Throughout the history of the wrestling business, many a grappler has been protective of his or her spot. In fact, there’s barely a top-tier talent over the years who hasn’t gotten a little hot under the collar when it comes to sharing the spotlight with a fellow superstar.
While others are more notorious for keeping down fellow performers than others, there are also some more surprising examples of talents who did their utmost best to keep a hold of their spot on the card. And, yes, someone like Hulk Hogan is notorious for refusing to even work with so many different wrestlers, but the Hulkster is likely not as heavily featured in this article as you’d imagine, brother. You see, Hogan’s trick was that he’d not even enter into feuds with people like Jake Roberts and Mr. Perfect, let alone lose a title to them.
But while Hulkamania isn’t featured all that much here, there are still certain performers *cough* Shawn Michaels *cough* who are plastered here throughout for their notorious behavior and for being a little too protective of their championship gold.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at 20 times that a WWE Champion – as in any of the company’s championships – straight-up refused to lose his or her title belt.
20. Steve Austin To The Rock
While they may have been good buddies for a fair while, back in late 1997, Steve Austin refused to lose the Intercontinental Champion to the Rock.
At this point in time, Austin was white hot and was quickly on the road to the main event and the WWF Championship. As such, he felt that dropping the IC Title to Rocky was below him at that time and would make him look weak ahead of headlining WrestleMania XIV a few months down the line.
Stone Cold, rightly or wrongly, believed that he shouldn’t be doing jobs during that period, particularly to someone who was very much a midcard talent at that time. Instead, Austin essentially chose to hand the title to Rock.
19. Sable To Luna Vachon
Back in the Attitude Era, one could argue that only Stone Cold Steve Austin was hotter than the ridiculously popular Sable. A smoking hot sex symbol who gyrated her way through the WWF, Sable had her posters adorning the walls of many a young male, and her fandom only further skyrocketed when she posed nude for Playboy.
Despite winning the WWF Women’s Championship in 1998, that still didn’t mean that Sable was particularly great in the ring. In fact, she was pretty awful when it came to in-ring talent. Still, she had enough sway with WWF brass to refuse to lose her title to Luna Vachon at the 1999 Royal Rumble.
As the real-life friendship between the pair hit a wall due to Sable’s increasingly troublesome backstage behavior, the duo would actually have a backstage fight that saw Luna suspended and Sable ultimately have the title taken from her.
18. Jeff Jarrett To Chyna
Say it with me: J E Double-F Ha-Ha J A Double-R E Double-T!
Yes, putting together an article such as this but not mentioning ol’ Slapnuts himself would just seem wrong.
When Jeff Jarrett was on his way out of the WWF back in October 1999, Vince McMahon and Co. wanted Double J to drop his Intercontinental Championship to Chyna at the company’s No Mercy PPV. The problem was, though, that Jarrett’s WWF contract expired just one day before the show, meaning the future WCW World Champion held the company at ransom.
A six-time IC Champ, Jarrett refused to lose the Intercontinental Title to anyone — let alone a female in Chyna — unless the WWF stumped up enough money to convince him to take the 1-2-3 while he technically wasn’t under contract with the company.
17. Shawn Michaels To Tatanka
According to Tatanka himself, he was actually slated to win the coveted Intercontinental Championship during WrestleMania IX’s opening match. What ultimately happened was the Native American did win the bout, but only by count out – meaning Michaels kept hold of the gold.
On a personal level, this writer actually heard Tatanka tell that exact story during a convention appearance a couple of years ago. Of course, wrestlers have been known to stretch the truth a tad over the years, but the other side of the coin is that this is Shawn Michaels we’re talking about — somebody infamous in the wrestling industry for refusing to lose matches and for getting results changed.
Adding further fuel to this rumor, Tatanka was pushed as a big deal back at that point and was in the midst of a 2-year undefeated streak, and so him being given a run with the IC Title certainly sounds plausible.
16. Chyna To Lita
Where Chyna is concerned, the Ninth Wonder of the World fell into the trap that many wrestlers have over the years: she let her ego start to get the better of her.
In fairness to Joanie Laurer, you could maybe see why she got so carried away with herself and her character. After all, Chyna wasn’t your regular female competitor. No, this is someone who won the Intercontinental Championship twice, competed in the King of the Ring and the Royal Rumble, and who had battled men for several years.
So, when Chyna agreed to compete in the Women’s Division, you could see how things were going to play out. After squashing Ivory for the Women’s Championship at WrestleMania XVII, Chyna was then scheduled to drop the title to Lita at the Judgment Day PPV.
However, by the time Judgment Day rolled around, Chyna refused to entertain any and all ideas for her to lose the match and the title, and that match – which she did indeed win – would prove to be her last for the WWF before she was fired.
15. Steve Austin To Kane
This one has never been specifically cleared up by any of the parties involved, but there are various reports out there that claim Stone Cold Steve Austin was against losing his WWF Championship to Kane at the 1998 King of the Ring PPV.
That was back when Kane was an unstoppable monster of a performer shrouded in mystery and menace. Still, though, the Texas Redneck was supposedly against putting Kane over in a straightforward singles match at the show.
Instead, the match itself went ahead as a First Blood battle so that Kane could get a questionable win over Austin. Regardless, Stone Cold would regain the title the very next night on Monday Night Raw.
14. Shawn Michaels To Steve Austin
Unlike the majority of entries covered in this article, Shawn Michaels actually did lose to Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV, but that so nearly wasn’t the case.
With Austin having become the hottest star in the company, all was set for the Texas Rattlesnake to defeat the Heartbreak Kid at the Showcase of the Immortals and cement his spot at the top of the industry.
The Undertaker, with his very own mouth, has openly discussed how Shawn began to play it up as it got closer to bell time at ‘Mania — a mixture of the legit back injury he’d picked up at that year’s Royal Rumble and the urge to cling onto his spot at the top of the tree saw Michaels have second thoughts on doing the right thing.
13. Shawn Michaels To Bret Hart
One of the most famous examples of someone refusing to lose a championship – in this case, the WWF Championship – is Shawn Michaels outright refusing to put Bret Hart over at WrestleMania XIII.
The Heartbreak Kid won his first WWF Title by defeating Bret at WrestleMania XII, and the plan was for Shawn to return the favor to the Hitman a year later at ‘Mania XIII. Unfortunately, Shawn had different ideas and bluntly told Hart that he would not lose to him at the Showcase of the Immortals or basically at any time.
In a classic case of “Shawn being Shawn,” HBK famously lost his smile and vacated the title due to what Michaels said was a major injury. That led to Bret having an all-time classic at WrestleMania XIII as he bested Steve Austin, while Shawn would return mere weeks after ‘Mania to announce that the injury wasn’t as bad as he had first claimed — to the surprise of absolutely nobody.
12. Bret Hart To Shawn Michaels
While Shawn Michaels famously refused to lose to Bret Hart at WrestleMania XIII — going so far as to actually pull out of the proposed match — the Hitman would follow suit by refusing to lose the WWF Championship to Shawn at the 1997 Survivor Series show.
What went down at that Survivor Series PPV is one of the most infamous and notorious moments in wrestling history: the Montreal Screwjob.
As Bret was set to leave the WWE for Ted Turner’s WCW, he outright refused to lose his World Title to Shawn in his home country of Canada. Suggesting losing the belt to HBK on the next night’s Raw or even losing the belt at Survivor Series to another superstar, Bret was adamant that Michaels wasn’t leaving the Montreal PPV as the WWF Champion.
11. Diesel And Shawn Michaels To The Entire Tag Division
Ah, the joys of certain stars being allowed to call all of the shots. That’d be known as the ‘90s, kids.
While the likes of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall famously ran the roost in WCW, the WWF had similar shenanigans going on behind the scenes. And funnily enough, it was when the WWF stopped letting its stars dictate things that the company began to slowly turn around and win the Monday Night Wars.
But during Nash’s stint in the WWF as Diesel, Big Sexy was known to pull similar stunts as he did in his WCW tenure. As for Shawn Michaels, well, Shawn Michaels is Shawn Michaels.
So, when this pair was made Tag Team Champions in late 1994 while they were feuding with each other, the duo saw themselves as above the tag division and so decided against dropping the belts to any tag teams that were on the roster. Instead, in a rather disrespectful move, Diesel and HBK vacated the titles.
10. Ric Flair To Hulk Hogan
To be fair to both parties, the two involved here both refused to lose to each other at that point in time.
The time in question was 1992, and Ric Flair was strutting around as the WWF Champion. Finally, it seemed we were to get the dream match of Flair against Hulk Hogan on the Grandest Stage of Them All, WrestleMania. Only we didn’t.
Flair had been the figurehead of the NWA and WCW for years, as Hogan had for the WWF, but their planned WrestleMania VIII match never happened. While the chemistry apparently wasn’t there during test runs of the bout at live events, there’s also the fact that neither Flair nor Hogan was prepared to lose to the other.
Instead, Flair would lose his title to Randy Savage in an excellent match that was bafflingly stuck in the middle of the card, while Hogan would stink up the joint against Sid Justice in the main event.
9. Triple H To Rob Van Dam
Back when fan-favorite Rob Van Dam finally signed with the then-WWF in 2001, it didn’t take long for the Whole F’n Show to connect with the fans in his new surroundings.
Becoming one of the hottest acts in the company, RVD would eventually feud with Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship after the Game was handed said belt following Undisputed Champ Brock Lesnar becoming exclusive to SmackDown.
Sadly for Van Dam, regardless of how many times he faced Triple H, Mr. Monday Night would always come up short. From various reports over the years, there were many backstage who were clamoring for Van Dam to go over on Hunter, yet Triple H would constantly shoot down any such suggestions in order to keep hold of the gold as part of what fans often refer to as his ‘Reign of Terror’.
8. Rey Mysterio To Dolph Ziggler
Back in 2009, Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio took part in one of the greatest feuds of the past decade. And at the center of this rivalry was Jericho’s Intercontinental Championship and Rey’s iconic mask. Luckily for the legendary luchador, Mysterio would end up coming out on top by the end of the feud – and that meant he also came out with the Intercontinental Title in his grasp.
So after helping to reestablish the IC Title as a big deal once more, Rey took umbrage with being asked to lose the belt to Dolph Ziggler just a month later. Unhappy with this idea, Mysterio, at this point in time a multiple-time World Champion, refused to drop the title.
7. Steve Austin To Triple H
Going into SummerSlam ’99, Steve Austin was running roughshod as the WWF Champion. At the event, though, the original plan was for Austin to lose the title in a one-on-one match to Triple H.
Believing that the Game wasn’t ready for a World Title run at that point in time, Austin was against this idea. As it stood, however, the Bionic Redneck was majorly banged up and was in desperate need of some time off, which meant he needed to drop the gold.
In an act of compromise, Mick Foley, a longtime friend of Austin’s, was added to make the bout a triple threat and to instead put the WWF Championship on Foley. It also served to make sure that guest referee Jesse Ventura raised the hand of a babyface to close out the show.
6. Shawn Michaels To Dean Douglas
There’s no doubting that Shane Douglas is one of the most notorious wrestling superstars of the 1990s. Following his infamous shunning of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 1993, Douglas became a must-see part of ECW.
For Douglas, though, his stint in the WWF during 1995 saw him drop the Shane name and take on the moniker of Dean Douglas. And it was during this time that he ran afoul of Shawn Michaels at his most Shawn Michaels.
Initially getting a strong push as a midcard heel, there was talk of having Douglas take HBK’s Intercontinental Championship. Unfortunately, the former ECW Champion had already been marked by The Kliq as a dirt-sheet darling with no talent.
Instead of dropping the IC Title to Douglas, Shawn instead milked the real-life injuries from a marine-delivered nightclub beat down and forfeited the title. While Douglas was handed the belt, he’d lose it the same night to Razor Ramon before Michaels won it back a month later.
5. Honky Tonk Man To Randy Savage
It goes without saying, Randy Savage is revered as one of the true all-time greats of the wrestling business. Whether he was the Macho King or the Macho Man, Savage was always an engaging, entertaining performer who delivered in and out of the ring on a nightly basis.
As for the Honky Tonk Man? Well, he danced. A lot. And he modeled himself after Elvis. He also happens to still have the record for the longest Intercontinental Championship reign in WWE history.
Before WrestleMania IV, the plan was for Honky Tonk to drop the IC Title to Savage on an episode of The Main Event. With an audience of 33 million – which remains the highest-rated TV show in US wrestling history – Honky Tonk Man refused to lose the belt with so many watching, fearing it would hurt his stock if he were to leave the WWF.
4. Shawn Michaels To Vader
*Sigh* It really does feel as if this list is a tad Shawn-Michaels-heavy, but sadly that’s got to be the case due to how many times the Heartbreak Kid refused to do the J-O-B.
Where the hulking Vader is concerned, he had built a reputation as one of the biggest monsters in the business during his time in Japan and WCW. Then came 1996 and the beginning of his disappointing WWF run.
Pushed as a legitimate challenger for Michaels’s WWF Championship, the Mastodon would get a title shot at Summerslam ’96. The original plan called for Vader to win the belt in order for Shawn to regain it in his hometown at the 1997 Royal Rumble.
And then Shawn changed his mind.
Refusing to drop the title, Michaels went as far as to visibly berate Vader throughout the match before retaining the WWF Championship. And just like that, Vader dropped down the card and soon became a jobber to the stars and then a mainstay of WWF Heat.
3. Ric Flair To Lex Luger
One of the big reasons for Ric Flair leaving WCW for the WWF in 1991 was due to constantly butting heads with Executive Vice President Jim Herd.
The final straw was an argument over Flair dropping the WCW World Heavyweight Championship to Lex Luger. Herd saw Luger as the man to carry the company and so wanted Flair to lose ‘Big Gold’ to the Total Package. On Flair’s part, he thought that the only person suitable to take the belt from him was Sting.
This argument would ultimately lead to Flair’s dismissal, and the Nature Boy would show up on WWF TV with the WCW Title around his waist. Luger would win the title later that year after defeating Barry Windham.
2. Hulk Hogan To Bret Hart
When Hulk Hogan returned to the then-WWF back in 1993, the Hulkster famously refused to partake in his advertised WrestleMania IX tag match — Hogan and Brutus Beefcake vs Money Inc. — unless he somehow left the event as the WWF Champion, a championship that was being defended by Bret Hart against Yokozuna in the main event.
Of course, Yoko would beat Bret then ridiculously accept an impromptu match against Hogan in which, yes, Hulkamania walked out of Caesar’s Palace as the WWF Champ.
Following that, the plan was for Hogan to lose the WWF Title to Hart at that year’s SummerSlam — so much so that promotional material was coming together for the bout, including a feature in WWF Magazine.
1. Bruno Sammartino To Anyone
The legendary Bruno Sammartino won the then-WWWF Championship two times in reigns that added up to a whopping 11 years! Simply put, Bruno really was the Italian Superman and the Living Legend.
Throughout those title runs, though, Sammartino simply never, ever lost a match for the most part, and that was largely due to his outright refusal to lose. As Bruno has put it in several interviews over the years, he refused to lose to anybody because he didn’t think anybody could legitimately beat him in a real fight.
Given the hulking, imposing frame and the legendary strength of Sammartino, that meant that basically nobody was good enough to get one over on this iconic figure.