Over the decades, WWE has given us some amazing feuds. We’ve seen the greatest stars in wrestling go at it hard in fantastic battles over the years. HHH, Shawn Michaels, the Rock, John Cena, the Undertaker, they have given fans some terrific battles and feuds that are still talked about today to elevate the business. A great feud sells tickets, picks up ratings and keeps fans talking to enjoy wrestling in all its ways.
But we’re not talking about those here.
No, these are for some of the worst feuds WWE has provided. Some are just horrible due to those involved while others had promise but just faltered. Some just make you shake your heads watching, others you can’t look away from like a train wreck. They dragged on too long, demanded far more attention than they deserved and quite often hurt guys badly as they went. Here are the 15 worst “rivalries” in WWE history and how bad wrestling can be.
15 DX vs the McMahons
Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, HHH. Take those three and put them in a program and it’s no wonder it’s pushed hard. When the McMahons enlisted the Spirit Squad to take on HHH, you already had the crazy sight of a band of male cheerleaders pushed as enforcers. HHH and Shawn Michaels reunited as DX to fight them off and thus, crazy antics that included impersonating the McMahons, dumping crap on the heels, spray-painting McMahon’s limo and jet, messing with his voice on a telecast and more juvenile stuff. You also had two guys easily beating up seven, not exactly the way to win fans over to a feud and the Squad came off as jokes. It ended in a special six-man Hell in the Cell match that involved DX shoving McMahon’s face into the Big Show’s naked rear end. Naturally, DX came out the victors in a feud already dumb and just more stupid as it went along to be a bad show for those involved.
14 Kane vs Anyone
In their annual awards, The Wrestling Observer has named Kane in “Worst Feud” a whopping seven times. That’s a pretty amazing trend and shows how, despite his good skills and cool act, Kane is involved in some truly terrible stories and angles. The long program with Lita pregnant and Snitsky; electrocuting Shane’s testicles; facing Big Daddy V; he and Great Khali setting new limits in slow and plodding matches; forced to unmask; the swiftly dropped “masked imposter Kane”; part of the Authority to take on John Cena; and most recently, his battle against Seth Rollins where his role as “Corporate Kane” was considered more important than the WWE title. Glen Jacobs is to be complimented for improving in the ring and continuing his work through injuries as a major star of the company but damn, this guy has been involved in some seriously crappy feuds.
13 Doink vs Bam Bam Bigelow
The original Doink the Clown was a great character as a sinister man who cheated to win. But a face turn ruined that, making him just a jokester and not very good in the ring. This led to 1993 as he was set against Bam Bam Bigelow in a series of matches with Doink using tricks to get at Bigelow. At the Survivor Series, Bigelow’s team faced off against the Bushwhackers and Men on a Mission dressed like clowns and lost badly with Bigelow sprayed in the face afterward. It continued onward for a match at Wrestlemania X of Bigelow and Luna Vachon facing Donk and midget cohort Dink. Bigelow, who had absolutely no business being involved in a feud this ridiculous, tried but it was just one painful encounter after another to make this feud a long and very unfunny joke on fans and why people dislike clowns.
12 Brie Bella vs Nikki Bella
The Bella Twins are among the hotter Divas and always fun to watch. And to be fair, Nikki has transformed into an actually good wrestler. But their feud in 2014 was marked as one of the worst to watch in all of wrestling. It began with Brie and Stephanie McMahon having an actually good program with Nikki suddenly turning heel to help Stephanie beat her sister. This led to promos between them which included Nikki snapping that she wished Brie had “died in the womb” and bringing up old family beefs, not exactly comfortable to watch. Then a series of vignettes meant to highlight the feud but just coming off poorly done. The inevitable finally happened with Jerry Springer showing up to “mediate” a debate between the two that ended in a catfight. Then Nikki beat Brie in a match so Brie had to be Nikki’s servant for 30 days for terrible mistreatment and just as it seemed ready to end, Nikki helped Brie win the Divas championship and they were back together with no explanation. Even the biggest Bella fan has to struggle to watch this one all the way through.
11 Tatanka vs Ludwig Borga
WWF has always gone for the “evil foreign heel” character and it’s worked okay in the past but… Finland? The fans were supposed to buy a guy from Finland as some sort of hated figure? But that’s what WWF did in 1993 in Ludwig Borga, set as a Finn who looked down on America and acted an arrogant jerk. His entrance music with the Finland national anthem but despite a good look, the guy just didn’t connect. So WWF put him against Tatanka, the Native American star with the idea that surely this would get fans to hate Borga as a monster heel. It didn’t work as Borga beat Tatanka easily in matches and was then set against “Mr USA” Lex Luger which did little to help Luger’s own standing. It was just bizarre as Borga broke his foot and was soon out of the company, leading to one of the stranger ideas for an evil heel WWF has ever given us and no wonder the feud died fast.
10 Diesel vs Mabel
WWE themselves don’t hold back today calling 1995 one of the lowest points in the company’s history. Cartoon characters ran wild, there were bad angles, terrible matches and it may be a bit unfair to blame it on the guy on top but it played a part. Diesel was hot starting out but suffered from poor challengers and how his limitations as a worker were exposed. But Vince thought the perfect way to save that was by giving him a massive challenge. Thus Mabel, the 450-pounder who had been part of joke tag team Men on a Mission, was turned heel, won King of the Ring and set up against Diesel. To Vince, it was the classic “monster vs monster” clash that had done great business in the past. To fans, it was horrible to watch these two slow plodding men going at it with British Bulldog turning heel to attack Diesel and their SummerSlam match arguably the worst main event in that show’s history. The angle was soon dropped but still atrocious to watch on so many levels and a standout of a horrible year for WWF.
9 Hulk Hogan vs Zeus
In 1989, WWF were doing their best to push No Holds Barred as the mega-hit of the summer with Hulk Hogan as a wrestler facing an evil network executive. It didn’t quite work out as the movie was ignored by audiences and ravaged by critics. But WWF kept it up by having Tiny Lister, who played the villain Zeus in the movie come into the company as Zeus. Thus, Hogan had to sell being terrified of a guy who was an imposing figure but not much good in the ring. Zeus and Randy Savage teamed for several matches against Hogan and Brutus Beefcake, including SummerSlam, the Survivor Series and even a special PPV cage battle. Each one was worse than the last as Hogan of course came out on top each time to end it just as the year finished out. To be fair, Lister has gone on to a good career as an actor but still remarkable how WWF gave him so much time in a crazy role.
8 Big Show vs the Big Bossman
This is one of those moments in wrestling that you just have to sit back, look at, and marvel anyone actually thought it up, let alone put it on the air. In late 1999, a newly face Big Show was talking of his father supposedly having terminal cancer, getting fan sympathy. The Bossman began to run Show down, having a cop friend tell Show his dad was dead and laughing at Show’s reaction. When it was announced Show’s dad died, the Bossman read a sarcastic poem (“with tears of regret and cheeks that are soaked, I’m sorry to hear your dad finally croaked”) and then the infamous video of Bossman crashing the funeral, hooking the coffin up to his truck and driving off with Big Show dragged behind. Show beat the Bossman and three allies by himself at the Survivor Series and won the WWF title later in the show. Thus, the Bossman was set up as his first title defense in a terrible match at Armageddon. Overall, it’s one of the more ludicrous moments of the Attitude Era and amazing Show has gone on for a career since.
7 The Ultimate Warrior vs Papa Shango
When the Ultimate Warrior made his return to WWF in 1992, there were huge expectations that he would be back in the title picture and massive heat on him. But instead, his first feud was against Papa Shango, the “voodoo priest” of the company. This led to bits of Shango “cursing” the Warrior so black goop flowed out of his hair and famously vomiting right on television. Amazingly, this did little to get fans going as their few house show matches did just about no business. The Warrior would move on to challenge Randy Savage at SummerSlam for the title and there was to be a big blow-off in November but the Warrior suddenly vacated the company to kill the whole thing. So some bizarre set-ups for a feud that went just about nowhere and you can argue this was one feud truly cursed for fans.
6 John Cena vs John Laurinaitis
It may have sounded good on paper, the classic “popular hero vs evil boss” motif that’s worked in the past. In practice, however, it was just a waste. Laurinaitis was a good worker in his day but that was a long time ago and he just wasn’t winning fans over. This set up the match at “Over the Limit” where Cena beat Laurinaitis down with a fire extinguisher, an admittedly funny bit of them at the announcer’s table and dragged on before Big Show turned heel to let Johnny Ace win. More appalling was that this match was the main event while CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan was on the undercard. This led to Big Show as Laurinaitis’ agent against Cena to drag this out more and, no surprise, Cena ended up the victor in the end. Just a mess that the fans didn’t care for but because of Cena’s power, it got a push it just didn’t deserve.
5 HHH vs Scott Steiner
A few years earlier, this would have been a hell of a match as both men were jacked but still skilled. But in 2003, Steiner’s steroid use had overwhelmed his common sense and much of his ring ability. When he debuted in late 2002, he was so out of shape, he couldn’t even wrestle and just did promos that, even by his own standards, were baffling and insane. The build consisted of arm wrestling and pose-downs meant to highlight Steiner as a genetic freak but not selling him as a good worker. That led to their utterly terrible match at the Royal Rumble. Steiner was blown up about 30 seconds into it and could only manage an “offense” of overhead suplexes and you actually felt sorry for HHH having to call things and do his best to make the bout entertaining. Supposedly, WWE really wanted this to continue to Wrestlemania but the fan reaction to the horror of this bout made them realize that was a waste and dropped it fast, highlighting a program where even HHH was sick of things.
4 The Undertaker vs Giant Gonzalez
Gonzalez is generally considered as the worst wrestler of all time. Despite standing nearly eight feet tall and imposing, he was marred by a complete lack of balance, terrible work rate and an absolutely atrocious costume with painted muscles and fur. He made his debut to attack the Undertaker at the Royal Rumble and cost him the bout which was meant to jump a big feud but what we got was horrible. Their Mania match ranks among the Taker’s worst ever, their other bouts not much better as Gonzalez seemed barely able to navigate a ring let alone work a decent match. Thankfully, Taker won at SummerSlam to put this to bed but still a “highlight” of how bad 1993 was for the company.
3 Chavo Guerrero vs Hornswoggle
The overwhelming winner for the Worst Feud of 2009, this really began a few years earlier when Hornswoggle won the Cruiserweight title off Chavo in a freak scramble match. This basically killed that belt as a legitimate championship thanks to bits like Chavo pulling out “traps” out of a Looney Tunes cartoon which Hornswoggle won. When the Irish leprechaun joined RAW in 2009, somehow Chavo decided to get revenge. The result was some of the worst stuff you could imagine: Chavo in a cow costume in a bullrope match; Chavo the only one blindfolded in a match; a falls-count-anywhere match that turned into Home Alone; a tuxedo match; Chavo having to wrestle only on his knees and so many, many more. It was utterly ridiculous and terrible to watch and no surprise Chavo would jump ship to TNA as this was one of the dumbest things you can imagine.
2 Jerry Lawler vs Michael Cole
Jerry Lawler is a legend in wrestling, an icon in Memphis and years as a fan favorite commentator in WWE. So in no way did he deserve to be in this ridiculous feud. After taking on a heel persona, Cole (already disliked by fans) just amped it up by costing Lawler a TLC match against the Miz and running him down in commentary. It crossed a line with Cole mentioning Lawler’s recently deceased mother and Lawler challenging him to a match at Mania. This led to Lawler’s son, Brian Christopher, running his dad down and Jim Ross entering the fray as well. This set up the terrible Mania match where Cole actually got offense before Lawler beat him but the “anonymous RAW GM” declaring Cole the winner to ruin Lawler’s big Mania moment. It finally ended in a “Kiss my foot match” where Lawler won and Bret Hart of all people forcing Cole to kiss Lawler’s foot. That finally put it to bed but it still was a terrible bit more so by Lawler’s near-fatal heart attack right next to Cole not long afterward. He may be the King but Lawler hardly got any royal treatment in this.
1 WWE vs The Alliance
It was supposed to be the big battle, the clash fans had dreamed of for years. When WCW went under, Vince bought it and there seemed the promise of the company continuing as a “side promotion.” This led to the “Invasion” as WCW joined with ECW to take the WWF down. However, the big problem was that so many of the bigger WCW names (Hogan, Nash, Hall, Goldberg, Sting) weren’t coming along, happy to sit back and let their old contracts run out. Thus, as the “Monday Night War” series put it, you had WCW “invaded by Thunder.”
It wasn’t helped by how Vince decided to mess things up by having Shane and Stephanie become the “Owners” of the Alliance and Stone Cold Steve Austin joining them as well. WCW was immediately made to look weak and it bore out as WWF would dominate totally in all the battles, WCW’s victories few and far between and more WWF guys “joining” them. For six months, it dragged on, just a terrible waste of potential and all ending with, of course, WWF victorious. Ironically, the follow-up of Ric Flair becoming the new co-owner of WWF was far better than all that came before it and the Invasion ranks as one of the worst blow-outs ever in wrestling history and amazing to see how badly it all ended up.