Everyone likes surprises, right? Right? Well, as it turns out, that statement isn’t entirely true. Just ask the dog owner that woke up and found a “present” at the foot of their bed, or the fast food customer who found a slug in their burger, or anyone who watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Seriously? Aliens? What a dumb twist. The point I’m trying to make here is that, sometimes, a surprise for the sake of a surprise isn’t a good thing. Yes, sometimes a story can be predictable, but that’s because the story that is being told makes sense and to do anything else would contradict that sense. This is especially true in the case of pro wrestling, where swerves (a surprising moment or twist) have given the wrestling world some of its fondest memories. Sadly, this has led to some truly ridiculous swerves that were only written into a storyline to shock the audience. Sometimes the best stories are the simple ones, as you’re about to see.
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15 The Festival of Friendship (Predictable, But Great)
I’m not sure I can write about this. It’s still too soon.
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho’s friendship was easily the best thing on Raw for the majority of 2016. Their brilliant chemistry and hilarious segments made an almost-unwatchable era of WWE TV just about bearable. That doesn’t sound like a compliment, but trust me, it is. With Owens and Universal Champion and Jericho as US Champion, the two ruled the roost when it came to the Raw brand and seemed unstoppable. That was, until the Festival of Friendship came around. Originally designed by Jericho to celebrate the friendship he and Owens had built, Chris’ dream soon turned into a nightmare, when his “best friend” Owens turned on him, putting his head through a TV screen, beating him down and powerbombing him on the ring apron. Honestly, it was heart-breaking stuff. Not even joking.
As soon as the Festival was announced, the WWE Universe prepared itself for what was coming. Kevin Owens was getting ready for his big Fastlane title match with Goldberg and WrestleMania was fast approaching, so fans knew that a breakup was coming to set up a big angle for WrestleMania. That didn’t take anything away from the moment, however; the breakup was so beautifully built up to, with Jericho giving a heartfelt speech about how much he enjoyed working with KO and how this most recent time in WWE was his personal favourite of his entire career. When Owens turned on his friend, it was still a horrendously brutal moment, even though everyone saw it coming. Well, except Jericho.
14 David Arquette – World Champion (Stupid Swerve)
So, for anyone who doesn’t know, the year 2000 for WCW was about as prosperous as trying to mine for gold in a Walmart. In the company’s final calendar year, their world championship changed hands over 20 times and was held by nearly a dozen people over the course of just 12 months. Jesus Christ. One of the men who held that championship was Vince Russo, long-time wrestling writer and on-screen authority figure, but, amazingly, he wasn’t the worst champion in 2000. Not by a long shot. On an episode of Thunder, Eric Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett fought in a tag team match against Diamond Dallas Page and Hollywood actor, David Arquette, in a match where whoever got the winning pin would become world champion. In a move that literally nobody wanted to happen, Arquette pinned Bischoff and captured the WCW World Heavyweight Championship – a title once held by the likes of Ric Flair, Sting and Hulk Hogan – and, oh boy, was everybody p*ssed off.
This whole ridiculous angle was set up to promote the incredibly poor movie, Ready To Rumble, which starred both Arquette and DDP. People knew that WCW were in dire straits at this point, but they no one expected them to be desperate enough to put their world championship on an actor! Nobody saw this swerve coming and nobody thought it was a good idea once it actually happened. Nobody. As soon as this moment happened, people knew WCW was finished. It was impossible to take the company seriously after this and it all started with a needless swerve. Come on, David Arquette. Of all people.
13 Yes-tleMania (Predictable, But Great)
Still gives me chills.
Daniel Bryan’s rise to the top in WWE was nothing short of incredible. From an underappreciated indie darling to WrestleMania main eventer, Bryan was the WWE Champion who was never meant to succeed and, without the overwhelming support of the WWE fans, there’s every chance he may never have ascended to the legendary levels that he did. His crowning achievement came at WrestleMania XXX, when he defeated both Randy Orton and Batista in the main event of the show to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The Superdome (or is that the Silverdome?) erupted when Bryan won the title; the underdog story had captured the attention of the WWE audience in a way no wrestler had done in a long time and people were pleased as punch to see the long-overlooked Bryan finally get his dues.
Bryan’s entry into the main event wasn’t actually guaranteed when the show began. His entrance to the main event depended on him defeating Triple H in the show’s opening bout. Whilst there was the pretence that, if Triple H won, he would be in the main event, everyone knew that Bryan was winning here. The WWE faced a riot of Bryan didn’t win this match; he was so over that anything other than him winning the WWE Championship at the end of the night would have resulted in the biggest disappointment in WWE history since King Mabel. Whilst this may have been as predictable as a Big Show heel turn, there was nobody in that building who was unhappy with how Mania XXX ended. Except maybe Triple H. He does love being in main events.
12 Triple H Turns On Everyone At Survivor Series 2017 (Stupid Swerve)
Oh, Triple H, you just couldn’t help yourself, could you?
So, Survivor Series 2017’s main event was a complete and utter mess and Triple H is primarily to blame. It came down to the final four men – Trips, Kurt Angle and Braun Strowman for Team Raw and Shane McMahon for Team SmackDown. Raw looked set to take the match when Angle locked his SmackDown counterpart in the Ankle Lock and McMahon looked set to tap out. Then, in a shocking moment, Triple H attacked Angle, his own team member, with a Pedigree, allowing Shane to pin the Olympic gold medallist and eliminate him. Then, just as it looked like Triple H was betraying Team Raw, as he was helping Shane to his feet, he delivered a Pedigree to McMahon and pinned him to win the match for his team. Confused? Don’t worry, so was everyone else.
I know this storyline is still in its early days, but this moment made absolutely no sense. Why would Triple H turn on Team Raw only to turn on Team SmackDown just moments later? It makes absolutely no sense, which is why nobody saw it coming. This match was already a wreck before this moment, with all of the more recent stars (except Strowman) being eliminated by the older performers. However, when it comes to ridiculous swerves, this takes the biscuit. A classic example of The Game putting himself over at the expense of everyone else, I doubt anybody saw this moment coming and I doubt even more than anybody wanted it to happen.
11 The Game Is Number 30 At 2016 Rumble (Predictable, But Great)
Forget everything I just said about Triple H; this was cool.
The Royal Rumble match of 2016 was a pretty good match all in all. Roman Reigns was defending the WWE Championship in the match itself, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens moved their NXT rivalry up to the main roster and I think something else happened, but I can’t remember what that was… Oh yeah, AJ Styles made his WWE debut. No big deal. Another “surprise” in this match was the number 30 entrant; someone who had been written off WWE TV for over a moment after being attacked by Roman Reigns – The Game, Triple H. Trips made his return in the Rumble match and would go onto win the whole thing, capturing the WWE Championship in the process. Before you get angry at Hunter for putting himself over younger stars, remember who the champion at the time was. I think you’ll agree this was a much better option.
Whilst Triple H’s big return was played off a shock, literally no WWE fan was surprised when Motorhead began to play after that buzzer sounded. Triple H had been taken off TV in an attack by Reigns, so this would be the perfect chance for The Game to get revenge on The Big Dog and set up a WrestleMania programme. Also, come on, it’s the Rumble, a match built on surprise entrants. This may not have fooled anybody, but it was still an awesome moment that got a great reaction from the WWE crowd both in the arena and watching at home. Shame the blow-off match at Mania didn’t get the same response. I can still hear the boos.
10 Kevin Nash Ruins SummerSlam 2011 (Stupid Swerve)
Seriously, Kevin Nash? Of all people?
SummerSlam 2011 was a very mixed show and the main event was the epitome of this. John Cena and CM Punk were going head-to-head in a rematch from their excellent Money in the Bank 2011 main event, this time with the undisputed WWE Championship on the line. Both Punk and Cena held WWE titles (after Punk “left” WWE with the championship when he beat Cena at Money in the Bank) and the winner of this match would become the one and only champion. Punk won the match (with a little help from a dodgy ref) and fans were happy to see their idol atop the WWE mountain once more. Then Kevin Nash showed up. From out of nowhere (and by that, I mean the 1990s) the former Diesel emerged from the crowd, delivered a powerbomb to Punk and allowed Mr. Money in the Bank, Alberto Del Rio, to cash in his contract and claim the title for himself. If you wanna know how everyone felt about this, just let all the air out of a balloon and listen to the sound it makes. Then you’ll know.
Apart from an appearance in the Royal Rumble earlier that year, Kevin Nash hadn’t been seen in the WWE since 2003. Nobody was interested in seeing a man in his fifties come back for a main event angle, especially when it came at the expense at the hottest rising star in the company, CM Punk. Nash was such an obscure choice for this role that nobody expected him to turn up at this show. He was so far removed from this storyline that his appearance at SummerSlam was definitely a shocking moment. It’s just a shame that it was also a really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really stupid moment too.
9 Adam Cole Debuts, Bay-Bay! (Predictable, But Great)
Seriously, who didn’t see this coming?
NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III was, like every other Brooklyn show before it: great. The tag title match was awesome, the women’s title match was awesome and it’s always nice to see Aleister Black kick someone’s head off. The cherry on the top of this particularly violent cake was Drew McIntyre winning the NXT Championship from Bobby Roode in the show’s main event, completing McIntyre’s redemption storyline that had been building so nicely since his return to the company. However, McIntyre’s celebrations were short-lived, as, just moments after winning the gold, he was beaten up by Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Adam Cole, who was making his, ahem, “shock” debut. In all honesty, it was about as shocking as finding socks in a sock drawer.
Ever since the three-time Ring of Honor Champion and former Bullet Club member Cole left ROH in May 2017, it was reported that he was on his way to WWE. With the next major NXT show being TakeOver in Brooklyn, fans put two and two together and they were spot-on. The fact that Cole’s debut was predictable detracted nothing from its awesomeness; here was one of the hottest independent wrestling stars on the scene turning up in NXT to stake his claim to the top championship against a newly-crowned babyface. The inclusion of Fish and O’Reilly was an extra nice touch and has set up a number of possible storylines for the trio in the future. We may have seen it coming a mile away, but that doesn’t mean WWE fans still didn’t go crazy at the debut of Adam Cole... Bay-Bay. Sorry, it’s just really hard not to say one without the other.
8 Sandow’s Cash In Declined (Stupid Swerve)
On 28th October 2013, Damien Sandow made history on an episode of Raw. Sadly, this isn’t as good as it sounds. Following a beatdown from Mark Henry on World Heavyweight Champion, John Cena, Damien Sandow attempted to cash-in his Money in the Bank contract. So, to recap, not only had John Cena just had a match, but he was beaten down afterwards by no less than the World's Strongest Man. Sounds like an easy win for Sandow, right? Well... If you couldn’t already tell, Sandow was not successful in his cash-in, becoming the first man to be pinned in his cash-in attempt after Cena hit the AA. Pretty surprising, yes, especially when you consider that everyone really wanted Sandow to win.
Sandow had been steadily building in popularity since his MITB win and split from Cody Rhodes and fans were ready to see him have a run at the top with a world title. Considering that every other MITB winner had gone on to become world champion (except for John Cena, who, let’s be honest, didn’t need to, and Baron Corbin just this year, because #CenaWinsLOL), fans expected Sandow to do the same and were fine with that. However, WWE obviously got cold feet with The Intellectual Saviour and cancelled his push, something from which he never truly recovered. On the bright side, if he had become world champion, I doubt his run as “Damien Mizdow” would have happened. And that was truly special.
7 Vince Gets It In The Grapefruits (Predictable, But Great)
Who’d have thought a father vs. son match between two non-wrestlers could have turned out so great?
WrestleMania X-Seven is widely regarded as the best WrestleMania of all time. Kane vs. Big Show vs. Raven, TLC II, Austin vs Rock in the main event, what more could you possibly want? Except maybe a heel turn that made sense. One of the other standout bouts from this show was one that, by all means, should have been awful – WWE CEO, Vince McMahon, vs. his own son, Shane, in a hardcore match. A beautiful mess of a match, the main storyline behind this match was Shane trying to reclaim the honour of his mother, Linda, whom Vince had been cheating on with various women whilst placing Linda in a drug-induced coma. Stay with me, people.
One of the best moments of this match was Linda, who had been sat at ringside in her coma-like state, rose up out of her seat to get her personal revenge on Vince. It turned out Linda hadn’t been drugged that day and was just waiting for the perfect moment to strike. This moment came in the middle of the match and the thing that was struck was Vince’s privates, as Linda delivered a swift kick to the balls to her husband to help her son pick up the win. Fans knew that, with Linda at ringside, she would have to play a part in the finish of the match. This didn’t mean it was badly received, however, as, when Linda finally rose out of her seat, it got a massive pop from the fans and there was an even bigger one when she delivered the kick. One of the daftest, but most wonderful wrestling storylines ever, the inter-McMahon feud made have had its predictable moments, but that didn’t stop it being brilliant.
6 The Anonymous GM (Stupid Swerve)
Oh, Lord, this was bad.
Between 2010 and 2011, Raw was “controlled” by an anonymous general manager whose only presence on screen was a laptop on a stand and who only communicated only through emails read out by Michael Cole. Yes, because if wrestling fans want one thing, it’s for Michael Cole to speak more. This was as awful as it sounds, but, luckily, this gimmick went away after only a year, never to return again. Until it did. For one night in July 2012, the Anonymous GM returned, only for their identity to final be revealed. The mastermind behind the year-long deception... Hornswoggle. It was Hornswoggle. Great.
Yes, the annoying leprechaun was revealed as the Anonymous General Manager. Not a prominent wrestler. Not a manager. Not a former authority figure. Hornswoggle. The reveal was a lame attempt at a joke, but there was nothing funny about the months and months of storytelling with the anonymous storyline being scuppered in one night. The whole thing was a total waste of time and the fans dumped all over it. As they should have. However, perhaps they shouldn’t have been so surprised. I mean, it’s not like this is the first time Hornswoggle ruined a potentially interesting storyline. More on that later.
5 A Fan-Tazz-tic Debut (Predictable, But Great)
Tazz’s WWE theme is one of the most underrated ever. It’s so good.
Tazz (or Taz, as he was known before coming to WWE, not sure why they changed it) was an absolute killer in ECW. The Human Suplex Machine might have been shorter than the average wrestler, but that didn’t stop him from putting on amazing matches in ECW with the likes of Lance Storm, Bam Bam Bigelow and Sabu. So, you can imagine everyone’s excitement when, at the 2000 Royal Rumble, Tazz not only debuted for the WWE, but did so by defeating the previously-undefeated Kurt Angle in his very first match. Not a bad start at all.
Before Tazz’s WWE debut, a series of vignettes appeared on WWE TV displaying an ominous looking logo with the number “13” displayed over the top of it. Anyone who vaguely followed wrestling on the internet (yes, it did exist back then) knew what this symbol meant and knew that it meant Tazz was on his way to the WWE. Just because Tazz’s WWE debut wasn’t as big of a surprise as it could have been didn’t detract from how cool it was. Tazz was still massively popular among the hardcore fans and won over the support of the casual fans by defeating Angle in his very first match. Fans knowing that Tazz was soon to debut didn’t ruin the surprise of his first appearance, in fact, it made them more excited to see his first match in the WWE. When this finally happened, they certainly were not disappointed. As for the rest of his time with WWE...
4 Hornswoggle McMahon (Stupid Swerve)
Seriously, this guy again?
In 2007, Vince McMahon’s limo exploded and he died. No, seriously. That’s the storyline they were running until the real-life death of Chris Benoit forced McMahon back onto our screens. They even had an “FBI Agent” “investigate” the “death” of “Mr. McMahon.” That last bit didn’t need inverted commas, but you get the point. The original plan was to lead to a revelation that Vince McMahon had an illegitimate son within the WWE and this storyline was picked up a few years later, when it was announced that Vince’s secret third child was working in the WWE. Who was this mystery man, then? Was it a main eventer? Was it a young up-and-comer, ready to get pushed to the next level? No, of course not. It was Hornswoggle.
Yes, once again, Hornswoggle makes the list for being the punchline to the least funny joke in history. Hornswoggle was revealed as Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son and it turned the entire intriguing angle into one big joke. Even the WWE writers didn’t like it, because they retconned the entire thing and rewrote Hornswoggle as Finlay’s son instead. Everyone wanted this storyline to mean something and Hornswoggle reveal killed any chance of that stone dead. I really don’t mean to be down about Hornswoggle, but honestly, what good did he bring to WWE during his run? If anyone can tell me anything, I will pay them. Honestly. Hit me up.
3 The Era of Austin Begins (Predictable, But Great)
STONE COLD! STONE COLD! STONE COLD!
There’s often much debate as to when the Attitude Era officially began. Some cite SummerSlam 1997, some cite Badd Blood and the very first Hell in a Cell match, but many people have decided that this prosperous era of wrestling began with the main event of WrestleMania XIV. Steve Austin took on Shawn Michaels for HBK’s WWE Championship with Mike Tyson as a special guest enforcer. After a brilliant final sequence, Austin countered a Sweet Chin Music into a Stone Cold Stunner to pin Michaels and win his very first WWE Championship. It was a great moment, a memorable moment and a truly history-making moment. Also, Mike Tyson punched Shawn Michaels in the face, because wrestling is fantastic.
Everybody and their mothers saw this moment coming. Austin was clearly the next hot property in wrestling and the WWE weren’t going to be stupid enough to not put their world title on him. Rather than be disappointed that Austin’s win was predictable, the fans were over the moon that their favourite wrestler finally reached the top of the mountain. I know it’s an incredibly foreign idea to modern WWE fans that a wrestler people actually like gets pushed, but, once upon a time, it actually used to happen. And it worked. Hint hint.
2 The Higher Power (Stupid Swerve)
The only thing “high” about this segment was the writers.
The Corporate Ministry was a popular heel faction during the Attitude Era, lead by The Undertaker at the height of his Satanic phase. We all have one. The stable waged war against Vince McMahon, even kidnapping his daughter, Stephanie, and almost wedding her to The Undertaker in a demonic ceremony. Just all part of the Satanic phase we all go through. The Ministry, although led by The Undertaker on TV, served a “higher power,” a semi-mystical force that guided the every action of the group. On the June 7th 1999 episode of Raw, the identity of the Higher Power was revealed and the result truly shocked the WWE audience. The almighty higher power was... Vince McMahon. The one person The Corporate Ministry had hurt more than anyone... Right.
This was a swerve for a number of reasons. Firstly, Vince McMahon was being addressed by the Higher Power in the ring via the titantron during the segment, so everyone ruled Vince out as a the suspect. Secondly, the Higher Power was the one who organised the kidnapping of Stephanie McMahon. Why the hell did Vince order his own daughter to be kidnapped? To get one over on Stone Cold? I don’t think so. This was the epitome of a “swerve for the sake of a swerve” and was just another way Vince McMahon came up with to get himself on television. A great storytelling opportunity totally wasted, the Higher Power storyline has gone down in history as one of the weakest reveals in WWE history. At least it wasn’t Hornswoggle this time.
1 The Heist of the Century (Predictable, But Great)
Great tagline. Shame it was Michael Cole that said it.
WrestleMania 31 was a great show. Cena vs. Rusev, Sting vs. Triple H, Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton and plenty of other great matches took place that day in 2015, but all of these great moments were in danger of being ruined by the main event. Brock Lesnar was defending his WWE Championship against the winner of the Royal Rumble, Roman Reigns. Reigns was at the height of his infamy at this point; everybody hated him and the boos were thunderous as he entered the ring. Everyone knew that Reigns was Vince McMahon’s next pet project and fear was growing that this would be Reigns’ crowning moment, going over Lesnar to win the world title. However, these fears were never truly present in the hearts of WWE fans, because they knew exactly what was going to happen to save this moment. Three words – Seth “Freakin’” Rollins.
Seth Rollins had held the Money in the Bank briefcase for 273 days at this point and fans were itching for him to cash in and become the world champion. This was the perfect moment to do that; Rollins cashing in the briefcase during the middle of the match would not only save Lesnar from being pinned, but would also prevent a Roman Reigns from ruining this show, which it would have most certainly done. Because this was such a perfect idea, WWE fans knew it was going to happen way before it actually did, but that didn’t make the image of Rollins swinging the WWE Championship over his head at the end of the show any less cool. A perfect example of something being predictable because it made sense, this will go down as one of WrestleMania’s greatest endings ever, even if everyone saw it coming from a mile away.
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