As humans, we all have off days (except, of course, myself). The only difference is that wrestlers’ mistakes are aired in front of potentially millions of people with discriminatory and expletive remarks fired at them on Twitter. Even the very best wrestler will have unsalvageable matches in which they just cannot sail to shore. This becomes even stranger when some of the greats repeatedly have underwhelming bouts at a specific event. These are some of those fine workers who fumbled things when it came to performances at a certain Pay-Per-View (PPV).
Jake Roberts: WrestleMania
Although he had eight matches at WrestleMania, none of them truly hit the heights that “The Snake” should have done. There are two main types of Roberts ‘Mania encounters, the unrequired and the unfulfilled.
Starting with the unrequired, Jake debuted at WrestleMania II, just weeks after debuting on TV. The newly debuted Roberts beat enhancement talent George Wells in short order in the Nassau Coliseum venue of the PPV (the worst in terms of match content). The next year, he faced The Honky Tonk Man in a mundane and uncared-for match in which the most interesting part was the presence of metal pioneer-turned-oblivious walking meme Ozzy Osbourne. ‘Mania V saw Roberts wrestle André The Giant to a DQ win after “The Eighth Wonder Of The World” assaulted guest referee Big John Studd, with Jake getting little out of the immobile Frenchman. His last match was slightly less irrelevant but he certainly was not the focus as he lost a six-man tag to the newly-formed Camp Cornette.
Now, for the matches that sound great on paper but did not reach their potential at the PPV. WrestleMania IV saw “The Snake” take on “Ravishing” Rick Rude. Although these two great workers should have put on a great show, a lengthy facelock killed the crowd, as did the time limit finish. Similarly, a match with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase ended disappointingly with a count-out ending. The seventh “Grandaddy Of Them All” saw Roberts taking on another top-level worker when tussling with Rick Martel. However, the storyline saw “The Model” blind Jake, resulting in a Blindfold match in which both men bumbled around the ring like drunk uncles rummaging to find the house keys.
In Roberts’s last match of his first WWF run, he wrestled The Undertaker. A dream match, Roberts would only compete in the match if given his release so was unmotivated in the match. Plus, The Undertaker was in his unfeeling, zombie mode at this point in time, adding a rather soulless energy to the match – and that’s not to mention the tombstone on the outside, in which you could a fit a Land Rover Discovery in the space between Jake’s head and the floor.
I don’t think you could really say Roberts has really had any terrible matches but neither did he have any matches up at the PPV to his great standard of workmanship.
The Undertaker: SummerSlam
The career of The Undertaker may very well be one of the most decorated in the history of professional wrestling but one thing he does not have is a great SummerSlam PPV résumé.
That is not to say every match he has had at the event is a bad one – with matches against Mankind in 1996, Steve Austin in 1998, and Edge in 2008 being PPV particular highlights.
From his first match at the event in 1992 up to his Boiler Room Brawl contest with “Mrs Foley’s Baby Boy”, The Undertaker had a string of truly terrible matches.
His 1992 match against Kamala was best-noted for ‘Taker’s amazing entrance with the match itself lasting just over three minutes and ending in DQ. The next year, he fought Giant Gonzalez in a match better than their WrestleMania IX encounter, although that’s like being the best Sharknado movie! The Undertaker won that one with his patented flying clothesline finisher. 1994 saw him wrestle himself, which is all you have to say really. The Undertaker’s match against The Underfaker (“Prime Time” Brian Lee) was ranked the worst SummerSlam match of all time by a particularly great author at WrestleBuddy who called it a “sub-10-minute match that was such a crime to the eyes it felt much longer”, with the dull affair making a mockery of the brilliant WWF title match that preceded it. The next year he faced mid-card mingler Kama Mustafa in a casket match that nobody cared about.
And that’s not even covering the worst Undertaker matching outside those years. In 2000, he had a surprisingly heatless match against Kane in which it was ruled a no-contest when Kane was unmasked and ran away, which was very Riddler-like. 2001 saw the Brother Of Destruction reunite to obliterate The Alliance’s Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon in an unsettling foretelling of the lop-sided WWE vs WCW/ECW feud. Of course, who could forget the big-time PPV rematch between The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, after “The Beast Incarnate” had ended the streak, ending with a bit of admin error from a naughty timekeeper.
These poor performances cannot be put down to ‘Taker but rather his inferior opponents or more commonly, bad booking. There is a reason he is synonymous with WrestleMania, not SummerSlam.