JC’s Top Rope Report: The 5 Most Disappointing Wrestlemanias
by Justin Czerwonka on March 23, 2013

Hello everyone. I’m back again with another Wrestlemania list on the road to Wrestlemania. Lots of positive feedback from the last list I did. I’m sticking with a Top 5 list again because it is short and to the point. If you expand to a Top 10 list, I feel like you are reaching for points to defend your argument.

This list looks at the five most disappointing Wrestlemanias in the WWE history. Now, this list doesn’t necessarily mean the five worst Wrestlemania’s of all time. I don’t think many people had high hopes for Wrestlemania 9 going into it. This list looks at five Mania’s that had a lot of hype around them that just either didn’t live up to expectations or fell flat on their face. And at least one Wrestlemania on this list was slightly above average, but it could have been even bigger if the WWE had booked it differently. That also was taken into account when this list was made. Wrestlemania is considered the grandest stage of them all, and if the show does not live up to that hype, it is considered a major disappointment. I have a feeling if I did this same list next year, Wrestlemania 29 would be on it.

With that intro out of the way, lets take a look at this list.

5. Wrestlemania XI
-Wrestlemania XI was hurt in large part due to the Mania it was following. Wrestlemania X is looked upon quite highly in WWE history. And it rightfully is. Two ***** matches and a couple of above average ones as well. Wrestlemania XI had a lot to live up to, and it sadly did not.

The main event of the show featured Lawrence Taylor, former NFL star, facing Bam Bam Bigelow. While I will say to this day that LT did a decent job in the ring, it should not have main evented Wrestlemania. Imagine the outrage that would have happened nowadays if a former NFL star who never wrestled before main evented the biggest show of the year? That decision right there showed why the WWE struggled mightily in 1995.

The best match on the show, to no one’s surprise, was the Shawn Michaels/Diesel match for the WWE Championship. Of course there was the side show stuff with Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy. But this was the match that showed Michaels could be a main event guy in the WWE. He carried Diesel to a good match and it set up his face run later in the year.

But there was nothing else very memorable on the show. With so much acclaim for Wrestlemania X, Wrestlemania XI failed to even carry its jock.

4. Wrestlemania VIII
-Let me start by saying the following: There are a handful of things I like about Wrestlemania XIII. The Ric Flair-Randy Savage WWE Title Match was very good. I haven’t seen it in a while but it was at least **** stars, probably a little bit better. Roddy Piper and Bret Hart but on a good Intercontinental Title Match. And perhaps my favorite thing from this show: the commentary from Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. It was perhaps their best job ever as a team.

Now, with all of that being said, this Wrestlemania could have been so much bigger for the WWE. The match everyone was expecting to see was Ric Flair vs Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship. The second Ric Flair showed up on WWE TV, that was the Dream Match people wanted to see. But for a handful of reasons, the WWE never went along with it. The reason Vince McMahon gave is because the matches weren’t that good on house shows and there wasn’t as much heat to the match as the WWE wanted. Of course, Hulk Hogan was also the subject of a pretty big steroids scandal at the time in the WWE. He was taking a leave of absence from the WWE. And you know Vince McMahon probably didn’t want to put Flair over Hogan. Flair was not a Vince McMahon creation. Hogan was.

But there are many ways the WWE could have gotten around this. They could have had Hogan/Flair as a non-Title match. Then they could have put the WWE Title on Sid. Good idea? Maybe not. But you can’t deny that Sid was over at the time in the WWE. Heck, he was cheered over Hogan during their brief encounter after the Royal Rumble. The WWE had to edit it for video release.

So what would I have done? I would have done Flair-Hogan for the WWE Title, and just copied the ending from Sid-Hogan. Maybe have Mr. Perfect interfere instead of Papa Shango. Then Ultimate Warrior comes down for the save. I would have finished off Jake Roberts and Randy Savage here instead of earlier in the year as the WWE did. Roberts ended up leaving the WWE after that so it would have made sense to see Savage defeat his nemesis than have him leave. That would have left Sid to fight a still heel Undertaker.

3. Wrestlemania XVI/2000
-This Wrestlemania happened right in the middle of the Attitude Era. Triple H was in the beginning of his main event run with his wife Stephanie. The McMahon-Helmsley Era was in full force. The Rock was the most over star in the WWE and may have been at the best he ever was in the WWE. I personally think a Rock/HHH WWE Title Match was the way to go at this Wrestlemania. But that wasn’t the case.

Instead, Vince McMahon decided to get his whole family involved at Wrestlemania. And the match also wasn’t a one-on-one match. It was the Wrestlemania built as a “McMahon In Every Corner.” And that, my friends, is what killed any hope this Wrestlemania had. It also didn’t help that Big Show and Mankind were thrown into the match. Wrestlemania should always have a one-on-one match as the main event. I always think the story is better when it just involves two people and doesn’t have so many moving parts, like this one had. Now obviously there are exceptions (HBK/HHH/Benoit), but those are few and far between.

What else didn’t I like about this Wrestlemania? Only ONE singles match. And that was  a catfight between Terri Runnels and The Kat. Every other match was a multi-man match that congested the entire card. With this Mania happening right in the middle of the Attitude Era, it was a let down of an event. There was an obvious Vince McMahon heel turn that even 12 year old Justin saw coming. There was one memorable match, and that was the Ladder Match for the Tag Titles. A let down for an Attitude Era Wrestlemania.

2. Wrestlemania XXV
-Billed as the “25th Anniversary of Wrestlemania,” (which it wasn’t) you would have expected the WWE to go all out for this show. And while in their mind they have have thought they have, it didn’t happen if you ask me.

First let me start by saying this: I LOVED the Shawn Michaels/Undertaker match on this show. It was easily the best wrestling match I have seen in the last five years at least. Maybe better. But if you ask me, that match is what saved the show from being a total trainwreck. Maybe if the Taker/HBK match had ended the show, the PPV would have looked differently. But there is no way the WWE would have expected the match to have the crowd on the edge of its seat the entire time like it did. I was expecting a great match, but even I wasn’t expecting the match received.

The two titles matches that followed, and their builds, were terrible. The Triple Threat World Title Match between Edge, Big Show and John Cena was centered more around Vickie Guerrero than the actual Title. It was originally suppose to be Edge vs Big Show, then John Cena was added after he found footage of Vickie cheating on Edge with Big Show. The match would have been fine if it was just Edge/Big Show. But Cena was thrown into the mix after a rumored Hulk Hogan/John Cena match was scrapped due to a Hogan back injury. The match itself was underwhelming, and we got the nightmare John Cena clones entrance.

The actual main event of the show, HHH vs Randy Orton for the WWE Title, was perhaps one of the worst Mania main events ever. At this point, we had already seen HHH and Orton fight numerous times. As intense as this feud tried to be, it just never clicked with the audience. Stalker HHH invading Orton’s home? Orton hitting the RKO on Stephanie? I’ve said it before, but HHH just doesn’t fit the role of the sympathetic babyface like he was trying to play here. And the crowd in Houston just didn’t care about the match. The match never got out of second gear and the outcome of HHH winning was way too predictable.

We were also treated to a terrible Kid Rock performance, a Divas Battle Royal that saw Santina Marella win, and an underwhelming Mickey Rourke performance after there was so much hype about his involvement on the show. For the hype the WWE gave it, Wrestlemania 25 didn’t deliver.

1. Wrestlemania II
After the huge success the first Wrestlemania gained for the WWE, Vince McMahon was trying to think of ways to top himself the next year. Unfortunately, Vince probably tried too hard to outdo himself. And that is why Wrestlemania II isn’t only the most disappointing Mania of all time, but it is generally considered to be the worst Mania of all time along with Wrestlemania IX.

Vince thought it would be a great idea to hold Wrestlemania in three different places: Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago and the Sports Arena in Los Angeles. The problem is that the WWE didn’t have that great of a roster to spread out talent among three different cities. The WWE resorted to celebrity announcers that were terrible with the likes of Susan St. James and Cathy Lee Crosby. One of the big feature matches was a WWE/NFL Battle Royal.

The two main matches were not great. The Mr.T/Roddy Piper Boxing Match was not good. At one point in the match, Mr. T missed pretty badly on a punch and Piper had to sell it. The match ended in a DQ. Having a scripted Boxing Match is tough to pull off. The main event with Hulk Hogan taking on King Kong Bundy for the WWE Title was really bad. The match barely went over 10 minutes and was not well executed.

Everything about Wrestlemania II was a huge letdown from Wrestlemania I. The three city idea was terribly executed, and even the celebrities involved were a downgrade from the first Wrestlemania. Wrestlemania II didn’t live up to the hype. But luckily for the WWE, they rebounded with a huge Wrestlemania the next year.

So once again. Agree? Disagree? Discuss!

Until Next Time,
Justin C
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  • Steven Gepp

    Shouldn’t number 2 be WM 8, not 13? And WM 11 had a problem because of the Mania it was following, not falling? Sorry, being pedantic, but…

    As to the article, I think you’re being a little harsh on WM2. They were still finding their feet with the concept, and I would argue they didn’t actually get their rhythm going until WM5. WM2 was a teething issue.

    I would say WM25 was the biggest disappointment – it promised so much and delivered so little.

  • flamingwombat

    I was surprised at first to see WM “13” on the list too. This also confuses me: “I would have finished off Jake Roberts and Randy Savage at that feud.
    Roberts ended up leaving the WWE after that so it would have made sense
    to see Savage defeat his nemesis than have him leave.”

    I agree with your (Gepp’s) thoughts on WM 2. I’ve never heard it considered one of the worst Manias. A bit over-ambitious at worst. I’d replace it on this list with WM 15. WWF was Attitude Era hot and it was just such an underwhelming PPV, other than the main event and Bart Gunn getting concussed all the way to Japan.

  • Michael L

    I fully agree with WM XI, although for different reasons. If you looked at the card, it should have been a lot better than it was. Diesel/HBK was a decent match, but it wasn’t the classic that it could have been (and would be about a year later when Diesel was on his way out of the company). Furthermore, after a 4+ star match between Backlund and Bret Hart at Survivor Series 94, their rematch should have easily matched that as a test of wills. However, the match was embarassingly short, with the entire match lasting less time than Bret was in the Crossface Chickenwing at their previous match.

    I also agree with WM 2000. although I’m not as hard on the show as others. However, I agree that the lack of a singles match really hurt the show, especially as some of the tag matches were real jokes. The IC/Euro title match delivered, as did the tag team ladder match, but the main event was about 15 minutes too long and had two too many wrestlers. If it had been Rock/HHH it could have been a classic.

    I’d also put last year’s WM as disappointing, with only the HHH/UT HiTC match exceeding expectations. The 18 second Shaemus/Bryan match was an offense to those who truly respected wrestling, and the main event between Cena and Rock simply didn’t match the build (which itself had worn think by the time WM came around).

    Finally, I’d also include WMIV, which had way too many matches, with none of them really being classic. Savage winning the title was the correct decision, but it might have meant more if he had to get past his rival from WM III, Steamboat (who instead was eliminated by Valentine in the first round).

    Finally, I’d include WM13 on the list. Yes, it had the classic Bret Hart/Steve Austin matchup which set the tone for the Attitude era to follow. However, outside of that, the rest of the card was pretty weak (except for a decent Chicago Street Fight). The unover Rocky Maivia defended the IC title against the even less over Sultan. The tag title match featured two heel teams. But the biggest disappointment had to be the main event, largely because UT was in a very good groove in terms of workrate, but the match with Sid could easily be one of the most boring main events in WM history.

    Finally, I’d also consider WM XV, which was at the height of the Attitude Era, but itself was a pretty bad card overall. Yes it featured a solid main event, and we also saw the historical HHH heel turn. However, everything else was pretty bad–but then again, the card didn’t exactly look like a blowaway card on paper.

    I’d also include WM IX, but given the card, I’m not sure anyone could realistically have expected much better. On the other hand, the WWF did manage to make that card even worse than expectations particularly with the main event booking.

    How about WM’s that were better than expectations? I’d easily include WM X17, which turned out to be one of the best WM’s, despite a mediocre buildup to most of the matches–even the main event where the building had Debrah managing Rock at VKM’s insistence up until the week or two before the show.

  • limodriver

    I’d add WM7 to the list. It was supposed to be a Hogan/Warrior rematch, but that got scuttled in favor of the horrible Sgt. Slaughter Iraqi Heel Turn. Granted, we did get the best Ultimate Warrior match of his career, but that was mostly due to Savage. Half the card was squash matches that if they were on today on Raw, you’d fast forward through.

  • flamingwombat

    ” If it had been Rock/HHH it could have been a classic.” That should have been the match for sure. They put it off until the next PPV (a terrific start to finish Backlash PPV – track it down if you haven’t seen it) and it was a near classic that would have made an awesome WM main event.

    I saw WM XV live, and the Philly crowd deserved better for their only Mania. They did the nonsensical switching of Road Dogg and Billy Gunn as champions in the hardcore and IC title matches, the tag title match had challengers not even decided until the pre-show, the Brawl for All debacle (admittedly exciting in person), and the terrible Taker-Bossman HitC match. There were some highlights, Big Show’s first PPV match, the “Chyna’s turning face/no she’s not HHH is turning heel” turn that played out over a couple of matches as you mentioned, the last appearance of Gorilla Monsoon (judge for the boxing match. Was great to see him one more time), surprise Shawn Michaels appearance to a monster pop, and the often overlooked because of the more famous WM X7 match main event with Rock-Austin. But yeah, considering the roster and how hot they were at the time, totally disappointing.

    WM X17 is definitely the best, with WM X and 3. WWF was on fire that year and they knocked it out of the park with that PPV.

  • flamingwombat

    Warrior had great chemistry with Savage and Rick Rude. The WM7 match (and post- match angle) is one of the best Mania matches period. Their eventual face-face Summerslam rematch was pretty good too if I recall. WM7 is weird, it had the classic Savage-Warrior, a main event that despite the horrible angle around it actually delivered in the ring, two good tag-team matches, start of Undertaker’s streak. But on the other hand, as you said, squashes galore plus poor pay-offs to long storylines, something they were usually really good at doing for Mania. Virgil finally turns on DiBiase? OK, we’ll let him win by meaningless count out. Bossman spent a year plowing through the Heenan Family to set up a match with Perfect? OK, DQ ending, no title change. Random Japanese challengers no one knows to face Demoltion? OK, let’s put them over. Power & Glory actually making Paul Roma and Hercules interesting? OK, let’s have the LoD squash them. Lastly, the blindfold match… Anyway, tough call. Lots of crap, BUT a few good matches, with one bona fide classic and a good main event keeps it off the bottom.

  • BD

    Warrior / Rick Rude is still my favorite Warrior match ever. That cage match was a thing of beauty.

  • Ooogie Boogie

    “That would have left Sid to fight a still heel Undertaker.”

    Based on their positions at the time, that match right there would have stopped the streak.

  • Finn McInnes

    WM 2 was a misfire for sure, but I think that IX is pretty piss-poor. Best matches on the card: Tatanka vs Michaels and….well, um, yeah I guess Steiners/Headshrinkers is watchable. But that’s about it.
    And holy shit is WM XV bad. When Shane McMahon and Xpac have the match of the night, not even Rock/Austin can save it. Other than those two matches everything else was god awful on that card.
    I think you judge 8 a little harshly based on a “what should have happened” versus what was actually on the card. Sure there were only two great matches, but there were a few other entertaining bits and nothing that was completely unwatchable.

  • CH Punk

    As a kid I totally bought Slaughter’s evil heel turn. I thought “What a bastard, but he was so nice when he hosted GI Joe”, I never got why Iron Sheik was helping a Iraqi sympathizer? Of course the WWE would put the Middle Eastern Divari with the Indian Great Khali, so WWE needs a set of encyclopedia.

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