The unpredictable nature of the wrestling business often leads to changes coming at the last minute. WWE specifically sees this happen with the large amount of content needed each week for Raw, Smackdown, NXT, and the monthly PPVs. Quite a few moments throughout the years came due to a last-minute change to the finish of planned matches.
We will look at both the positive and negative instances of how things could change on the fly. The positive ones proved that WWE could adapt and make great decisions for the betterment of the show. There are also the moments that showed that changes could hurt the show with negative results. Find out just which treasured memories were late additions to the show. These are five WWE finishes that were changed at the last minute for better and five that were changed for the worse.
10 Better: Bret Hart winning WWE Championship instead of Lex Luger
WWE had mixed feelings heading into the WrestleMania 10 event with both Bret Hart and Lex Luger receiving title shots against Yokozuna after co-winning the Royal Rumble match. Luger was the heavily pushed wrestler from the summer of 1993 into early 1994.
Fans however showed more support for Bret organically than the overpushed Luger. WWE eventually changed plans shortly before the show with Bret winning the title in the main event. Luger never won the WWE Championship in his career and left the company shortly after.
9 Worse: Brock Lesnar winning Universal Championship at Crown Jewel
Roman Reigns revealing he was battling cancer led to him vacating the Universal Championship and leave WWE for a short time. Crown Jewel’s main event of Reigns vs Brock Lesnar was changed with the vacated title now on the line between Lesnar and Braun Strowman.
WWE reportedly went back and forth regarding the next champion before deciding to put it back on Brock. The title reign of Lesnar lasted a few months until dropping it to Seth Rollins. Fans were disappointed at the main Raw title once again being one for most of his run as a part-timer.
8 Better: Daniel Bryan winning world title at WM 30
WWE’s original plan for WrestleMania 30 was to have Batista vs Randy Orton for the WWE Championship and Daniel Bryan in a lower card match against Sheamus. The fans cheering for Bryan during all major segments and booing Batista forced WWE to make a change late in the game.
Bryan vs Triple H was added to the card a few weeks before the show with the winner getting to join the title match to make it a triple threat. Fans got their wish with Bryan winning both matches to become the WWE Champion in a truly special moment.
7 Worse: Hulk Hogan beating Randy Orton at Summerslam
The rare appearances of Hulk Hogan for WWE in the mid-2000s would see him often using his star power to factor into finishes. Shawn Michaels’ prior Summerslam program with Hogan ended in a way WWE didn’t expect. The same happened at Summerslam 2006 vs Randy Orton.
Many people in the company wanted the younger Orton to score the win over the veteran Hogan to make him look like a bigger star. Hogan however won the match cleanly and Orton didn’t benefit much from the performance. WWE was forced to book Hogan as the winner due to his demands.
6 Better: Becky Lynch turning on Charlotte Flair
Becky Lynch has revealed in various interviews that WWE was unsure about having her turn on Charlotte Flair at the end of their triple threat match with Carmella at Summerslam 2018. The fans however loved every second, making it a memorable moment.
This was the turning point in Becky’s career to have the audience start to view her as a top star. Lynch gained insane momentum as The Man by becoming the top rival to Charlotte and showing a more vicious heel side. The decision to add this to the post-match segment changed WWE for better.
5 Worse: Charlotte Flair beating Sasha Banks in first women's Hell in a Cell match
One negative change to a match in the women’s division came in the first-ever Hell in a Cell match for the division. Sasha Banks was defending the Raw Women’s Championship against Charlotte in her hometown of Boston inside of the cell.
Instead of cementing Banks’ title reign as a success and giving fans the ultimate feel good hometown win moment, the finish was changed late in the day to have Charlotte win the title back. The match was viewed as a disappointment both due to the sloppy spots and the anticlimactic finish.
4 Better: Hulk Hogan turning face after match with Rock
WWE expected the New World Order all to become hated heels when Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall returned to the company as a hated faction. However, the dream match between Hogan and The Rock at WrestleMania 18 featured the fans cheering Hogan.
It was not that unexpected given Hogan was the biggest legend in WWE history at the time coming back for the first time in almost a decade. WWE realized this was going to happen and added a late change to have Hogan turn face aligning with Rock to combat Hall and Nash after the match. The idea worked to perfection as the crowd exploded.
3 Worse: The Montreal Screwjob
Only a handful of people knew about the extremely controversial Montreal Screwjob finish ahead of time at Survivor Series 1997. Bret Hart was told that his match with Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship would end in a DQ finish, but that wasn’t the case.
Vince McMahon made the call on the day of the show to have Michaels win via sharpshooter submission even though Hart would not tap out. The Montreal Screwjob saw Bret get double crossed leading to arguably the biggest controversy in wrestling history.
2 Better: Seth Rollins cashing in MITB at WM 31
The live audience rejecting Roman Reigns at almost every show between the 2015 Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 31 put WWE in a tough position. Vince McMahon expected the audience to cheer Reigns beating Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship to crown a new face of the company.
However, plans would change during the weekend of the show when WWE decided to go with a better finish. Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot to join the match late into it and defeated Reigns to steal the title. It remains the best MITB cash in and one of the all-time great WrestleMania endings.
1 Worse: Hulk Hogan winning 1990 Royal Rumble over Mr. Perfect
The Royal Rumble match in 1990 would see Hulk Hogan score another win in the obvious finish. Hogan was already the WWE Champion and gained nothing from getting yet another win of many. However, the original plan looked like a significantly better idea.
Mr. Perfect was reportedly scheduled to win the Royal Rumble and enter a main event feud with Hogan. Considering Perfect never had such a run in WWE, it is tough to realize this finish almost happened. The change robbed us of a potential new top heel.