You know, sometimes it feels like we wrestling fans and writers talk way too much about botches. It can feel like we’re just being jerks by focusing so much on the worst aspect of otherwise incredible performers’ careers. I mean, I felt sick to my stomach when I realized I was mixing up The Legion Of Doom and Demolition in a previous article. How would I feel if all any of my readers did was point out every time I make a mistake?
To some extent, acknowledging botches occasionally actually makes us appreciate wrestlers more, whether because it puts a finer point on how dangerous their job is, or just in general how difficult some moves are to perform correctly. But when the internet wrestling community makes articles or videos about botches almost every day, it’s hard to think that’s really what’s going on. So please, allow me to put as positive a spin on this as possible.
The reason we’re even able to talk about botches so much is because they happen more often than you think. Most botches are often very small mistakes that just get glossed over, and that speaks to how good wrestlers are at their jobs. They’re so good at putting on a show that the vast majority of botches you either don’t notice, or you quickly gloss over them as the wrestlers get right back into the action.
And to demonstrate that, here’s 15 botches just from the past two months you probably didn’t notice.
15. Jobber Nearly Ruins A Pop-up Powerbomb
At WrestleMania 33, Kevin Owens defeated Chris Jericho for the United States Championship, a title that’s been severely lacking attention and prestige since John Cena’s recent run with the belt ended. Kevin Owens is currently trying to reverse the tide on this with a “New Face of America” gimmick (he’s actually French Canadian) and started with the classic heel tactic of issuing an open challenge that turns out just to be an excuse to squash a jobber. How did it go? Let’s just say he’s not getting the James Ellsworth push anytime soon.
The very short match was never supposed to be anything particularly great, but it nearly turned outright disastrous when the jobber, Gary Gandy, messed up KO’s finisher. Gandy jumped into the powerbomb early, which could easily have ruined the move. But all credit to Kevin Owens, he kept his balance despite the mistake and even still pulled off the powerbomb cleanly. It was still a botch by Gandy, but Owens did a damn fine job making sure nobody noticed.
14. Charlotte And Nia Jax Go Face To Face
On the April 10th, 2017 edition of Monday Night RAW, Charlotte Flair and Nia Jax had what figures to be their last match against each other for a while, as they now compete on separate brands after the Superstar Shakeup. Charlotte is considered by most WWE fans the best of a great women’s roster, and Jax is building up into a great monster heel, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the match was pretty good. But let’s just say neither of them is probably looking forward to the next time they have to work with each other.
Early into the match, Nia Jax performed a shoulder breaker on Charlotte. The move itself went fine, but Jax was a little careless with letting her down after the move, dropping her right on her head. But as any good wrestler does, Charlotte kept going and didn’t let it stop the match. It helps that later in the match she got some (probably unintentional) revenge when she caught Nia Jax in the face on a moonsault to the outside. Credit to both performers for not letting the ugly face shots stop their match, and here’s to hoping their next encounter goes better than this one did.
13. WrestleMania Ring Security Didn’t Get The Memo About Gronk
Say what you will about the annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania, it’s still a fun moment every year. While it certainly hasn’t been treated like it actually means all that much, it works as a way to highlight up and coming performers, like Mojo Rawely who won this year’s Battle Royal. And in true WrestleMania fashion, it came with the help of a special guest, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. But at least one official at ring side wasn’t aware that was going to happen.
Right as Gronk jumped the barrier after taunting from Jinder Mahal, a ring security woman rushes from clear across the other side of the ring to try to get him back to the outside. Seriously, she straight up manhandles him. Now that often does happen when these sorts of spots are planned, but it’s usually the referees who are supposed to (very terribly) do that job. And the main reason we know it was a botch is because at the edge of the camera you can see another ring official desperately letting her know that it was a planned spot.
12. Seth Rollins Misses A Blockbuster, Finn Balor And The Miz Fall Over Anyway
One of the first things most wrestling trainers will try to teach you is to not anticipate taking bumps. The main reason why is because in the case of minor botches, you’d look ridiculous if you fell flat on your back from a move that obviously didn’t connect. But there are obviously some exceptions to this. Especially with aerial maneuvers, because they’re really hart to hit and being a stickler about it would just make your opponent look even more ridiculous. Monday Night RAW on May 1st saw a great example of this.
In the Intercontinental Championship Number One Contender Triple Threat between Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and The Miz, Seth Rollins went to the turnbuckle for a double blockbuster. But when he made the flip, he didn’t quite hook his arms around Balor or Miz’s neck. Instead his arms just sort of rolled over the tops of their heads. In this case, taking the bump anyway like the two did was obviously the better choice, as I’m guessing most of you didn’t even notice that happened.
11. The Wrestling Gods Really Don’t Want Finn Balor To Stay Healthy
Finn Balor is having some rough luck with injuries if you haven’t noticed. He was recently out for half a year with an injury he suffered while winning the inaugural WWE Universal Championship, and not long after coming back, suffered a concussion from the hands of Jinder Mahal. And if that wasn’t bad enough, in that same Triple Threat with Rollins and Miz, there was a botch that could easily have reinjured him.
At one point in the match, Rollins went up to the turnbuckle for a cross body on Finn Balor, but the move hit awkwardly. Rollins seemed to overshoot the move and ended up connecting his hip to Balor’s head and shoulder. But with both of the two getting back up to continue the great match, few people noticed the botch…or at least they would’ve had WWE not chosen to replay it from an even easier camera angle to notice it from.
10. Primo’s Awkward Kick From The Apron
The SmackDown Tag Team Division is scuffling quite a bit if you haven’t noticed. While Breezango winning an upset to become the number one contender for the Tag Team title is an interesting turn, few teams in the division have enough momentum for fans to get behind them. American Alpha in particular are just a shadow of their potential after suffering back-to-back losses to the no-longer-timeshare-salesmen Colons. And it didn’t help that the finish to one of them looked really awkward.
The finish to their April 18th match saw Chad Gable send Primo to the outside after breaking up a pin. But this allowed him to score a cheap shot on Justin Jordan to help Epico get the pin. The only problem is that the kick looked very weak because Primo got himself caught in the ropes, and even tumbled over them into the ring after hitting it. But the fact that the audience was more focused on Jordan and that Primo smoothly rolled himself back out of the ring made sure the botch wasn’t too noticeable.
9. Referee Charles Robinson Gets In Mojo Rawley’s Way
Referee botches are usually fun. Most of them just provide funny little background moments for the keen-eyed viewer without actually taking anything away from the match. That’s not to say their job isn’t important with how often they factor into dusty finishes. Just ask any Bret Hart fan. Too soon? I’m sorry. But the point is they still have to be on their game to play their part and not get in anybody’s way. Charles Robinson slipped on that last part in recent months.
On the April 11th edition of SmackDown Live, Mojo Rawley faced Jinder Mahal to continue their little mini-feud from the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. One moment in the match saw Rawley hit the ropes for a shoulder takedown, only to find a striped man in his way. Not to be deterred, Rawley bowled straight through Charles Robinson while he awkwardly dodged between the top and middle rope.
8. Referee Falls Out Of The Imploded Ring
The imploded ring spots WWE does every few years tends to divide fans. Everyone agrees it was awesome when Brock Lesnar and Big Show did it the first time, but while most people still loved it the next two times, there’s a contingent out there that adamantly thinks WWE should have just let it be a one-time thing. I tend to be in the latter group, but even I have to admit the one they did recently with Big Show and Braun Strowman was my favorite. But not for the reason you’d expect.
I want you all to watch that spot again, but this time, pay close attention to referee John Cone in the back there. He clearly knows what’s about to happen and is trying to brace himself. But it didn’t quite work, as you can see him lose his balance when the ring implodes and tumble to the outside. Like I said, referee botches tend to just be funny background events, and while most people wouldn’t have bothered to notice, for me, it made the entire moment.
7. Bayley Completely Whiffs A Kick
The whole reason botches are a big deal in wrestling is their ability to take the audience out of the action and ruin their suspension of disbelief. We all know all those kicks and punches aren’t legitimate, but they still have to look legitimate, otherwise it doesn’t come off well to the viewers. This is a perfect example of why, even if it was a minor moment that few people thought about when it happened.
Then-RAW Women’s Champion Bailey fought Nia Jax on the March 13th episode of Monday Night RAW. The behemoth fought Bailey to the corner where she kicked back to create some separation. But this kick was nowhere near landing. Not every kick has to land legitimately, and even the ones that do better land softly. But when it’s this obvious that Bailey’s boot never even touched Nia Jax, that’s when it’s fair to call it a botch.
6. Samoa Joe’s Shoulder Was Clearly Up At Payback
I don’t know about you, but when WWE finally called Samoa Joe up from NXT to the main roster, I was nervous. Samoa Joe is a badass who deserves to be treated as such, and WWE kind of has a track record of failing to push the right talents at the right time. When Samoa Joe lost to Seth Rollins at Payback, it still sort of worked because Rollins only scored a sneaky, fluke win. But turns out on closer inspection, Joe can still claim he never actually lost that match.
Look a little closer at the moment of the pinfall and you can clearly see that Samoa Joe’s right shoulder was nowhere near the mat. Whether you consider this the wrestlers or the referee botching, this is still the sort of thing that can spoil the storytelling. But luckily nobody was talking about this after the fact, so apparently nobody noticed or cared.
5. Jeff Hardy Waits For A Tag…In The Wrong Corner
Jeff Hardy has been known for some interesting botches over time. He famously lives a very carefree lifestyle that used to involve lots of drugs before a particular match against Sting made him reconsider things. But whether it’s because of the lasting effects of heavy narcotics or just from the many concussions he’s suffered from all the extreme spots he does, Jeff is sometimes not right in the head. And I’m not talking about being broken. He just seems to forget things sometimes.
The Hardy Boyz’s match at Payback against Cesaro and Sheamus is probably most remembered for Cesaro and Sheamus solidifying a heel turn after the match. But now whenever you think of that match, all you’ll think of is this little incident where Jeff Hardy forgot what corner he was supposed to be at. Matt Hardy and Sheamus did a great job of stalling to make sure this mistake wasn’t too obvious, but still. Now that we’ve pointed it out, it’s all you’ll remember about this match.
4. Mustafa Ali Takes A German Superplex Face-First
To be fair, I think the main reason nobody noticed this one is because nobody cares about the Cruiserweight Division. That’s not the wrestlers’ fault, to be clear. WWE just hasn’t been good about giving us reasons to get invested. And while they’re slowly fixing that, in particular with Neville and Austin Aries leading the division, most people probably couldn’t even name Mustafa Ali as a member of the division.
On March 21st, Neville fought Mustafa Ali on 205 Live and did a pretty cool spot from the turnbuckle. Superplexes are pretty common, but you don’t see the German variety very often. Perhaps this demonstrates why though. Neville and Ali decided the safer way to do it was for Ali to flip, but Ali under-rotated and landed face first. It probably sounds worse than it actually was because he was at least rolling off his face, but it still had to have hurt.
3. Unfortunate Camera Angle On Charlotte’s Entrance
We’ve covered wrestler botches, referee botches, and even a ring security botch. Well let’s get one more variety in and do a production botch.
Just like in any performance art, professional wrestling has to do rehearsals before the main show. The big reason why being that you can have a vision in your mind for how it will all go in theory, but you also need to see it actually happen to make sure it looks good before you show it to a wider audience. But even with rehearsals, some nuggets like this slip through.
On April 25th, new addition to the SmackDown Women’s Division Charlotte came out to face Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Title. And apparently nobody in the production room noticed something weird about how Charlotte’s titantron looked with how the screens were set up. Just google “harlot” if you don’t understand why this is unintentionally hilarious/offensive.
2. Impact Wrestling Had To Re-shoot Alberto El Patron’s Debut Entrance
Back in March, after spending some time in independent promotions and the lucha libre promotions of Mexico, Alberto Del Rio made a surprise debut for Impact Wrestling under the name Alberto El Patron. Fans were ecstatic to have the former WWE champion back in a major American wrestling promotion. But while the live audience was clearly excited to see him, something seemed weird to those watching at home when the episode aired.
The crowd was dead quiet during his entrance, despite it being the surprise debut of an elsewhere established wrestler. What was the big deal? Well it turned out Impact Wrestling had to re-shoot his entrance, and the reason why is summed up in the picture above. If you thought the Charlotte titantron thing was bad on WWE, the Impact Wrestling production team one-upped them by not noticing they wrote El Patron’s name wrong on the graphic.
1. SmackDown Live Wasn’t Live, Editing Team Left In Dolph Ziggler Saying So
The difficulty with a wrestling promotion taking their show international is always the problem of jet lag. When you’re supposed to be running a live show at the same time and day every week, the only way for it to be actually live if you’re filming from an ocean away is to run the show at an ungodly inconvenient local time. So usually, WWE will choose to just run shows emanating from Europe on tape delay without telling the TV audience it isn’t actually live. But they slipped up on that part on their recent European tour.
The May 9th SmackDown Live was taped in London, and everyone involved knew it was going to show on tape delay. Dolph Ziggler even joked about it in his promo, saying the audience’s “NXT” chants will all get edited out. The editing team flubbed up however and forget to take that out of the broadcast, so everyone at home watched Ziggler lampshade the fact that SmackDown Live wasn’t actually live.
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