5 WWE Superstars who were replaced in matches at the last minute
Some may feel that it's a sham when WWE advertises a match and hypes it up only to pull a fast one at the last minute. Sometimes, however, the reasons can be so genuine that one can't help but look at it with concern.
There have been times when a superstar gets injured. We went through a very strange time in 2020 due to the pandemic, so there was also the unwelcome surprise of wrestlers testing positive for COVID-19.
Time after time, the company has faced challenges which it usually manages to overcome, though not always in the best possible way. At other times, the switch has made for entertaining television and a blessing in disguise.
Let's look at five times a WWE Superstar was replaced from a scheduled match at the last minute.
#5. The Monster Among Men won big with the opportunity of a lifetime
Braun Strowman had many opportunities to score big. He was even getting the backing of the fans. However, the company never pulled the trigger on him.
This writer's pick is No Mercy 2017. WWE should have utilized the momentum Strowman had at the time and booked him to defeat Brock Lesnar at the premium live event. Instead, The Beast won the bout in less than 10 minutes and that was that.
In 2018, WWE opted for a Roman Reigns-Brock Lesnar program at WrestleMania. The company booked The Big Dog to go over Strowman in the first-ever seven-man Elimination Chamber match that saw the latter literally steamroll every participant before falling to WWE's chosen one.
Cut to 2020, Strowman found himself in the lucky position of facing Goldberg at the Show of Shows, owing to Reigns being pulled from the scheduled match due to reasons pertaining to COVID-19.
It was Braun Strowman's time to shine as he went on to defeat Goldberg on the Grandest Stage, John Morrison and The Miz in a handicap match at Backlash, and even Bray Wyatt at Money in the Bank 2020.
The Monster Among Men would ultimately drop the belt to Wyatt himself at Summerslam before being pinned at WWE Payback by Roman Reigns, who began his historic reign as the longest-reigning Universal Champion of the modern era from that night onwards.
#4. The World Heavyweight Champion was unable to compete, thus guaranteeing a new champion
At Unforgiven 2008, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels fought in an unsanctioned match.
In one of the most underrated and violent matches by PG Era standards, HBK prevailed in the bout. It was a highly satisfying moment after the incident at Summerslam where Y2J suckerpunched Shawn's wife Rebecca.
While most thought Jericho's night was over following the loss, in a twist of fate, reigning World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk was unable to compete thanks to a backstage attack by Randy Orton and Co.
Enter Jericho. Not only was he a last-minute addition to the Scramble match, he went on to win the bout, outlasting Batista, JBL, Rey Mysterio and Kane to win his first World Heavyweight Championship.
On the September 15, 2008 episode of RAW, Chris Jericho defeated CM Punk in a Steel Cage match to retain the title and move on to defend it against Shawn Michaels in a generation-defining ladder match at No Mercy 2008.
What a time to be a WWE fan.
#3. A match that could have been, and a World Champion that never was again
Much like Braun Strowman's accidental world championship win, arguably WWE's most under-utilized superstar, John Morrison, won his first and only world championship in a similar fashion.
At Vengeance: Night of Champions 2007, CM Punk and Chris Benoit were scheduled to face each other for the vacant ECW Championship. While The Rabid Wolverine was nowhere to be found on the night of the show, WWE replaced him with Morrison (then known as Johnny Nitro), who went on to defeat CM Punk that night.
The former WWE Superstar subsequently defeated Punk in two straight premium live events, including Summerslam, before finally dropping the belt to the latter on the September 4, 2007 episode of ECW.
CM Punk vs. Chris Benoit could have been a match for the ages, as anybody who followed these wrestlers at the time knew what they were capable of. Meanwhile, John Morrison went on to win multiple titles and enjoyed a brief stint in the main event scene in 2011, but never held a world championship in WWE again.
#2. Becky Lynch enters the Rumble like a boss
The next two entries on this list are examples of a planned replacement, but nevertheless, they drew the desired reactions from the crowd and they were simply awesome moments.
WWE handled the Becky Two Belts story during and after WrestleMania 35 rather clumsily, but the Royal Rumble in 2019 was completely different.
Due to Lana being injured, Becky Lynch walked into the arena after having lost a championship match earlier in the night, submitting to Asuka. She entered the match at No. 28, replacing Lana. The Man went on to win the bout, last eliminating Charlotte Flair.
As the company nailed its execution, Lynch received a loud reaction from the crowd at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.
After a great moment with Nia Jax in the buildup to Survivor Series in 2018, followed by the Rumble win the following year, Becky Lynch became a made woman and never had to look back.
Honorable Mention: Kofi Kingston's organic rise to the main event en route to WWE WrestleMania 35
On account of only five entries, there were quite a few that had to be left behind. But it was hard to leave this one sans at least an honorable mention. So there it is.
Kofi Kingston replaced the injured Mustafa Ali in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match in 2019. Daniel Bryan was the reigning "Planet's Champion" who went on to win the bout, eliminating the current NXT Tag Team Champion after connecting with the Running Knee.
This, however, was not the end. Bryan would go on to mock Kingston as a "B+ Player", coming full circle since the former's rise to superstardom in 2014, and ultimately would selflessly put Kofi over on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
If it wasn't for the glorious rise of the New Day star, Bryan's gimmick deserved further time on television. The former WWE Superstar could have fleshed out the character in a few months' time and it would have been truly amazing.
But that wasn't meant to be. Instead, we got to witness a WWE veteran finally winning the big one at the Show of Shows.
Not bad at all.
#1. The Ultimate Opportunist gets his reputation and moniker for a reason, and here's the best example of it
Can you think of another time where WWE nailed the use of a character to its maximum potential?
The Rated-R Superstar was the reigning WWE Champion, having defeated Jeff Hardy at Royal Rumble 2009. Heading into No Way Out, he faced some major obstacles in the form of former champion Triple H, the Big Show, Vladimir Kozlov, and the Undertaker of all people.
Edge was eliminated from the match in under three minutes. Fast forward to the main event of the evening, the Rated-R Superstar attacked Kofi Kingston while the latter made his entrance and took his spot in the Chamber.
Now this was a completely different match, with participants such as Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Kane, Mike Knox, and the defending champion, John Cena.
After Cena was shockingly eliminated in quick fashion, it came down to former tag partners Edge and Mysterio. The former went on to win the bout and made history in the process.
This was also the last No Way Out premium live event that took place en route to WrestleMania, before WWE replaced the show with "Elimination Chamber." It was a solid show overall, with a hook that can be revisited at any time owing to its superior storytelling quality.
Edge was at the top of his game, and this is definitely one of his all-time greatest moments.