In WWE Battle Royals, Beware The “Hidden Opponent”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

A battle royal has come down to two competitors. The crowd buzzes as they stare at one another for a few moments. The intensity swells. Then, they go at it. Near-eliminations are teased as the drama builds. Finally, one competitor is able to send the other over the top rope and down the floor.

The crowd roars as the apparent winner stands tall. But wait! There’s another battle royal entrant you completely forgot about. He/she reappears and steals the victory for him/herself.

It happened again during the Survivor Series 2020 Kickoff show.

If you’re starting to feel like you’ve seen this sort of thing before, you’re not alone. I saw some fans on Twitter saying exactly that.

First I Rant, Then I Research

What makes this more bizarre for me is that I had just unleashed my own rant over WWE’s tendency to run the “hidden opponent” finish in its battle royals just over a month ago.

Here’s what set me off, in case you’d already forgotten.

The morning after my rant, I wondered if I was the one who’s crazy. Is it all in my head? Are there really that many “hidden opponent” battle royal finishes in WWE? 

I combed through the results of every WWE-sanctioned battle royal I could find dating back to the beginning of 2015. It turns out, I’m not crazy. But the situation may not be as bad as you and some other fans think. Before we begin I should point out that I’m excluding Royal Rumble matches from this exercise.

WWE Keeps It Clean…For A Bit

Up until The Miz and Lana got their battle royal wins, WWE had a clean slate in 2020, running five straight with NO “hidden opponent” ending. In fact, WWE had been on a pretty good run dating back to June 2019.

That battle royal on June 19, 2019 was TEXTBOOK “hidden opponent” booking. It was the NXT UK Women’s Title #1 Contendership Battle Royal. Kay Lee Ray quietly disappears early in the match with an apparent knee injury, only to reemerge at the very end to ambush Xia Brookside.

At WrestleMania, on April 7, 2019, we had a pair of “hidden opponent” attempts in BOTH battle royals! Neither worked out as intended. Carmella successfully surprised, and eventually eliminated, Sarah Logan. Later, Colin Jost and Michael Che tried to sneak up on Braun Strowman. It didn’t work out for them.

We also can’t overlook a 15-man battle royal at the Worlds Collide event that aired in February 2019. You may consider this a borderline entry under the “hidden opponent” criteria, but hear me out.

Jordan Devlin is in the final three, but he ends up down and nearly motionless in the corner for nearly 45 seconds while Velveteen Dream and Tony Nese do battle. Devlin only springs back to life after Dream eliminates Nese and a well-timed dropkick eliminates Dream. In my eyes, this is a “hidden opponent” finish. The key evidence is Dream raising his arms in victory after eliminating Nese. Not great awareness of his surroundings by Dream, but I’m counting this one.

For the next “hidden opponent” finish, you head back to Monday Night Raw on October 8, 2018. It’s the Global Battle Royal. It’s Kurt Angle disguised as The Conquistador getting the drop on Baron Corbin. It is TEXTBOOK “hidden opponent”!

Our next stop is April 8, 2018 for the first-ever WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal and another TEXTBOOK “hidden opponent” finish as Naomi surprised Bayley.

Defining “Peak Hidden Opponent”

Bookending Naomi’s “hidden opponent” victory at WrestleMania and Kay Lee Ray’s on NXT UK in June 2019 allowed me to frame a period in WWE history as “Peak Hidden Opponent”. Between Naomi’s win on April 8, 2018 and KLR’s on June 19, 2019, WWE held 15 battle royals. Six of them featured “hidden opponent” endings. And if my math is correct, that’s 40%. I believe this is where my frustration with more recent battle royal finishes was rooted.

As I mentioned, I dug through battle royal results from WWE dating back to 2015. Here’s how things stacked up for each of those years.

  • 2020: 2 “Hidden Opponent” Finishes, 5 Clean Finishes (29%)
  • 2019: 4 “Hidden Opponent” Finishes, 6 Clean Finishes (40%)
  • 2018: 2 “Hidden Opponent” Finishes, 7 Clean Finishes (22%)
  • 2017: 1 “Hidden Opponent” Finishes, 5 Clean Finishes (17%) (*There were also 2 “No Contests” that I did not count for either column)
  • 2016: 3 “Hidden Opponent” Finishes, 4 Clean Finishes (43%)
  • 2015: 0 “Hidden Opponent” Finishes, 3 Clean Finishes (0%)

Since 2015, WWE has been running the “hidden opponent” ending in about 29% of its battle royals overall. Those peaks in 2019 and back in 2016 really stick out.

So, while it may feel to you like it’s been happening a lot, WWE’s recent battle royal booking is not out of line with how the company has been operating since 2015. In fact, the past or month or so has been a course correction for the company.

Mayhem Mania 2020: Patreon In The Bank!

This. Is. Mayhem Mania!

This is the ultimate fantasy booking game/competitive thought experiment. The goal is to create the best WrestleMania card possible – not necessarily to predict what WWE will do. That means we must play by the rules of our current reality. Everyone comes in their current (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) state. Bottom line, if Vince McMahon can do it, we can do it. (more…)

Mayhem Mania 2020: Round 8

This. Is. Mayhem Mania!

This is the ultimate fantasy booking game/competitive thought experiment. The goal is to create the best WrestleMania card possible – not necessarily to predict what WWE will do. That means we must play by the rules of our current reality. Everyone comes in their current (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) state. Bottom line, if Vince McMahon can do it, we can do it.

Catch up on the lore! Check out the previous rounds of Mayhem Mania 2020!
It Begins! – Round 1 – Round 2 – Round 3 – Round 4 – Round 5 – Round 6 – Round 7

Mayhem Mania feels like it’s been flying by in the blink of an eye. We’re already into the penultimate round and on the verge of Patreon In The Bank! More on what to expect in a moment, but first let’s get down to this week’s business.

The goal is to get eight matches onto our SUPERCARD. All matches start out being created on our “undercard” where they can be tweaked, improved or outright deleted in favor of something else by our players. If a match survives three consecutive weeks without being altered in any way, it graduates to the SUPERCARD where it’s locked in. That also opens a slot on our “undercard” to create another match. Seems simple enough, but if you’ve been following along over the years you know it can get complicated.

Heading into Round 8 of Mayhem Mania, three matches had graduated to our SUPERCARD!

MAYHEM MANIA 2020 SUPERCARD!

MIA YIM & KAY LEE RAY & TEGAN NOX VS. ASUKA & KAIRI SANE & IO SHIRAI
(CREATED BY TINA KEYS)

week1-7

EDGE VS. MATT RIDDLE
(CREATED BY CHAD THE SHAD)
week3-1

BIANCA BELAIR VS. JAZZ
(CREATED BY TINA KEYS)
week5-5 (1)

This is much more than simply “fantasy booking”. All individuals come in their current contractual, physical, emotional, etc. state. So, if Vince McMahon can do it, you can do it. However, if Vince can NOT do it that means that individual is off limits. There’s room for some flexibility if you’re creative enough, and our players usually are.

Not every individual available to Vince is actually eligible, however. A select few have earned the ire of some of our players and been banished to SPACE JAIL. That means they can not be used in Mayhem Mania, but it’s not a life sentence. Every week we spin our special prize wheel to see if one of them can escape. It happens more often than you’d think, but this week SPACE JAIL remained secure and no one escaped.

With all that fun stuff out of the way, let’s get into the moves from Round 8 of Mayhem Mania 2020.

MAYHEM MANIA 2020: ROUND 8

MOVE 1 (by Thee Rizz)
SWAP Samoa Joe for Shinsuke Nakamura

MOVE 2 (by Mad Mike)
SWAP Keith Lee and Drew McIntyre

Move 3 (by Rob Brown)
ADD Samoa Joe to WALTER vs. Keith Lee

Move 4 (by BobbyFJtown)
DELETE Finn Balor vs. Aleister Black and CREATE Akira Tozawa & KUSHIDA & “American Dragon” Daniel Bryan vs. Angel Garza & Andrade & Jorge Bolly

Move 5 (by Kyle from Pitt Fight)
ADD Finn Balor to A.J. Styles vs. Adam Cole

So, after those latest moves here are the five newly created matches following Round 8 of Mayhem Mania.

Akira Tozawa & KUSHIDA & “American Dragon” Daniel Bryan vs. Angel Garza & Andrade & Jorge Bolly
(Created by BobbyFJtown)
week9-5
WALTER vs. Keith Lee vs. Samoa Joe
(Created by Rob Brown)
week9-1 (1)
Big E Langston vs. Drew McIntyre
(Created by Mad Mike)
week9-4 (1)
A.J. Styles vs. Adam Cole vs. Finn Balor
(Created by Kyle from Pitt Fight)
week9-2 (1)
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Pete Dunne
(Created by Thee Rizz)
week9-3 (1)

And here are the three matches that survived Round 8 without being altered in any way.

LIGERO VS. SAMI ZAYN
(CREATED BY ALEX KAHRS)
week8-3 (1)

JOAQUIN WILDE VS. JORDAN DEVLIN VS. ISAIAH SCOTT VS. JOHN MORRISON VS. RICOCHET
(CREATED BY BILLY JOHNSON)
week8-6

REVEREND D-VON & DEACON BATISTA VS. PAUL LONDON & BRIAN KENDRICK
(CREATED BY “COUNTRY HAMMER” JAMI JAMESON)
week6-4 (1)

Guess what? That last match has survived three consecutive weeks without being altered in any way and it is now the FOURTH match to GRADUATE to our SUPERCARD! Congratulations to “The Country Hammer” Jami Jameson for creating such a great match. He’ll be invited back next week to receive his rewards. Those include:

1. One ticket to send an individual to SPACE JAIL (*Those in SPACE JAIL are not eligible to be used during Mayhem Mania, but have a chance to escape as you’ll see in a moment)
2. Name an entrant for the 2nd annual Mayhem Cluster Battle Rumble, to be held during the Mayhem Mania preshow. (*Individuals who are entered into the Mayhem Cluster Battle Rumble can still be used in another Mayhem Mania match)
3. Hand out a dose of punishment to one of next week’s players! (*I can not in good conscience allow any Patreon supporter of the Wrestling Mayhem Show to be punished during Patreon In The Bank, so this portion of the reward system is being suspended in this instance)
4. Create a new match to fill to open 8th spot on our “undercard”

Also, Mad Mike’s move for Round 8 did not survive to the end of the round. Thus, the “Alex Kahrs Rule” must be invoked. Mad Mike is invited back next week (He was coming anyway since it’s Patreon In The Bank) and he will be granted the FINAL move of the Patreon In The Bank round!

Some of you may be asking yourselves, “What in the hell is Patreon In The Bank?”

Patreon In The Bank is the dramatic, cataclysmic finale to Mayhem Mania. Every Patreon supporter of the Wrestling Mayhem Show is invited to participate. That means we’ll have many more than our standard five players for the “normal” rounds. Also, those players will receive enhanced abilities to alter matches, including adding stipulations, special referees and more!

I know you’re all wondering what awesome powers you’re being granted, so here they are!

Patreon Tier 1 (Fan Of The Show)
– Name an entrant for the Mayhem Cluster Battle Rumble 2
– Nominate an individual to be the host of Mayhem Mania
– Make one “standard” move
– Add a stipulation/special referee/etc. to any “undercard” match

Patreon Tier 2 (Poppy Club)
– Name an entrant for the Mayhem Cluster Battle Rumble 2
– Nominate an individual to be the host of Mayhem Mania
– Nominate a musical guest for Mayhem Mania
– Make one “standard” move (ADDED move option: SUBTRACT)
– Add a stipulation/special referee/etc. to any match on the “undercard” or SUPERCARD

Patreon Tier 3 (Pizza Club)
– Name an entrant for the Mayhem Cluster Battle Rumble 2
– Nominate an individual to be the host of Mayhem Mania
– Nominate a musical guest for Mayhem Mania
– Nominate an individual to be part of the Mayhem Mania announce team
– 1 ticket to send one individual to SPACE JAIL (can be used at any time during Patreon In The Bank. *Previously incarcerated individuals ineligible to be sent back to SPACE JAIL)
– Make one “standard” move (ADDED move options: SUBTRACT and SWAP-A-STIP)
– Add a stipulation/special referee/etc. to any match on the “undercard” or SUPERCARD
– AUTO-GRADUATE any match from the “undercard” to the SUPERCARD
– Player may name a proxy to make their moves on their behalf if they are unable to attend Patreon In The Bank

Patreon Tier 4 (Manager Level, or higher)
– Name an entrant for the Mayhem Cluster Battle Rumble 2
– Nominate an individual to be the host of Mayhem Mania
– Nominate a musical guest for Mayhem Mania
– Nominate an individual to be part of the Mayhem Mania announce team
– 1 ticket to send one individual to SPACE JAIL (can be used at any time during Patreon In The Bank. *Previously incarcerated individuals ineligible to be sent back to SPACE JAIL)
– 1 court order to free one individual from SPACE JAIL (can be used at any time during Patreon In The Bank. *”No Double Jeopardy” rule applies to all parolees)
– Make one “standard” move (ADDED move options: SUBTRACT and SWAP-A-STIP)
– Add a stipulation/special referee/etc. to any match on the “undercard” or SUPERCARD
– AUTO-GRADUATE any match from the “undercard” to the SUPERCARD or UN-GRADUATE any match on the SUPERCARD back to the “undercard”
– Player may name a proxy to make their moves on their behalf if they are unable to attend Patreon In The Bank
– REALITY STONE! Break the rules of our universe and use ANYONE you wish. (*One-time use only and can be applied to only ONE individual)

So, start making your plans for your big moves during the Patreon In The Bank round of Mayhem Mania!

Thanks as always to Antonio Garza from TheWrestlingRevolution.com for the awesome match graphics he creates for us every year.

Thanks for supporting and enjoying Mayhem Mania and we’ll see you next Tuesday night on the Wrestling Mayhem Show for Patreon In The Bank!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayhem Mania 2020: Round 6

This. Is. Mayhem Mania!

This is the ultimate fantasy booking game/competitive thought experiment. The goal is to create the best WrestleMania card possible – not necessarily to predict what WWE will do. That means we must play by the rules of our current reality. Everyone comes in their current (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) state. Bottom line, if Vince McMahon can do it, we can do it. (more…)

Mayhem Mania 2020: Round 5

This. Is. Mayhem Mania!

This is the ultimate fantasy booking game. The goal is to create the best WrestleMania card possible – not necessarily to predict what WWE will do. That means we must play by the rules of our current reality. Everyone comes in their current (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) state. Bottom line, if Vince McMahon can do it, we can do it. (more…)

Mayhem Mania 2020: Round 3

This. Is. Mayhem Mania!

This is the ultimate fantasy booking game. The goal is to create the best WrestleMania card possible – not necessarily to predict what WWE will do. That means we must play by the rules of our current reality. Everyone comes in their current (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) state. Bottom line, if Vince McMahon can do it, we can do it. (more…)

Mayhem Mania 2020: Round 2

This. Is. Mayhem Mania!

This is the ultimate fantasy booking game. The goal is to create the best WrestleMania card possible – not necessarily to predict what WWE will do. That means we must play by the rules of our current reality. Everyone comes in their current (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) state. Bottom line, if Vince McMahon can do it, we can do it.

We’re entering Round 2 of Mayhem Mania. So, we can finally say that Mayhem Mania is in full swing, right? Is it too soon? Who cares. I’m debating myself. (more…)

Mayham Mania 2020: Round 1

This. Is. Mayhem Mania!

This is the ultimate fantasy booking game. The goal is to create the best WrestleMania card possible – not necessarily to predict what WWE will do. That means we must play by the rules of our current reality. Everyone comes in their current (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) state. Bottom line, if Vince McMahon can do it, we can do it.

It’s Round 1 of Mayhem Mania 2020. We have 8 matches on our card and it’s time to let our players start making some improvements (we hope) to it. Each of them get to make one change. That can be as simple as swapping out one match for another with entirely new personnel. Or, our players can get a little more creative and swap just one person or team out and into the existing matches. They can also add a person or team to an existing match. The only real limit is the imagination of our players. (more…)

Mayhem Mania 2020: It Begins

Welcome back to year six of Mayhem Mania!

This is the ultimate fantasy booking game. The goal is to create the best WrestleMania card possible – not necessarily to predict what WWE will do. That means we must play by the rules of our current reality. Everyone comes in their current (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) state. Bottom line, if Vince McMahon can do it, we can do it.

The WWE’s talent pool has never been deeper. Combine that with the other talents on the fringes that they theoretically may have access to and there’s no excuse for them not putting together the greatest WrestleMania card of all time. We’re going to show what’s possible.

Our game began during the Wrestling Mayhem Show on Tuesday, January 21. Eight players were invited to each create a single match. As an added layer to this year’s game, we’re asking more people to eliminate names from being eligible to use in Mayhem Mania – sending them through the Forbidden Portal into Space Jail. But there’s a catch, unlike in previous years, this may not be a permanent. Each week a random spin of our newly acquired prize wheel will determine if one of them can escape from Space Jail and re-enter the game. No “double jeopardy”. Once someone escapes from Space Jail, they can’t be sent back.

So, let’s check out the 8 matches our crew created.

Match #1
(Created by BobbyFJtown)
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
week1-1

Match #2
(Created by Ronnie Starks)
#DIY vs. Time Splitters
week1-8
Match #3
(Created by Sorgatron)
Elias vs. Tony Nese
week1-2

Match #4
(Created by Honey Badger)
Rhea Ripley vs. Mercedes Martinez

week1-5

Match #5
(Created by Dave Podnar)
Velveteen Dream vs. R-Truth
week1-4

Match #6
(Created by Tina Keys)
Mia Yim & Kay Lee Ray & Tegan Nox vs. Asuka & Kairi Sane & Io Shirai
week1-7

Match #7
(Created by Mad Mike)
WALTER vs. Keith Lee
week1-3

Match #8
(Created by Mainstream Mat)
Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong vs. Shayna Baszler & Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir
week1-6

And here’s who got sent to Space Jail…

SPACE JAIL!
BobbyFJtown: Randy Orton
Ronnie Starks: Enzo
Sorgatron: Lacey Evans
Honey Badger: Bayley
Dave Podnar: Triple H
Tina Keys: Ronda Rousey
Mad Mike: WeeLC
Mainstream Mat: Bobby Fish

So, Mayhem Mania 2020 is underway. We have an eight-match card and we have eight people/things now serving time in Space Jail. Next Tuesday, we’ll invite five players to each make a single change to the existing card. Remember, any match that survives three consecutive rounds without being altered in any way will graduate to the Mayhem Mania SUPERCARD. The creator of that match will get some rewards and we’ll create a new match to take its place on our “undercard”.

By the time this whole thing is over, we’ll have eight graduated matches on our SUPERCARD. Trust me, it’ll work. We’ve already done this five time, and we haven’t failed yet.

Which of our eight matches do you like the best? Which ones do you think need some work? Which ones need to be dumped entirely. Post a comment or hit up the Wrestling Mayhem Show on social media to share your thoughts.

Before we go, we want to mention our Royal Rumble Challenge. Email your picks for the winners of both Rumble matches to [email protected] Each correct pick will earn you a ticket to send someone through the Forbidden Portal to Space Jail. So, if you get both picks right, you’ll get to send two people to Space Jail! What a deal!

Enjoy Mayhem Mania and we’ll see you next week!