A fan's delight and a wrestler's dismay, few things go viral quicker than a massive botch. For a myriad of reasons, human beings love watching their fellow man screw up, and as soon as somebody makes a mistake between the ropes, you can guarantee that Twitter and Reddit will quickly be awash with gifs and gags.
It's bad enough when these mistakes happen in the middle of a bout, but they can become the main reason a match is remembered when they occur near the conclusion. Tossing a championship into the mix and the effects are amplified even further, forcing promotions to chuck weeks of well-laid plans into the shredder.
Companies like WWE don't always treat their titles with respect these days, but they still want to maintain control. Unplanned title changes, though rare, give them with an embarrassing mess to clean up, and while they're usually successful in doing so, these situations often leave audiences bewildered, and the promotion with a number of misplaced 1-2 day reigns sticking out in their title histories.
From the 1960s through to the present day, let's look at the most prominent examples.
Edge had only been part of WWE’s active roster for a year by the time he won his first title, but there’s a strong chance it may have been a mistake. Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett was set to defend his belt against Ken Shamrock at a Toronto house show, but travel issues prevented the former UFC fighter from entering Canada. WWE’s solution was to have Edge challenge instead, and he triumphed in just five minutes.
The match ended in confusion when the referee initially snatched the gold away under the impression that Jarrett vs. Edge was a non-title match. Officials deliberated the outcome, and in the end, Edge was given the gold, though it was a short-lived reign - Jarrett regained his title at the Fully Loaded pay-per-view the following night.
The speculation comes from the lack of clarity, as Edge has since stated that he was told the belt wouldn’t be on the line beforehand. There’s a chance WWE may have just changed this to give him a nice hometown rub, but while it can’t really be proven either way, there are strong suggestions that this change was never supposed to happen, and that Jarrett merely forgot to kick out.