What makes a good match up? Many will argue its the combination of good vs evil, or pure athleticism. I beg to differ, I think some of the most memorable and anticipated matches have been underdog stories.
Underdog stories hit close to home for all fans, the idea that a smaller guy, or a guy with no in ring experience can somehow survive a match or even win against a bigger, stronger, more skilled opponent captivates us all.
Not all underdog match ups are necessarily cruiserweights vs ultra-heavyweights like in the picture above, sometime it's just a matter of one an outclassed opponent standing toe to toe with a more ruthless adversary.
The idea of an average guy rising to the occasion inspires us all to strive against the obstacles in our own lives, like standing up to bullies, a pushy boss or just to basically reach for that brass ring.
What are the five most memorable underdog moments in WWE history?
- Rey Mysterio vs. The Great Khali: This mismatch had Mysterio as the number one contender to Khali's World Heavyweight Title. This David and Goliath encounter was ended quickly after an assault on Mysterio where the Khali's vice grip caused a fountain of blood to pour from Mysterio's mouth. When The Animal Batista entered the fray to lay Mysterio a hand and turn the tides into a Triple Threat match, Mysterio pulled out all the stops to keep up with the big boys, although in a losing effort . But for all his guts and his never say die attitude, Mysterio vs Khali has to be the biggest underdog story, and Mysterio's hardest uphill climb... literally.
- Shane McMahon vs. Kane: Here comes the money! This underdog rivalry is quite possibly my favorite. Shane although born with a silver spoon, with no former training or never being officially recognized as a wrestler chose to avenge his family after a newly unmasked Kane terrorized RAW for weeks including the destruction of RVD , a chokeslam to the GM Eric Bischoff and a Tombstone Piledriver to Shane's mom, Linda McMahon. This lead to some of the most intense promo's in both mens' careers, and not to mention two epic encounters, a Last Man Standing Match with saw Shane miss a lead from atop a 30-foot scaffold, and an brutal Ambulance Match. It was quite possibly Shane's finest moment as he held nothing back surprising all the critics, but more importantly surprising Kane.
- Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar: Mr. Latino Heat turned the tables on the unstoppable Brock Lesnar, many claiming that Eddie could not match up to Lesnar's stature and strength, he took an opportunity and hit Lesnar with a his patented Frog Splash for the victory and the WWE Championship. Leading up to this match, Lesnar seemed a little too confident, thinking that the match was won before it ever began. He took every opportunity he could to embarrass and emasculate Guerrero making sure he knew who the bigger better man was, even bringing a mariachi band to poke at Guerrero's Latino heritage. Lesnar was if nothing else, shocked by Guerrero's determination and athleticism, and he learned never to question Guerrero's "Latino Heat."
- Jeff Hardy vs. The Undertaker: After the Brand Extension in 2002, the Hardyz were forced to split, and Jeff Hardy remained on Raw while brother Matt began his singles career on Smackdown as "Matt Hardy version 1.0". Jeff floundering, decided to make a stand an get the attention of the WWE Undisputed Champion The Undertaker if he was to be taken seriously. He was a little more suicidal then anything commented Jerry Lawler, "Taker is someone you just don't wanna get the attention of." Hardy week after week interrupted Big Evil, demanding a WWE title match, with Taker decimating him every time. Jeff would rise again and yell louder, chiding Undertaker to continue fighting him, this would culminate in Hardy's last stand, a Ladder Match on Raw for the WWE title. The match was an instant classic, Hardy showing his mettle as singles star, showcasing the skills that today make him a crowd favorite, and he was literally moments away from grabbing the title in what could have been the biggest upset in RAW history, but a chokeslam from the top of the ladder was the end for Hardy. Even Still after the match was over Hardy grabbed the mic and yelled frustrated at the Undertaker saying "I'm still standing," prompting Taker to return to the ring, the crowd expecting Big Evil to destroy the young opponent, instead were surprised as Taker raised Hardy's hand in the air signifying that Jeff hard earned the Undertaker's respect.
- Zach Gowan vs Vince McMahon: Many have already forgotten the short-lived career of the one-legged warrior that irked Mr. McMahon. Zach was probably the biggest underdog the WWE had ever seen, even still he managed to get victories over Shanon Moore and Matt Hardy. McMahon did everything in his power to get rid of the young Zach to prevent his liability if anything should happen to the already handicapped wrestler. Finally fed up, McMahon ordered a match between the two that saw the valiant Zach Gowan give McMahon the fight of his life, and he would have beaten him if it weren't for outside interference from Brock Lesnar. Not exactly what I consider the best wrestling, but notable nonetheless.
Some memorable mentions for top underdogs:
- Spike Dudley
- Brooklyn Brawler
- Colin Delaney
- Stevie Richards