The blurred lines between script and reality are one of the most important factors in creating an interesting product. Fans should not be able to easily tell something is “fake” even though everyone knows wrestling is predetermined. The ability to suspend the disbelief of the viewer can be the difference in a show failing or thriving. However, most diehard fans are jaded by watching for such a long time. While they can suspend their disbelief, it's hard to make them believe something is breaking script. That makes it even more interesting when a moment actually becomes real.
There have been a few times when something legitimate started to occur in the wrestling ring. Wrestlers have seen their personal issues lead to an actual fight or stiff shots as opposed to protecting each other like the typical match. Other performers have used promo time to verbally get a message across. The politics and the egos involved in the wrestling industry influences shockingly real moments to break the script. It often goes unknown due to everyone assuming the entire show is always overly scripted to the point where reality would never occur. We’ll look at some of the more memorable moments in these WWE incidents that you didn’t know were actually real.
15 JBL Beats up Blue Meanie
The ECW One Night Stand PPV was almost a perfect night. Everything went according to plan for the ECW fan base aside from one moment. As a member of the invading WWE heels, JBL hit the ring for a big group brawl and he used the opportunity to continue a personal vendetta. JBL brutally beat up The Blue Meanie during the brawl and bloodied the ECW star.
Blue Meanie referred to JBL as a locker room bully during his time in the WWE and JBL held a grudge for many years. Of course, he answered the criticism of being a bully by once again bullying the person who accused him of it. Everyone watching assumed it was just normal punches being thrown similar to everyone else fighting in the brawl. Sadly for Meanie, it was very real. The two have since made peace and become friends, but this was a tough incident to witness.
14 Matt Hardy Plugs ROH
Everyone remembers CM Punk's “pipe bomb” promo, where he referenced Ring of Honor and New Japan on WWE television. Punk wasn’t the first to name drop ROH on Raw. Matt Hardy did this in 2005 during his heated war with Edge. WWE legitimately fired Hardy due to the drama surrounding the love triangle with Lita and Edge. They were forced to bring Matt back with fans chanting for him at shows every week.
Hardy did independent wrestling shows in between his WWE appearances. One moment on Raw saw him tell fans to watch him at ROH for a match he had in the small promotion. This was genius to make it all seem as real as possible. Everyone assumed this was all planned ahead of time, but Hardy used his wrestling intelligence by referencing the promotion on his own. The segment went well and helped to add an even deeper degree of reality to the feud with Edge.
13 Emma's Shocking Win
The first NXT TakeOver special in Brooklyn was the biggest night in NXT history. A record breaking crowd showed up for the NXT brand and were treated to a television taping with the main event of Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Emma vs. Dana Brooke. Everyone expected Charlotte or Becky to pick up the win considering both were bigger stars and being positioned as leaders of the women’s revolution.
A huge upset saw Emma win the match abruptly, much to the confusion of the fans in attendance and wrestlers in the ring. The dismay was a genuine emotion from all involved as miscommunication saw Emma get the victory. Charlotte was supposed to win the match but Lynch didn’t kick out in time and Dana Brooke didn’t break up the pin. The post-match segment saw Charlotte and Becky beat up the heels with Charlotte’s music playing.
12 Kurt Angle vs. Daniel Puder
WWE always loves testing potential wrestlers in their various competitions for contracts. The Tough Enough season to take place on SmackDown featured one moment getting a bit too real between Kurt Angle and potential WWE newcomer Daniel Puder. Angle challenged the various contestants to “shoot” wrestling bouts, given his background in amateur wrestling.
Puder stepped up to the plate and refused to go down to Angle. The former UFC fighter placed Angle in a Kimura Lock and nearly broke his arm. An official counted a pin with Puder on his back during the submission to end the segment before Angle suffered an injury. Angle berated Puder following the fight and the very real moment saw Puder get instant heat in the locker room after eventually winning Tough Enough. WWE fired him within a year.
11 Randy Orton Calls Kofi Kingston Stupid
Kofi Kingston appeared ready for big things during his feud with Randy Orton in 2009. The young star exhibited great potential with hopes of him being a main event player. A specific moment in the feud damaged Kingston’s chances to move up the card. Orton and Kingston were wrestling on an edition of Monday Night Raw. The match was going well until the ending.
There was noteworthy miscommunication between the two. Orton was lining up to punt Kingston but Kingston got back up. This led to Orton calling him “stupid” and hitting the RKO to win the match. The moment was very real with Orton showing frustration over Kingston not going with whatever Orton was expecting. Kofi fell down the card and this incident definitely hurt his standing in the company.
10 Curtain Call
The changes in the wrestling business through the years, along with the influence of the internet, has smartened everyone up. Fans watching today are well aware of the scripted drama and know they're witnessing friends battle each other in the ring for their entertainment. It was the complete opposite in the mid-90s until four buddies decided to change the business with one moment.
Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were leaving WWE for WCW. Shawn Michaels and Triple H were their best friends, making up the backstage powerful squad known as The Kliq. On their final night together in WWE, at Madison Square Garden, all four friends stood together in the ring breaking character to unite. Hall and Michaels were faces. Nash and Triple H were heels. The faced each other in two singles matches on the show. Those in attendance were wondering if Nash and Triple H were now good guys, but it was a real moment of four pals just appreciating each other.
9 The Undertaker Throws Mick Foley Through Cage
WWE often has some of the most dangerous action you’ll witness on television. Despite it being scripted action, the violence can be very real, especially back in the Attitude Era. WWE used to push the envelope doing things that would seem impossible and far too reckless today. Mick Foley found himself in many of these predicaments as a hardcore wrestling legend.
The most famous match of Foley’s career was the iconic Hell in a Cell battle with The Undertaker. Everyone recalls Undertaker throwing Foley off the top of the cell onto the announcer’s table. That was actually completely planned. The second moment of The Undertaker hitting the Chokeslam on Foley through the top of the cell into the ring, however, was real. Both men expected the cage to hold Foley for the Chokeslam and they’d climb back down the cage to fight in the ring. Instead, Foley fell through the cage in a real moment that will never be forgotten.
8 Snake Bites Randy Savage
Young wrestling fans were temporarily traumatized during a terrifying segment on WWE television in 1991. Jake Roberts feuded with Randy Savage in a great story of a dastardly villain opposing a beloved fan favorite. To get more heat, Roberts tied Savage up with the ring ropes and had his snake actually bite Macho Man.
The bite was planned since the snake was not venomous, but it did not go according to plan. The snake bit Savage’s arm for the shocking visual, but refused to let go. Savage was in great pain and started to bleed a little from the bite. No one wanted the snake to get that violent with Savage, but that’s what happens when you try to write a wrestling segment around a wild animal.
7 Perry Saturn Brutalizes Mike Bell
The cardinal rule in wrestling is to always put personal differences aside and protect your opponent. Both performers need to be on the same page for a match to go well. An injury can occur with the slightest error and you have to rely on your opponent. Perry Saturn broke the unwritten rule in 2001 when wrestling enhancement talent Mike Bell.
In one of the biggest matches of his career, Bell worked sloppy and botched a couple of moves, likely due to nerves kicking in. Saturn didn’t take kindly to this and broke the script by flat out brutally beating Bell in the ring. It turned into a real fight with the veteran taking liberties on the local worker. Saturn violently shoved Bell into the steps in a manner very uncommon in wrestling. WWE punished Saturn for the incident by writing his character to become a joke, as he fell in love with a mop on television.
6 Bart Gunn Knocks Out Dr. Death
WWE likely regrets this moment being real, but the inception of the Brawl for All created a mystery to fans. The glorified boxing tournament featured the toughest wrestlers with fighting backgrounds battling it out in a tournament with big money on the line. WWE expected Dr. Death Steve Williams to destroy the field with ease. Williams was supposed to win and move into a feud with Steve Austin for the WWE Championship.
That all ended with one swing from Bart Gunn. The forgettable enhancement talent had the chance of his life to take home the prize and captured it by knocking out the golden boy. Gunn went on to win the entire tournament and Williams’ saw his push completely fall apart. WWE wanted the results to be real and it led to one of the surprising moments in company history.
5 Charles Robinson Curses Out Chris Jericho
Wrestling legend Chris Jericho and respected official Charles Robinson have worked together for many years, going all the way back to WCW. The two friends, however, had an unfortunate moment take place at Raw this year during an injury to Neville. Jericho was facing Neville and noticed his opponent was legitimately hurt. As a veteran, Jericho tried to end the match instantly with a rollup but Robinson didn’t count to three.
This led to Jericho shoving Robinson to get disqualified and the two having a war of words. Robinson started cursing out Jericho after being yelled at and shoved. Something was clearly out of the ordinary and it was Jericho trying to get Neville out of the ring and treated on. Robinson didn’t notice Neville was hurt. Both men quickly made up and Robinson went on Jericho’s podcast as both men discussed their experience in the surreal moment.
4 APA Destroys Public Enemy
Ron Simmons and Bradshaw were long-time locker room enforcers in the WWE. Some people flat out believed they were bullies. They were the last two people you wanted to piss off and it only made sense they formed a tag team together as The Acolytes, later becoming more popularly known as the APA. One tag team coming into the WWE particularly pissed off Simmons and Bradshaw.
The Public Enemy had a world of hype behind them after a great run in ECW. They unfortunately flopped in WCW before getting another chance at mainstream success in the WWE. Many wrestlers in the company at the time claimed Public Enemy were arrogant and disrespectful to the rest of the locker room. Bradshaw and Simmons took out their frustrations on Public Enemy, on behalf of everyone else in WWE. The real moment of the APA beating the hell out of Public Enemy saw them out of the company shortly after following their very own beatdown.
3 Vince McMahon Tears Both Quads
Vince McMahon's walk to the ring is so memorable that it's became associated with him throughout the years. McMahon’s bravado got the better of him when his forceful walk saw him slip walking into the ring. The fall caused him to tear both of his quadriceps muscles right as he was getting in the ring at the 2005 Royal Rumble match.
McMahon still was able to cut his promo, re-starting the match while sitting in the ring unable to stand on his own. The pain clearly was being held back until he was helped to the back. No one knew what to make of it. Injuries rarely come from such fluke accidents but it happened to McMahon in front of the world. Vince may have struggled to stand on his own, but he saw two new stars born that night with John Cena and Batista.
2 Daniel Bryan Upset At Ref Stopping Match
Daniel Bryan strongly dislikes the idea of his matches being stopped due to injury. An injury hit Bryan during a match with Randy Orton on Raw. Bryan landed hard following a suplex from Orton and endured a stinger. The referee stopped the match after getting word from management backstage to call it and Orton won due to Bryan being deemed unable to continue.
Bryan's facial expression showed absolute anger and frustration with such a result. This was not planned at all. Things got ugly backstage with Bryan being pissed off and getting in the face of Triple H. Bryan refused to listen to Triple H’s, logic largely due to the fact that Hunter continued wrestling with injuries suffered in a match multiple times throughout his career. Given Bryan’s future injuries, it was the right call and he likely regrets being so upset about it.
1 Hulk Hogan Fired as Mr. America
WWE tried to experiment with a new character for Hulk Hogan in 2003. After being fired in kayfabe by Vince McMahon, Hogan returned wearing a red, white and blue mask as Mr. America. The joke was that everyone knew it was Hogan but McMahon couldn’t prove it. Hogan delivered many humorous moments under the mask. At the end of shows, Hogan would unmask in front of the live audience for those in attendance to have a cool moment.
McMahon grew tired of Hogan’s politics and demands for more money. This time, he blended both reality and script by finding the perfect way to let him go. McMahon fired Hogan on television by showing footage of the dark segments with Mr. America unmasking to be revealed as The Hulkster. This was not only for story, but a real firing from the WWE with the footage being used to explain it to the fans as if it was all planned ahead of time.