The entertainment in Professional Wrestling comes from watching these wrestlers beat each other up and their art of making it all seem to real despite the product being “scripted” is what makes wrestling so good. While these wrestlers are training 24x7 in order to perfectly execute their moves on each other, some of the times things could go wrong if there is some heat between two wrestlers. While every non-wrestling fan terms it to be “fake” because of the moves and strikes not being legitimate all the time, some of the wrestling matches in the past have tended to have come quite “real”.
There have been quite a few wrestling matches which turned into legitimate brawls, as it mostly was due to the heat between wrestlers who decided to ignore the script and just fight it out inside the ring. Legitimate wrestling matches have tended to be quite ugly because of how wrestlers take out their anger in the ring and end up doing some shocking stuff inside the squared circle. While almost every wrestling matches have a bit of shoot wrestling going on, these ones have just been all out brawls which were nothing like any ordinary scripted matches.
These particular wrestling matches had the fans confused about whether what they were watching was real or not, as we take a look at 15 Times Wrestling Matches Turned Legitimate.
15 Hardcore Holly Vs Brock Lesnar
Hardcore Holly was one of the toughest wrestlers in WWE during his time and was known for trying to mess around with younger wrestlers in the locker room and when he tried something like that with Brock Lesnar, it ticked off the Beast Incarnate. The two had a match on SmackDown and Holly started off by trying to have a straight-up brawl with Brock, who was known for his amazing amateur wrestling history. Brock was annoyed at how Holly was trying to shoot-wrestle with him and defeat him technically and lifted him up for a powerbomb but Holly sandbagged it, causing Brock to land him directly on his neck. The impact literally snapped Holly's neck as he would be out of WWE TV for a long time with his neck injury and Lesnar proved that one should not try to play around with him.
14 Wendi Richter Vs The Spider Lady
Wendi Richter was all set to replace the great Fabulous Moolah to usher Women’s Wrestling to greater heights in the WWE during the mid 80s when she fell victim to the original screwjob in WWE. Richter went into Madison Square Garden as Women’s Champion and was all set to face “The Spider Lady” whom the general audience thought of as a jobber. But when the Spider Lady started to work rough with Richter, she knew that something was up. They both started to shoot wrestle for quite sometime into the match before The Spider Lady hit a roll-up on Richter (who kicked out at 1 and a half) but the referee fast-counted to 3. Richter was shocked and kept attacking her opponent, taking her mask off and revealing it to be the Fabulous Moolah who had screwed her. Richter left the WWE afterwards and never returned as a wrestler, as one can understand her anger.
13 Bill Goldberg Vs William Regal
Goldberg became one of wrestling's top stars during the 90s because of his incredible streak in WCW which stretched up to almost 173 wins without a defeat. He was still coming up as a promising wrestler when he faced William Regal (then known as Steve) in WCW. Regal was on his way out of WCW in 1997 and decided that he wouldn’t let Goldberg squash him like he did the others. He went off script and made things really difficult for Goldberg, making him work for his win. Regal put in some real unorthodox offense during the match, completely no-selling some moves and not putting enough deadweight into the Jackhammer. Goldberg might’ve ended up winning the match, but Regal made sure he’d go out of WCW with a statement.
12 Lex Luger Vs Bruiser Brody
Lex Luger is remembered by 90s fans as the Superman-like face character who succeeded in the 90s because of his looks and gimmick, but Luger wouldn't find it that easy in this NWA match from 1987. In a match against wrestling legend Bruiser Brody inside a steel cage, Lex would actually get the fright of his life when he refused to lose to Brody. The match started off ordinarily but soon escalated to much confusion as Bruiser Brody just stopped reacting to Luger's punches and no-sold them completely. Lex was confused and got really scared when Body hit him with a legitimate take-down and went to pound on him. With no clue what to do, Luger tossed the referee and got disqualified (despite it being in a steel cage) and escaped the ring and packed his bags immediately afterwards for his own well-being.
11 Blue Meanie Vs JBL
Almost everyone in the wrestling industry now knows how much of a douche JBL has been for years now, but not many actually knew why he wanted to hurt The Blue Meanie in the ECW One Night Stand PPV in 2005. So when the WWE and ECW wrestlers collided in the ring, everything went as planned except for the Blue Meanie bleeding profusely because of how JBL had legitimately split his head open. This actually escalated to a feud on the main roster with WWE even bringing back the "Blue World Order" and a match took place between Meanie and JBL which was pretty physical and "real" and ended with JBL receiving one of the stiffest chair shots ever seen from Stevie Richards. This taught him a lesson not to mess with an ECW original ever again as this nasty feud showed how "real" some feuds can get in wrestling.
10 Vader Vs Stan Hansen
Vader and Stan Hansen were the best of buddies back in the day when they put on some really amazing matches and loved to work each other to the limit. But one time it went really over the line when the two decided to shoot-wrestle each other in the ring. The two absolutely went at it with real punches, kicks and other moves in one of the stiffest matches in the history of wrestling. But the real shock came when Vader's eye literally came out of its socket and he wrestled with one eye before popping it back in. It was an extremely gruesome and violent match which might've been a worked shoot, but these two really showed how "real" their wrestling is through this vicious match.
9 Perry Saturn Vs Mike Bell
Perry Saturn might've been a real hit in WCW, but his career started to go downwards when he joined WWE and creative didn't have anything for him. While Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero went onto achieve great things, Saturn was made into a lower-mid carder and everything changed after he completely lost it in a dark match against jobber Mike Bell. Saturn states that he lost it after Bell dropped him on his head and he took matters into his own hands, throwing Bell head first outside the ring. He then actually speared him into the steel steps and continued to pound on him till the match finished. While nobody was injured, Saturn was punished by being given the Moppy angle which made him popular while Bell would never be seen in WWE ever again.
8 Kurt Angle Vs Daniel Puder
Kurt Angle is undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, not only because of his success in WWE and TNA, but because of how much of an amazing amateur wrestler the Olympic Gold medalist is. His skills were tested when Tough Enough participant Daniel Puder mistakenly thought he was going to have a legitimate match against Angle. Puder actually had MMA training and the two went at it with Angle taking him down at first. But things started to go very wrong for Angle when Puder put him in a legitimate kimura lock. Angle somehow managed to get Puder on his back, shoulders on the mat, with the quick referees counting to 3, proclaiming Angle the winner. Angle's arm was saved from being broken, and he had some choice words for Puder, who never amounted to anything thanks to his poor judgement in the ring.
7 Stanislas Zbyszko Vs Wayne Munn
This match is known to be one of the first shoot wrestling matches as well as one of the earliest screwjobs in wrestling history. Stanislas Zbyszko (who is in no way related to Larry Zbyszko) was one of the most popular European wrestlers in his time and faced National Wrestling Association Champion Wayne Munn, who was a dominant champ. But Joe Stecher, who was a rival of Munn, ordered Zbyszko to take away the title the hard way despite Munn being booked to win the match. Zbyszko ended up playing hard-ball with Munn throughout the match and decided to shoot on him through unpredictable maneuvers as he tried to constantly pin him and did not cooperate with him at all. In the end, Zbyszko pinned Munn when the referee made the three-count very quickly, ending this confusing shoot-match in much controversy.
6 The Mass Transit Incident
In what is regarded as one of the most disturbing matches in wrestling history, the Mass Transit Incident is one of the most gruesome shoot matches to be ever witnessed. As the story goes, ECW wrestlers Axl Rotten and D-Von Dudley were scheduled to face The Gangstas, which were New Jack and Mustafa Saed in ECW's Barely Legal PPV. But with Rotten no-showing, a wrestler named Eric Kulas who went by the name "Mass Transit" convinced Paul Heyman that he was 19 despite actually being 17 and Heyman let him wrestle. Kulas instructed New Jack to cut him before the match and as it all began, Jack and Saed quickly removed D-Von and started to pound on Transit. He then hit him with everything like toasters, clutches and later bladed him deep, severing two of his arteries. Kulas passed out and his father called off the match, but New Jack made it worse when he gave an Anti-White promo and made this thing an absolute horror show.
5 Steve Ray Vs “Dr. Death” Steve Williams
“Dr Death” Steve Williams was a notoriously infamous wrestler back in the day because of how he loved to work stiff matches and was a maniac in the ring. Steve Ray was a nobody wrestler who apparently screwed over the booker of the promotion they were in, Herb Abrams, who swore to pay Dr. Death an extra $100 if he broke Ray’s nose during their match. That was enough to set out the monster in Williams who absolutely pummelled into Ray throughout the entire match as he continued working stiff with blows and also dropped him on his neck on different occasions. He later went on to repeatedly kick Ray on his nose which caused it to break. This match turned into a shoot pretty quickly and goes onto show how real-life feuds in wrestling can get really, really ugly.
4 Andre The Giant Vs Akira Maeda
Andre The Giant might've been the biggest draw in wrestling during his time. He did unfortunately have a major vice in his life, which was his drinking problem. So as the story goes, while in Japan, Antonio Inoki (President of NJPW) apparently told Andre to teach Akira Maeda a lesson in the match between these two popular characters. Andre would come into the match drunk and absolutely no-sold Maeda's moves, which made the Japanese wrestler really angry. Maeda hit Andre with legitimate kicks to the leg, which even made Andre fall to his knees. In the end, Inoki had to stop the match and saved Andre from getting legitimately hurt. The two wrestlers still trash-talked each other after the match ended, as the end left fans confused and shocked at what had transpired.
3 Bruno Sammartino Vs Antonio Inoki
Bruno Sammartino was the biggest wrestler in the United States of America in the 70s because of his time in WWE, so when he arrived in Japan to wrestle, many were excited for his match against Japan’s great Antonio Inoki. But the problem was that none of the two actually liked each other and all it took was a tag team match with both men in opposite corners. Sammartino claimed that Inoki tried to shoot wrestle him and attempted to get physical, which is when he showed how good of an amateur wrestler he really was and put him in the mother of all face front locks. Inoki was unable to do anything and was embarrassed at the end and while none of these wrestlers were physically injured, they never saw each other again after parting ways.
2 Tony Kozina Vs Ryan Kidd
We've seen wrestlers take to social media in recent years to interact with fans and also take part in hyping themselves up, but it seems like a few wrestlers really can't take some trash-talking. So when a 16-year old Ryan Kidd decided to trash-talk Independent wrestler Tony Kozina before their Magnum Pro Wrestling match by calling him a "midget", Kozina really took that to heart. Their match itself was pretty disturbing to watch as Kozina legitimately tried to hurt this teenager by attacking him with real punches and moves and constantly trying to use the piledriver on him to end his career. It's pretty awful to watch Kozina do all these things to a young kid just because of some banter on Twitter.
1 Antonio Inoki vs The Great Antonio
Antonio Inoki is one of the real originators of the much acclaimed Japanese "Strong Style" wrestling and is known for landing legitimate blows which can really hurt if executed properly. When Inoki was facing the monstrous Canadian wrestler The Great Antonio in a match, everyone expected an entertaining bout. It was alright in the first few minutes as Inoki took some blows, but once he executed a drop-kick, Antonio didn't even bother with it and just stood there in the same pose. He later clubbed Inoki on the back of his neck, which ticked him off. Inoki went berserk and started to legitimately strike Antonio in the face and took him down with a single-leg takedown. Inoki then started to kick Antonio in the face and the monster eventually just fell unconscious, with his face broken and covered in blood.