- If something bad was an isolated incident or simply stupid, it does not render the whole thing Horrible. note
- 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.
- For that matter, being a morally reprehensible act also isn't enough. The Montreal Screwjob does not belong on this list, because while it might've been morally questionable (depending on who you ask) it still had an enormously positive impact on WWE, and the match was otherwise pretty competent. This page is for terribly-executed wrestling matches (that don't even qualify as So Bad, It's Good), horribly-written storylines/angles (even by the relatively low standards of pro-wrestling narrative), and terribly-run wrestling promotions.
Wrestling promotions with their own pages:
- At ECW High Incident on October 26, 1996, Raven's Nest (Stevie Richards, The Blue Meanie, and Super Nova) literally crucified The Sandman, complete with barbed wire wrapped around his forehead to act as a "Crown of Thorns". Richards later said of the incident that for the first time, the ECW fans were "not saying 'go to hell', they were just... quiet." note Later in the show, Raven broke character and apologized to the fans who were offended by it; the fact that he was ordered to do so and (to this day) never saw the problem with the act was obvious as he uttered the most insincere apology in wrestling history. It killed Kurt Angle's program with Taz before it could even begin, and Angle even threatened to sue ECW if they aired any footage of him at the show. It was years before he began taking calls from wrestling promotions again. note
- The infamous Mass Transit Incident. New England resident Erich Kulas wanted to get a chance to wrestle when Axl Rotten faced travel issues and had to no-show an event. The problem? Kulas weighed 350 pounds, was 17 years old, and had no in-ring ability. The solution? Kulas lied to ECW bookers about his age, experience, and schooling background (he said he was trained by Killer Kowalski, who ironically was in the stands that night) - and even had his father back him up. Kulas, who wore a bus driver's uniform and went under the name "Mass Transit", was thrown headfirst into a hardcore match alongside D-Von Dudley against The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustapha Saed, the former of whom is pretty much synonymous with Garbage Wrestling). The lowlight of the match came when New Jack bladed Kulas on the forehead and made him bleed heavily. Either way, he was left in a pool of his own blood. The fallout? New Jack was arrested, ECW's first pay-per-view Barely Legal was cancelled (it was quickly uncancelled after fan outcry, though a handful of PPV carriers still refused to show it), and a civil suit was filed against New Jack well after the event. note More details about it can be found on Wrestlelamia's "Behind the Titantron" episode about it here.
- New Jack created a series of wallbangers worthy for another entry: ECW's Living Dangerously 2000 PPV. In a match with WWF reject Vic Grimes, the two of them decide, without telling anyone, to do a table bump off of a high, unsupported scaffold. Jack missed the tables and landed on the concrete; Grimes landed on Jack's head. Jack was temporarily blinded in one eye after this. If you watched the shoot interview where Jack blames Grimes for the spot going horribly wrong, he ignores the fact Grimes wanted to cancel the spot out of fear or last-minute competence, leading Jack to pull Grimes off the balcony because he wanted to go through with the spot - leading to his aforementioned injuries.
- As a follow-up, Jack deliberately injured Grimes (although Jack claimed he was trying to outright kill him) on an XPW show: Grimes was supposed to take a bump off a scaffold through a table tower, but Jack deliberately overthrew him. Grimes suffered a broken ankle on the ring ropes; luckily it wasn't any worse than that.
- The 1999 PPV Heroes of Wrestling. Intended to be the first in a series of PPV's that showcased popular Ring Oldies and other wrestlers past the peaks of their careers. This idea was doomed from the getgo when it turned out the buyrate was just over half that of WWE's worst from the era. But of course, it went downhill from there. The commentators were a pre-TNA Dutch Mantell and sportscaster Randy Rosenbloom, who was filling in for Gordon Solie because they offered him more than the college football game he'd been scheduled for. Rosenbloom was completely out of his depth here, unable to properly call a single dropkick. Despite the concept, it featured a match between 34-year-old 2 Cold Scorpio (too cracked-out to remember it) and 27-year-old rookie jobber Julio Dinero. Despite a "family-friendly" billing, Abdullah the Butcher did not at all dial back his trademark blading in a match against The One Man Gang. And despite being a main event, Jake "The Snake" Roberts turned up drunk off his ass and made an idiot of himself. This forced the bookers to combine his match with Jim Neidhart and the following, between King Kong Bundy and Yokozuna, into an impromptu tag-team battle. That ended with Bundy pinning Jake... neither of whom were the legal man. Jake's alcoholic stupor completely overrode Yoko's efforts to play it off as booked, and ultimately forced the PPV to end early. But that pales in comparison to The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff vs. The Bushwhackers. Bryan Alvarez of Wrestling Observer (of "MINUS. FIVE. STARS." fame) rated the match "minus more stars than there are stars in the universe, and the universe is infinite". Similarly, Dave Meltzer rated the match as "absolute zero" stars. note Tully Blanchard vs. "Sweet" Stan Lane was the only good match, and even that was ruined in the end: Lane pinned Tully with a back suplex, but his own shoulders were down as well due to poor bridging. When Tully got one shoulder up before the three count, Stan lost the match. When Wrestling With Wregret's Brian Zane covered the event alongside Adam Blampied, Brian argued that the event was, in fact, made by the Devil.
- Scott Hall's appearance at a Top Rope Promotions show on April 9, 2011 is probably one of the most upsetting things a wrestling fan could possibly see. It is unknown exactly what was wrong with him, but videos and pictures from the event show him appearing to be completely out of it. Eyewitness accounts described him as looking "like an elderly patient with dementia", unable to hold a pen for his autograph session, and making jokes about the "English" audience in New England. It was so bad that there was tremendous backlash against the promoters of the show for allowing Hall to appear in the condition he was in.note
- A 2012 documentary on Hall's fall from grace revealed he had suffered a violent seizure the night before the event and was under the effects of heavy painkillers to the point where he had no idea where he was. The promoter insisted Hall go on anyways, and the show was a debacle as seen. (Hall suffers from seizures as a side effect of his long-term substance abuse.)
- The American Wrestling Association (AWA)'s last gasp at credibility was the Team Challenge, an interesting idea that was sadly ruined by the overwhelming number of absurd gimmick matches that were booked for it, culminating in a Turkey On A Pole match... that was won by Jake "The Milkman" Milliman. The entirety of the arena, such as it was, was the three announcers (including Sergeant Slaughter) at a folding table, the ring, and a pink curtain - no crowd whatsoever, not even any crowd noise or music; the promotion made up a silly gimmick about "huge crowds" causing security issues, so the show was moved to a "secret location", but nobody bought it. It was a sad spectacle to behold, and the promotion went out of business not long after. AWA's assets were eventually bought by WWE.
- Just to add further embarrassment was their failed 1989 pilot to the relaunch of their wrestling show The New AWA. "Highlights" include wrestlers going down their entrance in a blatant Green Screen tunnel with stock crowd footage on ether side of them, the same crowd footage every time; just as empty no-crowd rings which they try to hide by splicing crowd stock reactions obviously from barflies along with using slow-motion replays on very mundane moves; the secret "satellite base" with the Totally Radical Ralph Strangis as host and Greg Gagne as cohost; and of course for some reason having a segment with Foxy Boxing. It's one thing when you can't even, barring show style or external circumstances, get a real crowd to show up for television tapings, but when you're trying to poorly fake a crowd it's a sign you are done, and it was unsurprisingly inducted into WrestleCrap.
- Xtreme Pro Wrestling (XPW), a California-based hardcore wrestling promotion founded by adult film industry workers. With absolutely untalented workers with derivative gimmicks and obnoxious, brainless announcers, its career was little more than a series of attempts to capitalize on ECW's fame (even moving into the ECW Arena in Philadelphia and gaining former ECW wrestlers, along with a Suspiciously Similar Substitute of Joey Styles in Kris Kloss, who couldn't decide if he was doing a parody, a tribute, or an outright ripoff). The matches were uninventive and demonstrated no skill, despite desperate attempts to cover up that fact. The angles were poorly-done rehashes of already-godawful angles from other companies, including WCW's infamous Fingerpoke Of Doom. The production values were terrible, and the bookers had nary an idea what they were doing.
- Wrestling Society X decided that average wrestling fans weren't physically attractive enough and the sight of them at ringside went against the image the company was trying to present. The solution? Put the fans in the back row out of the lights and fill the front rows with stereotypically young hip and attractive tweens. Despite decent booking and some great wrestlers, the promotion had trouble connecting with fans. Treating them like second-class citizens in such a manner had a lot to do with that.
- The Global Wrestling Federation (GWF) was seen on ESPN in the early 1990s, and started out as a more "serious" alternative to the eternally cartoony WWF and to WCW, which was heavily treading the sports entertainment waters at the time with characters like P.N. News, Johnny B. Badd, and others. The GWF presented a mix of veterans (Eddie Gilbert, Terry Gordy, Demolition Ax, Stan Lane) with new talent, some of which got their first national exposure in the GWF and went on to become superstars in the major promotions (Patriot, Lightning Kid aka Sean "X-Pac" Waltman, Scott Anthony aka Scott "Raven" Levy, Jerry Lynn). They also had a light heavyweight division months before WCW, featured fan comments on a regular basis, and acknowledged the history of the wrestlers. However, as talent became expensive and familiar faces left for greener pastures, the GWF found itself under new management that stuck mostly with local talent (from Dallas, Texas) and, similar to WCW, focused more on copying the WWF's sports entertainment angles and characters. "Highlights" of this era included:
- The first-ever Bungee Cord Match, between Chaz and Steven Dane.
- Territorial wrestler Mike Davis "going crazy" and becoming "Maniac" Mike Davis, a George Steele lite who was "launched into space" before the aforementioned bungee match and came back with a moon rock.
- Rude Dog, an African-American wrestler who acted like a real dog (predating Al Greene's character in WCW by eight years).
- Joe Castellini, the corrupt commissioner of the GWF (one of the first heel figureheads in wrestling?) who fined Butch Reed for having fire thrown at him by Gen. Skandor Akbar because he was "drunk". He would later be exposed for shady business deals, and would come back portraying a homeless character who did odd jobs to turn his life around.
- The Ebony Experience (later Harlem Heat, Booker T, and Stevie Ray) have a match interrupted by their crying sister, who tells them that their mother is in the hospital and needs surgery. To pay for the procedure, they're forced to join forces with...
- Sebastian, a second-rate knock off of the WWF's Jamison nerd character.
- Gaston B. Means, evil attorney.
- Francis "Crybaby" Buxton, a portly, whiny wrestler, as his name suggests. note
- Announcer David Webb suffers a blow to the head and thinks he's Elvis Presley, note and announces the matches as such.
- Longtime tag team partners John Tatum and Jack Victory end up at odds... over profits from a pizza delivery service they owned together.
- Bombshell Ladies of Wrestling note closed their fourth show with a bizarre angle: Champion Missy Sampson had just retained the title against Mickie Knuckles and then got on the mic to vow she would defend it anywhere and anytime. Cue La Rosa Negra making an appearance, apparently challenging for the title. She attacked Missy and after a few seconds, the referee ruled that Missy couldn't compete therefore La Rosa Negra was now the champion. A screwy title change that came about via referee stoppage. After the segment was over the crowd chanted "This is bullshit!" and Missy got on the microphone and said "My thoughts exactly." Following shows eventually showed this was part of a plot to keep the belt off of Missy for being too unattractive for the promotion in the opinion of its new commissioner. Okay, but Fridge Logic demands one ask "Why allow her and the similarly-built Knuckles to get to the end of the show? Why bring in Amazing Kong, who should be considered more problematic for the company image than Missy?" In truth, late shows eventually managed to make the Sampson-Negra program watchable, but it could've been started without making La Rosa Negra, who A) had to snap back from the face turn she did on the prior show and B) didn't have a good enough win-loss record to make her a believable contender, champion in one of the screwiest ways possible.
- When independent companies decided to adopt the "internet pay-per-view" model, it led to a lot of disasters early on. It was rare enough to see a show that began on time, the aforementioned BLOW's seventh show saw the camera crew flat-out no-show, forcing them to improvise with a single grainy angle from the first camera someone could find. But the organization hit the hardest was perhaps Ring of Honor - Go Fight Live's feed often skipped, froze, went off-sync, cut out altogether, and sometimes refused to start. Doesn't really matter how good your wrestling is when no one can actually see or hear anything, does it?
- The American Wrestling Federation was an independent promotion that ran between 1994-96. The idea was to remove all aspects of "sports entertainment" and make the matches seem as much like a real athletic contest as possible. Unfortunately, this meant breaking the match up into three four-minute rounds with a one-minute break between them; if there was no pin or submission in that time, it would be decided on points. While it's true that shoot fights such as boxing matches work that way, in a professional wrestling match it only served to break up the flow of the match and make the wrestlers look weak and out of shape. Add in a fiercely enforced set of rules that prevented most high-flying maneuvers or exciting spots, a high proportion of matches ending in a DQ, an obviously coached audience, a roster mostly made up of over-the-hill Ring Oldies who lacked enough name recognition for a nostalgia pop, and Terry "Red Rooster" Taylor on commentary, and you've got a perfect recipe for failure. Even the networks realized what a bad idea it was, so much so that the AWF literally paid them to be on TV.note In order to boost attendance, tickets were free; there are even rumors that they offered free food at tapings to lure in the homeless simply to get more people through the door. At a time when ECW was adding a whole new dimension of violence to the sport and WCW and WWE were squaring off for the Monday Night Wars, this worked about as well as you'd expect.
- All Japan Pro Wrestling booked a match between Giant Baba and a 7-foot-tall karate black belt from India who went by the name of Raja Lion. Unfortunately, Lion didn't seem to understand the concept of a "worked" match: He threw wild clumsy karate kicks constantly the whole match, one time aiming one at Baba's head, completely missing and nearly breaking his own knee falling over backwards. He also stiffed Baba with leg kicks and karate chops. Politically, Baba had to be gentler with Lion than he might have been. He eventually pulled Lion down to the mat and put him in a leg neck crank hold note , and after Lion flailed around for a little while the ref called for the bell. To help Lion save face and avoid an international incident, Tiger Jeet Singh then ran in and attacked Baba. Perhaps the most memorable thing out of the whole debacle was that, in commemoration to Lion's "efforts" in this match and another one (which was also his last), Lion has a permanent spot on the intro of Botchamania after both were featured in Botchamania 119.
- The Pitbull Gary Wolfe vs. Raven match from Extreme Reunion 2012, in which Raven buries the show, those who couldn't make it to the show, and everyone else working on it... and then doesn't even have the decency to wrestle, sending in a bunch of people no one knows in his place and then complaining about the job they did. This match turned the crowd against the show for the rest of the night.
- AAA's Triplemanía XXIII. This attempt to attract new viewers in the US was a massive disaster, especially when compared to Wrestle Kingdom 9 and Ultima Lucha. The broadcast was plagued with technical difficulties—when there was audio, it was loaded with interference, and the camera work was just awful. Matt Striker appeared to be overcompensating for Hugo Savinovich's complete disinterest. Never mind the latter was inaudible for half the show. All but two of the shows were awful, from a nine high-flyer cage match to what Wrestling Observer Newsletter hailed as the worst match of 2015, with -5 stars from Dave Meltzer. Los Psycho Circus vs. Los Villanos... one of whom had a stroke, and the other two were completely out of shape. Los Psycho Circus carried the whole match, but could do nothing to make their opponents look any good.
- UR Fight, the last production to date from URshow.tv. Built around four different fighting disciplines, and shot in Phoenix's half-empty Celebrity Theater, the show was doomed from the start. The MMA main event fell through when Dan Severn pulled out and Ken Shamrock turned out not have the proper licenses. All the better, as the cheap pro-wrestling ring was hopelessly unfit for this purpose. The MMA portion was booked terribly, with the opening bout being a Curb-Stomp Battle between five-time world champion Mavrick Harvey and Shannon Ritch (with a W/L of 55 to 87). Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping fought according to "Metamoris Submission Grappling Rules", which meant that no strikes of any kind could be thrown. What ensued was three rounds of extremely angry hugging, ending in a draw. Meanwhile, Rey Mysterio Jr. wrestled Kurt Angle in a best-of-three-falls match (with Brian Hebner as the official) that spoke to how old they both were. Mysterio won through botched interference from the intermission performer, who moments earlier had almost been booed out. And finally, Roy Jones Jr. boxed MMA fighter Vyron Phillips, after their original plan (concieved without consulting the Arizona State Athletic Commission) fell through. Once again, it was another hastily-booked Curb-Stomp Battle. The only excusable element was Jim Ross on commentary; he was was just here for a payday and didn't care who knew.Rampage Jackson: Hey JR, you should promote your own shows.
Jim Ross: Id like to keep my money.
- All Elite Wrestling works hard to shake up acts or angles that don't get over. It certainly hasn't even been around long enough to rack up anywheres near as many failures as the competition. But they do have one genuinely unsalvageable angle from their early years: the Nightmare Collective stable, initially featuring Brandi Rhodes as the leader and a very late-career Awesome Kong as The Heavy. Brandi's ring work was uninspired at best (and sparked fears she would get pushed just for being Cody Rhodes' wife), and Kong, despite her storied past, was two years from retirement for a reason. Then Dr. Luther came on as a manager; he was way too obscure to get over, having been at his height in FMW, decades ago. Mel (SHIMMER's Melanie Cruise) was added to help with the ring work, but this was doomed from her first match in the stable. She took the blame for a catastrophic failure loaded with blown spots versus Hikaru Shida, in part because Shida's reputation for good workrate preceded her. And on top of that, the gimmick itself was just plain bad, as it was never explained in any real detail. The angle ended with Kong turning on Brandi, who turned face after going on to support Cody. Everyone involved took a hit to their careers, none worse than Kong and Mel. It was Kong's last major appearance, and Mel's last for AEW; Luther (who most agree actually was a nepotism hire) formed the lower-card tag team Chaos Theory with Serpentico.
- In 2022, popular wrestling Twitter user TransGraps announced the first wrestling card featuring only trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming talent, Wrestle Queerdom. Support was high, especially buoyed by the appearance of some of the biggest-name non-cis talent including AEW's Sonny Kiss, Impact's Gisele Shaw, and Japanese indie VENY in her US debut. And then, the realities of some anonymous individual producing an international wrestling show set in: It emerged that VENY did not have a hotel organized, and was instead staying at the promoter's house. Worse, the promoter made some tweets that came across as creepy towards her. It mercifully amounted to little, but the backlash was so strong that the promoter announced she was pulling out of the business before the show. Several wrestlers pulled out citing unprofessional treatment, leaving Kota Holliday without an opponent for a headline match. The remaining talent were not catered, or even given water—that's right, an athletic event that didn't supply the performers drinking water. The ring ropes were clearly not stable, making high-flying moves look frightening, especially for the heavier wrestlers like Candy Lee. Two sideshow segments, a roast of Candy Lee and an induction of trans wrestling pioneer Mariah Moreno into the TransGraps Hall of Fame, were called off without explanation. Instead, they had Eddy Joanne-Elizabeth McQueen, who was to host the former, run commentary at the last minute... with no material, no run sheet, and—of all the times—none of the performers' pronouns. The first embarrassment came before the first match, when Aiden Von Engeland came out as a trans man in a promo and Eddy promptly continued calling him "they." McQueen was hooked off commentary during the intermission, with Kota Holliday and Cameron Saturn filling in. And the worst part? Almost no one was paid, and the promoter seems to have have disappeared. Aiden and Kidd Bandit had to scramble to make sure everyone got their fair share. The sad part is that none of this was the performers' faults. Highlights included Gisele Shaw vs. Candy Lee, Kidd Bandit vs. Don't Die Miles, and the main event, Edith Surreal vs. VENY. If anything, they were the best element, just for sticking it all out. To quote one reaction:"So proud of the talent at the show. To put it more bluntly, the story of this show beyond the performers should be about the incredible generosity of queer people when other queer people are in need, and that's much more important than your dunks."