The most exciting form of storytelling in wrestling features the booking of feuds between interesting talents opposing each other. At the end of the day, fans pay to order PPVs or attend live shows in order to see the matches. Television was designed to build up to the big matches that get fans interested enough in tune into the important shows. Feuds are always hit or miss like anything else in wrestling and the payoff typically dictates why. Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Daniel Bryan and many others saw their “WrestleMania moments” become memorable due to being the culmination of a great feud.
Sadly, not all feuds have the same results due to the wrong person going over. The wrestling business features many variables that can ruin a great story. Politics or money may see a higher paid talent or someone that possesses more power backstage go over a more deserving talent. We’ll look at some of the tales of the worst moments in wrestling history featuring a bad decision being made at the end of a great story. The entire business could be different today if some of these happened to end differently. These are the top twenty times the wrong wrestlers came out on top of a feud.
20 Triple H vs. Sting
The most recent instance of a big feud ending in disappointing fashion featured Sting making his WWE debut against Triple H. Wrestling fans waited decades to see Sting come to WWE but it didn’t happen until 2014. Sting finally arrived to take the war to Triple H and it culminated in an attraction match at WrestleMania 31. The story transitioned from Sting being a vigilante who was standing up for what’s right to another WCW vs. WWE rivalry.
19 Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar got the better of Big Show at most points in their careers except the most important time. The Beast was undefeated for months heading into Survivor Series 2002 as the WWE Champion but took this first pinfall defeat to Big Show. Paul Heyman turned on Lesnar and aligned with Show. This was meant to put Brock over the top as a face and establish Heyman as his main villain but the timing was off.
18 Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page
One of the best feuds during the Monday Night Wars in WCW featured Randy Savage help make Diamond Dallas Page a credible main event face. Page developed momentum as a fan favorite but he was a long ways away from the top of the card before entering a program against Savage. Aside from Sting vs. Hulk Hogan, this was the best feud in the WCW vs. nWo war. They always had great matches and added a sense of realism through intensity.
17 Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg
Another interesting WCW feud that ended with the wrong person winning featured Goldberg facing off against Kevin Nash. Goldberg was the undefeated champion running the main event scene in WCW as the first homegrown star to break out in years. Nash turned face following the split of the New World Order, allowing him to lead the face Wolfpac version of the faction. The big man became a beloved figure thanks to microphone time and being away from Hulk Hogan.
16 Big Show vs. Sheamus
Sheamus' title reign in 2012 was designed to make him a star. Everything backfired from his WrestleMania XXVIII win over Daniel Bryan into a long reign of irrelevant matches against the likes of Alberto Del Rio and Chris Jericho. The late-year feud saw Sheamus surprisingly drop the World Championship to Big Show. No one would have expected WWE to drop their experiment of making a new star by having him lose to a veteran very few still cared about.
15 Triple H vs. Booker T
Triple H will be the most frequent name on this list and we all know why. The reign of doom featured Triple H dominating the title picture on Raw from 2002 to 2006. His heel character grew stale and repetitive but he always managed to get the better out of the majority of faces challenging him. One of the biggest offenses featured Triple H’s feud with Booker T heading into WrestleMania XIX. Booker’s momentum grew to the point where fans wanted to see him become champ, so the match itself made sense.
14 Randy Orton vs. Christian
Christian winning his first WWE World Championship in 2011 by defeating Alberto Del Rio for the vacant title was a special moment. Fans reacted accordingly to a star they’d watched for over a decade finally achieving the biggest dream of his career. The optimism ended abruptly as Christian lost the title to Randy Orton just days later on SmackDown and the two entered a long feud. They actually had great chemistry and delivered great matches but the results always disappointed.
13 Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage
Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were the two greatest wrestling stars of the 80s and found themselves in various feuds over their careers. We have seen them both work the face and heel characters from each perspective but Savage never came out on top at the end of it. Their most memorable feud featured Hogan defeat Savage at WrestleMania V after Savage turned heel out of jealousy for assuming Hogan lusted after Miss Elizabeth.
12 Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe
The signing of Kurt Angle by TNA in 2006 was the most exciting time in company history. Rising stars like Samoa Joe provided optimism for the future of TNA and a star like Angle becoming the face of the franchise was perfect. Angle and Joe was a dream match for years with both men at the top of their game around the time the signing was made. TNA didn’t wait long enough to build up such an important match and made it Angle’s first program.
11 JBL vs. Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero’s main event push in 2004 is remembered fondly by wrestling fans for finally getting to see the supremely talented veteran get his chance as a top guy. Guerrero defeated Brock Lesnar to win the WWE Championship and scored a huge victory over Kurt Angle at WrestleMania to retain the title. It made no sense why JBL of all people was the one to win the belt off of Guerrero. Bradshaw was a lifelong midcarder and received an instant push into the title picture after a character change.
10 John Cena vs. Edge
The best feud of 2006 featured John Cena getting his first true rival as a main event World Champion. Edge was the first man to use the Money in the Bank contract and used it to end Cena’s first title reign at New Year’s Revolution 2006. The title change was shocking and provided huge entertainment value. Raw’s ratings spiked big time on the night after the title change and numbers were up with Edge.
9 Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler is currently in WWE purgatory as a talented wrestler that no one cares about. It feels like it's been decades since Ziggler was last relevant but it wasn’t too long ago that fans absolutely adored him. Ziggler cashed in Money in the Bank to become World Champion defeating Alberto Del Rio on the night after WrestleMania 29. The incredible moment resulted in arguably the biggest pop in wrestling history.
8 Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Orton
The occasional returns of Hulk Hogan to WWE through the years always gave fans a good moment but it didn’t do much for the rest of the roster. One of the worst occasions took place in 2006 when Hogan wrestled his big match of the year against Randy Orton. The story of the past vs. the future usually culminates with the younger talent pulling off the victory at the end of the feud.
7 The Rock vs. Mick Foley
One of the best feuds of The Attitude Era took place through many violent matches involving The Rock and Mick Foley. The wrestling documentary Beyond the Mat captured the moment of Foley getting hit in the head eleven times with a steel chair by The Rock and Foley’s kids crying in the crowd while watching their dad get brutalized. That just represented how all fans felt watching the matches as Rock won the feud through brutal means.
6 Triple H vs. Chris Jericho
Triple H’s heel work in 2000 was on another level, as he matured into an overall great performer. The loss of Steve Austin for the majority of the year with a neck injury forced everyone to step their game up. Chris Jericho was one of the names to become popular and make a name in WWE. A fateful episode of Raw gave us an insight into Jericho’s popularity when he seemingly defeated Triple H to win the WWE Championship.
5 Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart
The hatred between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart backstage led to magical television. We could see how much they genuinely disliked each other and it made the storytelling that played out on Raw become far more realistic than what was the norm. The in-ring talent of both men was very similar in terms of bringing a more athletic style than the big man but their differences in personalities caused friction.
4 Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan
We all remember the horrible moment at WrestleMania XXVIII that saw Sheamus defeat Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds to win the World Championship. It’s no secret that Vince McMahon never truly saw Bryan as a top star until the end and it was showcased here with Bryan suffering the humiliating loss on the biggest stage. This led to fan revolt in changing the futures of both men involved.
3 John Cena vs. Wade Barrett
A young wrestler getting the opportunity to wrestle John Cena is usually a great thing for their careers. Kevin Owens recently debuting on the main roster in a trio of matches against Cena caused him to become a big deal in WWE. This isn’t always the case and you can ask Wade Barrett for the proof. The Nexus was the hottest angle in the company with Barrett as their leader. Barrett had huge potential and had a few high profile matches against Cena.
2 nWo vs. WCW
The hottest angle in WCW history featured Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan leading an invasion. Everyone was fascinated by the introduction of the New World Order trying to take over the company. It was unlike anything else in the business and delivered highly entertaining content every week. The problem is the nWo become too strong. The heels won the majority of matches to stay dominant and they ended up making the WCW roster look like weak goofs by proxy.
1 Triple H vs. CM Punk
WWE’s squandering of CM Punk’s momentum in 2011 goes down in the history books among the biggest failures in modern wrestling history. The worst part of the booking saw Punk lose the title to Alberto Del Rio thanks to Kevin Nash attacking him. Sloppy booking took the championship off of Punk to set up a program against Triple H. The real life drama between the two played out on camera with intense promos setting up a huge match.
The semi-retired Triple H made his return to the ring just to beat Punk and the feud ended right there. They ended up making peace on camera and teamed against R-Truth and The Miz. Punk would go on to win the title again with a yearlong reign as champion but it just wasn’t the same as his red hot summer. The loss harmed Punk’s momentum and made him look lesser than Triple H. One of the major reasons Punk walked out on WWE was due to his continued hatred of Triple H and not wanting to work with him again as planned in 2014.
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