Although WWE puts most of its money into televised shows and pay-per-views, many of the grittiest and controversial events occur during house shows. These house shows host “dark matches,” where they pit popular wrestlers against each other to gauge the audience’s reaction and also allow them to feel each other out before a big PPV fight. Face wrestlers tend to get the most shine at these events as they win their better portion of matches there.
It’s all about sending fans home feeling good for the WWE, as they use house shows as opportunities to have fun, sometimes embarrassing their employees with off-the-script antics fans enjoy. However, some of these events don’t fall well on the public either and when events aren’t televised, things tend to get quite out of hand (riots anyone?).
Since house shows are never televised, many WWE fans seldom know about these occurrences. That said, here are 15 of the most insane things to ever happen at a WWE house show.
15 The Kliq Crew Addresses Crowd at MSG
At a May 19th, 1996 house show, the crew of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall addressed an MSG crowd by showing affection for each other, hugging away as a parting gift to Nash and Hall, who were set to leave the WWE soon. The problem with this was that Triple H and Nash were in feuds with Hall and Michaels in the main WWE storyline.
Although Vince McMahon was fine with the send-off, he was quite agitated about how they milked it. Many in the crowd recorded the event, further annoying McMahon, and word has it that many of the superstars backstage were mad about the event too.
Triple H was the only among the four to receive punishment for the incident—Perhaps due to not being involved with McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, yet.
14 Hardcore Holly Beats Up Rene Dupree... Literally
Hardcore Holly had a reputation as the guy to avoid in the WWE locker room, with staff employees and even some of the wrestlers avoiding him. He was known as a bully, picking on new talent and taking things a little too serious with them when it came to rehearsals.
When Renee Dupre was given a speeding ticket in a car registered under Holly’s name (and forgot to tell him about it), he learned the hardcore way why Holly was not to be messed with. At a November 21st, 2004 house show, Holly smashed a chair over Dupree's head in a tag team match.
In an interview with Powerslam Magazine UK, Dupree said, “I'm sure the office knew what was going on. He took liberties on me and I didn't fight back: I thought I was in the wrong. He kicked my head in, I got a black eye, and that was it."
If you're interested in more of WWE's top jerks, check out this list of the top wrestlers who are jerks in real life and who are sweethearts.
13 JBL Does An Inappropriate Salute In Germany
JBL was another superstar considered a jerk by many of his colleagues. Often showing displays of ignorance in foreign countries, he crossed the line at a June 5th, 2004, house show in Munich, Germany.
In a tag team match involving JBL, The Undertaker, Eddie Guerrero and Booker T, JBL performed the Nazi salute while goose-stepping around the ring. Apparently, this was his attempt to boost his heel value. However, CNBC was not at all amused by his antics, firing him and releasing a statement:
“We find his behavior to be offensive, inappropriate and not befitting anyone associated with our network.”
About the matter, JBL posted on his FB page: “'Back in the day' wrestlers flipped off crowds, spit at them got into fights with them, etc – [it] was a different era….Right or wrong, everyone did it—and it's time had passed, and it was time to be smarter about getting heat just like flipping off the crowd's time had passed as well.”
12 Vince McMahon Finds A Match Boring... So He Stops It
At a 2003 house show, McMahon stopped a match between Rhyno and Tajiri because it was too “boring.” Vince was not the only one who felt uninterested; the entire crowd was chanting "boring" while Rhyno forced a reverse headlock onto Tajiri.
Vince even warned the two wrestlers not to make any mistakes at this house show since it was in New York City.
In an interview with Wrestling Inc, Rhyno commented, “A lot of people online were upset and all that with how Vince handled that. But, I actually got a really good pay off, too. I think [Vince] felt bad because I did get a really good paycheck for that match.”
After stopping the match, McMahon proceeded with the next segment that included a bikini contest. Typical Vince.
11 Batista Fights Intoxicated Fan
It’s not rare for Batista to get into some kind of altercation with fans. Often times, Batista is caught verbally retaliating at rowdy fans. However, at a March 7th, 201, house show, a fan provoked Batista by hitting him in the back as he was engaged in his match. The result: an angry “animal” shoving the fan back.
The fan happened to be Cam Carson, a local DJ. The situation made many believe it was a joint effort between WWE and Power 97 radio station. However, as it turned out, it was not actually scripted.
Later in the match, Batista flipped the fan, causing Carson to lose his cool and get escorted out by security.
In an interview with WWE.com, Batista noted that his reaction felt normal. “To me, it was a little frustrating, a little confusing, and, you know, I don’t want to say I completely took it personally, but I did somewhat."
10 Finlay Is Released After American National Anthem Is Interrupted
During Finlay’s time as a producer/agent for the WWE, he gave the okay to a script that had The Miz interrupting the national anthem during a March 25th, 2011 house show. The problem with this was that members of the National Guard, a sponsor for WWE programming, were in attendance at the show.
WWE responded by terminating Finlay’s contract and removing his profile from their official website. Finlay was a producer for the company for 10 years before the termination.
In an interview with The Sun, Finlay commented, “It wasn’t intended to insult anybody in that way it was just part of an entertaining show. That’s what we do; we entertain. It’s about cheers and boos.”
With power comes responsibility. Finlay made the call and he paid dearly for it.
9 Fan Low Blows Randy Orton... Orton Sells It
The Attitude Era was filled with stories of fans plunging into the ring and pissing off the wrestlers. Nowadays, incidents are less common, but they still happen. Randy Orton can tell you that. That being said, wrestlers don’t appreciate these moments as much as they used to. Randy Orton can also tell you that.
At an August 1st, 2013 house show in Cape Town, South Africa, a fan jumped into the ring uppercutted him between the legs in a typical low-blow fashion while he was posing on the top rope. Orton, thinking it was an unscripted move by another wrestler, sold the attack but quickly rose up after realizing it was a fan.
Apparently, it was an independent wrestler trying to promote himself on the big stage. He was quickly escorted out by security before the viper could get his hands on them.
8 JBL Provokes Heart Attack From Eddie Guerrero's Mother
This one is about Eddie Guerrero’s mother, but the catalyst is certainly JBL. Not surprising.
After defending his belt against JBL at a May 2nd, 2004 house show, Guerrero invited his family to the ring to celebrate. JBL rushed back into the ring and clotheslined Guerrero. Afterward, he grabbed his mother, causing her to have a mild heart attack. When this happened, the crowd became eerily silent, with Eddie telling JBL to get away before a riot ensued. As EMTs came in to assist Eddie’s mother, security told JBL he had to leave the building because the fans were getting rowdy.
JBL received a lot of heat for this unscripted move, but WWE decided to record the event for use at a televised SmackDown event. Although the move was unscripted, it was actually discussed backstage between Eddie, Chavo Guerrero and JBL.
7 WWE Employee Tony Chimel Humiliated
It’s all fun and games when it comes to embarrassing someone in the WWE—even if it’s not scripted. Such was the case for employee Tony Chimel who was not well liked by his colleagues.
At an October 27th, 2002 house show, before the main event involving Booker T, Rikishi, Matt Hardy and Brock Lesnar, ring announcer Tazz told the crowd that Chimel had been speaking about them in vain, saying that the city of Sheffield “sucks.” After the match, Chimel was brought to the ring and told to explain himself. Also followed Edge, Booker T, Rey Mysterio, Torrie Wilson, and Rikishi.
However, it was a setup and Chimel was forced onto the turnbuckle as Edge, Booker T, Rey Mysterio, Torrie, and Rikishi all had their turn at stinkfacing him.
6 CM Punk Goes Too Far
CM Punk stands alongside Randy Orton and Batista in this list for those that should be sympathized with for receiving abuse by fans. In 2011, Punk was one of the most disliked wresters by fans that his antics alone were enough to create mini riots. At a July 7th, 2011 house show in Adelaide, Australia, Punk flipped the heat back on fans in quite a homophobic way.
Punk told one of the ringside fans, “That's right, I do only pick on women, that's why I'm picking on you two jerks right now! You have a v*****! You have a v*****! Nice faux-hawk, you h***!”
Punk is not actually homophobic and, in an apology, he noted that it was a slip of the tongue.
“I'm glad TMZ posted that video because everybody needs to be held accountable for their bulls***, me included. What I said was bulls***... I'm embarrassed. I own up to being a total douche in this situation and I offer a sincere apology to anybody I hurt with careless words,” he said in a couple of tweets.
5 Chris Jericho Disrespects Brazilian Fans
At a May 24th, 2012 house show in São Paulo, Brazil, Chris Jericho grabbed a Brazilian flag and kicked it out of the ring. This was the wrong move to make in a country that holds so much pride in their culture.
The police stopped the match and forced Jericho to apologize before allowing the match to continue. Later on, WWE suspended Jericho 30 days, causing him to miss his No Way Out pay-per-view match against Randy Orton.
“I made a bad judgment call in the course of entertaining [WWE] fans in Brazil,” Jericho told WWE.com. “I apologized to the people in the crowd for showing disrespect.”
“It was a bad move,” Jericho added. “I did it with [our] fans’ entertainment in mind and I’ll accept the consequences for that."
4 Vince McMahon Joins Someone Else's Club
At an August 31st, 2003 house show, Vince McMahon shocked fans by bringing out Sable and making out with her. Vince went on to tell the fans they’re jealous because he got to do what they wished they could do. He went on to declare that Sable should join Vince McMahon's “Kiss My A**” club, already hosting members William Regal, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Hornswaggle, and others.
Then he changed his mind, declaring that he would be the inaugural member of Sable's “Kiss my A**” club. He proceeded to raise Sable’s dress and kissed her rear end in front of thousands of fans. He proceeded to taunt the fans again, telling them he just did what they do everyday, “kiss ass.”
The fans were astonished, but probably not more than Sable’s husband, Brock Lesnar, who had to watch the event from backstage.
3 Always Sell For The Undertaker
During a 2007 Glasgow, Scotland show, featuring a tag match between Chris Masters and Finlay against The Undertaker and Kane, The Undertaker became enraged with Masters for not selling the match well. Taker worked his arm, but Masters failed to sell the pain. Taker gestured at him twice, even yelling across the ring at Masters. Masters sold for a bit but it didn’t last.
Later on in the match, The Undertaker took out his frustration by teaching Masters a lesson in professionalism and roughing him up. After Taker gave him a bloody nose, Masters got angry and left the ring while the match was in progress. According to F4WOnline, Masters had trouble breathing and had suffered a real arm injury—a dislocated elbow.
He was pictured wearing a sling the next day.
2 Referee Tries To Pin Big Show
Fans got a comical moment at a live show when Big Show got into a funny segment with the referees.
After Big Show sold how exhausted he was from his match, he collapsed to the ground. Two present referees checked him out, confused with what to do with the big man. One of them had the bright idea of pinning him and right at the two-count, Big Show kicked out, springing up in rage.
The two referees dashed out the ring while Big Show scowled at them. Meanwhile, fans howled in laughter from the event, cheering in content as he acknowledged them on his way out of the ring.
For a big guy, Show has to be commended for how fast he got up from that count.
1 Fans Riot When They Realize It's Not A Televised Show
During a house show that took place on December 15th, 1997, fans in Little Rock, Arkansas engaged in one of the worst fan riots in WWE history. After realizing that they show they were attending was a live event and not televised, which is not how the event was advertised, the upset fans threw garbage and beer at the superstars and even spit on them.
WWE tried to keep the show going, but they were met with heavy resistance. The Rock and The Undertaker engaged in a casket match that couldn’t make it past 10 minutes due to the audience showing contempt. Then, as D-Generation X walked down the ramp for the main event, they were met by flying objects thrown by fans and one of them hit HBK. Angered, he grabbed a microphone and told the fans they had ruined the main event, and the show was over.
Things got worse at this point with fans breaking out in riots and attacking the venue’s security guards. There was even a report of a fan ripping a security guard’s shirt off and lighting it on fire. The security guards had to call the police for help and the riot was only stifled after tear gas was used.