The live event aspect of the WWE is the most underrated key to the massive promotion’s success. WWE tours all year with very little breaks making their schedule among the most grueling in sports and/or entertainment. As successful as the television shows and PPVs are, the touring all over the world is what puts WWE on a level apart from other brands. They have a presence on television and in the live touring business. Live events are also known as house shows and have been a part of the WWE schedule for a long time. The non-televised shows add a different experience.
Compared to television crowds, there are often more families in attendance at the live events with shows targeted towards that demographic. Faces typically win all the matches unless a heel has to retain a title. The matches are fairly simple with less risky moves and more emphasis on entertainment. Any educated fan can easily decipher the results to each match heading into a house show, but there are certain instances when things get wild.
WWE has seen a select few number of shocking moments happen at house shows over the years. We’ll go through them all with the top fifteen craziest things to occur at a WWE live event.
14 Vince McMahon Stops Match for Being “Too Boring”
The matches at house shows are rarely “match of the year” candidates but the wrestlers are expected to deliver entertaining bouts. Vince McMahon felt he needed to step in during one fateful match at a live event in 2003. Rhyno and Tajiri are typically respected in wrestling circles with reputations of being able to get it done in the ring. They worked a slow match on this specific live event with quite a bit of headlock work.
Fans reacted by chanting “boring” but the wrestlers continued to work at their pace. That was clearly the wrong choice as McMahon walked to the ring and actually stopped the match due to it being too boring. The Nassau Coliseum crowd witnessed history as that was the only time it ever happened in WWE history. McMahon brought out Torrie Wilson, Sable, Dawn Marie and Nidia to have a bikini contest. Poor Rhyno and Tajiri suffered the ultimate humiliation to take place on a live event.
13 Fan hits Roman Reigns with briefcase
A recent instance of something out of the ordinary taking place at a live event featured a tough night for Roman Reigns. The top face worked the main event against Bray Wyatt in Victoria, B.C. last year, in a street fight with weapons involved. During the match, one of the fans took the stipulation too seriously and broke the rules by throwing a Money in the Bank briefcase into the ring. If that wasn’t bad enough, the briefcase ended up hitting Reigns right in the head.
The match stopped with the referee demanding security escort the fan out of the venue. A fan throwing something at the head of a wrestler is a very dangerous situation and created quite a stir. Reigns took the pain of the hit and the clip went viral.
The fan ended up being the biggest loser at the end of the day. Not only was he kicked out and likely banned from attending future shows, but he lost a briefcase that he paid $75 for.
12 Finn Balor and Bayley Re-enact Dirty Dancing
The addition of NXT live events has added another dimension to the WWE touring schedule. NXT talent is now working a regular schedule. Most of the shows are locally in Florida, but they travel to their fair share of cities. The crowds are smaller than the main roster house shows and more aware. That allows the wrestlers to have fun with the fans and amuse the locker room with antics. One specific pairing always found time to entertain everyone when they were in NXT.
Finn Balor and Bayley participated in quite a few hijinks. They once dressed in the other’s trademark outfit and did the other person’s entrance. The most memorable thing they pulled off was a reenactment of the Dirty Dancing dance. While the crowd was one of the smaller ones they performed in front of, everyone in attendance received a memory that night. Balor and Bayley are bound to be among the biggest stars in the WWE going forward, but some fans will have the moment of them enjoying “the time of their lives” together at a smaller NXT live event.
11 Rob Conway: American Hero
Rob Conway is one of the most forgettable performers to ever compete in the WWE. The subpar performer had a few opportunities to shine but always failed to deliver. A random live event in 2005 featured Conway having the night of his life. The match featured William Regal and Tajiri opposing Conway and Sylvain Grenier aka La Resistance. As the anti-American tag team, La Resistance received boos and “USA” chants by the fans in Alabama.
The fans unfortunately didn’t realize the face team consisted of wrestlers from the United Kingdom and Japan. Regal convinced the wrestlers to have some fun with everyone taking offense from Conway and selling like he was the biggest hero in the company. Conway started posing like Hulk Hogan to the very confused crowd. Regal got on the microphone and informed them Conway was the only American in the match for the humorous moment that could only happen at a live event.
11. The Undertaker Teaches Chris Masters a Lesson in Respect
The Undertaker is the last person you want to piss off if you work for the WWE. Everyone in the company respected him as the unofficial gatekeeper making sure everyone stayed in line and showed respect to the business. Chris Masters found out about this the hard way on a live event in Glasgow. The tag match put the team of Masters and Finlay against The Brothers of Destruction, Undertaker and Kane.
It was a chance for Masters to prove something to the three veterans, but he made a fool of himself. Masters refused to sell his arm after The Undertaker began working on it with a few moves damaging it. The Deadman didn’t take too kindly to this and started laying into Masters in a physical manner that looked more like boxing than wrestling. Masters was sent to the back and unable to continue the match or the rest of the tour. The Undertaker made sure the young talent would always sell for future opponents or things could get ugly.
10 The Rock Returns to Beat Up Bo Dallas
WWE likes to market their live events under the notion that anything can happen. Most fans know better. A.J. Styles is likely not losing the WWE Championship on a non-televised show. John Cena is not getting pinned by a heel. The show almost never has surprise returns. We put major on emphasis on “almost never” in that statement. The Rock absolutely stunned the crowd at a Boston live event in 2015 when he made his shocking return to the WWE for a promo battle with Bo Dallas.
This was likely Rock in town and wanting to make an appearance as he still loves performing in front of the WWE Universe. Rock cut his usual humorous promos before getting interrupted by the comedic heel. Dallas tried to run down Rock before getting a beat down the fans of Boston treasured.
You shouldn’t expect something like this to happen if you are purchasing tickets, but remember the WWE does try their best to make you feel like anything can happen once in a while.
9 Hardcore Holly Beats Up Rene Dupree
The wrestlers in the WWE always do their best to make it look like you’re watching two people genuinely hurting each other, but the main goal in the job is to protect your opponent. There have been rare occasions of personal issues between wrestlers causing them to lay into each other during a match. That usually involves both men wanting to get stiff. One real fight in the ring featured Hardcore Holly beating the hell out of Renee Dupree.
Holly and Charlie Haas faced off with Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki at a 2004 house show. Leading up to this, Holly received a parking ticket that Dupree received when driving a car registered under Holly’s name, meaning he had to pay it. Holly had the reputation of being a bully backstage and Dupree denying the claims gave him the incentive to take liberties in the ring. Fans were in awe at the live event watching Holly hit Dupree with a chair and lay stiff punches into him to get a measure of revenge.
8 Batista Fights DJ
Batista prefers the old school philosophy of wrestling as opposed to today’s family friendly product. If a fan tries to heckle him, Batista wants to fire back refusing to take crap. The 2014 return of Batista exposed that with the fan base rejecting him. WWE wanted him to be the top face heading into WrestleMania XXX, but they booed him out of the building every week until he turned heel. The boos transferred over to the live events.
One specific live event in Winnipeg saw Batista exchange in trash talk with a fan. Things got wild when the fan pushed Batista causing the Superstar to shove the fan harder back into his seat. Security broke it all up, but the most noteworthy fact of the story is the rowdy fan turned out to be a local DJ. Cam Carson was a host on the radio station that sponsored the show. Many have speculated this was all a work, but it was most likely Batista’s frustration caused him to snap at the drunken DJ.
7 Finlay Gets Fired for The Miz Interrupting National Anthem
The current hot topic in sports is the reaction to Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players choosing to kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest. WWE did this first, but with less honorable intentions. Finlay worked as an agent in 2011 putting together the matches and stories for the live events. A poor decision saw him have The Miz interrupting the national anthem before the house show to cut a heel promo.
Finlay wanted to use the old school tactic of a dastardly heel doing something horrible to get boos from the crowd. Instead, it managed to cost him his job. WWE fired Finlay due to the segment being deemed offensive, especially with multiple members of the National Guard being in attendance on that night. Vince McMahon is really into patriotism and made the decision to release Finlay from his position. Luckily, things blew over and Finlay would get rehired a year later. Finlay still currently holds down the agent job today.
6 Fan Low Blows Randy Orton
A fan entering the ring is often the worst idea possible. Wrestlers usually know how to fight and will protect themselves at all costs. The wrestler can legally hit the fan if the fan rushes the ring with intent for violence. One fan somehow got away from it unscathed when he ran into the ring during a 2013 live event in Cape Town, South Africa. The fan had to be out of his mind as he entered the ring to hit Randy Orton with a low blow.
Orton has the reputation of being a hostile and unfriendly person. Anyone would have predicted Orton brutally beating the fan for trying to hit him with a blow. Orton shocked the world by actually selling the low blow as if another wrestler hit him. The Viper thought it was his opponent trying to continue the fight into a post-match angle and looked livid when realizing it was a member from the crowd. The fan ended up being a young independent wrestler trying to find fame from the moment, but he was instead arrested and banned from WWE shows.
5 Diesel Wins WWE Championship
We all know how it works. The World Championship will often change hands on PPVs with the occasional television moment. It never happens at live events. The champion always retains by victory or loses via disqualification if he is a heel. One lucky crowd in Madison Square Garden witnessed history in 1994 when Diesel challenged Bob Backlund for the WWE Championship. Everyone expected the dull past-his-prime Backlund to retain and continue his reign on television.
WWE shocked the world with Diesel winning the title in an even more surprising manner. Kevin Nash achieved his highest success with the Diesel character by kicking Backlund and hitting him with the Powerbomb to pick up the victory in a record breaking eight seconds. The New York crowd reacted appropriately for one of the greatest moments in live event history.
We’ll likely never see another house show title change involving the World Championship unless the WWE abandons the television format.
4 JBL Does Offensive Salute in Germany
The ascension of JBL in 2004 as a singles heel star was a tough sell considering the majority of his career was spent in lower card tag team work. Bradshaw evolved into the wealthy arrogant villain known as JBL. The investment tips of JBL in real life helped Vince McMahon earn some extra money and it led to a new push for JBL with the brand split creating opportunities.
JBL’s success came from the fans genuinely hating him for the disgusting actions he’d commit on a weekly basis. The powers that be allowed him to push the envelope on television, but one specific live event saw him go way too far.
JBL decided to do several Nazi salutes in Germany of all places to get the heel heat in the main event. Fans were outraged and CNBC actually fired him from his side gig serving as a financial analyst. WWE didn’t reprimand him and received criticism for his offensive actions.
3 CM Punk Uses Slur
Another wrestler that loved to push the envelope and didn’t mind crossing the line was CM Punk. Fans loved Punk for his rants against WWE management and his outspoken mentality when it came to wrestling promos. That grew old when Punk’s brash personality saw him say things that were not acceptable. A fan started heckling Punk in 2011 and Punk started going back at him. Two of the more memorable insults used by a wrestler were thrown out during this interaction.
Punk told the fan that he had a female body part and then used a gay slur to insult him. Unfortunately for Punk, a fan video caught the entire interaction and went viral online in the following days. To his credit, Punk owned up to his mistake like a man and apologized to the gay community.
Punk has always been a huge supporter of equal rights and vowed to stop using careless words like that. The moment ended up being inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but created quite the stir for a live show.
2 Chris Jericho Kicks Brazil Flag and Gets Suspended
The old school mentality of Chris Jericho sees him subscribe to the thought process of doing anything to get heat as a heel. Jericho is credited with being one of the best villains in the business and for good reason. However, he once went too far at a live event in Brazil. Jericho kicked the Brazil flag to get heat before his match against CM Punk. Fans reacted with massive boos but the action also got law enforcement to buy into the act.
Jericho was apparently hit with the ultimatum of going to jail or apologizing to the live audience for kicking the flag. As an intelligent human being not wanting to go into a foreign jail, Jericho chose to issue the apologize, stating he and the WWE loved bringing their show to the beautiful country.
That wasn’t the end of it for Jericho as WWE suspended him for thirty days. Jericho just wanted to add intensity to the match, but ended up receiving a great deal of punishment.
1 The Kliq’s Curtain Call
Kayfabe wasn't a thing until 1996 when The Kliq decided to change the wrestling world forever at Madison Square Garden. This was the final night in the WWE for Kevin Nash and Scott Hall before departing to WCW. Hall faced Triple H and Nash faced friend Shawn Michaels at the live event, seeing all members of The Kliq square off. To cement their impact in the WWE as a backstage group, all four men stood tall in the ring together to close the show.
The problem is Michaels and Hall were faces, but Nash and Triple H were heels. The faces and heels were meant to enforce the storylines by acting like they hated each other all times fans were watching. These four men broke the script to have a special moment together in front of the New York City crowd. Many wrestlers and backstage personnel were livid about this decision. Triple H received punishment for a few months and The Kliq were treated with hatred for the moment. Years have passed and the curtain call has become a celebrated cool moment in the history of the WWE, especially WWE live events.