One of the most glorified ‘jobs’ in recent memoryA Superstar’s income in the WWE is dependent on a plethora of factors, ranging from his position in the wrestler hierarchy to his merchandise sales.And inevitably, both of those factors are tied in with how over a Superstar is with the audience.So it is quite conceivable when Superstars reach a certain level of standing within the company, and especially amongst the fans, that they are loath to simply throw away their hard earned privileges by doing a “job”.And especially given the highly competitive dog-eat-dog world that the pro-wrestling industry is, even colleagues are reluctant to offer a leg-up to each other for the fear of having their position on the food-chain usurped.So it comes as little surprise that WWEs history has been littered with instances where Superstars have just refused to lie down and take the pin, even if it were best for business as far as the company may have been concerned.On that note, here are 7 such examples of WWE Superstars that were strongly averse to losing, although they may have initially been booked to do so.
#1 Stone Cold Steve Austin
That Stone Cold Steve Austin has been hailed as perhaps the single biggest ever draw for the WWE by Vince McMahon has been mightily contributed towards by the uncompromising manner in which the integrity of his character was protected on screen.
Aside from a select few Superstars that populated the upper echelons of the company along with the Rattlesnake, the number of other wrestlers to even share ring space with him, let alone steal a victory, has been meager to say the least.
Understandable as it was that Austin was highly protective of his character and legacy, the list of Superstars that he has refused to even work with for fear that it may dilute his standing is quite extensive, with the infamous “taking his ball and going home” incident of 2002 topping the list.
When informed that he was booked to lose to the up-and-coming Brock Lesnar on an episode of Monday Night Raw, Stone Cold infamously no-showed at the taping in Atlanta, and instead flew back home to Texas, leaving the whole company in limbo.
Although the two parties would later on patch up and Austin would return see out the final leg of his WWE career, the Rattlesnake himself later owned up to the folly of his actions; stating that he wasn’t averse to losing to Brock Lesnar, but just to the suddenness of the angle and the fact that it wasn’t afforded sufficient build up to merit a high profile loss.
While his reasoning is something that has come to be widely accepted over time, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s refusal to lose to Brock Lesnar has nonetheless been one glaring black mark in a storied career that has otherwise registered as one of the greatest in the illustrious history of pro-wrestling.
#2 Triple H
If any doubts linger as to the extent of the power mongering antics that Triple H is capable of, one only has to survey his growing influence in the company that has seen him installed as the heir apparent to Vince’s throne, in order for them to be allayed.
Throughout his career, a reputation of backstage politicking has shadowed The Game, along with numerous allegations that he was particularly given to burying talent that he did not think was up to the mark, or took a dislike to.
And those talents that he could not completely take away the legs of momentum from underneath, he did his utmost to undermine and undercut on TV programming.
One such Superstar that was victimised by Triple H in a highly distasteful and crude manner, the five time WCW Champion who had signed on to the WWE after the Monday Night Wars, was Booker T.
Although Vince’s personal vendetta against the company then made it semi-acceptable for anything WCW to be treated rather roughly then, Triple H – despite being the heel in that storyline – often crossed the boundaries of decency in how racially toned his put-downs of Booker T would be.
And after being portrayed as a B Class citizen by Triple H throughout the feud, any hopes that a feel good, pay-off moment may materialise for Booker T in their culminating encounter at Wrestlemania 18 were also dashed.
Not only would Triple H convince Creative against booking him from taking the loss at Wrestlemania, he would also ensure that the manner in which Booker T lost would make him, and by extension the WCW, look weak and watery at the end of the day.
#3 Hulk Hogan
Usually quite the perpertrator of behind-the-scenes puppeteering himself, it was ironical to say the least when Hulk Hogan was pitted in a feud against another master manoeuvrerer in Shawn Michaels, at Summerslam 2005.
Although it was initially decided that both men would be babyfaces in the feud, Shawn Michaels who greatly enjoying the popularity of his return run up till that point was forced to turn heel to accomodate Hogan’s wishes that their storyline be tailored to fit a babyface versus heel dynamic.
While Shawn Michaels reluctantly acquiesced to the demand, partly because the feud was pencilled in to be extended up till a third rubber match, what he didn’t expect was Hulk Hogan to double cross him just as their Summerslam encounter was in the offing and pull the plug on the subsequent “job” that he was supposed to do for HBK.
Trapped in a scenario where he had had to engender heel heat and “job” to the Hulkster without any hope of the favour being returned, Shawn Michaels then resorted to letting his fustrations show by completely overselling for Hogan during their match.
Needless to say, the discerning audience were either doubled up in laughter at the incredulity of the situation or aghast at watching a legendary, once in a lifetime match-up be reduced into a mockery, on account of a backstage tiff.
As was succinctly summed up later on, Hulk Hogan may have won that match, but Shawn Michaels certainly won the war.
#4 The Rock
Renowned for being a main eventer who was also a through and through company man, it may come as a slight surprise that the Rock is included in this list, especially given the number of high profile “jobs” that the Great One has acceded to in the past.
Names like Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Triple H, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Randy Orton, Batista and even Hurricane spring to mind when one compiles the list of Superstars that have been unselfishly put over by The Rock.
But still, despite facing the who’s who of the WWE during its most popular era, Shawn Michaels is a conspicuously absent name amongst The Rock’s list of much vaunted opponents.
But although they rarely co-inhabited a roster when both of them were fit and firing, there have always been rumours that The Rock turned down the idea of feuding with Shawn Michaels when it was eventually floated up to him.
Apparently Shawn Michaels, notorious for his backstage politicking in his earlier days, had undermined The Rock in an attempt to curtail the push he was receiving in favour of his friend and aide, Triple H.
Privy to these indiscretions, The Rock could never quite bring himself to trust Shawn Michaels and engage in a feud with him, for the fear of being buried due to his considerable influence with the powers that be.
While The Rock couldn’t be blamed for being cautious about entangling himself in a web of unnecessary politics, it is a pity that a dream match-up between him and the Heart Break Kid could never materialise because of that.
#5 Bret Hart
Although it wasn’t the first time that an employee of his wouldn’t see eye to eye with Vince McMahon, and certainly not the last, the Montreal Screwjob that ensued at Survivor Series in 1997 was perhaps the most high profile incident of a wrestler and a promoter not being on the same page.
Bret Hart, who was nearing the end of his WWE contract, was slated to drop the WWE title to his arch nemesis Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series; something that the Hitman was vehemently opposed to given that it would then mean losing in front of his home country fans.
However as it would turn out, Vince McMahon conspired with an all too eager Shawn Michaels behind his back, having the referee call for the bell when Bret was stitched up in his own patented move, the Sharpshooter.
This led to a furious wrecking spree by the enraged Hitman, who went as far as to spit on the bystanding Vince McMahon’s face and mimic the letters WCW - the company he was going to join - while also tracing them out with his finger on live WWE television.
Although much water has passed under the bridge today, inculding a public reconciliation between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, the Montreal Screwjob still remains an infamous landmark in WWE history when a Superstar simply was not on board with the management at all.
#6 Shawn Michaels
As prodigiously talented as Shawn Michaels was in between the ropes, his first stint in the WWE was bookmarked equally by his incessant backstage shenanigans as it was by his exploits inside of the squared circle.
Brash, arrogant and highly egotistical, Shawn Michaels was reportedly a nightmare to work with in his initial run with the company, as he would expect other Superstars to put him over, but would rarely deign to return the favour.
So much so that this entire list could be comprised of instances when the Heart Break Kid would refuse to “job” to other Superstars, and still fall short of doing justice to the sheer number of wrestlers that were short changed by him.
Making full use of the fact that he had the Chairman’s ear, wrestlers like Owen Hart, British Bulldog, Vader and of course, Bret Hart, were all dealt a rough hand when involved in a largely one sided program with the Showstopper.
And while it was true that Shawn Michaels’ second run in the company showcased a changed man that was much more selfless and willing to put over other talent, part of the allure of his legacy does indeed lie in how markedly contrasting his two stints were from one another.
#7 John Cena
What would a list comprising of Superstars that were only all too protective of their legacy be, without mention of the PG era mainstay and resident superhero of the WWE, John Cena.
Time and again, wrestlers that were burgeoning with potential have been sent careening into a nosedive after having shared the stage with the Face that runs the Place, with many of them not recovering from the setback for the entirety of their careers.
While the concept of the “glass ceiling” in the WWE has been the object of much controversy in the past, throughout the duration of the PG era, John Cena himself served as the unassailable pedestal that simply couldn’t be breached by anyone.
Despite coming off hugely successful successful builds and riding a massive wave of momentum, wrestlers like Wade Barrett after his Nexus angle, Rusev after going unbeaten for a year and even Kevin Owens upon his entry into the main roster, were severely hindered by Cena’s win-at-all-costs mantra.
Especially after his humiliating defeat at the hands of The Rock at Wrestlemania 28, it took no less than Brock Lesnar’s scalp at the subsequent pay per view, Extreme Rules, for John Cena to achieve redemption in his own mind.
And although some wrestlers that he defeated like Kevin Owens and Brock Lesnar went on to maintain their status in the company and grow from strength to strength even after their losses to him, they still remain as the one-off exceptions to the rule, and not the norm.