Left is two. Down is black. The world doesn't make a lot of sense right now and the professional wrestling world is making even less sense. This is both the most confusing time ever to be a wrestling fan, while also being the mos intriguing. One thing is for certain though - by hook or by crook we will be getting some form of Wrestlemania event. Whether it be from the Performance Centre, a new arena or even delayed for a while, The Showcase of The Immortals will be going ahead in some capacity.
The build for this year's Wrestlemania has been nothing short of fantastic. Long term storytelling between John Cena and The Fiend, passing of the torch from Goldberg to Roman Reigns, Edge's retribution against Randy Orton... some great work from the WWE creative team. However, lets not get ahead ourselves. If there's one thing that WWE and Vince McMahon are great at, it's going completely against logic and going with the worst outcome possible.
With that in mind, I'm here to run down some of the most memorable occasions where WWE went with the wrong winner at Wrestlemania!
8. Chris Jericho over AJ Styles - Wrestlemania 32
After an incredible career on the independent circuit, in TNA, and in Japan, AJ Styles finally debuted in WWE at the 2016 Royal Rumble. The hottest free agent in the world was instantly over with the fans and went on to a solid TV program with Chris Jericho. The two started out as respectful rivals, before becoming an unlikely tag team in Y2AJ, begore naturally ending as bitter enemies.
Throughout the program, Styles came across as the better wrestler and typically got the better of their exchanges, to the point that their WrestleMania match seemed a little pointless and predictable. Despite the criticism, fans of The Phenomenal One were confident that the match would permanently etch Styles’s name in WWE lore and lay the foundation for him to move on to bigger things and many championship reigns.
But then Jericho won.
The thinking at the time was that WWE would probably line up Jericho as the first challenger to new world champion Roman Reigns. That scenario seemed to be falling into place with a Fatal Four way match on Raw to name a new number contender. Except Jericho lost... and AJ Styles won.
It was then Styles who would spend the year that followed challenging for the WWE Championship, getting the best of John Cena, and eventually winning the WWE Championship leading to a lengthy reign. So, Jericho’s win was not only disappointing in the moment, but illogical given Styles’s upward trajectory to follow.
7. Santino Wins The Womens Battle Royal - Wrestlemania 25
Some of the entries in this countdown are up for debate and come down to personal preference. I however, have a really hard time imaging that anybody will disagree on this one.
While 2009 was a down period for women’s wrestling in WWE, the Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal provided a small glimmer of hope. It was billed as a 25-woman match, featuring stars from days gone by alongside the current crop of stars. According to rumors, WWE did actually plan for this to be a big-time, serious match but then ran into scheduling issues for some of the top talents whi had been considered for a return in the match. This in turn led to the remaining serious stars from the past pulling out as well, well aware of the fact that the match would be nothing more than a comedy spot and a waste of their time.
So, by the time the match happened, it consisted of mostly current female roster members who weren't doing much, a handful of the less important stars from the past like Molly Holly, and a few returning legends who didn’t have much to offer in the ring like Sunny. WWE could have at least salvaged the match by at least putting a feather in the cap of a current budding star but instead, the win went to Santino Marella, dressed in drag to pretend he was his own sister, Santina. The win turned the whole match concept into one big, unfunny joke.
This was yet another sign, if we really needed any more, of how little Vince valued the womens side of the WWE roster. Though things may have changed for the better since, there have still been more than enough moments littered along the way such as James Ellsworth winning the Money In The Bank Match on behalf of Carmella. Hopefully now that the world has changed, these moments are far behind us.
6. The Miz Over John Cena - Wrestlemania 27
Over the course of 35 years, the list of heel world champions who’ve successfully defended their world titles at WrestleMania is surprisingly short. In fact, it’s limited to just five names: Yokozuna, Triple H, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho... and The Miz.
I don’t mean this to come across as a criticism on The Miz. I absolutely love the guy. Ober the years he has grown a lot as a performer and is one of the best promos we've ever seen. I’d go so far as to say his 2011 world title reign gets a rougher reception than it ought to. But while the other names on that list were main event level guys through and through, The Miz was a guy who got pushed too far too soon and has spent the rest of his WWE tenure as a solid mid-card act.
Miz winning the main event match at WrestleMania felt like a token of sorts, after he got shunted to the background upon The Rock’s return to WWE. But when winning the main event of WrestleMania is an afterthought, something has gone seriously wrong. While Cena winning would have fit right in with both his resume and lore of ‘Mania, Miz’s win comes across more as an anomaly and something that will need to be explained in wrestling history for future generations.
5. Triple H Over Sting - Wrestlemania 31
This one... this one cuts me deep and you're about to see alot more of Triple H on this list. After over a decade of speculation, delays and uncertainty, in late 2014 Sting finally arrived in WWE, and at WrestleMania 31 he finally had his first WWE match. It was clear enough that The Stinger wasn’t going to have a lengthy tenure, due to being in his mid 50s by that point and his body was largely broken down. Were he booked against a young up and comer, I’d have been all for Sting putting over the new star as one last bit of service to the wrestling industry.
However, Sting was booked against Triple H. While Hunter was younger and in better shape than Sting, he’d nonetheless already settled into a very part-time wrestling role, his in-ring career essentially done as he focused on management. In short, as a part-timer and bullet-proof legend, he’s the kind of guy it would have made sense for Sting to go over to put a cap on his career and give the fans a feel-good moment. This is all the more true given Triple H was playing the villain.
The match itself was as good as it could have been, full of smoke and mirrors in the form of DX and nWo run-ins to mask the limitations of the men involved. But when it came time to deliver the finish, it was Triple H who stood tall, picking up a win that didn’t add anything meaningful to his legacy. Moreover, the loss put an awkward asterisk next to Sting’s name, that when he made it to the WWE, he lost every PPV match he was involved with.
The harsh reality is, WWE wanted Sting in the Hall Of Fame as a marquee induction and didn't care how his very brief time within their walls ended. This was very much one final jab at WCW, having the ultimate company guy in Triple H going over the man synonymous with WCW and the Monday Night Wars.
4. John Cena Over Bray Wyatt - Wrestlemania 30
Some WrestleMania results feel good in the moment, but don’t show very much forethought. Such is the case for this WrestleMania 30 showdown, when John Cena squared off against red hot up and coming heel Bray Wyatt. Cena won the match. Sure, the outcome probably made kids happy and you can argue that Wyatt would need to pay his dues before he could pick up a win of that magnitude.
Unfortunately, the loss shattered Wyatt’s aura of invincibility and set the character back from being a main event player. Add this loss to his loss one year later to The Undertaker and it seemed there was no way back. Now, as we are about to enter the second quarter of 2020, Bray finally has his mojo back in the form of The Fiend. But it took a whopping 6 years to recover and force himself back into relevancy.
John Cena didn’t have much to lose at the time of his victory, already a legend way back in 2014. Besides that, the card was already largely a feel-good one, given Daniel Bryan’s two monumental wins. Neither Cena, nor WWE needed this outcome, but Wyatt sure could have benefited from the win.
3. Sheamus Over Daniel Bryan - Wrestlemania 28
There’s an argument to be made that it ended up being beneficial that Daniel Bryan not only lost his World Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus at WrestleMania 28, but also that he lost that match in an 18-second squash. The live crowd booed, and the jeers intensified the next night on RAW. This groundswell of support set up the foundation for Bryan’s “Yes Movement” and main eventing WrestleMania two years later.
But it still sucked.
Sheamus was an establishment guy who the general fanship may have liked well enough, but few were really passionate about. Meanwhile, Bryan had already shown glimmers of the special connection he’d cultivate with the fans, and was quite arguably the best in-ring performer in the world at that time. With the benefit of five years of hindsight, Bryan goes down on the shortlist of greatest WWE stars of all time (especially if we evaluate on a pound-for-pound, year-for year basis). While Sheamus still has some years left in the tank, his legacy seems established as an upper mid-card, fringe main event guy with a great look who never quite took off.
2. Triple H Over Brock Lesnar - Wrestlemania 29
When Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE landscape in 2012, it was a huge moment. The guy not only had a UFC pedigree and sensational look, but really was a gifted pro wrestler no matter your opinion on him, and so promised to be a game changer.
You can say that losing his first match back to John Cena was foolish. I disagreed with the choice, but it at least it was a protected loss because Lesnar was so dominant for most of the match, and Cena had to punch him in the face with a chain to steal the win. Lesnar moved on from the loss nicely, forcing Triple H to submit in the main event of that year’s SummerSlam.
The trouble was that Triple H just HAD to get his win back, and did so at WrestleMania 29.
Lesnar was a special talent and losing for a second time did mean a hit to his credibility. Moreover, in losing to Triple H at the biggest show of the year, Lesnar had effectively gone 0-1-1 in programs since his comeback. Sure, Lesnar would beat Triple H in the rubber match, but only with the aid of Paul Heyman and a sledgehammer.
A part-timer himself, Triple H in no way needed this win, It would take ending The Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak a year later, and positively squashing Cena in the main event of the next year’s SummerSlam to get Lesnar back on track as a dominant force.
1. Triple H Over Booker T - Wrestlemania 19
In the build to WrestleMania 19, Triple H suggested Booker T wasn’t a worthy challenger to the World Heavyweight Championship. The way in which Helmsley picked on Booker T’s prison record in particular came across as, at the least, elitist, and in the opinion of many fans, racist. It made for some truly uncomfortable viewing and is still spoken about to this day.
Triple H’s trash talk may have been excusable had it paid off in Booker T beating him decisively and taking his title. Instead, however, Triple H picked up a decisive pin fall victory of his own, suggesting that the story’s jerk had been right all along.
Hindsight tells us that Goldberg was on his way into the company, and that WWE had already earmarked him as the guy who would unseat Triple H for the title. Fair enough, but Goldberg wasn’t getting his hands on the title for five months. That would have offered plenty of time for Booker T to have a feel good moment that fans would remember as the appropriate conclusion to that feud, before losing the title back to Triple H if that’s what WWE wanted to do, and resuming as planned.