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Here Are the Most Shocking Betrayals In WWE History … That Fans Loved!

Not all betrayals are met with disapproval from the WWE Universe.

By Chris Phelan
Sammy Zayn hitting Roman Reigns with a chair

The Royal Rumble is now in the rearview mirror, with Cody Rhodes and Rhea Ripley each outlasting 29 other Superstars and securing their place in history at WrestleMania! But arguably overshadowing their performances is the biggest story in all of professional wrestling right now. Of course, we’re talking about how Sami Zayn turned on the Bloodline after the chaotic Undisputed WWE Universal title match.

RELATED: Why Watching Royal Rumble Is The Best Way To Turn Your Friends Into Lifelong WWE Fans

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This unexpected move actually got us thinking a little bit ...

Most people — wrestling fans or otherwise — view a betrayal as an inherently negative action. And yes, in wrestling circles, most betrayals are thought of as good guy turns to the dark side, fans in arena boo. USA Insider covered these types of betrayals before, waxing poetic about Hogan turning Hollywood and brothers backstabbing brothers. But not all betrayals are evil; some are crowd-pleasing electric shocks to the collective synapse of the WWE Universe that are universally cheered. 

Today, we are taking a look at the most shocking betrayals in WWE history that fans absolutely loved to see.

Daniel Bryan Defects From The Wyatt Family – RAW, Jan. 13, 2014

Back in 2014, the Wyatt Family — Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan — relentlessly targeted Daniel Bryan during the early days of the Yes Man’s journey to the WWE Championship. After seemingly endless matches and battles between himself and the Wyatt Family, Daniel Bryan succumbed to the pressure and joined forces with the group, much to the shock of the WWE Universe. 

Quite simply, Bryan had been beaten down so badly both physically and mentally that he adopted the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” strategy — because there was just no other feasible option.

However, after nearly a month being stuck underneath Bray Wyatt’s thumb, Daniel Bryan said “enough is enough” while finally finding the courage to fight back against the oppressive group. It was one of the rare moments in WWE history where every fan in the arena was on the same page in supporting this particular betrayal — just look at that video, the fan reaction is historic!

Batista Breaks Free Of Evolution – RAW, Feb. 21, 2005

In 2005, the WWE landscape was ruled by one group: Evolution, led by Triple H. Batista — years before he became a Hollywood A-lister — was an integral part of the faction, as he was an up-and-comer in WWE who was actually anointed as the future of the business by Ric Flair himself. 

In the weeks leading up to this shocking betrayal, it seemed that everything was coming up Batista, as a victory at the 2005 Royal Rumble all but sealed the big man’s fate: He would be going on to WrestleMania and finally taste championship gold in the process. But with WWE having two separate World titles at the time, the entire world was shocked when it was revealed he would be going after the World title that Triple H held! In that moment, Batista turned his back on his friends, his mentors, and his partners — and he was massively cheered for it. 

At that point, Batista took off in a big way, steamrolling Triple H at WrestleMania and becoming one of the most popular and well-loved Superstars of all-time.

Trish Stratus Turns On The McMahon Family – WrestleMania, April 1, 2001

Trish Stratus found herself in an interesting position in early spring of 2001: As Mr. McMahon’s personal mistress. When McMahon wasn’t forcing Trish to bark like a dog on all fours in the middle of the ring on RAW, he was constantly pitting her against his real-life daughter Stephanie in an all-out battle for his affection. (If that reads horribly in 2023, you’re not wrong — but don’t worry, Vince McMahon gets his comeuppance in the next paragraph!)

This objectionable storyline culminated at that year’s WrestleMania, when Vince took on his son Shane in a Street Fight. Late in the match, Trish Stratus showed her true colors to an appreciative WWE Universe by fighting back against an attack by Stephanie and revealing that she had no intention of being harassed by Mr. McMahon any longer! From that point onward, Trish would achieve legendary status by not only becoming one of the greatest women’s champions ever, but to have the historic distinction of being somebody who fought back against evil Mr. McMahon — and won.

(At WrestleMania, Trish also revealed that she conveniently “forgot” to give Linda McMahon her pulls that day, causing Linda to rise up out of her wheelchair and attack Vince near the end of the match, as revenge for Vince putting his own wife into a coma-like state for weeks. Yeah. This storyline was a little weird.)

The Shield Embraces The Good Fight – RAW, March 17, 2014

When the Shield first broke into WWE, they showed no mercy to many of the top Superstars on the roster. In fact, they seemed to attack with impunity — they seemingly faced zero sanctions for their reprehensible actions, and the Hounds of Justice quickly became a force to be reckoned with within just a few months of their debut.

All of that history made their turn towards the power of good in 2014 all the much sweeter!

When Corporate Kane — one of the Shield’s biggest allies due to his close relationship to Triple H and the higher-ups in WWE — ordered the Shield to take out beloved ring announcer Jerry Lawler during RAW, it barely registered on the WWE Universe’s radar. After all, every fan in the arena that night had seen the Shield run over everyone they’d ever cared about — beating down somebody like Lawler would feel like the Shield was just rubbing salt in the wound.

We don’t know what got into the Shield that night, because it was at that moment when they decided to spare Lawler — and turn their attention (literally and figuratively!) toward Kane, who was fiercely triple powerbombed in short order. Naturally, this caused a massive spark of positive reaction from the fans in attendance, as their wishes were finally answered: the Shield would finally take their rightful places as Superstars who wouldn’t answer to anybody and would fight the good fight with the fans’ approval. The WWE Universe was unsurprisingly thrilled to have the opportunity to cheer for Reigns, Rollins, and Ambrose — finally.

Sami Zayn Stops Feeling Ucey – Royal Rumble, Jan. 28, 2023

Of course, we wouldn’t have even created this list if it wasn’t for what happened at the Royal Rumble this past weekend! 

After months and months of tension brewing beneath the surface of the Bloodline, Sami Zayn did exactly what the WWE Universe has been begging him to do all along: smack Roman Reigns with a steel chair. The roar of approval from the Alamodome crowd gave Sami all the vindication he needed — seriously, that might’ve been the loudest a crowd has ever cheered in over a decade! Even Jey Uso didn’t take part in the inevitable beatdown of the Honorary Uce, instead bolting to the locker room after Sami’s shocking Bloodline betrayal. It really feels like Sami has turned a corner, finally deciding to stand up against Reigns’ gaslighting and condescending attitude. 

Whether this all leads to a confrontation in the ring between Sami and Reigns still remains to be seen — but we’re sure tonight’s post-Royal Rumble episode of Monday Night RAW will try to make sense of this increasingly volatile situation.

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