The undefeated streak is an interesting beast in professional wrestling. On one hand, it’s a plot contrivance—professional wrestling’s generally isn’t a legitimate sport in the sense of competition between two combatants, but rather a predetermined, staged form of fighting for which the participants serve the booker’s designs. Just the same, pro wrestling undefeated streaks can be spectacles.
At the risk of spoiling one pick for this countdown, notice that The Undertaker went undefeated at WrestleMania for twenty-one performances. While management decided he would win in each case, it’s nonetheless impressive for a guy to stay relevant enough to even have WrestleMania matches for over twenty years, let alone to be chosen to win them all. Moreover, as much as The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak became a gimmick all its own in its latter years, early on, it’s more or less dumb luck that WWE happened to have win year after year after year, and a statistical anomaly the powers that be really only started paying attention to when he was already eight or nine wins deep.
Once a winning streak gimmick is established, there’s always a question of how it should end. In some cases, a promoter realizes the character isn’t going anywhere, so the story gets dropped as the performer casually takes a turn toward losing matches. Other times, the end of a winning streak is an event used to put over another top talent, or to mark a sharp change in direction for the party who had been winning. This article looks at fifteen great undefeated streaks in professional wrestling, and how they came to a close.
There are few undefeated streaks in wrestling more famous, nor more impressive than that of Goldberg in his first big push in WCW. He started out crushing jobbers, then moved up to the mid-card, before ultimately becoming an incredibly rare undefeated world champion when he pinned Hulk Hogan on an episode of Monday Nitro.
While it’s generally agreed upon that WCW inflated Goldberg’s win count, there’s still no denying that he went from fall 1997 to nearly the end of 1998 without losing, which was impressive in and of itself. While wrestling has seen its share of winning streaks, very few compare to Goldberg’s in terms of duration, level of kayfabe competition, and not being linked to specific events, but rather counting any singles match the guy had. The Streak did wonders for getting Goldberg over as one of a small handful of WCW’s homegrown talents, and paved the way for him to still be an icon when he returned to wrestling in late 2016.
Goldberg’s streak came to an end at the hands of Kevin Nash, who beat him with an assist from Scott Hall at Starrcade 1998, as WCW edged toward a reunion of the two separate nWo factions.
14 The Shield
The trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns debuted in high profile fashion when they helped CM Punk retain his world title against Ryback. Getting their start at the top of the card meant the guys were immediately plugged into high profile matches. That included a debut match opposite the three man team of Ryback, Daniel Bryan, and Kane, then working their next PPV opposite a dream team of John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback, before working their first WrestleMania against the formidable combination of Randy Orton, Sheamus, and The Big Show. The crazy thing? The rookie team won every single outing.
The Shield were kayfabe great as they worked as a unit to overcome assemblages of bigger individual stars, and they were great performers as well, quickly proving themselves as worthy of the spotlight. They’d beat The Undertaker, Kane, and Daniel Bryan, too, before, five months into their tenure, finally absorbing their first loss at the hands of John Cena, Daniel Bryan, and Kane, nearly six months after they first appeared on the main roster. That loss came by DQ; they wouldn’t suffer their first pin fall loss as a trio until summer, when Christian and The Usos were the unlikely combination to finally get the job done.
Tatanka never won a championship in WWE and never rose to the main event level. Consequently, he tends to get forgotten, despite boasting one of the most impressive undefeated streaks in mainstream wrestling. He’d debut in February 1992 and not absorb his first loss until October 1993, running through a lot of jobbers as well as a number of mid-card heels along the way.
The Native American star would ultimately be fed to Ludvig Borga, a monster heel on the rise that WWE sought to build up to feud with Lex Luger. Defeating Tatanka made Borga for a hot second—particularly pinning the unbeaten star with one finger. Unfortunately, a poorly timed ankle injury and untimely departure from WWE meant that Borga never realized his main event potential, and Tatanka’s momentum was squandered. He wouldn’t accomplish much as a face in the year to follow, before turning heel for a not particularly celebrated tenure with Ted Dibiase’s Million Dollar Corporation.
12 Bull Dempsey
Bull Dempsey didn’t exactly look like the kind of talent WWE favors—a big man, sure, but superficially more portly than jacked. Just the same, he found success as a monster heel in NXT, most notably including a roughly year-long undefeated streak that drew more attention as it moved along.
In the end, WWE didn’t necessarily see Dempsey as a main roster star. His streak angle reached its climax when he started warring with newly arrived big man Baron Corbin, and the two clashed in a pretty successful little monster heel vs. monster heel program. Corbin won, and Dempsey didn’t accomplish much else in his time with NXT. While a lot of folks suspected Corbin may pick up the streak gimmick, he’d wind up dropping a match to Neville in a hard-fought tournament match against Neville a short while later. While some argued the loss hurt Corbin’s momentum, it may have been the best thing to show NXT wasn’t going for another streak angle so soon, and Corbin would be his own character.
11 Chris Masters
No, Chris Masters didn’t ever have an all that impressive undefeated streak in traditional matches in WWE. He did, however, go undefeated in his old school Master Lock Challenge gimmick—challenging other wrestlers, civilians, and visitors to see if they could power out of his imposing full nelson hold. There were close calls, including times when guys appeared to break the hold but failed because Masters hadn’t yet technically locked it all the way on, and times opponents looked to break it only to get interrupted by Masters or someone else beating them down.
Still, the Master Lock Challenge streak carried on for two years before Bobby Lashley finally, decisively broke free from the hold. While it lasted, Masters’s streak put over his power and the danger of his finishing hold when he locked it on. When Lashley overcame him, it proved the then-ECW champion’s awesome strength and furthered his push at the time.
While The Undertaker’s 21-0 record at WrestleMania is the definitive undefeated streak for The Showcase of the Immortals, there was a time when Edge looked ready to give the Dead Man a run for his money. From WrestleMania 2000 to WrestleMania 22 he won all four of his WrestleMania outings (missing WrestleManias 19 and 20 due to real life injuries). Moreover, Edge was a star on the rise. He won his first two outings in show-stealing tag title matches. His third ‘Mania match saw him win the very first Money in the Bank Ladder Match that started his main event push in earnest, and his fourth saw him beat Mick Foley in match that shored up the Rated R Superstar’s legitimacy as a main event player.
Edge’s streak technically ended at WrestleMania 23, when he was unsuccessful in his bid to win that year’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Ironically, Edge would end up getting his hands on the briefcase by taking out match winner Mr. Kennedy, so there’s a sense in which he’d might as well have won. Regardless, the loss comes with an asterisk for Edge not getting pinned or submitted, or even disqualified or counted out, but rather just not being the one out of the eight guys in the match to climb the ladder and retrieve the briefcase.
Edge’s streak came to a more definitive close the following year when he faced off with The Dead Man himself in the main event of WrestleMania 24. The Undertaker finished off his rival with Hell’s Gate to shore up his place as the guy with the best record at ‘Mania.
9 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle kicked off his WWE career as an oblivious heel who celebrated his own Olympic glory, kayfabe tone deaf to how obnoxiously he came across to the fans. A key component to the success of this early run as a heel mid-carder was that he actually was quite good, and went on a tear, going undefeated for his first two months on TV. While two months might not seem like an overly impressive run, Angle drew attention to his accomplishment which both made it feel like a bigger deal at the time and added heat to Angle for getting cocky a mark that was only sort of impressive.
Angle would suffer his first loss at the hands of Tazz, debuting after a main event run in ECW. Their first encounter called into sharp relief the differences between the performers, as Tazz came across as a serious street fighter who choked out his more technically savvy opponent. Meanwhile, Angle was reasonably protected, because he had a legitimate claim to question Tazz’s methods—chokes were still technically illegal in WWE.
8 Charlotte Flair
WWE pegged Charlotte Flair as special from the beginning of her main roster run. Accordingly, WWE booked her to win all of her big matches. Starting in summer 2015, she won her every PPV outing—a stat WWE may not have been consciously working toward, but that the company started explicitly citing when she was about a year deep. In the summer and fall, her PPV winning streak garnered more attention when she traded the RAW Women’s Championship with Sasha Banks, losing it on TV, but regaining the title in every PPV rematch.
For all the success of this run, it’s interesting that streak ended with little fanfare at Fastlane 2017, in a relatively forgettable match with Flair trying, unsuccessfully to regain the title from Bayley. Flair would come up short again in a Fatal Fourway at WrestleMania 33. The unceremonious end to this winning streak may suggest WWE wasn’t really invested in it. Maybe they grew wary of the specialized undefeated streak making Flair’s PPV matches predictable, or inflating her championship count faster than they wanted. Regardless, Flair left the Raw brand on a two PPV losing streak, before she started up with SmackDown.
7 Sid Vicious
In 1999, Sid Vicious WCW and the company logically enough sought to book him in a battle of the powerhouses with Goldberg. To build up to the rivalry, Vicious engaged in a winning streak. Contrary Goldberg’s long term and relatively organic streak in which he moved up the card and developed credibility over time, WCW pushed this streak more quickly. Vicious picked up victories not only through traditional matches, but by interrupting other matches to beat up guys unsuspecting foes and not-altogether-logically pin them. Add up these spurious victories with WCW again inflating numbers and Vicious quickly began to catch up to Goldberg’s legendary record from years before.
The angle ran its course when Vicious and Goldberg finally clashed. Goldberg technically ended the streak at Halloween Havoc when he beat Vicious by referee stoppage due to Vicious bleeding excessively. Vicious protested the loss, creating some doubt to how it should count. His streak came to a more conclusive finish at the following month’s Mayhem PPV. Though there was a degree of controversy there, too, because it was an I Quit Match and Vicious passed out rather than surrendering, WCW let the streak go at that and stopped promoting Vicious as undefeated..
6 Andre The Giant
Andre the Giant was a true wrestling legend and perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the territory era in pro wrestling. He was a huge man and, particularly in his prime, knew how to use his size to the maximum advantage in the ring to entertain fans. He became a traveling spectacle—usually a good guy who came in as the cavalry to help the local good guys against overwhelming odds for a short spell, before he was off to the next territory to do it again.
In the 1970s and 1980s, there was little in the way of official records for professional wrestling, or at least official records fans could track with any easy or reliability. So, when WWE billed Andre as undefeated for his 15-year career, fans didn’t really have reason to scrutinize it. While it’s generally agreed that the guy wasn’t truly undefeated, the storyline was believable enough and added to the mystique of Andre finally turning heel and getting a world title shot opposite Hulk Hogan.
Hogan body slammed and pinned Andre at WrestleMania III. While Hogan was already a megastar who had arguably surpassed Andre’s legend, this match solidified that status—one of the most iconic moments in wrestling history, and certainly for WWE and Hogan himself. The most unlikely part of all may be that, despite taking the loss, it may have been the single most memorable moment in Andre’s storied career, too.
5 Samoa Joe
Today’s WWE audience knows Samoa Joe as a badass, and he’s currently riding a short undefeated streak in singles competition on the main roster. For the purposes of this article, though, we’re looking back to an earlier undefeated streak for him, back in TNA.
Joe debuted with TNA in 2005 and went on a tear, dominant in the X Division and opposite upper card talents including AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Scott Steiner. Joe’s streak was a little spurious because it wasn’t technically a winning streak—he lost a triple threat Ultimate X match, for example, but TNA declared him still undefeated because he hadn’t been pinned or submitted.
Joe’s year and a half streak finally came to a close upon Kurt Angle’s arrival. Joe was the Olympic Gold Medalist’s first rival with the promotion and put him over in their first match, tapping clean to the ankle lock.
4 Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar debuted on the WWE main roster in spring 2002 and was immediately established as a monster heel. In singles competition, he ran through Jeff Hardy early on, and ran through a field of Bubba Ray Dudley, Test, and Rob Van Dam to win the King of the Ring tournament en route to winning his first world championship by defeating The Rock. Lesnar’s winning ways continued opposite The Undertaker and Edge in the months to follow.
Finally seven months into his run, Lesnar suffered his first singles loss, succumbing to The Big Show after Paul Heyman turned on him, and Show chokeslammed him onto a chair. The loss was built to both protect Lesnar and set him up for a face turn. While Lesnar was always a better heel than a face and he’d turn back in under a year, the face run helped diversify his main event work and afforded him his first WrestleMania win, taking the WWE Championship off of Kurt Angle.
3 WCW Monday Nitro Ratings Victories
Unlike the other picks on this countdown, this wasn’t a winning streak anyone booked, but rather a shoot. For five and a half years WWE’s RAW and WCW’s Nitro went head to head to head on Monday nights. While WWE was generally the more popular product for the time the two companies coexisted, the launch of the Monday Night War saw WCW gain momentum through high profile signings and big angle like the original nWo run.
The early stages of the Monday Night War were largely even as the two traded victories or essentially tied for the better part of a year. Starting late spring 1996, Nitro went on an 83 week winning streak in terms of Nielsen ratings.
The tide finally turned in WWE’s favor in the wake of WrestleMania XIV, as tensions between Steve Austin and Vince McMahon boiled over into a full-fledged rivalry. WWE's first ratings victory occurred when Austin and McMahon squared off in a one-on-one match, before it was interrupted by Dude Love.
While WCW would have its moments, WWE was in control from that point forward, and enjoyed an even lengthier winning streak of its own from Winter 1999 until the ratings war ended with WCW selling to WWE in spring 2001.
2 The Undertaker
The Undertaker’s series of wins at WrestleMania was the most famous, best celebrated streak in wrestling history. Over the course of 23 years, The Deadman went 21-0. Nine wins deep, WWE started to acknowledge the streak was there, and it was rumored that they did so because Triple H was originally slated to beat him at WrestleMania X-Seven, and it would make the win mean more.
The Undertaker sayed unbeaten, though, and someone going hunting for the streak became an annual feature of the biggest show of the year. While some argued the streak should end to put over a new main eventer in a big way, other fans were content to see The Phenom retire unbeaten at his show.
No one saw it coming when Brock Lesnar bested The Deadman at WrestleMania XXX. Lesnar was an established enough star that few would argue he needed the win, and nothing about the build suggested he would pose an especially daunting challenge. Lesnar’s pin was one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history and wound up setting him up for an epic monster heel run over the year to follow.
After a decorated career in Japan, Asuka made her first appearance for WWE’s NXT developmental brand at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, summer 2015. She debuted in the ring that October. A year and a half later, she’s the NXT Women’s Champion. Oh, and she still hasn’t lost a match (unless you count getting eliminated from a battle royal).
Asuka got the better of Bayley twice, returning legend Mickie James, and upstart Ember Moon. Those are the women who have posed a meaningful challenge to her—she’s annihilated anyone else who crossed her path with relative ease.
It’s a bit odd to include Asuka in an article about undefeated streaks and how they ended because hers hasn’t ended. I opted to include her because the streak continues, and in doing so demonstrates what a streak can do. Asuka is over with NXT fans as legitimately great and would, at this point, not look out of place at all jumping to the main roster and winning either Women’s Championship in her first night. Moreover, if or when anyone actually does beat Asuka in NXT, it’s going to make for a heck of a moment, and instantly elevate that talent to stardom.