WWE always ensures that they advertise their shows with the warning that "All cards are subject to change." Like most live events, the company cannot always ensure that certain members of their roster will be in attendance because WWE is a full-time job and sometimes the company has to cover for illness and injury. This was made even more obvious this past week when illness swept the WWE locker room and prevented three superstars from attending the TLC event, even though only two of them were scheduled to be part of matches.
The company had to act fast and were able to come up with suitable replacements for the two men with just a day to spare before the event actually took place live. WWE has obviously become experts when it comes to working under pressure, around injuries and attempting to avoid illness over the past few years. Of course, illness and injury are not the only excuses for WWE stars to not be available for events, as the following list will show.
This article will look at all the times that WWE has been forced to replace a superstar in a high profile at the last minute, shockingly, there have been many more cases that you would have thought.
15 Mick Foley
The Royal Rumble is great when it comes to returns and surprises, none more so than at the Royal Rumble back in 2004 when the WWE Universe was treated to one of the biggest and best surprises WWE has ever offered.
The show went backstage and saw Stone Cold Steve Austin come across Test's body backstage after he had obviously been beaten down by someone. Test was supposed to compete in The Rumble match and there was no one to replace him, except the person that had obviously attacked him. Austin looked at the perpetrator and told them that they had to go to the ring, as the WWE Universe eagerly anticipated their entrance music and shockingly it was Mick Foley. The Hardcore Legend returned and went straight after Randy Orton in one of the best last-minute Rumble changes WWE have ever pulled off.
14 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle returned to WWE following his Hall of Fame induction back in April and has since been part of the Raw roster as their General Manager. Angle hadn't wrestled in a WWE ring for 11 years before this past weekend, but it seems that WWE was left with no option ahead of TLC.
Three members of the WWE locker room reportedly fell ill with a viral infection thought to be mumps over the past few weeks, which left Roman Reigns unable to join The Shield at TLC in their handicap match. WWE had to replace "The Big Dog" and decided the day before the event that Kurt Angle would be the best choice. Angle did get the win for his team after the triple power-bomb, so it seemed that the company made a good choice.
13 Shane McMahon
Survivor Series is one of the biggest events of the year, which means that WWE always has to ensure that they have their best members of their roster prepared to do battle. It seems that back in 2016 when the teams were announced, WWE executives weren't happy with them and thought that there needed to be more of a pull when it came to the traditional Survivor Series elimination match.
Baron Corbin was then "injured" in his match against Kalisto the week before the show and was purposely replaced by SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon because the company seemed to think that putting Shane in the match would sell more tickets than Corbin because McMahon was considered to be the much bigger draw. How well did that work out for you?
12 The Big Show
Survivor Series has always been a place where The Big Show has been able to stand out, none more so than at the show back in 1999. Stone Cold Steve Austin was working injured and needed to take some time away from WWE to heal. The company had him booked on a number of upcoming shows, including a match at Survivor Series for the WWF Championship, but luckily they had a plan.
Austin was still advertised to be part of the match at the beginning of the show before he was mysteriously run over in the parking lot and it was revealed that there was now an open spot in the match. Big Show went on to take the spot and won the match between himself, The Rock and Triple H to walk out as Champion.
11 Razor Ramon
Back at In Your House 4 in 1995, it seems that WWE had another headache when it came to finding a last-minute replacement. Shawn Michaels was the Intercontinental Champion and he was set to defend the title against Dean Douglas at the event, but when Michaels was beaten up in real-life, he was unable to be cleared to take part in the show.
WWE could easily have cancelled the match and decided instead to allow it to take place when Michaels was healthy, but they opted to give Douglas the Championship via forfeit before it was revealed that he would have to face Razor Ramon, a close friend of Michaels, if he wanted to leave the ring as Champion. Ramon won the match and took the title for his friend, giving Douglas one of the shortest title reigns of that era.
10 The Great American Bash 2006
Shockingly, this past week wasn't the first time that WWE was forced to change a card at the last minute due to illness. Back at The Great American Bash in 2006, the original card was supposed to be Batista vs. Mark Henry, The Undertaker vs. The Great Khali in the Punjabi Prison match, Gregory Helms vs. Super Crazy and Finlay vs. William Regal vs. Bobby Lashley in a triple threat match.
A few days before the event Mark Henry suffered a knee injury and was replaced by Mr Kennedy in his match against Batista. It was then announced at the last minute that The Great Khali, Super Crazy and Bobby Lashley were not cleared to compete after it was revealed that they were suffering from elevated enzymes in their livers. They were then replaced by Mr Kennedy, The Big Show, and Matt Hardy while Lashley was taken out of his match and it was made a straightforward one-on-one between Regal and Finlay.
9 Bobby Lashley/ Umaga
Injuries can cause a whole manner of problems in WWE, especially when there is a storyline prepared and the superstar in question is forced to sit on the sidelines. This is exactly what happened to Triple H back at New Years Revolution back in 2007.
Triple H pulled his quad in his match with Shawn Michaels against Rated RKO, which meant that he was taken out of his WrestleMania match and replaced by Shawn Michaels. Michaels was supposed to be Donald Trump's pick for the "battle of the billionaire's" match against Booker T, but Triple H's injury threw a wrench into the system and instead it was Bobby Lashley and Umaga who were chosen as the replacements. As you can see, injuries can definitely cause problems, especially in WrestleMania season.
8 The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior had some of the most memorable moments inside a WWE ring, and none more so than back in 1988 at the inaugural SummerSlam event. Warrior wasn't supposed to be part of the show that night, but when The Honky Tonk Man called for his opponent, who was supposed to be Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, the audience was treated to a huge shock.
Instead, it was Ultimate Warrior who ran down the aisle and took up the challenge that had been set by the Champion. What was more incredible was the fact that he was able to defeat The Honky Tonk Man in seconds to become the new Intercontinental Champion. It was definitely the perfect way for WWE to begin the Summer Celebration that is still known as SummerSlam.
7 Survivor Series 1993
Another pay-per-view that the WWE Universe will remember as being a little bit of a mess was Survivor Series back in 1993. Randy Savage had to be called in as a replacement for Mr. Perfect who had re-injured his back.
Shawn Michaels was suspended and therefore unable to be part of the event, but when legal issues prevented Jerry Lawler from attending the event, Michaels was a last-minute replacement for The King. There was no explanation as to why Lawler was replaced even though many of the WWE Universe were aware that it was because he was allegedly accused of assault, Michaels did a fantastic job stepping in for King in a match that made little sense in the grand scheme of things since the entire match was built on the feud between Bret Hart and Lawler.
6 Tamina Snuka
WWE presented Beast In The East back in July 2015 and the event was advertised as Brock Lesnar's first non pay-per-view match in WWE in more than a decade. As part of the show, Nikki Bella was scheduled to defend her Divas Championship in a triple threat match against Naomi and Paige.
Until the show started, it seemed that Naomi would still be part of the match until it was later reported that Naomi had suffered a death in her family and was forced to fly home. Tamina was then made part of the match in her absence because she was the only option in Japan at the time. Nikki went on to win the match by pinning Tamina, so it seems that Naomi may have made the right choice by heading home instead of staying with WWE and taking part in the match.
5 Johnny Nitro
The events of the night when Vengeance: Night of Champions took place back in 2007 are still etched into the mind of many members of the WWE Universe. Chris Benoit was scheduled to take on CM Punk for the vacant ECW Championship that night in June, but after he no-showed the event and the company were unable to get into contact with him, they were forced to make a late substitution.
Johnny Nitro was the man who was drafted in to replace Benoit in the match and shockingly it was Nitro that went on to win the match, defeating the Straight Edge Superstar. The reasons behind Benoit's no-show at the pay-per-view event became clear the following day as this now remains one of the darkest days in professional wrestling history.
4 Erick Rowan
Erick Rowan was only seen as a member of The Wyatt Family in WWE for a number of years. That was until Survivor Series back in 2014. The original plan for the show was for Sheamus to be part of the traditional elimination match, but when he was ruled out with an injury WWE was forced to make a last minute substitution.
Rowan was shockingly unveiled as the final member of John Cena's team at Survivor Series, this came as a huge shock since his brother and fellow Wyatt Family member Luke Harper was part of the opposite team. Rowan didn't play a huge role in the match in the end and later he rejoined his family as a heel, so it was a slightly pointless addition.
3 Seth Rollins
This was a recent substitution that wasn't seen on WWE TV, but this addition to the list just shows that WWE is forced to make last-minute changes to their live event cards as well as the pay-per-view ones, which means you never know who will show up at a WWE Live show.
Back in June at a WWE Live event in Vancouver the company was forced to announce that Seth Rollins had been drafted in to replace Shinsuke Nakamura. It seems that Nakamura had a problem crossing the border into the country, so Rollins was forced to come in at the last-minute because Nakamura couldn't attend the show. Rollins faced WWE Champion Jinder Mahal at the event in a losing effort as the fans in attendance were treated to a rare SmackDown appearance from The Architect.
2 Mark Henry
Elimination Chamber back in 2015 saw the Intercontinental Championship decided inside the structure for the very first time since Daniel Bryan was unable to defend his title through injury. Rusev was announced as one of the competitors for the match ahead of the event, but he suffered a broken foot the week before the show that ruled him out of the event.
Incredibly, it was Mark Henry who was the man that WWE brought in to replace The Bulgarian Brute at the last minute. Henry didn't play a huge role in the match since it was Ryback who ended up securing the win and lifting the Intercontinental Championship for the first time. Daniel Bryan even appeared at the event to hand the title over to Ryback following his historic win.
1 AJ Styles
WWE made the shocking announcement last week that AJ Styles would be replacing Bray Wyatt at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs because Wyatt (along with his real-life brother Bo Dallas) were thought to be suffering from viral meningitis or mumps.
Styles was a member of the SmackDown roster so it was a shock that he was called in for a Raw pay-per-view event, but what was even more shocking was the fact that WWE had booked a fantasy match between two former Bullet Club leaders since he had never faced Finn Balor in WWE. The match was the best one of the night as the two former NJPW stars left it all in the ring and proved that one day they would have an incredible feud on the main stage.