WWE's Most Ridiculous Gimmick Matches Of All-Time

For decades, the WWE has stood as the biggest brand in professional wrestling, and for good reason. It has featured countless legendary names, hosted numerous thrilling rivalries, and provided fans with unforgettable promos and segments that continue to be replayed year after year. At the same time, despite its remarkable stature in the wrestling landscape, it's not immune to critique from fans and current as well as former personnel alike. When it fails to deliver in one way or another, the minds behind it all hear about it thanks to the advent of social media.

When sifting through scathing online reactions to WWE's product, the bulk of the discussion tends to stem from the matches themselves. After all, they're the core of the product, so when there's criticism to be had, it's generally on the in-ring action. It's no secret that WWE tends to experiment from time to time with never-before-seen match stipulations, and sometimes those behind it all hit a homerun. Although, it's not uncommon for these attempts at in-ring innovation to strikeout with fans completely, resulting in some infamous anomalies that those who created them would likely love to forget.

Of WWE's massive catalogue of matches, these are undoubtedly some of the most ridiculous gimmick matches the company has ever put together and why they came to pass in the first place.

14. Edge vs. Randy Orton - The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever

One of WWE's most popular stars, the "Rated-R Superstar" Edge, was forced to retire and relinquish the World Heavyweight Championship in 2011 due to a lingering neck injury. In doing so, he made it clear that an in-ring return down the road was totally impossible. Fast-forward to 2020, however, and he managed to make a shocking return in that year's Royal Rumble match, but his comeback wasn't a mere one-off. He'd soon find himself locked in a feud with old Rated-RKO partner Randy Orton that culminated in a match at WrestleMania 36, though they'd once again lock horns at Backlash two months later.

Determined to defeat Edge after losing their last man standing match at WrestleMania, Orton challenged his foe to a standard singles match at Backlash. Edge accepted, and for some strange reason, the powers that be elected to bill this encounter as "The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever." Despite the odd subtitle and the quasi-cinematic format, the weirdest thing about this gimmick bout is that it didn't really have a meaningful gimmick. The wrestling veterans delivered a strong match, but as commentary icon Jim Ross himself stated, attaching the "Greatest Wrestling Match Ever" tagline to it set impossible expectations for both them and fans alike.

13. CM Punk vs. Chavo Guerrero - Gulf of Mexico match

It's one thing for a match to leave the ring, or the ringside area, or even the interior of the arena itself. However, taking a match far outside of a venue is a whole different beast. It's not uncommon in wrestling nor WWE, where several matches have spilled to strange locations. In the case of CM Punk and Chavo Guerrero's clash on the February 5, 2008 episode of "ECW," the two competitors were booked in a match that took them to the edge of the continental United States itself. This is how WWE's first and, so far, only Gulf of Mexico match came to be and unfolded.

Punk and Guerrero were locked in a feud leading up to this installment of "ECW" with the latter's ECW Championship at the center of it all. This match wasn't for the title, but it was a great chance for Punk to get some revenge on his opponent after he took the championship from him two weeks prior. Punk and Guerrero's Gulf of Mexico match would only end once one of them took a dip in the body of water, so they battled through the arena, across a busy street, and right up to the water itself. With a Go to Sleep, Guerrero went for a swim and Punk was declared victorious in this truly odd match type. 

12. Dumpster matches

If you're a WWE fan, chances are you've heard of the casket match type. Typically involving supernatural characters like the Undertaker or Kane, these matches don't end in pinfall or submission. They only conclude once one person is placed inside a casket and the lid is closed on top of them. While these bouts were rather popular in the 1990s and 2000s, fans may forget that the stipulation has a rarer, less sanitary cousin that came to exist in the same era: the dumpster match. For these bouts, the same rules apply — toss your opponent inside of a dumpster and close up the top to be crowned the winner.

The first dumpster match in WWE history came in 1998 at WrestleMania XIV when the New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg) took on Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie. Jack and Charlie won, and for two years were the only team that could lay claim to winning a dumpster match. At King of the Ring 2000, Road Dogg would team up with Tori and X-Pac to win the second-ever dumpster match against the Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley). WWE fans wouldn't see another dumpster match for 17 years until Braun Strowman and Kalisto competed in one. "The Monster Among Men" walked away the victor and even tossed the dumpster with Kalisto inside off the "Raw" entrance stage.

11. Erick Rowan vs. Big Show - Stairs match

One of WWE's most famous match types, TLC — tables, ladders, and chairs — became the center of its own pay-per-view event beginning in 2009. In the years that followed, fans would enjoy some excellent TLC, chairs, ladder, and table matches, as well as numerous memorable moments. However, every now and again, these bouts wouldn't reach their perceived potential or the minds behind WWE would try something new that didn't pan out. Easily the most disappointing experiment in TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs history came when Big Show took on Erick Rowan in the first and only stairs match to date.

The match happened at the 2014 TLC event (advertised as TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs...and Stairs for obvious reasons) and stemmed from Show and Rowan's ongoing rivalry. At Survivor Series, the former turned on Team Cena to help out Team Authority, which set Rowan off in the aftermath of the PPV. The two would trade attacks with the steel ring stairs in the weeks ahead of TLC, hence the creation of the stipulation. All in all, the match was slow and not very entertaining, which makes sense considering how limited steps are as a weapon. Big Show won the match, and it stands to reason he'll be the only stairs match winner for the foreseeable future.

10. Gerald Brisco vs. Pat Patterson - Hardcore Evening Gown match

At the same event as the second dumpster match in WWE history, King of the Ring 2000, fans were also treated to a WWF Hardcore Championship match. Although, calling it a treat might be generous, depending on who you ask. Two genuine legends of the squared circle, Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson, would go head-to-head for the duct-taped, busted-up gold. Instead of putting on a wrestling clinic like they would've decades before, however, they squared off in a hardcore evening gown match. Unfortunately that's not a typo, it's every bit as bonkers as it sounds and not in a good way.

Like any other WWF evening gown match, Patterson and Brisco — both dressed as women, complete with wigs and makeup — would have to try and tear off each other's evening gowns. Since the match took place under hardcore rules, that meant they could use weapons and other underhanded tactics to do so without consequences. From Brisco hitting a Bronco Buster on Patterson to Patterson using a feminine hygiene product as a weapon, this match was riddled with strange and embarrassing moments. Thankfully, Crash Holly showed up and won the Hardcore Championship for himself to end the bout and everyone's suffering.

9. Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt - House of Horrors match

At the 2017 Elimination Chamber event, Bray Wyatt became the top dog on "SmackDown" by winning the WWE Championship for the first time. He defeated John Cena, The Miz, Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, and AJ Styles in an Elimination Chamber match to do so, and in the weeks that followed, he became entangled in a rivalry with former ally Randy Orton. Orton defeated Wyatt for the title at WrestleMania 33, and while the "New Face of Fear" didn't get a rematch with the championship on the line, he did get a chance to get even with Orton. At Payback, they faced-off in a House of Horrors match.

Up to this point, WWE had never hosted a House of Horrors match, so intrigue was high for this one. When Payback finally arrived, however, many were disappointed in what this Orton-Wyatt encounter had to offer. For the bulk of the match, the two battled inside of what can only be described as a somewhat disorganized house with some Halloween decorations strung up. They eventually brought the fight to the arena, where Jinder Mahal interfered and helped Wyatt pick up the win. Overall, this claustrophobic, uneventful match is full of missed potential and didn't do Wyatt nor Orton any favors.

8. WrestleMania 23's Battle of the Billionaires

In the lead-up to WrestleMania 23, several incredible matches would join the card that got WWE fans understandably excited. John Cena would put his WWE Championship on the line against "Mr. WrestleMania" himself, Shawn Michaels, Batista would challenge the Undertaker for his World Heavyweight Championship while attempting to break his WrestleMania undefeated streak, and Bobby Lashley would take on Umaga. On paper, Lashley vs. Umaga doesn't sound like an exceptionally exciting match, and it likely wouldn't be as memorable as it is without the now-infamous "Battle of the Billionaires" behind it.

Heading into the "Show of Shows," controversial WWE chairman Vince McMahon found himself in a feud with none other than future controversial United States president Donald Trump. This rivalry culminated at WrestleMania 23 when Lashley and Umaga — representing Trump and McMahon, respectively — wrestled. The losing billionaire would have his head shaved in the middle of the ring. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin came in to officiate and helped shave McMahon's head once Umaga lost to Lashley. He also put on a stunner on Trump after the match, putting a punctuation mark on arguably one of WWE's most poorly-aged gimmick matches.

7. Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Henry O. Godwinn - Arkansas Hog Pen match

Triple H is undoubtedly one of WWE's biggest names, with a career that most only dream of. However, before he was "The Game," he had to earn his keep in the then-WWF, which proved much easier said than done. Debuting as the pompous, high-class Hunter Hearst Helmsley in 1995, he'd endure some pretty rough moments on the road to becoming a main-event star. Case in point: his rivalry with pig farmer Henry O. Godwinn, which culminated in the two fittingly competing in an Arkansas Hog Pen match. While goofy by today's standards, it's a defining moment in Triple H's career no less.

Taking place at WWF In Your House 5 and officiated by the legendary Hillbilly Jim, the Hog Pen match started out in the ring. Helmsley and Godwinn wore each other down between the ropes before they made their way back up the entrance walkway where a fenced-in pen — occupied by real pigs and plenty of mud — waited for them. Godwinn lost when Helmsley tossed him in, but he wouldn't have the last laugh. Godwinn grabbed Helmsley and dropped him face-first into the muck with a gorilla press slam. At a time when the WWF product was incredibly cartoony, the Hog Pen match fit right in.

6. Al Snow vs. Big Boss Man - Kennel from Hell match

For another instance where WWF brass brought animals into the world of professional wrestling, look no further than Al Snow and Big Boss Man's 1999 feud. Shortly after WrestleMania XV, Snow introduced WWF audiences to his dog, Pepper, who would appear in backstage segments and occasionally accompany him to the ring. For whatever reason, Boss Man took it upon himself to kidnap Pepper, and worse yet, cook the dog (in storyline, mind you) and feed it to Snow. With that, Snow and Boss Man would meet in the ring at Unforgiven 1999 in a Kennel from Hell match. It's the only one in history for a few reasons.

Like something out of a child's imagination, the ring was surrounded by both a standard steel cage and the Hell in a Cell structure. Around the ring were a handful of "wild" dogs, supposedly to make escaping the second cage even more difficult. Not only was the action between Al Snow and Big Boss Man nothing to write home about, but the dogs themselves didn't seem particularly interested in playing along. As Snow told Gary Cassidy, only one of the dogs had any kind of training, hence why the rest just seemed lost throughout the match. In the end, Snow escaped the cages, won the match, and the feud came to an end.

5. British Bulldog vs. the Rock - Dog Poo match

Following a brief run in World Championship Wrestling, the British Bulldog returned to the WWF for the final time in 1999. Sadly, unlike his work in the company throughout the early 1990s, this era of his WWF career isn't much to write home about. He primarily hovered around the Hardcore and European Championship scenes, though he did lock horns with one of the biggest stars in wrestling at the time, the Rock. He failed to come out of his rivalry with "The Great One" on top, and to add insult to injury, he wound up planted in a tray of dog feces live on pay-per-view during one of their encounters.

At No Mercy 1999, the Rock and the British Bulldog competed in a dog poo match. As the name implies, a tray of canine waste was present during the bout, waiting for one unlucky competitor to end up in it. The Rock planted Bulldog in the pile with a Rock Bottom, and according to the latter's daughter, Georgia Smith, it was the real deal. "The Rock actually told me that a couple of years ago. I was like, 'That was fake!' and he said, 'No. That was real. We could smell it from so far away,'" she told Heavy, adding how embarrassing it was as a kid since she had to deal with kids at school who watched the match and knew she was Bulldog's daughter.

4. Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero - Ladder match for the custody of Dominik Mysterio

Dominik Mysterio has been a fixture of WWE programming since 2019, teaming up with his father, Rey Mysterio, to much success. Although, this run isn't his first in the company, seeing as he was a regular on "SmackDown" back in 2005 despite being a young kid. He was at the center of a rivalry between his father and the unmatched Eddie Guerrero, who claimed that he was actually Dominik's real dad. With this bombshell in mind, Guerrero would terrorize the Mysterio family until Rey had enough. Thus, at SummerSlam 2005, the two icons of the squared circle would meet in easily the most bizarre ladder match of all time.

Instead of a championship or a title shot, custody papers for Dominik Mysterio dangled high above the ring during Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero's ladder match. As they had time and time before, the two wrestling greats put on a solid show, blending their athleticism between the ropes with the drama behind the match to perfection. Rey scored the win and got to keep his son thanks to an interfering Vickie Guerrero, and the feud ended shortly after. Granted, this was a traditional ladder match as far as rules are concerned, but the fact that it was for the custody of a child makes it a clear standout from all others before or since.

3. Vince and Shane McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels and God

In the wake of his loss to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 22, Vince McMahon really went off the deep end. Still bitter over the fact that the "Heartbreak Kid" had changed his ways and became a better man than he was years prior, McMahon began attacking his faith. He asserted that Michaels had God on his side at WrestleMania, so he booked himself and his son, Shane McMahon, against Michaels and "God" at Backlash 2006. On prior "Raw" installments, McMahon would make a mockery of Christianity when he visited a church for the first time and push the envelope even more with the establishment of his "McMahonism" belief system.

When Backlash 2006 finally arrived, all eyes were on the McMahons vs. Michaels and "God" match. After the chairman and his son made their entrances, "God" made their way down the ramp in the form of a spotlight accompanied by angelic music. Sick of the mind games, HBK took the fight to Vince and Shane right out of the gate and held control for most of the match. However, an interfering Spirit Squad ensured a bloodied and battered Vince and Shane picked up the win. This is one of those matches that could only come from the mind of Vince McMahon and proved just how far he was willing to go just to stir up some controversy. Bad press is better than no press, right?

2. Bra and Panties matches

In the modern day, WWE treats its female wrestlers with respect and, for the most part, gives them ample time on television to develop storylines and put on coherent matches. There was a time not too long ago where such things seemed impossible. For many years, the company didn't appear to want a strong women's division full of skilled athletes competing for prestigious championships. Rather, it wanted to use them on TV in a way that appealed primarily to the straight male demographic of the audience — objectifying the women in pretty much every way possible. Enter the bra and panties match.

Similar to an evening gown match, the bra and panties match wasn't so much a wrestling match as it was an attempt to keep viewers glued to their TV screens. Two or more women would enter the ring, and when the bell rang, it was their goal to strip their opponent down to, as you probably guessed, their bra and panties. These bouts were especially popular in the early 2000s during the waning days of the WWF's edgy and risqué Attitude Era, but they stuck around close to the 2010s. The final one to take place in a WWE ring saw Melina defeat Candice Michelle in 2007. Overall, they're a product of their time and have aged terribly.

1. The Brawl for All tournament

It's no secret that in professional wrestling, the goal isn't to legitimately injure your opponent. Accidents do indeed happen and taking a bump doesn't tickle, but at the end of the day, it's all about ensuring each other's safety while putting on a show for fans that looks real. Then there's the Brawl for All tournament: a string of boxing matches the WWF put on with a good chunk of its roster throughout the summer of 1998. Not only is this one of the most peculiar concepts to come out of the Attitude Era, but it's undeniably one of the most irresponsible considering the danger that came with it.

Unsurprisingly, putting a bunch of wrestlers with varying levels of boxing experience in a tournament where they'd actually box each other resulted in a string of injuries (via Bleacher Report). Not to mention, it completely derailed "Dr. Death" Steve Williams' momentum as he began his WWF run after he pulled his hamstring in a fight against Bart Gunn. Gunn went on to win the tournament and earned himself a WrestleMania XV match against boxing and MMA icon Eric "Butterbean" Esch. The shoot fight lasted 34 seconds before Butterbean knocked Gunn out, closing the book on the disastrous Brawl for All gimmick.

If nothing else, at least it made for a fascinating Vice documentary.

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