As every WWE fan (under 10 years old, anyway), is aware, professional wrestling is scripted and planned out well in advance. The creative team/writers have every feud and match planned in plenty of time before it actually takes place.
But there have been many instances where a planned storyline and/or match happened at the absolute last minute. Whether it was because of backstage drama, or a wrestler getting injured or sick, there are many reasons why some storylines were ditched. As a result, the creative team had little time to move towards Plan B.
Here is a look at five major wrestling storylines that were changed at the last minute.
The 2017 TLC pay-per-view event was to be highlighted by a reunion of The Shield, who were to face off against The Miz's five-man tag team. However, Roman Reigns came down with the mumps and was pulled from the card.
As a result, WWE Hall of Famer and Raw GM Kurt Angle was added to the card. It was his first match in WWE in 11 years, but Angle didn't disappoint as he led The Shield to victory. But Reigns wasn't the only one pulled.
Bray Wyatt was to face Finn Balor, but he too suffered the mumps (and/or meningitis) and was replaced by AJ Styles. In a highly-entertaining match, Balor came out victorious. The TLC event didn't disappoint, considering the two main matches required last-minute replacements.
The main event of No Way Out of Texas: In Your House in 1998 was supposed to feature Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and The New Age Outlaws against Owen Hart, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, and Chainsaw Charlie.
Michaels—who was among the top superstars at the time—had to be pulled from the event due to a nagging back injury that forced him to retire for a few years. He was replaced late by Savio Vega, who was only a mid-card wrestler and obviously not as big as The Heartbreak Kid.
Vega went on a few minor and forgetful feuds with other stars, while the rivalries between the tag teams died out quickly. The creative team just didn't have the time to prepare for the aftermath of Michaels' departure.
The forgetful December to Dismember pay-per-view event in 2006 was highlighted by a six-man elimination chamber match for the ECW World title. Sabu was the first person to qualify and was to challenge Bobby Lashley, Test, Big Show, Rob Van Dam, and CM Punk in the match.
However, Vince McMahon and the WWE weren't confident in Sabu's ability to put on a good match. Sabu also wasn't the least bit interested in doing any TV tapings. So, McMahon pulled him in favor of Hardcore Holly.
Lashley managed to win the match, taking the title from Big Show. This pay-per-view was a legitimate disaster. Paul Heyman and McMahon got into heated arguments about the bookings after the event. Tommy Dreamer and Stevie Richards also left the company, due to their discontent with the show.
Vince Russo (who left the WWE to join WCW), planned for Jeff Jarrett to defeat Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at the 2000 edition of the Bash at the Beach pay-per-view.
But Hogan used the "creative control" clause in his contract, which allowed him to script the finish he wanted. Russo reluctantly agreed to let Hogan win the match, but he told Jarrett to lie down in front of the ring.
A visibly frustrated and disgusted Hogan told Russo that "BS like this" was why WCW was in its rough shape. He placed his foot on Jarrett, won the title, walked away and never appeared on WCW programming again. Russo also fired Hogan and told fans it was the last time they'd see him in WCW. He was right.
It's by far the most controversial moment in WWE history.
Bret Hart was a beloved Canadian superstar for Vince McMahon's company and helped grow the WWF's popularity in the Great White North. However, WCW was winning the Monday Night Wars, which put Vince in a financial bind. He encouraged Hart to take a better contract offer from WCW, which the latter reluctantly agreed.
But Hart wanted to leave the WWF on good terms. He was to face real-life rival Shawn Michaels for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at the 1997 Survivor Series pay-per-view, in Montreal. The plan was for Hart to beat his worst enemy in his home country as champion, then he'd surrender the belt the following day before departing for WCW.
However, McMahon was worried that Hart would take the title belt with him to WCW. So he conspired with Michaels, Triple H, and referee Earl Hebner to double-cross Hart. So when Michaels put Hart in the sharpshooter, McMahon had Ebner call for the bell to be rung—though the Hitman never tapped out.
Hart spat in McMahon's face, punched him backstage and left on bitter terms. Though the two have since made peace, this will be remembered as one crazy and controversial storyline. It happened last minute and forever changed the history of professional wrestling.
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