Plans often change in the wrestling business when it comes to the egos in place. Wrestlers and promoters each influence what goes down on the television shows we witness every week. There is a long history of wrestlers weaseling their way out of big matches and Vince McMahon changing his mind when it comes to the best possible stories to tell. Quite a few noteworthy matches have been in WWE’s plans only to get canceled before it became official. The reasons for this range from petty drama to poor timing. Some of these matches would have been classics making it even more heartbreaking we missed out on them.
The platforms of social media, podcasts and shoot interviews allow us to get insight into what was in the works for big WWE matches before being canceled. All these proposed matches would have changed the course of WWE given the different options that we would eventually get. We will not only look at the matches in question but explain the reasons why they would get scrapped. Find out which dream matches you will now feel sad about missing out on. These are fifteen matches you never knew were supposed to happen before getting canceled.
15 Chris Jericho vs. Brock Lesnar (Payback 2017)
Chris Jericho has gone on the record regarding a drastic change regarding the Universal Championship picture in 2017. The original plan was going to see Kevin Owens drop the title to Jericho at WrestleMania 33. This match would have seen them have a main event level attraction rather than a lower bout for the United States Championship that it would become.
Jericho would have dropped the Universal Championship to Brock Lesnar one PPV later at Payback to start his reign.
Instead, Lesnar told Vince McMahon that he would lose to Goldberg in a minute at Survivor Series if they had a rematch at WrestleMania for the belt. That caused the plans to completely change. Jericho and Lesnar would have been a first-time match if it happened.
14 Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart (WrestleMania 13)
A classic instance of a match being canceled after many months of planning involved Shawn Michaels faking an injury and retirement. The legendary WrestleMania XII Iron Man Match that saw Michaels defeat Bret Hart to win his first WWE Championship was meant to have a rematch one year later. Hart was scheduled to defeat Michaels for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 13.
Due to personal issues between the two, Michaels faked an injury and claimed he was retiring one month before the match.
Hart ended up facing Steve Austin and Michaels returned to the ring just a few months later. One match into his return, Michaels moved around the ring like the healthiest man in the business to further infuriate Bret. It was arguably the biggest moment leading up to the hostility between the two and the Montreal Screwjob.
13 Muhammad Hassan vs. Batista (SummerSlam 2005)
Muhammad Hassan was the most hated man in 2005 for WWE. The anti-American promos of Hassan for being racially discriminated against led to fans booing him out of the building every week. At one point, WWE believed in Hassan enough to be the top contender for a title shot on the second biggest show of the year. Hassan was planned to challenge Batista for the World Championship at SummerSlam 2005.
Batista had just moved over from Raw to SmackDown in the draft as the new face of the show. Hassan was reportedly going to be the man to dethrone Batista and have a run as the new World Champion since he was peaking as a heel. However, a controversial angle of having Hassan and his masked goons attack Undertaker air on the same day of a terrorist attack put WWE in hot water. Hassan suffered for this by being removed from television and eventually getting released.
12 Dean Ambrose vs. Mick Foley (SummerSlam 2012)
An odd storyline that ended early saw retired legend Mick Foley get into an online war with developmental talent Dean Ambrose. Foley believed in Ambrose enough to consider coming out of retirement for one more match. The angle saw Ambrose calling out Foley for influencing the next generation of wrestlers to brutalize their bodies in hardcore matches. A few online videos uploaded of Ambrose confronting Foley at WrestleMania XXVIII weekend.
Foley couldn't get cleared by WWE to compete leading to the match being scrapped altogether.
A few reports claimed Mick was going to continue it with a wrestler representing him before Ambrose offended by crossing the line and referencing Foley’s family. The two have made up today and Ambrose still went on to become a big star.
11 Finn Balor vs. Brock Lesnar (Royal Rumble 2018)
A recent instance of a major match being canceled featured the Universal Championship at Royal Rumble. Finn Balor was set to finally get his title shot for the belt he never lost against Brock Lesnar. This was until Vince McMahon completely changed plans due to believing Balor was not over enough to pose a credible threat to Lesnar on a major show. The match would get changed to Lesnar facing Braun Strowman and Kane in a disappointing triple threat that no one will remember in a few months.
Balor was scheduled to face Lesnar multiple times over the past year.
Paul Heyman even singled out Finn in promos on Brock’s behalf in the middle of 2017. It never came to fruition due to Vince just not viewing Balor as a main event performer.
10 Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (WrestleMania XXX)
The iconic moment of Daniel Bryan winning the WWE World Championship in the main event of WrestleMania XXX after a long journey is something fans will never forget. The fans were the ones to force this moment after WWE tried to move Bryan out of the main event picture months prior. Vince McMahon didn’t believe in Bryan, but fans essentially hijacked the show with chants forcing WWE’s hand.
The original plan for Bryan at WrestleMania XXX would have seen him take part in a mid-card match against Sheamus.
It would have been the third match between the two at a WrestleMania with the prior two being huge disappointments. Bryan instead got elevated into the main event picture to have the title win of a lifetime.
9 Steve Austin vs. Chyna (SummerSlam 1999)
WWE almost went with a bold move of having Chyna challenge Steve Austin for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 1999. Austin was the face of the company and WWE needed him to drop the title to another star at the big show.
Chyna was named number one contender a few weeks before SummerSlam, though the WWE creative changed plans.
The match turned into a triple threat bout with Mankind and Triple H challenging Austin. Mankind won the match before dropping the title to Triple H the following night. Rumors suggest Chyna was slated to shockingly defeat Austin for the title in the original plans since she was over as a beloved character. Austin reportedly did not want to lose to a woman leading to the match being changed.
8 Steve Austin vs. Davey Boy Smith (WrestleMania 13)
Steve Austin is the person to benefit most from Shawn Michaels’ fake retirement in 1997. Bret Hart needing a new match led to Austin and Hart having arguably the greatest WWE match of all time. Austin got to the next level and started the momentum in becoming the top face in WWE. Hart did a great job putting over Austin as not just a good wrestler but as the hottest commodity in the company afterwards.
The original plan for Austin was to face Davey Boy Smith in a mid-card match on the big show.
Austin was gaining momentum, but he was not on the same level with Hart, Michaels and The Undertaker just yet. Smith was one of the fixtures in the mid-card picture and was slated to be Austin’s next feud. If it happened like planned, we may never have seen the era of Austin dominate the wrestling industry.
7 James Ellsworth vs. Heath Slater (SummerSlam 2016)
The WWE career of James Ellsworth is certainly an odd story. Ellsworth started off as a one-time enhancement talent for Braun Strowman to destroy. The facial expressions of Ellsworth stood out enough to land him more opportunities in WWE leading to a storyline with A.J. Styles and Dean Ambrose in the main event of SmackDown.
Ellsworth was once planned to have a singles match at SummerSlam 2016. A recent appearance on the Talk is Jericho podcast saw Ellsworth reveal a planned match that got cut. Heath Slater had a storyline of wanting to get signed by Raw or SmackDown after not getting drafted in the brand split. Daniel Bryan was to announce a match with Slater and Ellsworth that would have Ellsworth win the bout and a contract. WWE scrapped the plans due to Slater becoming a face due to the crowd response being in his favor.
6 Randy Savage vs. Shawn Michaels - Hair vs. Career Match (WrestleMania XI)
Randy Savage’s brother Lanny Poffo revealed a planned Randy Savage pitched to WWE before leaving the company for WCW. The role of commentator wasn’t something Savage wanted any longer due to feeling he had one more run left in him. According to Lanny, the storyline was going to see Savage become the rival to rising star Shawn Michaels.
Savage saw the potential in Michaels to become a future WWE Champion and wanted to help get him along.
The feud pitched by Savage was going to culminate in a Hair vs. Career Match ending with Savage retiring after losing to Michaels. WWE apparently was down for the idea before changing their minds relatively quickly. For whatever reason, Vince McMahon and Savage had a falling out leading to Randy leaving for WCW.
5 Ryback vs. Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania XXX)
We are taking Ryback’s word when it comes to this match that was allegedly planned for the card on WrestleMania XXX. Ryback revealed on his podcast that Mark Carrano showed him the card of WrestleMania XXX a couple of months in advance. The card showed a match between Ryback and Ultimate Warrior scheduled for the big show.
Warrior was returning to WWE for an induction into the Hall of Fame. Ryback claimed that the plan was likely going to see Warrior squash him in a quick match to give the legend one more moment in the ring. The match was never teased, and Warrior’s widow Dana Warrior denies it. Ryback still remains adamant he was told the match was in the works before plans changed ahead of WrestleMania XXX.
4 Ken Shamrock vs. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart (In Your House: DX)
Chris Jericho recently interviewed Dave Meltzer for a special Talk is Jericho podcast looking back at the impact of the Montreal Screwjob 20 years later. Meltzer revealed the plan that Vince McMahon agreed to with Bret Hart. The match on the In Your House PPV following Survivor Series would have seen Hart have one more match against Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and Ken Shamrock in a fatal four way.
Video packages were even made for the match meaning it was considered by Vince before he changed course to go through with the Montreal Screwjob.
Hart was going to be the first man eliminated by someone other than Michaels and HBK would have won in the end. It would have given Michaels the title without Hart having to get pinned by him. Obviously, the Montreal Screwjob prevented this from happening.
3 The Undertaker vs. Abyss (WrestleMania 22)
Impact Wrestling veteran Abyss is one of the few wrestlers to never leave the company over the past fifteen years. Abyss had one major opportunity in WWE and decided to remain with Impact. The plan would have seen join WWE to have a huge match at WrestleMania 22 against The Undertaker. WWE was struggling to find an opponent for Undertaker to face and continue his undefeated streak.
Abyss claims that WWE had an offer on the table to join the company and start in the feud with The Undertaker culminating in a WrestleMania match.
As insane as it sounds, Tommy Dreamer was working for the WWE office at the time and has confirmed the story. Abyss wanted to remain loyal to TNA and made a foolish decision for the ages. Undertaker ended up facing Mark Henry at WrestleMania 22 in one of his least memorable WM matches.
2 Bret Hart vs. Hulk Hogan (SummerSlam 1993)
A very hostile instance of a match being canceled and alienating a wrestler took place in 1993. Hulk Hogan won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania IX defeating Yokozuna right after Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart. It was viewed as a ridiculous move made thanks to Hogan playing politics backstage. Hogan was scheduled to leave WWE later in the summer and Vince McMahon wanted him to drop the belt to a young star.
Hart was selected as the next face to get a run as the top star in WWE. The big attraction match was planned for SummerSlam 1993 with Bret slated to beat Hogan for the title. Instead, Hulkster refused to lose and dropped the title to Yokozuna a couple months earlier. Hart was so furious that he drew an offensive comic regarding the relationship of Hogan and Brutus Beefcake that was put up in the locker room as art. The interviews of Bret today show he is still upset about it all these years later.
1 Shawn Michaels vs. Eddie Guerrero (WrestleMania 22)
One of the most heartbreaking instances of a planned match not coming into fruition would have been Shawn Michaels versus Eddie Guerrero at WrestleMania 22. WWE planned to have the dream match on the biggest show of the year between the two elite in-ring workers.
Michaels was having classic matches every year at WrestleMania since returning from retirement and Eddie was the perfect opponent.
Unfortunately, Guerrero passed away a few months earlier at the young age of 38 due to heart failure. It shocked the wrestling world as no one saw it coming. The fact that Guerrero was so young makes you wonder how many more classic matches he would have added to his legacy if he didn’t suffer a heartbreaking end to his life. Michaels definitely would have given him another classic that fans would likely still be talking about today.