The term “swerve” has been a staple in wrestling over the years. A swerve is simply a surprise or twist to a match or a storyline. If it shocks you and you didn’t see it coming, that would qualify as a classic wrestling swerve. WWE has a television show using the name “Swerved” in a more humorous definition as wrestlers play pranks on each other but the wrestling business has been using swerves to keep things fresh for years. An audience should not be able to easily predict the finish to matches and storylines. The swerve is intended to be interesting and a great twist to a story.
Through the years, the wrestling business has seen many tremendous swerves. The best example would be Hulk Hogan joining the New World Order. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash had a third mystery man with them as they attempted to take over the WCW. No one could have predicted the ultimate good guy would join them but Hogan turned heel and it completely stunned the wrestling world. The move made sense with the way the story moved forward and it was an effective use of utilizing the surprise to create momentum. Sadly, not all twists in wrestling have great success like the nWo did.
The terrible storylines and booking in wrestling is often more memorable than the good times. Most of the weak swerves featured on this list are due to two big reasons. They are likely met with disappointment and a lack of interest when it happens. A swerve should be a big deal and lead to excitement going forward. The other reason for making the list is an ineffective use of the swerve. They should have led to bigger and better things with the execution. Basing it off those factors, these are the fifteen worst swerves in wrestling history.
15 Fake Razor Ramon and Diesel
Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were two of the hottest stars in WWE during the mid-90s as Razor Ramon and Diesel. The duo then left the company together to form the New World Order in WCW and it started the Monday Night War. WWE began to struggle and thought of a ridiculous idea to create buzz. Jim Ross turned heel (yes, that happened) and claimed he was going to bring Diesel and Razor Ramon back to the WWE. The big reveal was two unknown wrestlers dressing up as the former stars. Kane played the role of Fake Diesel and the only entertaining thing about this reveal is looking back at Kane trying to match Kevin Nash’s hair.
14 Tito Ortiz is “August 1 Warning”
The art of the failed swerve has been in full display at TNA over the years. They will hype a big announcement or surprise wrestler but it will almost always ultimately lead to disappointment. The biggest instance of this was the “August 1 Warning.” Mysterious videos aired on Impact to tease someone debuting on the first day of August. The reveal turned out to be MMA fighter Tito Ortiz. He made his entrance and stared down Rampage Jackson from the ramp. Neither MMA fighter would indulge in wrestling matches despite the paydays by TNA. The funniest thing about it was the complete silence from the crowd.
13 The Montreal Screwjob
What happened at Survivor Series in 1997 didn't attempt to just swerve the fans, but also WWE Champion Bret Hart. After being told his match with Shawn Michaels would end in a DQ, Hart saw his WWE tenure end with heartbreak as Vince McMahon conspired to have him lose the title via submission despite never tapping out. The bell rang and Hart lost the match but won the battle. as he went ballistic and destroyed equipment at ringside. Hart punched McMahon backstage in an altercation when confronted about the finish. The birth of Mr. McMahon was a blessing from the event, but the swerve was embarrassing and a shameful moment in wrestling history.
12 Brock Lesnar Ends The Streak
The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak was a perfect mix of luck and preparation. WWE obviously stumbled upon magic when ‘Taker was booked to win his first few WrestleMania matches but it evolved into something bigger. Over the last 10-15 years, The Undertaker’s match at WrestleMania has always felt like a very special attraction in professional wrestling. With that in mind, no one expected Brock Lesnar to be the wrestler that defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania and when it happened, the crowd could not fathom what was going on. Lesnar has been elevated since then but he wrestles part time and the company has not benefited from the streak ending. The shock finish was not worth it.
11 Jack Swagger Wins MITB and Becomes World Champion
No one could have guessed that Jack Swagger would end the week of WrestleMania XXVI as World Champion. Swagger won the annual Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania in a huge surprise. Before this win, Swagger was a generic midcarder struggling to develop a personality or stand out. WWE decided he was the guy to take a chance on and he cashed in his title shot later that week to defeat Chris Jericho for the World Heavyweight Championship. Swagger completely failed as champion and proved the moment was too big for him. There were plenty of other options but the swerve of Swagger being champion damaged the credibility of the title.
10 Kane Revealed as The Undertaker’s Attacker
WWE hoped to recapture magic by going to the well one time too many times with an Undertaker vs. Kane feud in 2010. Someone attacked The Undertaker and took him off television for a couple of months. Kane started accusing other wrestlers, including Rey Mysterio, of putting Taker in a vegetative state. Then, it was revealed that Kane was the one who attacked his brother and it led to a long program between the two for the remainder of the year. Unlike their 1998 rivalry, the Brothers of Destruction were a chore to watch in 2010. The swerve was predictable and ineffective, two signs of failure.
9 Shawn Michaels Joins the nWo
WWE tried to get one more run out of the New World Order in 2002. Unfortunately, it was right after the Invasion era ended and the nWo seemed completely out of place. The fans loved Hulk Hogan too much to boo him, Scott Hall was a bust and Kevin Nash was injured. To shake things up, Shawn Michaels returned to the WWE as the newest member of the nWo. Michaels joined his old buddy Nash along with Sean Waltman and Big Show. The surprise of his return was cool but it was done in an ineffective way. No one wanted to boo their former favorite wrestler in his return after being away for years. Nash suffered another injury, the nWo ended and Michaels started wrestling as a face.
The Hulk Hogan era in TNA can be defined with one terrible moment. Bound For Glory 2010 saw the formation of a new heel group that would take charge of the company when Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff helped Jeff Hardy win the world title. Hardy turning heel was simply their way of trying to recreate the New World Order and the moment of Hogan abandoning his diehard fan base for the power. The ridiculous thing is Jeff Jarrett and Abyss being a part of the big plan made it feel more like the days when the nWo were overpopulated with goofs. The faction was a joke and one of the key factors in TNA losing momentum.
7 Hornswoggle as Vince McMahon’s Son
One of the more memorable, but terrible storyline reveals was the surprise of Hornswoggle being the son of Vince McMahon. There was a long build of teasing that Vince fathered another child, with he or she being the sibling of Shane and Stephanie. The reveal was being treated like a big deal with an important culmination planned. Mr. Kennedy was originally scheduled to be the son and elevated into a huge push as the new top heel of the company in a feud against Triple H until he failed a drug test. Kennedy was suspended and WWE somehow couldn’t find a better surprise, so they decided to go with poor comedy and Hornswoggle being the newest McMahon.
6 Goldberg Turns Heel
Bill Goldberg was the only new, young talent to become a credible top tier main event act in WCW in the late 90s. With mostly stars from yesteryear, Goldberg broke the glass ceiling and was one of the most loved performers in the business at his peak. What's the best way to ruin this? That’s right. WCW turned him heel. Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff were being used as a heel power duo in charge of the show in WCW. Instead of the simple story of Goldberg being the top face to challenge them, he ended up joining Bischoff and Russo in a completely flat moment. They definitely hoped for the swerve to be as big as Hulk Hogan forming the New World Order, but were met with a lackluster heel run.
5 David Arquette
We all know how terrible the swerve of David Arquette becoming WCW Champion was for the company and the entire wrestling business, but it wasn’t the only terrible swerve in his time there. Arquette defended the title in a triple cage match (the gimmick of three cages being stacked on top of each other from the Ready to Rumble movie) against Jeff Jarrett and Diamond Dallas Page. Page and Arquette were friends in the storyline but Arquette turned on Page to help Jarrett win the title for no reason other than Vince Russo’s love of pointless swerves. DDP was swerved by Arquette, his best friend Kanyon and his wife Kimberly over the course of a few months because of Russo’s addiction to ridiculous surprise endings.
4 Steve Austin Joins the WCW/ECW Alliance
During the days of the Monday Night Wars, no one was as pivotal to the success of WWE like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The Texas Rattlesnake was their biggest star and the name most synonymous with WWE. For some reason, they decided Austin should turn on the company to join WCW and ECW in their attempts to overtake WWE. Not only did this make Austin look silly but it completely sunk any chances of The Alliance being viewed as credible due to WWE stars joining and leading the team. The angle with the most potential in wrestling history was dead with one dumb swerve.
3 Kevin Nash Powerbombs CM Punk
CM Punk was the biggest star in the wrestling industry during the Summer of 2011 following his “Pipebomb” promo and big win over John Cena at Money in the Bank. Punk main evented SummerSlam against Cena in another big bout and won the rematch. This was the right move… until a few minutes later when Kevin Nash attacked Punk leading to Alberto Del Rio cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase and winning the title. Punk was ready to become a massive star for the company and it was sacrificed for the surprise finish of a forgotten veteran returning and an underachiever beating him for the belt. Can you blame him when he voices his frustration over his time in WWE?
2 Rikishi Runs Over Steve Austin
WWE needed to find an interesting way to write “Stone Cold” Steve Austin off television because he needed to undergo surgery. They had a mysterious car run over Austin and went with a story of Austin trying to find out who the driver was when he eventually returned almost a year later. Considering how much time and effort was put into the storyline and how big of a star Austin was, you’d assume that the reveal would be a huge moment. The anticipation was for nothing as Rikishi was named as the driver with the hilarious reasoning of doing it for The Rock. Rikishi failed as a top heel when put in matches against Austin and The Rock. The swerve was so bad that WWE had to change plans by saying Triple H instructed Rikishi to do it.
1 Vince McMahon As The Greater Power
The Attitude Era is known as the most popular time period in wrestling due to the star power and exciting moments, but it also delivered many horrible moments. One of those terrible situations was Vince Russo (or Vince, it's hard to tell who made the call) trying to pull off the ultimate swerve in a storyline regarding Vince McMahon and The Undertaker. McMahon turned face by defending his family from the evil and demonic Undertaker. Taker was stalking Stephanie McMahon for a “greater power.” The big moment of revealing who The Undertaker’s leader was turned out to be Vince McMahon. This formed the Corporate Ministry which was more overpopulated than the New World Order and full of plot holes. It was definitely the worst swerve in wrestling history.