Injuries in wrestling are commonplace. With no off time the wrestlers are constantly putting their bodies through pain on a weekly basis, not to mention the constant travel and time spent in the gym added to their rigorous schedules. There have been plenty of times when a storyline has had to be changed due to a legitimate injury from a WWE Superstar, forcing the writer’s hands and making them alter plans. Yet sometimes those stories are done as a swerve.
WWE has been known to put injury angles into storylines on purpose many times. They make fans think that someone is really hurt in order to further the story or give someone some rest to film a movie or TV show. Now with social media and dirt sheets, legitimate injuries are often announced before WWE even gets around to it, which means they are able to snuff out any fake stories as well. But for the casual audiences this can be a brilliant trick that really baffles fans.
WWE has been known to pull this trick off brilliantly at times, adding plenty to a storyline and making everyone think a certain talent is really hurt. However, as with any WWE storyline, there have been just as many moments when the ‘injury’ angle simply has not worked and was too obvious for anybody to buy into.
This article will look into eight examples of when a WWE storyline injury didn’t convince fans in the slightest and seven times when it had everybody fooled.
15. Least Convincing: Daniel Bryan’s Stretcher
As mentioned earlier in the article, sometimes a one-off moment in the middle of the match can easily convince fans that an injury has taken place, with the WWE Universe being shocked and questioning what is taking place. However, that wasn’t the case when it came to the main event of WrestleMania 30, in what would prove to be the crowning jewel of Daniel Bryan’s career. After having already competed against Triple H, Bryan came to the ring heavily taped, planting a seed of doubt in the fans minds.
A Batista Bomb into an RKO through the announcer’s table was supposed to be enough to convince fans that Bryan was going to be stretchered out of the match, but after the journey we had gone on to get there, the WWE Universe was too smart to think that was ever going to happen.
14. Fooled Us: Alexa Bliss Dislocates Her Elbow
Being double jointed can certainly have its benefits at times, as a relatively unique thing, Alexa Bliss used the fact she is double jointed to her benefit at the Great Balls Of Fire PPV when she shocked the entire WWE Universe. During a match with Sasha Banks, Bliss appeared to have dislocated her elbow during a main moment in the bout and she quickly showed the referee her arm and put wrestling fans into a moment of shock horror, with many thinking she had legitimately hurt herself.
In fact, Bliss just provided fans with a moment of genius as she popped her arm back in and quickly attacked The Boss, gaining the upper hand in a match she would eventually win. It might not have been done to fool fans for a long-term story, but just a quick shock that was incredibly effective.
13. Least Convincing: Jason Jordan’s Injured Leg
Jason Jordan has had a difficult time adjusting to life as a singles performer on Monday Night Raw. He portrays Kurt Angle’s son and hasn’t been helped by the way he has been booked and portrayed by WWE. His latest problem has come in the form of an injury storyline that has seen the former American Alpha competitor have a problem with his leg on a weekly basis. With Jordan attempting to convince Angle he is healthy enough to compete and then using the injury as a way of having him lose matches without damaging his reputation too much.
In actual fact, this was just a way to take him out of the Raw team for Survivor Series 2017 to bring in a bigger star in the form of Triple H and the fans didn’t buy any of it. The storyline has only hurt Jordan and it is now quickly being forgotten about.
12. Fooled Us: Randy Orton Gets Busted Open
SummerSlam of 2016 took everybody by surprise when Brock Lesnar pummelled Randy Orton so hard he bust him open. This left the Viper in a pool of his own blood to end the show. It was an incredibly risky strategy having Lesnar bust Orton the hard way, but it was effective nonetheless. While this did turn into a legitimate injury, giving Randy Orton a concussion, the fact it was all part of the scripted plan was something nobody saw coming. This totally took the audience by surprise, given the fact bloody was no longer used in WWE.
The fact that it was so real and violent made it seem like Lesnar had simply lost control and everybody played their part to perfection. Even though it didn’t really develop any storyline, it made Lesnar seem like a total monster. The fact it even fooled Chris Jericho, who confronted the Beast after the show highlights how well this angle went.
11. Least Convincing: The Big Dog Taken Out
WWE really has made life hard work for Roman Reigns with some of the booking decisions made, and during the 2016 Royal Rumble, they have topped themselves. Having Reigns put his WWE Championship on the line and enter at #1, they had to make a plan to have him out of the ring for half the match… for some reason.
That responsibility fell into the hands of The League Of Nations, who assaulted Reigns. They sent him through the announcer’s table, which led to him being taken to the back and seemingly out of the match. For some reason, WWE expected fans to believe that, but they didn’t. Reigns of course returned and ended up winning the match, which was a ridiculous booking decision. Not only were the fans not convinced, but they hated it and booed Roman out of the building.
10. Fooled Us: Shawn Michaels Passes Out
Sometimes the best fake injury angles are inspired by real injuries and that was the case with Shawn Michaels collapse during a match with Owen Hart in 1995. The Heartbreak Kid had taken a real-life beating from some Marines after he began to mouth off at them and WWE saw an opportunity to create a story.
Playing the real-life beating into an angle, Michaels returned for a match with Owen Hart and things appeared to be normal, until he suddenly collapsed in the middle of the ring. This was all a work though, and the fans bought every bit of it. Everyone involved played their roles to perfection but none more so than Vince McMahon. Instead of staying on commentary and playing up the angle like most people would, he rushed to the ring acting concerned, making the situation feel even more real.
9. Least Convincing: All Buried Alive Matches
The first ever buried alive match could arguably have fallen into the other side of this article, as when the gimmick match first debuted fans were shocked that someone was actually buried alive and didn’t expect to see them again.
Unfortunately, the problem with a match like this is that once the loser then reappears in WWE at a later date, which happens every single time, then it can no longer be taken seriously, as the WWE Universe always expects them to come back. While, in theory, it makes perfect sense, it never plays out quite as well in reality. This is probably why we haven’t seen one in quite some time. It is an effective tool for taking somebody out of a storyline for a while, but it never fools the fans anymore.
8. Fooled Us: Seth Rollins Almost Misses WrestleMania… Again
When the news broke prior to WrestleMania 33 that Seth Rollins had re-injured his knee it seemed like the Architects biggest nightmare had come true. It looked almost certain that he would miss a second WrestleMania in a row. Thankfully that wouldn’t be the case and Rollins got to have his grudge match with Triple H. That wasn’t before WWE put further doubt into our minds when he was attacked numerous times in the build to the match following his return.
There were many fans that honestly thought Rollins wouldn’t be able to compete and WWE did a brilliant job in building the fact that he was seriously hurt and the match was in jeopardy when in actual fact it was always set to take place.
7. Least Convincing: Living In A Dumpster Truck
Ever since Braun Strowman became one of WWE’s top stars following the return of the WWE draft, he has been involved in countless major angles, with several of them involving vehicles and near death experiences. The latest was perhaps the most perplexing and stupid when Braun Strowman was put into a dumpster truck and supposedly ‘crushed’ and sent packing from the arena. After having a week away from Raw, the Monster Amongst Men made his triumphant return, and surprise… he was alive.
All of this idea was incredibly daft and not very well thought out as nobody ever thought that a PG WWE would ‘off’ a wrestler and it just didn’t make sense. The fact he was only missing for such a short space of time didn’t help play into the story either, but the angle didn’t work the current feud with Kane which has followed on hasn’t been enjoyed by fans either, likely because of this terrible start.
6. Fooled Us: I Did It For The Rock
While the eventual unveiling of Rikishi as the man behind the car with the now infamous, “I did it for The Rock” line was a relative disappointment, the actual storyline of Stone Cold being run over in a hit and run accident was incredibly well done.
It should have been one of the biggest angles at the time as the shock of Austin being hit by a car was huge and the WWE Universe believed it, really fearing for his well being and safety, it really was expertly done. With the way it was shot making it look like Austin really had been run down by a car at high speed, the audience responded exactly as the company had hoped, if only they hadn’t ruined the execution of it afterward.
5. Least Convincing: Failed Attempt
There were so many things wrong with this storyline that it’s hard to contain into just one section of this article, but one point that must be focused on is that the WWE Universe never, ever, bought into this idea. Not so much an injury angle but a loss of life angle, with WWE focusing on referee (yes, they did a storyline on a referee) Tim White, who was forced to retire afterWrestleManiaXX due to a shoulder injury.
WWE decided to follow up on this with ‘Lunchtime Suicide’ segments, with Josh Matthews checking in on him as White attempted (and failed) to take his own life on a weekly basis. Fans were never convinced that he was actually contemplating suicide and the entire thing was a terrible idea from start to finish.
4. Fooled Us: The Animal Returns
Sometimes WWE really does a great job of playing up an injury and linking it to a potential retirement and that was the case with Batista in 2009. The Animal had been written off television with an arm injury for several months after an assault by Randy Orton.
Rumours speculated this was done to cover up a wellness violation by Batista but that was unconfirmed. What was confirmed is how much the fans bought into it upon his return. Batista came back to Raw and announced he was doing so to say goodbye. The audible groan from the fans told the story that the angle had worked and Batista had them hook line and sinker. This made the surprise that he wasn’t injured at all even better as he attacked Randy Orton and began their rivalry.
3. Least Convincing: Women’s History Stalled
WWE has a thing with putting their talents on a stretcher during a match, only for them to return again at some point in the near future. That was the case during the first-ever women’s Hell In A Cell match when it seemed like Sasha Banks was going to be carted to the hospital before the match had even officially begun.
While WWE tried to play up the fact Banks is a smaller woman who is slightly more fragile and she had just taken a beating, the moment dragged on for too long for anyone to seriously believe that the main event was going to end in that manner. There was never any doubt that the first-ever women’s Hell in a Cell match was going to finish before the cell had even officially been locked, and the fans just never bought in and instead grew frustrated that the match was wasting time.
2. Fooled Us: Royal Rumble Surprise
The RoyalRumble match has become known for its surprises, whether that be a debut, a call-up from NXT or a returning legend, the wrestling fans expect to be shocked during this match and WWE always delivers plenty of surprises. There have been several occasions where a wrestler has returned from injury to this match, but none of them have been more shocking than when John Cena made his triumphant return at the 2008 Royal Rumble.
Nobody expected him to be there with WWE telling fans he wouldn’t be back until after WrestleMania, which was several months away. So when Cena’s music hit at number 30 nobody knew what to do with themselves and the reaction of the fans and wrestlers inside the ring made it clear that WWE had fooled everyone.
1. Least Convincing: Blowing Up Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon seems to have a crazy obsession with trying to ‘off’ his character on television, as he has attempted it multiple times. Whether it’s because he just doesn’t want to be on screen anymore or if he thinks it is wildly entertaining, only he will really know, but nobody is ever convinced.
Vince has tried to do this twice. Once was when part of the Raw set collapsed on top of him during his ‘million dollar giveaway’. The second being the more infamous limousine explosion. While the idea makes sense, after all, he is just trying to create compelling television, the thought process never made sense. Nobody on earth would believe that Vince was really dead, after all, this is the sort of thing that would have had a major announcement and been all over the news. With WWE walking the fine line between attempting to be real and fake, something like this just didn’t make sense and the fans never understood it.
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