The WWE is somewhat like an amusement park. It’s full of ups and downs, some cheesy people in fake costumes, and some incredible thrills. That’s what keeps people coming back. Well, maybe not so much the cheesy wrestlers in costumes, but you get our drift.
Surprises are a staple of the industry. There’s nothing like a good twist to spice up a stagnating feud or even revitalize a wrestler’s entire career. Some wrestlers are even born from such surprises, bursting onto the wrestling scene in such a manner that makes them unforgettable.
Of course, surprises are a double-edged sword. Life also throws people the kinds of surprises that they’d rather do without, and the WWE is also not immune to such things. Bad things happen, simple as that, and they leave people shocked and looking for answers of any sort. There’s no avoiding these things, yet without the bad we cannot appreciate the good.
In a league with surprises around every corner, you’d think it would be hard to come up with a top ten list on the subject. Well, we’ve done it anyway! For your reading pleasure we’ve compiled a list of the best, and sometimes the worst, surprises in WWE history. Here are ten of the most shocking WWE moments from the last decade.
10. Edge Cashes in on Money in the Bank Against Cena
This shocking moment actually goes down as a historical classic, as fans got to witness the birth of Edge’s true championship run. For years up until this moment, Edge was a superstar who’d shown potential but had never been given a fair shot. When he won the Money in the Bank match, he decided to wait until the perfect moment to cash it in for a shot at the WWE title.
That moment, as it turns out, came to fruition against none other than the “face of the WWE”. John Cena was participating in the New Year’s Revolution event in January 2006, and was exhausted after his match. That’s when it was announced Edge was challenging Cena for the title, then and there. A tired Cena was unable to stop Edge from winning, as Edge landed two brutal spears before pinning Cena and hoisting the belt above his head.
9. Lesnar and Big Show Collapse the Ring
When such king-sized wrestlers step into the ring, fans expect the results to shake the stands a bit. What fans actually got when Brock Lesnar and Big Show collided was another thing entirely. Sure, fans were expecting some heavy hitting moves, but to have the World Heavyweight Title match literally fall into shambles around them was another thing entirely.
Pitting two of the largest wrestlers in the league against each other, the league knew they had quite the match draw on their hands. Fans were inherently interested. So, what better way to capitalize on excitement than to make the match rather explosive? As Lesnar and Big Show wrestled up the ropes, Lesnar set up Big Show for a top rope move. As they collided to the mat, the entire wrestling ring collapsed, leaving everyone with their jaws hanging open.
8. CM Punk Tells All
CM Punk has never been shy about saying whatever he wants to, whenever he wants to. He’s a man who doesn’t pull punches, and as it so happens it also translates to the microphone. It’s merely one reason why he’s been such a success over the past couple years. Essentially, he is this generation’s Stone Cold Steve Austin, and even though he’s no longer with the WWE, fans all still love him for it.
When fans saw Punk sit down and dish out the truth in a Raw event back in 2011, it was a genuine moment that famously “broke the fourth wall.” He spilled his guts about his feelings on how the WWE treats wrestlers, and painted the league as an evil entity in the world of professional wrestling. It was a heartfelt moment that you could tell was sincere; he meant every single word. Yet, it was also a rare moment, because for just a second fans were given a glimpse into the reality of the world of professional wrestling. They could see past the fake storylines and look into the actual business aspect of the league. According to Punk’s words, it isn’t too pretty.
7. Santino Marella’s Emergence
If you haven’t heard of Marella, well, you’ve probably been living under a rock. Though he’s now retired, that does not dim the career that he’s laid out over the years. He is a two time WWE Intercontinental Champion, as well as a WWE Tag Team Champion and a WWE United States Champion. His theatrical cobra strike move is a symbol of his career, and one of the more entertaining signature moves the WWE has seen.
Marella’s first WWE appearance is the moment that makes this list. In 2007, Vince McMahon stood in the middle of the ring with a rather intimidating figure in Samoan wrestler Umaga. The challenge was to pick any member out of the crowd and have them wrestle the giant. Of course, Marella was chosen in a staged event, though that didn’t stop the fans in attendance from immediately pulling for him. In a shocking turn of events, Bobby Lashley aided Marella in winning the Intercontinental Championship from Umaga, making one of the cooler debuts in WWE history.
6. Shane McMahon and Steve Blackman’s Summerslam Match
Shane McMahon is Vince McMahon’s son, and he’s gone a long way in effort to step out from his father’s shadow in the WWE. In fact, he has frequently taken to the ring and wrestled the most dominant superstars known to man. What’s more? He literally threw his body on the line each and every time he wrestled. Case in point: his match with Steve Blackman.
Now, Blackman was also known as a bit of a daredevil, and when the match between these two was set up we were expecting something rather awe-inspiring. What we got was a shocking conclusion that will be remembered for quite some time. McMahon began climbing a light fixture, reaching heights upwards of 50 feet. All the while Blackman chased him, only for McMahon to fall from the heavens. Then, Blackman leaped through the air and slammed McMahon before pinning him.
Honestly, words don’t quite do it justice. Watch the moment for yourself.
5. ECW Takes the WWE Title
Back in 2006, the ECW was back in business. It was announced that the WWE would be bringing back the league full-time, and fans of the ECW’s style couldn’t have been any happier. Of course, we know the league fizzled out, but at the time it was the buzz of the WWE world. Naturally, this also provided opportunities for clashes between the best stars from both the leagues.
One such clash occurred during ECW One Night Stand, featuring a match between Rob Van Dam and WWE superstar John Cena. Many expected Cena to win the match, though ECW fans were obviously pulling for RVD. When Van Dam pulled off the upset, taking the title from Cena, nobody could believe it. Announcers and fans alike all went ballistic, and the moment will live on in history as one of the more shocking things wrestling fans have witnessed.
4. John Cena Returns During Royal Rumble
The Royal Rumble is a sight to behold. Typically, it’s a chance for fans to envision what it’s like whenever they literally throw all their favorite superstars into the ring at once. It’s a prestigious match to experience for the wrestlers as well, make no mistake about it.
Yet, some Royal Rumbles seem to stand out from others, and this is one such example. In fact, it’s one of the more shocking moments in the entire sport within the last decade. As the countdown ticker wound down, fans were eagerly anticipating who would be the final contestant in a match that looked like it would swing Triple H’s way. Lo and behold, it was John Cena, who up until that point had been nursing a very serious shoulder tear injury. Cena’s emergence energized the crowd beyond belief, and he went on to win the whole event.
3. The Ultimate Warrior’s Death
Unfortunately, this marks the beginning of a few spots on our list that are quite sad. In life there are two sorts of surprises: ones that leave you smiling, and the kind that blindside you. The Ultimate Warrior’s death was so tragic because only one day prior it seemed his image had been revitalized and honored in the eyes of many WWE fans.
Making an appearance at Raw following his Hall of Fame induction, Warrior addressed the fans in a heartfelt speech. He even discussed notions like lasting legacy and death, crediting his fans with making him immortal by carrying the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior. The following day, he collapsed on the way to his car, leaving everyone in the WWE world shocked and in tears.
2. Lesnar Ends Undertaker’s Undefeated WrestleMania Streak
Depending on your opinion of The Undertaker, you may even see this as a sad event as well. Of course, every streak eventually is ended, every record is eventually broke, yet WWE fans were so sad to see this one finally fall. What makes it worse was that it was completely unexpected. Nobody really wanted this to be the way Undertaker lost his pride and joy.
As all challengers were when they took on the deadman, Lesnar was hyped as the one who could possibly take Undertaker down on the grandest of stages. Lesnar was also sporting quite the impressive momentum, and his fan draw was considerable as well. When the match concluded, Undertaker was left to walk off the mat alone in a sobering moment that left the entire WWE universe doubting what they’d just witnessed.
1. Chris Benoit’s Murder Suicide
It’s one of the more tragic WWE-related news stories ever, and it’s one that the WWE would probably prefer fade away into history. That’s because it’s bad publicity, but that doesn’t take away the fact that it’s also a tragically sad event that left everyone shocked and confused.
Chris Benoit was actually a rather successful wrestler in his time. He was even a WWE World Heavyweight Champion! Yet his life spiraled out of control, and he was incredibly depressed and battling various other mental obstacles. In 2007, police found the bodies of his wife and child as well as his own. It was determined he’d murdered his family and committed suicide. The WWE canceled their Raw show that day, and everyone was left grasping for answers.