29. Jerry Lawler
Jerry Lawler is one of the most notable pro wrestlers of all time. He’s had at least 60,000 title runs in Tennessee, helped bring pro wrestling into the (niche) mainstream with his feud with Andy Kaufman and has been, for better or worse, one of the “voices” of WWE since 1992. It can’t be overstated how much he means to the wrestling world.
That all said, Lawler’s lone WrestleMania appearance as a wrestler just so happens to be the worst match in the history of the event. Enter: WrestleMania 27, wherein two announcers get into a feud that should’ve ended with Lawler repeatedly punching Michael Cole until his face turned to blood that ACTUALLY ended with 20 minutes of total horseshit and a Dusty finish via sassy anonymous laptop. Seriously, Jerry Lawler is a wrestling legend and Michael Cole couldn’t win a fight with Justin Roberts. It went TWENTY MINUTES. Worse than Giant Gonzalez smothering Undertaker with a dish towel, worse than Big Bossman being hung from Hell in a Cell, worse than Snooki. Worse than Snooki by a LOT. And that, thanks to Michael Cole and someone in the back’s horrid idea of what constitutes “funny,” is Jerry The King Lawler’s WrestleMania legacy.
28. Evan Bourne
Remember Evan Bourne? He’s back, in pog form!
So yeah, Evan Bourne was once a thing people liked. He was the former Matt Sydal, an independent wrestling standout with a gorgeous shooting star press and boyband-member-in-the-background-of-a-boyband-group-photo good looks who briefly took WWE by storm as a scrappy newcomer. He had a brief run with the tag titles and even won a Slammy Award for Best Finishing Maneuver. In 2008. Suddenly everything I type about Evan Bourne is in sepia tone.
Bourne’s big WrestleMania moment was during the WrestleMania 26 Money in the Bank ladder match. Everyone thought he was gonna shooting star press from the top of the ladder, so he shocked us by upping the ante and … shooting star pressing from a platform ladder about halfway up, meaning he was hitting the move from slightly lower than usual. Sure, okay! He followed that up with a hip toss off the top of the ladder from Matt Hardy that took three tries, then four years of injuries and wellness violations.
Lita has been at several WrestleManias (WrestlesMania?) and is getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 30. Here’s a secret: she was absolutely garbage in the ring, and that’s one of the big reasons why she only had one actual WrestleMania match. The other reason is that she couldn’t walk more than 20 steps without her body falling apart.
Lita fought Trish Stratus (in Canada underpants) and Jazz at WrestleMania 18, and if you harbor any illusions of Lita being a great, skilled trailblazer, I urge you to go back and watch it. She slowly slumps around the match trying to figure out what to do next as Trish does the same thing (albeit enthusiastically) and poor, downtrodden Jazz tries to keep it all together. There’s also a beautiful moment where Lita takes out both Trish and Jazz, tries to remove her shirt for emphasis, fails (complete with a “what was that??” “I thought she was gonna go topless!” exchange from the announce team) and then manages to miss TWO PEOPLE with a moonsault. Absolutely brutal.
Wrestling history is one part popularity, ten parts WWE telling you what to think.
From Lita to the guy who eventually brought her into WWE, it’s Mr. Águila, TAKA Michinoku’s opponent at WrestleMania 14. You may know him as a former CMLL World Tag Team and Trios champion and/or as Essa Rios. Maybe Papí Chulo?
WWE could never get the hang of internationally-flavored cruiserweight wrestling. WCW made it a huge thing in the mid-90s, bringing in Rey Misterio Jr. as a sort of lucha libre Hulk Hogan to take on a myriad of interesting, talented high-flyers. WWE’s attempt was noble, I guess, but always overpowered by their desire to turn ethnicities into hilarious stereotypes, so sure, you’d get a few talented Japanese wrestlers, and before long they’d be threatening to CHOPPY CHOPPY YOUR PEE PEE. You’d get luchadors from Mexico, and eventually they’d be riding to the ring on lawnmowers.
(White people didn’t have it much better … I think we peaked with Gregory Helms’ sunglasses TitanTron and Billy Kidman gaining 20 pounds and thinking he could still shooting star press.)
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