Wrestling is an industry that is built on a great many things. Great characters. Well-told stories. Tight underwear. But, perhaps more than anything, wrestling is an industry that relies on surprises. Everyone likes a surprise (unless it’s the kind your dog leaves in your bed while you’re at work) and wrestling is all about pleasing the fans, so it’s natural that the two go hand-in-hand. WWE has given us some truly shocking surprise moments over the years: John Cena returning at the Royal Rumble 2008, Steve Austin’s heel turn at the end of WrestleMania X-Seven, Goldberg vs Lesnar at Survivor Series 2016. I’m still in shock over that last one. However, while these moments all lead to something (either good or bad, depending on your opinion), there have been plenty of shocking moments in WWE’s history that were done purely to pop the crowd for one night only, as they lead to sweet, sweet nothing. Prepare to get disappointed, everyone, because we’re about to take a look at 15 Shocking WWE Moments That Lead To Nothing.
15 Jason... Angle?
Can someone remind me what the point of this was, please? More importantly, can they remind WWE?
Jason Jordan, former NXT and SmackDown Tag Team Champion and current Raw wrestler, used to be pretty popular in the WWE. As one half of American Alpha (alongside Chad Gable), Jordan put on classic matches in NXT with the likes of The Revival, The Vaudevillains and The Ascension. I know those last two names don’t sound overly impressive, but trust me, they used to. Sadly, Jordan and Gable’s momentum died a horrible death when they were called up to the main roster in 2016 and, in 2017, their partnership went the same way.
Jordan was revealed to be the illegitimate son of Raw General Manger Kurt Angle, in the culmination of an angle surrounding a secret of Angle’s that had been leaked. Whilst this moment was pretty shocking, it wasn’t exactly what the WWE fans wanted; many were hoping for something a bit juicier that might play into a larger storyline surrounding Kurt Angle’s in-ring return. Sadly, even the Jordan-Angle reveal didn’t lead to this, as Jason was pretty much left to his own devices on Raw, getting into a lacklustre feud with The Miz, then a lacklustre feud with Elias and he’ll probably be entering a lacklustre feud with Curt Hawkins pretty soon as well. It was a disappointing end to a really well-built angle and nobody involved in this storyline came out looking any better than they went in. Poor Jason Jordan. Or is that Jason Angle? What a mess this storyline is.
14 Shane McMahon’s “Lock Box”
Anyone else remember this? Because I’d forgotten all about it until I researched this list.
When Shane McMahon returned to WWE in 2016, it was a truly game-changing moment. Shane had been gone from the company for over six years and his unannounced return on Raw was a truly shocking moment. However, this isn’t the moment we’re talking about in this entry. Shane’s return has led to a great many things, including a little something called “The Brand Split” (ring any bells?), but there was one aspect of his return that still has fans scratching their heads to this day. And no, it’s not how he managed to go grey before his father.
When Shane came back on an episode of Raw in February 2016, it was to demand to his father that he be given the power to run Monday Night Raw. To ensure that he got his way, Shane brought some leverage with him; a “lock box” containing a secret that could ruin Vince. And what was this secret, I hear you ask? No, seriously, I can still hear people asking, because we never found out. Yep, all the exciting possibilities of what could have been in that box, all the interesting character developments that could have come out of this angle, all the potential storylines it could have set up were dropped and the box was never mentioned again. How disappointing. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing, because, knowing WWE, the box probably would have had Hornswoggle in it.
13 The Ultimate Squash
You can bet this will be left out of Triple H’s Hall of Fame Induction.
The Ultimate Warrior had a tricky relationship with the WWE in the same way that the Titanic had a tricky relationship with that iceberg. He was a hugely successful and popular draw in the company, but caused a lot of problems backstage, which even led to him threatening to no-show the main event of SummerSlam 1991. Warrior was fired after this incident, but, because of the amount of money he was worth as a talent, he was hired back to the WWE in 1996. This run was largely forgettable, except if your name just happens to be Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
Warrior made his in-ring return in 1996 against Helmsley at WrestleMania XII. In a truly shocking moment, the young up-and-comer, Helmsley, was beaten by the returning Warrior in 1 minute and 39 seconds, making this one of the shortest WrestleMania matches ever. Not only that, but Warrior also no-sold the Pedigree, getting straight up after taking the move, before calmly removing his jacket. Brutal. And what came of this incredible squash? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Warrior no-showed a bunch of live events and got fired in July that year, never to wrestle for the WWE ever again. This was a hugely embarrassing moment for the WWE, as they essentially fed one of their brightest young stars to someone, only to release them three months later. As for that Helmsley guy, well, you don’t hear much from him these days, do you? His career probably never recovered.
12 John Cena Is Fired... For Three Weeks
Seriously, did anyone think they were actually gonna fire Cena? Vince would have had a heart attack.
In 2010, The Nexus took the WWE by storm. The rookies from the first season of NXT (back when it was a reality show and a bit silly), led by Wade Barrett, took over the main roster and laid out top star after top star, staking their claim as the next batch of main event talent. Then they ran into John Cena. Oh dear. The Nexus were sacrificed to Cena and lost all of their momentum very quickly, before slowly dying a horrible death. There was one moment where it looked like maybe Barrett and his boys were going to get one over on Cena. For about five minutes, that is.
In the main event of Survivor Series 2010, Randy Orton put his WWE Championship on the line against Barrett in a match with Cena as the special guest referee. Cena had been forced to join The Nexus at this point and Barrett gave him an ultimatum; either he wins the title or Cena gets fired from the WWE. Barrett didn’t win the match, meaning that Cena was out of a job, leading to an emotional retirement speech from John the next night on Raw. Sounds like a pretty intriguing story, right? The company’s top star forced to spend time away, where on Earth are they going with this? Well, as it turns out, nowhere. Cena was back at the next Pay-Per-View to defeat Barrett in a Chairs match to earn his spot in the company back and this storyline fizzled out like wet gunpowder. Oh, and guess what? Only one member of the original Nexus still wrestles for WWE. Great job in creating some new stars there, guys, great job.
11 The Authority Is Fired... For A Month
Again, was anybody actually fooled by this?
Survivor Series 2014 had one of the best main events in the show’s recent history. It was a 5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series match pitting Team John Cena against Team Authority with the caveat that, if Team Cena won, The Authority would be out of power forever. The Authority – the villainous on-screen duo of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon – had been ruling WWE with an iron fist for years and fans were desperate to see them go. Mostly so they wouldn’t have to listen to a 20-minute-long opening promo from them every week on Raw. Against all the odds (and with a little help from debuting Sting), Team Cena won and Trips and Steph were gone for good. Hooray! Oh, wait, wait, no, they aren’t. Of course.
10 The Luck Of The Irish at TLC
Can you imagine if they did this today? People would go nuts.
Sheamus debuted with the WWE in 2009 and quickly rose up the ranks, being moved from ECW to Raw in a matter of months and scoring decisive wins over the likes of Goldust and Shelton Benjamin. Sheamus shocked the world when he won a “breakthrough battle royal” to earn a shot at the WWE Championship at TLC 2009 and shocked the world even more when he defeated then-champion, John Cena, in a Tables match to become the first ever Irish-born WWE Champion. In less than six months, Sheamus had gone from debutant to world champion in the WWE. And what did WWE do once they made this bold decision? Well, very little, actually.
Sheamus held onto the belt for 70 days and achieved very little in his time at the top. He lost it back to Cena at Elimination Chamber, who then lost it to Batista, beginning a WrestleMania XXVI programme between the two that left Sheamus totally out of the picture. So, what did the former WWE and rising star Sheamus do at WrestleMania? Oh, he lost to Triple H. Great. While Sheamus did reign with the world title a few more times after this, WWE failed to create the top star they should have done with such a shocking angle. Think about how quickly Brock Lesnar won his first world title in WWE and think about how much of a success he’s become. Sheamus is nowhere near that level and now finds himself in the midcard, where, I hate to say it, he belongs. Sorry, fella.
9 Rob... Van... Damn, That Was Bad Timing
I guess you could say RVD was riding high until this happened.
At WrestleMania 22 in 2006, a great many things happened. We saw Shawn Michaels defeat Vince McMahon in an epic no DQ match, John Cena defeat Triple H to retain his WWE Championship and who could forget the legendary match that was The Boogeyman vs Booker T and Sharmell. Truly incredible stuff. Something else that happened on this show was Rob Van Dam winning the Money in the Bank contract, something he would use to cash in on John Cena at ECW One Night Stand later that year. What was shocking about this moment was that RVD had been a favourite of ECW when it existed as a separate wrestling company, something many thought would impede him from ever reaching the top in WWE. Furthermore, RVD won the title at an ECW branded event in ECW’s spiritual home of the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York with help from former ECW booker, Paul Heyman. Talk about a good day to be an ECW fan.
This looked like it could finally be Van Dam’s chance to shine at the top of the card. However, fate intervened and RVD was robbed of his moment in the sun. And by “fate”, I mean the United States Police. On the 3rd July 2006 (less than a month into his title reign), RVD and fellow ECW original, Sabu, were arrested in Ohio for possession of several illegal drugs. That same night on Raw, Van Dam dropped the WWE Championship to Edge as punishment and was later suspended for 30 days in accordance with WWE’s Wellness Policy. Van Dam’s world title win could have been the start of something special for The Whole Dam Show, but, sadly, we will never find out what WWE had in store for him. It was kind of his own fault, though.
8 Paul Bearer’s Cement Shower
They killed him. They actually killed a man on Pay-Per-View. What is this company?
Paul Bearer and The Undertaker were rarely seen apart during The Deadman’s first few years with WWE. Serving as his manager and mouthpiece, Bearer’s pale white complexion and creepy voice served as a perfect addition to Taker’s spooky persona and, as the character of his client evolved, so did that of Bearer. Bearer left the WWE in 2002, but would return in 2004 when The Undertaker returned to his Deadman gimmick at WrestleMania XX. Whilst Bearer’s return to the company may have been very grand, his exit from it was anything but.
It came at 2004’s Great American Bash Pay-Per-View, a show that saw JBL defeat Eddie Guerrero in a brutal Texas Bullrope match to become WWE Champion. But did this great match main event the show? Of course it didn’t. That spot went instead to The Undertaker vs The Dudley Boyz in handicap match with Paul Bearer stuck in a tank at ringside that would fill with cement whenever Taker looked like he was going to win. If you want the specifics of this feud, look them up yourself, I cannot be bothered to go into this mess of a storyline right now. To summarise the match, Taker won, but buried Paul anyway for no decent reason in a move that was as shocking as it was baffling. Absolutely nothing came out of this angle; Bearer left the company in 2005 and wasn’t seen on WWE TV again until 2010. Taker didn’t gain anything from this either; he was still a babyface (somehow) and this moment was rarely brought up ever again. Bizarre moment, bizarre match, stupid booking. Next.
7 Chyna – Number One Contender
Would have been even harder to exclude her from the Hall of Fame if she’d actually won this belt.
Chyna achieved a lot of firsts in her career. She was the first female to enter the Royal Rumble (something she did twice), the first female to enter the King of the Ring tournament and the first female to win the Intercontinental Championship. Not bad for someone who Vince McMahon didn’t want to hire at first. Something else Chyna accomplished that no other woman did happened in the summer of 1999, when she became the number one contender to the WWE Championship. No female performer had ever come close to the men’s world title in WWE before, let alone earned a shot at it. This was huge. However, as is the pattern with these entries, all this hype was, unfortunately, just that – hype.
Chyna would lose this title shot to Mankind, setting up the Mankind vs Austin vs Triple H triple threat match at SummerSlam 1999. Whilst Chyna did go onto reign with the Intercontinental Championship not long after this, nothing came of her earning a number one contendership to the WWE title. One would assume that this was WWE getting cold feet over the idea of having a woman fight for their top male championship, but, if you believe the rumours, Chyna came close to not only competing for the title, but winning it. According to several reports, WWE heavily considered putting Chyna over Steve Austin at SummerSlam and crowning her the WWE Champion. Whilst this seems completely out of the question today, Chyna was one of the WWE’s top stars in ’99, so putting the world title on her actually made a lot of sense. Personally, I wish they had. The time for a female world champion has sadly been and gone, but fans can still speculate over how Chyna’s reign would have gone. Some people (like myself) believe that she would have made an interesting and compelling champion, whilst others believe that she would have failed miserably, because she was a woman. Those fans are what we call “morons”.
6 Turn The Page (Into A Joke)
It’s me, it’s me, it’s... a massive waste of potential.
When WWE bought out WCW in 2001, fans’ minds ran amok with the potential dream matches that the stars of the two companies could put on. Steve Austin vs Goldberg, The Rock vs Ric Flair, Sting vs The Undertaker, all of these amazing and matches were now possible. Well, in theory they were; in reality, only a handful of WCW stars were ready to start working immediately after the buyout owing to complications with their contracts. Ok, well, at least WWE had some WCW good wrestlers to work with. All they need to do is make sure they’re used correctly. How hard could that be? Well, as it turned out, really hard.
On the 18th June 2001 episode of Raw, top WCW star Diamond Dallas Page revealed himself as the mysterious man who had been stalking The Undertaker’s wife, Sara, in recent weeks. Page, who was a three-time WCW Champion, was the first major WCW star to join the WWE following the buyout and got a huge pop when he unmasked. Sadly, this was the highpoint of his WWE career. Page got humiliated in the resulting feud with Taker, even getting pinned by Sara at one point. Yes, he had a few title reigns, but nothing of any real significance. He was gone from the company within a year. Plenty of WCW stars had promising debuts that lead to nothing, but perhaps none were as tragic as DDP’s. A true megastar who deserved way better than this, at least Page was able to make something of himself outside of wrestling with his popular yoga programmes and gained himself a place in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017. Still waiting on that Yoga Hall of Fame induction, though.
5 Someone Raises The Stakes... And The Briefcase
Talk about a cop-out.
At King of the Ring 1999, Steve Austin took on both Vince and Shane McMahon in a ladder match in the main event. The object of the match was to grab a briefcase suspended above the ring. Inside the briefcase were the ownership papers for the WWE, meaning that the winner of the bout got total control of the company (within kayfabe, of course). The match was exactly as you’d expect – Austin battering the McMahons around the arena with the two occasionally teaming up to gain a slight advantage over the Rattlesnake. Despite the handicap, Austin looked set to win the match as he climbed the ladder and reached out to pull the briefcase down. Then, just as Austin was about to win control of the company, the briefcase was raised higher into the air, as if by magic. A confused Austin was then taken out by the McMahons, who won the match. Confused? Me too.
To this day, no explanation has ever given for the raising of the briefcase. Some rumours proclaim that the original plan was to have former Corporation member, The Big Boss Man, revealed as the culprit, but, for one reason or another, this never happened. All that happened was the McMahons continued running the WWE and Steve Austin won the WWE Championship the next night on Raw, beginning a new feud with The Undertaker that sort of involved Vince McMahon, but had nothing to do with the briefcase. One of WWE’s biggest unanswered mysteries, the case of the levitating briefcase will most likely always remain a mystery. I doubt anyone still cares after 18 years and if they do, then maybe they need to take a long hard look at themselves.
4 Ryder’s Moment In The Sun
Sometimes I have to go back and watch this match, just to make sure it actually happened.
At WrestleMania 32, seven men competed for the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match. Those in the match included champion at the time, Kevin Owens, his bitter rival at the time, Sami Zayn, former champions Dolph Ziggler and Stardust (Cody Rhodes), and even a former Mania headliner, The Miz. However, it was none of these men who won the match. Instead, it was someone who, for the large part of his career, had been overlooked by the WWE, someone who fans had wanted to see get their moment for years, someone who many thought would never be relevant again – Zack Ryder.
Ryder pushed The Miz off the top of the ladder to win his first championship in WWE in over four years. As someone who had been screwed over by the company many times (despite overwhelming fan support), Ryder was everybody’s last guess to win this match, which made his victory even more shocking. What did WWE do to capitalise on this huge decision? Was it the beginning of a new era for Ryder? Of course not. He lost it the very next night on Raw to The Miz, lost his rematch the same week on SmackDown and never got a whiff of the championship again. He has since been put back into his NXT tag team with Mojo Rawley and is going nowhere quickly. Seriously, WWE, what do you have against Zack Ryder? Did he kill Vince McMahon’s cat or something?
3 The “Summer” of Punk
Rumour has it that, if you listen closely on a windy day, you can still hear a thousand peed-off marks complaining about this angle.
CM Punk will go down in wrestling history as one of the most captivating and revolutionary figures of his time. When he cut his now-infamous “pipebomb” promo on an episode of Raw in 2011, it changed the way many fans thought about pro wrestling. His use of insider terms, his breaking of the fourth wall, his jabs at the McMahon family, all tied in with his real-life rocky relationship with WWE, all made for compelling viewing and it brought many disenchanted fans back to the company. This storyline reached its peak at Money in the Bank 2011, when CM Punk defeated John Cena in his home town of Chicago to win the WWE Championship. Both in storyline and in real life, Punk’s WWE contract was coming up for renewal and (in kayfabe) Punk threatened to leave the company with the belt if he beat Cena. That’s exactly what he did, walking out through the crowd after blowing an enraged Vince McMahon a kiss. It was incredible.
Sadly, this was as good as this angle got. Fans were left in the dark over when (if ever) Punk would be back. WWE even ran a tournament to crown a new WWE Champion in Punk’s absence, leaving fans even more confused. However, all the intriguing options this storyline could have produced were scuppered when, just eight days after Money In The Bank, Punk returned on Raw to set up a rematch at SummerSlam with John Cena. Whilst you could argue that Punk winning the title at Money in the Bank did eventually lead to his run with the WWE Championship throughout 2011, 2012 and 2013, the original moment lead to a very disappointing climax. Wanna argue about this with me? Of course you do, you’re a CM Punk fan.
2 Vince McMahon – WWE Champion
He made himself the champion of his own company. Only Vince could do this and it not be a total disaster.
In the autumn of 1999, Vince McMahon returned to WWE TV after a few months’ absence to confront Triple H, who was WWE Champion at the time. This led to a match on the September 16th episode of Smackdown; Triple H vs Vince McMahon (his future father-in-law) for the WWE Championship. If you think this seems mad, then just hold on, it’s about to get even crazier. Not only did Vince McMahon take on Triple H for the world title, he only went and friggin’ won!
Yes, thanks to help from former rival, Steve Austin, Vince McMahon pinned Triple H to win his own world championship in one of the most bizarre moments in WWE history. Then, whilst people were still processing this absolutely bonkers news, McMahon vacated the title the next night on Raw, ending his reign undefeated at six days long. Then, at Unforgiven (the next PPV), Triple H won the title back in a six-pack challenge! So what the hell was the point of Vince winning?! A truly insane moment featuring one of the most insane people to have ever walked the Earth, this was truly a pointless moment, but God was it entertaining at the time.
1 Maven Rumbles The Undertaker
Is this the greatest moment in Royal Rumble history? Quite possibly.
It seems rather appropriate that we’re talking about Tough Enough on a list about pointless things. The show was meant to find the next generation of WWE recruits, but, out of all of the entrants across the show’s six seasons, the only really notable contestants I can think of were John Morrison, Ryback and The Miz. That’s a sad state of affairs, right there. The first winner of the show, Maven, may not have had an overly memorable run with the company, but he did have one hell of a memorable moment in the 2002 Royal Rumble.
In the middle of the Rumble match, The Undertaker, who was on a bit of a tear, was distracted by The Hardy Boyz at ringside during the match. During this distraction, Maven, who had entered the Rumble after Taker, snuck up behind him and dropkicked him, sending him over the top rope and eliminating the former world champion from the Rumble. People went crazy. A rookie, an unknown, a total stranger had just eliminated one of WWE’s biggest stars. This was a massive rub for Maven and should have been a huge launching pad for Maven’s run in the WWE. However, this moment became redundant almost as soon as it happened. Taker, furious with Maven for eliminating him, got back into the ring, beat the living snot out of him and then eliminated him from the match. Nothing came of this moment; no real feud between Maven and Taker, no push for Maven and no significance past this moment. Maven left the WWE in 2005 with only three Hardcore Championships to his name and his pro wrestling career fizzled out after this. For how shocking it was and for just how little it led to, this gets my pick for the most pointless shocking moment in WWE history. Fun fact – Maven now works as a bouncer for a club in New York. Let’s just hope The Undertaker never turns up to that club, who knows that might happen.