There’s no such thing as a flawless wrestling match. Even the greatest matches of all time have little imperfections. We accept these flaws because we realize that nobody is perfect and little mistakes during a match are bound to happen from time to time. Still, some mistakes are more notable than others. A wrestler completely missing a move, for instance, is pretty bad. A wrestler that is clearly talking to his opponent is always awful. No professional wrestling botch, however, is worse than the botched ending.
As inconceivable as it might be to think that the most carefully planned part of a wrestling match, the ending, can be botched, it does happen from time to time. The funny thing about botched endings is that they can be hard to spot. Wrestling bookers love to plan match endings that make it seem like a mistake has occurred, but there’s nothing quite like a genuinely botched match ending. They're the rarest incidents in all of wrestling and, while each time it happens is pretty notable, there are some that are so shocking they manage to stand out above the rest. They are the 15 biggest botched finishes in wrestling history.
15 Ric Flair Pins Hulk Hogan In A First Blood Match
What better way to start a countdown of unbelievably botched match endings than with a 1999 WCW classic? Going into Uncensored 1999, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan were deep into a blood feud. Naturally, then, WCW decided the best way to continue their rivalry would be with a first blood match. As some of you may know, first blood matches can only end when one wrestler makes the other wrestler bleed. Well, at least that’s what’s ideally supposed to happen. In the case of this match, however, long after Ric Flair started bleeding like only Ric Flair can, the match continued. Why? That’s a fantastic question as even the announcers seemed unsure what to make of this. Things proceeded to get even stranger as Hulk Hogan made several pin attempts (again, in a first blood match) before Flair pinned him with a figure four leglock of all things. It’s clear that either both men didn’t understand the rules, didn’t care about them, or Ric Flair bled way too early.
14 TNA's Big Red X Falls To The Ground...Twice
Whether you love TNA or hate TNA, it’s hard to deny that they’ve been the best source of absolutely bizarre wrestling content sine WCW went under in 2001. Over the years, TNA has played host to some of the most downright unfortunate incidents to ever occur in a wrestling ring. As bad as TNA can be at times, however, the bright spot of their programming line-up has long been the company’s X-Division and the incredible talent that have competed in it. Even the X-Division isn’t immune to the occasional bout of “only in TNA” syndrome, though.
During an Ultimate X Match at Bound for Glory 2005, the competing wrestlers were shocked to watch as the giant X they were supposed to be retrieving simply fell into the ring due to a faulty latch. The match had to be stopped while the X was hung back up again. It didn’t matter, unfortunately, as the X just fell down again and landed in the hands of Petey Williams. At this point, the ref decided to just name Williams the winner.
13 Great Khali Accidentally Eliminates Himself From A Two Man Battle Royal
Although mocking The Great Khali for being a bad wrestler is the wrestling equivalent of taking candy from a baby, every now and then, it’s important to remind ourselves that we should all be grateful he is no longer an active WWE competitor. Khali’s reign of terror was the result of both his incredible size and someone in the WWE office’s desire to greatly increase their viewership in India. While he was big and popular in India, Khali could not wrestle to save his life. Even still, Khali sank to a new low during an over-the-top-rope match against Edge on an episode of Monday Night Raw. Edge went under the bottom rope to get away from Khali at which point the announcers reminded us that Edge wasn’t eliminated because he didn’t go over the top. The Great Khali then proceeded to slowly climb over the top of the rope to pursue Edge. The match continued with the laughter of the announcers as a soundtrack.
12 Ricky Steamboat Forgets To Raise His Arm
In theory, a match between Ricky Steamboat and Rick Rude in 1988 is just about the greatest thing ever. After all, Rick Rude is one of the most naturally gifted heels to ever grace a wrestling ring and Ricky Steamboat is one of the most naturally gifted babyfaces to ever step into that same ring. Put them together in their in-ring primes, and you would think that you’d have something magical. While the match between Rude and Steamboat at Royal Rumble 1988 was indeed a pretty good one, it got really weird towards the end when the referee performed the three arm drop test to determine if Steamboat was passed out.
Incredibly, Steamboat’s arm actually dropped three times despite the fact nobody ever loses that way. Interestingly enough, Steamboat also wasn’t supposed to lose that way. The referee quickly ignored the fact that Steamboat forgot to raise his arm and this match worked towards a new ending.
11 Mickie James Accidentally Becomes Women's Champion
Normally, the results of house shows don’t matter very much. While everyone that attends them tends to have a good time, unless somebody makes an unannounced appearance, the events at your average house show don’t really tend to make headlines the next day. That’s especially true of title matches as, 99% of the time, anyway, no promoter is going to call for a title change at an unaired house show. So when Mickie James, Victoria, and Melina competed in a triple threat match for the Women’s Championship at a house show in 2007, it’s safe to say that nobody in attendance expected Melina to drop the belt. So you can imagine the surprise of the audience when Mickie James proceeded to beat Melina. The wrestlers were quite surprised too as Melina was supposed to kick out of James’ pin. As that didn’t happen, WWE decided to recognize the title change in the history books, but immediately have a rematch that saw Melina take back the belt.
10 Eddie Curses Out His Wife For Missing A Spot
Eddie Guerrero may have had some rough times in his personal life, but even on his worst days, the man was a consummate professional. From a young age, Guerrero has always managed to make everything he does in the ring seem so effortless that you’d swear he was started wrestling from the age of three and just never stopped. It’s why Eddie was able to take the awful storyline that he and Rey Mysterio were dealt going into their SummerSlam 2005 ladder match and still turn the encounter into something memorable. It’s also why everyone was so confused to see Eddie lose his mind during that match after falling off the ladder and start cursing at his wife, Vickie. The reason why Eddie was so particularly agitated is that Vickie was supposed to come push him off the ladder. Because she missed her cue, Eddie had to endure a nasty fall.
9 Razor Ramon Gets Tired of Waiting For Jeff Jarret and Decides To Become Champion
If you don’t remember a ladder match between Razor Ramon and Jeff Jarrett, that’s because it took place at a 1994 house show in Montreal. If it seems odd that WWE would give away a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship at a house show…well, it’s about to get a lot stranger. At some point during the match, Razor Ramon began his slow climb up to grab the championship. Knowing that Jarrett was going to run into the ring at any moment in order knock him off the ladder, Ramon began to confidently reach for the title. The only problem was that Jarrett was nowhere to be seen. He had completely missed his cue and left Ramon just standing there on the ladder inches from the belt with no danger in sight. Realizing how stupid he must have looked, Ramon decided to reach up and grab the belt despite the fact he wasn’t supposed to win. Ramon dropped the belt back to Jarrett a couple nights later.
8 Brock Lesnar Nearly Paralyzes Himself At WrestleMania
Although most people are well aware that Brock Lesnar is an absolute beast in the disguise of a mere mortal, every now and then, it is helpful to remind ourselves that the man is capable of doing things typically reserved for comic book characters and other fictional entities. What’s even scarier to think, however, is that Brock Lesnar used to be even more gifted than he is now. Back in 2003 when Brock was getting ready to main event WrestleMania XIX against Kurt Angle, he was arguably at his athletic peak. In fact, he was even capable of performing a shooting star press as he demonstrated a few times back in his developmental days.
The plan was for Brock to reveal this stunning ability to the world at large at the end of his WrestleMania XIX match, and, while it was a good one, Brock ended up missing the move, landing on his head, and ruining the planned ending. Incredibly, this isn’t even the worst injury-related botch ending in WWE history.
7 Kaitlyn Forgets She Isn't Supposed To Win A Battle Royal
Sometimes botched endings, like the one that almost killed Brock Lesnar, are awful occurrences that have consequences far worse than forcing the competitors involved to alter the planned ending. Other times, however, they are simply hilarious. A truly botched ending that alters the planned outcome of a match doesn’t happen often in professional wrestling, which is why you’ve really got to appreciate when one comes along every several years or so. If you ever want to see one of the most hilarious incidents of such a botch, go watch the Divas #1 Contender Battle Royal match from the August 20th, 2012 edition of RAW. Even better, just skip to the end of the match and watch Kaitlyn eliminate Eve Torres to win the match despite the fact she wasn’t supposed to. It’s hard to say whether Layla, Kaitlyn, the referee, or Eve has the best “Oh no” reaction, but they’re all pretty great.
6 Hollywood Hogan Gets Screwed?
This night was supposed to be WCW's crowning moment. This could have been the night that cemented them as wrestling's no.1 company. Instead it proved to be the beginning of their downfall. After an epic year-long feud between Sting and Hollywood Hogan, the stage was set for Sting to come back and squash the heel Hogan to bring the belt back to WCW.
Instead, Hogan inexplicably dominated most of the match. Here's where the botched ending happens. Bret Hart was brought into the match as a special enforcer. Once Hogan hit his leg drop on Sting, referee Nick Patrick was supposed to fast count Sting, prompting Bret to restart the match, ensuring no 'screwjob' ending happened again. Things looked really silly when Nick Patrick gave a legitimate three count. When Bret had the match restarted, with Sting eventually submitting Hogan with a Scorpion Deathlock, it looked as if Hogan had been screwed over.
Different theories have gone around, as to whether the referee forgot his cue or if Hogan sabotaged the ending. Either way, it was a real downer to what should have been WCW's climax.
5 Papa Shango Ruins The Ending Of WrestleMania VIII
A botched ending can happen anywhere at any time, but you still don’t expect to see one happen during the main event at WrestleMania. Surely if any match was ever so tightly constructed as to prevent the possibility of a botched ending, it would be a WrestleMania main event match. Yet, Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice still managed to do just that during their WrestleMania VIII encounter. Well, technically, Papa Shango is to blame for the botch as he was supposed to run out to the ring to interfere at the end and simply forgot to do so. Because of this, Harvey Wippleman had to run into the ring instead and trigger an incredibly awkward series of events that is indisputably highlighted by Papa Shango eventually running out to the ring and just stopping halfway there unsure of what to do next. Don’t worry Shango; nobody else has a clue what was going on either.
4 Dean Malenko Loses A Match In Under A Minute Because He Forgot The Rules
There are a lot of things in wrestling that sound like a good idea, but don’t actually end up working out that way. For instance, WCW must have thought it sounded like a good idea to put Dean Malenko in Billy Kidman in a “Catch-as-Catch-Can” match in 2000. After all, both are really good wrestlers and it might be fun to put them in a match that is based on traditional professional wrestling rules such as it being illegal to exit the ring. The problem is that it’s not actually that easy to ask two wrestlers, no matter how good they are, to simply forget everything they’ve spent their careers learning and adopt strange rules such as that.
This is probably why Dean Malenko accidentally ended the match by going out of the ring within 60 seconds of the bell ringing. After all, who ever heard of a match where you can’t leave the ring?
3 Hardcore Holly Gets A WrestleMania Win By Mistake
WrestleMania 2000 was essentially the “everyone gets a paycheck” WrestleMania, as WWE worked especially hard that year to everyone on the roster onto one show. One of the ways that they accomplished this was hosting a Hardcore Championship pinfall battle royal that included nearly every wrestler that was otherwise not involved in anything important at the moment. What should have been a fairly unmemorable match designed to satisfy the crowd’s bloodlust ended up becoming legendary because of what happened in the final minute.
See, Hardcore Holly was supposed to break up Tazz’s submission attempt and attempt to either pin Crash Holly to take the title with no time left or for Crash to kick out. Instead, a miscommunication (or perhaps even semi-intentional sabotage) saw Tim White count to three, yet the announcers tried to sell it that Crash got his shoulders up at the last second.
No one knew what was going on, and under the watchful gaze of an incredibly confused audience, Hardcore awkwardly celebrated his WrestleMania win.
2 Sandman Gets A Concussion and Refuses To Lose
If a botch happens in ECW and nobody is around to expect any better from ECW, does it really count? Jokes aside, ECW was had a bit of a nasty reputation as it concerns match botches. Given that they regularly featured guys like Sabu, perhaps it shouldn’t be that surprising that occasionally things didn’t go according to plan during the course of a match. Such was the case when Cactus Jack took on The Sandman back in 1995. At one point during the match, The Sandman got hit with a frying pan and suffered a particularly bad concussion. The concussion was so bad, in fact, that The Sandman proceeded to forget how the match was supposed to end. This led to Cactus Jack beating the hell out of him in the hopes that he would just stay down for three seconds. Time and time again, The Sandman refused to do so.
1 Royal Rumble 2005 Ends Like A Three Stooges Film
In terms of importance, the talent involved, and general absurdity, this has to be considered the most botched wrestling match ending of all time. Towards the end of the 2005 Royal Rumble match, Batista lifted John Cena up for a Batista Bomb and tried to slam him to the ground. Cena resisted, and, in the process, sent both men over the top rope where they landed on the ground at the same time. Now, WWE has done this kind of ending before, but they had no intention of doing it again here. Batista was actually supposed to win the match. Because he did not, the referees were smart enough to act like there was a legitimate debate as to who was the winner until Vince McMahon could get down there to restart the match.
Where things really turned ugly is when Vince finally made his way to the ring and proceeded to blow both of his quads in the process of entering it. It’s at this point that things broke down past the point of redemption.