Liam Hoofe takes a look at some of the worst superstar inspired gimmick matches in wrestling history…
This Sunday Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt will square off in the first-ever ‘House of Horrors’ match at Payback. What exactly that consists of remains unknown at this point in time, but optimism is far from high among the WWE fanbase.
The superstar-inspired match gimmick is a well-worn trope in the WWE, often used to end a feud that has run out of fresh ideas, or to try and make a superstar seem more interesting in some way. The House of Horrors match feels like a mix of both.
While some have been fairly successful – like the Casket Match, for example – the majority have been colossal failures. So to prepare for Sunday’s upcoming match, here is a look at some of the worst superstar inspired gimmick matches in wrestling history…
The Ambrose Asylum – Dean Ambrose Vs Chris Jericho – Extreme Rules 2016
While this match may not be as laughably bad as many of the others on this list, the Ambrose Asylum gets itself a mention for just how much of a letdown in turned out to be.
Post Wrestlemania last year, Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho were having a feud that was great fun to watch. The two had been exchanging comical promos and had managed successfully to get over several inanimate objects, including a plant pot (RIP Mitch) and Chris Jericho’s jacket.
The two were set to end their feud in an Ambrose Asylum match, which, considering the talents involved and the feud they had had, had got fans everywhere fairly excited.
Unfortunately, the gimmick stunk. The two settled things up inside a cage that had miscellaneous objects hanging from the side of it. The whole thing was ridiculous and the two would have been much better suited to just having either a no-DQ match or a straight up cage match.
The Punjabi Prison Match
The Punjabi Prison is one of the stupidest gimmick matches the WWE have ever done, and somehow, there have been two of them! The first of these abominations took place at The Great American Bash in 2006.
The match, named after the state where The Great Khali was born, was scheduled to be between The Great Khali and The Undertaker. To add yet another level of ridiculousness to the match-up, Khali got injured in the build-up to the match and was replaced by The Big Show. Meaning Khali became the first man to not even compete in the inaugural match that was based on his character. Just imagine if Bray Wyatt got injured now, and was replaced by Baron Corbin or something.
The match itself had the same rules as a cage match, but there were two structures, each made from bamboo, because you know, India. Inside the structure were several weapons, which were just normal WWE style weapons upgraded to appear medieval or bamboo. The match then went on for a sleep-inducing 21 minutes before Taker walked out the winner.
Believing the fanbase to be gluttons for punishments, however, the WWE then did another Punjabi prison match a year later at No Mercy. This time, Khali finally got his chance to compete, losing out to Batista. Needless to say, both matches were appallingly bad.
Kennell in a Cell Match – Big Boss Man Vs Al Snow- Unforgiven 1999
Ahhh, the Attitude Era, I knew we’d be seeing you around here somewhere. The Kennell in a Cell match from Unforgiven 1999 is not just one of the worst gimmick matches of all time, it one of the worst matches in the history of the WWE.
The match itself wasn’t just ridiculous though – the build up to it was as mad as a box of frogs. Al Snow had decided that it was time to replace his beloved Head with a chihuahua named Pepper. Big Boss Man, being the big bad man that he was, kidnapped Pepper and agreed that he would return him if Snow defeated him in a match for the Hardcore title. Snow won the match, but Boss Man refused to return the dog, and then invited Snow to a hotel room where he served him Pepper for dinner because, you know, the Attitude Era.
This led to the two brawling in a Kennel in a Cell match, which saw the ring being surrounded by a standard cage, and then outside that cage was a Hell in a Cell structure. Between the two structures were several dogs and the first man to escape both structures would win the match.
The match was even worse in practice than it sounds in theory, with the dogs being incredibly tame and spending the majority of the match urinating around the ring, while Snow and Boss Man pretended to be scared of them. Seriously, go and watch it, it is one of the worst gimmick matches of all time.
Arkansas Hog Pen Match – Triple H Vs Henry Godwinn- 1995
In mid-1994 Mark Canterbury, who had wrestled as ‘Shangai Pierce’ in WCW, signed for WWE and made his debut as Henry Orpheus Godwinn, a pig farmer from Arkansas, whose initials were HOG. Genius.
After a brief feud with the Corporation throughout the end of 94 and the start of 95, Godwinn began a feud with Hunter Hearst Hemsley, the man who would, of course, later become Triple H. The feud culminated in an ‘Arkansas Hog Pen Match’ in December of that year, and the match was just as terrible as it sounds.
The match, which has surprisingly been reused on WWE television since (Santino Vs Vickie Guererro in 2009) has only one way for the wrestler to claim the victory – he has to chuck his opponent into a hog pen full of pig manure. Godwinn walked away the winner of the bout, killing Triple H’s career dead and robbing us all of a potential future Hall of Famer. I’m kidding of course, but jeez this is bad to watch.
On a pole match
Okay, so Vince Russo isn’t a superstar, and the match wasn’t based on his character originally, but the two are so synonymous that I felt like I had to include it on this list. Hell, the match has even become known as ‘The Russo Special’ over the years.
The ‘insert item’ on a pole match can be a fairly good idea, but like good ideas in wrestling, it was drained of any good it had in it and made into something utterly ridiculous. Throughout the dying years of WCW we could see increasingly ridiculous stuff placed on top of a pole. Viagra, a pinata, a leather jacket, oh and Buff Bagwell’s Mom, let’s not forget about that one.
These matches are really one of the dumbest gimmick ideas ever put in a wrestling ring, and in a world where the WeeLC match existed, that’s saying something.
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What other terrible gimmick matches can you think of? Let us know in the comments below, and let Liam know on Twitter, here- @liamhoofe