Whether one calls it sports entertainment or professional wrestling, the fact remains the laws of kayfabe dictate all action in the WWE Universe. To anyone who might be unaware, kayfabe is pretty much a fancy word for lying, pulling wool over the crowd’s eyes, flat-out making stuff up and hoping people believe it—you get the idea. Nine times out of ten, wrestling fans are entirely willing to accept this industry conceit and willingly make believe the action inside WWE rings is on the up and up. However, once in a blue moon Vince McMahon and his cohorts will come up with a lie so bizarrely outrageous not even his biggest fans will let it slide.
Separating fact from fiction in the WWE Universe seems like an almost impossible task. Every minute of the show is scripted, and these days, even some of the stuff that happens behind the scenes is a little suspect, as well. The question is which alternative facts were actually an attempt at tricking or deceiving the audience, and which were simply sports entertainment at its finest. Typically, the answer is found in how entertaining the result was, or on a more basic level, who the lies were supposed to benefit. If it was in the fans' favor, to make the show better, no problem. If inflating Vince McMahon’s ego is the only purpose? Well…
Keep reading to learn the top 15 biggest lies WWE has told to its fans.
15 *Insert Wrestler Name* Is Banned From The Building!
To start off light, let’s discuss an issue that blurs the lines a little bit between something that genuinely annoys fans and is more or less much par for the course these days. Due to the strange logic that only exists in a wrestling ring, when a WWE superstar or announcer makes note of the fact a person has been either banned from the building or otherwise indisposed, that’s almost always a sign said person will definitely be making an appearance before the night is over. Recently, however, this trope has gone so full circle that fans expect to see anybody even vaguely hinted it, spoiling every surprise and possibly causing the CM Punk chants almost every week through some sort of wishful thinking. As things stand, a wrestler getting banned from the building is more of a dying trope than an outright lie, but the concept’s prevalence was too strong to ignore completely.
14 Almost Everything About André The Giant
Every wrestler needs a gimmick, and in creating that gimmick, they can make up pretty whatever they want about themselves, so long as they can actually own it when the cameras are rolling. One thing for certain about André The Giant is that he made ever lie about him entirely believable, and in the very least he could strike fear into the soul of anyone who dared question them. What makes André special is just how many lies WWE told about him, from minor details about his size and appearance to full scale retroactive history in regards to his career. While no one really cares whether André was really 7’4” or a few inches shorter, issues like his alleged 15-year undefeated streak and reputation for never being body slammed until WrestleMania III are significantly larger fibs. Not only had André both lost and been slammed prior to that night, plenty of fans were old enough to remember it.
13 The Always Disputed Attendance Records
Speaking of André The Giant and WrestleMania III, up until recently, that card main evented by André and Hulk Hogan was considered the largest audience in WWE history with an estimated 93,000 fans in attendance. That said, virtually since the day it happened, there has been great debate into the veracity of that number, let alone if it was even possible to fit that many people in the Silverdome. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer has been one of the loudest voices questioning this number, citing Silverdome promoter Zane Bresloff as having told him the real figure is closer to 78,000. Immediately upon WWE claiming this record was broken at WrestleMania 32 with a new peak audience of 101,000, Meltzer again argued the real number was lower, more like 93,000.
12 WrestleMania VII Bomb Threats
When nearly 100,000 people get together in a confined space for any reason, it’s not that difficult to fudge the numbers and round up to set some made up attendance record. One can’t exactly go back in time and do a head count, and who would even want to? On the other hand, if an arena is booked to hold nearly 100,000 people and only around 16,000 show up, there’s nothing a promoter could do to hide the embarrassing reality of his failure. In 1991, WWE originally booked the massive LA Memorial Coliseum for WrestleMania VII, and when ticket sales were way below expectations, Vince McMahon saw himself headed towards that very embarrassment. While McMahon made the right choice in switching to a smaller venue, the LA Sports Arena, he pushed his luck a bit by claiming the move was necessary because of a bomb threat resulting from Sgt. Slaughter's anti-American gimmick, which is now believed to be a total fabrication.
11 Daniel Bryan Is A B+ Player
For most people, the very first time Daniel Bryan’s “YES!” chant performed en masse at a non-wrestling event was the moment they realized he had transcended WWE. As is all too often the case, it seemed like the one person who never got that memo was Bryan’s boss, Vince McMahon. Regardless of more people chanting Bryan’s name than any other superstar in the past decade, McMahon was still firmly entrenched in his belief the somewhat small and physically unimpressive King of Beards was nothing more than a glorified cruiserweight. McMahon was so powerfully against the idea Bryan could ever be a star, he had his daughter and son-in-law regularly refer to Daniel as a “B+ Player,” a blatant lie to the worldwide crowds screaming in unison about his true value.
10 WCW Did Nothing Right
Given the competitive spirit Vince McMahon has shown in every aspect of his life, there should be no surprises he has trouble leaving his past rivalries behind him. It is likely for this reason alone he and other WWE employees to this day seem to revel in bringing up World Championship Wrestling being run out of business, dancing on the company’s grave while laughing about all the things that went wrong. Before this starts to look like a bitter WCW fan unable to move on either, let’s acknowledge that yes, Ted Turner and the various bean counters he put in charge were quite awful indeed at running a wrestling company. That said, the amazing thing about WCW is how well some of the wrestlers performed in spite of this corporate ineptness. WCW was responsible for countless great matches, interviews, and everything else wrestling has to offer.
9 Jim Ross Getting Forced Into Retirement
Virtually everyone in the sports entertainment industry affords great respect towards Jim Ross, the greatest living commentator the business has to offer. Once again, the exception to this rule is none other than Vince McMahon, who has derided, mocked, and castigated Good Ol' JR at every opportunity throughout their more than two-decade partnership. Prior to Ross recently making his return to WWE, it looked like the most recent insult from McMahon would be the last, as he was unceremoniously fired after a WWE 2K14 video game event where Ric Flair apparently had too much to drink. JR was supposed to be in control of the event and thus took the blame, yet it was still a total shock to him when he saw WWE treat the news of his retirement. The truth was JR was fired, and would have been happy to keep working for a long time, explaining why he was so willing to come back.
8 John Cena’s Fake Injury
Tied with only Ric Flair as the most-decorated World Champion in sports entertainment, John Cena has held the WWE Championship or its equivalent 16 times. Equally impressive to that number is how long a few of Cena’s reigns as champion were, especially in his first several runs, where he could hold the title for up to a full year. Cena’s third reign was cut short due to a pectoral injury at 380 days, and could have been even more record-setting were he able to remain healthy. At first, it looked like that injury could seriously hinder Cena’s prospects, as he claimed it would take him out for quite some time. Not three months later, Cena popped up in perfect health at the Royal Rumble, shocking the world by revealing his injury had been greatly exaggerated. Naturally, Cena won the Rumble and went right back on the hunt for more gold.
7 The Fabulous Moolah’s 27 Years On Top
Notwithstanding the controversial activities she’s been accused of behind closed doors, there can be no denying The Fabulous Moolah as one of professional wrestling’s first true female superstars. There were plenty of grappling ladies before her, and yet Moolah’s charisma and longevity made her a league above the rest, not to mention her 27 years as WWE Women’s Champion. Of course, those 27 years weren’t quite as consecutive as WWE would want fans to believe. While the company claims Moolah held the belt from 1956 all the way to 1984, the truth is that she lost it no less than four times along the way, always winning it back a few days later. The strangest thing about it all is that Moolah never looked better for having been champion so long, rather she just appeared old and outdated, making fans beg for someone else to take over all that time.
6 Erasing Wrestlers From History
By and large, this list is probably giving the impression that WWE lying to its fans is a bad thing they should try and avoid from here on. While that may usually be the case, in certain instances it makes perfect sense for them to whitewash the past a little, such as in the case of men like Chris Benoit. No superstar in history fell from grace harder or faster than Benoit, who overnight went from arguably one of the most respected wrestlers alive to a vicious criminal who murdered his family. It’s completely reasonable that WWE wouldn’t want to bring Benoit up in casual conversation, especially when a large portion of their audience is children far too young to understand the full situation. That said, whether or not a wrestler as important as Hulk Hogan should receive the same treatment for making racist comments on a private video is still up for debate.
5 Roman Reigns Is A Hero
The current situation with WWE and their alleged top babyface superstar Roman Reigns has reached a point where even non-wrestling fans are aware of it. Vince McMahon is a massive fan of The Guy, and the fact his audience uniformly boos their heads off when Reigns steps into the arena isn’t doing anything to change his mind. It has, however, inspired McMahon to act like an evil dictator controlling his public by way of a tiny little disclaimer on their tickets. More and more these days, fans are reporting their live reactions are being manipulated on Raw or SmackDown to make them appear happy when they were actually booing, or vice versa, usually by WWE cutting away to random moments earlier in the show. The most common reason for this editing is to make it look like people are cheering Roman Reigns, which as we all know, almost never actually happens.
4 This Crowd Is Having Fun, Maggle!
Were the issue of WWE lying to its fans about their feelings towards certain wrestlers entirely confined to Roman Reigns, there would still be a problem, but at least it could be manageable. When Reigns is on TV, viewers could switch the channel, and go back when they see something enjoyable. Until, that is, announcers JBL and Michael Cole starting giving running commentary on how the fans in attendance at WWE programming are apparently all a big bunch of liars trying to play games on viewers at home, or in JBL’s words, “They’re having fun, Maggle!” Were this expression literal, it would be great. Unfortunately, what JBL means is that the crowd are cheering or booing wrestlers they actually like or dislike—not following the script Vince McMahon expected them to. Instead of accepting this and trying new ideas, McMahon is now lying to his fans about themselves, and he’ll probably never manage to convince anyone of that.
3 WWE Doesn’t Hurt The Competition
One of the most infamous sentences to come out of Vince McMahon’s mouth is that his philosophy has always been to help himself and not hurt “the other guys,” meaning his competition. For an explanation of why this statement has come under fire, just ask Ted Turner or Eric Bischoff (WCW), Verne Gagne (AWA), Jim Crockett (NWA), Paul Heyman (ECW), Bill Watts (Mid-South Wrestling), or any other wrestling promoter that went out of business either directly or indirectly because of McMahon’s predatory practices. WWE has stolen stars from virtually every wrestling company to exist, at least concerning the ones big enough to get noticed. In fact, McMahon offered this dubious philosophy on one of many DVDs about why WCW went out of business, apparently unaware of the fact producing said DVD contradicted his statement.
2 DX Won The Monday Night Wars With A Tank
For the many ways WWE contributed to WCW going out of business, the reality is WCW did a whole lot wrong that destroyed them far more completely than WWE ever could. While WWE was creating massive stars like Steve Austin and The Rock, who in turn had the best matches of their lives, WCW was relying on wrestlers nearing retirement age who could barely move. There was also the corporate ineptitude this list already mentioned, which accomplished all of McMahon’s destructive goals for him. In fact, plenty of the things McMahon was doing to wage war on his rivals were absolutely pointless, most glaringly the DX Tank and their Nitro invasion that wasn’t. When Triple H and his cronies hopped aboard a military vehicle and drove to the arena Nitro was being filmed in…nothing happened whatsoever. They were denied entry, and no one cared. Yet, thanks to the power Triple H has today, that tank is front and center on more than one DVD about how WWE won the war.
1 Before Vince McMahon, Wrestling Was Confined To Smokey Bars
Forget about WCW, the fans, any of the individual wrestlers, or any of the other many things WWE has lied about over the years due to Vince McMahon’s ego. The real biggest lie Vince McMahon has ever told was about Vince McMahon himself, and how he changed the world of ‘rasslin into what it is today all by himself. If WWE retrospectives are to be believed, prior to Hulkamania and WrestleMania, wrestling was a small local attraction a handful of rednecks might have enjoyed, but by and large was considered a carny joke. Thanks to McMahon, though, that silly little carnival sideshow turned into sports entertainment, and is now a billion dollar worldwide industry. Unlike most of McMahon’s lies, this one actually has a kernel of truth in that his father’s company did indeed go from a regional enterprise to an international one. That said, pro wrestling had been selling out arenas for decades before Vince was even born, and just about everyone who cared enough to find out also knew where to find it.