Ringside Remembrances: Worst Matches at Wrestlemania
Jay Shannon draws upon five decades as a devout wrestling fan to look at the past, present and future of professional wrestling.
“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows” – Buddha
Earlier, I presented the top 30 greatest matches at Wrestlemania. This is the dark, flip side of the coin. These are the matches that Creative is likely to be slapping themselves for. You may be surprised at how some of the biggest names in the industry could end up in such turkey battles.
Undertaker vs Giant Gonzales
This was Taker’s third outing at Wrestlemania. He had previously destroyed Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Giant Gonzalez (formerly known as El Gigante in WCW) had arrived at Royal Rumble and attacked Undertaker. Gonzales wore a Sasquatchian body stocking with air brushed muscles and hair. Gonzalez had been a decent basketball player in Argentina but he was pretty awful as a wrestler. Gonzalez had Harvey Wippleman as his manager and Taker, of course, was aided by Paul Bearer. This was 7:33 of pure torture for the fans of the Dead Man. Undertaker won this one by disqualification when Gonzalez tried to smother Taker. It was the only match that Undertaker didn’t win by submission or pinfall.
Rick “The Model” Martel vs Jake “The Snake” Roberts
(Wrestlemania VII, Blindfold Match)
On the Brother Love Show, Martel had sprayed Roberts in the eye with his atomizer. This had “blinded” Jake and put a creepy zombie-like film over the injured eye. To have a “Fair” match, Jake suggested the Blindfold Match. This as the same awful concept that Kevin Sullivan and Jimmy Garvin had used, a couple years earlier. The two competitors put black hoods over their heads and use the crowd to direct them to their opponent. It failed for Sullivan vs Garvin and putting it on the Grand Daddy Show made it that much worse. Jake and Martel, who could somewhat see through the dark mesh of the hood, lumbered around for the better part of 8:34. Jake finally won the contest with a DDT.
Mr. T vs “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
(Wrestlemania II, Boxing Match)
Mr. T and Piper were involved in the main event of the original Wrestlemania. For the 2nd Mania, Piper and T were set to go in a Boxing Match. Boxing Legends, Lou Duva and Joe Frazier, and others helped train both men. Piper, himself, on an episode of “Legends of Wrestling” mentioned how horrible Mr. T was, in the ring. He brought up that during one of the biggest spots of the match, Mr. T completely missed a Knockout Punch. Piper, being a true professional, sold the shot anyway. Piper brought this turkey to an end by Body Slamming Mr. T, drawing the disqualification loss. As Piper put it “I had to do something to protect our business and make that (deleted) look good”. Piper worked double hard to make the 13:15 monstrosity look passable, but just barely.
Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin was the special guest ref for this one. On paper, this should have been an incredible battle. The problem was that both Goldberg and Lesnar were on their way out of the WWE and didn’t care about this match. It did go a respectable 13:42. It was so forgettable that I had to look it up to figure out who won…Goldberg. After the match, Austin showed his feelings for both men by nailing Stunners on both Lesnar and Goldberg. That was the only portion of the match that excited the crowd.
Ultimate Warrior vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley
HHH got himself in hot water with the Powers that Be when he broke character at Madison Square Garden and wished Scott Hall and Kevin Nash well as they prepared to leave for WCW. To punish Helmsley, Creative put him in a 1:40 Squash Match against the returning Ultimate Warrior. The fans were livid as such an insulting match for one of the new rising stars. Fortunately, HHH was able to climb back out of the hole that WWE put him in. Warrior left the company, again, shortly after this horrific match.
Butterbean vs Bart Gunn
(Wrestlemania XV, Brawl for All Finals)
Creative decided to try and cash in on the “Toughman” craze. They brought in the rotund Butterbean to lead the Toughman troops. During this badly-inspired idea, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams entered the WWF and went out at record speed, thanks to an injury suffered in this idiotic waste of time. Fans tolerated the tournament because they didn’t really have much choice. The finals, which had been hugely promoted, lasted all of 38 seconds. Butterbean knocked out Bart and then he disappeared. Bart wasn’t far behind him.
Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow
The match was, believe it or not, the Main Event of the 11th Wrestlemania. Taylor had minimal training, going into this battle. Pat Patterson was the special guest ref and Ted DiBiase was in Bigelow’s corner. After 11:42, “L.T.” took the win and put this boring match to rest.
Gimmick Battle Royal
WWE brought out 20 of the most gimmicky characters in its history for this one. They had both wrestlers and managers in this one (Brother Love and Jim Cornette). If fans were expecting to see their favorite “Characters” get a nice long appearance at Mania, they were sadly mistaken. The entire Battle Royal took less than 4 minutes to complete. (3:07). Iron Sheik dumped Hillbilly Jim over the top rope to score the “Win”. After the match, Sgt. Slaughter plodded into the ring and put Sheik in the Cobra Clutch. Heck, that little interaction almost took longer than the entire Battle Royal.
Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid and Little Beaver vs King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook
On a card with some of the greatest matches of all time, somebody thought this was a good idea. Bundy almost weighted as much as the four midgets combined. This was supposed to be a “Cute Match” but it just became dumb. Bundy Body Slammed one of the midgets and the other little guys came to his aid. I know what angry midgets can be like (I was there when the MCW crew nearly kicked the stuffing out of a fan who threw a drink at one of their guys). Thankfully, this match only went 4:23.
The Red Rooster vs Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Terry Taylor was one of the best young talents in the Territories Era. He was considered for the “Mr. Perfect” character (according to the panel on “Legends of Wrestling”). Sadly, he got stuck with the ridiculous chicken character. He had a red spike Mohawk like thing going that was supposed to be similar to a rooster’s head. He clucked and crowed and strutted like a Rhode Island Red. To make it worse, for him, he was placed in a “Feud” with Heenan. Rooster took out Heenan in a mere 31 seconds.
Hulk Hogan vs Yokozuna
(Wrestlemania IX, World Title Match)
Yokozuna had just won the World title after Bret Hart got ceremonial salt thrown in his eyes. Mr. Fuji started bragging about how great his charge, Yokozena, was. Hulk Hogan came out to check on Bret Hart. Fuji issued a challenge to Hogan to face his new champion. Hogan ignored it, at first. Hart told Hogan to go for it and Hulk got in the ring. The bell rang and 22 seconds later, Hogan had won the championship with the Legdrop o’ Doom.
Terri Runnels (w/Fabulous Moolah) vs “The Kat” (Stacy Carter) (w/Mae Young)
There have been some decent women’s matches at Wrestlemania. This wasn’t one of them. The entrances took longer than the match itself. Despite having two legit Hall of Famers out there, Kat and Terri could only stretch this disaster to 2:21 seconds. The only redeeming quality that this match was the obvious…half-naked beauties.
Akebono vs Big Show
(Wrestlemania 21, Sumo Match)
Akebono (Chad Rowan) had moved to Japan and become a certified Legend in the world of Sumo. To try and cross-promote, WWE brought him in to face Big Show. These two behemoths got in the middle of the ring, locked up and tried to shove the other out of the ring. All the fans could think was “Please don’t let us suffer through a wardrobe malfunction”. Thankfully, this mess only lasted 1:03.
Great Khali vs Kane
Kane was coming off his movie “See No Evil”. Khali was just entering the company. This had to be the most plodding contest in the history of wrestling, not just Wrestlemania. The fans had to suffer for five and a half minutes (5:30) before Khali took the win.
Floyd Mayweather vs Big Show
One of the greatest contests of all time was Antonio Inoki vs Muhammed Ali. This 11:36 Car Wreck was contested under No-Disqualification Rules. Poor Show got knocked out by the much smaller Mayweather when Floyd used “Gold Knucks” to crack Show in the jaw. There hadn’t been something this bad since Mr. T and Piper went at it, 22 years earlier (read above).
Miss Wrestlemania Battle Royal
There were 24 females and one guy in this one. Santino Marella came out, in drag, to play his own “twin sister”, Santina. “She” ended up winning this silly contest by eliminating Beth Phoenix and Melina. This one only went 4:35.
Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan
(Wrestlemania 28, World Title Match)
This was the opening contest and should have been excellent. Far from it. Daniel played kissy face with A.J. Lee, turned around and took a Brogue Kick to the kisser. 18 seconds! That was it. Both men (and the fans) deserved so much better than that. Nuff said.
Thankfully, this list is much smaller than the Best of…list. Creative has enough sense to book as many Top Tier matches as possible. Still, there has to be the bad ones to really push the great matches so much higher. My thanks to the wonderful WWE Network for making all these matches available for my research.