In case you weren’t already aware of this, wrestling is and always has been fake. It is purely entertainment for the fans. Most matches, scenarios, and feuds are “works” created to entertain viewers of the show. However, just because it isn’t real, doesn’t mean “real” things don’t happen. In fact, there have been many different times when very real things took place in wrestling. These are normally called “shoots” and are not scripted or planned.
Whether these were angry tirades, real fights, awkward moments or straight up inappropriate behavior, they happen from time to time. While the WWE is pretty good at keeping these off of TV or out of the public eye, that doesn’t always go over so well. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 15 times that wrestling got a little bit too “real”.
15. The Miz Calls Out Daniel Bryan
This is an extremely recent moment and is one that didn’t take place on TV or on a PPV, but on a post-event show on the WWE Network. As it turned out, it was more memorable than anything that took place on that night’s episode of SmackDown. On that fateful show, a very real promo from the Miz was directed at GM and former wrestler Daniel Bryan. Bryan was forced to retire after an injury because of his risky style and criticized the Miz for playing it safe. Miz then went berzerk and laid into Bryan, calling him a coward for not exploring other options if he really wanted to wrestle. While it is still not certain to some if this was a work or a shoot, Miz legitimately seemed angry, and Bryan appeared to be offended for real during the segment.
14. Daniel Puder Tries To Break Kurt Angle’s Arm
Near the end of 2004, the WWE held a Tough Enough season that came along with a $1,000,000 prize for the winner. Kurt Angle was going through all the hopefuls, grilling them one by one. However, when he got to Daniel Puder (the eventual winner), things change. Puder, who is trained in the martial arts, decided to go off-script. They would unexpectedly begin to wrestle and tussle for real and Puder got Angle in a kimura. For those who don’t know, that is a submission move that can do some real damage if it is held for too long.
13. Brian Pillman Going Crazy
If you were going to look at the craziest WWE superstars in history, you’d have to start with Brian Pillman. He has many different examples of being completely unpredictable and participating in segments that many thoughts were shoots, but actually turned out to be works. The most famous example of this was his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, where it appeared that Pillman was about to shoot Stone Cold with a gun after Austin broke into his home. So while Pillman was only playing his role and never really did anything too terrible, he was so good at being crazy that it definitely made people uncomfortable as a result. He eventually apologized for the angle as it went too far.
12. The Edge, Lita And Matt Hardy Love Triangle
During the Attitude Era, Matt Hardy and Lita were a beloved couple that fans loved. If they ever were to break up, fans would have been furious. Well, not only did they eventually break up, but it was because she had cheated on Hardy with Edge. Not only that, but the WWE acknowledged the relationship and actually formed an angle around it. This must have been very difficult for Hardy to work in an angle with a former girlfriend and the man she cheated on you with; terrible stuff and definitely the epitome of awkwardness. Also, this isn’t the last time on this list that you’re going to hear about Edge and Lita.
11. Exploiting Eddie Guererro
Many wrestlers have passed away due to unfortunate circumstances, and while it is always sad, it was especially sad when Eddie Guererro passed away. He was still in his prime and suddenly, he was gone. The WWE had some shows dedicated to him and offered some very tasteful videos about his time in the WWE. However, instead of stopping there, they interjected Eddie’s name into a feud to try and get cheap heat for Randy Orton. Basically, Orton said to Rey Mysterio (one of Eddie’s real-life best friends), that Eddie was in hell. Though only a work, that’s definitely too far and the WWE should have known better.
10. Antonio Inoki Vs. The Great Antonio
Inoki is one of the biggest Japanese wrestling stars in history and was the founder of New Japan Pro Wrestling. By all accounts, he is a very mild-mannered man, who is one hell of a wrestler. However, on one fateful night, he let his temper get the better of him. During a match with The Great Antonio, he was completely no-selling all of Inoki’s moves. This frustrated him, and he started to shoot on his namesake. He started fighting for real, even kicking him repeatedly while he was down, making him bleed profusely in the process. This was a wake-up all for everyone not to mess with Antonio Inoki.
9. Butterbean Vs. Bart Gunn
In 1998, the WWE held the “Brawl for All” tournament which featured actual fights between wrestlers under rules similar to boxing. Bart Gunn won the whole thing, surprisingly, and Vince McMahon thought it would be a good idea to match up Gunn with Butterbean. While he might not look like anything special, Butterbean is a true fighter as he has a boxing record of 97-24-5, so Gunn was clearly outmatched. It took Butterbean a total of 35 seconds to dismantle Gunn and knock him out, and Gunn found himself out of the WWE and you can be sure that something like this will never happen again.
8. JBL Beats Up The Blue Meanie
If you have followed along with the WWE at all in recent months, you are well aware of the fact that JBL is a bit of a bully. Well, one big example of this is his relationship with the Blue Meanie. When the Blue Meanie was let go from the WWE, he alleged it was because of JBL and also said JBL bullied him throughout his time in the WWE. Well, on a night in which a big brawl took place between the WWE and ECW, JBL ended up taking out his frustrations on the Blue Meanie for real as he bloodied him up with punches. While the two have patched things up apparently, this was definitely a real fight.
7. Brock Lesnar Bloodies Up Randy Orton
Brock Lesnar is incredibly scary man and is one of the best wrestlers (and fighters) on the planet today. Even when he is participating in a work in the WWE, it seems as if he is really trying to hurt his opponent. This was evident during the end of his main event match at SummerSlam in 2016, when he elbowed Randy Orton into oblivion, busting him open in the process. While this was not Lesnar trying to hurt Orton (Orton apparently gave the blessing), Chris Jericho had no idea it was set up, and approached Lesnar and the two got very heated and almost got into a physical altercation themselves.
6. The Pipe Bomb
If you think about what the famous and most talked about promo of the last while in the WWE, it would have to be the Pipe Bomb promo from CM Punk. Punk had long been frustrated with the WWE, and in 2011, he would deliver one hell of a promo. He would sit cross-legged on the entrance ramp and give a multi-minute rant about all of his concerns with the WWE, break the fourth wall and basically do everything that the WWE never wants you to. While he stayed with the company for a while after this event, he would leave the WWE for good in 2014, and it wasn’t on good terms.
5. Roddy Piper Goes At Vince Russo
There are few things more awkward and uncomfortable than blaming someone for the death of another human being. Well, that is exactly what Roddy Piper did during early days of TNA. During an unannounced visit to TNA, Piper proceeded to cut a harsh promo on Vince Russo, who was a head writer at TNA. He opened by calling Russo a talentless man who kills the dreams of wrestlers. He then said that Russo is the reason Owen Hart died as he suspended him 90 feet in the air for no reason at all. This was incredibly real and a very awkward moment for everyone involved.
4. The Live Celebration
That’s right, the WWE actually aired a segment that they called a “live sex celebration.” It involved Edge and Lita and a big giant bed in the middle of the ring. There was nothing else, no silly run-ins or anything else, just two people feigning sexual intercourse on prime time TV. I don’t think we need to tell you why this was a bit too “real” to have people pretend to have sex on a show that children watch. There were definitely more than a few different parents having to cover their children’s eyes during this segment.
3. Jeff Hardy’s Worst Moment
This was without a doubt one of the darkest days in the history of TNA. During the Victory Road pay-per-view in 2011, TNA had a dream matchup scheduled between Sting and Jeff Hardy. However, as soon as Hardy was walking down to the ring, you knew something was wrong. Hardy was clearly high and/or drunk and could barely walk and was stumbling down to the ring. Changes were made on the fly during the “match” and Sting forcefully pinned Hardy almost immediately after the match started. Fans in attendance were furious and it is terrible that TNA officials even let Hardy go out to the ring in the condition that he was in.
2. The Montreal Screwjob
The Montreal Screwjob is without a doubt one of the most infamous situations in the history of wrestling. While some still believe it was a work, many believe that it was completely real. It took place in a match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart for the WWE Championship. Vince wanted Hart to lose as he was leaving the company, but Bret didn’t want to drop it until the following night. Of course, Vince won as the ref called a stop to the match and declared Michaels the winner, even though Hart never tapped out.
1. The Owen Hart Tragedy
You knew this had to come in at number one, as it is perhaps the darkest day in the history of wrestling. Owen Hart was suspended 90 feet above the ring before a match in 1999, when an equipment failure caused him to plummet to his death. The stunt had only been attempted and performed a few times and it is believed that Hart accidentally triggered the quick release on the harness, which led him to fall to his death. There is nothing more real than an actual death occurring in the ring, and that is what happened here. Truly a horrific event and one that should never have happened in the first place.
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