10 Times Wrestlers Got Standing Ovations In Defeat

From Sami Zayn to Stone Cold Steve Austin, when wins and losses matter, the losers still win.

Shinsuke Nakamura Sami Zayn
WWE.com

You need to go and watch the Royal Rumble 1994.

It's not a show that gets a great deal of love from WWE when the January classic comes around, nor one of the titular battle royals that gets much in the way of replays if they're looking for iconic Rumble moments. For many years, it was felt that Vince McMahon was slightly embarrassed by the finish (Lex Luger and Bret Hart shared the spoils as joint winners following a double elimination), and this seemed all but confirmed when he raged so hard about John Cena and Batista shoot spilling over in 2005 that he blew his f*cking quads as well as his stack.

If anything, it's evidence, tragically, that he's forgotten more about great booking than any of us will ever really know.

After the devastating heel turn on Bret by brother Owen earlier in the show, 'The Hitman' was even more of a sentimental favourite of the adoring public than usual. Which didn't help fading babyface Luger when the two were basically subject to a cheering contest at the end of the night.

Both were announced as winners just to measure the noise. It was a landslide and the 'Excellence Of Execution' was to be the man once again. Ovations on this scale don't have to come from out-and-out victory, but simply respect of the very highest order.

It's the hardest thing to earn, but that struggle only feeds the beast...

10. #DIY (NXT TakeOver: Chicago)

Shinsuke Nakamura Sami Zayn
WWE.com

NXT timed and executed the 2017 break-up up of Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano's #DIY unit with blissful perfection, up to and including the old trick of putting the lower third graphic up to signify the end of the show.

The pair were soaking up the earnest adulation of the crowd having just lost what was sure to be their last title match in some time to the Authors Of Pain. This particular defeat was crucial to the reception too - it was the reaction where nobody in the Allstate Arena wanted to consider what might be next for the beloved babyfaces now they'd not only lost the belts but also failed to win them back.

The answer came just seconds later when Ciampa hurled Gargano into the video wall and proceeded to decimate him after the fact. In yet another flex from booker Triple H during his masterful period with the pencil, the impact of the assault required the audience's adulation in the first place. He hadn't just booked the twist - he'd booked the story to ensure it was effective.

Contributor
Contributor

We Need To Talk About Kevin (Nash). Michael can be found in articles or on podcasts extolling the virtues of New Generation WWF, new AEW storylines or the new WWE push they definitely definitely won’t ruin this time.