Dave Meltzer’s ratings despite being controversial in nature, are always a key indicator of the quality of a matchup, and there have been some atrocious WWE matches that Meltzer awarded with the infamous, dud rating.
A dud rating means zero-stars, and some rather polarising matches have been awarded the zero-star rating in the 30-plus years that Meltzer has been publishing the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
So, with that being said, let’s examine 10 WWE matches that received ZERO-stars.
10: Kane vs. Bray Wyatt (SummerSlam ’13)
SummerSlam 2013 featured the in-ring main roster debut of Bray Wyatt. Wyatt would collide with the legendary Kane in a match type known as the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire was basically an inferno match, yet for unknown reasons, WWE decided to completely re-brand the notorious match type.
Whilst the match was a fine spectacle due to the fire around the ring, the match was a slow and plodding affair, and Kane at this point in his career wasn’t exactly having stellar matches.
In the Observer, Dave Meltzer would claim that the match was “really bad”, and he also added:
“Not a good debut at all for Wyatt. The fire around the ring limited what they could do, they didn’t click and the finish was bad considering the whole idea of the gimmick was that nobody could interfere and it was an interference finish. The flames were kept low except they’d shoot up whenever somebody would take a bump. At first, it felt like kind of a spectacle but after about two minutes it just felt like a bad match.”
9: Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley (Extreme Rules ’17)
Alexa Bliss and Bayley’s showdown at the Extreme Rules PPV in 2017 is arguably one of the worst women’s matches in WWE history.
The match was a kendo-stick on a pole match, and the PPV encounter was one of the worst examples of character development imaginable, as the match completely annihilated Bayley’s once illustrious babyface persona.
It was a total shock when Dave Meltzer awarded the match a dud rating, as in all honesty, there was an expectation that the match would be awarded a negative star rating.
Meltzer would write in the Observer that the match was a “psychological disaster” and a “joke of a championship match”. Yikes.
8: Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth (Fastlane ‘16)
When Fastlane used to take place before WrestleMania, there were often complaints that it was a nothing PPV, and a complete waste of time. Fans who held this opinion were proven right in 2016, when WWE booked Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth on the show.
Although the match was just over 2-minutes, it simply had no place on a PPV card. The crowd were painfully silent, and no doubt questioning if they were at a WWE Superstars taping as opposed to the last PPV event before WrestleMania.
7: Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt (MITB ’20)
The main rivalry of Braun Strowman’s Universal Title reign was with Bray Wyatt. This made a ton of sense, due to the established history between the two, yet due to their feud taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the feud struggled to take off without a live audience.
The two would collide at the Money in the Bank PPV, and the match could have worked; however, the issue was that WWE booked the match as if there was going to be a crowd in attendance.
It was an awkward match that was more suited to RAW or SmackDown, as opposed to a major PPV event such as Money in the Bank.
Dave Meltzer had a brutal review of the zero-star rated match in the Observer which read:
“Strowman started acting like the Strowman of old. They hugged and the puppets were happy. Then Strowman took off his mask, stomped on the mask and powerslammed Wyatt for the pin. After the match they teased the idea that The Fiend would be coming for revenge. It did build to the next step but as a match, this sucked”.
6: The Boogeyman vs. JBL (Royal Rumble ’06)
In 2006, WWE were adamant on making The Boogeyman a legitimate threat in the company. The Boogeyman would defeat names such as JBL and Booker T on PPV events, yet this did little to impact Boogeyman’s stature in the ring, as his in-ring work was barely passable for the main roster.
When WWE booked the aforementioned JBL to collide with The Boogeyman at the 2006 Royal Rumble, fans hoped that the talented, JBL would be able to carry the worm-eating maniac to a passable match; however, that wasn’t the case.
The match was brief, which was a wise move, yet even this did little to protect The Boogeyman, as he looked completely lost in the squared circle.
Dave Meltzer’s dud rating for Boogeyman’s so-called PPV showcase was completely justified.
5: The Miz vs. John Cena (The Bash ’09)
Two-years before The Miz would main event WrestleMania 27 against John Cena, Miz and Cena would have a small feud in the summer of 2009.
This feud was notable, as it was arguably the first time in which Miz was pushed into a prominent position in the company, and his mic work managed to shine in the feud.
Miz and Cena would then collide at The Bash in 2009, and in a questionable move, the match was basically a squash with Cena winning. WWE had a great opportunity to make Miz a star in the match, yet they decided against it for unknown reasons.
Although the match wasn’t awful, it was bizarre to have a squash match of this nature on PPV, as it was booked like a formulaic TV squash.
Dave Meltzer had a scathing review for the match in his zero-star review:
“Terrible storyline, no time due to problems that should have been rectified, Cena didn’t get over by winning because he beat a guy who was a joke, and Miz was buried underground for no reason other than even though he was getting over on television, he’s not allowed to eat at the big boys table yet and the fans had to be reminded of this.”
4: Kevin Owens vs. Goldberg (Fastlane ’17)
Fastlane 2017 saw one of the most controversial moves in recent years, as Goldberg would squash Kevin Owens to become Universal Champion.
Owens was super-over with the crowd, and he should have walked into WrestleMania 33 as Champion and faced Chris Jericho in one of the top-matches on the show.
Ultimately, Vince McMahon made the call to have Owens drop the title to Goldberg, and although Jericho would distract Owens costing him the match, the match still did significant damage to Owens’ credibility.
The match finish received vast criticism online, and the zero-star rating from Dave Meltzer is appropriate for such an infamous matchup.
3: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (WrestleMania 28)
How do you rate a match that lasted 18-seconds? Well, when Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan in 18-seconds at WrestleMania 28, Dave Meltzer awarded the match zero-stars.
Meltzer would state that if WWE were going to deliver a title change within a few seconds, then it should have been in the Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show Intercontinental Title match:
“Tons of “Yes” chants and signs. Bryan kissed A.J. and turned around into a Brogue kick for the pin. To me, if they wanted to do a 10 second title change, the Show vs. Rhodes match was the one to do it in.”
Although the match was designed to get Sheamus over, it did quite the opposite. Following the record-setting loss, Bryan became even more popular with the crowd, and slowly but surely, WWE had no choice but to embrace Bryan’s popularity, as he would become one of the top babyfaces in the entire company.
2: Batista vs. Kane (Armageddon ’02)
It took some time for Batista to become a top-star in WWE. When he was thrown into the deep end in late 2002, Batista struggled from an in-ring perspective, and this was highlighted when Batista had a singles match against Kane at the Armageddon event.
The match was met with a crowd that couldn’t care less about Batista, and it’s crazy to watch this match compared to Batista’s matches later in his career, as the improvement is unbelievable.
Dave Meltzer to nobody’s surprise at the time, hated the match, and in Meltzer’s analysis of the lacklustre match, Meltzer would claim that Kane was the “wrong guy” for Batista’s first major program in the company:
“Crowd set a new level of dead for this one. Ric Flair tried to be the whole match, but didn’t come close to saving it. This was the wrong guy for Batista’s first program, but I do understand the idea. You make a star by beating an established star, and he was going to do so here. Kane no sold all of Flair’s interference, but it allowed Batista to get an advantage. There was a spot where Batista dropped Kane going for a power bomb. I hope Batista isn’t scarred by that one because the crowd just killed them.”
1: Jack Swagger vs. Big Show (Over The Limit ’10)
Jack Swagger had one of the worst World Title reigns imaginable in 2010. Swagger had talent in the ring, yet WWE didn’t want to commit to making Swagger a credible World Champion, meaning that his reign was lifeless and boring.
Swagger would defend his World Title against Big Show at the Over The Limit PPV, and the match lasted 5-minutes, and those 5-minutes were met with painful silence from the thousands of fans in attendance.
The match would end in an anti-climactic manner as Swagger would hit Big Show with the World Title. One of the most noticeable things about this DQ finish was the lack of care from the crowd. There was no sense of anger that the match was over, and this was a clear indication that fans had zero interest in Swagger as World Champion.
Writing in the Observer, Dave Meltzer would sum up the match, as well as outline the main issue with Swagger’s 2010 World Title reign:
“I rarely am stunned by watching a WWE PPV in the sense that even if it’s not what you expect, it makes sense. I kept expecting the deal where Teddy Long would come out and say how he’s not going to let Swagger out that easily, and it never happened. Swagger comes in as a weak champion in the sense people don’t see him yet at the level, so they have to book him to get him at the level. Instead, they are doing the opposite so far.”