The WWE are more or less operating 365 days a year in some capacity, and to write all of the stories and matches for that length of time must become draining, so when the company stumble onto a good idea, it’s always going to be disheartening to see it ripped away from them due to injury, poor fan reaction, or some other form of incident. In some of these cases, it’s actually quite fortunate that one of these happened, because the idea was terrible, and in some cases, it robs us of stories/matches that we would have loved to have seen, but that’s the nature of the business when it’s such a demanding and physical industry.
We’ve done lists on stories that were changed by management, stories that were changed due to a performer flat out declining to participate in the story, but today we are going to look at these from a different angle, and take a look at 15 storylines in the WWE that were changed (either added something in or taken it away) because of some form of backstage incident.
15 Lunatic Vs. Hardcore Legend
Dean Ambrose vs. Mick Foley sounds like a match made in heaven, and in 2012, before Ambrose was a member of The Shield, it was actually being set up by the two performers, but when the Hardcore Legend went for testing to get cleared for in-ring competition, they couldn’t do it. After what Mick went through in his career; losing part of an ear, going through countless thumbtacks, being thrown off and through the cell (that’s just in WWE), it’s understandable if he couldn’t work at his age, but it would have made for incredible viewing. Since that point, Ambrose has gone on to do it all in the WWE, so I guess we can’t complain too much, but this would have been a dream match up there with the likes of Styles vs. Michaels, and it just sucks that it couldn’t happen.
14 Jeff Hardy = Mr. Money In The Bank?
Jeff Hardy is arguably the King of the Ladder Match in WWE, as he’s stolen almost every show in which he has competed in the very dangerous match, so him winning the Money in the Bank briefcase makes complete sense, and it was meant to happen at WrestleMania 24, until an untimely suspension sent the momentous victory to CM Punk, his first of two straight. Hardy was able to win the WWE Championship later in the year by defeating Triple H and Edge in a Triple Threat, and his suspension still didn’t help matters, but ultimately, management saw him as a star, and pushed him anyway. These drug-related suspensions did end up catching up to Hardy as he couldn’t maintain the WWE schedule, and this was just an early example of the consequences.
13 Love Triangle Relocates Dykstra (And James)
John Cena has a fair bit of pull backstage, whether the WWE and Cena will admit it or not, and in 2007, he was involved in an affair with Mickie James, and when it came out that she was cheating on fellow RAW Superstar Kenny Dykstra with Cena, it was Kenny who was moved to SmackDown. This isn’t exactly a storyline, but it did change what was happening with the two separate shows, and when Cena turned James’ offer of a relationship, she got very angry, and a year later, it led to her being moved to SmackDown (Dykstra was basically gone by this point). Now to the storyline perspective; while it’s never been confirmed, the way James handled herself following this situation is reportedly why she was forced into the incredibly distasteful "Piggie James" angle.
12 Steph And Trips Come Together
Stephanie McMahon and Triple H are the biggest power couple in wrestling, and it’s been that way since the early 2000s when The Game married Stephanie in a drive-thru (she was totally awake and it was definitely consensual), and it ruined the storyline dream of McMahon and Test, but that storyline likely wouldn’t have changed unless the two hadn’t actually begun seeing each other behind the scenes. Many wrestlers have come out over the years and claimed that Triple H only got to the point in wrestling that he did because of this marriage, and while that may or may not be true, the couple are still together these days, showing it was a genuine love. We don’t know where the story was going before this happened, but what came out of it was the top heel pairing in the company at the time, and that’s still somewhat going on today, so it was a major change.
11 Stone Cold Takes His Ball And Goes Home
Stone Cold Steve Austin is arguably the biggest star the WWE has ever had, as you couldn’t walk a block in the US during the Attitude Era without seeing the iconic Austin 3:16 shirt. But there was always one big match that wrestling fans were robbed of was The Rattlesnake vs. The Beast, and that’s because of a backstage issue with Austin and WWE. Apparently Austin thought that the first meeting between the biggest star in the company and the future of WWE shouldn’t happen in a throwaway first-round match on RAW, and instead be on PPV, and we can’t argue with Stone Cold. Either way, it was a bad move for Austin, and annoyed quite a few people, and unfortunately it means we never got the big Austin vs. Lesnar match that we were very excited to see.
10 HBK Loses His Smile
Shawn Michaels is the greatest all around wrestler of all time, but that didn’t mean he was ever far from controversy, and HBK back in the late 90’s was a bit of a dick backstage, so when he was asked to lose his WWE Championship to Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13, he turned it down, and simply walked away. This was a major controversy back at the beginning of the Attitude Era, and is remembered as the "Night Shawn Michaels lost his smile," and like most things regarding Shawn/Bret, it had two sides. On one side, Shawn claimed he hurt his knee, and saw a doctor who was inexperienced with wrestlers, and apparently was told he would never wrestle again. However, many believe it was just to get out of losing the belt to bitter rival Hart. Either way, the story and match of Hart vs. Austin at ‘Mania 13 was tremendous, so this story didn’t turn out too bad.
9 Snitsky And Heidenreich To End The Streak?
Over the years, WWE have pegged many stars to end the legendary streak before Brock Lesnar did the unthinkable at WrestleMania XXX. Everyone from Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Wade Barrett and even Abyss were considered, and they all turned it down out of respect, but the craziest idea we’ve heard floating around is that Snitsky and Heidenreich were the ones to end it at WrestleMania 21. The match pitch was to be the aforementioned duo vs. The Brothers of Destruction, but Kane was injured, and instead the night featured the Legend Killer, Randy Orton, vs. the Deadman, which was a much better decision. We hate it when people get injured, but this one turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because we can’t even imagine what WrestleMania 22-30 would have been like without the legendary streak intact.
8 Fan Backlash Changes Huge Mania Match
WWE love to tell the WWE Universe that their input matters, and they do everything that they do in the ring for them, but that isn’t proven a lot of the time, but heading into WrestleMania 32, rumors were running rampant that Braun Strowman would be the one to battle The Undertaker, and that didn’t go over too well. Due to this fan backlash, the WWE dropped the idea completely, and looking back, it was definitely the right call, but two years later, Strowman is now one of the top stars in the entire WWE. Outside of "Yes-Mania," this is one of the rare times where WWE truly listened to their fans, and while they’re often wrong, this is one time that the majority of the WWE Universe were spot on.
7 Real Life Events Force WWE To Fire Muhammad Hassan
Let’s be honest straight off the bat; Muhammad Hassan was a terrible character in the WWE, and it was just way past its time, but the WWE continued to push him anyway, and were apparently willing to push him all the way to the top. Unfortunately for that plan and the people of London, the London bombings occurred, and the WWE just felt it was too insensitive to have such a character on TV after a terrible tragedy. The character was seen as very offensive to a majority of the WWE Universe, and apparently Hassan had major heat backstage before this already, so the WWE released him, and he’s done basically nothing in wrestling ever since.
6 Mr. Kennedy, The Illegitimate Son?
Mr. Kennedy looked like he was on the path to becoming a mega-star in the WWE, and management had plans to do is exactly that. The illegitimate son storyline was reportedly going to be announced as Ken K, but that never materialized. Just before it was set to culminate, Kennedy was suspended for violating WWE’s Wellness Policy, and after having him lose his Money in the Bank briefcase, it’s clear that the company had lost all their faith in him. As we all know, the WWE instead insisted that Hornswoggle ended up as Mr. McMahon’s illegitimate son, but we much prefer the idea of Mr. Kennedy in that spot, who was eventually released after Randy Orton and others complained about how stiff he was.
5 CM Punk Walks Away
CM Punk is one of the greatest modern wrestlers in history, but his frustrations with the WWE built up so much over the years, that the night after Royal Rumble 2014, he simply just walked away, and that definitely impaired WWE’s WrestleMania plans for the year. The plan was to have Triple H again wrestle Punk, with Orton vs. Batista slated for the main event, but with Punk, one of the most popular performers in the company walking away, it gave Triple H nothing to do, and cleared the way for Daniel Bryan to be the uncontested biggest face in the company. In the end, Triple H went on to face Bryan in an incredible match, before he went on to defeat Orton and Batista later in the night, and it was perfect, so it’s weird to see what would have happened had Punk not walked away.
4 Imposter Kane Almost Became Kane?
Kane has been in the WWE since 1997, and if rumors are to be believed, he was wanting to retire in the mid 2000’s, so when he was in a rivalry with "Imposter Kane," it was with the intention for him to become genuine Kane, as Glenn Jacobs had asked WWE if he could retire. The storyline went ahead with that intention completely in mind, but midway through, Jacobs backpedaled, and wanted to continue wrestling, and that’s what led to the change in story, and his subsequent victory. Imposter Kane was played by Luke Gallows, also known as Festus (of Jesse and Festus fame/infamy) before taking on his current ring name, and what could have been a huge payoff became little more than another Kane victory.
3 Batista Assault Storyline
Batista is one of the biggest stars to come from the WWE in the past 15 years, and he’s gone on to huge success since leaving the wrestling business (I’d personally love to see him return sometime soon), so we are all really glad that a rumored story that would call for him to be regarded as a sexual offender was dropped due to injury. In 2006, the team of Mysterio and Batista were challenging MNM for the tag team titles, and in an attempt to keep the titles on her team, Melina would “seduce” Batista, to which he would simply reply "thank-you," and go on to win the match. Unfortunately, the story would have then required her to come out and hold a press conference that claimed Batista ‘assaulted’ her, but the injury occurred before this story could be put in motion, which was certainly a good thing for his career, as it turns out.
2 Mr. McMahon’s “Demise”
In 2007, Mr. McMahon left an episode of RAW, and when he got into his limousine, it blew up, and Vince was supposedly “dead”. Unfortunately, a short time after when the story was nowhere near its climax, the Chris Benoit tragedy occurred, and when the details about the incident were released, the WWE thought it best to drop the McMahon death angle, so they brought him back immediately. It’s hard to tell where they were going with it (there have been reports out there, but obviously none of these have been confirmed by the one person that matters, McMahon himself), but it was good to see that they dropped it when that unfortunate tragedy occurred. You still would have known that it was going to be crazy anyway, since just a year earlier, Vince McMahon made Shawn Michaels team up with "God" to wrestle himself and his son Shane.
1 Matt Hardy Vs. Edge
This was one of the greatest rivalries of the mid-2000s in WWE, and it wasn’t planned at all. But after Lita was caught cheating on Hardy with Edge, it got out on the internet, and as Eric Bishoff would say, “Controversy creates cash.” That’s exactly what happened. After originally suspending Hardy, the WWE brought him back, and the rivalry became incredibly personal, but they had fantastic matches together, and it had fans glued to the TV each and every week. It culminated with a brutal match inside a steel cage at Unforgiven 2005, and for a rivalry that wasn’t planned and came literally only through backstage drama, it has to be recognized as one of the best in WWE history.