Follow TV Tropes


The Bad Guy Wins / Professional Wrestling

Go To

A bread-and-butter trope in wrestling, wherein the bad guys sometimes win.

  • Ric Flair was a 16-time NWA\WCW\WWF champion, more often than not winning and/or holding his title during his heel runs. With the exception of his matches with Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat, the vast majority of his title wins and many of his successful defenses required cheating to win — but he still won. The tables turned after he left the comfortable confines of Georgia and started working for rival companies...
  • Advertisement:
  • The angle involving André the Giant winning the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from Hulk Hogan during the WWF's Main Event in 1988, via a referee paid to count the pin on Hogan despite his left shoulder being off the mat shortly before the three count, was a double example. As this was part of an ongoing storyline involving Ted DiBiase's quest to buy the Heavyweight Championship, he too became a bad guy who won when Andre, per an earlier agreement, handed DiBiase the title. DiBiase was introduced as the WWF Champion at two televised house shows (from Boston and Philadelphia) the evening after the Main Event aired, and several matches against Bam Bam Bigelow the following week — including a televised match from the Los Angeles Sports Arena — were recognized as title bouts (with DiBiase cheating to win each of those matches) until the weekend of February 13, 1988, wherein the WWF's syndicated programs that weekend advanced the storyline with WWF President Jack Tunney stripping DiBiase of the title and declaring the championship vacant. A draft storyline involving a 16-man elimination tournament for the World Championship initially had the heel DiBiase winning, but this was later changed to avert The Bad Guy Wins trope with Randy Savage defeating DiBiase in the title match.
  • Advertisement:
  • WrestleMania 2000 was the first time in the history of the WWE that a heel won the main event at WrestleMania (which culminates and, so far as is possible for such an on-going melodrama, finalizes the plotlines of the whole year leading up to it) and didn't immediately lose the title. Furthermore, the heel in question (Triple H) won over THREE OTHER top contenders in the biz (Mick Foley, The Rock, and The Big Show). In fact, Triple H has had long, extended victories over fan favorites as champion time and again, despite frequently being a heel during many of these periods. For example, he once won a "six-pack" championship match over FIVE OTHER opponents, all of whom were either faces at the time, or effectively faces by circumstance of being current enemies of his.
  • Even when he is in heel mode, The Undertaker never loses at WrestleMania. (As a matter of fact, most of the time he doesn't lose much at all, regardless of whether or not he's a heel.)
    • Until Wrestlemania XXX, where he lost to Brock Lesnar.
    • Advertisement:
    • Which is also an example of this trope. See below.
  • It's a common tradition in professional wrestling to have a new superstar of whom great things are expected get off to a great and usually long unbroken winning streak, and this is at least as common for heels as it is for faces. To cite the Undertaker again, he was a heel for a long time after joining up at the WWE/WWF, yet had a starting undefeated streak for something like his first year-and-a-half during which he beat such legends as Jimmy Snuka and Hulk Hogan. It didn't end until Hogan was able to beat him — only in a rematch and only by cheating. And given that Hogan's own gimmick involved practically never losing, the fact that he needed to cheat just made 'Taker look even stronger.
  • One from WrestleMania XIX - Triple H was due to defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Booker T. The central arc of the feud centered around the fact that Booker is black - Trips would say things like that people like Booker aren't good enough to be champion and do things like offer to pay Booker to carry his bags, he showed Booker's mugshot from when he was younger and robbed a Wendy's, and things of that nature. In a promo before the match, Trips went for an Author's Saving Throw by saying that when he said all of those things about Booker, he wasn't talking about him being black, but that didn't do much to deter the implications. When the match ultimately came around, Hunter won fairly easily, including waiting about a full minute after hitting his finisher to pin Booker (although that was a result of Triple H botching the finish, resulting in Booker legitimately being injured).
  • The Age of The Fall were victorious at Ring of Honor's Final Battle 2007 while Roderick Strong won at Final Battle 2010. Final Battle 2013 was a subversion as SCUM lost as a group and though Kevin Steen retained the world title, it was the start of this Heel–Face Turn. Adam Cole at War Of The Worlds 2014 when Ring Of Honor hosted New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Technically a double dose of it if you were a New Japan fan as AJ Styles and Bullet Club were both successful too. Ironically Styles losing at Final Battle 2015 would fulfill the trope for The House Of Truth and Jay Lethal in 2015.
  • Theme of CMLL's Torneo Gran Alternativa is that all of the teams involved are made up of an established veteran and a younger potential breakout star. In 2009, one of those teams was Camorra who had earlier wrestled in IWRG and Yujiro Takahashi, on an "excursion" from New Japan. Shigeo "Anti-Mexico" Okumura opposed this, for obvious reasons and attacked Camorra, leaving Takahashi's No Limit partner Tetsuya Naito to fill, and the two ended up winning the whole thing. While Okumura and La Ola Amarilla would eventually face similar humiliation, No Limit went back to Japan before they could get the comeuppance they deserved. Texano Jr. and El Terrible did send them back bald, but that was to get back at No Limit shaving Black Warrior and Toscano at two separate events.
  • At TNA Bound For Glory "10.10.10.", Abyss's prophecy of "They" coming to take over TNA came true in the form of "Immortal." Immortal were led by Hulk Hogan, who ended up with complete control of TNA.
  • Vince McMahon in 2003. While a few of the examples above refer to simply PPVs (e.g. after WrestleMania 2000, the storyline continued, ending with Rock pinning Vince at King of the Ring to win the title), Vince not only won an overall feud in 2003, but all of them. He lost to Hogan at WrestleMania XIX, but ultimately fired Hogan, defeated a one legged wrestler he had a grudge against, manipulated Brock Lesnar into turning against Kurt Angle which led to Lesnar winning the WWE title (and throwing said one legged wrestler down the stairs), beat up his own daughter on PPV which resulted in her losing her job, and later buried The Undertaker alive with help from Kane. The entire year was setting up his comeuppance, but Vince never got his and simply pulled a Heel–Face Turn at WrestleMania XX.
  • Vince pulled a real life one with the Montreal Screwjob. Vince screwed over a popular longtime wrestler and managed to spin it into a renewed surge of popularity.
  • Happened at WrestleMania X-7 where Stone Cold Steve Austin turned heel and sided with Vince McMahon in order to beat the Rock for the championship.
  • WrestleMania XXVII brought the long awaited showdown between Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole. Cole had previously been both a Smug Snake Karma Houdini, so most fans were looking forward to him finally getting his ass kicked. While he did get a beat down, the Raw GM reversed the decision of the match and Cole won by technicality. You could argue that Cole won the entire feud. While he did lose the final match of the feud he still owned a 2-1 record over Jerry and seemed to always have an edge. Jerry forgiving him the next night could have been a silent acceptance that forgiving Cole was easier than continuing to fight him.
  • (Heel) CM Punk at Money In The Bank 2011 defeats John Cena for the WWE title and leaves the company with it, the way he promised he would. When Alberto Del Rio comes down to try to cash in the briefcase, Punk just kicks him in the head and leaves the building, and the company, through the crowd with the title. Then again, he was massively popular, and the PPV was in his hometown of Chicago, so many were happy with the result anyway.
  • At King of the Ring 1993, Yokozuna was out for revenge after he lost the WWF Championship at WrestleMania IX to Hulk Hogan the same night he won it. This culminated in a match where Yokozuna won after a photographer (who was actually Harvey Wippleman in disguise) shot a fireball out of his camera at Hogan, allowing Yokozuna to use the atomic leg drop on Hogan for the win. After the match, Yokozuna used the Banzai Drop on Hogan. This turned out to be Hogan's last appearance in the WWF until 2002. "Hulkamania is dead" indeed.
  • One of the many problems in WCW was that the faces rarely won, especially when the New World Order was involved. In fact, this was cited as one of many, many reasons WCW went under. Fans stopped caring because they figured the heel was going to win anyway.
  • Dragon Gate is a very factionalized wrestling promotion, with most angles being stable vs stable feuds. And the heel stables almost invariably win these feuds. Generally the heel stable wins the feud and then either the heel stable's leader or second in command breaks up with the stable and starts a new stable. The most recent example (as of October 2013) would be the feud between Mad Blankey (heel) and Akatsuki (face), which ended with Akatsuki losing and then YAMATO usurping leadership of Mad Blankey from Akira Tozawa and kicking him out of the stable.
    • It happened again in October 2016, with VerserK (heel) winning a stable disbands match with Monster Express (face), and immediately kicking Naruki Doi out.
  • Kane has won a fair share of big time feuds. Back when he had to first unmask in 2003 and tombstoned Linda McMahon, he got into a feud with her son Shane. After a 3-4 month feud and beating Shane in a "Last Man Standing" match at Unforgiven, it was their final match at Survivor Series. Kane won their "Ambulance Match" and sent Shane to the hospital and won their feud. In 2004 he beat Matt Hardy at SummerSlam in in a "Till Death do us Part" match in order to marry Lita and tombstoned him at the actual wedding. In 2010 he entered what looks like the final chapter of his feud with his brother The Undertaker. Once it was revealed that it was Kane who put UT in his "near vegetative" state they feuded. Kane shockingly defeated Undertaker at Night of Champions in a "No Holds Barred" match cleanly. Then at Hell in a Cell with the timely turning of Paul Bear he defeated Taker in the cell. Finally at Bragging Rights he once again defeated Undertaker in a "Buried Alive" match with unexpected help from The Nexus stable. This would be the last time the two faced off and possibly the ending of their legendary feud. Kane winning 3 straight PPV matches (of which are Taker specialties) could be seen as winning their entire feud instead of just this chapter. Regardless Kane, for the first time ever, beat taker in every one of their matches for the year. This doubles as a CMOA for him as well.
  • In 2015, Suzuki-gun gained all of the Global Honored Crown title belts of Pro Wrestling NOAH, Taichi, El Desperado and TAKA Michinoku in the Junior Heavyweight divisions, Minoru Suzuki and The Killer Elite Squad in the heavyweights. Not even(incidental) aid from other promotions could stop Suzuki-gun roll through NOAH.
  • Brock Lesnar in the year 2014-2015. He ended The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, delivered a Curb-Stomp Battle to John Cena at SummerSlam and defeated both John Cena and Seth Rollins at Royal Rumble. His hot streak didn't end until Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract during his match against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 31, and even then Rollins pinned Reigns. With his victory over The Undertaker at Hell in a Cell as well as the curbstomp beating he gave to both Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton, Lesnar was no doubt an Invincible Villain. However, his 'streak' finally ended once he suffered a rather humilliating defeat at the hands of a returning Goldberg.
  • The Undisputed Era won the first WarGames match in WWE history at NXT TakeOver: WarGames.
    • Also, in NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, not only Adam Cole became the inaugural NXT North American Champion after winning a grueling ladder match, but also replaced an injured Fish to team with O'Reilly and defend their Tag Team titles with the aid of Roderick Strong's betrayal of challenging partner Pete Dunne. The latter also allowed them to both win the Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic despite not being formal participants in it and turn their tag team title reign from a standard reign of Fish and O'Reilly into a Freebird reign involving all four members.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: