Epic Fail / Professional Wrestling

  • Anytime a Heel character is trounced in a way that instantly enters the record books. One instance that was truly for the ages occurred at the 2009 Royal Rumble Match to Santino Marella. He entered the contest, climbed over the ropes - and was instantaneously knocked back over the ropes by Kane, resulting in the shortest ever Royal Rumble time of one measly second. Predictably, Marella suffered a Villainous Breakdown as a result and screamed "I WASN'T READY!"
  • At Money in the Bank 2011, per Vince McMahon's request, Alberto Del Rio attempts to cash in his Money In The Bank contract allowing him to face WWE Champion CM Punk for his title, which he just won himself in a grueling match with John Cena. Normally, when someone cashes the contract in, they beat the exhausted champion in a Curb-Stomp Battle. However, because McMahon went on a headset openly calling for Del Rio to come out right in front of Punk, who a) has done this before (hell, he's done it twice), and b) has had enough recovery time to stand on his feet, as soon as Del Rio enters the ring, Punk casually kicks him in the head, knocking him out cold, shrugs, and leaves, blowing an infamous goodbye kiss to McMahon on the way out.
    • Repeated at Money In The Bank 2012, where Dolph Ziggler attempts to cash in on Sheamus, and Sheamus knocks Ziggler out cold with the Brogue Kick as soon as he gets in the ring.
    • The epic fail for Vince actually started in the Punk-Cena match itself. Cena had Punk locked in the STF for the second time in the match, then had his corporate stooge John Laurinaitis try to go and get the referee to call for the bell note . Seeing this out of the corner of his eye, Cena left the ring, decked Johnny Ace, and took ten seconds more to tell Vinny Mac he wanted to win the right way before getting back in the ring. Cue GTS and pinfall, leading to the above situation with Del Rio.
  • Whenever someone botches a move very badly.
    • Sacrifice 2008 provided a particularly bad example: AJ Styles attempted a top rope splash on BG James, but missed by a mile and landed on his face even though James didn't move out of the way.
    • Brock Lesnar botching his shooting star press at WrestleMania. Even though he screwed up the move, it's still an incredibly epic moment since he landed on his neck in a way that probably would've killed anyone else, then he gets up and still manages to win the match.
  • In the beginning of Tough Enough 2011, the new recruits declare they are ready to be new wrestlers, but are revealed to be so out of shape that they can't even run a few laps around the ring without getting out of breath and ready to collapse.
  • Late in 2005, Goldust and Vader return and help Jonathan Coachman ambush Batista and beat him up. The trio celebrate and try to leave the ring... and Vader stumbles and falls to the floor. He shouted expletives as he couldn't get up on his own and had to be helped up by his comrades.
  • Kevin Nash suffered a biceps injury in March of 2002, and after several long months of rehab, and promotion of his impending return on WWE's part, he made said return in a 6-man tag team match in July..... and suffered a quadriceps tear within ten seconds of tagging in. Nash never quite lived that one down.
  • At WrestleMania XX Ultimo Dragon lived out his dream by wrestling at a WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden. A shame he slipped and nearly fell flat on his face twice during his entrance.
  • Sting faced Bobby Roode for Roode's world title at TNA's Victory Road pay-per-view in 2012, in a No Holds Barred match. During the course of the match, a steel chair was set up in the ring by Roode, but before he could slam Sting into it or whatever his plan was, Sting started making a comeback. Finally, Sting was getting ready to hit Roode with his Finishing Move, the Scorpion Death Drop. However, Sting evidently did not notice that the steel chair was still in the ring and right behind him. So when Sting threw himself backward to drive Roode's head into the mat, his own head smacked into the seat of the chair. Yes, Sting knocked himself out, which led to him losing the match. Here is a gif of it happening.
  • The "This is Your Life" segment of November 14, 2011 episode of RAW with Mick Foley and John Cena. It was like a car wreck you can't help but keep watching, no matter how painfully bad it is. Every guest - his old little league coach, his old tag team partner Bull Buchanan, and his own father — that came for the segment just turned the crowd more and more against Cena, to the point where even Cena Lampshaded how bad the segment was, calling it worse than the Shockmaster, then stating it was one of wrestling's greatest catastrophes, right up there with the Gobbledy Gooker. It was probably the first time that Cena was ever glad to see The Rock, who proceeded to go out to the ring, Rock Bottom Foley, and leave immediately afterwards, ending the horrendous segment. It was probably due to remembering his own "This is Your Life" segment with Foley (which is the highest-rated segment in RAW history) that Rock took pity on Cena and decided to end it before it got any worse.
    • It's worth noting in this case that Foley would admit on Facebook that the skit was intentionally awful; he had serious reservations about doing it and regretted it afterwards.
  • The Gobbledy Gooker is arguably the worst Epic Fail of all of professional wrestling history. After carting a giant egg (complete with a nest) to events all around the country, it did manage to build up some intrigue with WWF's younger audience. Come Survivor Series 1990, what should finally hatch out of the egg but... a guy in a goofy-looking turkey costume.note  It's so infamously bad, that WrestleCrap named the Gooker award after it, and annually awards it to the promotion with the worst Epic Fail angles in wrestling of that year. Among them includes David Arquette as WCW Champion, Katie Vick, Chavo Guerrero's feud with Hornswoggle, the NEW Monday Night Wars, and the Claire Lynch angle in TNA, which, while entirely different in storyline, easily became the Katie Vick of TNA.
    • And the scary part? It could've been worse. Vince McMahon originally wanted Mark Calaway to debut from the egg as "The Eggman". Pat Patterson managed to convince him to scrap that idea and go with a gimmick he created instead. That gimmick? The Undertaker. Think about it — one of the most iconic wrestlers in history could have had his career derailed and would have become a punchline to one of the most infamous moments in wrestling if Vince had gotten his way. The fact that he thought it was a good idea at all is another Epic Fail for Vince.
  • The "Kennel From Hell" match between Big Boss Man and Al Snow at Unforgiven 1999. They fought in a Hell in the Cell with a regular steel cage inside, with "vicious attack dogs" between the two cages. Unfortunately, they completely forgot to get vicious attack dogs. The dogs completely ignored the two combatants and started peeing, pooping, and even mating around the ring. The actual match sucked as well.
  • Austin Aries trying to apply the Scorpion Deathlock on Sting during the March 15th 2013 Impact in Chicago only to keep screwing up long enough for Sting to recover and escape just before Aries asked him how to do it.
  • At WWC's 41st Aniversario, Miguel Pérez faced Huracán Castillo in an "extreme rules" match which ended when “Los Templarios” William De la Vega and Superestrella ASH ran in and attacked Pérez, causing the referee to call for a disqualification. To those of you not familiar with wrestling lingo, "extreme rules" literally translates to "no disqualifications"!
  • The 2005 Royal Rumble Match was supposed to end anticlimactically, but then something happened to make it even more anticlimactic. Batista and John Cena, locked in a grapple, go over the ropes and fall out of the ring at the same time, leading to a tie. The referees from Raw raise Batista's hand, the referees from SmackDown raise Cena's hand, and controversy erupts in the arena. Then Vince himself comes running down to the ring, tries to climb between the ropes - and immediately tears both quad muscles, but recovers so rapidly that the next thing anyone sees is the WWE Chairman sitting in the middle of the ring with his legs splayed out. Even the commentators didn't know what to make of that one.
  • Nothing is more humiliating than losing a WrestleMania match in less than a minute.
    • John Bradshaw Layfield lost the Intercontinental Championship to Rey Mysterio in 30 seconds. He did not take it well, and angrily announced his in-ring retirement. It's been more than half a decade since then, and so far he's kept his promise.
    • Chavo Guerrero Jr. lost the ECW Championship to Kane in eight seconds. (He later redeemed himself by lasting a lot longer than that in a rematch, even though he didn't win, but he still got a lot of grief for the eight-second defense.)
    • WrestleMania XXVIII had a really great one that resulted in an even greater payoff a whole year later. Daniel Bryan, defending his World Heavyweight Championship, gets a kiss from then-girlfriend AJ Lee just as the opening bell rings - and then turns around to be immediately Brogue-Kicked by Sheamus. Total length of match: 18 seconds. About a year later, by which point Bryan was a face and AJ was a heel, AJ taunted the poor guy about his poor WrestleMania - and Bryan retorted that, given that AJ was romantically involved with Dolph Ziggler by that time, she should be getting accustomed to guys lasting only 18 seconds. Cue shrieking temper tantrum from AJ.
    • Poor Erick Rowan and The Wyatt Family were made to look like absolute jokes at WrestleMania 32 when Rowan got pinned in six goddamn seconds by The Rock.
  • WWE NXT Season 2. Season 1 gave us The Nexus and Daniel Bryan. Season 3 gave us AJ Lee, Kaitlyn, and Naomi. Hell, even Season 4 gave us a commentator, one half of The Ascension, Brodus Clay, and the guy who would become Ethan Carter III in TNA. This season gave us a failed attempt at a rehash of the Nexus (the utter tragedy of which stunted all eight of the rookies' careers), and Kaval, the winner of the season, was the first out of all of them to get released. These days the only rookie from that season with any relevancy on WWE programming is Husky Harris, who was repackaged as Bray Wyatt.
  • Katie Vick. Murder, necrophilia, Triple H in a Kane mask — it was a terrible idea that only Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon liked. Even Hunter, a consummate Professional Butt-Kisser at the time, objected to it but since he wasn't married to Stephanie yet, he had no choice but do what he was told — Kane, proving himself the ultimate company man, didn't even bother protesting. Fan reaction was so negative that it put a kibosh on their entire feud and the angle was placed into Canon Discontinuity. Since then, the only time it's mentioned is to ruthlessly mock it as one of the most horrible things to happen in wrestling. It also had the dubious honor of being the second ever winner of the Gooker Award.
  • Speaking of Kevin Dunn, and as another notch to his status as one of the most hated men in wrestling, he was responsible for the 2004 Diva Search. Emphasizing it as a "classy" competition, it would go on to ruin Raw with terrible segments such as the women trying to seduce Kamala and a pie-eating competition that was hosted by The Rock (in what would be his last in-person appearance for WWE for seven years), a contest which had Christy Hemme proclaim that her "ass was hungry", culminating in her sitting on a pie. Then there was "Diss the Diva" which had the prospective Divas insulting contestant Carmella (who was widely despised onscreen and backstage) with language that was torrid even for TV-14, and sure as hell wouldn't fly under the PG rating. Somehow, WWE managed to make a bevy of absolutely gorgeous women annoying to an audience dominated by an 18-49 male demographic, enough that they voted it as the 2004 Gooker Award Winner. And to make it even worse, they ended up signing many of the contestants anyway (most notably Michelle McCool and Maria Kanellis), making the contest pointless in the process.
  • Chavo Guerrero Jr.'s feud with Hornswoggle during the Guest Host era of RAW, where he spent months jobbing to a wrestling leprechaun and humiliated by numerous guest hosts. On the bright side, he got consistent TV time — which is more than can be said during the post-Guest Host era, where it was rumored he was the "Swagger Soaring Eagle".
  • The NEW Monday Night Wars. At the start of the Hogan/Bischoff era, they somehow managed to convince Dixie Carter and Spike that the best way for TNA to grow was to go directly against RAW despite not even have close to high enough ratings to feasibly compete. It was here that TNA gained the reputation for being "WCW-lite" and the ratings began to fall, not at all helped by the fact that it was WrestleMania season (and even worse, it became very clear early on that this was going to be Shawn Michaels' last run before retirement — and his opponent was going to be The Undertaker). So you're going up against the biggest, most recognizable wrestling promotion in the world who's in the middle of building up to the biggest wrestling show of the year and the biggest wrestling event of all time note  and you do so without having anywhere near large enough fan base to compete while also putting out the same type of crap that killed the only wrestling promotion that ever came close to unseating your rival? It was just plain stupid all across the board, and was foreshadowing for what Hogan and Bischoff would eventually do to the company. One can tell, just by looking at WWE's programming, what they thought of all this: the first night the two shows went head to head, they brought Bret Hart back for the first time since the Montreal Screwjob... and then promptly went back to business as usual once it was clear TNA wasn't going to be a threat. It took, like, ten weeks for TNA to scurry back to their original time slot, with their viewership having noticeably diminished. And that's how TNA won its first ever Gooker Award.
  • Victory Road 2011. An absolutely stoned Jeff Hardy shows up to a PPV he was main eventing, and the fans had to deal with a main event, world title match that lasted ninety seconds. You could see the visible anger on Sting's face as he held down Hardy for a pin, just to make sure he didn't hurt anybody, and the crowd made it blatantly clear how furious they were, echoing the thoughts of every fan that paid for that PPV and basically got robbed because of Hardy's unprofessionalism.
    Fan: This is bullshit!
    Sting: I agree! I agree!
    • Bear in mind, Sting is known for being one of the nicest men in the wrestling business. And he slagged off the company, on camera, after this one.
  • The Shockmaster. For weeks, this character was hyped up as a huge difference maker in a major WCW feud. Then, at Clash of the Champions, Sting announces his name and the aforementioned "difference maker" plowed through a wall only to trip over a 2x4 a stagehand had nailed to the edge beforehand, landing on the floor on his ass and causing his helmet (a Stormtrooper helmet covered in glittery purple paint) to fall off. Several wrestlers and commentators, including one Ric Flair, immediately left the scene to avoid breaking character as they burst out laughing. In mere seconds, this wrestler had his career completely destroyed and by a piece of wood of all things.note  Only the Gooker surpasses it in sheer stupidity.
  • David Arquette as WCW Champion, arguably the zenith of Vince Russo's terrible booking in WCW, one that many say helped kill the company altogether. While the idea in itself was horrible, one that Arquette, a wrestling fan himself, only went through because of contractual obligations, the execution destroyed any chance it had at success.
    1. It happened in a tag team match. There was a stipulation made so that the title, a singles title, would go to whomever managed to get the pin or submission.
    2. Thanks to that caveat, Diamond Dallas Page, then-champion, lost the title to Arquette, who was his partner, simply because he made the pin.
    3. The title change happened on the B Show, Thunder. Most fans only watched Nitro at that point, since this wasn't like WWE Brand Extension where both shows had different rosters. Not at all helping the fact was that, for a noticeable period of time, Nitro was three hours, and that was more than enough wrestling in a week for the average fan.
    • The WCW title was already so devalued that Urban Legend has it that Chris Benoit dumped it into a trash can, before demanding for his release from the office the day after he won it, so he could jump ship to the WWF with the rest of the Radicalz. When Arquette won it, the Big Gold Belt effectively became worthless — an actor who had nothing to do with the industry outside of being a fan was able to win what WCW was touting as the most important title in their company, making them look incredibly bush league. The sad part is that Russo, to this very day, argues that the angle was successful, in the sense that it achieved its purpose: getting WCW publicity.
  • Fans not attending Ring of Honor's shows in person and not residing in Texas may not have known who P-dog was, but it was safe to say the audience in Dallas for Supercard of Honor X night 2 had an idea and still greeted his appearance alongside the Get Along Gang with Stunned Silence. Even the most hated members of the ROH roster, intended or otherwise can at least get one streamer thrown their way. The Get Along Gang had to throw them for P-dog and despite being much closer to the ring than fans are, still couldn't do it very well. At this point the audience erupted into jeers and boos, a nice prelude to Moose dismantling the group despite being outnumbered seven to one.
  • In the episode where John Bradshaw Layfield faced "Haas Hogan" (Charlie Haas cosplaying as Hulk Hogan), before the match started, JBL's limo driver parked the limo too close to a wall. As a result, the driver and JBL had a little difficulty opening the door.
  • The January 4, 1999 episode of WCW Monday Nitro. Aside from hosting the infamous Finger Poke of Doom (see the trope page for details on that fiasco), this episode also has one other pivotal incident. See, during the Monday Night Wars, RAW used to be taped. Eric Bischoff and Tony Schiavone would often get the results and spoil them on Nitro (which was aired live) to discourage viewers from switching to RAW. During this episode, Schiavone spoiled Mick Foley's first world title win, mocking it with the phrase "That'll put butts in seats." Unfortunately for Schiavone, it did — Foley was a major Ensemble Darkhorse at the time and an estimated 500,000 viewers switched to RAW to watch him win the title. For months afterwards, fans would attend WWF events with signs stating "Mick Foley put my butt in this seat." To top it off, Nitro ran five minutes longer than RAW, meaning people who switched back to catch the end of Nitro got the Finger Poke of Doom to end their night. There's a reason why people say this episode of Nitro was the death knell for WCW.
  • Claire Lynch, wrestling's first pregnant crack whore. Started as a confusing reveal after rumors spread about something between Dixie Carter and AJ Styles, it eventually became an overdramatic story worthy of Maury Povich, where she accused AJ of being her babydaddy. And after weeks and weeks, the storyline was abruptly abandoned when Claire Lynch herself quit the company due to harassment online, and her "lawyer" declared the whole thing was a fraud. It was by far and away the nadir of AJ's career, and TNA's equivalent of Katie Vick. The only good thing to come out of it was Bad Influence. Fittingly, TNA won a Gooker Award to go with it.
  • How just about everyone saw Roman Reigns' violation of the Wellness Policy and subsequent Wellness Vacation. This was three months into his third title reign, and that was after the company (Vince) spent the better part of two years pushing him at the expense of the talent, the increasing and ardent hostility of the fans, and the criticism of numerous legends, including "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, including finally giving him his WrestleMania moment to the backdrop of some of the loudest boos in history. And Roman, by violating the policy, effectively flushed that all the way. The company was not happy with him, and he suffered a gradual Humiliation Conga over the course of his suspension, culminating in his cousins The Usos lifting Dean Ambrose on their shoulders in celebration of his win after Dean pinned Roman himself to retain the WWE Championship in The Shield Triple Threat, which also happened to be Roman's return match.
  • The Red Rooster. Terry Taylor had a feud with his manager, Bobby Heenan, who dubbed him "my little red rooster" (meaning that anyone could do Taylor's job in the ring). After breaking ties with Heenan, Taylor took up the Red Rooster gimmick, dying his hair into a red "rooster comb" and acting like a chicken in the ring. It's a stupid gimmick, yes, but what made it an epic failure? It permanently destroyed Taylor's career. After he left it behind, no manner what company he wrestled for, under what gimmick, the fans never bought it - he always faced catcalls of "ROOSTER!"
  • That time Vickie Guerrero attempted to use The Spear on Edge, only to bounce off him like he was a brick wall.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/EpicFail/ProfessionalWrestling