wrestling / Columns

The Contentious Ten 03.12.12: Top 10 Worst Gimmick Matches

March 12, 2012 | Posted by Nick Bazar

Hello, and welcome to The Contentious Ten! My name is Nick Bazar, and I thank you for clicking.

Gimmick matches are hit or miss. Some are introduced and instantly become an interesting concept that sticks around for years. Others are brought in for one show, never to be seen again. There are even some gimmick matches that have also given us complete stinkers to go along with the classics. This is a list of the worst gimmick matches of all time. Not the gimmick match in general, but specific matches using that gimmick. Be warned, the following contains some horrible, horrible video information. And so, my Top Ten Worst Gimmick Matches…

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Hell in a Cell (Wrestlemania 15)size=6>

The Hell in a Cell match is one of my personal favorite gimmick match types of all time. However, one particular outing in its near 15-year history can also call itself one of my least favorite gimmick matches in wrestling. That (dis)honor, of course, goes to The Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man inside Hell in a Cell at Wrestlemania 15. It took place during the height of the Ministry of Darkness vs. Corporation storyline that dominated much of Raw’s television time during that era. Unfortunately, it didn’t provide a very satisfying chapter to the then extremely popular rivalry. Just the opposite, as it is often looked back on as the worst HIAC match of all time. There’s definitely a lot to back up that statement, as the “action” was dull throughout, neither guy looked motivated and it never felt like it needed the HIAC gimmick. In fact, I think the only reason the HIAC stipulation was in place was for the post-match hanging of Boss Man. Hopefully, Taker and Wrestlemania can redeem themselves this year when it comes to having a HIAC match at the “granddaddy of them all.”

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Blindfold Match (Lockdown ’07)size=6>

Blindfold matches, as a general rule, are horrible. Very rarely, some are passable (like Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel at Wrestlemania 7), but most are never worth watching. However, of all the Blindfold matches I’ve seen, James Storm vs. Chris Harris at Lockdown 2007 has been the worst. For a number of reasons too. First of all, I was looking forward to an eventual Storm vs. Harris match. They had years of history together, both were very talented and you just knew that once they finally faced off against each other, it would be an old-school brawl. Then, for their first encounter, TNA booked them in one of the most limiting matches in the history of wrestling- a Blindfold match. Instead of watching them tear into each other, we saw them cautiously walk around the ring with bags over their heads. To say their first meeting on pay-per-view was disappointment would be a huge understatement. Fortunately, they redeemed themselves the following month in a fantastic Texas Deathmatch, but the stench of their 9-minute slow circling of the ring was still there.

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Chamber of Horrors Match (Halloween Havoc ’91)size=6>

Not only was Halloween Havoc 1991’s Chamber of Horrors Match pitting Sting, The Steiners and El Gigante against Abdullah the Butcher, Vader, Cactus Jack and Diamond Studd one of the oddest choices for a pay-per-view opener, but it also became one of the worst gimmick matches of all time. It was a four-on-four Tornado style tag match that took place in a huge ceiling-less cell. Pretty standard right? Not so fast. There was also a large electric chair in the middle of the ring. The winners would be the ones who placed one of their opponents on the electric chair and fried them up. This is 1991 WCW we’re talking about here, so obviously there was a whole lot of cheesiness going around that just made the whole thing even worse. For starters, we were treated to epic sound effects as the electric chair descended from the top of the arena (is “epic” the right word?). And of course, when poor Abby was eventually sentenced to death at the end of the match, we got sparks, smoke and electrical noises that made Abyss getting shocked by a Taser look like Hollywood blockbuster type stuff.

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Steel Asylum Match (Impact 2010)size=6>

You’ve just signed arguably the biggest icon in professional wrestling, spent a good amount of money hyping his debut with billboards in New York City and are looking to take on WWE Raw head on for the first time in your company’s history. How do you start your show? With a bunch of guys flipping around in a gigantic red birdhouse! Prior to TNA Impact’s debut on Monday night back in January 2010, fans of the product had been treated to the Steel Asylum Match already. However, those eye sores apparently weren’t enough to dissuade TNA from reverting back to the gimmick once more for their biggest night in company history. What we got was the worst example of the Steel Asylum ever put forth. While the match was only about five minutes long, it didn’t stop fans in the Impact Zone from loudly chanting “This is bullshit” to a bunch of potential new fans watching at home. The best word to describe this would be awkward. It was awkward to watch the show get off to such a bad start, it was awkward to try and get past the ridiculous thick red bars that made up the cage and it was extremely awkward to watch Homicide try to escape from the structure for what seemed like an eternity. Oh, and the match ended in a disqualification.

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Piñata on a Pole Match (Nitro ‘99)size=6>

Over the years, we’ve been treated to a number of ____ on a Pole matches. From coalminer gloves and brass knuckles to even rats and Judy freaking Bagwell, we’ve seen just about everything up for grabs on a pole. However, the absolute worst example of this kind of match came towards the end of 1999 on an episode of WCW Nitro. Juventud Guerrera was carrying around a piñata for God knows what reason so “the voice of Vince Russo” decided to put him, along with a bunch of other Hispanic Cruiserweights, in a Piñata on a Pole Match. It was a complete disaster from the start as the piñata fell from the pole in the opening seconds of the match. What followed was a bunch of random spots as everyone in the match seemed lost on what to do. A few minutes after it started, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams ran in and cleaned house, ending the match on a disqualification. Here’s a good sign of how horrible this match was: the most entertaining part about it was Ed Ferrara’s impersonation of Jim Ross as “Oklahoma” on commentary.

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Hogpen Match (Extreme Rules ’09)size=6>

“Santina Marella” vs. Vickie Guerrero in a Hogpen Match- do I really need to elaborate? Santino Marella’s sister, Santina, debuted at Wrestlemania 25 during a 25-Diva Battle Royal. She won, and was crowned Miss Wrestlemania. Vickie Guerrero wasn’t pleased with this, and eventually finagled her way into winning the crown. To settle the score, the two were put in a Hogpen Match at Extreme Rules 2009 (yes, this went on for a full two months after Wrestlemania ended) in what was sure to be a classic. In the end, mud was thrown, slop was poured, pigs were terrified and Santina won back what was rightfully hers. This was something better saved for a throwaway episode of Raw rather than an expensive pay-per-view. Come to think of it, this show also featured a 20-minute Submissions match between John Cena and Big Show- a match that just barely missed the cut for this Top Ten. Anyway, the “Santina” bit had run its course by this point and the 15-minute Hogpen segment (setup, intros, match, post-match) was nowhere near PPV-worthy.

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Monster Truck Sumo Match (Halloween Havoc ’95)size=6>

There are certain things in wrestling that you can’t un-see: Mae Young’s saggy breasts, Mae Young giving birth, Mae Young humping Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant in a Monster Truck Sumo Match. Yeah, that actually happened. Hogan and Giant went against each other in monster trucks atop a building. They revved up their engines, collided and tried to force each other out of the boundaries of a circle on the roof. Get it? It’s a Monster Truck Sumo match. Naturally, Hogan won, then proceeded to push Giant off the building. Well, technically, he was trying to save himself from an attack from Giant and Giant ended up falling, but that might still be considered manslaughter. I don’t know who thought this would be a good idea. The thing is, there is really no way of executing this and having it come out anyway other than extremely chessy. It certainly didn’t help that Hogan’s monster truck had his 24-inch pythons cartoon-ized on its sides. It also didn’t help that they followed it up with an actual wrestling match as the main event…you know, about an hour after Giant fell from a building.

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Kennel from Hell Match (Unforgiven ’99)size=6>

Ah yes, the Turducken of professional wrestling. Separately, Hell in a Cell matches and Steel Cage matches are usually pretty good. The Kennel from Hell Match was a steel cage match inside a Hell in a Cell match. In-between the space between the cage and the cell, there were Rottweilers roaming around. Oh, and the cage was the big blue clunky one. It reminded me of the time I had the bright idea of a Ladder Match held inside a Cage Match. The only thing was I didn’t have a promotion to pull it off and I also had a brain to realize it wasn’t a good idea. Unfortunately, the WWF went through with Kennel from Hell. In the end, none of it worked. The Rottweilers pissed everywhere, they stayed away from both Big Boss Man and Al Snow when they were supposed to be vicious animals and the match itself was horrible. There’s a reason this match has gained so much notoriety over the years, and it has nothing to do with the abilities of Boss Man or Snow. It has everything to do with the fact that everything went wrong.

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Doomsday Cage Match (Uncensored ’96)size=6>

You know, I’m starting to think that any variation of a cage match should be stayed away from in wrestling. Case in point: the Doomsday Cage Match that pitted Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage against The Alliance to End Hulkamania (that just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?) at Uncensored 1996. This lovely thing took place inside a three-tiered super cage that had different heels in each tier awaiting the Mega Powers. Let’s put it this way, if you have to walk up scaffolding to reach the top of a cage for a wrestling match, you’ve done something wrong in planning this out. Although, I do commend the builders of this cage for how sturdy the fenced floors were on each tier. Back to the match. You may be thinking this type of gimmick has a chance if the action is half decent. I guess we’ll never know because this is how the thing went: punch, kick, slam into cage, punch, kick, slam into cage. Eventually, they made their way out of the cage and did some brawling, then went back inside for more of the same. This went on for 24 MINUTES! Insanity! I’ll be honest with you, it was a chore to sit through, and I feel guilty including the video of the match for you guys. Be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before watching.

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Fight for the Right Battle Royal (Bound for Glory ’07)size=6>

TNA has produced some ridiculously convoluted match types over the years, but nothing will ever hold a candle to the Fight for the Right Reverse Battle Royal that took place at Bound for Glory 2007. If your purposed match type has three stages and two of them include some kind of battle royal, discard it and start over. Let’s look at how TNA’s Reverse Battle Royal worked: the match starts with a bunch of guys outside the ring. They have to fight to be able to make it inside the ring. Once a certain number of guys reach the inside of the ring, the match becomes a standard battle royal. Once the battle royal comes down to the final two, it becomes a standard singles match. But that wasn’t it. You see, the order in which the wrestlers reached the inside of the ring determined their seeding order for an upcoming tournament to crown a Number One Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. Allow me to channel my inner Don West when I type “Are you FREAKING kidding me?!” Are those rules some kind of sick joke? Were the people behind this saying to themselves, “Oh, they thought the King of the Mountain Match was convoluted? HA!” Battle royals are dull enough as it is, but they had to make the entire concept even worse. The Fight for the Right Reverse Battle Royal from BFG 2007 is, in my opinion, the worst gimmick match of all time.

Before you go, be sure to check out episode two of Michael Ornelas’ own television show, Shenanigans:


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