We are getting close to Wrestlemania. The Grandaddy of them all, the Super Bowl of Sports Entertainment. WWE builds the first three months of every year towards one day that defines the rest of the calender. This is where careers are defined, memories are made, and legends are born.
If it were only that easy. Not every WrestleMania is laced in gold, and not every match has been a showstopping experience over the years. That is why we are here today, folks. While we will eventually get to the best of the best for this yearly show, its time to reflect of the worst moments in the history of WrestleMania. Doing just that, you can not even reflect upon a bad moment without recalling sad circumstances where one Superstar became guilty for overshadowing another, taking away that moment of success for another. It can happen on a personal level or a larger scale, and this list covers the worst limelight thieves ever to strap on boots.
So, let’s begin, shall we?
5. WrestleMania 9: Yokozuna vs Bret Hart – The Hogan Show
So this match didn’t start off that bad, to be honest. After a bit of build-up, Bret Hart and Yokozuna went one on one for the WWF Championship. This was the main event of a very forgettable WrestleMania, and it could have been serviceable as such if the original thought processes behind the pairing actually stuck. Bret Hart had very good chemistry during this match with the big man, and the whole gimmickry surrounding the fact that Bret was a technical wrestler and had to change his entire style in order to win made him an instant underdog. I know some hate these bouts, but I have always been a huge fan of the concept alone. This was not David vs Goliath, it was Einstein vs Goliath, as one man had to use his brain in order to come up with a strategy to defeat a large foe, and the crowd was mostly into it.
The crowd however did not have the “privilege” of listening to a special guest commentator Randy Savage. Sure, this was sort of awesome, but Savage was not good at calling this match and spent most of it hypothesizing about if he could take on Yokozuna. The number one rule of ringside commentary is not to up-sell yourself over the in-ring competition, and while Savage was fine, he did not do Bret or Yoko any favors with his words. After around eight minutes of back and forth, Mr. Fuji blinds Bret, allowing Yoko to get the pin. Sure, short matches suck, but we were not even ready for what would come next.
Hulk Hogan came from out of nowhere, intruded upon Yokozuna’s moment, and then managed to get his own match and win the WWF Championship in less that thirty seconds. What just happened? It was terrible, it was disgusting, but the crowd was happy. Back then, smarks were not a thing and people were just happy to see their favorite wrestlers live. It was all about the experience, and this match is really where a turning point would take place and fans would simply decide with their voices on who to support. Bret Hart went on to be one of the most beloved entertainers in history, Yokozuna fully recovered- winning the title again later that year, and Hogan kept being Hogan in every promotion he would visit. I wouldn’t call it the birth of the smark, but it was a breaking point – where change was needed and fans could finally see how backstage politics worked. It wasn’t about who they wanted to win or making a star, but instead another way to give Hogan a title he did not need at the biggest event of the year. In retrospect, the fans hate this match, but back then – it just another reason to feed into Hulkamania, brother.
4. WrestleMania 27: Jerry Lawler vs Michael Cole – For Far too Long
There isn’t a lot to say about this terrible match. I would not even have it on this list under normal circumstances, as lets face it, it kind of can be interesting to see the commentators duke it out, especially someone as seasoned and sharp as Jerry Lawler. Sadly, nearly 27 agonizing minutes of promos, match (if you want to call it that) and Stone Cold shenanigans took away from what could have been another person’s spot. Sure, Cole has earned a piece of the pie over the years, but it was like the writers just wanted to keep adding more and more to this match – and it didn’t even conclude the feud as it ended in a disqualification. A voice – or the “Anonymous General Manager”, called a DQ, to which Stone Cold accepted. Fans should be grateful that since this match, there has not been a lot of commentary feuds, and Cole and Lawler have since made good with each other.
3. WrestleMania 12: Ultimate Warrior vs Triple H – Warrior Rises
You ever wonder who create the monster that buries talent that is Triple H? Well, that would be none other than The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior was primed for a huge return to Wrestlemania, fighting Hunter Hearst Helmsley in what was one of the most disappointing efforts of all time. Triple H delivered a pedigree right off the bat, but without even missing a beat, Warrior rose up, hit his signature moves, and got the lightning fast win over the cerebral assassin. At least Sable was there, I suppose?
Like Bret Hart, this did not hurt Triple H whatsoever as c’mon, the man is the COO and married to Vince’s daughter. It is however an embarrassing match to watch and if you are one of those wrestling fans who like to show your non-interested friends good matches to get them hooked – the absolute last piece of footage that should ever be shown. Warrior passed away in 2014 and while this match is still terrible, it does kind of add to that stubborn charm that he embodied in his larger than life personality.
2. WrestleMania 19: Booker T vs Triple H – HIT THE MUTE BUTTON!
A lot of you may remember this as a decent bout with a huge build-up. Booker T finally brought the Houston Hangover out of his arsenal, and we got to see a very technical Triple H. If you have fond memories, un-mute the television and then watch this match. Leading up to Wrestlemania 19, Triple H hounded Booker about his criminal past. It was a sterotypical storyline that was nearly as bad as the Katie Vick scenario, but it worked to hold the feud together between the two until Wrestlemania 19 took place.
Before the bell even rung however, Jim Ross and Lawler started bickering and taking sides and it was on. For the entire first half of the match, fans at home had to hear these two yell at each other over who was right and who was wrong and constantly relive Booker T’s merits over and over. Its over-acting at its finest and completely soiled the match for many listening in, expecting to hear such a great team call a match. Normally, Ross and Lawler hit it out of the park, but I remember this match very clearly and while it was nice to have backstory, it was not a good thing to hear Jim Ross nearly lose his breath from yelling at King over and over. This bitter back and forth subsided and both men calmed down (though JR was the main one who was agitated), but over the years this one match that sticks with me for all of the wrong reasons. This match is wonderful, but due to poor commentary, it comes in at this spot as both men lost the limelight entirely that night.
1. WrestleMania 25: Divas Battle Royal – Kid Crock
I understand the premise of a musical guest for a wrestling event. These events are a big deal, and having a decent act to lead into a match can honestly do a lot to make the show feel that much more special. Kid Rock however was terrible. Performing a mini-concert of outdated songs, this musician definitely got his Mania moment by destroying a match that would not have been good, but ended up taking terribly.
You see, this wasn’t just any Divas Battle Royal, it was a homecoming for Divas who paved the way for the division. Current talent was joined by older faces, eager for one last moment to shine in the business. Entrances are the way to do this, as we get to know who is in the match and soak in a bit of nostalgia at the same time. Much like the gimmick battle at Wrestlemania 17, this match featured a lot of divas, including Sunny, Molly Holly, Victoria, and…well….Joy Giovanni? Instead of having entrances, we just saw all of the divas head to the ring and hop in during this Kid Rock concert, leaving fans scratching their heads as to what was happening. No one on commentary knew who was in the ring outside of one or two divas being eliminated, and the ring work was atrocious due to the large amount of chaos happening all at once. I like the Divas, and Santina winning was odd, but still humorous in its own way, but this match was disrespectful, poorly executed, and a stain on a division that has never really recovered from the joke WWE played on the Divas during what was supposed to be a fun way to pay tribute.
So there you have it. All of these moments are our personal worst, but don’t worry – the best is yet to come. I can say that I had a ton of honorable mentions, but I find Giant Gonzalez and Undertaker to be just a hair better that our contenders here, and who doesn’t love some fun filler? WrestleMania 31 is right around the corner, and let us hope that every moment is golden for the year of 2015.