10 Superstars who said 'I Quit!'
This Sunday at Extreme Rules, Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger will take their maiden voyage into the treacherous waters of an “I Quit” Match. A brutal variation on a Submission Match, this rarely exhibited contest only concludes after one of the Superstars literally speaks the eponymous surrender into a microphone all the WWE Universe to hear. And believe it, there are some pretty top-tier Superstars who have cried uncle at the moment of truth. So, while The Pride of Mexico and the border-patrolling brute prepare to lay it all on the line, WWE.com takes a look back at 10 competitors who threw pride to the wind in exchange for the sweet, sweet release of the bell’s toll.
As anyone who witnessed Bob Backlund’s memorable WWE Hall of Fame acceptance speech can attest, the two-time WWE Champion is not a big fan of failure or surrender in any capacity. And even though he technically holds a loss in the “I Quit” column at WrestleMania XI, the legitimacy of Backlund’s defeat is still very much in question almost 20 years later. Facing Bret “Hit Man” Hart on The Grandest Stage of Them All, Backlund not only had to contend with a mat technician every bit as experienced as himself, but also with the added wild card of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as the guest referee, the potential for shenanigans was running high before the bell even rang.
Backlund and The Excellence of Execution clashed in a bout truly worthy of The Show of Shows, but its conclusion was as dubious as it was epic: Hart managed to turn the tables on Backlund, trapping him in his own Crossface Chicken Wing. As “Hit Man” wrestled Backlund to the mat, Piper placed the mic to Backlund’s mouth and, asking if he was going to quit, received an unintelligible scream in response. Piper determined that Backlund’s yell was a cry of submission and called for the bell, giving Hart the victory under the most unusual of circumstances. It would not be the last time this happened.
It seems somewhat unfathomable for a Superstar whose reputation hinged on the ability to absorb pain, but Mick Foley is actually winless in his two forays into “I Quit” territory. Granted, both of those losses come with some pretty sizable asterisks attached. The Hardcore Hall of Famer’s first contest under “I Quit” rules — a WWE Title defense against The Rock at the 1999 Royal Rumble — ended under dubious circumstances. An unearthly 10 chair strikes rendered Foley unconscious and it was only a pre-recorded surrender played by The People’s Champion over the arena’s speakers while the champion was face-down on the ground that cost Foley the bout.
The Hardcore Legend’s “I Quit” encore against Ric Flair six years later ended with similar shenanigans. With tensions broiling over thanks to a years-old insult by Flair (he infamously called Foley a “glorified stuntman”), the three-time WWE Champion had battled “The Nature Boy” to a dead heat when Melina came to Foley’s rescue in a moment of vulnerability. Sensing his moment, Flair wheeled and dealed his way to a win by threatening her with physical harm; given Melina’s longstanding friendship with Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy, it’s no surprise The Hardcore Legend put personal ambition aside and said “I Quit” for the sake of his friend.
Keen-eared members of the WWE Universe might have caught Michael Cole taking a little jab at JBL on commentary when discussing the “I Quit” contest between Del Rio and Swagger. He wasn’t just blowing smoke: JBL is one of a record four Superstars who threw in the towel against John Cena, this particular victory coming during The Champ’s defense of the WWE Title at Judgment Day 2005.
The bout was among the more brutal in Cena’s 10-year career, with JBL landing a steel chair strike that drew plasma from The Champ, and Cena retaliating by ramming the Texan’s head into one of the television cameras. JBL only called it a day when Cena threatened to clock him with a steel pipe he ripped off a tractor trailer parked by the entrance … and even that didn’t stop The Champ from cracking JBL with the pipe after the loudmouth longhorn said “I Quit.”
The Miz has always loved to be hated, and his detractors were never as numerous as during the six months he held the WWE Championship. The Awesome One’s six-month dance with the supreme prize was marked by sneaky wins and blatant disrespect of WWE Legends (Miz’s first rivalry with the title was a surprisingly brutal clash with Jerry “The King” Lawler), so the WWE Universe breathed a collective sigh of relief when the “Must-See” scoundrel was finally relieved of the title by John Cena at Extreme Rules 2011.
The odds seemed inherently against The Awesome One when he eventually earned a rematch and it was named an “I Quit” bout, but Miz took full advantage of the stipulation by using his apprentice Alex Riley to help him decimate The Champ, ultimately lifting a play out of The Rock’s book and getting Cena to “quit” via a pre-played recording. Once the ruse was discovered, however, the bout was restarted and Cena roared back with a torturous STF on the former WWE Champion. Needless to say, the notoriously mouthy “Cleveland Screamer” was all too happy to yelp those infamous words for real after that.
Generally, saying “I Quit” is viewed as something of a disgrace, but if you’re going to throw in the towel, there are worse ways to go than Batista did. In his WWE Championship Match against John Cena at WWE Over the Limit 2010, The Animal went out in high style, taking the Cenation leader to the woodshed in one of the most celebrated matches in WWE history. Such was the resilience of the competitors that the 20-minute bout had to be stopped and restarted twice — once when Batista drew plasma from The Champ and once when The Animal passed out in the STF — and it was only something of a last-ditch effort from Cena that finally forced Batista to give in.
When an Attitude Adjustment to the hood of a car proved insufficient to defeat The Animal, Cena set up for a second AA from the roof of the car, causing Batista to finally say “I Quit” to avoid further punishment. Cena put Batista through the stage anyway, and the victory turned out to be something of a twofer: The Animal’s wounds (and wounded pride) were such that, the next night on Raw, he quit WWE altogether in a fit of rage.
Some brothers give each other noogies and atomic wedgies when they fight. Others duct tape each other to tables and jump through them. Guess which school of thought The Hardy Boyz belonged to when it came to settling their differences. Following a brutal, brother-on-brother rivalry, the high-flying daredevils of the onetime Team Xtreme had it out with each other in a rampaging “I Quit” Match at Backlash 2009 that ended in near-Shakespearean fashion when Jeff secured Matt to a table with a roll of duct tape (it really does solve everything) and ascended a ladder to perform the coup de grace on his older brother.
Matt, sensing disaster, evoked the Hardy parents and quit the match to prevent Jeff from doing something that would make their late mother ashamed. It seemed for a moment like the paean had worked, but clearly Jeff had no interest in being his brother’s keeper, because he leg-dropped Matt into oblivion anyway.
Rey Mysterio & Chavo Guerrero
Yep, this one is a double-play, because “Chavito” and “Rey-Rey” made the “I Quit” Match their personal favorite in their rivalry, and scored a victory over each other in two of the infamous bouts situated about a year apart from each other. Following the loss of his World Heavyweight Championship thanks to Chavo Guerrero’s treachery, Rey Mysterio challenged The Mexican Warrior to an “I Quit” Match and was defeated when Chavo targeted The Ultimate Underdog’s knee, not only costing Rey the match but also putting him out of action for months as a result.
Rey didn’t waste any time paying Chavo back upon his return, roaring straight into a rivalry with his old friend and ultimately getting his comeuppance in an “I Quit” Match of his own, bashing Chavo’s knee with a chair until the young Guerrero cried “I Quit” in response. Booyaka.
If there’s one thing that is certain in the world of WWE, it’s that getting Randy Orton to quit a match will take more than just the usual assortment of punches and kicks. Even John Cena — the Superstar who got Orton to cry uncle and took the WWE Championship from him in the process — had a little extra help en route to his win over The Apex Predator. He also had more than a little bit of luck on his side, because Orton ran roughshod over the Cenation leader for the early portion of the bout.
Cena’s fate seemed all but sealed when Orton handcuffed him to the ring post and went to town with a Kendo stick, but The Viper’s own nefarious design backfired against him when Cena escaped his confines, snatched the cuffs’ key from around Orton’s neck and managed to bond himself to The Apex Predator. Shaking off a one-armed RKO, Cena trapped Orton in the STF, using the cuffs to place additional pressure on The Viper and forcing Orton to say “I Quit” as a result.
Few men are up to the task of making The World’s Most Dangerous Man — a trained ultimate fighter in addition to a formidable WWE Superstar — say “I Quit.” But among those few stands a Superstar whose attitude stands far above and beyond those of mere men: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. In the only “I Quit” Match of his Hall of Fame career, The Texas Rattlesnake slithered into the proverbial lion’s den to battle Ken Shamrock and came out victorious against the then–Intercontinental Champion … although he had a little help in the process. After Mr. McMahon’s associates Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco attempted to stack the deck against Austin, Mankind emerged from the crowd and administered Mr. Socko to Shamrock’s mandible, clearing the way for The Rattlesnake to clean Shamrock’s clock with a steel chair, rendering the champion unconscious and winning the bout by default.
No, that’s not a typo, WWE Universe: The King of Kings actually said “I Quit” once upon a time, although as is always the case with this type of match, there were a few qualifiers that made it happen. Battling The Rock for the WWE Championship at the height of The Attitude Era, The Game was well on his way to claiming the ultimate prize for himself when The Corporate Champion received some backup in the form of Kane.
Then the personal monster of the goonish stable, The Devil’s Favorite Demon seized The Game’s valet Chyna and threatened to administer the Chokeslam unless The King of Kings gave his unconditional surrender to The Brahma Bull. Triple H relented and paid dearly as a result when Chyna betrayed him in return for a spot in The Corporation’s ranks. It was a surprising show of compassion from one of the ring’s most dangerous Superstars and, needless to say, it is not a mistake The Game has made a second time.