One month ago, I embarked on my biggest project to date – searching through every match given a full five stars by renowned journalist, Dave Meltzer, and ranking my top twenty personal favourites (CLICK HERE TO READ). It took many hours of research and hard work, but after channeling my inner Meltzer, the amazing response I received was more than worth it. However, after spending so many hours indulging in these rare, amazing quality matches, it got me thinking about an even rarer type of match, a match so bad it had to be banished to the other end of the grappling spectrum. While just over ninety matches were given that prestigious five-star rating, only five bouts in the history of professional wrestling were branded with the dreaded minus five stars. Out of the hundreds of thousands of matches to take place since 1983 when the Wrestling Observer Newsletter was founded, only five were considered to be the worst of the worst.
So, what makes a match that bad? What makes a fight stand out as the worst of the worst? Well, from my point a view, it has to be a match completely void of any entertainment value. Sure, there have been some unbelievably bad wrestling matches over the last few decades or so, but they can still provide some entertainment value. Take Sharmell vs. Jenna Morasca for example: it is possibly the worst exhibition of wrestling I have ever seen in all my years as a fan, however it is that awful that it’s sort of hilarious. You’re guaranteed to laugh at that kind of awful display, and that’s what saves it from a full minus five stars. Plus, experience has to be taken into account here. The chances of two amateurs with barely any training stepping into a ring and putting on anything more than a travesty are very low, so if they do stumble their way through one of the worst of all time, they have to give a little slack at least.
A true minus five-star match has to have no excuses for why it was so bad. It has to be a true insult to everybody watching with no safety nets to hide behind. It has to not even make you grin ironically at how bad it is. It has to make you feel angry, or annoyed, or painfully bored to earn that distinction. So, out of the five that Meltzer declared to be the most dreadful, which is the hardest to watch? Which is the worst of the worst of the worst (try saying that five times faster), and of course, do they all deserve the rating they received? Let’s find out, here are all five of Dave Meltzer’s minus five-star matches ranked from best to worst.
For this list, I am only including matches given this rating by Dave Meltzer himself, not by any other journalist or anybody associated with the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. So sadly for fans of Botchamania, matches famously declared as MINUS FIVE STARS on the Bryan and Vinny Show will not be counted. With that being said, let’s get started.
- Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Spot – WWF The Wrestling Classic 1985
So let’s start with the ‘best’ worst match of all time (if you can even call it that). Why exactly does this monstrosity of a match rank higher than its peers? Simply because it’s the shortest. Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Spot from The Wrestling Classic lasted less than a minute, so because of how little punishment it puts you through, it has to be considered the best.
So let’s go through this miniscule match. The bout begins with Moondog quickly grounding JYD by throwing punches, but after missing a splash from the second rope, JYD hits a few headbutts, and that’s it. The interesting aspect of this match is that there’s no referee – JYD actually counts his own pinfall and then the bell rings with no explanation of why that’s allowed. In fact, Gorilla Monsoon even states on commentary that the victory won’t count, followed shortly by Howard Finkel announcing that Junkyard Dog was the winner.
Other than the mystery of what indestructible material JYD’s head must have been made out of in order to claim a victory after just a few light taps with it, the biggest question surrounding this minus five-star match is, what was the point of that finish? Why would the time keeper ring the bell after a wrestler counted his own pinfall? Why wouldn’t they just wait until a referee came down to the ring? Why did anyone think this was a good idea? Now, in my opinion, although this is clearly an example of idiotic booking, it definitely doesn’t deserve its infamous rating. At the time, seeing this clumsy, idiotic victory must have angered Dave Meltzer enough to bestow his first-ever minus five-star rating upon the match, however, I’m sure it would be a very different story if this happened in WWE today. Since 1985, we have seen thousands of squash matches, bad booking decisions, and WWE officials blatantly not following rules, so if this were to happen now, we would all just complain for a day, and move on. The rating this match received is clearly a sign of its times, and yes, it’s not a good match by any means, but thankfully it’s over before you know it, so the pain of having to watch it is kept to a bare minimum.
- The Bushwhackers vs. Nikolai Volkoff and The Iron Sheik – Heroes of Wrestling 1999
Heroes of Wrestling is without question the worst pro wrestling pay-per-view to ever take place. The quality of this show was so infamously bad that all plans for the future of the HOW brand were quickly abandoned, to the delight of us all. Although the show is mostly known for the disastrous main-event involving an inebriated Jake Roberts, it’s also notorious for this appalling tag team match. For a promotion to run just one show, and manage to receive a minus five-star match rating, and have a reputation so rotten that it’s still being talked about nearly two decades later, that is impressively bad.
Fun fact: The Bushwhackers are the only wrestlers in history to receive a five-star rating and a minus five-star match rating from Dave Meltzer. Now, perhaps the five-star rating was a little generous, and it would certainly be a different story if that same match took place today, however, the minus five is definitely deserved.
The theme of this match seems to be to try and engage in as little physicality as possible. Before the match begins, Volkoff and Sheik spend several minutes singing and taunting to the crowd, so when the bell rings, and the action is finally set to begin…the taunting doesn’t stop. Literally after a few extremely weak shots, The Bushwhackers, known as The Men from Down Under due to copyright reasons, began chanting “USA! USA!” at their foreign opponents, at which point the crowd joins in, and the American choir continues throughout. That’s right, the crowd chants the name of their country despite everyone involved in the match not being American, and the chant itself being started by two men from New Zealand, who’s team name clearly states that they’re not from THE US-FUCKING-A!
Anyway, back to the in-ring action, well, what little of it there is. The execution of every move in this match is absolutely atrocious, and the selling is somehow even worse. Watch this match and you will witness the worst double clotheslines, and the most pathetic referee distraction in the history of the human race. A good 60% of this match consists of Sheik and Volkoff shouting generic gibberish at the fans outside the ring. The fans were chanting, “Russia sucks!” when they should have been chanting, “This whole show sucks!”
All four men involved in this bout were extremely out of shape, and had a collective age of over 200, hence why they desperately avoided taking bumps as much as possible, and when they did bump, they were more like clumsy wobbles to the floor. What’s more, there’s no entertainment value to it whatsoever. At no point will you laugh or smile at how pitiful it is, you’ll just sigh and look at your phone until it ends. This match is only just over eight minutes long, but it never seems to end.
- Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper – Wrestlemania 2
Mr. T’s involvement in the first Wrestlemania provided the mainstream star power that made the risky pay-per-view the success it was. As he was involved in a tag team match at that event, Mr. T was carried by the three wrestlers in the ring with him to a serviceable match, however, just one year later, he was in there alone, one-on-one. This time around though, it wasn’t a wrestling match, it was billed as a boxing match. So what do you get when two men, one a wrestler, one an actor, have a boxing match in front of millions of viewers, despite both not being happy about working together, and neither of them having any real boxing experience other than appearing in a very famous movie about the sport? One of the most boring matches in history.
It’s hard to compare this to the other minus five-star matches as it’s the only one that isn’t really a wrestling match, but that doesn’t stop it from being horrendous. The thing is, it’s clear that both men involved are actually trying, they’re not avoiding physical contact as much as possible, or stumbling their way through poor booking, as with other matches on this list, the reason why it’s so bad despite their efforts is that it is just really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really boring. While it isn’t as unbearably bad to watch as Ali vs. Inoki, a bout that certainly would have received this infamous rating if the Wrestling Observer Newsletter had existed at the time, Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper is the perfect example of why non-wrestling stipulations should never be introduced into professional wrestling.
Mr.T vs. Roddy Piper isn’t bad enough to make you angry or make you laugh, it won’t make you feel anything except boredom. I pity the fool that ever chooses to sit down and watch this….AKA me…..
- Los Villanos vs. Los Psycho Circus – Triplemania XXIII
What is it about Triplemania and things going so extremely wrong?
Just to give you a little background information on this match which will give you a clue in regards to the quality of it: one of its participants, Villano III, was still recovering from a recent stroke at the time, and as such, could barely do anything, and at one point, even collapsed to the floor with dizziness. I don’t know about you, but if I were in charge of putting together a wrestling show, including a match involving a 63 year old stroke victim would not seem like a good idea to me.
At Triplemania XXIII, Los Villanos (who had a collective age of 166) faced off against Los Psycho Circus in the only match this century to be banished to Meltzer’s minus five-star galaxy. The biggest problem with this six-man tag is that there is just no structure or order to it – neither team plays face or heel, it is void of any sort of comprehensible story, the idea of actually tagging in and out is abandoned immediately, it’s plagued by audio issues throughout, there’s no build of psychology whatsoever, and the random in-ring action that does take place is horrendous. Lucha Libre trios matches are known for their constant fast-pace action, the dastardly antics from the rudos (heels), and their enthusiasm for the art of tag team wrestling – in this match, we get three middle-aged men wearing the same outfit trying to beat three clowns with chops weaker than a dead man’s handshake.
What landed this match with a number two ranking is that it’s just hard to watch. It’s a boring conveyer belt of the same strikes repeated constantly, with little sense or reason behind any of them. The only source of any value of entertainment comes when two of the Villanos perform the worst throw into a ring post ever recorded on camera. And then, after what feels like longer than an hour of Great Khali matches, this contest literally ends with a gentle kick to the dick.
Interestingly, the events preceding and following the match are extremely emotional – this is supposed to be a way of honouring these legends of AAA, and the swansong of Villano III, it’s just a shame that the match that took place between these sentimental moments was easily one of the worst in the history of professional wrestling.
- Hollywood Hogan vs. The Warrior – Halloween Havoc 1998
When your own boss publically refers to a match as being one of the worst of all time, you know it’s bad.
At Wrestlemania VI, an extremely rare babyface vs. babyface bout main-evented the show. The PPV was built around the clash between two of the biggest stars in the world, the up-and-coming colourful megastar, The Ultimate Warrior, facing the established American hero, Hulk Hogan. Far from a technical masterpiece, the match had fans in the arena and across the world jumping out of their seats due to how much infectious exhilaration Warrior and Hogan created together. When Warrior pinned Hogan for the three-count, his status as a main-eventer was cemented for life. As face vs. face matches were barely ever seen at the time, a rematch never took place, so the two biggest stars of their time would never face again in the WWF. However, in 1997, both men found themselves across the ring from each other once again, this time in WCW, in arguably the most anticipated, and highly publicised rematch to ever take place at that point. Unfortunately though, what fans got was an absolute car wreck.
Hollywood Hogan vs. The Warrior from Halloween Havoc may just be the most painful fourteen minutes of wrestling you will ever see. Not even the awesome looking Halloween Havoc ringmat could save this one. The story goes that Hogan was adamant to bring Warrior into WCW just so he could claw back the biggest blemish on his unstoppable career. Hogan’s professional ego was so uncontrollably large that he couldn’t handle having lost to another man without evening the playing field with a win of his own. But then we’ve also got The Warrior, another hulking behemoth with an ego and reputation bigger than his muscles, well-known for being difficult to work with in the later years of his career. So here we have ego vs. ego, a battle that was doomed from the start. Neither man could seem to agree on a sensible and entertaining solution to the match, and as such, paying customers were subjected to an uncontrollable mess.
Without question the most memorable calamity from this match was Hogan attempting to throw a fireball into the face of his opponent (Hogan was obsessed with flames at this point for some reason), but he failed to light the paper in time, so Warrior flinched at absolutely nothing, followed shortly by Hogan singeing his own eyebrows off when his beloved fire spot went up in smokes. This moment is a perfect metaphor for the entire match: what was expected to go so well ended up going so spectacularly wrong. And then, just to put the icing on this clusterfuck of a metaphorical cake, the match finished when Horace Hogan, the perfect addition to this match judging by the quality of it, hit Warrior from behind with a chair whilst the referee was distracted. A terrible end to an equally terrible match.
The reason why this match is without question the worst of the five, is because it should have been so much better, and it has no excuses for being so ridiculously bad:
- JYD vs. Moondog spot was a 46 second squash match in the middle of a tournament
- The Bushwhackers vs. Sheik and Volkoff was bad, but at least the crowd appeared to still be into it, and it took place at a relatively small independent show with very poor PPV buy rates.
- Despite how boring it was, neither Mr. T or Piper were professional boxers, and did the best they could with what they had.
- As for Los Villanos, one of them was recovering from a fucking stroke! They shouldn’t have been in the ring anyway, but due to their ages and physical conditions, clearly nobody was expecting a masterpiece from them.
This was a Wrestlemania rematch involving two of the most popular wrestlers of all time, taking place on a pay-per-view hosted by the biggest company in the wrestling world at the time. All these two veterans had to do was have a passible match, and the crowd would have loved it. Nobody would expect these two to have a technical masterpiece, but much like their Wrestlemania match, it didn’t have to be in order to be exciting and memorable. Hogan vs. Warrior should have been a classic, but all it ended up being was an insult to everybody watching due to two of the biggest egos ever to step into a ring not being able to get onto the same page.
What’s more, this confrontation, including entrances and post-match, ran way over time, and as such, the live pay-per-view broadcast cut before the end of the show, meaning very few actually got to see the championship main-event that followed. Paying customers around the world were outraged and demanded refunds, so because of this match, the company’s reputation, viewership and bank accounts all took a big hit. This contest was that bad, it even caused a domino effect of misery!
Purely from a technical standpoint, this is not the worst match of all time, that honour has to go to the likes of Sharmell vs. Jenna Morasca purely because of their lack of experience, and that they really shouldn’t have been in that ring without experienced veterans to help carry them to an acceptable match, but taking into consideration the history these two had, the platform it took place on, and the years of hype it had, this has got to be the most insulting match in pro wrestling history. Not only is it terrible, it’s a big slap in the face to everyone who paid for it, and everyone who waited for it. Two legends put their egos before everything else, to the detriment of everything else. These two men were known for their huge personalities, massive connection with their fans, and overwhelming charismas, all of which were the key to the success of their Wrestlemania IV match, yet when all of those are taken away due to their clouding sense of self-worth, their in-ring skills were not enough to carry them to even an average match. The crowd chanted boring during the match, and fans are still discussing how bad it was almost twenty years later. If there was ever a perfect example of a minus five-star match in every sense of the word, look no further than this abomination.
Which matches would you give a minus five-star rating to? Let me know in a comment below or over on Twitter @HairyWrestling