A favorite pastime of the internet wrestling community is to rush to the comment section and cry about their favorite indie darling getting jobbed out to Vince McMahon’s hand-picked guys. It’s true, just look at the backlash the IWC gave WWE when A.J. Styles lost to Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules this year. Fans can be vitriolic and vociferous and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. However, jobbing is part of wrestling and pretty much everyone not named Andre the Giant or Hulk Hogan had to do it.
What is jobbing? It is to lose a match fairly without any kayfabe rules being broken, however, there are many perceptions of what happens when a wrestler jobs. Many fans think if a wrestler is jobbing, he or she won’t be pushed for greater things in the company's near future. Others see it as the promotion’s booker trying to make the winning wrestler look strong. It can also be seen as a wrestler paying their dues in the industry. However you interpret it, jobbing in the wrestling industry is a way of life and comes with the territory.
So for those out there that may get fluster the next time they see their favorite wrestler lose a match, try not to rage and remember, all wrestlers have jobbed at one point or another.
Before wrestlers feared the “RKO Outta Know Where,” Randy Orton was tearing it up in WWE’s developmental promotion, Ohio Valley Wrestling. When Orton got the call-up to the big leagues, he was put on dark show duty. This means he wouldn’t be on television but would perform in the undercard matches before the event, such as Sunday Night Heat or SmackDown. During these dark shows he would lose to mid-card talents such as Tommy Dreamer, Chuck Palumbo, and Val Venis.
One wrestler he lost to many times during these shows was Lance Storm. Not only did he lose to him in single matches, but also in tag matches as Storm would team with Albert and beat Orton, who had a random partner like Scotty 2 Hotty or Crash. Everyone has to start somewhere and, for Orton, it was getting worked on the dark shows before having his first official feud with Hardcore Holly.
Watching Edge and Christian drench their opponents in a blood bath during The Attitude Era was pretty cool, but did anyone think at the time that Edge would become a great champion for the company? After winning the Tag Titles with his best friend, Christian, Edge would go on to become an Intercontinental and World Heavyweight Champion in the WWE. He would be involved with some of the most memorable segments ever in the WWE and morph into one of the best heels of this century. Inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012, Edge is truly one of the greats.
Apparently, WCW didn’t see any greatness in the guy, as he would become cannon fodder as a rookie for the company in ’96. Given the name Damon Striker, Edge would job to legendary wrestlers Meng and Kevin Sullivan on WCW Pro. It was a short stint and we believe Edge was glad he didn’t stay.
Glenn Jacobs was something of an enigma in regards to what to do with him and his character before he became known as Kane. His very first performance in the WWE was against the face of the company, Bret Hart, in a dark match. At the time, his character was every kid’s worse nightmare, an insane dentist with a drill named Isaac Yankem DDS. His second match was against Hart at SummerSlam ’95, which speaks volumes to how much WWE was impressed with this young Superstar.
That match was solid and Jacobs hasn’t left the company since, however, he did job out to Hart many more times that year. After WWE ended the Yankem character, they gave Jacobs the fake Diesel gimmick before settling on Kane. If you knew about him jobbing to Hart, then maybe you didn’t hear about his very first match that he jobbed before joining the WWE, when Kane lost his very first match as The Christmas Creature to Jerry Lawler in United States Wrestling Association in ’92.
The face of SmackDown Live and the WWE Champion, Dean Ambrose, was the last of The Shield members to win the prestigious title. Many fans love Ambrose while others can't stand him, but you can’t deny the man’s work ethic and durability. Ambrose has also put on some great matches and is currently involved in an important feud with AJ Styles. With that said, it took Ambrose a different route than his fellow Shield brothers to get to the WWE.
He bounced around many organizations, including WWE’s rival, TNA. Once he officially signed with the WWE in 2011, Ambrose was seen in many house shows and dark matches by fans. His first job in the WWE was to none other than Daniel Bryan, one of the greatest wrestlers of this century. In 2011, someone at a live event got to watch a Bryan vs Ambrose match, not realizing that both of those guys would become WWE Champion one day. It’s crazy how this business works.
A.J. Styles is one of the best wrestlers today and proves it at each event. His in-ring work can be debated as the best, he can cut a promo, and he has the “it” factor that has made him the face of many promotions. Everyone was excited to see Styles make his “debut” at this year’s Royal Rumble, but it wasn’t really his debut. In 2002, Styles made his television debut in the WWE, losing to non-other than a superhero named The Hurricane.
It took place during WWE’s television show Jakked and was basically a squash match. A day later, Styles would lose to Rico Costantino in a dark match on WWE’s Sunday Night Heat. Everyone has to start somewhere and, for Styles, WWE wasn’t the right place, especially if they had him jobbing to The Hurricane.
'Yes! Yes! Yes!' wasn’t always a hallmark chant for Daniel Bryan and his fans. Before he became the goat-faced hero of the WWE Universe, and before he was known by the indie crowd in Ring of Honor, Bryan was a glorified jobber for the WWE during the early part of his career. He would be called in several times a year and job for the company. If anyone was watching WWE’s Velocity on Febuary 4th, 2003, they would have watched Bryan Danielson lose to John Cena in less than four minutes.
Not only did Bryan lose to Cena, but he also lost to Brian Kendrick, Nunzio, and Sean O’Haire in several dark matches during his brief stints with the company. It’s amazing that the WWE would hire Bryan to make other wrestlers look strong and then, a decade later, he would become the face of the company. It shows the fortitude, determination, and hard work Bryan went through to become one of the biggest stars today.
Whether you like TNA’s Final Deletion story or not, you have to admit that at least Matt and Jeff are trying to evolve their characters and revolutionize the way stories are being told in wrestling. For three decades, The Hardy Boyz have been one of the more impressive and prestigious tag teams in the industry. You can see the strong bond between the two, even if they're fighting each other. Before achieving titles in both the tag and single divisions of several promotions, The Hardy Boyz were living in Jobber City.
Before a resurgence of the tag team division during WWE’s Attitude Era, Jeff and Matt would job to a plethora of Superstars. The most notable wrestler Jeff jobbed to was the late Owen Hart on an episode of RAW and Matt’s first taste of the WWE would be a losing effort against legendary Superstar Nikolai Volkoff on an episode of RAW as well. When it comes to jobbing as a tag team, The Hardy Boyz jobbed out to The Headbangers in the mid-90s, who recently appeared on SmackDown Live.
Wooooooo! It’s the 'Nature Boy', Ric Flair. This limousine riding, son of a gun wasn’t always racking up the wins that would pay for his parties. When Richard Nixon was President of the United States, Flair was just getting his feet wet in the business. The 16-time world champion got his start in American Wrestling Association which was owned by Verne Gagne in ’72.
The older fans of wrestling know that Verne was a great wrestler, however, his son, Greg, couldn’t live up to his legacy. Nevertheless, Greg was a top wrestler in his father’s promotion and would be booked against Flair on many of the shows during the year. Flair didn’t get a single win off Greg in the year of ’73. We all know who had the better career in the end and if Verne wasn’t looking to make his son look strong, he could have held onto Flair and maybe been able to compete with the McMahon's.
The King of Kings was once a squire believe it or not. Triple H's story is a tale of a young man coming out of one of the finest wrestling gyms in the country at Killer Kowalski’s school in Massachusetts and becoming a member of the most prestigious family and name in wrestling history. After learning the do’s and don't's in the industry, he got a major break with WCW in 1994. In less than a year after his start, he would face Johnny B. Badd, known as Marc Mero in the WWE, for the WCW World Television Title.
Of course, Triple H would lose several of these title matches at house shows. Jobbing to Marc Mero isn’t that bad, but what most people forget is that he would job to another rookie named Alex Wright. The German techno dancing, party boy looking, and leather jacket wearing Wright would beat HHH in every match they had together in late ’94 and early ’95. Let us just say WCW got this wrong and pushed the wrong blond hair, blue eyed wrestler.
Ever heard of Mean Mark, Texas Red, or Master of Pain? We didn’t think so. Before The Undertaker became the ruthless mortician that fans have grown to love, he was finding his way through the independent circuit in the late 80s. With an athletic background in basketball and literally being almost 7 feet tall, The Undertaker had no problem working with a promotion to help his resume.
The only problem was the fact that he was booked to job more matches than win. The biggest name that comes to mind when you think of who The Undertaker jobbed to is Jerry Lawler. The two would tango many times in the United States Wrestling Association, which not surprisingly at all, was co-owned by Jerry Lawler. If you're in a match with the boss and he says you’re jobbing to me - you do the job.
Most fans remember HBK getting his start in the WWE as a Rocker with his former tag team partner, Marty Jannetty, but it’s not where he got his start in wrestling. Before the WWE, Michaels would work for AWA as well as WCCW. His task was to be a glorified jobber, most likely due to his inexperience and small frame. You know you’re a legit jobber when you’re losing squash matches.
One such match was against a 300-pound monster named One Man Gang for WCCW in ’85. The match lasted less than three minutes and we can all guess who one. Seeing how Michaels is treated like God in the WWE Universe, it’s shocking to think that he jobbed in the 80s. Not only would he job in singles matches, but when he did come to the WWE as one-half of The Rockers, he would never win the Tag Titles with Jannetty.
Once The Rock started cooking, it was all sunshine and pineapples for the former wrestler and now multi-millionaire movie star. The Great One, The Brahma Bull, The People’s Champion, The Most Electrifying Man in all of Sports Entertainment, once jobbed to Chris “Skip” Candido during a dark match for the WWE. It was only his second match with the company, but maybe some of the bookers thought Skip needed the win more.
After creative changed his name to Flex Kavana, he would job to Owen Hart in another dark match. Strangely enough, after he jobbed to Owen, he would make his PPV debut as Rocky Maivia in an eight-man tag team elimination match at Survivor Series ’96. Not only did he make his debut, but he also won the match for his team. Not a bad trade off after jobbing to Skip Candido.
Give me a hell yeah if you knew that the toughest S.O.B. in wrestling wasn’t always bald and actually jobbed to plenty of wrestlers. A lot of youngsters found out the history of Austin when playing WWE2k16’s showcase mode. Like many on this list, a wrestler doesn’t always start out at the top and can take years, even decades, to become a bonafide Superstar in the industry. Before the fans got used to the beer drinking, Stone Cold Steve Austin we all grew to love, he was a mid-carder that would job to a lot of babyface talent.
As a heel, he would job to Sting, Ricky Steamboat, and a crowd favorite in Brian Pillman. What stood out the most in his time at WCW was getting pinned by Hacksaw Jim Duggan for the WCW United States Heavyweight Title in 15 consecutive matches from Oct. 7 to November 16 in 1994. Not only did the job take place on house shows, but also at Halloween Havoc and Clash of Champions. Hooooooo!
After a brief stint at Ultimate Pro Wrestling around the turn of the century, Cena’s hustle, loyalty, and respect got him a contract to work in WWE’s developmental promotion, Ohio Valley Wrestling. His rise to the top was as fast as a lightning bolt and before you knew it, the young and hungry Cena was making his way into live events for the WWE. His very first match under the WWE banner was against Shelton Benjamin at a house show in ’02.
Under the name Prototype, he would lose the match and go on to face Benjamin six more times, losing five out of six. Shortly after that, he made his unforgettable debut on SmackDown against Kurt Angle. We doubt anyone would remember the matches and many Cena fans weren’t even born at the time, but Cena losing to Benjamin did happen. It’s amazing how career paths can turn out different for two colleagues.
The Next Big Thing, The Beast Incarnate, The Conqueror, The King of the German Suplex, The Mayor of Suplex City, and The One in 23-and-1 also jobbed at one point in his career, believe it or not. After a quick stop at WWE’s developmental promotion, Ohio Valley Wrestling, Lesnar was brought in to perform at several house shows and dark matches before a televised event for the company.
During a dark match for both WWE’s Jakked and Sunday Night Heat, Lesnar lost to former NXT coach Billy Gunn. This booking happened again just two weeks after the first time. Gunn vs Lesnar made for an intriguing match at the time, but we believe if you’re a betting man, you would pick Lesnar ten out of ten times. Lesnar went on to lose to Mr. Perfect and Hugh Morrus before becoming an absolute monster in 2002.