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10 Biggest Swerves WWE Made On The Road To WrestleMania

The Road To WrestleMania isn't always as predictable as it seems...

Being Vince McMahon and WWE's fabled creative teams must be an absolute pain in the rear end at the best of times, never mind in the build-up to a WrestleMania.

I always find that once Survivor Series is out of the way in November, the bulk of the following year's WrestleMania card is pretty clear. The seeds of a number of rivalries have been sewn, the dirtysheets are already reporting the favourites to win each of the Royal Rumbles; WWE's plans start to unravel like a freshly pressed duvet made from the finest Egyptian cotton.

So then, with the Road To WrestleMania™ as predictable as any given Brock Lesnar house show match, Vince McMahon and those fabled creative teams need to provide programming that is entertaining, but also delivering of a narrative that most already know the ending of - it's a horrible place to find yourself in.

This year, for example, WWE haven't really deviated too far from the WrestleMania script we all saw coming towards the end of last year. Yes they've provided potential swerves like the Fastlane main event, Braun Strowman has provided us with a few more memes, but other than that it's been pretty formulaic ahead of the New Orleans spectacular which takes place tomorrow. I know, the world is spinning too quickly this year.

It hasn't always been this way though...

10. Randy Can't Make His Mind Up


WWE


WWE did a marvellous job of covering up an underwhelming 2017 Royal Rumble winner when Randy Orton eliminated everyone's favourite, Roman Reigns. After that, it appeared The Viper finally started to hit puberty even though he was rapidly approaching his 37th birthday - he was confused, emotional, irrational, and didn't appear to know what he wanted to do with his life.

For a very long time, Bray Wyatt wanted Randy to join his family over on SmackDown Live. Randy, like any classy lady would, resisted the advances of his suitor for as long as he could before finally caving in.

Randy would eventually join forces with Bray, and in the process gave up his hard-earned WrestleMania main event place. This allowed AJ Styles to earn the title of number one contender, with the pair facing off and Randy's 'Mania main event spot on the line.

This is all as confusing as it sounds, and then it gets worse because out of nowhere, Randy turned on Bray and wanted his WrestleMania main event spot back - making his Road To WrestleMania twice as hard as it should have been.

I guess that's better than just seeing a Royal Rumble winning cutting endless promos with the Champion each week. But bloody hell, Randy's rationale doesn't half make your brain hurt.

Some murder then happened live on WWE TV in front of the world as the journey to SmackDown Live's 'Mania main event took more turns than Big Show's 18-year WWE career. It's a shame the destination wasn't anywhere near as captivating as the journey.


9. Angle Steals From The Game


WWE


I remember getting No Way Out 2002 on VHS after receiving a trademark flawless school report and losing my bananas when Kurt Angle stole Triple H's main event spot at WrestleMania X8.

After winning the 2002 Royal Rumble - following on from that eight-month layoff for that quad tear - Triple H and Stephanie McMahon's relationship hit the rocks - not a series of Dwayne Johnsons, some metaphorical big hard rocky things. They were fighting, they were arguing, they weren't really having the best of times tbh.

In an attempt to save their marriage Steph suggested the pair renew their wedding vows, something The Game initially rejected before Mrs Ladyballs revealed that she was pregnant. The pair then had a meeting with a doctor, a little Game was on its way into the world.

Then, because this was now Eastenders for some reason, Linda McMahon sent Trips a tape revealing the doctor they saw was an actor and Stephanie was lying. Then, in true babyface fashion, while renewing his wedding vows ol' Hunter claimed that he finally saw Steph "for what you truly are... a no good lying b*tch!"

During this time Kurt Angle had challenged HHH to a match where his main event spot at 'Mania - earned by winning the Rumble - was on the line. Being the noble horse that he was back then, Triple H accepted. The problems with Steph bit him on the arse, however, as Steph - who was hurting after being humiliated at the wedding vows renewal - inserted herself as the Special Guest Referee.

True to form, Angle would win the match at No Way Out 2002 and take Hunter's WrestleMania main event spot before Triple H won it back from the Olympic Gold Medalist the very next night on Raw. It might have been brief, but it was one hell of a swerve.

I'll never forget being that angry about HHH losing his shot, WWE - you swines!

8. Angle Vs. Lesnar Two Weeks Before Angle Vs. Lesnar


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The last month before WrestleMania is a frustrating time for us fans. We know the matches we're going to see on the Grandest Stage Of Them All and we can't wait to see them. Because professional wrestling is a business - and because we all know WWE would give these huge matches away for free on Raw and SmackDown if they could because they're lovely people but they can't really because IT'S ALL ABOUT DA MONEY -  we're forced to sit through promo after promo - package after package before we spend a bit of our hard-earned money to see the matches we're gagging to see.

Imagine the surprise then when a scheduled WrestleMania main event is booked to take place on an episode of SmackDown Live not too long before the GSOTA is erected - step forward, 'Mania 19's Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle.

The Beast Incarnate won the 2003 Royal Rumble match to set up a date with the Olympic Gold Medalist, but the challenger was desperate to get his massive sweaty hands on the champ before the Showcase of the Immortals took place. A gauntlet match was set up, and even though Brock took out Team Angle members Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, a Paul Heyman interference with a steel chair called off the first potential meeting and allowed the three grappling scallywags to beat down the then 'currently' Big Thing.

So with Kurt quite literally crapping his pants a singles match with Brock was booked for SmackDown. There was no way out. A hooded Angle prayed in the ring. Brock came down, F-5'd his foe and hooked his leg for the pin. For some unknown reason, a shocked Beast relinquished the fall and appeared to take on the form of a student the morning after a big night out - dazed and confused. During this time, the person Brock was facing swapped out for another bloke dressed in the same attire - he then Small Packaged Brock for the win. The second bloke turned out to be Kurt, with his look-a-like brother Eric taking the earlier F-5. GENIUS! That's what the third Angle 'I' would be if it began with a 'G'.

Getting a booked WrestleMania main event FOR FREE a couple of weeks before the big event appeared to be too good to be true on paper, and thanks to a very clever get out of jail card played by Kurt Angle, it was.

7. Chaos In The Cage


WWE


They called him The Big Show because he left the small show to join the big show haha lol.

Paul Donald Wight II's WWE debut was one of the biggest swerves on the Road To WrestleMania even if his involvement in a big match only served to provide an outcome everyone was predicting beforehand.

Hear me out...

When Vince McMahon won the 1999 Royal Rumble everything went a bit Fresh Prince as our lives got flipped turned upside down. Stone Cold Steve Austin was robbed of a third Rumble win in a row - as things stood, Vince McMahon would be contesting for the WWF Championship and that just isn't right at all, is it?

So the match was set for St. Valentine's Day Massacre, with Austin and McMahon locked inside a steel cage - if Austin won, he was in the main event of WrestleMania.

He did so, as Paul Donald Wight II came out from under the ring to get involved in the match. It initially looked like the Texas Rattlesnake's chances of main eventing another 'Mania were up in smoke, but in the process of throwing the baldy baldo against the wall of the cage, it gave way, swang open, allowing Austin to drop to the mat below to win. What was intended to give Austin a slice of pain, ended up winning the match for him. It's a funny old game...

Thankfully, in the grand scheme of things, Vince's Rumble win was a massive swerve. Imagine if WrestleMania XV was main evented by Vince McMahon and The Rock... I wouldn't know whether to crap or wind my watch!

6. Andre The Giant Is All About The Money


WWE


The Million Dollar Man - presumably worth roughly $1,000,000 - tried to buy the WWF Championship from Hulk Hogan. He failed, so enlisted the help of the world's largest weapon, The Eighth Wonder of the World, Andre the Giant. Frankly, I would have taken the money if I was The Hulkster.

After losing that match at WrestleMania III, DiBiase's advances provided an extra layer to the onion that was Hogan and Andre's feud which rumbled onto The Main Event - a televised special that would see the giant do the unthinkable and win the big one from a man who simply never, ever lost back then. Of course, the win wasn't a clean one, with Ted paying off official Earl Hebner to detain his brother Dave - the scheduled official for the match - and take his place. Montreal wasn't the first time Earl had been involved in some controversy...

Andre's attempts to sell his belt to DiBiase is the reason we got that tournament to crown a new champion at WrestleMania IV, and given how well that thing went down, I bet you're bemoaning me for even bringing this whole scenario up. However, it simply can't be underestimated how big of a moment Andre beating Hogan was at the time, never mind the extreme measures he took to do it.

We all thought we were getting a simple Hogan vs. Million Dollar Man main event at WrestleMania IV, and oh how wrong were we?

Very.

5. The Yes Movement/2018 Return


WWE


Very few things could have overshadowed the Yes Movement in terms of this list, but recent goings-on have done so and then some.

We all know how Vince McMahon had his heart set on a WrestleMania XXX main event between Batista and Randy Orton and how the passion and drive of a fanbase forced his hand into making it a Triple Threat and providing the feelgood 'Mania moment of this, and maybe the last generation combined? Yes? Good. And breathe...

But the fact that Daniel is back to take part in the same event in the same arena four years on is nothing short of a miracle - and perhaps the biggest surprise in recent history. That's the only thing keeping it from the top of this list - it's a surprise that provided a swerve, rather than something that was intended to be a swerve from the get-go.

Either way, whether it be the fans forcing a man who once defeated God at wrestling to do something he didn't want to do, or Daniel Bryan getting medicine, doctors and their opinions and throwing them out of a proverbial window, they're both massively monumental shifts on the Road To WrestleMania.

4. Eddie Beats Brock


WWE


Talking about feelgood moments... If you watch this back now and don't smile you are dead inside. Please seek help because your emotions are no longer working.

Kevin Nash bought into Vince McMahon's view of professional wrestling because he was Vince McMahon's view of professional wrestling. He was a massive sweaty man who labelled Eddie Guerrero, and a few of his close pals, 'vanilla midgets'. McMahon certainly agreed with that sentiment when the liar, the cheater and the stealer arrived on the scene in WWE.

Despite being the best in-ring performer the company had seen since Shawn Michaels' retirement in 1998, it appeared the ceiling for Guerrero was the Intercontinental Championship. Due to the standards of the day, and Eddie's 5 ft 8 frame, he was simply not destined to make it to the top of the mountain - or so we thought.

Almost in spite of the drawbacks of his diminutive stature in WWE's land of the giants, one of the fabled SmackDown Six got over like rover. He almost forced WWE's hand to push him to the top of the card, even though he looked like playing a supporting role at the upcoming WrestleMania XX.

Eddie's WWE Championship win was unexpected for a lot of reasons, chief of which was his opponent at the No Way Out event - Vince McMahon's early noughties wet dream, Brock Lesnar. The Beast was the man earmarked to take the company forward and already had stellar rivalries against the likes of The Rock and Undertaker under his considerable belt. Not to mention that it looked like we'd be getting a championship showdown between Lesnar and Goldberg at 'Mania 20 - a match that would go on to live in infamy for all the wrong reasons.

Simply put, Eddie should not have beaten Brock back in 2004 but he did. And what a moment it was on the road to that closing scene inside Madison Square Garden with real-life good pal Chris Benoit.


3. The Heartbreaking Kick


WWE


Shawn Michaels wanted to wrestle The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI but The Deadman wasn't having it. I know it might have felt a lot like 'Taker's build with John Cena this year - it's inevitable, right? - but this is a swerve that nobody saw coming due to its timing more than anything else.

You'd imagine that if any match would stave off the threat of an interference from outside it's the Elimination Chamber. The chains are so thick, the floor is watertight - the only way in would mean having to cut a large hole somewhere and by the time you'd be halfway through the endless string of referees around the ring would have stopped you - maybe...

So imagine then when Shawn Michaels spent the entirety of the 2010 World Heavyweight Championship chamber under the ring, right up until the final stretches. He'd appear, Superkick Undertaker in the face and cost the then Streak holder his title - Chris Jericho the lucky party of this particular piece.

Of course this forced 'Taker's hand and of course he and Shawn knocked it out of the park once again. While this match was probably earmarked for a title vs. career stipulation by fans early on the road to 'Mania 26, this swerve took half of that away. Michaels would end up losing his career because of his actions here - the silly goose!

2. Foley's Back!


WWE


Mick Foley officially retired from in-ring competition after losing a Hell In A Cell match to Triple H at No Way Out 2000. Chris Jericho was earmarked as a man to enter the main event scene and even made a few posters promoting WrestleMania 2000 - one of which hangs in Lance Storm's academy, I believe - but he didn't make it. The 'McMahon In Every Corner' angle had three corners filled, with the Charismatic Enigma Linda McMahon still on the hunt for her man.

HHH vs. Cactus Jack at NWO is one of the greatest matches of the of the 2000s when you look at the package it brought to the table in full. Their match at the Royal Rumble will always be their pinnacle in terms of action, but the culmination of a feud built on some power hungry arseholes taking the livelihood away from a hardworking everyman unjustly - plus the stipulation of career vs. The Game's WWF Title - should have been enough to see that match on the 'Mania card at the very least.

The fact that Linda brought Foley back for one night only got a wonderful response initially - because of course it did, it's Mick f*****g Foley for crying out loud - but it really diminished the impact of what was a monumental HIAC match a month prior. You have to look at the bigger picture sometimes...

1. 'Once In A Lifetime'


WWE


TWICE. Twice In A Lifetime - WWE should have been sued for misrepresentation or something because the only way John Cena vs. The Rock could legitimately happen once in your lifetime is if you're a Dragon Fly - who only live for around four months apparently. I doubt the number of Dragon Flies with access to the WWE Network - or PPV TV as it would have been back in 2012/13 - stretches too far past zero...

It may seem a little bit stupid to complain about seeing this dream match to end all dream matches more than once, but they said one thing, and provided another - how have we been able to trust WWE since? Not very well given how this year in particular has gone. "RONDA ROUSEY WILL APPEAR ON EVERY SINGLE RAW UNTIL WRESTLEMANIA (apart from the one immediately after this announcement was made on WWE.com) - STOP MESSING WITH OUT EMOTIONS LIKE THIS YOU DICKS!

You have to question why WWE would be so restrictive on themselves in terms of their marketing. Of course fans were going to be looking for another one of these matches. However, with some kind of clever (not unanimously popular, I must add) booking that saw Rocky win the WWE Championship from CM Punk on the same night Cena won the Rumble, a rematch we were told we'd never see was back on and CM Punk was out of the main event once again... poor old Punk.

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Ross Tweddell

Written by Ross Tweddell

Presenter over on the Cultaholic Wrestling YouTube channel. Email: [email protected]