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: Round 4

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…)

Indy Mayhem Show: Bubba the Bulldog


Bubba the Bulldog is a near 23 year wrestling veteran and radio personality with Star 100.7 in Pittsburgh. We talk about his early days doing dark matches in WWF with Yokozuna and handcuffed to Paul Bearer, helping Kurt Angle get ready for his pro debut, Conor’s Cure, Corey Graves, the inception of the International Wrestling Cartel, KSWA, PWX and more!

Find Bubba the Bulldog in action at www.indywrestling.us and the IndyWrestling.us Youtube Channel!

Mayhem Mania 2018: Week 5

This. is. Mayhem Mania!

Not quite a game. Not really a contest. More like a competitive thought experiment. The object is to create the best WrestleMania card possible – NOT necessarily to predict what WWE will do.

This is not fantasy booking. It’s more like reality booking. Any match created must have at least a chance of happening in this year’s WrestleMania. That means all wrestlers come in their current physical, emotional and contractual state. Anyone selected for a match must have a reasonable chance of being hired by WWE to appear on the real-life WrestleMania card. 

Simply put, you’re Vince McMahon with infinite cash and no self-control.


Catch up with Mayhem Mania 2018: Week 1 – Week 2 – Week 3 – Week 4

What an eventful Week 5 in Mayhem Mania 2018. First, Dave Podnar was the winner of the first ELIMINATION CHAMBER CHALLENGE! He correctly predicted Roman Reigns would win the men’s Chamber match and earned himself the right to make the first move in Week 5. We’ll be doing a FASTLANE CHALLENGE as well. Check out TALKING Mayhem Mania for more on that.

In Week 5 of Mayhem Mania 2018, each of our five players were invited to make a single change to the card. They have FOUR options.

1. SWAP a wrestler/tag team for one already on the card, or bring for a name not currently on the card.
2. ADD an unused wrestler/tag team to an existing match.
3. KILL a match AND CREATE an entirely new match with wrestlers not currently on the card.
4. SUBTRACT anyone person or team from the card. (This option as available exclusively during Week 5 of Mayhem Mania)

With all that said, here’s how it will went down on Episode 609 of the Wrestling Mayhem Show.

Mayhem Mania 2018: Week 5

Move 1: Dave Podnar
SWAP EC3 for Velveteen Dream

Move 2: @MadMike4883
SUBTRACT Roderick Strong

Move 3: @RebelliousFlaw
KILL Asuka vs. Charlotte vs. Nikki Cross vs. Ronda Rousey and CREATE Triple H vs. Kurt Angle

Move 4: @HotWheelzRWA
ADD Samoa Joe to AJ Styles vs. Adam Cole

Move 5: @BeastmanHusk
KILL Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin vs. The Bar vs. The Revival vs. Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly and CREATE Honky Tonk Man & Rockabilly vs. Jeff Jarrett vs. The Roadie.

With the Week 5 moves now in the books, here are the four newly created matches on our card.

Honky Tonk Man & Rockabilly vs. Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie
(Created by @BeastmanHusk)
week5-4

AJ Styles vs. Adam Cole vs. Samoa Joe
(Created by @HotWheelzRWA)
week5-1

Triple H vs. Kurt Angle
(Created by @RebelliousFlaw)
week5-3

Elias vs. Velveteen Dream
(Created by Dave Podnar)
week5-2

And here are the matches that survived Week 5 without being altered in any way.

BILLIE KAY & PEYTON ROYCE VS. EMBER MOON & KAIRI SANE
(CREATED BY @BOBBYFJTOWN)
week4-4

BATISTA VS. BOBBY LASHLEY VS. BRAUN STROWMAN
(CREATED BY @GAVELLAWLESS)
week4-2

FINN BALOR VS. BROCK LESNAR
(CREATED BY @IWCOFFICERDAN)
week4-5

The fourth surviving match from Week 5 is also the first this year to survive three straight weeks without being altered in any way. That means Trevor “Ricochet” Mann vs. Pete Dunne GRADUATES to the SUPER CARD of Mayhem Mania 2018.

Mayhem Mania 2018 SUPER CARD!

Trevor “Ricochet” Mann vs. Pete Dunne
(Created by @MadMike4883)
week2-2

As creator of the graduating match, Mad Mike is entitled to several rewards. First, and most necessary, he will create a new match to fill the open slot in our “undercard” before the Week 6 moves commence. He’ll get to hand out a dose of punishment to another player. Finally, he’ll get an ELIMINATOR, which he can use at any time to ELIMINATE any human being not currently on our card from being eligible for use in this year’s Mayhem Mania.

In addition, Mad Mike is the latest application of the “Alex Kahrs Rule” due to his match not surviving to the end of Week 5’s round. Thus, he will get the last move in Week 6. That’s right. He’s not only batting lead-off, he’s batting cleanup too. God help us all.

For those of you that just can’t get enough Mad Mike, here he is taking part in the 10-minute giggle fest that was this past week’s episode of the HOTTEST show on the internet: TALKING Mayhem Mania!

Thanks for being part of Mayhem Mania, and join us for next week’s episode entitled “Beastman For Rookie Of The Year” or “I Told You Double J Deserved To Be On This Card!”.

Mayhem Mania 2018: Week 1

This. is. Mayhem Mania!

Not quite a game. Not really a contest. More like a competitive thought experiment. The object is to create the best WrestleMania card possible – NOT necessarily to predict what WWE will do.

This is not fantasy booking. It’s more like reality booking. Any match created must have at least a chance of happening in this year’s WrestleMania. That means all wrestlers come in their current physical, emotional and contractual state. Anyone selected for a match must have a reasonable chance of being hired by WWE to appear on the real-life WrestleMania card. 

Simply put, you’re Vince McMahon with infinite cash and no self-control.


 

Every journey has a beginning. In Mayhem Mania, that means creating 8 matches for our card. Here’s how it went down on Episode 605 of the Wrestling Mayhem Show(more…)

Wrestling Mayhem Show 604: Rumble with Elias


We’ve got a special guest in studio this week as we’re joined by comedian Matt Light.  And, there is a ton of stuff to talk about this week, including:

  • Our guest Matt Light mixes wrestling with comedy. The best of both worlds.
  • Larry has a foam finger – but not the finger you’re thinking…
  • We are 1 degree of separation from Honky Tonk Man at this very moment.
  • RVD has a comedy (?) show?
  • So, RAW 25 happened last night. We’ve got plenty of thoughts.
  • When Christian is compared to Marty Jannetty.
  • We’re sharing some thoughts about the RAW 25 venue split and how WE thought it should have been done.
  • The APA segments of RAW 25 made the night for most of us.
  • Royal Rumble is this weekend. And, Dolph Ziggler is favored to win?
  • Our guest Matt Light is calling it now – Dolph Ziggler comes out at #30 – – – to Daniel Bryan’s theme music.
  • Sorg is waiting for Jason Jordan to snap. Mad Mike is waiting for a Shield break-up turn by Jordan, and Matt Light is just calling for him to get his future endeavored letter.
  • Why did they not have Jerry Springer on RAW 25 with a “You are not the father!” spot with Kurt Angle and Jason Jordan.
  • We’re takling about who we want to win the Royal Rumble this year and who we think will win.
  • Mainstream Matt is calling for an Elias Money In The Bank win – so we can have an MITB guitar case!
  • Nia Jax v. Asuka can be this generation’s Andre v. Hogan.
  • Will AJ Styles v. Sami and KO match be the comedy match for Royal Rumble?
  • Science: Shane McMahon cannot win a Royal Rumble match because he goes to the top rope too much.
  • Will we see Karma for the Women’s Royal Rumble?
  • We found some Friend of the Show folks by searching their names on the WWE Network.
  • This week’s Big Question: What is the future of 205 LIVE?
  • Abeyance is the new 205 LIVE champion! Woooooooo!
  • NXT Takeover is coming up soon. We’re sharing some thoughts.
  • What did YOU learn in wrestling this week?

As a special segment, we’re making our Royal Rumble picks:

Men’s Royal Rumble Predictions

Larry:

Wants Nakamura to win it.
Thinks Strohman will win it.

Matt Light:

Wants Dolph Ziggler to win it.
Thinks Dolph Ziggler will win it.

Matt Carlins:

Wants Daniel Bryan to win it.
Thinks Finn Balor will win it.

Mad Mike:

Wants Miz to win it.
Thinks Cena will win it.

Sorg:

Wants Elias to win it.
Thinks Elias will win it.

Women’s Royal Rumble Predictions

Larry:

Thinks Nia Jax will win it.

Matt Light:

Thinks Rhonda Rousey will win it.

Matt Carlins:

Thinks Becky Lynch will win it.

Mad Mike:

Thinks Rhonda Rousey will win it.

Sorg:

Thinks Asuka will win it.

Fan of the show, Brandon Mynatt, will be a participant in the 2018 Special Olympics as part of the Team Missouri Bowling Team. (Donate at: http://give.somo.org/site/TR?px=1073149&fr_id=1190&pg=persona)

Follow our stable on Twitter: Matt Light (@mattlightcomedy), Larry (@MutilatorLarry), Mad Mike (@MadMike4883) and Sorg (@Sorgatron)

If you are in Pittsburgh, you got to go to Slice on Broadway (@Pgh_Slice) and get their food! (sliceonbroadway.com)

You can support the show at Patreon.com/wrestlingmayhemshow!

Go to wrestlingmayhemshow.com for more entertainment!

Remember to LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook for updates and video.

Indy Mayhem Show 193: Brandon K


Brandon K started his career training along side the likes of Kurt Angle, worked with WWE and TNA and now has starting building his own promotion in RYSE Wrestling.  We talk about his 20 year career on this episode!

Share your feelings on indy wrestling and tell us who we should talk to on the show via e-mail at [email protected]

Go to wrestlingmayhemshow.com for more entertainment!

Wrestling Mayhem Show 600: 600 Tuesdays

Things are getting a little mayhemmy for our year-end Christmas episode.  We’ve even got our favorite imaginary friend in studio as we’re joined by Billy Ruxpin!  But, wait – there’s more.  We’ve pulled good ol’ Dj Lunchbox off the shelf and dusted him off just for the occasion!  WMS 600

  • This week we’re not only recapping the week in wrestling – we’re also recapping the year in wrestling.
  • We’ve been doing this for 600 Tuesdays?
  • Rizz is sharing some memories from his previous experiences for the STD Christmas episode.
  • Dj Lunchbox has not been involved with wrestling in some time. This is the episode where we’re getting him caught up on what’s happened since his hiatus.
  • What did YOU learn in wrestling this year?

We’re running through our predictions from last year – to see who got it right for 2017 before we make our predictions for 2018:

2018 WWE Predictions:
Sorg: Enzo will be the UK Champion.
Billy Ruxpin: Daniel Bryan will wrestle at Wrestlemania. (Against Kurt Angle?)
LB: Something bad will happen with Kurt Angle and he’ll have to go away.
Bobby: Nakamura’s going to with the Royal Rumble and challenge AJ Styles at Wrestlemania.
Wheelz: Enzo and Cass reunite and become tag team champions.
Rizz: WWE will pick up Ethan Carter, III.
Larry: Next year we’ll have a women’s tagteam championship.
Bryan: Shane is going to take another stupid ass bump like Hell in a Cell.

2018 WMS Predictions:
Sorg: Bobby will start his own independent show outside of WMS.
Billy Ruxpin: Will be back on the show for 2018.
LB: Former WWE/F wrestler will be in-studio.
Bobby: We will overdub a movie, and Sorg will actually release it this time.
Wheelz: Wheelz will make his in-studio debut for AwesomeCast and WMS.
Rizz: We will have a live WMS show at either RWA or IWC.
Larry: Sorg will not remember STD Christmas special, and will not watch it afterwards.
Bryan: Bryan will be a semi-regular audience member/show member.

Fan of the show, Brandon Mynatt, will be a participant in the 2018 Special Olympics as part of the Team Missouri Bowling Team. (Donate at: http://give.somo.org/site/TR?px=1073149&fr_id=1190&pg=persona)

Follow our stable on Twitter: Billy Ruxpin (@billyruxpin), Bobby F J-Town (@BobbyFJtown), Bryan, Sorg (@Sorgatron), Larry (@MutilatorLarry), DJ Lunchbox (@DjLunchbox), Rizz (@TheeRizz), and Wheelz (@HotwheelzRWA).

If you are in Pittsburgh, you got to go to Slice on Broadway (@Pgh_Slice) and get their food! (sliceonbroadway.com)

You can support the show at Patreon.com/wrestlingmayhemshow!

Go to wrestlingmayhemshow.com for more entertainment!

Remember to LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook for updates and video.

Wrestling Mayhem Show 596: Parallelogram of Doom


BC Steele is in studio with us this week!  He is joined by our usual cast of characters – Sorg and Larry.  And, hot off his video game weekend for Extra Life, Bobby F J-Town is live via the internets as we talk this week in wrestling, including:

  • Survivor Series – something we always seem to forget about until it’s upon us.
  • WWE is stepping up their game with Survivor Series by calling in some big names to be in-ring with the brand split.
  • There is buzz around this year’s Survivor Series – some good; some bad; but, legit buzz.
  • We’re breaking down some AJ Styles v Brock Lesnar.
  • What talent does WWE have in the pipeline to sustain them 5 years from now?
  • This may be the oldest Survivor Series talent line-up.
  • The Shield vs The New Day – We’re looking at a potentially good tag match.
  • We’re calling a Kurt Angle singles match by Wrestlemania.
  • Anyone else notice that WWE uses their own terminology – like “local medical facility” and “title held in abeyance?”
  • The Charlotte v Alexa Bliss match has the potential to steal the show.
  • War Games is coming. We’re sharing some thoughts.
  • The many faces of Alicia Fox.
    It’s time for this week’s Big Question: What is your favorite Broadway (long time limit) match? (Thanks Tina.)
  • The Ric Flair 30-for-30. We watched it. We’re talking about it.
  • What did YOU learn in wrestling this week?

Fan of the show, Brandon Mynatt, will be a participant in the 2018 Special Olympics as part of the Team Missouri Bowling Team. (Donate at: http://give.somo.org/site/TR?px=1073149&fr_id=1190&pg=persona)

Follow our stable on Twitter: BC Steele (@1SFpodcast), Larry (@MutilatorLarry), Sorg (@Sorgatron), and Bobby F J-Town (@Bobbyfjtown).

If you are in Pittsburgh, you got to go to Slice on Broadway (@Pgh_Slice) and get their food! (sliceonbroadway.com)

You can support the show at Patreon.com/wrestlingmayhemshow!

Go to wrestlingmayhemshow.com for more entertainment!

Remember to LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook for updates and video.

Wrestling Mayhem Show 593: Fergal S. Pumpkin


Marshall “The Bull” Gambino made his triumphant return to the show.  He has a special treat for us with the recently reinstated High Stakes Championship belt.  Otherwise, we’ve got Chad “the Enzo” with him on the sofa, Matt Carlins, Mutilator Larry, and Sorg.  They’re bringing you this week’s wrestling news and insights, including:

  • The champion of champions is back – and Chad the Shad is starting the top of the show – as Chad the Enzo.
  • Sorg has unearthed Larry’s hatred for Kalisto.
  • Enzo brings Chad the most joy each week. The rest of us are Power Point enthusiasts thanks to Drew Gulak.
  • We’re talking some TLC changes – and there’s a difference of opinions.
  • So, Braun Strowman got murdered at TLC – and the fans are the ones that called it out?
  • Survivor Series is coming up, and Mad Mike has some speculations as to who we could see.
  • AJ Styles and Finn Balor made the TLC changes amazing!
  • Thank you William Regal for telling us about storytelling in the ring.
  • Marshall is talking about how nice it is to remember where you came from especially on a big stage like WWE.
  • Marshall is in studio – and he brought something shiny. It’s a first look at the High Stakes belt.
  • This week’s Big Question: With Smackdown Live on Halloween, what would you book as a special event match for the night?
  • Want to see Jerry “The King” Lawler LIVE this Friday at IWC Wrestling High Stakes 2? http://www.iwcwrestling.com/liveevents/highstakes2.html
  • We’re talking some #UnderSeige heading into the last segment.
  • What did YOU learn in wrestling this week?

Fan of the show, Brandon Mynatt, will be a participant in the 2018 Special Olympics as part of the Team Missouri Bowling Team. (Donate at: http://give.somo.org/site/TR?px=1073149&fr_id=1190&pg=persona)

Alex Kahrs is donating sales to #SaveTheTatas this month. https://whatamaneuver.net/collections/occupy-pro-wrestling

Follow our stable on Twitter: Marshall Gambino (@MarshallGambino), Sorg (@Sorgatron), Mainstream Mat (@MainstreamMat), Mutilator Larry (@MutilatorLarry) and Mad Mike (@MadMike4883)!

If you are in Pittsburgh, you got to go to Slice on Broadway (@Pgh_Slice) and get their food! (sliceonbroadway.com)

Speaking of Slice on Broadway, make sure you vote for them in the Incline’s pizza bracket.

You can support the show at Patreon.com/wrestlingmayhemshow!

Go to wrestlingmayhemshow.com for more entertainment!

Remember to LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook for updates and video.