15 Shocking Outcomes You Didn’t See Coming
It's hard to argue that WWE is predictable. Once the bell rings, literally anything can happen between those ropes. But outrageous and unseen outcomes aren't limited to in-ring moments. Check out this list of 15 of the most shocking outcomes in WWE history, then chime in with your own picks in the comments section.
The adjective may be overused when discussing WWE matches, but there really isn’t a better descriptor than brutal to illustrate John Cena’s uphill battle against Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules. Uncomfortable to watch at times thanks to Lesnar’s vicious and unrelenting assault on the Cenation leader, the Extreme Rules Match was not unlike a horror movie that left members of the WWE Universe watching on the edge of their collective seat.
Still, the bout will go down in WWE history not just because of what transpired during the match, but because of who came away victorious after the bell rang.
Despite being thrown into a fight that was anything but in his wheelhouse, Cena somehow managed to beat Lesnar at his own game that night, taking the fight to the former MMA fighter. When it was over, Cena was bloodied and battered, but he was also victorious in one of 2012’s most shocking finishes.
They say first impressions are the most important, but the unique case of Barry Horowitz goes a long way in disputing that claim. When Horowitz reemerged in WWE and defeated Bodydonna Skip on the July 9, 1995, episode of WWE Action Zone, the WWE Universe came to see the hardworking journeyman competitor in an entirely new light.
Horowitz, who entered the Action Zone without a single victory in his career, certainly wasn’t given much of a chance against Skip, who was half of the former World Tag Team Champion Bodydonnas. The fitness-obsessed Skip toyed with Horowitz throughout the early stages of the contest, leading everyone in attendance to believe the match would end as it always had: with Horowitz’s shoulders down on the canvas for a three-count. Yet when a cocky Skip decided to show off and do some pushups in the ring, Horowitz sneaked up from behind and rolled his opponent up for the pinfall.
In one of the most unexpected moments in WWE history, the WWE Universe exploded around the ring as Horowitz celebrated inside the squared circle and WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross shouted, "Horowitz wins!" into his headset at ringside.
The Kid upsets "The Bad Guy"
There have been underdogs throughout the history of WWE, and then there was The Kid.
On the May 17, 1993, edition of Monday Night Raw, the fresh faced and wide-eyed Kid stepped inside the ring to square off against Razor Ramon, who was in the prime of his career. The disparity in size was striking between The Kid and "The Bad Guy," who set about tossing the youngster all over the ring in what was almost certainly a rout by Ramon — but the Kid refused to give in.
When Razor tossed his much smaller opponent into the corner, he looked to follow up with a monster clothesline. But The Kid dodged the blow, and as a dazed Razor tried to regain his bearings, the fleet-footed upstart climbed to the top rope. He then hit "The Bad Guy” with a moonsault and covered him for the shocking victory.
No one — including Razor and The Kid himself — believed the outcome.
The Kid ran through the crowd, arms raised, as Razor stormed off in disbelief. After his shocking upset, the young underdog became known as The 1-2-3 Kid.
Show of Shows shocker
With "Rowdy" Roddy Piper slated as the special guest referee, Bret "Hit Man" Hart attempted to do the impossible as he faced off against WWE Champion Yokozuna at WrestleMania X.
The match was the second of the night for both competitors, and the two Superstars certainly felt the effects of their previous bouts. To make the uphill climb even steeper for Hart, he sustained a knee injury earlier in the night and had to fight through the pain as he battled the enormous titleholder.
Yokozuna dominated Hart from the word go, attacking the "Hit Man" even before the bell rang. Yet Bret somehow found the intestinal fortitude to continue on, eventually halting the giant’s offensive assault thanks to a bulldog off the top rope. Hart then followed it up with enough offense to bring the giant down to the mat. But Yokozuna wasn’t going to go down for the three-count without putting up a fight befitting his stature.
When the gigantic grappler regained control of the bout, it led to one of the most famous finishes in WrestleMania history.
Yokozuna attempted the Bansai Drop with Bret laying prone beneath the ropes, but the champion lost his balance and fell, opening the door for Hart to cover the monstrous Superstar and claim the WWE Championship. As Bret celebrated his momentous and shocking victory, he was surrounded by other Superstars in an unforgettable scene on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
The Ultimate Underdog on The Grandest Stage of Them All
At 5-foot-6 and barely weighing 175 pounds, Rey Mysterio has made it his career to topple adversaries who tower over him. But many believe that The Ultimate Underdog’s story played out in grandest fashion on The Grandest Stage of Them All, where Mysterio defeated Randy Orton and Kurt Angle in a Triple Threat Match to determine the World Heavyweight Championship.
After entering the 2006 Royal Rumble Match at No. 2 and spending a record 62-plus minutes inside the ring en route to a grueling win, The Master of the 619 earned a World Title opportunity at WrestleMania 22. Still, few expected Mysterio to once again trump the odds and walk away with a win at The Show of Shows. But Rey laced up his boots that night with his late friend Eddie Guerrero on his mind as Latino Heat had just been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
In a bout that featured countless near falls, a hobbled Mysterio somehow managed to counter the Angle Slam, sending his gold medalist opponent through the ropes and to the outside floor. Mysterio then hit Orton with the 619 and the West Coast Pop to cover The Viper and claim the title.
Rey shocked the WWE Universe as he became the smallest Superstar to ever hold the World Title. Announcer Michael Cole summed up Rey’s night perfectly as he shouted, "Ladies and gentlemen, dreams do come true!"
Shawn Michaels stops the show
There is a certain unfortunate prestige to entering the Royal Rumble Match at No. 1. On the one hand, the very first Superstar to enter the melee finds himself at a great disadvantage, literally the long shot to overcome the entirety of the competitors to achieve victory. On the other hand, beating the odds – and 29 other opponents, in this instance – can solidify a Superstar’s place in history.
The Royal Rumble Match in January 1995 marked the first time the contest’s first two entrants – Shawn Michaels and The British Bulldog – were also the final two competitors in the ring. Amazingly, as shocking as the beginning of the match was, its final moments are what cements the moment on this list.
Not only did Michaels – who was one of the smallest competitors to enter the ring that night – overcome his early entry number, he literally rose from certain defeat to win the match. The Bulldog started celebrating in the ring after clotheslining HBK over the top rope. Imagine his surprise – as well as the surprise of the entire WWE Universe – when, moments later, Michaels delivered a double axe handle that sent Bulldog sailing over the ropes.
Confusion set in as the referee raised Michaels' hand in victory, but as the replay would show, The Showstopper was able to grab onto the ropes and keep his left foot from touching the floor – forever reminding us that both feet must touch the floor for a Superstar to be officially eliminated. It’s a moment that will live forever in WWE lore, and one of the most unexpected endings the WWE Universe will ever see.
18 seconds to glory
Daniel Bryan knows better than most that a whole lot can happen in a mere 18 seconds.
Entering WrestleMania XXVIII as the reigning World Heavyweight Champion, the submission specialist was cocky, loud and primed to defend the title he won and retained over the months leading up to the Show of Shows. The Great White Sheamus had other plans, however, and when the door opened just a crack, The Celtic Warrior kicked it down. And Bryan never saw it coming.
After sharing a good luck smooch with then-girlfriend AJ, Bryan turned toward the center of the ring just in time to kiss the bottom of Sheamus’ boot. From the challenger connecting with a ring-shattering Brogue Kick to the referee counting to three, all of 18 seconds passed, and the WWE Universe had a new champion.
It may not have been shocking that The Celtic Warrior — who had been on fire since the latter days of 2011 — claimed the World Heavyweight Title that night. Instead, the shock came in how quickly Sheamus unseated Bryan, as evidenced by the stunned faces of the WWE Universe in Miami – those who hadn’t blinked or turned away momentarily, that is – after the bell rang on the former titleholder.
A night that will live in infamy
Simply put, the events surrounding the night of November 9, 1997, culminated in what would become the most infamous match in WWE’s long and storied history.
When WWE Champion Bret "Hit Man" Hart took on Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series in Montreal, one of the greatest rivalries in sports-entertainment history reached its apex. Hart and HBK waged war for months, and it seemed like the majority of the WWE Universe was on Michaels’ side. For the first time in his Hall of Fame career, the "Hit Man" felt the heat of booing crowds everywhere he went. Everywhere, that is, except in his homeland of Canada.
As the two legends faced each other in Montreal at Survivor Series, the stage was set for an epic showdown … and for a shocking conclusion known forevermore as the "Montreal Screwjob."
Michaels locked in the Sharpshooter — Hart’s signature move — but it appeared as if The Exellence of Execution was on his way to working out of the hold. Then, unexpectedly, the referee ordered for the bell to ring. Hart had clearly not tapped out, but the fix, as they say, was in. Mr. McMahon, well aware that Hart was set to leave WWE, was simply not going to allow the championship to leave his company and as he demonstrated, he would go to any length to keep the title in-house.
The match sent shockwaves through the WWE Universe back then, and its scandalous ending still reverberates through debate to this day.
CM Punk comes home ... and leaves with the title
Less than one month after he dropped his first-ever pipe bomb, CM Punk returned to his hometown of Chicago to challenge John Cena for the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank. In the weeks leading up to the contest, Punk promised that although his WWE contract was set to expire at midnight, he was going to walk out of Money in the Bank with the championship in hand. The WWE Universe tuned in to see if the challenger was as good as his word — something Mr. McMahon lost sleep over. Before the bout, Cena assured the WWE Chairman the championship wouldn’t be going anywhere. CM Punk, however, had other plans.
When Cena entered the Allstate Arena, it was abundantly clear that the reigning champion was deep in enemy territory. The back-and-forth battle that raged inside the squared circle seemingly pulsated with the roar of the crowd. Then, in a scene that resembled a certain night in Montreal more than a decade earlier, just as the Cenation leader locked his rebellious challenger in the STF, Mr. McMahon and EVP of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis came bolting down the ramp to ensure the title would stay in WWE. But the champion wanted to do things his way and insisted as such to The Chairman at ringside.
Punk’s response? A GTS on Cena that set the WWE Universe aflame.
As The Second City Saint covered Cena for the victory, a despondent and helpless Mr. McMahon looked on as Punk left the arena through his hometown crowd … with the WWE Championship in hand.
The night Hulkamania died
Hulk Hogan was the epitome of what a Superstar should be. He told an entire generation to say their prayers and take their vitamins, and he showed the WWE Universe how to always fight the good fight … that is, until he stopped fighting it. When Hogan revealed himself as the mysterious third man in the emergent Outsiders faction that was tearing WCW apart at its seams, he drove a spike through the hearts of Hulkamaniacs everywhere.
Outsiders Scott Hall, Kevin Nash & a mystery partner were scheduled to face off against Sting, Randy Savage & Lex Luger at Bash at the Beach on July 7, 1996, until Hall and Nash elected to take on their opponents as a tandem. After a contentious battle, The Outsiders took control of the match, then proceeded to pile on Savage. Just then, clad in his classic red and yellow tights, Hogan headed toward the ring, but he did so with black intent.
The crowd in Daytona Beach, Fla.’s Ocean Center was certain Hogan arrived to help out Savage and defend WCW’s honor. Instead, Hogan legdropped his former friend and joined in the beatdown. In a ring interview immediately following the contest, Hogan turned to Hall and Nash, then told "Mean" Gene Okerlund and the fans in attendance that "This right here is the future … you can call this the New World Order."
The blaring and unmistakable guitars of what soon became The nWo’s entrance theme had nothing on the sound of the WCW crowd that night in Florida; in unison, the fans in attendance responded by throwing debris into the ring, while an entire generation of Hulkamaniacs everywhere wept.
Rock us like a Hurricane?
Normally, it would take help from Superman for the superhero-clad Hurricane to even think about defeating The Rock in a one-on-one contest. But on the March 10, 2003, episode of Monday Night Raw, Superman — in the guise of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin — was dressed in black and the impossible was par for the course.
As a Hollywood-fixated Rock ramped up his classic rivalry with "Stone Cold" heading into WrestleMania XIX, The Great One was somewhat sidetracked by a mostly harmless, though amusing, verbal battle with The Hurricane. When things went a little too far, however, The Hurricane found himself going toe-to-toe with The Great One.
The bigger, stronger Brahma Bull took it to Hurricane throughout the course of the bout, but as he had done in the weeks prior to their match, The Rock — and the rest of the WWE Universe — underestimated the heart of The Hurricane.
The quirky hero mounted some offense, prompting Jim Ross to shout, "Make yourself famous!" with regards to what would be a massive upset. Yet Rock wouldn’t stay down, kicking out of everything that his green and black-dressed opponent threw his way. As often occurs in the comic books, though, a surprise ending was in store: The sound of glass shattering drew Rock’s attention toward the entrance ramp, enabling Hurricane to roll up The Great One for the pinfall victory.
When one of the greatest competitors in WWE history loses a match to a Superstar he personally nicknamed "The Hamburglar," it’s a shoe-in for this list, even if "Stone Cold" had to lend a helping hand.
Mr. McMahon finds a way
In the late 1990s, at the peak of WWE’s "Attitude Era," "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was engaged in perhaps the most famous case of employee/employer warfare with his boss, Mr. McMahon. At the height of their historic rivalry, it was only fitting, then, that 1999’s Royal Rumble Match came down to "Stone Cold" and The Chairman.
To everyone’s dismay, it would be The Texas Rattlesnake who went home stunned. Thanks to a distraction by The Rock, Mr. McMahon (who hid outside the ring for most of the contest) was able to push Austin over the top rope and score the victory, becoming the No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship.
A livid "Stone Cold" took out his frustrations on The Great One, chasing the champion all over the arena. Unfortunately, he wasn’t fast enough to outrun the fact that The Chairman beat him in the Royal Rumble Match.
WWE buys WCW
Regular viewers of WCW were in for the surprise of a lifetime on March 26, 2001, when they were greeted by the WWE Chairman, Mr. McMahon, who appeared in the first-ever simulcast of both Monday night sports-entertainment programs, Nitro and Raw.
Broadcasting live from Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. McMahon announced to the WWE Universe and the WCW faithful that he acquired his competition and delivered the final blow in the "Monday Night War."
But the shakeups didn’t end there. While Mr. McMahon addressed the WWE Universe on Raw, his son Shane McMahon emerged to make a shocking announcement on Nitro: Shane purchased WCW! Clearly, nothing would ever be the same in WWE again, as especially evidenced in the ensuing months by the invading WCW.
Say it ain’t so, Stone Cold!
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin skillfully towed the line between hero and anti-hero throughout his meteoric ascension through WWE, winning over millions of fans across the globe and becoming the lynchpin figure in WWE’s beloved "Attitude Era." His famous and epic rivalry with Mr. McMahon resonated with WWE Universe members from all walks of life, and The Texas Rattlesnake’s hard-nosed, take-no-crap attitude is still appreciated to this day. When the glass shattered and Austin strode down the ramp, the WWE Universe knew they were in for some good old-fashioned mudhole stompin’.
In a No Disqualification Match for the WWE Title at WrestleMania X-Seven, however, Austin did the unthinkable. As a brutal, bloody battle unfolded between "Stone Cold" and WWE Champion The Rock, the capacity Reliant Astrodome crowd in Houston and the millions watching around the world were primed for a classic ending. Instead, they watched in horror as the epitome of anti-authority had aligned with his hated rival, Mr. McMahon, to overcome The Rock. After Mr. McMahon battered The Rock with a steel chair, then distracted the referee, The Chairman handed over the steel chair to his once-hated rival. Despite The Rock’s valiant effort, he just couldn’t overcome the combined might of the most surprising — and disappointing — duo in WWE history. Austin was crowned the new WWE Champion, but at what cost?
Jim Ross spoke for the entire WWE Universe when he said, "I thought I knew Austin; I thought I knew The Texas Rattlesnake!"
'Swoggle can speak?!
Kicking off the Nov. 29, 2011, edition of SmackDown, Mick Foley donned St. Nick’s big red suit and led an enchanted night of WWE action. That included an "All I Want for Christmas" Battle Royal, where the winner would get a special wish granted by Santa Claus.
Throughout the battle, SmackDown’s smallest Superstar, Hornswoggle, kept himself busy sliding in and out of the ring, as well as hiding beneath it. All the while, The Great White simply cleaned house inside the ring.
It was anything but fitting, however, when it all came down to The Celtic Warrior and 'Swoggle – quite possibly, the unlikeliest final two of any Battle Royal in WWE lore.
Hornswoggle looked ready to fight, and when Sheamus directed his tiny opponent to eliminate himself, 'Swoggle refused, kicking at Sheamus' shins. When The Great White tried to unceremoniously dump his opponent over the ropes, the diminutive Superstar hung on for dear life before finally tricking Sheamus into losing the bout. Not only did Hornswoggle pull off the unlikeliest Battle Royal victory in WWE history, but he was also granted the ability to speak by Jolly ol’ St. Mick!
A shocking outcome ... of DOOM!
Here’s something you didn’t see coming — a 16th entry on our list of 15 of the most shocking outcomes in WWE history! And we’re ending with a doozy, for sure.
On the January 4, 1999, episode of Monday Nitro, Wolfpac leader Kevin Nash – who at the previous week’s Starrcade broke Goldberg’s gargantuan unbeaten streak to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship – looked to settle a score with one-time nWo compadre Hollywood Hogan, who at the time ran with the Hollywood faction of The nWo. The WCW faithful was braced for a legendary showdown between these two former allies. What they got, however, was nothing short of a "Hollywood" finish.
The bell rang and Nash shoved Hogan into the corner, sending the crowd into a frenzy. But confusion quickly set in as Hogan reared back, seemingly for a retaliatory punch, then stopped and simply poked Nash in the chest, inexplicably sending “Big Sexy” crashing to the mat. Hogan then covered Nash for the pinfall and a new champion was crowned as a legendary stable was reformed. In the space of one week, Kevin Nash made history twice – he accomplished the seemingly impossible, then disgraced himself with a "fingerpoke of doom."