The Golden Era of the WWE is the period of time when Hulk Hogan was on top and the company grew into a powerful national brand with major stars and attractions like Andre The Giant, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, and The Ultimate Warrior. Most people agree the Golden Era runs from about 1982 until 1992, following the steroid scandal in which Vince McMahon began to shift away from hulking body builders and instead focus on building new, smaller, and younger stars.
This subsequent period is known as the New Generation which, depending on who you ask, runs from about 1992/93 to the start of the Attitude Era, notably Survivor Series 97 and the Montreal Screwjob. While the Attitude Era had its fair share of absurd gimmick matches, there were a few silly gimmicks in the New Generation.
The Kiss My Foot match between Bret Hart and Jerry Lawler at King of the Ring 1995 is hardly a masterclass in technical wrestling and definitely one of the most forgettable matches in either wrestler’s careers. Lawler was nearing the end of his career when he came to WWE in the mid-1990s and, as “The King,” would often order fans to kiss his feet as a sign of respect.
Eventually, a match was set up between Hart and Lawler in which the loser would have to kiss the other wrestler’s feet. Lawler, in a series of vignettes, was shown doing everything imaginable to make his feet more disgusting than they already were. Unfortunately, he lost the match and was made by Hart to kiss his own feet. After losing the match, Lawler sought treatment from Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS.
9 Arkansas Hog Pen – Triple H Vs. Henry O. Godwin
If the Kiss My Foot match is the worst idea of the New Generation Era, the Arkansas Hog Pen is not far behind. Long before he was “The Game,” Hunter Hearst Helmsley was a mid-card worker at best in the New Generation Era. Among other notable mid-90s feuds, he had a series of matches of pig farmer Henry O. Godwinn, including the infamous Arkansas Hog Pen match at In Your House 5.
The pairing made sense. Godwinn was a hard-working, blue collar pig farmer and Triple H at the time was a flamboyant and brash snob who carried perfume to the ring to spray at his opponents and fans. The minor feud commenced in an odd match that involved six actual live hogs eating slop in a pen and Hillbilly Jim as special guest referee.
8 Rest In Peace – Undertaker Vs. Giant Gonzalez
The Undertaker had a great first year in WWE, winning the World Championship against Hulk Hogan at Survivor Series 1991, but his opponents – and matches – during the New Generation were mostly forgettable. If he wasn’t wrestling in a casket match, he was paired with some larger-than-life figure in an attempt to get him over as a babyface. The worst of these opponents was Giant Gonzalez.
The Undertaker and Gonzalez had what many consider the former’s worst WrestleMania match at WrestleMania IX. As if that match wasn’t bad enough, they ran it back at SummerSlam in a Rest in Peace match. The gimmick basically just meant there was no disqualification and Taker won via pinfall following a flying clothesline – hardly a worthy result at big four PPV.
7 Final Curtain – Undertaker Vs. Goldust
WWE tried everything with The Undertaker during the New Generation Era. As mentioned, he had plenty of casket matches, one of which was against Goldust. After surprisingly losing that match at In Your House – Beware of Dog in May 1996, Taker sought retribution against Goldust in a Final Curtain match at In Your House – Mind Games.
The Final Curtain name was a play on Goldust’s character and finishing move – curtain call – but the match itself was essentially a lights out match decided by pinfall. It wasn’t necessarily a bad gimmick (AEW has had some success with the lights out concept in recent years), but the match and feud was forgettable.
6 Falls Count Anywhere – Randy Savage Vs. Crush
This is another case in which the gimmick itself wasn’t bad, but the execution of the match left a lot to be desired. Late in his WWE run, Savage bounced back and forth from Raw commentator to part-time wrestler. One of his last programs was a feud with Crush AKA Brian Adams that concluded with a falls count anywhere match at WrestleMania X. The idea was that one wrestler won the match when their opponent failed to get back into the ring within 60 seconds.
The planned finish of the match was decent, with Savage tying Crush up with cables in the backstage area before racing to the ring to beat the count. However, he wasn’t able to tie a secure knot and ultimately botched the finish, making Crush look foolish in the process. It is one of Savage’s worst-rated WrestleMania matches and his last match with the company.
5 Survivor Series 4-On-4 – Royal Family Vs. Clowns Are Us
Survivor Series is arguably the worst of WWE’s big four PPV, although the addition of the WarGames concept a couple of years ago made it a little more interesting. There have been a few exciting multi-man elimination tag matches over the years and others have done a good job at setting up feuds and storylines. Then there are matches like the Royal Family vs. Clowns Are Us.
This match, which took place at Survivor Series 1994, was the culmination of a feud between Lawler and Doink the Clown, who was becoming more of a kid-friendly babyface character as opposed to the evil and sinister clown portrayed originally by Matt Borne. In the match, Lawler was joined by little people wrestlers Queasy, Sleazy, and Cheesy, while Doink was accompanied by Dink, Wink, and Pink. Enough said.
4 Flag Match – Bret Hart And Bulldog Vs. Vader And The Patriot
As he was beginning to turn heel, WWE began pairing Hart with The Patriot, an all-American response to Hart’s anti-American Hart Foundation stable. Del Wilkes, who portrayed The Patriot, debuted in July 1997 and immediately began feuding with Hart. Hart beat The Patriot to retain the World Championship at In Your House 17.
The following month, Hart teamed with The British Bulldog to take on The Patriot and Vader in a tag team flag match. The original idea was for one team to capture the other team’s flag in the corner of the ring to record the win, but it ended up just being a normal tag match that ended with a roll-up pin by Hart over The Patriot.
3 Hollywood Backlot Brawl – Roddy Piper Vs. Goldust
The Hollywood backlot brawl match at WrestleMania 12 between Roddy Piper and Goldust was certainly memorable. It took place throughout the evening with some parts of the match filmed earlier in the week – it even had shots of OJ Simpson’s infamous white Bronco chase – before ending in the ring.
While the match added a different and unique element to a lackluster WrestleMania card, it was hastily put together and lacked much storytelling, in large part to the original idea being a blow off between Goldust and Razor Ramon, who had been engaged in a feud.
2 Armageddon Rules – Undertaker Vs. The Executioner
The Undertaker had to endure another forgettable PPV match against a character without much build when he took on The Executioner in an Armageddon rules match at In Your House 12 – It’s Time in 1996. Terry Gordy, who portrayed The Executioner, is a decorated wrestler and eventual WWE Hall of Fame inductee as one third of the Fabulous Freebirds, but few remember his stint as The Executioner.
This match, which has a 4.3 rating on Cagematch, was essentially a last man standing match but with an odd and unnecessary twist. Before the referee began his 10 count, either man had to pin their opponent for a standard three count. The Undertaker won the match and The Executioner was rarely featured again on WWE programming.
1 Gauntlet – Ahmed Johnson Vs. Nation Of Domination
There’s few more dangerous workers in the history of wrestling than Ahmed Johnson. While the powerful big man was a fan favorite during the New Generation Era, he lacked technical wrestling skills and in-ring acumen and not many wrestlers were comfortable working with him.
His feud with the Nation of Domination, most notably Farooq, was done well, but the three-on-one gauntlet match at In Your House 15 – A Cold Day in Hell was a poorly-planned mess. Gauntlet matches make for great TV filler, but shouldn’t be used on PPVs. Fortunately, this one only lasted 13 minutes before Farooq, the third Nation member in the match, defeated Johnson.