The WWE television shows and PPVs are what we all collectively watch, but the live events are the most underrated facet of business. Live events are also referred to as house shows and are usually not televised. WWE travels all over the world with live events taking place during most weekends. The brand split now has both Raw and SmackDown touring with separate shows. Raw typically has their live events take place from Friday to Sunday with Raw television on Mondays. SmackDown has live events from Saturday to Monday with the television show on Tuesday nights every week.
Live events are more relaxed than television with the only intent being to entertain the fans and provide a good show. The matches feature fun and basic storytelling. Wrestlers claim to have more fun with the freedom to do more of what they want with less control. That doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t guidelines however. A document has recently leaked with the format and rules for a live event. They are meant for the producers and referees to know how to operate the house shows as opposed to television. Various rules and guidelines were revealed in the leak. We’ll look at the top fifteen leaked rules for live events that you likely didn’t realize existed.
15. No Stalling In Opening Match
The first match of a show is meant to set the tone for the night. Live events are supposed to give the fans an exciting experience and the opening match usually features some of the better in-ring talents to kick things off. One of the rules is that the wrestlers are not allowed to stall in the opening match. Stalling is not encouraged at all on the show and is meant to be done minimally.
Heels like Kevin Owens and The Miz are the type of characters to stall in an attempt to get heat and jeers from the live crowd. If they are opening the show for some reason, the agents will likely prevent them from using those stalling tactics. This rule is best for the fans to guarantee they’ll have their show get off to a hot start.
14. Refs Must Remain Credible
One criticism veterans like Big Show and Batista has expressed about WWE in recent years is the new guideline of respecting the referee’s credibility. Heel wrestlers used to be able to get heat by doing things behind the official’s back. Refs pretended to be distracted quite often during a show, but WWE’s change in philosophy meant that has ended.
Live events are no different from television here with the officials having to be treated credibly by the wrestlers in the ring. Talent is not allowed to put the referee in a “compromising position” during matches that would make them look silly. The wrestlers and producers are encouraged to not have the referee play a role in the finish of the match at all when it comes to the live events.
13. No Pile Drivers
The piledriver is officially banned from the WWE. This isn’t just a rule for television purposes, but exists for the live events as well. Wrestlers have more freedom for the live events, but the potential of using the piledriver is one thing taken away from them. The fear of a potential serious neck injury with one simple mistake in executing the move is the rationale behind this.
Kevin Owens used a variation of the move known as the Package Piledriver in Ring of Honor. That maneuver was removed from his move set the day he stepped foot inside a WWE ring. All wrestlers are instructed to avoid using it or even teasing it at any cost. You’ll never see a piledriver at a WWE live event until something drastically changes.
12. Stop Match If Talent Is Hurt Or Bleeding
Wrestlers can be their own worst enemy when it comes to getting hurt. The producers and referees are in charge of making the big call if something goes wrong. They have to keep an eye on the wrestlers to ensure no one gets hurt or starts bleeding and the match must be stopped if there is any blood at all. It is up to the producer and referee’s discretion to stop it for an injury.
Live events are important, but they are not worth sacrificing future television and PPV shows. The company would rather end the match early than risk a serious injury putting someone on the shelf or impacting future plans. Referees have the most difficult job of having to read the action and declare if someone can continue when it comes to potential injury or blood spilling.
11. Ref Must Award Win To Opponent If Talent Is Hurt
The decision of a match ending early could completely change the rest of the show. Referees are instructed to call the match if someone appears to be injured. Not only is the hurt wrestler unable to continue, but the rule indicates the opponent must be awarded the match regardless of the circumstance. Many would believe it’s a no-contest. That isn’t the case with the opponent actually having their hand raised.
This could be potentially tricky when it comes to the title matches. WWE definitely doesn’t want a title change to happen at a live event. Luckily, the title can only change hands via pinfall or submission. There are some instances of a referee stoppage leading to a title change, but live events are easy to get away with that. Most of the time, the wrestler would be able to leave the ring and get counted out.
10. Refs And Agents Can’t Allow Talent To “Suck It Up” When Hurt
Wrestlers always want to tough it out and take great pride in being able to finish a match. Triple H is remembered for his legendary performance, where he finished an infamous tag match with Steve Austin against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit despite tearing his quad. You could see him limp and struggle to stand as he finished the match as planned.
WWE has made it clear that this is no longer allowed to happen. The health of a wrestler is more important than a single moment, especially on a non-televised event. Referees and producers are not allowed to let a wrestler talk them into continuing the match after getting hurt, unless they are cleared by the doctor at ringside. The wrestlers won’t be allowed to talk the referees into continuing the match.
9. Doctor Must Approve Talent Returning To Match
The only person that is allowed to clear a wrestler to return to a match following an injury is the ringside doctor. WWE strongly values the health of their employees for many reasons. Along with doing the right thing, they have tried to change perception of the way they treat wrestlers. Many older wrestlers have been dealing with health issues painting WWE in a negative light.
Doctors are instructed to ensure the safety of the performers by making sure they are healthy enough to continue. The wrestlers will be sent to the back to get treatment and rest if there’s an injury most of the time. Some instances are just slight issues that look bad but are not actually injuries. The discomfort ending will allow the doctor to clear the wrestler and continue the match.
8. Referee Must Be Replaced If There’s A Ref Bump
There are usually only a few referees at each house show, which means ref bumps are few and far between. The referee getting hit and going down, allowing the heel to cheat, is something that usually only happens on television shows. It is a way to protect the face and add more drama to the big match on a PPV.
WWE clearly doesn’t want much of this at the live events. In the rare occasion where it does happen, the official is supposed to go outside of the ring with a new referee replacing him. The odd moment of the hurt referee remaining in the ring and peeking to see when to finish a match is referenced in the leak. Referees must get out of sight and get replaced once taking a bump.
7. Bloodied Wrestler Can Return Later In Show To Get Revenge
One very specific situation WWE has taken into account is a face getting busted open and having to stop the match. The match has to stop if someone is bleeding due to needing to get the cut closed up. A concept WWE has decided to go with is having the heel win the match via referee stoppage and come out later in the show.
The heel would cut an obnoxious promo bragging about his earlier win and bloodying his opponent. Now stitched up, the face comes out to make the big comeback and get revenge for the loss. This allows the face to shine and be presented as the winner. Instead of remembering the match being stopped, fans will remember a cool moment of the face coming back for the heroic victory.
6. Only Certain Talent Can Stand On Ropes During Entrance
WWE doesn’t want all of their wrestlers to have the same routine in matches or in presentation. A common trope in wrestling is the talent coming out and standing on the top rope during entrances. The leaked information states producers and referees are to make sure all of the wrestlers do not go to the top rope.
There are no clear details as to how the company decides which wrestlers are allowed to play to the crowd during entrances in that manner. Many of the main event performers, like Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, do that in their entrances. It is possible that the top stars are immune to this and it’s meant for the undercard matches to not have both competitors do the same thing, if it’s not an elaborate part of their entrances.
5. Promos Must Be Approved Ahead Of Time
The structure of a WWE television show allows very little freedom with just about everything being micromanaged. Many things change at the live events with more control of the match being in the hands of the wrestlers. One thing that remains the same is wrestlers can’t just cut promos without it being approved ahead of time. Wrestlers enjoy the ability to jump on the microphone and react to a chant or reaction.
Unless you’re in the main event or one of the top stars, there is a very slim chance of getting an in-ring promo. WWE has started implementing backstage promos during live events to set up the big matches later in the show. Otherwise, they tend to focus on the in-ring aspect of the show to keep things rolling at a more fitting pace.
4. Only Top Matches Can Have Heels “Taking A Walk”
We already mentioned the stalling tactics being a problem and that is further expanded on in the leaked information. A very popular heel tactic, that gets the wrestler heat, is leaving the ring and taking a walk up the ramp to attempt to get counted out. Heel champions frequently use this as a way to try to retain the title. The face will run after the heel and bring them back into the ring in exciting fashion.
This rule states the talent must get this idea approved by the producers ahead of time before the match. It’s implied that the producers tend to only approve this for the top wrestlers on the card. Main event heels like Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho likely pull this one off at Raw live events for example. Other heels on the show will have to find other ways to get heat.
3. No Low Blows Or Weapons
The use of the low blow became prominent in the WWE during the Attitude Era and lasted for many years. It still comes into play today, but that is specifically reserved for very rare moments on television. Wrestlers are not allowed to execute a low blow during matches at live events. The rule clearly states no low blows are allowed at all and not even producers can approve it.
Another rule is outlawing the use of weapons such as tables, ladders or chairs, unless stated otherwise and producers must approve it beforehand. There are certain instances with chairs often coming into play for the occasional Street Fight or No DQ Match. Otherwise, you’re likely not going to see any weapons used on live events. The potential injury risks attached to the weapons makes them saved for the bigger shows.
2. Producers Answer To Michael Hayes
The notes of rules for the live events come from Vince McMahon’s mind. It is very rare for him, Triple H or Stephanie McMahon to attend a live event. They are primarily working on other things for the company and only appear for the televised shows. Producers and referees hold more power for the individual matches, but the person with the most power is Michael Hayes.
If a producer has questions or concerns about making a decision, they are told to contact Hayes to get the proper information. It is unknown if Hayes attends all of the live events for a specific brand or if producers from both brands are to call him. Regardless, Hayes holds a great deal of power when it comes to live events and the producers all basically work under him, enforcing what the WWE wants from the shows.
1. Only John Cena Can Do “Yay/Boo Stuff”
The most peculiar rule revealed from the leak is the fact that only John Cena is allowed to do one specific spot. Cena divides the crowd for most television shows and that carries over to the live events. You never know which way the crowd will go for him, but it results in a strong reaction one way or the other.
Only Cena is allowed to engage in the spot where fans chant “yay” or “boo” back and forth to punches being exchanged between the two wrestlers. It has mostly happened in Cena matches over the years, but stripping it away from other wrestlers is definitely bizarre. Wrestlers are apparently not allowed to exchange punches if they have a feel the crowd cares enough to deliver the “yay/boo” reaction. Well, that is unless Cena is in the match, as he’s the only person currently allowed to do it.