Usually when public figures say that they don't like Mixed Martial Arts, I get my MMA fan armor on and prepare myself for reasons stupid enough to make the biggest Insane Clown Posse fans roll their eyes in disgust. But this time, it was different.
John Cena recently stated in an interview with Larry King that he doesn't like UFC. Why? Well from what I gather it's because while he enjoys physicality, he considers himself a storyteller first and while the UFC definitely dabbles in some pro wrestling promotional tactics, they're still a sport before anything else... occasional UFC 200s aside. Anyway, props to Cena for giving a rational stance for not being a fan of the UFC.
As part of this story telling power, pro wrestling promotions have the ability to choose the winners and losers of their matches. By extension there should be no excuse for the company to pick the wrong guy to win, right? I mean if you can essentially be the god over your kingdom and tell your subjects to play dead when you want, it is only your incompetence that would stop you from choosing the right winner.
Guess what pro wrestling promoters seem to have loads of?
With that out of the way, we can dive into the top 15 times in pro wrestling that the wrong guy won. We're not necessarily limiting it to WWE here, but since they have so many examples of bungled match fixing, you're going to see the McMahon empire pop up on here quite a bit.
15 Michael Cole over Jerry Lawler - WrestleMania XXVII
So one senior citizen wrestler and one Shawn Michaels shower buddy stroll into a WrestleMania match and proceed to stink out the joint. Now obviously that seems bad enough, but you know what makes it even worse? The WRESTLER lost to the SHOWER BUDDY... oh yeah, I guess he's an announcer too.
In a match that shouldn't have lasted more than seven minutes but somehow went nearly double that (it feels much longer than 14 minutes to be honest though), Michael Cole won the contest because of a BS disqualification involving the anonymous Raw General Manager (urghhh). Believe it or not, it would take two more matches before The King finally made Cole kiss his feet and end this overbooked mess.
14 Hulk Hogan over Randy Orton - SummerSlam 2006
This may be the simplest one to explain on this list. Hulk Hogan in 2006 is 53 years old and beat Shawn Michaels one year earlier at SummerSlam. So surely he's going to lose young star Randy Orton right? Oh please, this is Hulk Hogan.
For seemingly no reason at all other than ego, Hogan defeated Randy Orton with the ole leg drop of doom and pinned Orton one two three. I don't even have a joker here, it's just Hogan being Hogan. Brother. Ok I managed to get that in there, we're good now.
13 Bob Backlund over Bret Hart - Survivor Series 1994
Why did WWE almost always pick the oddest choices to beat Bret Hart for his World Titles in the 1990s? Yokozuna, Sycho Sid and Bob Backlund all were guys who defeated Hart for the title and Backlund was the oddest of them all.
I mean sure Backlund was actually pretty damn entertaining as a bonkers old man heel, but why in the world was he chosen as guy to beat The Hitman? They could have someone else or hell, at least have Diesel beat Bret clean and just do it that way. It didn't cause too much harm to Bret's legacy, but it's still infuriating.
12 Batista - Royal Rumble 2014
At the time, this had to be the angriest I've ever seen the WWE fanbase as a collective. Batista came back when nobody really wanted him to and stole the WrestleMania main event away from a man who became the most over babyface since CM Punk in 2011 in Daniel Bryan.
While an even worse situation came a year later, this one was still plenty bad given what the WrestleMania main event looked like after this match. Randy Orton vs. Batista for the world title in 2014? Blehhhh. WWE's tone deafness was on full display here but given that they rectified their mistake for 'Mania XXX, the sting of this hurts less.
11 John Cena over Edge - Royal Rumble 2006
After breaking his body for years in ladder matches that redefined what death defying means, Edge finally got his World Championship by cashing in his Money In The Bank contract on John Cena at New Year's Revolution 2006. It seemed that the company found its anti-Cena to face their new Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 22. Until WWE got cold feet.
Instead of being patient and keeping the momentum of Edge going, they stifled it and promptly gave Cena his title back after losing it for a scant three weeks. Arguably the best rival of Cena's career, Edge and Cena would never have a one on one match at Mania and that really sucks. On the bright side, we got Mick Foley going through a flaming table, so hooray for that.
10 The Miz over John Cena - WrestleMania XXVII
I know some like to suggest that the Miz was actually a good choice to be the heel around 2010-2011 but I never saw it. He's annoying yes, but nothing he does looks threatening and he has zero physical presence in the ring. But despite all that, he somehow found himself in the WrestleMania main event instead of CM Punk. And he won.
John Cena on a visual and experience level should absolutely squash The Miz but somehow he doesn't and the match serves only as a way to set up The Rock versus John Cena.
Also, Cena won the belt one month later anyway. So The Miz's win is double pointless.
9 Yokozuna over Bret Hart - WrestleMania IX
The year of 1993 was a weird one for WWE. They wanted to transition out of the big muscle-bound giants of the Rock N' Wrestling Era but like a long-term relationship, WWE just couldn't quite move on from someone who had been so good to them. Enter WrestleMania IX.
Bret Hart seemed to be the new girl WWE wanted to start dating: more quiet, pretty in pink and definitely not a giant. But instead, the company delayed that plan to make him the face of the company for another year and instead had 500-plus pound Yokozuna beat him with salt to the face. Hart served simply as a tool for Hulk Hogan to swoop in and "avenge" him before becoming champion again. Hart should have won and faced Hulk at SummerSlam. It's that simple.
8 David Arquette - WCW Thunder
You knew that this was going to be on this list, but probably not in the middle of it. Why is this lower than expected? Well, because its actual effect probably isn't as devastating as people think.
Yes a b-list actor winning WCW's world title devalued the belt, but by April 2000, that belt was in such a sick state that this was honestly a mercy kill. The belt obviously would have been better off with DDP, but that would be keeping a terminally ill belt on life support. Definitely the wrong guy, but there were more devastating examples than this one.
7 Triple H over Booker T - WrestleMania XIX
In the beginning... back in 2002... The Game didn't know how to put over a foe... and all that jive.
With that AC/DC reference done, let's talk about Triple H's reign of terror from 2002 to about 2005. It wasn't very good. While he was definitely a heel people booed, this was at the expense of chewing up and spitting out his challengers like Rob Van Dam, Kane and most notably Booker T.
Hotter as a face than ever in his career, Booker squared off against Triple H at WrestleMania and it all seemed like WWE would have its first black champion world champ ever... Until Triple H hit him with a Pedigree and waited an eternity before pinning him for the win.
What could have been a career defining moment for Booker T instead just ended up being a transition before HHH could feud with best bud Kevin Nash. Yawn.
6 Triple H over Sting - WrestleMania 31
Amazingly, the dumbest part about this match wasn't the nWo coming out to help Sting. No, the dumbest part would come at the very end, when Triple H pinned Sting in his WWE debut.
Flat out, what was gained from having Triple H defeat Sting? Nothing. What could have been gained from Sting beating Triple H? Well honestly nothing long term, but it would honor the legendary career of Steve Borden by making his WWE debut actually mean something. But nope, can't have a WCW legend beat a WWE one, gotta keep that war going forever, right?
5 Roman Reigns - 2015 Royal Rumble
If there is one thing that infuriates me about modern WWE more than anything, it's how tone-deaf creative/Vince McMahon is. The stage is the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia, a super hostile and smarky crowd. You have returning idol Daniel Bryan coming back from a career-threatening injury poised to claim a shot at HIS TITLE and... you have Roman Reigns win.
No matter how you want to slice it to not put the blame for debacle on this or that, nobody can deny just how big of a disaster this was. Fans were appalled and the company had to have Seth Rollins win at Mania to avoid a potential riot. In hindsight one could say Bryan not winning may be a better thing for his health but at the time, this was one of the worst calls ever.
4 Kevin Nash over Goldberg - Starrcade 1998
Bill Goldberg= monster killer and top star of your company who fans haven't gotten tired of yet. Has a undefeated streak gimmick that fans haven't gotten tired of yet. What do you do at your biggest event of the year?
Yup, you defeat him via cattle prod and have the nearly 40-year-old and already established Kevin Nash be the man to end this streak. Let's just put it this way, the result of this match led into the finger poke of doom and ended the only World Title reign of WCW's biggest home bred star.
3 Team WWE over The Nexus - SummerSlam 2010
In a rare stroke of creative risk-taking, WWE had its group of "rookies" from NXT Season 1 (back when NXT was one part game show one part wrestling) debut on Raw without any entrance music or pomp and just absolutely decimated everyone in sight. It seemed like the company had some new super-over heels on their hands.
Then in a incredibly common stroke of safety-first, the WWE did a 180. Rather than have their new heels score a crucial victory over the WWE's elite (plus a 53-year-old Bret Hart), they had these killer villains fail against John Cena only two months after their debut. This largely killed off their heat and botched potentially one of the greatest feuds in WWE history.
2 Triple H over CM Punk - Night of Champions 2011
Among many problems that CM Punk had with the Game which he revealed on Colt Cabana's podcast back in 2014, one of them was that he resented Triple H for not putting him over back in 2011. And I gotta say, I really don't blame him.
By this point the surge of Punk had a cooled a little bit because of his title loss to Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam but a victory over Triple H could have easily helped Punk get back on track.
But the golden shovel's calling is strong and for whatever reason, HHH beat Punk and gained absolutely nothing from the win, while Punk took a loss that he could ill afford during a time where he should have been the jewel of the company.
1 John Cena over Brock Lesnar - Extreme Rules 2012
There may be some worse winners isolated in the moment of the night, but NO MATCH RESULT has had the disastrous domino effect that John Cena vs Brock Lesnar had on WWE.
A three pronged effect came about from this Cena victory. Firstly and least importantly amazingly, the otherwise solid match got soiled by a Super Cena comeback.
Secondly, an amazing story of a down on his luck John Cena got spoiled by extreme short sightedness. After his loss to The Rock at WM 28, the image of Cena in despair as the Brahma Bull celebrated could have been the start of a death and rebirth of the Cena character that could have carried itself for a year. But nope, let's have him beat Lesnar instead.
And finally, it almost killed off that which should be unkillable; The Beast Brock Lesnar. Few have been hotter when coming back than Lesnar in 2012, but all of Lesnar's invulnerability went 'poof' as soon the ref counted his shoulders to the mat. This was so bad that Lesnar needed to beat The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak to get his heat back. Yeah, it was that bad of a call.