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THE LARRY OWINGS EFFECT: EMBARRASSING LOSSES THAT SIX MAJOR STARS WOULD LOVE TO FORGET

By Stuart Carapola on 2014-08-12 08:53:36
Some of you who know a thing or two about amateur wrestling may have heard the name Dan Gable. He's considered by many to be the greatest amateur wrestler in the history of the United States, winning multiple state high school championships, two NCAA Division I titles, the 1971 World Championships, and won the gold medal at the 1972 Olympics without giving up a single point in the tournament. He went on to become one of the most celebrated college and Olympic coaches in history, leading Iowa to 15 national championships in 21 seasons and guiding many wrestlers to national, World, and Olympic titles of their own.

But for all his success, one loss haunts Gable to this day, one blight on what had up to that point been a perfect record. After winning three state high school titles and two straight NCAA titles without suffering a single defeat, Gable ended his college career with a 13-11 loss in the NCAA finals to an unknown sophomore from the University of Washington named Larry Owings in what many consider to be the greatest upset in college wrestling history.

While Gable had enjoyed a lot of success up to that point and would go on to even bigger accomplishments (Gable has said he went 181-0, finally lost a match, and then got good), Larry Owings peaked with his win over Gable. He would finish second at the next two NCAA tournaments, never managed to qualify for the world championships or Olympics, and eventually retired from amateur wrestling and disappeared into obscurity.

Gable did beat Owings 7-1 in their one and only rematch at the 1972 Olympic trials, but Gable didn't feel vindicated. Owings is still remembered as The Man Who Beat Dan Gable, and that loss still affects Gable so severly to this day that he has trouble even speaking about it.

While the wins and losses in professional wrestling are obviously predetermined and therefore not subject to a true shocking upset like the one Gable suffered to Owings, several major stars have losses on their records that would leave the average fan scratching their heads as to what exactly the booker who did it was thinking. Here are the stories of six of those losses.

6)Arn Anderson loses the WCW TV Title to the Renegade (June 18, 1995)

Arn Anderson can be best described as one of the most respected wrestlers in the modern era. While he was never a World Champion, he was a key member of the Four Horsemen and a multi-time World Tag Team Champion and Television Champion. He has faced and beaten the best, and even holds a pinfall victory over Hulk Hogan. Yet despite all these accolades, he was still booked to lose the TV Title to an extremely green rookie called the Renegade at Great American Bash 1995.

Renegade was introduced as a flunky of then-WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan and custom made to be a carbon copy of the Ultimate Warrior. He was a horrible worker even by the Warrior's standards and had no business in the ring, much less going over someone of the caliber of Arn Anderson for the WCW TV Title. Arn's legacy didn't suffer a bit from this embarrassing loss, and it's generally brushed off by longtime WCW fans as a part of Hogan's push to replace everything WCW was built on with his brand of 80s WWF wrestling.

5)Bret Hart loses the Intercontinental Title to the Mountie (January 17, 1992)

Bret Hart may not have been the World Champion yet, but he was still presented as one of the best technical wrestlers in the world and had handed Mr Perfect a very rare loss, and his only submission loss at that point to boot, to win the Intercontinental Title. So how did he wind up losing that same title to a man who was best known for spending the night in a New York City jail with drunks and leatherclad lovers?

Well, it was a combination of two things: Bret's contract was coming up and the Mountie was lucky enough to be the guy Bret was programmed with at the time. In an eerie foreshadowing of what would happen to him in Montreal about six years later, Vince McMahon decided to minimize the chances of Bret leaving for WCW with the Intercontinental Title and had him lose the title to the Mountie two nights before they were scheduled to meet at the Royal Rumble. The storyline explanation, to keep Bret strong in the event he did sign a new contract, was that he was extremely sick with a 104 degree temperature.

The Mountie, who had started his feud with Bret by dumping a pail of water on him and shocking him with his electric cattle prod (yes, it was that ridiculous) lost the title to Roddy Piper, who took Bret's spot at the Royal Rumble, and Piper in turn dropped the belt to Bret at Wrestlemania 8 once Bret signed his new contract. Bret went on to win his first WWF Title later that year en route to becoming one of the most legendary wrestlers of his time, but would spend the rest of his career having to admit that he lost a title to the Mountie.

4)The Ultimate Warrior loses the WWF Title to Sgt Slaughter (January 19, 1991)

Sgt Slaughter may seem like a bit of an unlikely man to defeat the Ultimate Warrior given that the Warrior had defeated Hulk Hogan to win the WWF Title after spending months squashing Andre the Giant on house shows. But again, there were a couple of things at play here. For one, the Warrior hadn't drawn as well as champion as Hogan had, and fell well short of the WWF's expectations. A lot of that may have been due to a lack of viable challengers, but he simply wasn't working out from a business standpoint and needed to lose the title. Okay, but was Slaughter really the best choice?

Probably not, but he fit perfectly into Vince McMahon's plan to capitalize on the Gulf War by booking Slaughter as an Iraqi sympathizer, having him win the WWF Title and get over as a monster heel, and using that to fill the LA Sports Coliseum for his match with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 7. Unfortunately, nobody bought Slaughter as a champion or as a threat to Hogan, and ticket sales were so bad that Wrestlemania needed to be moved to the much smaller LA Sports Arena, claiming bomb threats as the reason for the change.

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