Everybody loves an underdog. Everybody also loves a shock win or an upset victory. Combine the two and you've got the perfect recipe for a professional wrestling match, right? Well, maybe not all the time. Yes, there are many occasions when when we're all rooting for an underdog who deserves their time to shine, but as you'll see from the list below, having a big name lose unexpectedly isn't always the right way to go. In fact, this upcoming list will remind you of some occasions in pro wrestling's past where you simply left with a confused look on your face by the time that final bell rang. And maybe even reveal some hidden gems that you never knew happened, or you had simply blocked from your memory.
It isn't an act reserved to one particular moment in wrestling time either. As you'll see from the first entry in this article, WWE still to this day tend to pull the rug out from under its fans every now and then. As far back as the height of Hulkamania and beyond there are instances of relative unknowns, in comparison to their soon-to-be defeated opponents, gaining shocking victories over headline stars. Hulk Hogan, The Rock, The Undertaker. All the greats have done sometimes inexplicable and probably regrettable jobs to performers who ended up going nowhere. Here's a definitive list of the fifteen that we think were the most shocking and baffling of all in the history of pro wrestling.
15 15. James Ellsworth Defeats A.J. Styles
Everybody's favorite jobber, James Ellsworth. Ellsworth was brought in for a match last year with Braun Strowman. He had one job, to be squashed by The Monster Among Men. Well he did that job, and he did it well. So well in fact that he struck an inexplicable chord with the fans and clearly Vince McMahon as well. WWE brought Ellsworth back time and time again, eventually making him a permanent fixture on SmackDown Live.
Not long into his tenure on Tuesday nights, Ellsworth managed to pick up not one, not two, but THREE wins over then WWE Champion A.J. Styles. Sure, he did have the help of Dean Ambrose, but nevertheless, let's not take anything away from the fact that The Chinless One won us over in the first place in order to get those opportunities against Styles.
14 Maven Defeats The Undertaker
Most of you will remember the time Maven famously eliminated The Undertaker from the Royal Rumble match back in 2002. What's not so well-known is during the mini-feud that built from that moment, came an actual one-on-one singles victory for Maven over The Deadman. The original Tough Enough winner was pitted against Undertaker in a Hardcore title match on SmackDown back on the 7th of February 2002. The Phenom held the belt at the time and naturally was in control for most of the bout.
However, just as Taker was about to finish Maven off, The Rock entered the fold. Of course, being a hardcore match, there was nothing stopping Rocky hitting The Undertaker over the head with a steel chair and adding a Rock Bottom for good measure. Maven used the last of his energy to cover his opponent, picking up a win and the Hardcore Championship to boot.
13 Billy Kidman Defeats Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan did not lose to many people during his time in WCW. No surprise there. What's a whole lot more surprising is that one of the select few The Hulkster did fall to was Billy Kidman. On an edition of Nitro towards the end of WCW's run, Kidman headed to the ring to call Hogan out. Hulk had been repeatedly bad mouthing Kidman and the cruiserweight had decided he'd had enough.
Once Hulk Hogan had heard enough, he emerged from the back to not only give his retort, but also hand Kidman a beatdown in the process. During said beating, Eric Bischoff joined the festivities, steel chair in tow. All assumed that Eric was coming to lend Hulk a helping hand, until he utilized the steel chair to put Hogan flat on his back. Kidman covered him and Bischoff counted the 1-2-3.
12 Mark Jindrak Defeats Eddie Guerrero
On his way up the pro wrestling ladder and during his time in WCW, it probably wouldn't have been that big a shock to see Mark Jindrak pick up a win against Eddie Guerrero. At the height of Eddie's success towards the end of his career however, a whole different story. During an episode of SmackDown in 2004, the pair squared off with Guerrero fresh off a WWE Champion reign, but it was Jindrak who picked up the surprising victory.
He did receive some help in earning such a landmark win with an interfering Luther Reigns (no relation to Roman). Luther distracted the referee, and while the official was busy ejecting Reigns from ringside, Kurt Angle appeared to slip Jindrak the ring bell. Mark used it to block Eddie's incoming frog splash and covered Guerrero right after to pick up the win.
11 Vladimir Kozlov Defeats The Undertaker
Vladimir Kozlov had a pretty epic run in WWE, on paper at least. The reason the Eastern European didn't take off and never saw any real success was simply down to his lack of charisma and in-ring ability. The two things you need in abundance to be a pro wrestler. Despite all that, in 2009, Kozlov got a win over The Undertaker. Rather surprisingly, it wasn't similar in nature to the Maven match.
There was no foul play. No interference. Kozlov simply slammed The Deadman and pinned his shoulders to the mat for the three-count. The strangest thing about this win was that it came after it was pretty clear that Kozlov wasn't going to be the star WWE had hoped. Perhaps defeating The Undertaker in this way was their last throw of the dice.
10 Rico Defeats Ric Flair
Back in 2002, the legendary two-time Hall of Famer Ric Flair returned to WWE. While Vince McMahon told Ric it would be a role that wouldn't involve any in-ring activity, it didn't take long for the chairman to convince The Nature Boy to step back between the ropes. Thank the Wrestling Gods that he did, as Ric went on to have an amazing final run.
Towards the beginning of that run, however, Flair suffered a shocking defeat to Rico, of all people. Triple H took the chance to provoke Flair about his loss and claim that the sixteen-time champ was a shadow of his former self. That provocation eventually led to the formation of Evolution, so yeah, you can thank Rico for that, sort of.
9 Orlando Jordan Defeats John Cena
Despite what many fans may believe, John Cena loses an awful lot of matches. Okay, maybe not quite as many as your average wrestler, but come on, it is John Cena after all! The reason for many of his losses is to 'put over' new and upcoming talent. It turns out this isn't necessarily a recent thing. In fact, back in 2005, the now sixteen-time WWE Champion lost to the relatively unknown Orlando Jordan in a United States championship match!
Jordan had been a part of WWE champion JBL's cabinet, and it was with the help of the champ that he defeated the Doctor of Thuganomics. Jordan didn't do much else during his time with WWE, but you'll never be able to take away from him the fact that he once beat one of the biggest stars the wrestling business has ever seen.
8 The Genius Defeats Hulk Hogan
Many of you may not recall The Genius. You may know him better by his real name, Lanny Poffo, the younger brother of the 'Macho Man' Randy Savage. Well, under the moniker of The Genius, Poffo chalked up an impressive win over the founder of Hulkamania himself, Hulk Hogan. Well, impressive may be a bit of a stretch. Poffo lured The Hulkster out of the ring so his friend, and occasional tag team partner, Mr Perfect could nail Hogan with Hulk's own championship belt.
The aptly named Genius then clambered back into the ring in order to pick up a count-out win over the iconic Hogan. A match that took place on the very popular show Saturday Night's Main Event back in 1989, but one that has largely been forgotten, much to the relief of Hulk Hogan, I'm sure.
7 Gillberg Defeats Christian
During the late 90s, Al Snow, Bob Holly and Scorpio formed a faction named The J.O.B. Squad. A trio famed for doing jobs (aka losing to bigger names), as you may have guessed. Well, after a while The J.O.B. Squad added Gillberg to their ranks. At the time, he was simply known as Duane Gill, but would later become the character most of us know him as - Gillberg. It was WWE poking fun at WCW's Goldberg.
Shortly before that transformation, Gill defeated Christian on RAW to become the Light Heavyweight Champion. After changing to Gillberg shortly after, the title Gill had won became an afterthought. Although Duane would lose match after match as Gillberg, the title was never up for grabs. Eventually, he dropped the gold to Essa Rios but by that point, he had held on to it for fifteen months–going down as the longest reigning Light Heavyweight Champion in WWE history.
6 The Great Khali Defeats The Undertaker
For a man that transcends the pro wrestling business and is about as legendary and intimidating as they come, The Undertaker makes far too many appearances on this list for my liking. Nevertheless, his embarrassing loss to The Great Khali back in 2006 warrants a place among these fifteen matches, as much as any of the others do. Khali arrived in WWE with a bang and went straight after The Deadman. His manager, Daivari, had hand picked a couple of superstars to try and take down The Undertaker but without any luck.
He fully believed the behemoth Khali would be a different kettle of fish, and it turns out he was right. At Judgement Day, the two finally squared off and it was Khali who emerged victorious. Khali planted one of his enormous boots right on the chin of The Phenom and then proceeded to place it squarely on Taker's chest for the three-count. Not only did he defeat a sure fire Hall of Famer, but he pulled it off in arrogant style.
5 Brooklyn Brawler Defeats Triple H
Steve Lombardi, or The Brooklyn Brawler as he is more commonly known, was a main stay in WWE up until last year. His time there from in-ring action to behind the scenes dates back to the 1980s. While Brawler was competing, he did not win many matches, despite his long tenure. In the year 2000, Lombardi achieved by far the biggest and most famous win in his long career–a victory over Triple H.
It wasn't as honorable as he may have liked it to be, though. For starters, it was a not a one-on-one bout. Brawler had Japanese jobbers Taka Michinoku and Funaki flanking him, making it a three-on-one handicap match against Triple H. On top of that, the three men still couldn't get the job done! It took interference from Chris Jericho to finish off The Game and help Lombardi finally get the pinfall and the win.
4 Fandango Defeats Chris Jericho
Sticking with the Chris Jericho theme, here's a much more recent occurrence to add to the list. At WrestleMania 29, Fandango made his long awaited (I guess) in-ring debut against Y2J, Chris Jericho. Fandango was supposed to debut a number of times before the show of shows, but refused to on the grounds when ring announcers continually mispronounced his name. On a RAW during the road to WrestleMania, Jericho came to the ring and did the very same thing. That, of course, rubbed Fandango the wrong way and thus began the pair's rivalry.
As Jericho has proved more than ever during his latest run with WWE, he's a big fan of new talent and helping them get over. Well, that didn't really pan out with Fandango. Much to the dismay of many of us, the dancing star defeated Jericho at WrestleMania and hasn't really done much since. Almost four years later, Fandango finds himself in the mundane Breezango pairing on SmackDown Live.
3 David Arquette Defeats WCW
In one of the most infamous moments in wrestling history, David Arquette (yes THAT David Arquette) won a match during an episode of WCW Thunder to become the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. The actor was involved in a feud with Eric Bischoff and had pinned him earlier on that week in a match on Nitro. Well, on the Thunder in question a few days later, Arquette teamed up with then WCW champion Diamond Dallas Page to take on the pairing of Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett.
The stipulation in said match up was that whoever got the pin fall would become WCW champion. Low and behold, Arquette pinned Bischoff for the second time in a week to shock the world (not in a good way) and win the championship. The night in question is still to this day considered pivotal in WCW's ultimate demise.
2 The Hurricane Defeats The Rock
The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin had one of the most famous rivalries in all of wrestling and sports entertainment. The pair headlined WrestleManias together on three occasions. Well, during the build up to that third and final WrestleMania Rocky had a bit of a run-in with WWE's then resident superhero, The Hurricane. It resulted in the two having what you would quite rightfully assume to be a one-sided match in favor of The Rock on Monday Might Raw a few weeks before WrestleMania XIX.
Despite the match's one-sided nature, Hurricane actually gave a good account of himself. Nevertheless, it was never in any doubt that Rock would eventually pick up the victory. That was until Rock's Mania opponent, Stone Cold, made his way to the ring. All Austin had to do was stand there and it was enough for Hurricane to rally and roll Rocky up for the 1-2-3 while he was distracted, picking up the biggest win of his career.
1 1-2-3 Kid Defeats Razor Ramon
X-Pac. 6-Pac. Sean Waltman. You may know him by any number of names. However, the first time Waltman made a name for himself in the wrestling business was under the moniker The 1-2-3 Kid. On an episode of Monday Night Raw back in 1993, Waltman picked up the biggest and most well-known shock victory in pro wrestling history over the established Razor Ramon. Waltman rolled Razor up and quickly made his escape from the ring upon becoming victorious.
It wasn't a one-and-done either. This match sparked a feud between the pair that would ultimately lead to the two becoming life long friends behind the scenes. Many names on this list saw their career peak during the matches in question. However, for X-Pac, his victory over Razor Ramon kick started what has been a great career.