WrestleMania is this weekend and in the over thirty years for this event, this will be the most unusual. Two nights, taped, and in front of zero fans. Many of us are tuning in for curiosity factor. The Grandest Stage of Them All has never been without unusual matches though. As the late great Chris Candido said, “it’s professional wrestling, it’s been ridiculous since day one!”
Due to this ridiculousness, some matches which may seem strange to casual viewers are familiar to long time wrestling fans. Battle royals full of men, or women, or NFL players, of gimmicks. Been there many times. Ladder matches, hardcore matches, multi-person matches. All commonplace. No, this list will include the ones that even the most jaded fans still scratch their heads over and wonder what the hell were they thinking?
WrestleMania III. Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid, and Little Beaver vs. King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo, and Lord Littlebrook.
You can tell a lot about a person based on their reaction to this match. Hillbilly Jim and King Kong Bundy are two massive well over 6 foot and well over 300-pound men. They both teamed up with two midget wrestlers each. I would argue this is the biggest midget match in history. There’s a pattern to midget wrestling matches against a regular-sized opponent. Crawl between legs, bite the behind, stuff like that. There is a code that the smaller wrestler can take advantage of their size but the other wrestlers cannot. That code was broken in this match as King Kong Bundy squashed Little Beaver. His team was disqualified, his partners stood in solidarity with their fallen brother. My brother and I rewound that tape and watched the body slam and elbow hundreds of times.
WrestleMania VII. Genichiro Tenryu and Kōji Kitao vs. Demolition (Crush and Smash) (with Mr. Fuji).
This shouldn’t be unusual because it is two Japanese stars wrestling on the biggest show of the year. It is completely out of the norm though because WWF/WWE had never done this before and has never done it since. For those that don’t know, pro wrestling is treated as a legitimate sport in Japan. Tenryu left one of the biggest promotions, All Japan, to form his own company Super World of Sports. They signed a deal to co-promote shows with WWF and WWF sent talent over to Japan a few times. This match was the only time that trade worked the other way. Super World of Sports only lasted from 1990 to 1992, with this show right in the middle in 1991. Fans will always wonder what might have been because WWF had enough faith in this exchange to give Tenryu and Kitao the victory over Demolition.
WrestleMania XV. Butterbean vs Bart Gunn in a Brawl for All match.
Oh, the Brawl for All. An upcoming episode of the Dark Side of the Ring TV show will go into more depth but to catch you up to speed. UFC was becoming bigger and bigger and Vince McMahon never saw a dollar he didn’t want. The idea was to take the WWF’s biggest baddest in real-life fighters and pit them against each other in a tournament. Unfortunately, this was completely unscripted and nothing went to plan. The assumed winner was taken out. Multiple injuries occurred. Bart Gunn, who was thrown in the tournament as a body ends up winning the whole thing. Now what? Well, you put him against the biggest crossover MMA star of the time, Butterbean. Bart never had a chance. He was knocked out in under a minute and drifted through the rest of his WWE career.
WrestleMania XXIV. Torrie Wilson, Stacy Kiebler, and the Miller Lite Cat Fight girls Tanya Ballinger and Kitana Baker in a pillow fight.
Not technically a match, but it is, but it isn’t. It counts just as much as other crazy things have over the years. Miller Lite starts a commercial campaign of beautiful girls fighting to get their hands on the beer. A viral campaign before we called things that. The girls went on tour, signed autographs, sold a lot of beer, and were celebrities for a brief moment in time. WWF grabbed hold of that brief moment and worked the girls into a WrestleMania match. Against two women who were now wrestlers but who were also hired in WCW as models and then trained to wrestle. Somewhere along the way a voice of reason spoke up. Torrie and Stacy are not great wrestlers that could carry a match, and the other two women aren’t trained. The Miller Lite girls say “we can settle this in the ring, or in the bed.” Wrestling fans love implied lesbianism and so a giant bed was brought on stage at WrestleMania for all four women to pillow fight on in their church clothes. The match ends when they pants Jonathan Coachmen and all four women pin him. Ah, wrestling.
Mr. Unusual WrestleMania. The Big Show!
vs Akebono at WrestleMania 21.
vs Floyd “Money” Mayweather at WrestleMania XXIV.
The Giant who can’t say “no”. The biggest and the smallest stars against the Big Show. While these matches paint him as a lesser beast, they also gained him crossover attention and a lot of money. At WrestleMania 21 Big Show faces Akebono. Arguably the greatest Sumo champion of all time. Over 600 wins, 6 foot 8, over 500 pounds. These two beasts don their finest of traditional Sumo wrestling wedgie underwear and Show loses in just over a minute when he is tossed out of the ring.
Just three years later Show takes on one of the greatest boxers of all time. Big Show had learned how to box in his off time and became formidable in the ring. The match was never going to be a regulation boxing match, so WWE promoted it as No Disqualification. One of the many men in Mayweather’s entourage distracts Big Show. Show gets hit with a chair. Floyd takes off his glove, dons brass knuckles, and knocks Show out for a 10 count. A match that should have been a joke turned into an 11-minute long scripted chaos entertaining tale.
If you want to watch any of these matches, sign up for the WWE Network today. New subscribers will not only have access to all of these matches but to two nights of WrestleMania this coming weekend