The WWE is by far the top wrestling company in the world today, and although they have many people writing, producing and performing on their shows, things can still go horribly wrong, and as most of WWE (not all, as you'll see on this list) is live, this can sometimes create huge problems. On occasions, this can work out in their favour, as it can create huge stars from controversy, but sometimes, unscripted moments turn into absolute disasters. Thankfully so many of the performers involved here are such professionals, and while there were tragedies involved, the people around them for the most part kept their professionalism about them, so they have to be commended for that.
We wish we could tell you that nothing bad ever happened in wrestling, and that absolutely everything goes to plan on a nightly basis, but that simply isn't true, and unfortunately, these can often have dire consequences. Some of the following entries changed the wrestling business altogether, and some were just specks of dust in the history of the WWE, but in our minds, they're all worth looking back on, so read along as we take a look back at 15 of the biggest unscripted disasters in WWE history.
15 Vince Tears Both His Quads
In wrestling, injuries can happen at any time, but that’s usually when you’re wrestling, but for Vince McMahon, those injuries can unfortunately happen just when you’re sliding into the ring. It was the Royal Rumble match in 2005, and John Cena and Batista had botched the finish, but done it so well that it genuinely looked like a tie, so this led to Vince storming to the ring, sliding in… and then just sitting there barking orders at the two. We didn’t know it at the time, and it actually makes for a fairly funny moment when you watch back on it (knowing that he’s alright now too) but Vince had actually torn both his quads while sliding into the ring. Although he hid it well, this is definitely an unscripted disaster.
14 Daniel Puder Tries To Make A Name For Himself
Tough Enough was one of WWE’s favorite projects in the early 2000s, and it helped bring stars like The Miz, John Morrison, Ryback and others into WWE, but one of the most touted prospects from this show was Daniel Puder, and although he failed as a competitor in WWE, he did leave his mark in the company, specifically for lists like this one. During an episode of SmackDown, Kurt Angle challenged these rookies to "shoot" wrestling encounters.
Angle wasn’t aware that Puder was trained in amateur wrestling and MMA, and took him lightly.
So when Puder got the chance, he locked in a Kimura and tried to break Kurt’s arm. The referees acted quickly and counted a pinfall for Kurt, because otherwise, this would have become more than a disaster for everyone involved.
13 The King’s Heart Attack
There are many entries in this list that are serious, no laughing matters, and this is one of them, as on RAW while doing commentary one night, Jerry “The King” Lawler suffered a heart attack. Thankfully he was rushed to hospital, and is still with us (and looking fairly healthy) today, but it was an incredibly scary moment, handled very well by the likes of Michael Cole and everyone involved in it. These kind of things just happen sometimes, where a moment occurs that has absolutely nothing to do with what’s happening in the ring or with the active performers, but everyone did well to help King get to hospital and stay safe, so thankfully it didn’t have any dire consequences, but it was still an incredibly scary and surreal moment for anyone who witnessed it.
12 Macho Man’s Snake Bite
Jake “The Snake” Roberts and his trusty python were a staple of the WWE many years ago, and he still gets a pop today whenever he appears on TV, but not all went well with the snake who accompanied him to the ring all the time, as the legendary Macho Man Randy Savage found out the hard way. Although the snake had its venom removed, the crowd didn’t know that (kayfabe still existed at this point), so when he encountered fan favorite Savage, it looks disastrous.
Unfortunately, the snake bit Savage much harder than planned, and wouldn’t let go.
It even drew blood from his arm, and while everything turned out alright, it was a much scarier moment than anyone in WWE wanted it to be.
11 Mankind Crashes Through The Cell
The Hell in a Cell stipulation is one of the most dangerous matches in wrestling history, and the WWE are quick to reinforce that at any opportunity these days, and no one proved that more than Mankind during the early days. In his match with The Undertaker, he took a ridiculous fall from the top of the cell through the announce table, but that was planned, and went incredibly well.
What wasn’t planned was the Chokeslam on top of the cell which sent him plummeting through the cage all the way to the floor.
This left The Undertaker fearing the worst for Foley, and is one of the scariest moments in wrestling history, but thankfully everyone involved was okay, and both men were able to walk away under their own power.
10 The Rockers Win The Tag Titles… Sort Of
The Rockers, consisting of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, were one of the most exciting tag teams in WWE history, but never made it to the heights they should have in WWE, and that can be attributed to one unscripted moment back in the early '90s. The two were challenging The Hart Foundation for the belts, and even won the match (when WWF was recorded and published via tape delay), but during the bout, the top rope snapped, and watching it back, the WWE didn’t like how it turned out, so they acted like it never happened and the belts stayed with the Harts. The Nasty Boys then came to WWE and took over as the top challengers, meaning this one little moment cost The Rockers their shot at the top, and although everything with Michaels turned out alright, this was a disaster for the legendary team.
9 Mickie’s Gesture
Mickie James debuted in WWE by stalking Trish Stratus, and while the character and the nature of the story suggested attraction towards the legendary Champion, we didn’t see that manifest in any specific way until their blow-off match at WrestleMania, when Mickie went all out with the character. At the conclusion of the bout, James put her hand in a "V" shape and motioned to lick it, insinuating what we all know, and apparently it was unplanned by anyone behind the scenes, so much so that Vince McMahon was irate and yelled at her when she returned to the backstage area. It has since been removed from the WWE Network, and while it’s not as bad as others on this list, it ruined what was a great match, and therefore deserves a spot.
8 Kurt Angle (Kind Of) Puts Shane Through The Glass
Shane McMahon is one of the best daredevils in WWE history, but that alone doesn’t make for good matches, and Shane himself was eager to prove to people that he could put on a good match, so at King of the Ring 2001, that’s exactly what he wanted to do, and who better to do it with than the Wrestling Machine, Kurt Angle? It was contested under No-DQ rules, and was an absolute barn-burner.
But one botch in the match was just scary, and could have ended Shane’s career on the spot.
The infamous spot occurred near the stage, where Kurt delivered a belly-to-belly through the glass, but unfortunately for the WWE, they got the wrong kind of glass, and it didn’t break, and that meant Shane fell right on top of his head. Still, the McMahon’s are very driven (and crazy), so Shane insisted that Kurt do it again, and this time he went through, but it was a scary moment that could have had critical consequences.
7 The Deadman Catches Fire
The Undertaker is a legendary character in the WWE, and has survived (in kayfabe) some of the most painful moments, but he’s still human after all, and that’s what makes this moment at Elimination Chamber 2010 so damn scary.
During his entrance, something when wrong with the flames that surround The Deadman on his way down the ramp, and it burned him, causing some serious third degree burns all over his body.
He is fine today, and even continued to wrestle in the match, but it was one of the scariest unplanned moments in wrestling history, and could have been much, much worse. But as we know, no one lives their role like ‘Taker, and this was just an unfortunate example of that.
6 Owen Hart’s Demise
This is the most tragic event in WWE history (on screen, there have been many other tragic deaths behind the scenes), and is something that no fan or performer would wish on anyone in the business. Hart, an incredibly talented performer, was playing the Blue Blazer, and entered the ring from the rafters, but unfortunately, the rig designed to help him get to the ring safely malfunctioned, and he plummeted to the ring from scary heights, all on live PPV. Like Jerry Lawler’s heart attack, it was handled well by the announcers and everyone involved, but unfortunately Hart passed away, and it’s something that no one should have to witness, because it was just incredibly heart breaking and tragic for all.
5 The Curtain Call
This is officially labeled as the death of kayfabe in the mainstream wrestling industry, and although it didn’t hurt the wrestling business straight away, we are still seeing the effects of it today, as less and less people are tuning in because they know the truth about the industry.
It was 1996 at Madison Square Garden, and both Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were on their way out of WWE to WCW, and they shared a brief hug in the ring with friends Shawn Michaels and Triple H.
The problem was, two men were heel and two were babyface, so it ruined all notion that wrestling was real (an idea that was still believed at the time), and it is one of the most famous moments in wrestling history, and although no one was hurt, it was a disaster for the wrestling business.
4 Brawl For All
The WWE had many great, innovative ideas during the Attitude Era, but they also had an equal amount of terrible ideas, and the worst of those is easily the Brawl for All, a tournament put together that would shine a light on WWE’s mid-card at the time. Unfortunately for those guys, it was a genuine fighting tournament, where few of the competitors actually knew how to fight.
It was awkward, dangerous and just terrible to watch, but the WWE persisted with it.
They wanted "Dr. Death" Steve Williams to come out on top, which would lead to a Stone Cold challenge, but the unscripted tournament didn’t go as planned. Instead it was Bart Gunn who came out on top (and would go on to get knocked out by Butterbean at WrestleMania), and for the performers involved and WWE's ratings as well, it was a unanimous disaster.
3 Droz Gets Paralyzed
As we always mention, the wrestling industry is an incredibly dangerous one, and even the simplest of moves that guys take/perform thousands of times can be deadly if done wrong, and while this was nothing more than a simple accident, it left NFL star-turned wrestler Darren Drozdov paralyzed for life. It occurred on an episode of Smackdown against D’Lo Brown, and while performing his signature powerbomb, Brown couldn’t get the proper grip on Droz, and ended up dropping him on his head. It had devastating consequences, and his life was changed forever, and this is just another example of how anything can go wrong in the WWE, and how you truly put your life into your opponents hands every time you step inside those ropes.
2 Richard Belzer Goes To Sleep
Many mainstream media outlets today and throughout history aren’t fans of wrestling, due to how they perceive it (fake), and it happened even while kayfabe still existed, and this reporter found that out the hard way courtesy of Hulk Hogan. Leading up to WrestleMania, Hogan was doing his duties as the top guy, promoting the show and the WWE in the media, and one reporter, Richard Belzer was tasked with antagonizing the performers, but he took it just a step too far.
He challenged Hogan to show him one of his moves, and Hogan put his hands around Belzer’s neck, choking him out, but he took it a little far, and genuinely hurt the reporter.
Hogan tried to laugh it off, but Belzer ended up suing the WWE (it was settled out of court eventually), and this could have been one of the biggest disasters in wrestling history.
1 Montreal Screwjob
This is perhaps the most talked about moment in wrestling history, and although it turned out to be great for business (it kick started Vince McMahon as the iconic heel character that eventually rivaled Stone Cold, and some argue it kick-started The Attitude Era), it was an absolute disaster at the time. The WWE lost one of their top stars in Bret Hart, and there was negative publicity around the event, but after Bret and the WWE made amends all these years later, we can agree that it was huge for the company. Either way, it was an unscripted (at least for the fans and Bret Hart, there have been differing stories about who actually knew what was going to happen) disaster at the time, and its place in wrestling history makes it deserving of a spot on this list.