10 WWE Tap-Outs Nobody Saw Coming 

5/13/2024 7:57 PM

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10 WWE Tap-Outs Nobody Saw Coming 

10 WWE Tap-Outs Nobody Saw Coming 

May 13, 2024 7:57 PM
10 WWE Tap-Outs Nobody Saw Coming 

These made for some iconic moments.

10: Asuka

When Asuka first arrived in WWE, she was protected incredibly well. During her time in NXT, Triple H insisted that Asuka wasn’t pinned, and this subsequently meant that she was called up to the main roster undefeated.

Just a few months into her main roster run, her streak would be shattered in a match on the grand stage of WrestleMania.

At WrestleMania 34, Asuka wrestled Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women’s Title, and in shocking fashion, Asuka tapped out to Flair. This was a booking move that not a single fan saw coming. Heading into the match, Asuka was the undisputed favourite to win the matchup, and nobody could have ever predicted Flair to win, and nobody in their wildest imagination could have predicted Asuka to tap-out to the Figure-8.

Fans are still debating the match finish years later, as some fans believe that it was a backwards move to make Asuka tap out to Flair, whilst some believe it was the right time for Asuka to lose, especially as she was now full time on the WWE main roster.

9: Kane

Whilst Kane lost a lot during his first few years in WWE, The Big Red Machine tapping out was simply out of the question.

However, when Kane wrestled Kurt Angle in late 2001, WWE believed it was the right moment for Kane to be booked to show some element of vulnerability.

During the match, Stone Cold Steve Austin would interfere, attacking Kane’s leg with a steel chair. This interference allowed Angle to lock in the trademark Ankle Lock, and make the former WWE Champion tap out.

It was a surprising finish, yet due to how legitimate and credible Angle was, it didn’t damage Kane’s aura and mystique, it simply added another layer of character development to both Kane as well as Angle.

8: Cain Velasquez

It became apparent from the moment Cain Velasquez debuted in WWE that WWE had major plans for the former UFC star.

Velasquez would debut following Brock Lesnar’s WWE Title victory over Kofi Kingston on SmackDown, and Velasquez was instantly booked in a WWE Title match on PPV against Lesnar.

There were reports at the time that WWE were high on Velasquez, and there seemed to be a huge disconnect between WWE and the fans when it came to him. WWE believed he was this huge star that WWE fans had an interest in seeing, but that simply wasn’t the case. Whilst most WWE fans were aware of who he was, thanks to his UFC days, there wasn’t exactly a demand to see him in WWE, and booking him in the WWE Title picture was a move that turned fans against him.

The match between Velasquez and Lesnar took place at the Crown Jewel PPV in 2019, and heading into the match, there were rumblings that WWE could pull an upset and crown a new champion. However, the match would end up lasting just 2-minutes, as Lesnar made Velasquez tap out to the Kimura Lock.

This match was universally bashed by fans, and it was collectively considered a waste of everyone’s time. This would end up being Velasquez's only televised WWE match, making Velasquez one of the biggest busts in WWE history.

7: Gunther/Walter

During his time on the NXT UK brand, Gunther, who was known as Walter at the time was presented as a final boss style character, and he was pretty much unbeatable.

However, when Gunther faced off with Ilja Dragunov, WWE had finally found the man that could defeat Gunther, and take his NXT UK Title.

Their match at NXT Takeover 36 is considered one of the most exceptional matches of the past decade, and it was so celebrated that it was awarded 5.25 stars by Dave Meltzer from The Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

The match would end in an abrupt yet satisfying manner, as Dragunov locked in a sleeper hold onto The Ring General, and the hold was so tight that Gunther had no choice but to tap. It was a huge surprise that WWE decided to book Gunther to tap-out, as whilst it was expected that Gunther would drop the title on this historic evening, a tap-out loss seemed out of the question.

6: Becky Lynch

By the time WWE arrived at the 2019 Royal Rumble, Becky Lynch had emerged as the most popular talent in the company. Therefore, when Lynch took on Asuka in the opening contest of the Rumble, fans expected Lynch to either win the match, or be protected in defeat.

It therefore stunned fans when Asuka made Lynch tap-out after an outstanding match that is incredibly underrated in the grand scheme of things. Despite losing via tap-out, the 2019 Royal Rumble would go on to become a night Lynch, and her fans would never forget, as she ended up winning the women’s Rumble match later in the evening and would go on to headline WrestleMania 35.

5: Stone Cold Steve Austin

In the summer of 2001, WWE proceeded with a heel Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. a babyface Kurt Angle feud for the WWE Title. Whilst there was some concern at first that this may be an odd mix for a 2001 program, the fans ate it up, and the two legends of WWE managed to bring the best out of each other.

Although Angle’s run as a babyface was brief, he did have some wonderful moments, and the matches with Austin were tremendous, especially the two PPV matches at SummerSlam and Unforgiven respectively.

Speaking of the Unforgiven matchup, WWE did the unthinkable in the match, as they had Austin tap out to Angle. It was one of the key moments of WWE programming in 2001, and Austin did a magnificent job in putting over Angle as a heroic babyface.

4: Brock Lesnar

WWE truly found their next big thing in 2002 with Brock Lesnar. Lesnar had an incredible look, and his in-ring work was the exact thing the WWE fans were crying out for at the time.

Lesnar was protected in his booking between 2002-2003, yet during his second heel run in 2003, Lesnar would begin to tap out more and more on WWE TV, as well as major PPV events.

One of the more shocking times this occurred was at the 2003 Survivor Series. Chris Benoit, who was slowly being built as one of WWE’s top babyfaces made Lesnar tap-out to The Crossface. This occurred during a traditional Survivor Series matchup, and the crowd reacted as if Benoit had just won the WWE Title.

When this tap out first happened, fans were quick to assume that Lesnar vs. Benoit for the WWE Title was the destination for WrestleMania 20, and although that wouldn’t end up being the creative direction, WWE did book a match between the two on SmackDown in late 2003, and it was without question PPV main event quality.

3: Roman Reigns

Upon debuting a heel persona in 2020, WWE put extra focus on protecting Roman Reigns through his booking. Reigns would go for years without being pinned, and when he was eventually pinned by Jey Uso at the Money in the Bank event in 2023, it was presented as a huge deal.

What many fans often forget about Reigns is that he actually tapped out in 2021 during a Premium Live Event match against Daniel Bryan. The match in question took place at the Fastlane event, and when the referee was down, Reigns tapped out to the Yes Lock. Obviously, due to the referee being down, the tap out didn’t count, yet it was a crazy visual to see this version of Reigns tapping out.

The matchup between Reigns and Bryan was exceptional, and it’s a shame that the match and the tap-out rarely surface when it comes to online discourse. The match took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s completely understandable why fans may have had their mind’s elsewhere when the match went down.

2: The Undertaker

It’s well documented just how much respect The Undertaker had for Kurt Angle. The two had undeniable chemistry in the ring, and Angle holds the honour of being the first person to make The Deadman tap out.

On an episode of SmackDown in 2002, The Undertaker tapped out to a choke, and it was a moment where time stood still. WWE did attempt to protect The Deadman with the tap-out as the match ended up a draw, as WWE claimed that Angle’s shoulders were down on the mat.

The crazy thing about the particular tap out was that Angle succeeded without needing the Ankle Lock. Angle had made one of the most protected names of all time tap out using a move that wasn’t even in his traditional arsenal. This yet again highlighted how much respect and admiration The Deadman had for Angle, as he no doubt had a say in the tap out finish.

1: Hulk Hogan

The idea of a babyface Hulk Hogan tapping out seemed like an impossibility, that was until Hogan faced off against Kurt Angle at the 2002 King of the Ring.

Vince McMahon made the bold call to have Hogan tap out to Angle, and this was a major deal, and it acted as a big-time boost for Angle, who was being presented as one of the most legitimate wrestlers in the company at the time.

Hogan notoriously often had an issue with putting over other talent, yet according to Angle during an AMA on Reddit, Hogan didn’t have an issue with the booking decision:

"I remember meeting with Vince McMahon and Hogan came into the room… Vince was just off to the side. He basically just said, we were looking at each other and I hear Vince say, 'Alright Terry, you're going to tap out to Kurt tonight’. Terry paused for about five seconds and he looked me in the eyes and he said, 'Okay. Let's do this’.