part off.” There was no announcement of the participants, so you had no idea who was in the match. Santino, um I mean Santina, did nothing until the end when he tossed over Melina and Beth Phoenix simultaneously at the end to win. So now I have written about Santino in drag and Big Show in a diaper. Ok, now I really feel sick.
#10 – Men on a Mission vs. The Quebecers – WrestleMania 10
This was actually for the WWF Tag Team Championship? Really? It was a sad sign that tag team wrestling was heading down a bad slope fast. Gone were the days of the Hart’s, Bulldogs, Rockers, Strike Force, now we getting these two stellar teams, one of which I completely forgot about (Quebecers – who were the defending champs!). A 10 man match involving Rick Martel, I.R.S., The Headshrinkers, and Jeff Jarrett vs. Tatanka, The Smoking Gunns, Bob “Spark Plug” Holly and The 1-2-3 Kid was ultimately scratched from this card (Razor and HBK went too long). This tag team title match actually went 7 minutes and 41 seconds. If Vince had only known he was going to have to shorten the show previously, I vote for this one to have gotten the ax.
#9 – John Cena defeats The Rock – Wrestlemania 29
Let me start by saying that neither The Rock or John Cena are on my personal favorite list. But, the first Cena vs Rock feud that led up to the main event of WrestleMania 28 was the best feud the WWE had done in years, and nothing has rivaled it since. I really enjoyed the original feud, and the match didn’t disappoint. It was built over a year. There were incredible promos cut by both wrestlers. There was also legit heat that we saw and read about that was going on behind the scenes. The emotional investment made by the fans was contagious and when the opening bell rang the stadium exploded with a huge roar. It was billed as once in a lifetime, but……it wasn’t.
I have many issues with the rematch. To start with The Rock, a part time wrestler/full time actor comes in as the WWE champion? Really? Doesn’t say much about the roster I guess. One aspect that made the first match special was that it was an attraction match, featuring one era versus another. No titles were on the line. Now we have an actor as the champ. You knew Rock was not a long term solution as champ and if he lost it that night it was going to a guy the NY/NJ fan base was not a fan of. The crowd almost seemed resigned to the fact that Cena was going to win.
The chemistry from the first match was missing as well. It had a “been there, done that” feeling. This rematch did not have the same juice as the Undertaker vs HBK or Rock vs Austin rematches. There was another telling thing about the crowd at MetLife stadium that night. In an era in which everything is considered awesome, there wasn’t one “This is Awesome” chant!
#8 – Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant – WrestleMania 4
It was the big rematch from the previous year’s main event. You knew something was fishy when the two guys who had byes in the first round, met each other to start the second round. Since when does a one play two in the second round? The match was sloppy and Andre had really started showing significant signs of slowing down, so the match was just a disappointing dud. The worst part was at the end Hogan hits Andre with a chair right in front of the ref and doesn’t get disqualified YET when Andre hits Hogan with a chair, it’s a double DQ. Huh? Amazing how just one year later all of the Andre vs. Hogan steam was gone.
#7 – Michael Cole defeats Jerry Lawler – 27
This is one of those matches you cringed over when it was announced that it would be part of the Mania card. This was just a bad idea, a 60 year old vs. an announcer. This match went 13:44 which was 13:43 too long. Jerry Lawler was a great wrestler. If you wanted to put him in a match, you could’ve had him in the legends match against Jericho at WrestleMania 25. Cole looked moronic in the wrestling gear he was wearing, showing off his incredible lack of a physique. He then cut a horribly long promo. All I kept thinking was feeling bad for Austin who had to ref this match. When I was watching this match again, I did notice one thing. What do Michael Cole and Jonn Cena have in common? They have had the crowd chant “you can’t wrestle” to them. Anyway, the email from the RAW general manager disqualifying Lawler due to Austin overstepping his authority just added another layer to the frustration as to why this match was even booked.
#6 – The Miz defeats John Cena – WrestleMania 27
The fact that the Miz walked in as WWE Champ was an absolute joke. I can’t tell you how many times since I originally saw this match that I’ve seen this guy job out to various mid card level talent and say to myself, this guy actually headlined a WrestleMania? Then the obligatory head shake.
Cena’s best matches have always come when he was teamed up against a great worker (Punk, Michaels, Lesnar, etc) who could carry the match for the most part and put Cena over in a positive light. In this match however, Cena was counted on to carry the match and job out to him, so he was going to have call/carry the match when necessary. It was a recipe for disaster. Nobody cared about The Miz and this was around the time most people started getting sick of Cena and the boos started to trickle in, along with “Cena sucks” chants. There was never a big match feel in the buildup of the match, which should always accompany a main event. We got the obligatory ref bump of course, which then leads to the match getting out of control and subsequently the match ruled a draw on a double count out. Then The Rock shows up using host powers and restarts the match. Rock then hits the Rock Bottom on Cena to give Miz the win. And so the WM 28 feud begins. While just two years later Miz is on the undercard against Wade Barrett at WrestleMania 29.
#5 – Triple H defeats Sting – WrestleMania 31
First of all, this match should’ve been fought when it was darker as both Sting and Trips’ entrance lost steam in a sun filled stadium. Anyway, this is another pure example of HHH and the McMahon’s feeding their egos and re-living the Monday Night Wars victory. It was nothing more than a way for HHH to push the WCW legacy down again. Seems like the guys in Stamford can’t let go of that win. Hey guys, it was 14 before this match happened! Let it go already. We get it, you won.
What was disappointing about this is that Sting was saved for Mania and instead of giving him a win or losing in a classic dream match with Undertaker in what ended up being his only WrestleMania moment, you get him involved in this mess of a match. This match eventually spun out of control as we saw members of DX and the NWO come out to get involved. It just cluttered things and made all the guys involved look old, out of shape and made what should have been a great moment for Sting nothing more than a bad memory. A sad number that I’ve attached to this match is 459. That was the combined age of nine men who were standing in the ring at the end of the bout.
#4 – Triple H defeats Booker T – WrestleMania 19
At the 16:50 point in the match, you can clearly see where Booker T was originally supposed to win this match when he hits the somersault leg drop across Triple H’s head. Sadly though, it wasn’t meant to be. It was originally going to be, but in the end Sonny In Law boy pulled his first power play. Now to be fair, HHH didn’t marry Steph until 6 months later, however he was beginning to use his influence backstage. Some have tried to say that the reason was that once the WWE signed Goldberg they changed plans thinking a Triple H vs. Goldberg feud would be a better draw. I highly doubt it. The match itself was a very good match, but in the end Booker didn’t come out looking strong. Despite hitting HHH with everything but the kitchen sink it only took one Pedigree from Triple H to get the win which looked so pathetic. Unfortunately, Booker T never had another high profile title shot at a WrestleMania. Only two years later Booker was on the Mania undercard.
#3 – Bret Hart loses to Yokozuna who then gets defeated by Hulk Hogan – WrestleMania 9
I remember being so upset after this pathetic turn of events. What I find very frustrating about this is that, even though they were both baby faces, why not have Bret face Hogan? They did the double baby face match with Hogan and Warrior just 3 years earlier and it was a must see match. Didn’t WWF think that a Bret vs. Hogan match would be intriguing for the fans, rather than giving an unclean finish to a really good match between Bret and Yoko? But no, we have to give Yoko a bogus title, after a cheap win. Then get Fuji on the mic to challenge Hogan to a match right then and there. By the way, where the heck was Hogan, under the ring? He came out of nowhere to help Bret out of the ring. Then poor Bret has to do that whole “no, please you go and fight him” motion with his arm. And we send the fans home happy with Hogan getting the title AGAIN. An otherwise excellent match was ruined with one of the worst finishes ever.
#2 – Goldberg defeats Brock Lesnar – WrestleMania 20
Believe it or not folks, there was a day when Brock Lesnar was booed, and this was the day. This was a HUGELY pushed inter-promotional matchup. It was a dream match for many that turned into a nightmare. The feud started at the Royal Rumble after Lesnar jumped Goldberg during the Rumble match. But as the date to Mania grew closer, the fan base became aware that going into the match, these were two lame duck wrestlers. Goldberg’s contract was up and he wasn’t renewing it, while Brock had made it known that he was going on to pursue a possible career in the NFL. As the match started, the smart MSG fans began chanting “you sold out” at them. Then we heard the “na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodye” chants. Then Austin chants started reigning down from the fans.
After the bell rang, it was almost a full 3 minutes before they did their first collar and elbow tie up. Boos continued to come from the crowd. After the second horrible tie up the crowd responded with “this match sucks” chants, which were followed by “Goldberg sucks” chants. The match was filled with boring intimidation and power moves resulting in nothing. The crowd’s anger and frustration could be felt during the entire match. The end of the match provided the best moment as Austin gave both men a Stone Cold Stunner. Things just got worse after the match as Lesnar gave the finger to the crowd as he left the ring. It was his last WWE appearance for eight years.
#1 – Sheamus defeats Daniel Bryan – WrestleMania 28
My ranking for this match is based on how I, and most of the fan base, felt at the time it happened. In the end, the match eventually became the best thing to ever happen to Daniel Bryan’s career. Sadly though for Sheamus, who was the wrestler the match was intended to put over, it was the worst thing to happen to his career.
WWE had almost begrudgingly put the World Title on Bryan heading into Mania. WWE was looking for a chance to (a) take the strap off of Bryan and (b) establishing Sheamus’ brogue kick as one of the company’s elite power moves. However, despite WWE’s best efforts when Bryan and AJ were announced he received a huge ovation from the crowd. Since this was the first match on the card (which is always considered the second most important match of the night) I was expecting a very solid match between the two combatants. After you blinked and it was over, I was stunned, outraged and walked out of the room. I remember throwing my remote across the room when it happened, saying “There’s Vince burying his best wrestler and the fans again! Nice job Vinny Mac.”
It wasn’t so much that Bryan lost the match, but the way he lost just seemed like WWE was using it to let the fans know that they run the show, not their precious universe. As the night grew on I got even more upset as I kept seeing air time being wasted that could’ve gone towards the Bryan/Sheamus match. For instance the Brodus Clay momma bridge club sketch went 4 minutes and 25 seconds. The sketch was part of the more than 13 minutes which elapsed from when they broke away from Punk/Y2J match until Cena got introduced to wrestle The Rock. Again, more time that could have went to the opening match.
As we know though, it all worked out for Bryan in the long run. The fan base was so outraged by the result that night, they jumped on the Daniel Bryan YES bandwagon and rode it all the way to making him the most popular wrestler in the company. Sadly too, as I mentioned above, it had the reverse effect on Sheamus’ career, who was booed unmercifully for months after Mania. His career has never fully rebounded since.
That’s my list of the 15 most frustrating matches in WrestleMania history. Let me know what you think and which ones you agree with and which ones you would’ve added or removed.