(formerly, CWC, formerly WWWF, then WWF), although a Long Runner
in both its history and its talent, has hit more than a few snags along the way — bad wrestler ideas, bad Pay-Per-View events, and bad gimmicky storylines.
: If something bad was an isolated incident or simply stupid, it was probably a Wall Banger
. Merely being offensive in its subject matter is not enough to justify a work as So Bad It's Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there is a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche
to qualify as this.
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Ah, the InVasion - the greatest feud there ever could have been, and the biggest disappointment there ever was.
By April of 2001, the then-WWF had bought both of its major competitors - World Championship Wrestling
and Extreme Championship Wrestling
- after both companies had gone out of business. The WCW buyout was the major acquisition, with the WWF acquiring the company's assets (including many of the contracts of its remaining roster and its extensive video library); they went so far as to have a special Nitro
simulcast segment after the last match on the final Nitro
to announce that Shane McMahon had (kayfabe
) bought WCW instead of Vince.
- WCW vs. WWF was a dream match that fans looked forward to, but it quickly turned sour in the weeks leading up to the InVasion PPV. ECW wrestlers invaded an episode of Raw, and Paul Heyman himself declared the WWF vs. WCW war would be "taken to the extreme". This was the absolute high point of the storyline, as it appeared the top three wrestling promotions of the Attitude Era would be duking it out with each other in a no-holds-barred winner-take-all big battle...and then it all went downhill. Later that episode, ECW joined with WCW and became a singular entity known as The Alliance. The group would be called "the Alliance" through the rest of the storyline; mentions of ECW and WCW were kept to a minimum (partly because of trademark issues with usage of the ECW name). To top it off, Stephanie McMahon had been announced as the new owner of ECW, thus making the feud Shane and Steph vs. Vince, with the wrestlers as pawns in their family squabble. After having the Austin/McMahon feud appear to end because of the main event at WrestleMania X7, Vince threw himself and his family into the spotlight again, overshadowing everyone else in the feud and infuriating a lot of fans.
- The very first time the WWF tried to promote a WCW match counted as this all on its own, for a whole bunch of reasons - some of which weren't even anyone's fault. The match was Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell in front of a very hostile Tacoma, Washington crowd. The crowd had been booing and heckling the wrestlers all night, and many of them walked out before the WCW match even started. Booker and Bagwell didn't help, putting on a truly awful match (most of the blame went to Bagwell, who didn't exactly have a reputation for being a stellar worker to begin with, and who was in exceptionally poor form that night - Bagwell later blamed his performance on nerves from the hostile fans though). The only thing that got cheers during the match was when "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Kurt Angle, the WWF's top heels at the time, came out to beat up Booker and Bagwell before tossing them out of the arena. From this show, Vince McMahon took the belief that fans wouldn't cheer any WCW wrestlers and that WCW wrestlers didn't know how to work anyway. To put this in metaphor, the InVasion got off on the wrong step. This show was the wrong step, and WWE has rarely been back to Tacoma since. Bagwell was legitimately fired because the match was that horrible.
- The next problem with the Invasion was the lack of star power on the part of WCW. Many top-tier WCW stars were not acquired by the WWF because their contracts were supposedly too expensive to buy out, the most notable amongst these names being Ric Flair, Sting, Goldberg, and Scott Steiner. This meant that the two biggest names on the WCW side at the beginning of the angle were Booker T and Diamond Dallas Page. This of course prevented many of the most anticipated (and presumably high-grossing) WCW vs WWF matches from happening. Instead, in a combination of trying to put higher drawing wrestlers in the main event and an unwillingness to treat WCW (and later ECW) like they were actually on par with WWF, Vince McMahon had Steve Austin and Kurt Angle turn turncoat and join the Alliance. The other Alliance members who were allowed to look halfway decent against the WWF guys were those who had already been working in WWF previously - The Dudley Boyz and Rhyno, for example. In other words, the feud for the most part was very blatantly WWF vs WWF. Most of the WCW guys were kept in the background and those that weren't were treated rather horribly, bar Rob Van Dam. Vince responded by booking Van Dam against WWF heels as often as possible.
- Page's treatment during the InVasion deserves its own explanation. DDP was so eager to continue his career, as well as be a major player in the InVasion, that he accepted a buyout for his WCW contract to the tune of fifty cents on the dollar. He was brought in as the stalker of The Undertaker's wife Sara, and then he and fellow WCW refugee Kris Kanyon feuded with Undertaker and Kane — and they were absolutely buried; the average match resembled a Curbstomp Battle, and the feud ended with Page getting pinned by Sara. He was reduced to a lower midcarder with a motivational-speaker gimmick, and had only just started getting over again when he was severely concussed in a match with Bob Holly, essentially ending his wrestling career (aside from a brief run with TNA). The Undertaker's lack of interest in the entire angle certainly didn't help anything—he went out of his way to make Page look bad.
- Then, finally, there was Survivor Series 2001. The final match was a "Winner Take All" Survivor Series Match between the Alliance and the WWF where the loser of the match would be forced to withdraw from the wrestling business (which should have told you who was winning right from the start). The match put Team WWF (The Big Show, Chris Jericho,note The Undertaker, Kane, and The Rock) against Team Alliance (Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and Shane McMahon). Of the ten men in the match, only two had been in the Alliance's originating companies when they went out of business (Booker T in WCW and Rob Van Dam in ECW), essentially making the main event an all-WWF affair. This becomes even more blatant when you know who the final two men in the match were — Steve Austin and The Rock. That's right, the fate of the wrestling world didn't hinge on a WCW star vs. a WWF star (or even an ECW star vs. a WWF star) — it hinged on the two biggest WWF stars of the Attitude Era. And guess what? Rock won thanks to Kurt Angle nailing Austin with the title belt and betraying the Alliance!
- After the InVasion ended, all the WCW main eventers who had been supposedly too expensive to bring over were hired over the years, with Ric Flair showing up the very night after the InVasion ended. Over the years every WCW main eventer except for Sting would end up in WWE. Even Sting got invited, he just didn't trust WWE creative to treat him well and declined. In a shoot interview, Sting admitted that the reason he thought this was because of seeing how the WWE treated Booker T during the InVasion angle. InVasion was so bad, it ruined even the future possibility of the dream match of Sting versus Undertaker.
- King of the Ring 1995 had an array of bad matches, including a match that ended by time-limit draw, a match that ended by countout, a match that ended with outside interference, a match that ended with botched outside interference, and an inexplicable rise of Savio Vega (he was pitched as a guy who had an unbelievable rise to the top, but wound up getting crushed in the end). When Mabel was crowned the king, he had crap thrown at him.
- Wrestlemania IX (1993) remains one of the worst Wrestlemanias in history. Poor booking, poor matches it had it all. Let's go over the ways it sucked:
- A match between Bam Bam Bigelow and Kamala was canceled with no reason given.
- In the dark match, Tito Santana defeated Papa Shango in his first Wrestlemania victory since Wrestlemania I... offscreen. Fitting tribute for a guy who's been in Wrestlemania since the beginning.
- The opening bout has Tatanka and Shawn Michaels fight in one of the only good matches on the card, but everything reaches garbage at the ending. Tatanka hits his finisher on Shawn Michaels, only the referee refuses to count because, apparently, he had counted Shawn Michaels out beforehand. Not only did this ending completely ruin what was a good match, it made neither man look strong as Shawn only won by sheer luck and Tatanka won the match but not the title and would never receive another title shot again.
- The Steiners defeated the Headshrinkers in the only clean win by a babyface in the whole show.
- The Mega Maniacs completely dominate Money Inc. when Hulk Hogan hits both members of Money Inc. with Brutus Beefcake's facemask during the third ref bump of the night. It looks like Hogan and Beefcake win when another referee comes out and disqualifies them for using the facemask. When does this ever happen? It makes no sense considering how several matches have been won by cheating (including one ON THIS VERY SHOW) and no second ref came out to DQ the cheaters.
- The show goes from bad to worse with the next match, The Undertaker vs Giant Gonzalez. Largely hailed as one of the worst matches ever, Undertaker tried to pull a watchable match out of the irredeemably awful Gonzalez. After 7 and a half painful minutes, 'Taker wins the match by DQ after Gonzalez uses chloroform.
- The main event between Yokozuna and Bret Hart isn't too bad until the ending. Hart goes for the Sharpshooter, despite showing prior that he's too smart to go for moves like that in the match, and Yoko gets out easily. Then, when Hart has Yoko in the Sharpshooter, Mr. Fuji throws salt in his face. Rather, Mr. Fuji fumbles about for a few seconds, directly in Hart's line of sight, to get a handful of salt, before he finally deploys it. Yoko hits the Banzai Drop and gets the pin. While the ending was stupid, what happened afterwards was far worse.
- Hulk Hogan comes out, having earlier issued an open challenge to take on the winner of the main event. Yokozuna and Fuji have no reason to accept, yet Fuji does just that. It takes only twenty-two seconds for Yoko to take a salt bump and Hogan to drop the leg, get the pin, and walk out the champion. Behind the scenes, Hogan convinced McMahon that a heel couldn't walk out of 'Mania with the title, but instead of allowing Bret to retain, he should run in and squash Yokozuna to steal the title.
- Aftermath: Hogan is slated to drop the belt to Bret after the PPV, but refuses because he thinks it'll make him look weak. Then he skips out of the promotion to shoot movies. Vince McMahon, understandably pissed off, has Hogan lose the belt to Yokozuna in a Squash Match as punishment, and it takes the better part of a year before any of the fallout from WMIX is finally cleared.
- Katie Vick. Murder, necrophilia, puppets, this saga had it all! The angle (which Vince McMahon thought was hilarious at the time) hit absolute rock bottom in a video where HHH, posing as Kane, entered the funeral parlor (an actual parlor, which had a funeral going on next door) where his dead high school sweetheart — whom he had killed in a car accident — was on display, climbed into the casket, and proceeded to have sex with the corpse. The scene climaxes in a handful of spaghetti bolognese getting thrown at the camera and the punchline "I finally did it! I screwed your brains out''!" For years afterward, the skit was castigated by such folks as Triple H, Mick Foley, The Rock (the last two pointed out that Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon tried their darnedest to make this sound like a good idea) Shawn Michaels, and CM Punk.
- This is just one of a long line of attempts to apparently kill Kane's career. The May 19, 2006 angle (which even the bookers realized was bad the week after the reveal) and Lita's pregnancy come to mind here, along with his previous gimmicks of the Fake Diesel, Isaac Yankem (a wrestling dentist), and the Christmas Creature.
- In 1998, the WWF Brawl For All, a boxing tournament between various wrestlers. As per Russo's Leaning on the Fourth Wall style of booking, this was booked as a "shoot" i.e. the wrestlers were actually beating each other up. Aside from the complications this puts on the kayfabe for the rest of the show, the wrestlers (who have no real boxing experience) then proceed to have real fights that look terrible and injure each other. The angle was set up to get Dr. Death Steve Williams over as a tough guy for a potential "who's tougher" match with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. However, the very obvious variable of having unpredictable finishes in unscriped finishes meant Dr. Death injured a hamstring and was taken out in the quarter finals by Bart Gunn. The bookers then put him in his Wrestlemania XV match with Butterbean where Gunn is utterly destroyed in half a minute. Accounts differ as to whether Gunn was being punished for winning the Brawl for All when he wasn't supposed to, or whether Vince Russo thought that Gunn would beat Butterbean - but either way, Gunn was fired when he got back to the locker room. The angle led to no less than four injuries, a lot of animosity between the wrestlers who beat each other up, and the destruction of two promising careers (Gunn and Dr. Death.) And, of course, the big selling point— that these were real fights fizzled with the fans who either didn't buy that they were unscripted or wanted them to just wrestle instead.
- As bad as David Arquette: WCW Champion was, it was just barely the worst angle that year. Over in the WWF, Mark Henry (who at the time worked a Barry White gimmick as "Sexual Chocolate") got involved with female bodybuilder/Degeneration X enforcer Chyna, and then with her friend Sammy who turned out to be a transvestite. Then he got involved with Mae Young, (then in her seventies) and got her pregnant. Three months later, Mae gave birth on RAW—to a disembodied hand. And let's not forget the way it opened—Mae Young flashing her audience in defiance of the "show me your puppies" gag. In WrestleCrap's annual "Gooker Award" voting, Arquette beat this by only 0.5%. The whole shebang actually placed at #62 in What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History. The only thing it was good for was an over-the-top Brick Joke, and even that doesn't cancel out them repeating the angle—only to have her give birth to Hornswoggle.
- The Christopher Nowinski and Jackie Gayda vs. Bradshaw and Trish Stratus match from a 2002 RAW. Gayda blew a boatload of spots, including Trish Stratus's finisher, a bulldog from the top turnbuckle. She missed it by a mile—she didn't sell it until a few seconds after Trish hit her, making the whole spot look utterly ridiculous. Jim Ross famously declared it "bowling shoe ugly" and all but apologized to the fans at its conclusion ("Mercifully, it's over"). Most fans simply refer to it as "That Jackie Gayda Match". Bradshaw said that it was one of the worst matches he'd ever participated in.
- The January 8, 2007 edition of RAW featured an attempt to cash in on the brief media feud between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell. Two poorly-disguised jobbers (Kiley McLean of NWA Fusion and Ace Steel of the Second City Saints) posed as the two and had a sluggish, no-effort, unbearable fight. It was so bad that the crowd, having gone past "You Can't Wrestle!" and "Boring!", began cheering for TNA.
- There's an infamous match between the Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker and Kane) and Kronik (Bryan "Adam Bomb/"Wrath" Clarke and the late Brian "Crush" Adams) that took place during the InVasion angle. Taker was no-selling everything any WCW guy did to him with impunity, and Kane was only slightly better; meanwhile, told they were losing, Kronik decided they just wouldn't try very hard in the match. Botches, no-selling, extended rest-holds, miscommunication between the wrestlers, everything that could go wrong did. Both members of Kronik were ordered to go to development after the match, but refused and lost their jobs.
- Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar. Two men with similar gimmicks — big, charismatic, intense wrestlers who were nigh unstoppable by most other wrestlers. What could go wrong with a showdown between them? Well, Lesnar was ditching WWE to try out for the NFL, Goldberg's contract was set to expire and he wasn't renewing, and the show they wrestled at (WrestleMania XX) was being held in Madison Square Garden, a location that skews towards the Smark section of the fanbase. Goldberg and Lesnar decided not to bother having a good match knowing each other's fate, and the viciously negative fan reaction (skewed towards Lesnar, whose decision to leave WWE was more widely known than Goldberg's and more shocking, having only been reported a week before the show) certainly didn't inspire them to give a good performance. The end result was quite possibly the worst match in WrestleMania history, and the only saving grace came after the bell when guest referee Steve Austin gave both Lesnar and Goldberg a Stone Cold Stunner as a lovely parting gift. It's widely believed that WWE purposefully laid out the match to be as awful as possible as a spiteful parting gift for both men. Given how petty people in wrestling can be, it's entirely possible. You know it's bad when the fans are getting a better reaction from one another than the match—the biggest pop went to a fake wrestling match between a Hulk Hogan cosplayer and a "Macho Man" Randy Savage cosplayer. One Smark recapper described "Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg vs. the NYC crowd" as "the greatest squash match in history."
- Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania XVIII for the World Heavyweight Championship, which lasted eighteen seconds! Worse, it was WWE's attempt at beating a record that shouldn't have even been shot for—quickest match at Wrestlemania—and came seven seconds short of even tying. Hard to envision a better way to utterly waste what could have been a good bout. (Some people do like this, seeing how Daniel Bryan was a heel at the time)
- Fortunately, this didn't seem to hurt either's career. Sheamus is still a mid-top carder, and Bryan went on to become the most popular wrestler on the roster and won the title two years later at WM XXX.
- Kaitlyn vs Maxine from season three of NXT. Neither of them had much time to train, thanks to a dawdling tech crew setting up a stunt for SmackDown. The resulting "match" was so bad the announcers broke Kayfabe and called it the worst match ever. Hell, Michael Cole even got up to take a phonecall during the middle of it.
- Triple H vs. Scott Steiner at Royal Rumble 2003. Steiner blew up a couple of minutes into the match, and to make up for this, he performed endless belly-to-belly suplexes through the entire match, botching several sell attempts, including selling a Diamond cutter by falling backwards, and a Tiger Driver attempt that nearly dropped Triple H on his head (this became known as the "Double-Underhook What-The-Fuck-Was-That?"; later on, Steiner attempted a powerbomb from the ring apron that became known as the "Stumble Bomb" when he dumped himself and Trips onto the floor). Triple H did a bladejob after Steiner hit him in the head with the leather strap of the belt. The only saving grace is that this was immediately followed by Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit, which many consider to be their greatest match against each other.
- Al Snow vs Big Bossman inside the Kennel from Hell Match. While it is an interesting concept (A Steel Cage inside the Hell in a Cell), the match was... dull. Exacerbating this were the allegedly angry guard dogs (in reality, they were just the opposite). Rather than keep the wrestlers in the cage as intended, they urinated, defecated, and mated right there in the Hell In A Cell during the match, in front of the whole audience. Hilariously, on Mick Foley's "Hard Knocks and Cheap Pops" DVD, he MST-ies the match with Kevin Kelly, calling it as if it were a five-star classic.
- The Undertaker was given two matches with Giant Gonzales — one at Wrestlemania, the other at Summerslam. Both are regarded as some of the worst matches of all time. The only good thing that came from those matches was Gonzalez's suit◊ which makes him look like a Titan.
- Royal Rumble 2014: Many wanted to Daniel Bryan to win the match not only to he not win it he want even in it. The fans didn't take it well as they booed the crap of #30 who was none other than crowd favorite Rey Mysterio.
- Beaver Cleavage was basically a take-off of Leave It to Beaver, even wearing a propeller beanie and school uniform type outfit, and was shown in a series of black & white vignettes (compete with canned laughter) that showed him acting like a little kid while his mom (played by Marianna Komlos) would make various sexual suggestive comments to him note . The gimmick was Vince Russo's pet gimmick and he fought with the entire creative staff to get Beaver on the air. After only two weeks of the character (and hostile fan reaction), Vince McMahon personally stepped in and axed the character causing Vince Russo to go to WCW (and royally screw it up, too). Chaz Warrington is to this day best remembered as "That poor schmuck who had to be Beaver Cleavage".
- Vince McMahon was convinced that flippy cruiserweights couldn't draw right up until he hired Rey Mysterio Jr. Once he learned that they could, he decided he wanted another one, and so he hired Ultimo Dragon. The problem was, Vince didn't bother to watch any Ultimo Dragon matches before hiring him, and Dragon wasn't particularly flippy. After watching Dragon wrestle, Vince became enraged, declared that Dragon's style was absolutely incompatible with everyone else on the roster, and depushed the guy as hard as he could get away with, even going so far to edit out the cheers Dragon got when he appeared on Velocity and Heat.
- As a follow-up, WWE, wanting to get rid of Dragon, said something about releasing him and then rehiring him without the Ultimo Dragon gimmick, under his real name Yoshihiro Asai. Asai even unmasked in Japan in preparation for this. Then it didn't happen. Asai ended up taking the Tiger Mask gimmick. After that, he opened the promotion dragondoor. He booked the main angle around his mask related ordeals and multiple impostor Ultimo Dragons and Tiger Masks. Imagine the Undertaker/Underfaker angle with a half dozen Underfakers instead of just one. dragondoor ended up having a six show lifespan - the only good that came out of it was that the mask issue got muddled enough that Asai was able to resume using the Ultimo Dragon gimmick afterwards.
- Zack Ryder's treatment in 2012, he starts off the year as the US Champion. However, during the month he is regulated to being John Cena's James Bondage. Because Kane wants to Cena to give in the Power Of Hate and kept on attacking Ryder. He then loses his US title unceremoniously and loses his Love Interest Eve Torres who turned out to be a Gold Digger. The end result was a broken Zack Ryder who never recovered from his attack and subsequent burial. While Cena on the other hand shrugged of the attempt to corrupt him and went on his merry way.
The WWE's tag team division has fluctuated in quality heavily over the years. 2009 was a great year for tag teams, culminating in four former world champions (Chris Jericho and The Big Show vs. D-Generation X
) having a serious feud over the titles. However, in 2010, the division went from prominence to shambles in no time at all, with every single tag team either breaking up or becoming irrelevant. Needless to say, smarks want nothing more than for the Tag Team division in the WWE to stop sucking so hard.
- When Shawn Michaels turned on Marty Jannetty and split up the Rockers, a legend was born where a Tag Team died, and Michaels went on to become of of the most successful singles wrestlers in WWF/E history. This half-success, was all the justification WWE's ever needed to split tag teams for no other reason. Invariably, the tag team members never worked as singles, at best getting beatdown by monster heels over and over again. Among the victims: Men on a Mission, the Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, Los Guerreros, The World's Greatest Tag Team, the Gatecrashers (Vance Archer and Curt Hawkins), the Colons, Cryme Tyme, the Basham Brothers, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, the Hart Dynasty, The Dude Busters, Deuce & Domino, London And Kendrick, The Prime Time Players and even The Dudley Boys. Very few of these guys managed to get over as singles competitors, most wound up less over than ever before, and the tag division only gets smaller and smaller each time a breakup happens. The other thing that nobody seems to remember is that the reason the Rockers split was because WWF thought they could get two singles stars out of the breakup - at the time of the breakup Jannetty was considered equal to Michaels in both ability and charisma. It was Jannetty's love of partying and "personal demons", as well as two different pushes interrupted by injuries, that ended up hamstringing his career. That, and it's possible for members of a unit to achieve individual success without severing said unit (El Santo of The Atomic Pair immediately comes to mind but the American Wolves and Briscoes of ROH, the Canadian Ninjas of SHIMMER and countless others serve as examples).
- Tough Enough 2. Head trainer Al Snow, in just about every Confession Cam segment, was agonizing over how poorly the training was going. In fact, "These kids aren't ready" was practically the Catch Phrase for the entire season. Then when it was time to select the winners, they deviated from the "one male winner, one female winner" thing at the very last split second, to the point that the person announcing the winners was audibly confused. The first winner announced was Linda "Shaniqua" Miles, aka Linda "miss a missile dropkick by" Miles, named after an incident in a match she wrestled on Heat. Yes, Linda was worse in the ring than Jackie (The second winner) following Tough Enough 2. In 2013 this was inducted into the annals of Wrestle Crap.
- The 2003 WWE/Girls Gone Wild PPV special. Viewers were promised all sorts of R-rated hijinks that the networks would never allow (read: Divas flashing their goods). The audience got one shot of Torrie Wilson almost flipping her skirt at the crowd. The main attraction was supposed to be the crowing of Miss Girls Gone Wild 2003 (whatever that meant); what happened was a glorified Diva Search sketch, with an occasional flash of tits (not from the Divas, of course). Even when the "contestants" would start to get frisky and start doing what girls traditionally do in a Girls Gone Wild video, Johnathan Coachman would literally jump in and break things up. Did we mention that this was a Pay-Per-View? A tremendous waste of time for all involved.
- The entire ending sequence to NXT Season 2 was just such a trainwreck it may have stopped several careers in their tracks. It started off with Kaval winning, which was about the only thing that went well here. After the announcement was made, runner-up Michael McGillicutty was handed the mic and cut a very narmy promo where he trips over his lines. In that promo, he basically promises a Genesis of the career of Michael McGillicutty. Then he leaves the ring. Kaval tries to cut a celebration promo, but is cut off when the rookies eliminated in the previous weeks come in and attack him. The WWE Pros try to intervene, and we get what ends up being the very anti-thesis of what made The Nexus work. Even the people in the nosebleeds could have heard the spots being called and the refs yelling instructions to the angry rookies. After that promo, only Kaval and Riley would find themselves appearing on television in the weeks that followed, (Kaval joined the Smackdown roster, while Riley would hang around The Miz as his 'apprentice') and the end of NXT Season 2 was never mentioned again. McGillicutty and Harris would finally resurface at Hell In A Cell, costing John Cena his match against Wade Barrett and acting as unofficial Nexus lackeys, before being officially inducted into the group a few weeks later. If there were plans for a Genesis stable involving NXT Season 2, they were quickly axed.