WrestleMania 29, the biggest professional wrestling event of the year, happens this Sunday.
More than 90,000 screaming fans are expected to cram into New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium to holler at the spectacle of simulated violence, with more than a million watching on pay-per-view.
World Wrestling Entertainment spares no expense on the so-called “Showcase of the Immortals,” and every wrestler on the show strives to give the performance of a lifetime.
Usually they succeed; sometimes they botch.
Here are some WrestleMania bloopers, hiccups and slip-ups that WWE “superstars” would surely like to erase from history.
10. Batista Bomb bombs
Batista has muscles in places where most people don’t even have places. During his WWE heyday, he was one of the most physically imposing and dominant wrestlers on earth. But even a man as impossibly muscular as Batista has his limits, as he discovered when attempting to perform his patented Batista Bomb on the late, great Samoan wrestler Umaga at WrestleMania 25. Awkwardly falling backwards is not supposed to be part of the maneuver. But can you really blame Batista? Umaga’s hind-quarters alone probably weighed more than the average human.
9. Justin Gabriel elbows himself out of action
South African pretty boy Justin Gabriel is one of those acrobatic wrestlers who seems to spend more time in the air than on the mat. He’s always gambling with a high-risk-high-reward ratio, and occasionally it doesn’t work out in his favor. Last year at WrestleMania 28, he landed awkwardly after diving out of the ring. It’s uncertain whether the clip below shows the actual injury, but it’s still got a little mini-botch at the beginning as Gabriel struggles to launch off the top rope.
Judging by Gabriel’s tweet the following day, the injury was hugely unpleasant.
Just had X-rays and MRI on elbow. Good news : no surgery needed. Bad news: out for 6 weeks. twitter.com/Justin__Gabrie…
— Justin Gabriel (@Justin__Gabriel) April 2, 2012
8. Piper’s droopy dropkick
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper can be forgiven for not being at his physical peak for WrestleMania 25. He was in the main event of the very first WrestleMania, so it’s perfectly understandable that two-and-a-half decades of aging dulled his abilities a bit. So perhaps he should have realized, when tagging with two other legends to do battle with Chris Jericho, that his best dropkicking days were behind him. At about 2:02 in the clip below, Piper executes perhaps the worst dropkick of all time. The whole clip is worth watching, though, since Piper somewhat redeems himself by dropping lots of f-bombs.
7. Voodoo witch doctor is tardy
When Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice squared off at WrestleMania 8, the scripted ending was for voodoo witch doctor Papa Shango to dash to the ring and break up the Hulkster’s attempt to pin Sid. Apparently Papa Shango was distracted — perhaps casting a spell — because he missed his cue. Sid kicked out, manager Harvey Whippleman hopped into the ring, the bell rang, the tardy Shango arrived, and awkward confusion.
6. You only had one line!
After the incredible success of the first WrestleMania, WWE needed to up the ante the following year. One technique they tried was inviting a huge number of celebrity guests to participate — Ozzy Osbourne, Elvira and Joan Rivers, to name a few — and the results were almost all bad. Arguably the least effective of all was Clara Peller, who rose to international fame in the early 1980s thanks to a series of Wendy’s commercials in which she rhetorically asked “Where’s the beef?”
Her sole responsibility at WrestleMania 2 was to deliver that line on cue. When her time came, she looked around in confusion and asked someone: “Now? Say it Now?” Then she hollered her line. Trouble was, she swung the microphone away from her face as she said it, so nobody heard her.
5. Ultimo Dragon slays himself
The Japanese wrestling legend Ultimo Dragon made a name for himself by being acrobatic, innovative and graceful. Those traits were not on display, however, when he charged out of the gate to compete in a nine-man Cruiserweight Open match. It’s impossible to know if there was a banana peel on the stage.
4. The frontman of of The Doors?
This botch didn’t happen in the ring, but it was still an embarrassing WrestleMania screw-up on display for about 80,000 people to see. Parkour-inspired wrestler John Morrison participated in the “Money in the Bank” ladder match against six other competitors. But that’s not what the giant scrolling scoreboard at the arena said. It’s safe to say that a member of WWE’s technical team was severely reamed out for this:
Trish Stratus and Mickie James delivered what was arguably the best “Divas” match of all time at WrestleMania 22. Although Divas matches are generally considered to be good excuses for wrestling fans to go to the bathroom or grab another beer, this one delivered the goods. Until, that is, one of its most crucial moments. Mickie James was supposed to deliver the ultimate insult by hitting Trish with her own move, the Stratusfaction. They flubbed it, putting a nasty blemish on an otherwise gorgeous match.
2. Undertaker nearly goes to the grave
The Undertaker is the de facto star of every WrestleMania. His 20-match winning streak has become a more important WrestleMania tradition than any WWE championship belt. Perhaps thanks to his supernatural powers, the “Deadman” managed to escape paralysis or possible death when his attempted dive onto Shawn Michaels resulted in a terrifying head-first landing.
1. Brock knocks himself stupid
A man the size of Brock Lesnar should probably not be attempting backflips. But Lesnar wanted to pull off something truly memorable in his WrestleMania 19 match against Kurt Angle. He succeeded, but not in the way he had intended. When Lesnar ascended to the top rope, the prone Angle was clearly too far away to be reached with a Shooting Star Press, but Lesnar went for it anyway. He came up short. On his head. It’s a good thing Lesnar doesn’t have a neck, because this botch certainly would have broken it.