The "job". It is, essentially, the crux of professional wrestling. To "do a job" means to lose a match to another wrestler. Wrestling is simulated combat with predetermined winners and losers and as such, it's pretty important that each wrestler knows his role (and shuts his mouth). But that doesn't always happen. Sometimes these performers get too wrapped up in their in-ring personas and refuse to play along. If a promoter books a match between two wrestlers who refuse to lose to one another, then you have a "shoot" on your hands --a real fight. And as interesting is that can be, it usually looks really messy inside the ring as well as backstage in the locker room.
Sometimes, a wrestler has a very good reason for not wanting to lose. It's not right for the story or maybe it's a bad business decision. But sometimes, it's all about ego or personal animosity. Then again, there are some wrestlers who are so willing to do business, that they'll accept any loss --even if they really shouldn't. It can be a fine line to walk. It's hard for a wrestler to know when to speak up and when to just go along. And sometimes, they get so consumed with their characters that they can no longer tell where their character ends and they begin, which makes any defeat for their character a defeat for the real them as well.
So read on to learn about 8 wrestlers who refused to do a job and 7 who were always willing to do the favors.
15 Refused: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Most people know about the Texas Rattlesnake's most famous refusal of a loss. In 2002, Austin refused to lose to a recently debuted Brock Lesnar. Instead Austin "took his ball and went home". The "Bionic Redneck" has been pretty forthcoming in recent years about how he's disappointed with how he handled the situation, but he had a point. What good was it losing to Lesnar on RAW with no promotion when such a loss should be built up for months and delivered on a Pay-Per-View show?
Austin also reportedly decided against working a program with Billy Gunn shortly after the latter won the King of the Ring in 1999, feeling "Mr. Ass" wasn't on his level. While these two rejections make sense, Austin's alleged refusal to drop the title to Triple H at SummerSlam 1999 is a little perplexing.
Austin's reluctance meant that he instead lost it to Mankind in a triple threat match, who then lost to Triple H on RAW the very next night for what would be Hunter's first WWE Title reign.
14 Best For Business: The Undertaker
Throughout his 26-year career in the WWE, The Undertaker has been known and admired as a consummate professional. A leader in the locker room and trusted by Vince McMahon, "The Deadman" has always been a very respected figure. And he's not been known as one to let his ego get in the way. A common adage in pro wrestling is that the best characters are exaggerated extensions of the performers' real personalities. The Undertaker seems to be the exception to this rule, as Mark Calaway is generally purported to be much nicer and less intimidating than his Undertaker persona, which is perhaps why he's never seemed to have a problem separating himself from his character. And which is why, perhaps, when Vince McMahon decided that 'Taker's celebrated undefeated streak at WrestleMania should end at WrestleMania XXX to Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker duly did his job.
13 Refused: Hulk Hogan
If you know one thing about Hulk Hogan's backstage personality, you know he's a politician. "The Hulkster" is notoriously mindful of his place on the card and on the roster. Many a hot up-and-comer has seen his "push" squashed by a worried Hogan. And seeing as how Hogan has almost always had "creative control" in his contracts, it's no surprise that a Hulk Hogan loss is a rare thing. Hogan's stubbornness was one reason that we never got that Hogan vs. Flair match at WrestleMania VIII, with both wrestlers reluctant to do the honors.
What's more is that when Vince McMahon and the WWE decided to go ahead with Bret Hart as the company's new top babyface, any idea of Hogan facing Bret and passing the torch was quickly shot down by the Hulkster. And this is a mindset Hogan carried with him into the autumn of his career as well. As WCW was desperately trying to make new stars in 2000, they decided to push Billy Kidman as part of the "New Blood" faction and put him into a feud with The Hulkster. Did Hogan do the right thing and lose to the young, talented performer? What do you think, brother? Hogan destroyed Kidman and the angle ultimately went nowhere.
12 Best For Business: The Rock
Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson is perhaps the most famous wrestler of all time at this point. The Rock has parlayed his incredible success as a pro wrestler in the Attitude Era into being the highest paid actor in Hollywood and the "Sexiest Man Alive". With such success and accolades, "The People's Champ" could be forgiven for having a bit of an ego. But if he does have an ego, The Rock has never seemed to let it get in the way of business. During his time on top, particularly during his time at the top from 1999-2001, The Rock seemingly agreed to everything, including every loss. This is so true that many feel he may have been better off rejecting some of these losses. "The Great One" even incurred a pin-fall loss to Stephanie McMahon in 2001. Yeah...
In any event, you can't say it hurt his popularity. And his willingness to do business is one of the reasons the WWE is so happy to welcome him back whenever he can manage a visit.
11 Refused: Bret Hart
While Bret Hart may have been the victim of Hogan's ego in 1994, he himself did not always play well with others. Bret has been accused multiple times of politicking and urging Vince McMahon to change various angles in the mid-1990s. But the most famous instance of The Hitman refusing to do a job was, of course, in 1997. Bret Hart hated Shawn Michaels. What had started as a professional rivalry to push each other and an attempt to fake a rivalry to "play the boys" in the back, had developed into a full-blown personal hatred between the two. When the financial troubles of the WWE meant that Vince had to ask Bret to cancel his contract and leave the company for WCW in 1997, Bret obliged. The only problem was that Bret was the WWE Champion. Bret offered to drop the title to Austin, Undertaker, Ken Shamrock, or anybody really --just not Shawn Michaels. But of course, Vince McMahon wanted Michaels to be the champion.
The end result was the "Montreal ScrewJob", at Survivor Series 1997, in which Vince, Shawn, and a few others conspired to legitimately screw The Excellence of Execution out of the title, leaving an irate Bret in the ring, smashing television monitors.
10 Best For Business: Daniel Bryan
If you somehow missed Daniel Bryan's surge in popularity from 2012-2015, you could scarcely believe it. Bryan is scruffy, diminutive (by wrestling standards), and not particularly muscle-bound, and as such, not the archetype Vince McMahon looks for as a top wrestler. But Bryan's amazing wrestling ability and his connection with audience was such that crowds began to demand to see Bryan in a top spot. They eventually got their wish when Bryan defeated John Cena for the WWE title at SummerSlam 2013...only to lose it minutes later to Randy Orton. After the first program between Orton and Bryan didn't do well in the ratings, Vince McMahon blamed Bryan and relegated him down the card. The crowd reacted to this angrily, but Bryan himself? Not so much.
Daniel Bryan is such an affable and easy going character that he seemed happy with wherever he was placed on the card. He didn't make a fuss about losing to Orton or to Bray Wyatt. If the leader of the "Yes Movement" had been more vocal, perhaps the fans wouldn't have had to be. Nevertheless, after months of crowds hijacking shows to demonstrate their love for Bryan, the WWE eventually acquiesced and Bryan won the WWE title in the main event of WrestleMania XXX.
9 Refused: Shawn Michaels
Lest you think the troubles of 1997 were all down to Bret, let us remind you that Shawn Michaels was not always the easy-going, humble, devout man we've known him to be for the past decade or so. In the 1990s Shawn was, by all accounts, a jerk. Pompous, petty, and snide, Michaels and his "Kliq" of friends used all their pull backstage to get what they wanted. When HBK won his first title at WrestleMania XII from Bret, the plan was for him to return the favor at the next year's WrestleMania. However, just before WrestleMania 13 rolled around, Michaels "lost his smile" and had to vacate the belt due to an alleged leg injury. This despite the fact that HBK showed no signs of an injury previously and wrestled again shortly after WrestleMania, showing no ill-effects.
Later that same year The Showstopper decided he didn't want to put the British Bulldog over in the latter's homeland, resulting in Shawn winning the European title, which he didn't even seem to care about.
8 Best For Business: Batista
Batista left the WWE in 2010 to pursue a career in Hollywood that has turned out very well for him. But pro wresting has always been in "Big Dave's" heart, so he negotiated a return in 2014. Unfortunately for him, Vince McMahon and the WWE writers completely misread the audience and booked Batista to win the Royal Rumble and challenge a rather cold Randy Orton for the title at WrestleMania XXX. In any other year, the fans would have probably loved to see Batista back. But in 2014 all anybody wanted was Daniel Bryan and Batista became seen as the personification of the forces keeping Bryan down. The Animal was therefore booed vociferously at nearly every appearance he made, including in the final minutes of the Royal Rumble when the fans cheered for a then mid-card heel Roman Reigns to win (remember when fans actually cheered for Roman?).
With all this going on, you could understand if Batista got upset. Nevertheless, Batista still did the honorable thing and when plans changed, he duly put Bryan over in the main event of WrestleMania, even tapping out to the Yes Lock.
7 Refused: Bruno Sammartino
The WWE's first true superstar and flag bearer is often hailed today as a principled professional. And that's true; day in and day out during his two lengthy title reigns, Bruno always showed up for work and worked hard. But he had some principles that would seem odd by today's standards. Bruno has admitted to always have been uncomfortable with losing. To him, professional wrestling always had to have an air of legitimacy to it. Wrestling was "real" back then. As a result, Bruno couldn't bring himself to lose a match to any wrestler who he didn't think could actually beat him in a legitimate fight. And if ever he were really pressed by Vince McMahon Sr., or any promoter, Bruno would often say something to the effect of, "Well, if you think he can beat me, let's just go out to ring and settle it for real". Needless to say, Bruno did not lose very many matches.
6 Best For Business: Brock Lesnar
Some wrestlers agree to do a job because they see that it's best for business. Some agree because they have faith in management. And some lose as a favor to a colleague or friend. And then there's Brock Lesnar, a legitimate bad ass athlete. You might think a former NCAA Division 1 champion and UFC Heavyweight Champion would have reservations losing a "fight" to another man. But Lesnar doesn't. Why? Because Brock Lesnar doesn't really care about pro wrestling. He's not a fan of wrestling. He's a fan of money. And he will negotiate hard to get the biggest paycheck he can. After that, he doesn't care.
We've had no better indication of this than last month when "The Beast" lost to the returning Goldberg...in less than two minutes. Reports even surfaced that it was Brock's idea for Goldberg to squash him, because he sees money in a long-term feud with him. Sure enough, the squash match gave Goldberg tons of momentum and created a buzz even in the mainstream world. Now, that's shrewd business sense.
Brock Lesnar doesn't care if you make his character look weak, as long he gets more money to buy more farmland in Saskatchewan and live even further away from other humans.
5 Refused: The Honky Tonk Man
When discussing a list of real "tough men" of the industry, you'd probably have to be talking for a long time before you came to The Honky Tonk Man. Nevertheless, despite his lack of an imposing presence, the "Honkster" was notoriously picky about his losses. After winning the Intercontinental Title after some bizarre circumstances, Honky would go on to hold the title for a record long run that stands to this day. One of the reasons his reign was so long is that he refused to drop the belt to Randy Savage. Yeah. Honky didn't think it did anything for Savage and he felt he was still drawing money as champ.
The result was that Savage ended up winning the WWE title in the tournament at WrestleMania IV (which was originally intended for The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase) and Honky got his way. Years later, when HTM was brought into WCW in 1994 by his buddy Hogan, Honky quickly left because he refused to lose to Johnny B. Badd.
4 Best For Business: Lita
At Unforgiven 2006, Lita put over her long time professional rival Trish Stratus. It was Stratus's last match (save for a guest appearance at WrestleMania XXVII) and it was in her hometown of Toronto. So Lita and the WWE did a real classy thing and let Trish win and retire with the Women's Championship. Lita decided to hang up her boots a mere few months later. Surely the WWE would decide to give Lita the same classy send-off as Trish, right? Haha, no. Lita did not win, but rather she agreed to put over Mickie James and drop the title.
But after the loss, Lita was allowed a minute to say goodbye to the audience and leave to standing ovation, right? Nope. Cryme Tyme came out and sold her "personal belongings" to the crowd. Lita may have been professional and classy, but the WWE? Less so. Lita also went along with several crazy angles during her time in the WWE, including agreeing to play off her real life infidelity to Matt Hardy and a cringe-worthy miscarriage angle between her and Kane.
3 Refused: Roddy Piper
Perhaps no wrestler is more notorious for refusing to job than "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Piper definitely had an old school mentality, and he essentially refused to lose. Ever. Despite rising to national prominence as part of the cartoonish, family friendly WWE of the 1980s, "Hot Rod" always carried with him the old school, tough guy mentality that was beaten into him as a young man years earlier. He felt that any loss was just a chance for a promoter to reduce his value and gain leverage on him. Piper's obstinance was so great that even Hulk Hogan (of all people) couldn't understand it.
Hogan has said that if Piper would have been willing to lose just one match to Hogan, that it would have proved to Vince that Hot Rod was trustworthy, and therefore Vince would have put the title on Piper and booked a much longer --and lucrative-- feud between the two. As it was, Piper refused to budge and wouldn't incur his first clean loss in the WWE until WrestleMania VIII when he dropped the Intercontinental Title to his good friend, Bret Hart.
2 Best For Business: Chris Jericho
In an industry known for prickly, rude, malcontents, Chris Jericho is generally seen as one of the friendlier, more down-to-earth guys (several backstage incidents notwithstanding). "Y2J" has said that if it were up to him, he'd win every match, but it's not his place to decide that. It's his boss's, Vince McMahon. As a result, we have seen Jericho put over younger wrestlers numerous times. From Bray Wyatt to Dolph Ziggler to John Cena, Jericho has always been willing to do business to help create new stars. Y2J has even done the favors in cases where he didn't see much of an upside in his opponent. Cue Fandango's incredibly catchy entrance theme. His great music aside, nobody saw Fandango as much more than a joke character, Jericho included. But when Vince asked Y2J to put over the recently called-up Fandango, Jericho agreed to do so. They had a pretty good match at WrestleMania XXIX and, to everybody's surprise, Fandango actually won.
Sadly, Jericho was right to be skeptical and Fandango has never evolved past a comedic character. Thankfully, the loss didn't hurt Jericho, who continues to be one of the greatest performers in the business today.
1 Refused: Ric Flair
Ric Flair could probably be on both sides of this list as in his later WCW days he really agreed to do some awful angles and lose some stupid matches. But he is perhaps more remembered for one loss he refused to take. In 1988, The Nature Boy was very much in his pomp, stylin' and profilin' all over as the World Champion. But with he and Dusty Rhodes both getting on in years, WCW was looking for a new top star of the future. At Clash of the Champions I, they thought they had found him in the form of Sting, who wrestled Flair to a time limit draw in a great match. Unfortunately, the Stinger got hurt and couldn't compete against Flair in the main event of Starrcade '88. His replacement was Lex Luger, who, to his credit, got over and became very popular with the fans. So popular in fact, that WCW wanted Flair to drop the title to Luger. Naitch refused, however, saying that he didn't see in Luger what he saw in Sting.
Of all the loss refusals in wrestling history, this was perhaps the most justified. While Luger went on to have a moderately successful career, as champion Flair went on to have great matches with both Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk in 1989 and when Flair finally dropped the belt to Sting in 1990, it was a huge deal.