Professional wrestling’s matches are predetermined so you’d think there would never be any problem with finishes. Unfortunately, promoters and wrestlers can throw the proverbial monkey wrench into the works when they decide to change things Here are 13 instances where major matches were changed at the last minute. 13) The Miz Wins IC Title Battle Royal (Battleground, 2014) At 7/20/14’s Battleground PPV, the Miz eliminated Dolph Ziggler to win the Intercontinental Championship in a twenty-man battle royal comprised of Superstars such as Damien Sandow, Alberto del Rio, the Great Khali, and R-Truth. Rumor has it that the Miz was not supposed to win the belt but his recent appearances had drawn so much heel heat that management felt he was the best choice. Regardless of the reason, it turned out for the best as Miz and Damien Sandow started their successful and funny run as Mizdow with Damien acting as Miz’ stunt double, and all around bodyguard. Sadly, for Damien Mizdow, the WWE dropped the ball after their inevitable split and a Miz vs. Sandow program fizzled (you didn’t think we were going to say mizzled, did you?). 12) Hulk Hogan Vs Jeff Jarrett (Bash at The Beach, 2000) being the intelligent wrestling fan that you are you’ll notice the Hulkster’s name pop up throughout the list The reason is simple, Hulk Hogan had creative control in WCW which meant he could nix anything he didn’t like In this case, it’s 2000 and WCW is going down the toilet faster than an Edmonton Oilers hockey season. Booker Vince Russo wanted to put over younger talent like WCW World Champion Jeff Jarrett by having him pin Hogan. One story (at least according to Hogan) is that Russo wanted Hogan out of WCW and he offered him a chance to do a stretcher job or have Jarrett lose by disqualification. According to Hogan, either way the match ended, Hogan would never return to WCW so he exercised his creative control and demanded he win the match and the title. Whether or not this is true, the match ended with Russo ordering Jarrett to lay down in the ring and do an obvious J-O-B for Hogan, breaking kayfabe. After the match, Russo cut a brutal promo on Hogan, accusing him of being responsible for everything that was wrong with WCW The book The Death of WCW details how Hogan angrily left the ring, and the company, filing a defamation suit against Russo 11) Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna Hulk Hogan’s departure from the company after King of the Ring 1993 opened a door for a new babyface to top the WWF tree. Luger made an unexpected babyface turn by playing an “ All American” – made in the USA gimmick The big debut of the babyface came on the USS Intrepid on July 4th 1993, as huge WWF Champion Yokozuna was inviting people to attempt to body slam him Challengers included Crush , Macho Man Randy Savage as well as a host of American sports stars but the giant sumo wrestler couldn’t be moved. Luger would arrive by helicopter, decked out in red, white and blue, and with the help of the metal plate in his forearm he would complete the challenge. This led to a match at SummerSlam 1993 where all the fans expected Lex to win, but he lost…. Well, actually, he didn’t. Luger won the match – but by count out. The forearm would knock out the giant Yokozuna, but he would fall out of the ring. In an interview in 2004, Lex broke the story that he and Vince met just hours before the match where Vince informed that some wrestlers threatened to leave if he was given the title Ironically, the next year, it happened again. At WrestleMania 10, many wrestling fans had all but assumed that Luger would win the WWF Championship The same politics from SummerSlam came into play, however, this time it was not a last minute change of plan… Lex said “ To be honest with you, I knew maybe a few months before WrestleMania because my family had never been to an event. So I asked (The WWF) for tickets to WrestleMania and Vince was upset. He called me into his office, this is months and months before WrestleMania, and he goes, “Lex, you know, you’re not going to be winning the belt at WrestleMania.” And my ex-wife Peggy had some really good friends out of New York. Their family had kids the same age as my kids, so I wanted them there no matter what. So I said, “Vince, I just want them to go to the event with their friends. It doesn’t matter. That doesn’t have anything to do with me wanting tickets
So guys, that’s the story!!!!!Anyways, next up 10) Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger Ric Flair refused to lose his NWA World Heavyweight Championship to Lex Luger when WCW president Jim Herd ordered him to do so. Flair told Herd to release him from his contract if he disagreed Flair kept the belt until Sting returned, dropping it to Sting at 1990’s Great American Bash. While having a really friendly discussion with his good friend, Sting, during his weekly podcast interview show, Ric Flair revealed the reason He said, It was not because he had a thing against his former Four Horsemen stablemate. Flair told listeners that he did not go along with the plans that promoter Jim Herd had come up with because he had promised the title to Sting Many believed, that’s not the only reason…. As the story goes on, the real life backstage feud between Ric Flair and Jim Herd is legendary. Back in 1988, Herd used his friendship with Turner executive – Jack Petrik to get himself hired as the new executive vice president of WCW Many know about how Herd infamously tried to force Flair to cut his hair, wear a diamond erring and change his name to “Spartacus.” Backstage heat between the two also escalated when it was time to negotiate a new contract for the Nature Boy. One of their biggest arguments was over the WCW World Heavyweight Championship Herd felt that Lex Luger was the best person to carry the promotion. Ric, on the other hand, felt that Sting was the chosen one, so he promised the belt to him. 9) Bret Hart Vs Shawn Michaels (Survivor Series, 1997) God Bless my patience, not the Montreal Screwjob again …. Guys, this match qualifies for this list as Bret assumed that he will retain the title and would lose it subsequently to Shawn on RAW… By 1997, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels had a rivalry both in and out of the ring. “The Hitman” was scheduled to leave WWE for WCW shortly so fans knew a title change was coming. Hart’s creative control dictated when, where, and to whom he would lose the belt. As Hart’s departure neared, Vince McMahon panicked and double-crossed Hart, fearful that “The Hitman” would take WWE title belt to WCW At 1997’s Survivor Series, Shawn Michaels put Bret Hart in Hart’s finisher, the Sharpshooter and the referee called for the bell immediately, even though Hart clearly hadn’t submitted Fans were surprised at the match’s bizarre ending. but no one as much as Hart. McMahon had promised Hart he could drop the title after Survivor Series (the conversation was even captured on film for the documentary Wrestling with Shadows). In what might be called karma, Michaels injured his back in a casket match against the Undertaker at 1998’s Royal Rumble, forcing his early retirement. Nearly twenty years later, the Montreal Screwjob remains controversial, with some even claiming it all a work. 8) Jeff Hardy Vs Sting (Victory Road, 2011) Jeff Hardy has managed to maintain a pretty loyal fanbase despite all his shortcomings and failures Jeff was a known drug user and his addiction problems were a major factor in his release from the WWE. Jeff was even arrested when the police found his stash and as a result he’s not allowed outside of the United States anymore Jeff found a more forgiving home in TNA but even that wasn’t enough to clean him up. Jeff showed up in no condition to compete at a Victory Road event where he was supposed to beat Sting for the title. Jeff was in such bad shape that the match was quickly changed to a No DQ match where Sting pinned him in 30 seconds. Jeff has since cleaned up his act but his inability to leave the country and his troubled past may be enough to keep him out of the WWE. 7) Hulk Hogan Vs Nick Bockwinkel (Super Sunday, 1983) People may complain about the Hulkster’s creative control clause but here, he had nothing to do with a last-minute, finish, or did he? In this case, a super-popular Hogan was supposed to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship from Nick Bockwinkel after a long chase for the belt. Hulkamania was running wild in the AWA and it seemed like the obvious choice to put the belt on Hogan who had crossed over from wrestling to success in Hollywood after his role as “Thunderlips” in 1982’s Rocky III. Unfortunately, AWA owner Verne Gagne wanted in on the Hulkster’s lucrative merchandise sales (as well as some of Hogan’s income from working Japan). If that wasn’t enough, Gagne wanted Hogan to marry one of his daughters, at least the Hulk claims in his autobiography Hollywood Hulk Hogan. The Hulkster said no way brother, and Gagne changed the finish, having AWA president Stanley Blackburn reverse the referee’s decision after Hogan pinned Bockwinkel. According to the book, Sex, Lies, and Headlocks, Gagne was stunned when Hogan told him he wasn’t returning to the company. Hogan had in fact, taken an offer from Vince McMahon in the WWF, leading to a slow death for the AWA and a meteoric rise for the WWF. 6) Antonio Inoki Vs Muhammad Ali (Nippon Budokan Arena, 1976) After his 1975 win over Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali looked all over the world for competition, offering a cool million to any Japanese fighter to face him. Japanese businessmen heard of this and arranged a reported six-million-dollar payday for Ali to face Japanese wrestling hero Antonio Inoki. During the 1970’s wrestler Antonio Inoki liked to book himself in worked shoots against martial artists in order to help build himself up as well as his promotion New Japan Pro Wrestling. The stories behind the match vary as to whether it was a shoot, depending on whom you believe. According to the book Sex, Lies, and Headlocks a scenario was worked out where Ali and Inoki would fight a worked shoot with Ali dominating until Inoki cheated and bladed himself, causing Ali to ask the referee to check on him and turn his back, allowing Inoki to win with the classic Pearl Harbor job. Another story has it that when Ali showed up in Japan, he saw Inoki training and realized Inoki was a tough opponent. Ali was light years ahead of Inoki in boxing but Inoki would destroy him if things went to the ground. In the end, the match was drastically changed so Ali could box but Inoki was unable to throw kicks unless both knees were touching the mat. Furthermore, he couldn’t kick above Ali’s waist and was prohibited from using moves such as suplexes and open hand strikes to the eyes. The match ended in a boring draw with Inoki repeatedly kicking at Ali’s legs, but unable to deliver the coup de grace (Had Inoki not been penalized points earlier in the match, Inoki would have won on points). Ali didn’t walk away unscathed, suffering blood clots around his legs, requiring hospitalization and almost leading to the loss of a leg. 5) Hulk Hogan Vs Sting (Starrcade, 1997) This dream match had been built up for over a year, with Hollywood Hulk Hogan and his New World Order henchmen terrorizing WCW and Hogan maintaining a stranglehold on the WCW World Championship. When the two men met at Starrcade, fans expected an epic match, hoping Sting would bring the gold back to WCW. Newly acquired wrestler Bret Hart was at ringside, adding intrigue as to whether he might join the nWo or not. The match was supposed to end with referee Nick Patrick (well-known for selling out to the nWo) making a fast count on Sting, allowing Hogan to win. Bret Hart would then enter the ring and tell the fans he wouldn’t see Sting get screwed over like he’d been (alluding to the Montreal Screwjob), starting the match back up and seeing Sting defeat Hogan for the WCW title. One problem here though- according to James Dixon’s book Titan Screwed, Hogan convinced Patrick to make a normal count instead of a fast one, thus making it seem like Bret Hart had no business complaining. If you watch the count, Patrick looks normal, neither fast nor slow. Hart punched out Nick Patrick, and appointed himself referee for the rest of the match. Sting fought off interference by Hogan’s nWo teammates, hitting a Stinger Splash and submitting Hogan with the Scorpion Deathlock. When you factor in Sting showing up out of shape for the match, a dream match turned into a dud with a very questionable finish rather than a big win for Sting and WCW. 4) Hulk Hogan Vs Goldberg (Nitro, 1998) Here we have the opposite of the previous match. Bill Goldberg had been built up over a year as an unstoppable babyface, defeating opponent after opponent and asking, “Who’s next?” A Hulk Hogan/Goldberg match was inevitable and it could have main evented any PPV, guaranteeing a lot of money for WCW. Then in an incredibly epic case of leaving money on the table, WCW decided to air the match on Monday Night Nitro. In the match, Goldberg hit the Spear on Hogan after Diamond Dallas Page and NBA star Karl Malone stopped nWo member Curt Hennig from interfering. Goldberg hit his finisher the Jackhammer, pinning Hogan to win the belt after less than a year in the business. According to the book, The Death of WCW, the last-minute match was changed from a non-title bout to a title bout for Hogan’s WCW World Championship because Nitro was losing the ratings battle to Monday Night RAW. While the move wouldn’t make as much money for WCW, it was sure to guarantee a phenomenal rating, perhaps setting a new record for Monday night wrestling. Unfortunately, WCW gave the match just four days of promotional build-up, winning the ratings battle for one week but wasting a fortune in the process. 3) Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXX, 2014) When Brock Lesnar ended the Undertaker’s legendary WrestleMania unbeaten streak, fans were shocked. Rumors began to surface about why. The most obvious was that Vince wanted to push Brock as a monster heel by making him the man who snapped “The Streak.” This wouldn’t be the first time the Undertaker helped got Brock over as ‘Taker let Brock pin him cleanly in the Hell in a Cell Match at 2002’s No Mercy PPV. Another story has it that the Undertaker got hurt in the match (or backstage before the match) and could barely move, forcing a loss. While this seems unlikely, fans eventually learned that Vince McMahon made the decision to end the Dead Man’s unblemished record just four hours before the match. Did he flip a coin? Did he bet the boys backstage that ‘Taker would never lose, setting them up for a sucker bet? This decision was either incredibly hard to make or Vince McMahon is even flakier than we thought. 2) Scott Hall vs Steve Austin Guys when the NWO made their WWE debut in 2002, many wanted to see Hogan vs Steve Austin, but it was Scott hall who picked up a feud with the rattlesnake . Their feud led to a match at Wrestlemania 18 which Scott lost . Recently Scott Hall appeared on You’re Welcome with Chael Sonnen and explained what actually happened behind the scenes Scott said
“Austin felt like he should have been wrestling Hulk and it would have been fine with me. I would have certainly wrestled The Rock and I would have been cool with that, but I didn’t make those decisions, Vince did. Vince made the decision to have Rock wrestle Hulk and he looked at me and Kev ( Kevin Nash that is ), and he goes, ‘I’ll have one of you, probably Scott, wrestle Steve with the other guy on the outside’.” Many in the industry felt that Austin, Hogan had ego issues and didn’t wanted to work with each other Coming to the match at Mania, Hall was set to beat Austin with interference from Nash, but instead Austin hesitated to loose. In one of Austin’s podcast, he admitted that he was not in a right state of mind and has been dealing with personal issues… Just hours before the match, Austin and Vince had a big argument which Austin won and as they say “ Rest is history” . The match itself was very bad, this entire episode is one of the low points in Austin’s career 1) Triple H and Booker T wrestlemania 19 By 2003, Booker T had already been Tag Team Champion and Hardcore Champion in WWE. Triple H had been attacking and insulting Booker T in the run up to the 2003 match, going far beyond the usual air of contempt for wrestlers Triple H felt superior to. On RAW, before their WrestleMania match, Triple’s promo seemed to be intended to destroy Booker, not to build up their match. The Game made a mockery of the World Heavyweight title that Booker held in WCW and brought with him to WWE, exaggerating the relevance of David Arquette having held the title. Triple H failed to acknowledge how many great wrestlers, including his mentor Ric Flair, had held the title. Moreover, Triple H even resorted to making comments that were arguably racially insensitive, stating that people like Booker were not allowed to reach the status Triple H held at the time. Booker T did not to retaliate on the mic. or with his fists no matter how harsh Triple H’s comments became. It must have been scripted so. He outwrestled Triple H and pulled out all the stops. Yet, he lost after receiving only one pedigree from Triple H. Such an anticlimactic ending had to have been scripted. The original plan was for Booker to win and become World Heavyweight Champion, but Hunter convinced management that it was the wrong move and successfully had the match changed so that he would retain the gold. He convinced the management that he would be the right guy to start a feud with Goldberg. There are two more rumors surrounding this …. 1) HHH never liked Booker T and so it was in his “ Game” plan to start a feud with Booker T promising for a title win only to show his true colors just before the match 2) There were also rumors that the Bookman turned up to pre-WrestleMania Raw taping hungover and in poor condition. Wrestling analysts say that his title loss was actually a punishment from Vince …. The next time you see a match and wonder why the ending was so unexpected, you might be witnessing a last-minute booking change. Anything can and does happen in the wild world of professional wrestling and it’s often the result of last-minute decisions.