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Top 10 most disappointing wrestling “surprises”.

by Jeff Knott

February 28, 2011


The Rock returning to raw recently was a great mark out moment, the first time in a while I can remember leaping out of my sofa and screaming like a little bitch in sheer joy. But it got me thinking about how many wrestling “surprises” really end up delivering. The Rock’s return was awesome because we were led to believe it could be Justin Bieber. With that threat, frankly had Heidi the fucking cross-eyed opossum wandered out to the ring she would have got a decent pop. This is how the art of a good surprise work – under-promise and then deliver something so fucking awesome, it makes fans collectively shit their pants. But wrestling is rife with the so called “bait and switch”, where wrestling “surprises” are the exact opposite of the Rock’s return – months of build up for an earth-shattering announcement, only for fans to be rewarded for their wait with something about as exciting and interesting as mouldy butter.

So, with that in mind, lets have a look at my top 10 most disappointing wrestling surprises ever. These things always provoke good argument, so up front I’ll admit to a heavy focus on WWE and mainly recent(ish) events. That’s because its what I’ve seen. I have this revolutionary idea that you shouldn’t piss on something unless you saw it, so I’ll generally only include things I can remember, which is mainly WWE, because I don’t watch TNA. That said, most of the last few years in TNA could have been collectively included as a disappointing surprise, so maybe another day. But for now, on with the top 10!

10. Kizarny

A classic case of failing to deliver on the build up. For several months in late 2008, vignettes began to appear on Smackdown hyping the debut of a mysterious shadowy character hanging around carnival rides. This piqued many people’s interest, with rumours beginning to fly this could be the new man to step into the Undertaker’s void (not Michelle McCool) as a magical smoke and mirrors type of star. Then he began to talk and things just got weird. Because he talked carny. And not just a bit. No every fucking word for shizz this and izz that. Now around this time it seemed to become fashionable for folk to write as if talking in carny when discussing Kizarny. In honour of that period, I’m not going to in the slightest because it makes you look fucking idiotic. So the build up continued until eventually he debuted in January 2009 against MVP...in a massively anticlimactic debut. True he was awful in the ring, but even before he got there, the crowd’s reaction can best be described as sheer confusion, and that’s being generous. They had been expecting a slightly oddball character for sure, but perhaps it would be a weirdly entertaining Doink for the modern age or similar. Instead what we got was what appeared to be the gormlessly grinning lovechild of Pirate Paul Burchill and Rico, only with no discernible ability.

After a letdown like this, its little wonder Kizarny was soon on jobber duty and when you’re regularly getting your ass handed to you by MVP, you’re never far from a pink slip, which for Kizarny arrived in March. And things have only gone down hill since, now he’s banging Jerry Lawler’s cast offs. So, highly built up debut to unemployment line in less than three months? Check. But at least it was something different, unlike...

9. Every time its the Big Show

Ok, this might be a little unfair on Paul Wight, but its designed to represent every time the “surprise” is the blatantly fucking obvious option. And the most recent example was this past weekend at the Elimination Chamber, when Teddy Long inserted Show into the Smackdown title match, so his name’s attached to it. The whole point of a surprise is its supposed to be shocking, not “oh look, its the bloke we all thought it would be”. If you’re going to do the obvious thing, why build it as a surprise? Why not just do it? Oh look, about the only main eventer from the past 12 months not in the elimination chamber, with an ongoing feud with one of the other competitors, has been inserted, shock horror. And to compound this particular one, you then have the legitimate surprise of Christian Cage (thanks Booker) returning at the end of the match. This just makes my head explode. Why not actually put Christian in the match because he wants to be champion and to cost Del Rio his legacy, plus great will they/won’t they fight moment with Edge, etc? True those of us on the internet usually have a fair guess who it’s going to be, but all too often bookers just take the easy route and insert someone so blindingly obvious, Stevie Wonder could see it coming a mile off. Also, see Undertaker, The.

8. Mordecai

Another beloved fuck of a debut, but this one ranks a few rungs higher because right up the big night, it promised a lot. In early 2004, vignettes appeared on Smackdown featuring a figure clad all in white, promising to rid the world of sin and sinners. This looked interesting. It seemed inevitable he was heading for a big launch feud with The Undertaker (noticing a theme here?) and it made perfect sense, as he was in almost every way the exact image reversal of ‘Taker, complete with white robes, white bear and hair. In true style, his debut was slated for Judgement Day. How perfect, the avenging angel descends and smites everyone for their sins. So, true to form, the Lord’s avenging angel comes out and takes out his pent up wrath on...Scotty 2 Hotty? Eh? Ah, but this was the time when Scotty was...no wait, Scotty was doing fuck all as well and was blatantly just thrown out to be murdered. What “sin” was poor Scotty supposed to be smited of? Of all the people in the Smackdown locker room at the time, Mordy picks on someone who’s biggest “sins” are having the least believable finisher this side of Chikara and an unhealthy obsession with dancing with obese Samoans. Oh well, disappointing as a debut, but I could have lived with it had Mordecai flattened him in 30 seconds flat and proclaimed he was hear to cleanse WWE of sinners. But no. Not Mordy was actually forced to sell! Take a moment to think on that. You build up the debut of an ethereal avenging angel so powerful he floats in smoke and promises to rid everyone of their sins and you have him struggle against someone who’s biggest claim to fame is having hung around with Jerry Lawler’s son for a bit. True Mordecai pulled out the win, but he struggled from their on out, and lasted barely month before disappearing from our screens. So, likely feud with the Undertaker, to being off TV in weeks? That’s a pretty epic fall from grace, all as the result of a terrible surprise debut.

7. Shockmaster

So some of you might argue that Mordecai and Kizarny weren’t necessarily surprises, as their debuts were pushed in advance, to which I would retort, mind you’re own fucking business. But with that in mind, at number seven is the ultimate in ridiculous debuts, the one and only Shockmaster. Really, if you need this one explained to you, you have no right being on this site. Lets just say this must go down as the most epically horrendous debut of all time and will forever be known as such. That said, Shocky never got a huge build, so few would have had big expectations. As shocking as the Shockmaster was, this keeps him down at number seven in our list.

6. Kane’s burlap sack

No, don’t worry, this isn’t a horrific analogy to Glenn Jacob’s horribly burnt scrotum. Back in 2008, Kane began carrying a brown sack to the ring and threatening to reveal what was inside it. This was built up for weeks, with every hint and sign pointing to it being Kane’s old mask. Now, at the start of this lost, I said predictable surprises were pointless. Well this is the exception. Kane had been on a downward spiral ever since he had been unmasked. He was now less big red monster and more, well, big bald dude who looks like a shrivelled penis. It made perfect sense to get the mask back on him and bring back the monster. So that’s what we were all expecting on Raw as Kane pulled forth from the sack...Rey Mysterio’s mask? What? Apparently Kane had kidnapped Mysterio (who had been missing for a month) and was torturing him. By this point, the live crowd, who had expected to witness the historic rebirth of the big red monster, were resoundingly shitting on the swerve. I’m always tempted to give things a second chance. Maybe this would set up a mask vs mask match, or perhaps some kind of bizarre karate kid set-up where Rey re-teaches Kane the importance of a mask? But now, all it led to was a brief and entirely forgettable feud, which culminated in absolutely nothing changing, and Kane still remaining maskless. And anyway, what was the significance of Rey’s mask? Doesn’t he have like hundreds of them? Who knows. Anyway, while I might have been prepared to give it a chance, no-one else seemed to (quite rightly) and for turning a potentially career defining moment into the start for a brief feud no-one wanted to see, Kane’s sack sneaks in at six.

5. Johnny Nitro – CM Punk – Vengeance 2007: Night of Champions

Now I’m prepared to cut WWE some slack on this one. For those of you who don’t remember, this was supposed to be the first ECW title defence for Chris Benoit, who had just won the vacant title. Punk was beginning to pick up steam and had won the title shot. And I was salivating. I hadn’t seen much of Punk in Ring of Honour, but had caught enough on youtube to know he was shit hot in the ring. So a title match against Benoit seemed potentially great on so many levels. Both were faces, so would be allowed to tae the shackles off, tear the house down and steel the show. Perhaps this would be the moment Punk would solidify himself as the successor to Benoit’s submission based style at the top of the WWE tree. Maybe it would kick off a great long feud where Benoit would eventually pass the torch tot eh straightedge superstar. Or maybe Benoit would disappear. Oh yes, for those who hadn’t worked it out already, this was the PPV Benoit missed due to a “family emergency”. Lets not get into what really happened with Benoit that weekend, other than to say he’s yet to return to the ring. For our list what matters is that Punk was left without an opponent. What would happen? Maybe they would just throw on a diva match and hold off on kicking off the Punk-Benoit feud. Maybe Punk would verbally lay into Benoit for not showing up and not being straightedge, turning one heel and setting things up down the line (in hindsight, probably best they didn’t go this route!). So we discovered the title had been vacated. Ok, great, maybe Punk gets the title by default. Bit disappointing as it would be his first WWE title, but potentially a great springboard for a future feud as he’s seen as undeserving. No, the title match is on and Punk vs....Johnny Nitro? Eh? The guy from MNM who hasn’t been caught with the drugs yet? Oh well, at least Punk gets his moment...what Nitro’s won? Now admittedly Nitro was linked to the title picture on ECW at the time, so it did sort of make sense, and clearly Benoit’s weekend family break had meant a quick audible was necessary. But at the time I didn’t know that and I was absolutely fucking spewing that they had seemingly pissed on two of my favourite wrestlers and the legacy of ECW (or what was left by this stage) to stick the title on a pretty boy. Of course, it all got better - Punk got the title and went onto great things, Nitro became Morrison and went onto great things with Miz and on his own. So at the time it was, personally, one of the most horrendous mystery opponents ever, but it all worked out for the best in the end. Unless you’re last name was Benoit.

4. No way Out of Texas 1998

I suspect you dear reader (hi mum!) are now scratching your head and wondering what the fuck I’m talking about. And you’re right, this is a fairly obscure one to pick this high in the list, but it is to mind the absolute standout for worst “mystery tag partner” ever. Typically the vacant spot on the team is used to build a returning star, to a debuting future star (eg. Undertaker at Survivor Series). On this occasion, the planned main-event was one of those classic WWF/E feud combining clusterfucks, with Steve Austin, Owen Hart, Cactus Jack, and Chainsaw Charlie taking on Shawn Michaels, Triple H, The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg). But then Michaels went down with the injury which would eventually keep him out for four years. At the last minute, someone was needed to step onto the DX team to fill the hole. Who could fill in for the WWF champion? Surely it would take a major player to keep teams even. Maybe someone at the top of the card who could step in and maybe even feud with HBK for leadership of DX? At least we would surely get someone interesting who could have a decent match and start/continue a feud with the opponents. What we got, was Savio Vega. Whatever the build and whatever, the gap which needs to be filled, Savio Vega is never the right answer. Unless the gap which needs to be filled is several miles underground. Certainly Savio Vega is not of the calibre suitable to slot into a PPV main event in place of your top champion and lead DX to a big victory over Steve Austin and co. And so it proved. From the moment Vega stepped through the curtain he was openly ridiculed. His only involvement in the match was to get repeatedly battered in the head by Foley and a stocking wearing Terry Funk. And no-one gained from it. Going into WrestleMania, everyone continued their separate feuds, with Austin taking the title and putting Michaels out until 2002. Vega di what he did best. Disappeared without anyone noticing or caring.

3. Vince’s son

While the last entry may have been obscure, as we move into the top three, here’s one everyone will remember. Its 2007 and Vince McMahon has failed to blow himself up (having been outdone by the previously mentioned Chris Benoit) and is in need of an alternative attention grabbing storyline. And so the news came out towards the end of the year that there was an illegitimate son McMahon had not heard of before. Lets ignore the pure stupidity of this storyline for now (which is amply covered elsewhere) and concentrate that this was a big deal. It was the opportunity to really put a young heel to the next level, in exactly the same way as the McMahon-bomb storyline would have done. Whoever was a McMahon would immediately be thrust into the main event and with the full backing of the family name behind them, fans were excited as to who would get the honour. And there was an obvious candidate – one Mr Kennedy (and no, similar to the Kizarny, I will not imitate Kennedy’s ring introduction by typing his surname twice, because, I am not a twat). Kennedy had been banging on the glass ceiling for a while, unable quite to make the jump to permanent main event level. Injuries had taken their toll, notably when robbing him of the Money in the Bank briefcase and a seemingly guaranteed title run, but finally the stars seemed to be aligning and Vince was about to get the chance to push him. Hell, Kennedy even had the same cocky mannerisms – it was believable he would share DNA with the evil CEO. It was strongly hinted on Raw this was the plan, with Kennedy going a far as claiming he was the mystery son. But then things went really tits up, with old Ken getting shown to be the fool he is, simultaneously claiming there were no steroids in wrestling anymore, while shooting himself up with enough gas to run a whole stable of racehorses. This left a problem. Who would the son be? While news of Kennedy’s demise leaked, the opportunity was still there. Even as the superstars were filed from the ring, idiotic question after idiotic question, I held out hope. And then it was left with just HHH and Vince in the ring, with the lawyer uttering the famous words that Vince’s son loved to “play the game”. Oh god, WWE had managed to turn this huge opportunity into that start of the often threatened incest angle. Stephanie was really Hunter’s sister. Shoot me now. And then they did something I thought impossible, they did something worse than an incest storyline, something far worse. Yes, of course Vince’s illegitimate son was Hornswoggle, the “little bastard” according to JR who sounded like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world. And of course this led to all manner of hahalarious humour a five year old would find insulting, until eventually JBL ended it all by saying he knew Hornswoggle was actually Finlay’s son after all. I don’t thank JBL for much, but John, for ending this pain, I thank you, although I’m slightly scared to ask how you know...

2. Gobbledy Gooker

How could we go past the single most ridiculous build up in wrestling history. The backstory is well known. For months leading up to the 1990 Survivor Series, an enormous egg was carted around to WWF events, with commentators and fans alike wondering what on earth would hatch out – a new wrestler, a returning superstar? Who knew. And why the hell were they in an egg? Well infamously all was revealed at Survivor Series when Hector Guerrero in full turkey costume leapt forth and danced with Mean Gene to the delight of absolutely no one. The Gooker rates so highly because frankly there has never been a longer, more hyped, build, for something which was shat all over quite so quickly. Seriously, watch it back. The crowd literally turns on the segment instantaneously. This was years before the internet and “smart fans”. Most people in the audience were card carrying Hulkamaniacs, yet within seconds they resoundingly destroyed the ridiculousness to the level the idea wasn’t mentioned again for nigh on a decade. So, a surprise hyped for months, which turned out to be so bad, the crowd turned on it in seconds and the company dropped it after just one performance. The Gooker, a by-word for upfuckery. What could possibly top that for the number one most disappointing “surprise” in history...

1. Who ran over Stone Cold?

Ah yes, 2000. A great year. The new millennium, we hadn’t all died from the millennium bug and the Attitude era was in full swing. All in all, a great time to be a wrestling fan. Steve Austin had finally been given the time off he needed to get neck surgery after a botched Owen Hart piledriver way back in 1997, with set up being he had been run down with a car at Survivor Series. A note to anyone remotely linked to a wrestling company who might accidentally stumble across this – vehicular homicide in wrestling never works. I don’t meant hat in the “no one ever dies” sense (although that’s also true). I mean it never gets anyone over. Just ask Steve Blackman. Don’t remember what I’m talking about? Exactly! Another reason its stupid is that no one ever goes to the police. Instead you end up with some incompetent authority figure, in this case Mick Foley, bumbling around trying to play private detective until the victim inevitably comes back and kicks arse.

Be that as it may, expectations were sky high. Austin was finally returning and we would find out who was behind the heinous crime. What an opportunity for someone to in one fell swoop to become the most hated man in wrestling, and a guaranteed top heel for years to come.

After various false starts and resulting stunners (including hilariously a reference back to the aforementioned Blackman incident), all signs appear to point to the Rock. This seems (a) entirely logical – after all, who else gained more from Austin’s demise than the Rock, now undoubtedly the company’s top draw – and (b) likely to lead to some quality encounters a guaranteed big pay off. But it all just seemed to make too much sense and in true Scooby Doo style, Foley revealed it was not the Rock at all, but Rikishi.

Yes Rikishi, the morbidly obese Samoan famous only for a mildly amusing midcard dance routine and shoving his arse in people’s faces.

Now this made no sense on so many levels. In fact, Foley admitted as such right off the bat, telling Rikishi, RIGHT IN THE REVEAL OF THE SURPRISE itself, “I don’t know why”. So Foley had no motive and we are led to believe based his whole theory on one word out of place from Scotty 2 Hotty that he was hanging out with Rikishi on the night Austin was run down? In Foley’s mind this was enough to confirm it was Rikishi, despite the huge weight of circumstantial evidence suggesting it was the Rock, the complete lack of an apparent motive for Rikishi who had gained precisely nothing out of Austin not being around, the complete lack of any other evidence. In Foley’s world, the word of one coked out tit with spiky hair over-rides all of that. And key questions were never answered. So Rikishi wasn’t in the company when he was supposedly meeting with Scotty. Therefore he’s guilty? Maybe he was just visiting his friend who subsequently got him a job? And what about the “fact” someone had seen that the diver was blonde. Even assuming this observation was right (did anyone think that someone might have dies their hair in the last year, rather than walking around looking exactly the same as when they TRIED TO COMMIT MURDER?!), is Rikishi was the driver, even at a glance in a speeding car, surely the first thing you would notice is “my god that cars being driven by an enormously fat Samoan”, not “ooh look he has blonde hair”. How can you see his hair and nothing else? Dumb arses.

Of course, being the fucking idiot he is, Rikishi admits all and says he did it all for the Rock and to end the “Great White Hope”. Which also made no sense. When Austin was attacked, Big Show replaced him in the match and won the title. So why hadn’t Rikishi gone after Show who is, last time I checked, pretty fucking pale. And who was the current champion? Kurt Angle, who last time I checked is also kind of white. So Rikishi is fighting for the Great White Hope, but not against Show, Angle or HHH, who was also champion in the intervening period. Give me a break! What about all the other people who would have made so much more sense. Off the top of my head Chris Jericho or Kurt Angle could have been solidified as bonafide stars much earlier than they were. But no, they went with a portly Samoan. And here’s the kicker, while Rikishi was a mildly entertaining comedy act, he was hardly built for a blood feud with a pissed off Rattlesnake. Which meant the matches sucked and the focus was rapidly switched to HHH, with Rikishi being just the hired muscle. He was paired off with The Rock for some more mediocre matches, before disappearing altogether.

All these “surprises” were in one way or another missed opportunities, either to establish a new star, elevate someone to the next level, or just provide some good entertainment. But nothing can top the saga of who ran over Stone Cols. Probably the biggest build in the last two decades towards finally unveiling a mystery assailant, only to waste it. The reveal should have left fans clamouring for blood, but instead they simply shrugged in a confused way and moved on. What could have been one of the most memorable moments of the Attitude era, became a damp squib which benefited absolutely no-one and is now largely forgotten. As far as a disappointing “surprise” goes, its hard to top that!

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TWF FLASHBACK

November 2006

SATIRE: DISCONTINUED WWE XMAS PRODUCTS!

by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).