As a wrestling fan, our imaginations can be a great thing. Fictional battles like Sting vs. The Undertaker or Kurt Angle vs Bret Hart are the stuff wrestling dreams are made of. Occasionally, we’re fortunate enough not to have to just imagine these encounters. And the result is better than we could have imagined. The Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan at Wrestlemania 18 immediately comes to mind.
Sadly, that’s not always the case. Sometimes those matches just completely fail to deliver. Those are the instances where the match in our mind is always better than the actual result. They’re not necessarily main events, but matches that completely fail to match fans’ lofty expectations. Here’s five of the worst dream matches of all-time.
Sting vs. Triple H (Wrestlemania 31 – March 29, 2015)
This match makes the list solely for the end result. WCW had long since been out of business. Fans stopped caring about it to the point no one even booed the name when it was mentioned on WWE programming. Sting was the last big holdout who hadn’t stepped foot into a WWE ring. His first match would be at Wrestlemania against The Game.
Triple H earned a well-deserved bad rep for his 2003 title reign where he constantly stroked his ego by beating former WCW champions like Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner and Booker T. You’d think a decade later that would be out of his system, but for some reason he needed one final stroke and just had to beat Sting at Wrestlemania. The match itself was a fun, Monday Night Wars style encounter complete with run-ins with DX and the n.W.o., but that ending was a real bummer.
Demolition vs LOD (Jan. 21, 1991)
If Vince McMahon can’t get something he has no problem creating his own version. Demolition might have been his best ‘rip-off’ act. Ax and Smash were a pretty blatant WWF spin on the Road Warriors, who were still dominating the competition in the NWA in the late 80s. When Hawk and Animal arrived in the WWE, fans salivated at the prospect of this epic encounter between two of the 80s most dominant tag teams.
Due to Ax’s declining health, Crush was added to Demolition. While that was an improvement wrestling wise, this was a diminished version of what should have been a major Wrestlemania 7 featured match.
Ax and Smash did battle the Legion of Doom, but only in six-man matches with Crush and the Ultimate Warrior and a fun clash at Survivor Series 1990. Fans were denied the real LOD vs Demolition match up.
Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect
(Summerslam 1993 – Aug. 30, 1993)
Summerslam 93 found the WWF at a crossroads. They’d finally cut the cord from Hulk Hogan and were desperate to appoint his successor. But even if Lex Luger was to become the next million dollar draw and WWF poster boy, no one expected much from his WWF title match against Yokozuna. Most of the Summerslam card wasn’t especially inspiring beyond one match: The Heartbreak Kid vs Mr. Perfect.
Even before the days of touting a match a dream match, Perfect vs HBK was considered a Match of the Year lock. But expectations failed to meet the reality of HBK in the midst of dealing with issues that would get him suspended shortly after and Perfect’s up and down health. Michaels got re-energized post-suspension en route to stealing the show at Wrestlemania 10 and Perfect was back in a non-active role.
This probably wins the most underwhelming Dream Match on the list. On paper, this seems like a can’t-miss match, but for whatever reason it just didn’t pan out. Ironically, this would be one of the lesser regarded matches on what has since become one of the more appreciated WWF shows of the early 90s.
Bret Hart vs. Hollywood Hogan (Sept. 28, 1998)
WCW had a terrible habit of spoiling epic matches on Monday Nitro that would easily have headlined pay per views. Matches like the Megapowers vs. The Four Horsemen (Flair/Anderson), Goldberg vs. Scott Hall, Goldberg vs. Hollywood Hogan and Sting vs DDP. The big difference between those matches and this one featuring two of wrestling’s greatest champions of all time? They delivered. This one was an awful tease.
For most of 1997, the WWF had been nipping at WCW’s heels in the Monday Night War. The n.W.o. might have peaked, but there was enough interest in Sting’s blow-off war with Hollywood Hogan and crew to retain the top spot. That changed once Stone Cold Steve Austin won the WWF title in early 1998. WCW didn’t have a ton of big money matches left. But just like they did with Hogan vs. Flair in 1994, it had the opportunity to deliver a major dream match the WWF failed to book — Hart vs Hogan.
The match was set for Nitro instead of being built for a pay-per-view, but no problem. Nitro was no stranger to great matches. But instead of making good on their promise, WCW went the overdone n.W.o. swerve route and dropping the ball on arguably their biggest dream match ever.
Goldberg vs Lesnar
(Wrestlemania 20, March 14, 2004)
This might be the biggest disappointment of them all. For a WCW star, Goldberg had been treated fairly well in his WWE run even getting a WWE World Title victory over no less than Triple H. He’d been dominant in his feud with The Rock and was reasonably well-protected. Brock Lesnar emerged as a massive force in WWE tearing through the competition and laying waste to The Rock to become the youngest WWE champ.
The build-up to their feud was terrific with Lesnar costing Goldberg a shot at winning the Royal Rumble and Goldberg returning the favor and helping Lesnar lose his WWE Championship. While their match could have headlined any WWE PPV, it was fitting their first clash was at Wrestlemania 20. This should have been one of the most memorable encounters ever, but the Internet fan base knew both guys were leaving following this match and heckled them relentlessly. With a disinterested crowd and concern over ruining their future plans, Goldberg and Lesnar basically went through the motions in a massive letdown. Thankfully they get a do-over at this year’s Survivor Series.
Jeff Hardy vs Sting
(Victory Road 2011 — March 13, 2011)
While he was about a decade past his prime, Sting still had a decent amount left in the tank and could will himself to a good match with a capable opponent. Jeff Hardy was the one TNA star who left WWE at the peak of his career and popularity. He had a great run that saw him beat rivals Edge and Triple H for the World Title in one of the best moments that decade.
TNA set this encounter up well as a battle of legacies, but the event only served to tarnish Hardy’s. He showed up under the influence of some substance and in no condition to wrestle. This ruined what could have been a solid and memorable Dream Match of two face-painted titans. The match was an embarrassment to Hardy, the fans and TNA. Sting at least managed to keep his cool and put a quick end to the match even if he couldn’t quite hide his disgust and disappointment.
Photo Credits: WWE.com