This pandemic has really made it difficult to watch independent wrestling or contribute anything. But with WrestleMania coming up this weekend, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to indulge my passions for wrestling and writing. I cover women’s wrestling here, so I figured the best way to contribute something for WrestleMania season would be to cover WrestleMania women’s matches. I’ll have the best matches up soon, but it’s worth getting the more unpleasant task out of the way first. So here is my ranking of the ten worst WrestleMania women’s matches ever. .
10. Beth Phoenix and Melina vs. Ashley and Maria (WrestleMania 24)
“Wait a minute – did the Undertaker just arrive?”
This is far from the worst match on the list and is surprisingly competent. Ashley has improved significantly from her appearance at WrestleMania 23 to the point of being passable. Maria is not at that level yet. The lumberjills are put to use better than the previous year, but the match is Playboy themed. All that said, Beth and Melina work hard to keep things together, although some things just don’t go their way. Maria’s bronco buster is possibly the worst attempt at the move of all time. The lights go out during the match. That’s an improvement over the overproduced lighting WWE usually has, but it still hampers their performance. Ultimately, the biggest (and only significant) pop of the match is for Jerry Lawler punching Santino.
It’s a competent match, but that’s the best you can say for this one. Nobody was invested (and that will go without saying for a lot of these matches). The blame for that goes to WWE, as they simply were not interested in investing in women’s wrestling at this stage.
9. Alicia Fox, LayCool, Maryse, Vickie Guerrero vs. Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, and Mickie James (WrestleMania XXVI)
“Flawed and floored”
This match is, again, basically competent. It has a ludicrously simple story to tell, and it does so with a minimum of botches. So that’s almost a positive. Vickie Guerrero is not a wrestler, and she is the only member of her team who is ever legal in the match. After an act of minimal revenge from the face team, finisher spam begins when Michelle McCool hits Kelly Kelly with a Faithbreaker. From there, the finishers fly, most of which are nothing you would see as a finisher in a women’s match today. Layla uses a neckbreaker. Eve Torres a senton. Layla takes Gail Kim’s Eat Da Feet poorly after mistiming her turnaround so Gail stutters on her kick.
The best part of this match, unfortunately, is the finish. Well, the idea of the finish. The rest of Vickie’s team help her to the top rope so she can do a frog splash on Kelly to pick up the win. Not being a wrestler is to Vickie’s advantage here, as this helps tell the story. The frog splash itself is abominable, but the intent is maybe there. It’s stuff like this and the other botches that make this match only basically competent at its best, and why it earns a spot here.
8. Melina vs. Ashley (WrestleMania 23)
“Even you’ve gotta love this!”
Once again we have a LumberJill match on the show. WWE really seems to like this match type for featuring women without having to really have them wrestle. You would expect a match like this to involve spots on the outside of the ring and shenanigans with the lumberjills. Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, that doesn’t happen here. Ashley throws Melina out once, and the lumberjills promptly return her to the ring without a beating. This is perhaps the only match of its type where you can say the lumberjills did what they were supposed to do in kayfabe.
The story behind this match is simple: Melina is jealous of all the attention Ashley’s getting. Why is Ashley getting this attention? Because she’s the latest Playboy Covergirl from WWE. This is going to be a common thread to several of the matches on this list. Ashley is not good in this match. Melina tries valiantly, but she can’t carry a broom, and Ashley’s a mop. Ashley’s just too limited to do much with, so Melina can’t do much with her. At least Melina’s not a bad seller.
7. Fabulous Moolah vs. Velvet McIntyre (WrestleMania II)
“I have never seen anything like this in my life.”
There once was a time where the WWF announced time limits for matches. This match was announced with a 60-minute time limit when it very nearly fit within 60 seconds. Here is the entire match: Moolah hits three snapmares by the hair. Then she hits two forearms. Velvet does an awkward leapfrog. She then hits two single-leg dropkicks on Moolah. A back-elbow by Velvet leads to a bodyslam. Velvet then attempts a splash from the top rope, but she misses and Moolah covers her to win. By the way, Velvet’s foot is on the rope and nobody mentions it at any point.
The match is mercifully short. The little bit we do see suggests a longer version would have been fairly awkward in the long-run.
6. Sable vs. Tori (WrestleMania XV)
“Her in-ring skills have really improved over the last year.”
You would never guess watching this match that one of the women involved had worked for All Japan Women before this. Tori had made a career there about a decade earlier as Terri Power until she had to take a hiatus from wrestling due to shoulder injury. She was not good back then and basically untrained, but she tried. But with six years of ring rust and a shaky foundation to start, she was not in a good position to carry the far less experienced Sable to a watchable match. And never mind her ring gear, which is reminiscent of Giant Gonzalez.
As for Sable, her in-ring skills may have improved from WrestleMania 14, but not by much. Right after Michael Cole extols her improvement, she catches Tori’s face with a knee during a dive to the outside. Honestly, Sable’s willingness to do a move that involved anything like a bump was surprising to me, and that’s what keeps this match here and not lower on the list. The match is otherwise dull, commentary inane, and the debut of Nicole Bass heatless. Also, Sable spends half the match doing The Grind™.
5. The Miss Wrestlemania Battle Royal (WrestleMania XXV)
“Layla was eliminated before the ring introductions were concluded. That’s a Wrestlemania first!”
Trish Stratus declined the offer to be in this match, and you can’t blame her. The whole thing is meaningless, the match is godawful, and not even the occasional funny line from J.R. can save it. “I think my money’s on a blonde,” he says early in the match. Santino Marella is the eventual winner, and he’s immediately noticeable slinking about, doing absolutely nothing but avoiding any kind of action. Nobody got an entrance, nobody gets any focus, nothing matters. A lot of women are eliminated without any fanfare at all.
Of course, the reason this match is uniquely awful is the Santino element. Santino enters as his “twin sister” Santina to win the match. This is ostensibly a comedy spot, but when you only provide one women’s match on a card, turning it into bad comedy is a bad idea. It’s an especially bad idea when it plays on transphobic tropes of men pretending to be women to infiltrate women’s spaces. Commentary just plays along, and Santino’s celebratory dancing afterwards is all the more terrible. In terms of optics, this is by far the worst match on the list. The only thing saving it from being the very worst is that it features some decent work from the four women at the end with Santino before their eliminations.
4. Torrie Wilson and Sable vs. Stacy Kiebler and Miss Jackie (WrestleMania XX)
“Why would these girls be training in a dojo for an evening gown match?”
This is a Playboy Evening Gown match. Because we’re nowhere near done with Playboy matches. Unlike a traditional evening gown match, this match is decided by pinfall or submission rather than stripping. The main reason becomes apparent when the wrestlers decide to strip before the match, making the sound decision that wrestling in a dress is not wise. Everyone except Miss Jackie, who does not remove her dress. This prompts boos from the crowd and a look of disbelief from her partner, who opts not to help her when their opponents force her into the ring and strip her.
Sable, fortunately, does not overstay her welcome and delivers a couple of kicks before tagging out for the remainder of the match. The rest of the match is a naked excuse for T&A, not the kind involving Test and Albert. Stacy’s cartwheel is the most athletically sound part of the match, while Torrie is the most skilled wrestler (a terrible situation to find yourself in). Stacy and Torrie have an awkward series of rolling pin reversals, and it’s pretty obvious that they’re helping each other out. Jackie and Torrie roll around and roll on top of referee Jack Doan, which marks the most resemblance this match has to the wrestling of Mildred Burke. The rolling over the referee spot dates back to the 1940s. That historical fact is about the only interesting thing here.
3. Torrie Wilson vs. Candice Michelle (WrestleMania 22)
“This next match will not resemble Gotch and Hackenschmidt.”
I wish I could guarantee I was done talking about Playboy (by the way, the print magazine folded last week as a result of COVID-19). This Playboy pillow fight match truly has all the ingredients to be awful. Candice and Torrie wrestle in dresses. There’s a bed in the ring. Torrie uses her dog to deliver a stinkface to Candice. Naturally, they strip each other over the course of the match.
The closest thing to a proper wrestling move is Candice’s attempt at a tarantula hold. Otherwise, as Jim Ross alludes at the conclusion of the match, it’s bowling shoe ugly. What could possibly be worse than this match to warrant it not being the top? Some truly bad matches.
2. Terri Runnels vs. The Kat (2000)
“Neither Terri nor The Kat are experienced grapplers, to say the least.”
Well, WWF did one thing right with this match: they didn’t even pretend to take it seriously. Val Venis is the special referee, and he wears a striped towel as his zebra stripes. Moolah and Mae are the seconds for the contestants, and loath as I am to say something positive about Moolah, they are the only participants who lend this any resemblance to a match. Kat and Terri wear heels during this whole proceeding.
The only hint of a story you can sniff from this is that Mae Young is so fixated on her own exhibitionism that she twice prevents Kat from winning by distracting the referee. She spends roughly a third of the match kissing Val Venis until Terri can enter the ring after Moolah pulls Kat out. Fire this match into the sun. The only convincing anything about this match is Val’s response to Mae hitting Moolah with the bronco buster.
Not quite making it to this list are three matches that don’t quite make the grade for very different reasons.
King Booker and Queen Sharmell vs. Boogeyman from Wrestlemania 22
This match avoids the list primarily because Sharmell did absolutely nothing. She tags out almost immediately and takes a worm-filled kiss from Boogey, but the match is effectively just Booker and Boogey. While the match is bad, due to a combination of time, bad booking, and Boogeyman’s injury, is it enough to earn the list? I would probably put it around number 8 or 9 if I’m being honest. But this is a list of women’s matches, and Sharmell just doesn’t participate enough for this to count.
Chyna vs. Ivory from Wrestlemania X-7
The best way to describe this is that it is an ugly match. It’s short, not particularly well-executed, and it’s generally seen as the least part of the best Wrestlemania. What keeps this match off the list is the fact that the match had the right result and approach. Chyna won in dominating fashion. It doesn’t matter that the match was a glorified squash with questionable competency to some of the moves. What matters is that the crowd was into Ivory getting her comeuppance, Chyna’s Chynaness, and the match achieved what it set out to do.
The Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational from Wrestlemania 30
Finally, our last dishonorable mention is the first and only defense of the Divas title at Wrestlemania. The botched finish at the end, where Naomi tapped with her free hand while AJ was faking her tap out with the other hand, is bad. Eva Marie’s contribution to finisher spam (and to the match as a whole) is a shove. The match has no psychology to it whatsoever. Worst of all, it came right after the Undertaker’s streak was broken. You can tell the fans are not there for this match, nor is commentary. But they do a handful of moves decently, and it’s not entirely dire. Not as much as some of the rest of these.
1. Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme (WM 21)
“Very unique cover, to say the least.”
We are once again focused on jealousy over Playboy success for this match. Who knew there was such a running theme? Anyway, this match is technically more competent than the two matches above it and Trish’s character work is perfect, so why do I rank it worst? Well, it’s technically more competent, but it is still a botchy mess of a match. Trish noticeably pulls her offense more than usual. Christy has one move she does well, and she sells the finish well, but otherwise, she is lost. The near-fall where Christy almost wins has an obvious moment where Trish does not kick out in time and Jack Doan takes extra time so she can.
But the thing about this match that makes it worse for me than the more blatantly insulting and technically incompetent matches above is simple. WWE presents this match seriously. Christy gets offense in. She’s supposedly been trained by Lita, so there’s the storyline out, but she is both in story and reality outclassed to a ridiculous degree. Christy is worse in the ring at this point than anyone named above except for Kat and Terri. Trish cannot carry her, and while her character treats the match like a joke, the booking tells us her character is wrong. Christy puts up a fight.
And that’s the thing that drops this match for me. A bad match that isn’t even presented as a serious contest? Not good, but the presentation doesn’t exacerbate the awfulness. A bad match presented as a meaningful, serious competition that shows a heel she is wrong to think she’s so far above her opponent? A bad match where said opponent is greener than grass, where the motivation supplied by commentary is jealousy about a Playboy spread? A match where the heel’s rival has “trained” a newbie to the point of not even competence and is supposed to pretend she believes her charge has a chance? Put all of that together, and this match shows how little WWE cared about doing women’s wrestling seriously in a more stark way than the most sexploitative of its matches ever did.