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Cageside Countdown: Best Wrestling Reveals in Wrestling History

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As wrestling fans, we're all suckers for a good surprise, and arguably bigger suckers for a big reveal. Whether something is teased for a few hours or a few months, if something's unknown, we want it known. We want all that time we vested into waiting for this big moment to be well worth it.

Sometimes we get hoodwinked.

And sometimes we get something awesome.

Admit it. This was awesome. You know this in your heart.

This countdown is dedicated to those reveals that were so freaking awesome, we've committed them to memory to look back on for all of eternity.

But what is the best reveal in wrestling history?

Recently, we asked you, the Cageside Galaxy, and surely enough, you've brought us your best. And your worst. And if you want to look back on the worst, you can look at that countdown here. With that, here are...

the 20 best reveals in wrestling history.

as voted by you, the Cagesiders. So don't blame me if the list falls short of your expectations.

20. Rocky's next.

After retiring Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIX, The Rock declared he had done it all in the wrestling business. And if you think about it, he was pretty much right. A world champion at 26, a record-setting six-time WWF champion by 29, a mainstream celebrity and sought-after actor by 30. To say that Dwayne Johnson's place in Hollywood was rising would be an understatement. And this was 2003.

With the WWE good and conquered, having beaten pretty much everyone of consequence in the company (including Hulk Hogan twice--TWICE), The Dwayne declared that he was done...

HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER! It's Bill Goldberg, back in America! In his first words, Goldberg lets The Rock in on a little secret: "So you wanna know who's next? YOU'RE NEXT!". The Rock takes exception to that long enough to be GORED OUT OF HIS BOOTS.

A month later at Backlash, Goldberg speared and jackhammered The Rock straight to Hollywood, wrestling only a few matches since.

19. Hideo Itami's mystery tag team partner: Finn Balor.

Kenta Kobayashi debuted in NXT in September 2015 as Hideo Itami, the "hero of pain". Not gonna lie. That's kinda clever. Not long after his introduction, he immediately runs into trouble in the form of the Ascension. Still dressed to the nines, the artist formerly known as Kenta put the beatdown on the Egyptian space pirates.

Unfortunately for the hero of pain, that would be about the only time he got one over on the duo, as for the next two months, Hideo got his ass handed to him by the Ascension. Eventually, Hideo put in a call to the other side of the world.

Enter Prince Fergal Devitt. But you can call him Finn Balor. And to say the Ascension had their asses handed to them would be an understatement. The dream team would basically run the Ascension out of Full Sail after defeating them at Takeover: R-Evolution.

18. Now entering the Royal Rumble, AJ Styles.

There's always a #3 at the Royal Rumble. I get that. But most #3's in the Royal Rumble match are, for lack of a better word, jokes (in fact, the #3 entrant has been the first man out in more than half the Rumbles ever contested). So we probably thought nothing of who would be the first man out after the initial two.

Then #3 enters to music that had not been heard on WWE television, followed by three words. I. Am.


The crowd in Orlando knew instantly. Ok, most people knew instantly. After all, his debut had been kinda sorta teased by WWE themselves for weeks. #3 was Allen Jones Styles.

Probably the most decorated wrestler not in WWE had a hell of a resume heading into McMahonland: NWA world champion, TNA world champion, PWG world champion, IWGP heavyweight champion,ROH pure and tag team champion, IWA Mid-South champion, Pro Wrestling Illustrated's #1 wrestler in the world, Wrestling Observer Newsletter wrestler of the year. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

This, by the way, is your occasional reminder that Vince could have had AJ Styles in 2002. Maybe it was better that it worked out that way. AJ would have been just another WCW guy in 2002. In 2016, he was the most sought-after wrestler on the planet, and holy hell, did he get a hero's welcome in a town that was very familiar with his work. Though Styles didn't win, he made a good account for himself, lasting nearly a half-hour before being ousted by Kevin Owens.

Not a bad way to make yourself at your new home.

17. Vince McMahon is the higher power.

As 1998 became 1999, The Undertaker reunited with Paul Bearer and got, for lack of a better word, creepy. Like super creepy, you guys. Like listening to a few Rolling Stones albums in reverse creepy.

Over the next few months, The Undertaker brought other super creepy people on board and formed his Ministry of Darkness. In the spring of 1999, that Ministry of Darkness fused with the Shane McMahon-led Corporation to form the Corporate Ministry. And they were all led by a higher power.

A higher power that told the Undertaker to stalk Stephanie McMahon, kidnap Stephanie McMahon, nearly crucify Stephanie McMahon, and nearly wed Stephanie McMahon. And that's not even getting into other creepy shit that they've done (hello, Big Boss Man cell hanging).

On the June 7, 1999 RAW is WAR, the higher power was revealed. We were expecting it to be Shane McMahon. Maybe Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Nope.

Forget the fact the timeline to this very moment makes no sense once you start analyzing it (and believe it, it makes no sense whatsoever). Look at the glee on Vince McMahon's face. That is the face of a man who is proud of his nonsensical plan. He sold that reveal so convincingly, fans bought into the fact that, you know what, Vince would do that kind of shit to screw with Stone Cold Steve Austin's head.

16. Vampiro is Pentagon Jr.'s master.

For most of Lucha Underground's first season, Pentagon Jr., the luchador who lives by the credo "cero miedo" or "no fear" in Spanish, went on a bit of an arm-breaking spree. Because his master told him to do it. If he sacrificed enough arms, then and only then will the master deem Pentagon Jr. ready to conquer Lucha Underground.

But when Pentagon Jr. tried to break ring announcer Melissa Santos' arm, that was about all Vampiro could stand. Pentagon Jr. baited the very much retired Vampiro out of the broadcast table and into the ring for one more match. That match, a "Cero Miedo" match, took place at Ultima Lucha, basically Lucha Underground's version of Wrestlemania.

The match was every bit as brutal as expected. Despite being put through a table and being beaten with chairs, and being cracked over the head with lighttubes and being thrown onto thumbtacks and being dropped onto concrete, Vampiro would not quit, only succumbing to defeat after he is put through a flaming table.

Post-match, Vampiro demands Pentagon Jr. finish the job and break his arm. Pentagon Jr. is more than happy to oblige. Declaring his mission accomplished, Pentagon calls for his master. The master answers.


In perhaps the biggest swerve of Lucha Underground's first season, Vampiro declared his student, Pentagon Jr., to be ready. Even in a time when few things could shock wrestling fans anymore, this reveal was a shocker.

15. CM Punk is the cult of personality.

Entering the WWE in 2006, CM Punk had quite the resume and the pedigree to become a big star in WWE. But despite winning every championship in the company save for the big one (you know, the spinner belt?), there was always the sneaking suspicion that management was never truly behind him, and Punk himself felt that.

So with his contract running out, he took the bull by the horns and essentially wrote his own ending: at Money in the Bank in 2011, CM Punk on his last night with the company won the WWE Championship. After a failed Money in the Bank cash-in by Alberto Del Rio, Punk took off into the hot Chicago night.

Just over a week later, John Cena defeated Rey Mysterio for the WWE Championship (just over an hour after Rey himself won the WWE title in a tournament that began the Monday prior). Then a track plays that hasn't been played on WWE programming before (I mean, other than that one time in 2009). Someone hit the wrong button or something? Confusion for a few seconds. Then the Cult of Personality himself appears.

O hai WWE Champion Chick Magnet Punk.

Punk returned with the belt he won from John Cena just over a week earlier when he took off into the wind. Even if he came back too early (he did), it made for a hell of a story. Two men, claiming to be WWE Champion, would fight to the death to be the one and only...which by the end of Summerslam, neither would be.

14. Here... she comes.

When you're the hottest free agent in wrestling, everybody wants to steer you to the top of the industry. That was the scenario "Macho Man" Randy Savage faced when he entered the WWF in the summer of 1985. Every manager under the sun wanted him, including Mr. Fuji, Classy Freddie Blassie, Bobby Heenan, Luscious Johnny V, and Jimmy Hart. They all gave their best sales pitch, but in the end, none of them got the gig. But they all got to watch and find out who did, as she was behind a double doorway. Everybody get ready. A big moment was about to go down. And here... she comes.

Wait... she? Did he say she...

O. M. Goddess. Time stops as a woman who looked like she stepped right off a movie set entered the arena floor of the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York, home of Championship Wrestling at the time. Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino struggle to keep it together as the unnamed woman struts around the ring.

The unnamed woman would simply be known as Miss Elizabeth, the wife (though it was never mentioned in WWF canon until the 1990s) of Savage. She would only go on to be an integral part of nearly every significant moment in Savage's WWF run. No big deal.

13. My brother Matanza.

So Aztec Warfare, Lucha Underground's signature match, goes on about its business as usual in March 2016. The 20th and final entrant was Mil Muertes who gets eliminated after he catches a beatdown by armbreaker extraordinare Pentagon Jr.


Dario Cueto, who had been on the run since last season ended, returns to the Temple to claim what is his. Or something. Oh, and he brought company with him. Not a friend. Family. And he just happens to be the 21st entrant in Aztec Warfare 2: Aztec Warfare Harder.

Dario's brother, "The Monster" Matanza Cueto.

Wait... what even is that? Sure he didn't look huge in terms of height, but the remaining men in Aztec Warfare found out quickly Matanza is a grown-assed man. After he breaks free from a dogpile, Fenix barrel rolls into a powerslam and is quickly eliminated.

Fenix, by the way, was the Lucha Underground Champion.

The Mack's Stunner is ineffective, and he is ousted. Aerostar goes out soon after. Texano with a bullrope stands no chance, and he goes out. Not even a shackled Joey Ryan was safe from the monster. El Hijo de Dragon Azteca mounts minimal offense, but he too falls. That "this is awesome" moment has now become "this is awkward".

Chavo Guerrero tries to form a pact with Matanza, but nope. He only knows pain and eating people. Prince Puma and Rey Mysterio try to work together, but it's ultimately fruitless despite their best efforts. Puma goes down, with Rey following soon after. Matanza less than ten minutes after his debut wins the Lucha Underground title, giving the Cuetos absolute power in the Temple. For now.

12. La Parka is really DDP.

When the squash match became mostly a relic on wrestling programming by the end of the 1990s, promotions did the next best thing to protect their top talent: put them against lower-card talent.

In WCW, that sometimes (probably more often than we realized) meant putting one of their 40-somethings against one of their cruiserweights. You know, as a sort of reminder of their place in the pecking order. Like on this Nitro from July 1997 where Macho Man Randy Savage took on La Parka. Savage dominated the luchador and he looked to wrap it up with his signature top rope elbow.

But La Parka catches Savage with a pair of feet to the jaw. Staggered, La Parka takes advantage and drops Savage with the diamond cutter. Wait... what? Since when did La Parka do a diamond cutter, you're probably wondering?

A few seconds later, La Parka pulls off the mask... ohhhhhhhhh. It was Diamond Dallas Page, Savage's biggest rival at the time. Randy Savage never saw it coming.

11. The new WWE Women's Championship.

To say the ladies of the WWE haven't been given a fair shake would be like saying staying out in the sun for too long will cause sunburn. Even so, for a brief period in the early 2000s, the WWE women's division was moderately respectable, even if their storylines weren't. By about 2008, that changed. WWE decided instead of employing women who could already wrestle, they would pluck them out of catalogs and casting calls and the like and train them from scratch. After all, that's more or less how they came upon Trish Stratus, the most celebrated woman in WWE history (not named Stephanie McMahon, but that's another story).

Hell, by 2010, they changed their belt too. Well, not so much change it as retire the old one. The Divas Championship... the butterfly belt... would be the one and only championship for the WWE's ladies to fight over. It only made the fairer gender's fighters look even worse. The contrast would become glaring by 2013 when WWE's developmental division introduced their own women's championship and... wouldn't you know it, also happened to not call their women divas. WWE followers and critics left, right, and center wondered when--if ever--such a change would come to the main roster.

It did on the afternoon of Wrestlemania 32 when Lita, who had a hell of a career herself before calling it quits in 2006 (pretty much setting in motion the chain of events that led to this point), revealed that (1) WWE's women would be called superstars and not divas, and (2) they would have a new belt to fight for.

And dare I say it, it's a fine looking belt. Ok, yeah, it pretty much is the WWE world title belt microwaved some and with a different color scheme. I get that. But it's better than the butterfly belt.

10. Undertaker is Team Million Dollar Man.

At the 1990 Survivor Series, Dusty Rhodes' Dream Team was set to take on Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Team. But the Million Dollar Team was a man down. But no, they were not going into this tag team elimination match three against four. They had one more guy. They got a guy from Death Valley. Weighing 320 pounds, I give you The Undertaker.

And... yeaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. This is a big, scary man. Granted, wrestling's full of big, scary men, but most big, scary men aren't undead morticians who could walk the top rope like an acrobat on the high-wire and drop people on their head 90 seconds into a match...which is exactly what the Undertaker did. Though the Undertaker didn't walk out a winner, he made quite the impression and would go on to become one of the most enduring characters in wrestling history. He's still around today.

9. One Sting in an army full of Stings.

Most every Nitro in 1997 (I'm gonna count one day just how many) ended in some sort of nWo run-in. After Sting officially sided with WCW at the conclusion of Uncensored, most of those nWo run-ins were usually followed by Sting dropping from the rafters and thwarting off the nefarious group. You'd think this would get old after a few months, but crowds week after week ate it up.

On October 13, 1997, Roddy Piper and Diamond Dallas Page were the victims of the nWo beatdown of the week. Of course Sting would come down there to rescue them and get his WCW mates out of this jam. And there he comes from the crowd. Or is it that one coming from the crowd? Or this one? Or this one? Maybe it's this one. This one here, maybe. One Sting after another spawned (and mind you, this was when cloning was all the rage, so it's totally possible Sting cloned himself. Ok, not really, but just go with it) in this latest mind game.

More than a dozen emerged as the nWo swatted one away after another. Buff Bagwell even got a free shot on a fake Sting. OR WAS IT? Nope. Turned out Buff hit the real one. A winner is not you, fella. He gets the Scorpion Deathdrop, and the rest of the nWo scatters because they don't wanna be next. It doesn't matter. You're all gonna catch that Sting beatdown eventually.

8. Ciclope is really Dean Malenko.

In late 1997 and early 1998, Chris Jericho had it out for the Malenko family. He ran down Dean of course, but you know, wrestlers do that sorta thing. But then he also ran down Dean's father Boris. As anybody knows, when you bring family into it, it's gonna be on. It just is.

Jericho even ran down the Malenkos after Dean disappeared for a while following a humiliating defeat at Uncensored. With Jericho's #1 rival out of the cruiserweight title picture, a battle royal was commissioned to get a new one at Slamboree, with the winner of said battle royal to get an immediate title match. It came down to Juventud Guerrera and Ciclope. Guerrera, to the surprise of many, voluntarily bows out. Ciclope wins, then he voluntarily unmasks. It gets weirder by the second..

O hai Dean Malenko, to a monstrous pop.

Chris Jericho puts up a fight, but his fate was sealed. In one of the most cathartic beatings in WCW history, Malenko submits Jericho and wins the cruiserweight title. Of course they WCW it up by stripping Malenko two weeks later, but that's another story.

7. Triple H's Plan B.

Debuting at the 2012 Survivor Series, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins, that riot squad known as The Shield, were a force of nature. Nearly every three-man unit put against them went down. Sometimes they would take down teams double, triple, even quadruple their size. But their magnum opus came in the spring of 2014 when in a span of three consecutive PPVs, they defeated Kane and the New Age Outlaws in under three minutes (at Wrestlemania, no less), beat a reunited Evolution, and beat said reunited Evolution again in an elimination match 3-0.

Batista, who clearly did not come back for this, decided, screw it, I'm out of here. Evolution was in tatters, and Triple H needed a new plan to combat this menace.

In a moment of heart-wrenching brilliance, Seth Rollins cracks Roman Reigns, then Dean Ambrose with a steel chair, breaking up WWE's most dominant unit in recent memory. It worked out for everyone, I suppose. Seth won Money in the Bank a month later, then the WWE title at Wrestlemania 31. Roman has three WWE Championships in his ledger. Oh, and Dean? Remember when I said he was worse off than the others?

My bad, Deano. My bad. (gif via

6. Cactus Jack is back.

In 1997, Triple H repeatedly got the better of the deranged Mankind. He beat him to win the King of the Ring tournament, he beat him all over the building at In Your House: Canadian Stampede, he beat him in a cage at Summerslam. So when the two were set to meet again, Mankind was like... naah, I'll pass. Surely his alter ego Dude Love would be up to the task... but his name is Dude Love. What chance does he have against King Helmsley. Then the two alter egos of Mick Foley brainstorm for a moment and they come up with a guy. A really, really, really, bad guy.

Enter the most violent of Mick Foley's alter egos... Cactus Jack.

Oh dear. Triple H knew. Cactus wasn't like the others. He wasn't fun loving nor schizophrenic. He was a human 300-pound murderous rampage of a man who doesn't quite believe in that thing you call "rules". Also, he absorbs inhuman levels of pain. So... yeah. Not surprisingly, Cactus Jack won his Madison Square Garden debut in a not surprisingly brutal match.

5. Batista gives Smackdown the thumbs down.

Batista won the 2005 Royal Rumble match, and with it, the choice of which world champion he would face at Wrestlemania 21. This came a year after Chris Benoit skirted the rules and left Smackdown for RAW after winning the Royal Rumble.

Batista was the heavy of Evolution--or what was left of it. But the decision did provide an interesting scenario. If Batista were to go to Smackdown and take John "Bradshaw" Layfield's WWE Championship, Evolution would virtually have their run of the company. A tasty proposition if I say so myself. But let's be honest: Triple H and Ric Flair only proposed this because they knew Batista was a threat.

On the night after No Way Out in 2005, Batista, now with information and contracts in hand, had to make a decision. Head to Smackdown and challenge JBL for the WWE Championship, or stick around and try his luck against Triple H. In the end, Batista gives the thumbs up to Smackdown. Thumbs up from Triple H. Thumbs up from Ric Flair.

Thumbs down from Batista.

Batista no go to Smackdown. Batista stay on RAW to challenge for world title. A world title Batista would indeed win in the main event of Wrestlemania 21.

4. The priest is really Eric Bischoff.

The pairing of Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo was probably never meant to last long, but as it usually goes sometimes, sometimes the wrestling gods smile upon you. Both tag team specialists in their own right, the duo won the WWE Tag Team Championship a few weeks before Wrestlemania X8. But there was something about Billy and Chuck that didn't quite sit right with fans: they were gay (I mean, not really, but they played homosexuals on TV. Probably.). Mind you, this was 2002, two years before gay marriage was deemed legal anywhere in the United States.

In September 2002, Chuck proposed to Billy and the two were to have a commitment ceremony on Smackdown. Now, this here was a huge deal; after all, gays on television was for the most part a taboo subject, even though strides have been made prior to the "wedding". Hell, the WWE even consulted with activist group GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination as to how to handle this.

But it's a WWE wedding, and WWE weddings will always end in disaster. This one was no exception. Billy and Chuck, realizing what is happening, put a halt to it before the priest pronounces them Chuck and Billy... or something... telling everyone it's all a publicity stunt and they're not gay. And Rico, Billy and Chuck's manager, is livid. And it is at this point, the Trojan horse is opened.

"The bond that Chuck and Billy have will never change. It doesn't matter if it lasts 50 years, sixteen months, or three minutes. Wait a minute... did I just hear myself say... three minutes?"

Oh dear. As it turns out, the priest was no priest at all. It was RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff. Three Minute Warning swarm the ring and put a beating on Billy, Chuck, and Stephanie McMahon until the Smackdown locker room run off the Warning, Rico, and Bischoff. While the reveal was brilliant, the whole scene left many people, especially the folks at GLAAD, throwing up in their mouths a little bit.

3. That's gotta be Kane!

At Summerslam 1996, Paul Bearer turned on his longtime charge The Undertaker. One would think the separation of such a partnership would send The Undertaker's career spiraling downward...except it didn't. At Wrestlemania 13 the following March, The Undertaker his first WWF Championship in over five years, pretty much confirming he didn't need the excess baggage after all. That probably drove Paul crazy. But he had a plan to get the phenom back in his now wicked camp. Blackmail.

He held a deep, dark secret over the head of the Undertaker, and unless the Deadman came home to Paul, he was going to out that secret to the world. The Undertaker was like... naah, dude. So Paul revealed the secret: he burned down the family funeral home, killing his mother and father and younger brother. Or so Undertaker thought: his younger brother was alive, and he had proof. Nonetheless, Undertaker was buying none of what Paul was selling. After all, Kane died in the fire. Kane's a myth, you see.

Well, it was a myth until October 5, 1997. At the main event Hell in a Cell match against Shawn Michaels at Bad Blood, Undertaker, perhaps moments away from putting away Michaels and claiming a WWF Championship match, is interupted by darkness. Then a red light. Then fire. Then OH MY GOD WHAT IN THE HELL IS THAT? That's Paul Bearer and... THAT'S GOTTA BE... THAT'S GOTTA BE KANE! THAT'S GOTTA BE KANE! And he's a grown assed man.

In his first act, he ripped open the Hell in a Cell door. After a staring contest with his older brother, the pyro brings up the lights. Undertaker, not knowing how to react, is open to attack. One kick to the gut, one tombstone piledriver. Shawn recovered and won the match of course, but holy shit. What a first act.

2. Chris Jericho is the millennium man.

The summer of 1999 would see WWF programming occasionally interrupted by a countdown clock. A "Countdown to the Millennium" if you will. The new millennium brought a lot of anxiety, with fears that Y2K would pretty much ruin everything (in the end, it didn't). Anyway, the interesting thing about this countdown is that it didn't end on January 1, 2000, but August 9, 1999 for some reason.

A little after 10pm ET, as The Rock called out Big Show and The Undertaker, the countdown ends. Colorful strobe lights. Then darkness. Then a boom. A video plays of shots of Times Square. Then, a name.


Presenting Chris Jericho, Millennium Man. Y2J if you will. In his first act, he ran down what he perceived was the state of the WWF (he may have been talking about the state of WCW... or perhaps be prophesizing the future) and interrupted The Rock. Of course The Rock put this young jabroni in his place, because seriously, how dare you interrupt The Great One. To this day, it remains one of the most memorable debuts in wrestling history. Jericho would go on to do quite well for himself, thanks, winning six world titles and nine Intercontinental titles, a WWE record.

1. Hulk Hogan is the third man.

In May 1996, a plague crawled its way into WCW programming, specifically Nitro. First it was WWF wrestler Scott Hall. Two weeks later, he was joined by former WWF champion Kevin Nash. The Outsiders, as they would be known, claimed that they came from up north to declare war on WCW and all this "where the big boys play" nonsense. They weren't playing around, challenging WCW to round up three men to take on the Outsiders in a tag team match and see who really is the superior company. Oh, and The Outsiders totally had a third guy.

On July 7, 1996 at Bash at the Beach, Team WCW, Lex Luger, Sting, and Randy Savage, took on the Outsiders who, even though they totally had a third guy they said, didn't have a third guy. Not that it would be a problem. WCW loses the man advantage in the early going with Lex Luger taking himself out with a missed corner splash. Late in the bout, WCW gets that man advantage back when Hulk Hogan arrives.

Then Hulk Hogan drops a leg on a prone Randy Savage. Then another. Then a third. The Outsiders were right all along. They did have a third man. It was Hulk Hogan, and he was on the inside THE ENTIRE TIME. It was brilliant in its heartbreaking reveal. Hulk Hogan--the goodest of good guys in all of wrestling (even though he was anything but if you knew of his behind the scenes shenanigans) for over a decade turned his back on the company that resurrected his wrestling career. He and the New World Order of wrestling, brother, would indeed take over the wrestling world, bringing WCW to unprecedented heights and the WWF to the brink of collapse.

That's why you named this the greatest reveal in wrestling history.


Agree? Disagree? Discuss in the comments. Hope the list was worth the wait. Oh, and here's the worst list.

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