Things in wrestling don’t always go to plan. No matter how many times a script is revisited whoever is handed that script won’t always follow the instructions. Sometimes the script might be slightly adjusted to the point where it doesn’t really make a difference, yet other times it will be glaringly obvious that something is off. What makes this problem all the worse is that wrestling (for the most part) happens live on national television. This means you can’t really go back and edit out the bad parts. This has led to some memorable mishaps.
Sometimes, wrestlers going off script is the very best thing that can happen and it has at times helped people get to the next level. Yet other times, it can be disastrous. Whether it be putting another wrestlers safety in jeopardy or a wrestler totally embarrassing their promotion by not wrestling well or not selling the match, the consequences were either great or very dire. Wrestlers going off script can be dangerous both in terms of health or story development and this list will look at those examples. While many people say that wrestling is scripted and therefore isn’t exciting, this list should prove to them that even the best plans of the promoters can be turned on a dime when the script goes out the window.
The list will include eight times a wrestler was punished for going off script and seven times they were rewarded for making the change.
15. Punished: Daniel Puder Challenging A Gold Medalist
This is one of the most well known and talked about incidents of someone going off script, but Daniel Puder’s decision to take on Kurt Angle in a legit shoot fight was one that he ultimately paid the price for.
As part of the Tough Enough series, Puder was expected to challenge Angle and ultimately be beaten by the WWE Superstar. Instead, Puder took the fight to him and locked in a submission and appeared to have Angle in a world of trouble. To save major embarrassment the referee, with some quick thinking, quickly counted a poor looking pinfall to end the situation. Puder was then put into that year’s Royal Rumble where he was quickly taught a lesson by Angle and the Tough Enough winner would end up being released from WWE.
14. Rewarded: Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection
One of the greatest and most memorable tag teams in WWE history, The Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection was one that was never meant to be, and would likely never have happened had it not been for an unscripted moment between the pair.
With the pair in the ring and The Rock delivering his famous catchphrase, his sunglasses slipped off his face, leading to a pause in the ring. Mankind decided to pick them up with Rocky responding: “The Rock thanks you for that,” and the magic was born. WWE officials began to notice the incredible chemistry the pair had and the rest, as they say, was history. This created some of the most memorable moments in both wrestler’s careers and the WWE universe remembers them fondly.
13. Rewarded: Cesaro Not Feeling The Draft
The WWE Draft returning has been a major benefit for WWE in numerous ways. Not only are both Raw and SmackDown Live now much more exciting to watch, but WWE Superstars who were once overlooked are now provided screen time and an opportunity to thrive.
One man who hoped that would be the case was Cesaro. However at the start that just wasn’t the case for the Swiss Superman. Placed on Raw, Cesaro wasn’t featured and was lost in the shuffle and during an interview segment he made that crystal clear, and WWE listened. Not only did they allow Cesaro to continue the storyline, but they placed him in a Best Of 7 Series with Sheamus, something that people were not on board with at the start. But now that they are The Bar, it is clear that he was rewarded with some long-term planning that has seen Cesaro boast one of his greatest ever runs in WWE.
12. Punished: Mickie James For The ‘V’
The feud between Mickie James and Trish Stratus which culminated at WrestleMania 22 was incredible, with James portrayed as a superfan of Trish who verged on being a stalker which was smartly played out up to the match. While most people enjoyed the match, one man that didn’t was Vince McMahon, perhaps the one who they want to please the most. His opinion on the match itself isn’t that well known, but it was one moment when James threw up the V symbol, sticking her tongue in-between to symbolize a certain intimate act.
11. Punished: Scott Steiner Shoots On Flair
During promos, it is often the case that wrestlers might deviate from the script. Often to make things slightly more personal and get the fans’ attention, but when you are not feuding with someone and decide to call them out, it makes no sense at all.
This is exactly what Scott Steiner did during a 2000 WCW promo as he ran down Ric Flair, claiming that when the Nature Boy appeared, fans tuned into Raw instead of WCW. Steiner seemed to inadvertently be promoting WCW’s opposition at the same time, for some reason. WCW acted quickly to punish Steiner for going off script in a seemingly random attack on Flair that also promoted WWE and suspended him from the company.
10. Rewarded: Brawl For All
The Brawl For All concept was one of the worst in WWE history, bringing legitimate boxing into the wrestling ring just makes a glaringly obvious statement that wrestling is fake. It didn’t make any sense.
To add to the confusion, WWE wanted to script a winner in the tournament, which was a boxing tournament. It is as stupid as it sounds and of course it didn’t go to plan as boxing is a real sport and anything can really happen. Bart Gunn was rewarded when he surprisingly won the tournament with a match at WrestleMania. However, his reward could have also fallen into the punishment category, as he was put into a boxing match with legitimate tough man Butterbean and was quickly knocked out in the middle of the ring.
9. Punished: Batista Doesn’t Care If Blading Is Banned
We are in a PG era when it comes to WWE and that is something that neither Batista or Chris Jericho were willing to accept during their World Heavyweight Championship match. The Animal took it upon himself to add some colour to the occasion and bladed himself to make the bout stand out, but he paid the ultimate price and it was a big one.
As Jericho has discussed both on his podcast and in his autobiographies, himself, Batista and the official for the match were all scolded by Vince McMahon and felt his wrath in a big way. Every single one of them was fined and Batista showed his character when he paid for every single fine himself, as it was his decision. But when you consider that he was fined an insane $100,000 for his own role, you can’t question why he hates the current PG direction so much.
8. Rewarded: Triple Is The Game
Triple H is now commonly known as ‘The Game’ and it seems strange to think of him without that nickname, but it all came from an unscripted moment during an interview with Good Ol’ Jim Ross.
During the interview, a passionate Triple H claimed: “I am the f*****g Game” and made it very clear that he believed he was a top star in the industry. The next night on Raw, signs began to pop up, creating a nickname that would stick with him for life and helped take him to the next level. He eventually had his theme revolve around this idea, with Motorhead providing incredible music that always goes over with the crowd.
7. Punished: Gail Kim And The Self-Elimination
One way to get yourself out of a job you have no interest in is to simply not do it properly, and that is exactly what Gail Kim did on an episode of Raw in 2011. During a Divas Battle Royal, Kim simply eliminated herself halfway through the match, with nobody around her she simply went under the ropes and left the ring.
Despite the fact that barely anybody noticed during the moment, including Vince McMahon and backstage officials according to Kim herself, it was an embarrassing moment for the company and in the end, the veteran wrestler paid the price. Kim was granted her release from the company as punishment for the situation, which might have been what she wanted, but the way she went about it didn’t do her any favours.
6. Rewarded: A Career Off Script For Ric Flair
Few wrestlers are allowed to go off-script in their careers, and even fewer are allowed to do it in nearly every single promo, but that was the case for the Nature Boy Ric Flair. The only two time WWE Hall of Fame Superstar spent the majority of his incredible promos not following a script and saying whatever he wanted.
Whether he was strutting about the place, talking about Space Mountain or delivering his famous WOO, these moments were all created through his own genius, by going off script and it would be impossible to just pinpoint one moment for this list, so instead, they all go in together. Flair is considered by many as the greatest of all time and his promo and ability to go off-script is one of the main reasons for that.
5. Punished: Jeff Hardy Victory Road Catastrophe
Jeff Hardy has often been known for living a wild lifestyle, but that was never more clear than at TNA’s Victory Road when Hardy’s situation saw him ruin the main event of 2011’s Victory Road, by being too intoxicated to compete. Hardy was scheduled to face Sting in the PPV’s closing match and he was in such a state that Eric Bischoff had to head to the ring before the match started to tell them secretly to wrap the match up straight away. Despite the build-up, the main event lasted just minutes as Sting quickly put Hardy down to secure the victory.
The live crowd chanted ‘bull****,’ which Sting screamed he agreed with as the Icon was visibly furious and many fans demanded a refund, creating terrible PR for TNA. Not only did this ruin Hardy’s reputation for some time, but he was quickly taken off television.
4. Rewarded: Austin 3:16
One of the most talked about moments of WWE Superstars going off-script came from a moment that helped cement Stone Cold Steve Austin as one of the top stars in the company. The phrase ‘Austin 3:16 just whooped your @$$’ is now a common one with WWE fans, but that was never part of the script for the WWE Hall of Fame star.
Austin won the King of the Ring in 1996 and gave a post-match speech that changed his destiny and the future of wrestling. Austin would add even more brilliance to the promo by saying “and that’s the bottom line, ‘cuz Stone Cold said so”. Neither of the catchphrases were planned or scripted, and just highlight the greatness of Steve Austin, providing him catchphrases that would stay with him throughout his career.
3. Punished: The Curtain Call
The infamous curtain call is a moment that changed wrestling forever and will be in the history books as one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history. The Kliq made the decision to break kayfabe and reveal to the world that they were real-life friends following a Madison Square Garden main event.
While Kevin Nash and Scott Hall got away with the situation as they were jumping ship to WCW, the reason for the curtain call in the first place, and with Shawn Michaels as the champion who was carrying WWE, the blame fell on one man. That man happens to be the one who is set to now one day run the entire company, Triple H, and he paid the price for all four men together. The Game was set to win the King of the Ring and that was taken away from him and given to Stone Cold Steve Austin.
2. Rewarded: CM Punk Pipe Bomb
CM Punk’s famous ‘pipe bomb’ is now regarded as one of the greatest non-scripted moments in wrestling history and one that will likely never be replicated. While the WWE was allowing Punk to go off script, nobody other than him knew what he was going to say, and he made the most of the situation.
Punk took shots at the entire McMahon family, discussed WWE’s ‘Yes Men,’ as well as giving shoutouts to people who weren’t with the company such as Colt Cabana and Paul Heyman. Something like this had never been seen in WWE before and it is a moment that no fan who saw it live will ever forget. Punk was already a star in WWE, but this propelled him to new heights and he was white hot following this moment with the WWE Universe firmly getting behind him.
1. Punished: Starr Gives A Legitimate Beating
It is common knowledge in 2017 that wrestling is not real. While there are certainly dangers to what the wrestlers do, they put their lives on the line every time they step into the ring and that is why trust in their opponents is absolutely crucial. That’s what makes the acts of Sexy Starr even more alarming than they were, as she legitimately went into business for herself with a shoot fight and injured Rosemary for real, refusing to release her arm-bar submission.
Her decision to do this totally backfired and while she had her reasons (although complex), with Starr claiming the women were giving her stiff shots, she ended up burning bridges with a large portion of the wrestling community. Not only did many of her fans lose respect for her, but countless wrestling promotions pulled appearances by her and will now no longer book her.
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