It takes two to tango. It also takes two wrestlers to have a wrestling match, but it isn’t always the ideal situation when grapplers face off in the squared circle. There are times when outside forces cause one or both wrestlers to be disinterested in locking up. Backstage politics is one reason for wrestlers to not want to be in a match. Whether it is due to locker room heat or to putting over a rival that only wrestles part-time, there are a myriad of reasons for not wanting to be in a certain match.
A wrestler’s desire to shy away from a match could result from the physical demands or stipulations of the match itself. However, it could come down to the opponent he or she is working against. Politics can cause plenty of problems and not being able to trust an opponent could cause an injury to occur in the ring. It could also result in something unexpected taking place, like in the case of the infamous Montreal Screwjob.
It may not be widely known when two wrestlers meet in matches they don’t want to be in. But it does happen more than many fans think. This list of 15 matches neither wrestler wanted to be in is an example of the politics and personal agendas that exist in the WWE.
15. Daniel Bryan Vs Triple H
Vince McMahon and his inner circle hated Daniel Bryan. Okay, that may be harsh, but they hated the positive reaction Bryan got from fans. Although he could go in the ring, Bryan didn’t have the appearance McMahon has always wanted in his superstars. His loss to Sheamus at WrestleMania XXVIII actually made him more popular and left McMahon seething. At WrestleMania XXX, Bryan final won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. However, before he got to the three-way main event, Bryan had to beat McMahon’s son-in-law Triple H. Just like McMahon, Triple H wasn’t high on Bryan, and putting him over must have been torture despite it being good for business. Just over a month later, Bryan would relinquish the belt due to neck surgery. He hasn’t been in the ring since, and the WWE has finally shaken off the biggest star they never wanted.
14. Enzo Amore Vs Big Cass
When Enzo Amore and Big Cass broke up in July 2017, fans were outraged. The two had been a much-loved team even before they were called up to WWE’s main roster; and had been together since 2013. The duo was over with fans thanks to their ring introduction and catchphrases. The team’s breakup was reportedly down to a lot of the heat both men had backstage. Enzo and Cass were against their breakup, and as a top tag team didn’t believe it was time to end it. The buildup to the split was stupid and questioned WWE fans’ intelligence. When the two met in the ring in a Brooklyn Street Fight, Cass tore his ACL. So, not only did the WWE breakup a successful tag team fans loved, but the ensuing match between the two men caused one to suffer a terrible injury.
13. Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Brock Lesnar
In 2002, Steve Austin was on top of the world. However, his hard-drinking road lifestyle was causing plenty of work and private life problems. Those problems surfaced in the WWE when he was told he would do the honours for Brock Lesnar on Monday Night RAW. Austin was upset because he didn’t feel it was right for business. It was a cold match and Lesnar hadn’t been built up enough yet. Vince McMahon was adamant Austin would lose the match and he would do it on the WWE’s terms. In his own words, Austin was difficult to work with due to his lifestyle, and he was also unable to provide alternatives when refusing angles and creative ideas. The match between Austin and Lesnar never took place due to the backstage politics between McMahon and the “Texas Rattlesnake”. Rather than work a match neither man wanted to be in, Austin went home and sulked.
12. Shawn Michaels Vs Hulk Hogan
Two of the WWE’s biggest superstars clashed at SummerSlam 2005. Shawn Michaels, the man who had been one of the WWE’s most popular wrestlers during the late 1990s was pitted against the biggest name in wrestling history, Hulk Hogan. In the buildup to the legend versus legend match, Michaels cut numerous scathing promos. The interviews were too close to the bone for Hogan and the former WWE Champion complained about the content to McMahon. Fast forward to the day of the event when Michaels was informed Hogan was going over. Michaels reacted in typical “Heartbreak Kid” fashion: petulantly. From the moment the bell rang Michaels ridiculously flipped and flopped around the ring. His selling was business exposing and ruined what could have been a mat classic.
11. Dolph Ziggler Vs Alberto Del Rio
Dolph Ziggler continues to be called the most under-utilized wrestler in the WWE. The charismatic bleach blonde has won just about every title belt in the company, despite never being positioned as one of the WWE’s elite wrestlers. Despite this, Ziggler has become a fan favorite while the WWE’s head honchos haven’t felt he is worth the love of the fans. Ziggler went into 2013’s Payback pay-per-view having won the WWE World Heavyweight belt 69 days previously. It was just his second match back following a severe concussion. Ziggler’s opponent was Alberto Del Rio, the man he had won the belt from. McMahon reportedly had “buyer’s remorse” with Ziggler, and wanted Del Rio to take the belt back. The match saw Del Rio kick Ziggler in the head throughout as it played on his recent concussion injury. Ziggler hasn’t won a WWE World title since.
10. Val Venis And Nicole Bass Vs Jeff Jarrett And Debra
On May 23, 1999, Owen Hart fell to his tragic passing while portraying the Blue Blazer gimmick. His passing occurred during the Over the Edge pay-per-view from Kansas City, Missouri. When it happened it left the announcers, wrestlers and crowd in a shocked state. Over 16,000 fans saw Hart fall in the arena, yet the show still went on. Following the accident, it was up to Nicole Bass, Val Venis, Jeff Jarrett and Debra McMichael to go out to the ring and carry on the show. Jarrett was not only a well-respected veteran in the company, but he was one of Hart’s closest friends. Venis has stated in shoot interviews about being “freaked out” when on his way to the ring. The match latest just over six minutes, and all four wrestlers just wanted to get back to the locker room to find out if Hart had survived.
9. Bret Hart Vs Hulk Hogan
Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan only wrestled one time during their careers. The bout didn’t take place in a WWE ring, rather it was during their time in WCW. The two squared off on the September 28, 1998 episode of Monday Nitro and it end in a no contest. However, the two famous grapplers were supposed to have originally wrestled each other five years prior. Hart versus Hogan was originally slated for SummerSlam 1993, and the Immortal One was expected to drop the WWE belt. However, after Hogan won the WWE World Championship from Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX, he refused to put over the smaller Hart. Rather than lose to Hart, Hogan lost the belt to Yokozuna at King of the Ring. Hogan claims McMahon was the one who soured on Hart, and it wasn’t due to his politicking.
8. Batista Vs The Undertaker
WrestleMania 23 was supposed to be Batista’s big moment. The WWE World Heavyweight Champion was set to battle The Undertaker. The match was the blow-off to the top WWE feud going into the big event, but the WWE’s hierarchy didn’t see it as the show’s main event match. Rather than have Batista and The Undertaker main event the show, the duo was the fifth match on a nine-match card. On an episode of Jim Ross’ Ross Report podcast, Batista spoke about his frustration with not wanting to be in match due to its placement on the card. The Undertaker, always the professional, won the WWE World Heavyweight title, but didn’t get to do it in the main event.
7. Kevin Nash Vs CM Punk
This match was supposed to happen but never did. Kevin Nash returned to the WWE in 2011 and immediately attacked champion CM Punk at SummerSlam. It allowed Punk’s rival Alberto Del Rio to capture the WWE title from the tattooed grappler. Following the title switch, it looked as if Nash and Punk would begin an angle that would see the former N.W.O. man battling the WWE’s hottest wrestler. The two never locked horns, despite Punk cutting promos on Nash. According to a recent interview with Nash on X-Pac’s 12360 podcast, the 6ft 10in wrestler spoke about Punk not wanting to step in the ring with him. Nash also shot on Punk for his scripted promos during their brief feud. The two wrestlers never met in the ring as both went on to have matches with Triple H instead. Punk’s hard headed nature turned Nash off working with him.
6. Randy Savage Vs Honky Tonk Man
These two wrestlers were on a collision course. Honky Tonk Man wasn’t supposed to be Intercontinental Champion for long. The WWE wanted him to be a transitional champion and to drop the belt to Savage. However the heel refused, feeling he would sink into obscurity if he did. So, on the October 3, 1987 Saturday Night’s Main Event, Honky Tonk Man and Savage met in one of the greatest angles in the show’s history. Savage’s win was ruined by the Hart Foundation who broke up the count. Hogan made the save thus laying the groundwork for the Mega Powers. Unable to get the belt of Honky Tonk Man, Savage was pushed to the WWE title. Savage’s title run then changed the WWE’s plans to put the belt on “The Million Dollar Man” at WrestleMania IV. Honky Tonk Man’s decision not to drop the title changed the course of history.
5. Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Scott Hall
According to both Austin and Scott Hall, the two wrestlers were in bad places when they met at WrestleMania XVIII. In 2002, Austin was living life fast and hard. Hall was still battling the demons he had been fighting for years. Due to the life both grapplers were living outside the ring, it caused the final product to be far from good when they met. The match also saw Kevin Nash get involved as a foil to Austin. The 9:51 match saw Austin come out triumphant. However, Austin has stated he wanted to wrestle Hulk Hogan at the time. Unfortunately for Austin, it was the Rock who faced off against the Hulkster. After burning the candle at both ends for years, Austin was a no show for the next two weeks. Hall was released from the WWE nearly two months later due to his problems.
4. Shawn Michaels Vs AJ Styles
A WWE dream match between Michaels and AJ Styles is currently being kicked around by the company. According to an interview with Michaels, McMahon contacted him about working in the WWE again. It is thought Styles would be his opponent, possibly at WrestleMania 34. However, Michaels informed the WWE’s owner that he wasn’t interested in returning. Not only is the former WWE Superstar 51, but Michaels stated he wouldn’t return just to put over Styles in a one-off match. Meanwhile Styles wouldn’t get in the ring to lose to a returning Michaels. It would kill his credibility and momentum. Styles has already had to face off against Shane McMahon at last year’s WrestleMania. Styles also had to put over part-timer Chris Jericho in his first WrestleMania match. Neither man will want to be in a match together if they have to put the other over.
3. Brock Lesnar Vs The Undertaker
WrestleMania XXX saw The Undertaker’s winning streak at the yearly event finally snapped. The SuperDome’s audience was shocked following Lesnar’s win, and it nearly killed the show. The Undertaker has always been called a company guy, and does whatever is best for business. However, ending his streak killed the aura that the WWE had created around him. The loss didn’t get Lesnar over any more than he already was. It would have been better to have The Undertaker beaten to establish a younger superstar. According to various reports, McMahon informed both Lesnar and The Undertaker of the finish just hours before the match. Lesnar was reluctant to go over, and “The Beast” even asked to lose the match. McMahon seems to be the only person of the three who thought breaking the streak was a good idea.
2. Hulk Hogan Vs Ric Flair
Hulk Hogan versus Ric Flair was a late 1980s dream match. Every wrestling fan wanted to see the two top wrestlers battle it out in the ring. On two occasions they almost go their wishes. Flair nearly jumped to the WWE in 1986 and then again in 1988. That didn’t stop fans from wanting to see the “Nature Boy” and Hogan lock up. The grapplers were on course to meet at WrestleMania VIII. However, the WWE’s executives decided to have the two wrestlers work against each other on house shows in November and December 1991. The two famously featured on two of the WWE’s MSG channel telecasts. Despite the clash being years in the making the matches between Hogan and Flair were rushed so the company could cash-in and the bouts were average. Both wrestlers wanted to wait for WrestleMania, but it didn’t happen.
1. Bret Hart Vs Shawn Michaels
For some time, the issues had been building between WWE owner Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels and WWE Champion Bret Hart. The “Hitman” was on his way out of the company having signed with WCW a week prior to his match with Michaels at Survivors Series. Hart and Michaels had a very tense relationship, and McMahon was in the middle of it all. Michaels had refused to do the job to Hart, and in turn, the “Hitman” stated he wouldn’t lose the belt on a show in his native Canada, especially to Michaels. Hart was happy to lose the belt before leaving the company, but not at Survivors Series. The match ended when Michaels put Hart in the Sharpshooter and referee Earl Hebner called for the bell. It ended Hart’s reign as champion and prevented him from showing up on WCW Monday Nitro with the WWE belt.
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