WWE is the top wrestling company in the world, and it stands to reason it features the top wrestling talents anywhere. To go one step further, as WWE’s showcase event, it should pose little surprise that WrestleMania features the best of the best, plying their trade at the very highest level.
True to form, WrestleMania has been the site of so many all-time great matches and performances. Consider Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage at WrestleMania III, Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart at WrestleMania X, The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25, or Daniel Bryan’s virtuosic run to defeat Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista in the same night at WrestleMania XXX. There are times when wrestlers seem motivated by the enormous live crowd, the even bigger pay per view audience, and the bright lights of the biggest event of the year to put on all time great performances.
There are, however, those times when things going very wrong at WrestleMania. Whether it’s a missed move, bad timing, or the unavoidable emergence of a real-life injury, WrestleMania has been played host to all sorts of catastrophes in and out of the ring. Some of them were obvious and have become the subject of ongoing discussion. Others were more subtle—not apparent to the casual observer, or remarkable for the sheer fact that the wrestlers involved carried on despite something embarrassing, painful, or even career-threatening having gone down. This article looks back on 15 different instances when real life mistakes happened at WrestleMania.
15. The Rock Tears A Muscle At WrestleMania XXIX
The Rock returned to the WWE fold in 2011, hosting WrestleMania, then tagging up with John Cena against The Miz and R-Truth at Survivor Series, en route to his main event clash with Cena at WrestleMania XXVIII.
In the year to follow, Rock stepped it up, winning the World Championship from CM Punk (and successfully defending it against him) before clashing with Cena at ‘Mania again. The intensified schedule and the hard-hitting match with Cena took their toll on The Great One, culminating in The Rock getting hurt.
He wound up tearing an abdominal muscle and adductor muscle, and purportedly tore his pelvis too. To The Rock’s credit, he did finish the match, the fans none the wiser that he was doing anything more than selling the punishment of the bout. Just the same, these injuries may account for him scaling back his in ring appearances to almost down to nothing in the years to follow.
14. The Miz Was Knocked Loopy Mid-Match At WrestleMania XXVII
The Miz got a huge opportunity when he carried the WWE Championship into WrestleMania XXVII, and got to main event against John Cena. The match got derailed in its build, though, when The Rock returned and overshadowed the world title program.
The bout to follow was, itself, only so-so. Part of it was a sheer matter of the performers involved and their chemistry. While The Miz had come into his own as a respectable heel wrestler, he still wasn’t well equipped for a classic. As good as Cena had proven himself with a great dance partner, he was wasn’t going to carry the match to greatness either. Things took a turn for the worse for these two, though, when The Miz hit his head on the cement floor outside the ring during the match. In speaking about it afterwards, he claims to not remember much else from the match, and indeed appears a bit out of it for the rest of the lackluster affair.
13. Randy Orton Gets Cut With A Monitor At WrestleMania XXX
The WrestleMania XXX main event Triple Threat, contested between Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, and Batista, featured an epic spot in its late stages. Batista tossed Bryan in a modified Batista Bomb, only for Orton to catch him in mid-air and send him crashing through an announce table. While the tandem maneuver looked sensational, it wasn’t only Bryan who would pay the price. Orton unexpectedly landed with his back against the edge of a monitor that hadn’t been moved far enough from the action, and visibly cut his back. It’s one of the few knocks on an otherwise great match that the action ground to a halt afterward while medical staff tended to Orton, and Batista awkwardly killed time in the ring, while both of his opponents writhed on the outside.
Fortunately, Orton wasn’t hurt badly, and the match resumed as planned from that point forward.
12. The Batista Bomb On Umaga Flops At WrestleMania XXIV
WrestleMania XXIV featured Batista squaring off against Umaga in “The Battle for Brand Supremacy.” The Animal represented SmackDown, The Samoan Bulldozer represented Raw.
The match itself was a decent enough big man battle, and a fair use of two guys locked out of the main event picture, but nonetheless was deserving of a high-profile spot. The ending was supposed to feature an awesome demonstration of Batista’s power in nailing a Batista Bomb on Umaga.
It’s never been clear exactly what went wrong, but whether it was Batista not being strong enough, Umaga mistiming his jump, or the two otherwise not collaborating quite right, the move looked sloppy and was badly botched. Batista still picked up the win, but rather than rendering a highlight reel spot, it looked bad enough that WWE didn’t want to re-show the finish ever again.
11. Maria Menounos Looks Likes She Pooped Her Pants At WrestleMania XXVIII
At WrestleMania XXVIII, TV personality and celebrity wrestling fan Maria Menounos found herself stepping into the ring, teaming up with Kelly Kelly to square off against Eve Torres and Beth Phoenix. Menounos reportedly worked the match with two cracked ribs—a testament to her commitment and excitement to be wresting at the show.
Unfortunately, as the match progressed, fans focused less on Menounos’ courage than the prospect that she might have been terrified to be in the ring. Brown smudges on the seat of her white pants made it look as though she might have defecated during the bout.
Menounos claimed afterward—and it stands to logically reason—that the brown was actually from Torres’s makeup after she gave Torres a stinkface. Nonetheless, Menounos having an accident became the stuff of urban legend from that night onward.
10. Hulk Hogan References The Wrong Stadium At WrestleMania XXX
Hulk Hogan returned to the WWE family in time for WrestleMania XXX and was booked as the host for the event. As he’s explained in the aftermath, he spent the week leading up to the event doing all sorts of media, and spent a lot of time discussing what was probably his most famous match—wrestling Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III. In that match, he body slammed the five hundred plus pound big man and pinned him to retain his world title in front of an audience of over 93,000 live fans in the Pontiac Silverdome.
Unfortunately for Hogan, Silverdome and Superdome sound an awful lot alike, and Hogan proceeded to open WrestleMania XXX on the mic, and promptly refer to the site of WrestleMania XXX by the name of the building that hosted WrestleMania III. The embarrassing slip of the tongue earned immediate boos from the live crowd, as well as teasing from Steve Austin and The Rock as they joined in on the opening promo.
9. The Light Display Gets John Morrison’s Name Wrong At WrestleMania XXIV
WrestleMania 24 emanated from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, and featured a fancy lite display in the upper deck of the stadium, naming the participants for matches. Someone who worked on the display wasn’t a wrestling fan, or else let their mind wander and wound up entering Jim Morrison—the name of the lead singer of The Doors—rather than John Morrison, the proper name of the wrestler involved in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
While the mistake went largely unnoticed, it was particularly noteworthy for Morrison’s similar look to the singer, and purportedly having had his character, at least superficially, modeled after the rock and roll legend. Given that the wrestler was pretty lost in the shuffle at that point in his career, though, you can imagine that not even getting his name right in front of such a large audience was a bit of a slap in the face.
8. The Battle Royal Trophy Is Broken At WrestleMania 4
WrestleMania IV featured a battle royal won by Bad News Brown. The ending is the most famous element of the match, as Brown temporarily teamed up with fellow heel Bret Hart to clear the ring, then turned on Hart and tossed him to win. Hart re-entered the ring to get his revenge on Brown, chasing him off and then smashing the trophy to turn face.
A little known piece of trivia, however, was that the oversized trophy was actually broken before the match. When it was repaired, the fix was a little too solid, so the trophy that was supposed to be fragile and easy for Hart to destroy was actually quite sturdy and demanded extra effort to break it apart. Hart handled it like a pro and built the trophy’s initial resistance, giving his breaking it, if anything, a more dramatic effect.
7. The Undertaker Gets His Bell Rung At WrestleMania XXX
Plenty of folks disagreed with The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania coming to an end after over two decades, and all the more so to Brock Lesnar—a part time talent—being the one to do the honors. Moreover, fans lamented the fact that the match leading up to that shocking conclusion was pretty lackluster.
While Lesnar winning was no mistake, but rather a conscious decision that Vince McMahon purportedly came to do the day of the show, the match did not go off quite as planned.
The Undertaker took a nasty hit to the head early in the match and worked the rest of the bout largely out of it due to a concussion. It’s a credit to The Dead Man’s grit and experience that he was able to continue to the level he did, and a credit to Lesnar that he carried on and struck the balance between delivering a reasonably believable match, and protecting his opponent who could not protect himself.
6. Rey Mysterio Messes Up His Entrance At WrestleMania XXVI
At WrestleMania XXVI, Rey Mysterio battled CM Punk. Mysterio had by then established a tradition of wearing special garb for his WrestleMania matches, so die hard fans awaited his arrival with great excitement.
They’d have to wait a little longer than usual.
The match got off to an awkward start when Mysterio’s music played and his pyro even went off, but Mysterio did not appear on the entrance ramp. A few seconds later he did come out. To my knowledge, there’s been no official word on what happened, but it seems clear that there was some sort of missed cue or poor timing on the part of Mysterio or the production team so that the big entrance did not go off as planned. Fortunately, the match itself went much more smoothly.
5. Yokozuna Cuts His Match Short At WrestleMania 9
At WrestleMania IX, Bret Hart put over Yokozuna for the WWE Championship. While the match was far from great, there’s a fair argument to be made it was the best of Yokozuna’s career up to that point, and, as things would turn out, probably lands on the short list of the best matches the big man would ever have.
Just the same, Bret Hart was not happy about the match.
According to his book, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, Hart had carefully planned out the match. Midway through the prearranged sequence of events, Yokozuna skipped over a large swath of the action. Hart was upset because the result was a shorter match, and one in which Hart got in less offense. Hart indicated he wasn’t sure if the skipped sequences were intentional because Yokozuna was already exhausted, or if he forgot them in the heat of the match. Regardless, it seems that one of the shortest, most lackluster main events in WrestleMania history came up short in part because of Yokozuna’s mistake.
4. Triple H Almost Falls On His Rear End During His WrestleMania 32 Entrance
After Stephanie McMahon delivered an animated promo about her husband’s greatness at WrestleMania 32, The Game’s music hit for him to come down to the ring. He’d be defending the WWE Championship against Roman Reigns in the main event.
Between Hunter’s legacy, and having gotten back into peak shape for that in-ring run, Triple H was an intimidating presence at the top of the ramp. He quickly lost some of his aura, however, when his foot slipped out from under him, and he almost wiped out as he started his march to the ring.
The moment was quick enough that it was easy to miss if you weren’t watching carefully, and much of the live audience surely missed it. Just the same, it was an embarrassing slip and had Helmesley not recovered his footing, could have quickly resulted in one of the most embarrassing moments in WrestleMania history.
3. Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, And Company Get Left Off WrestleMania XXIX
WrestleMania shows tend to run long. Since the advent of the WWE Network, WWE has much more authority to let shows go long without fear of running afoul of cable providers or having their broadcast cut short so paying customers don’t get to see them. In 2013, however, the Network was still a year away
It became a fairly common for wrestling matches to get moved to the pre-show at the last minute once WWE makes its final estimates about timing, which is disheartening. It can be even more discouraging, though, when other segments run long and a match gets cut altogether. WrestleMania XXIX wasn’t the first time that happened, but it was one of the most heartbreaking instances. Midway through the show, a tweet went out showing Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, and The Bella Twins in a huddle backstage, with comments about them being ready to put on a show in their eight-person tag match opposite Brodus Clay, Lord Tensai, and The Funkadactyls. It was apparently only minutes later that they learned their match had been cut from the show due to time constraints.
The eight performers involved did get to put on their match on Raw the next night, complete with extra bells and whistles on their entrances and fancy WrestleMania attire. Just the same, it was a very disappointing moment for these performers and their fans that all came down to WWE performers and producers losing a handle on time, and accidentally cutting out space for this mid-card encounter.
2. Papa Shango Misses His Cue To Attack Hulk Hogan At WrestleMania VIII
The WrestleMania VIII main event saw new top heel Sid Justice square off against Hulk Hogan, who was purportedly retiring after that match. In order to send fans home happy, while also protecting Sid as a main event talent, WWE concocted an elaborate plan. The finish was to see Hogan hit his signature leg drop, only for Papa Shango to interrupt the pin. Justice and Shango would double team Hogan, only for The Ultimate Warrior to make a surprise return. The net result? Hogan would get one last celebration in the ring. The Ultimate Warrior would replace him as a top-tier hero. Justice and Shango would be cemented as arch-villains to go against him.
In practice, things fell apart when Shango either missed his cue or was sent down the long entrance ramp too late. In either case, he wasn’t there in time to break up the pin. Justice opted to kick out. That choice protected his character and kept the match going for the DQ finish. However, in the process, Justice discredited Hogan’s finishing move that had put away just about everyone in the preceding years. Moreover, if Justice were strong enough to keep going after the leg drop, it suddenly made little sense for Shango to interfere on his ally’s behalf. So, the voodoo priest’s attack on Hogan became a lot less logical to close out the match. It seems only The Ultimate Warrior’s involvement went as planned.
1. Brock Lesnar Almost Cripples Himself With A Shooting Star Press At WrestleMania XIX
New top guy Brock Lesnar faced off with reigning champ Kurt Angle in the main event of WrestleMania XIX. The two put on a heck of a match, and as he’s described in multiple interviews, Angle had an idea to finish off the encounter on an unforgettable WrestleMania moment.
Angle was aware that, in developmental, Lesnar used to bust out a Shooting Star Press on occasion. Lesnar hadn’t used the move on the main roster, and Angle called for it on the finish. Had the move hit, it surely would have offered a spectacle and put Lesnar over in stunning fashion. However, a combination of Angle laying prone too far away in the ring, and Lesnar not accounting for his own fatigue at that stage of the match meant that Lesnar couldn’t quite leap far enough and under-rotated. The result was Lesnar falling from a tremendous height, face first to the canvas. The result was not only a bit embarrassing, but legitimately scary because it looked as though Lesnar could have crippled himself (and just as he was about to win the world title, no less!).
While the Shooting Star Press was purportedly Angle’s poor idea and Lesnar’s physical execution was off, it’s a testament to both men’s toughness, athleticism, and quick thinking that they adapted immediately. They both got up from the blown spot and Lesnar delivered one last F-5 to win the match.
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