Fan involvement is a huge part of professional wrestling. The babyfaces live to please the masses, heels try to enrage them, and turns are often inserted to keep them interested, entertained, and on their toes. Wrestlers feed off the energy, and dialogue and actions can be altered on the spot during matches in order to cater to the crowd. Whole angles have been changed based on the attitude of the audience, and their enthusiastic opinions can completely make or break performer’s careers.
Still, there needs to be a line when it comes to fan interactions, and making physical contact with a wrestler definitely crosses it. Aside from a friendly pat on the back or handshake, there is no need for an audience member to ever touch an athlete, let alone doing so forcefully. Yet throughout pro wrestling’s long and storied history, fans have smacked, punched, pushed, kicked, and tackled wrestlers on numerous occasions.
Thankfully, security usually apprehends any wrongdoers almost immediately, but those precious seconds beforehand can be frightening and dangerous, and no one should blame the performers for giving a shove, hit, or take-down right back. And this does happen, probably more often than one might think. Regardless of the severity, repercussions, or other details of each incident, one thing is certain: they are almost always memorable. Here are the top 15 times wrestlers got physical with fans.
15 Raven - WCW Thunder - 1998
Talk about a sneak attack. Back in 1998, WCW’s Raven was simply sitting in the corner of the ring cutting a Thunder promo when he was attacked from behind by crazed fan. The offender grabbed onto Raven’s hair, pulled him out of the ring backward by it, and dropped him onto the concrete floor, to the obvious shock of the arena audience. Security quickly swooped in to break up the ensuing scuffle, and Raven casually returned to his business, although the attacker had managed to damage the wrestler’s mic.
14 Chris Jericho - Monday Night Raw, 2002
Of all the dumb things for a wrestling fan to do, shoving Chris Jericho is probably near the top of the list. On the February 4, 2002 edition of Monday Night Raw, a Canadian Tuxedo-clad crowd member got in one decent push before he was bear-hugged by a burly security guard while narrowly avoiding a right arm by Jericho. Considering the Las Vegas match’s other members included Stone Cold, The Rock, and The Undertaker, the fan can at least consider himself lucky that Chris was the only one nearby at the time.
13 Triple H - Raw is War, 2000
Out of all the wrestling figures fans could jump the barricade to confront, Linda McMahon is probably the least likely to encounter an irate audience member. Yet just as Mrs. McMahon was making a surprise appearance on Raw is War around 2000, some kid leapt into the aisle and began to make his way up the ramp toward her. Throwing storylines to the wind, Triple H stepped up and tackled the fan almost immediately, and, once security took over, the wrestler jumped right back into character. Say what you will about Triple H, but there’s no doubting he’s a professional.
12 Randy Orton - SmackDown World Tour Live, 2013
Randy Orton got quite the scare during a July 30, 2013 SmackDown World Tour Live event in Cape Town, South Africa, while giving a speech from one of the turnbuckles. A scrawny fan crept into the ring, snuck up behind Orton, and struck him at least once, knocking him down. The fan then appeared ready to fight Orton, but security took the man down from behind. This was probably for the best, as it ended the distraction, protected Orton, and with Orton only landing a kick, likely saved the fan from a premature funeral. As if there was any doubt, WWE authenticated the incident in a statement afterward, saying the man was turned over to local authorities.
11 Chris Hero vs. Everyone - Various
Former WWE wrestler Chris Hero has gotten in so many scuffles with fans it’s hard to take them seriously. The incidents could be works, it could be a coincidence that Chris catches heat more often than others, or it could simply be that Hero is a jerk; your guess is as good as mine. All we know for sure is that the interactions included two fans at a match who became incensed at allegedly racist remarks made by Hero, another involved the wrestler challenging a fan to fight him (which he did), and another had Hero and CM Punk briefly battling numerous rowdy crowd members at once. With all this controversy, it’s no wonder Hero has been relegated to the independent circuit.
10 Eddie Guerrero - Monday Night Raw, 2002
In one of the most dangerous instances of interference, Eddie Guerrero was facing Rob Van Dam in Canada for the Intercontinental Title in a ladder match on the May 27, 2002 edition of Monday Night Raw, when a fan wearing an Edmonton Oilers jersey stormed the ring and intentionally knocked over the ladder while Guerrero was still on it. Eddie managed to land on his feet, and even landed an authentic right hand and kick on the intruder before security hauled the hockey hooligan out of the ring, out of the arena, and hopefully right into a jail cell.
9 Sabu - NJPW Event, 1995
Playfully snatching a piece of a costumed character’s wardrobe is probably okay when you’re at Disneyland, but when you’re attending a wrestling match, it’s probably not a good idea - especially considering the “characters” are jacked-up bodybuilders who make their living smashing foes into little bits. Yet during a Sabu intro at a 1995 match in Japan during his reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, some poor, misguided soul grabbed Sabu’s headdress, and the wrestler responded by hopping the short barricade to forcefully yank it back, but not before landing two or three brutal haymakers on the offending fan.
8 Scott Hall & Kevin Nash - WCW Bash at the Beach, 1996
Fans will likely remember July 7, 1996’s WCW Bash at the Beach PPV event for marking the moment Hulk Hogan turned heel, and joined forces with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to form the New World Order. One fan will remember it for a much different reason though, as the dimwitted individual jumped a barricade and attempted to climb into the ring at the end of the match, receiving several kicks from both Hall and Nash, who successfully defended the invasion. Then again, after that brutal beating, the fan likely doesn’t remember much at all.
7 Randy Savage, Scott Hall, & Kevin Nash - WCW Monday Nitro, 1997
There was something about the New World Order that made fans want to get in on the action. This is surprising, because the nWo guys have never been kind to intruders, and three-to-one odds aren’t very promising. Yet during a 1997 WCW Monday Nitro, some dope still jumped into the ring after Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Randy Savage had just got through besting Diamond Dallas Page, and the the trio continued their smackdown on the surprise contender. Of course, “contender” is a loose term when applied to a guy who literally had the hat beaten off of him before being quickly sprung from the stage.
6 Randy Savage & Kevin Nash - WCW Monday Nitro, 1999
When deciding to run into the ring, it clearly would behoove fans not to pick a match featuring Macho Man Randy Savage. On the May 17, 1999 edition of WCW’s Monday Nitro, a fan slipped through the ropes mid-match and was immediately demolished by Savage. Not only was he knocked flat (falling over a [kayfabe] injured Kevin Nash, who didn’t even break character), but the fan had to endure a couple real punches while being helplessly pinned by Savage. At one point, Mach even pushed a referee off of him in order to land another blow. I think it’s safe to say the kid learned a valuable lesson that day.
5 Stone Cold and Triple H - WWE International Event
Unfortunately, this is the only entry on the list that doesn’t have video evidence, but Stone Cold Steve Austin tells the story so well that it had to be included. Apparently, at a house show in Germany in the late ‘90s, Stone Cold laid victory Stunners on his opponents Triple H and Chyna, and was about to celebrate, when he was tackled and punched from behind by a fan. Even though Triple H was Stone Cold’s opponent at the time, he nevertheless jumped up, and as Austin explained, “picked that dude up, slammed him, and started punching his lights out,” until security eventually intervened.
4 Jeff Jarrett & James Storm - TNA Event, Mid-2000s
Even though I am well aware that wrestling is almost entirely composed of kayfabe, that information still wouldn’t embolden me do something as stupid as challenging a wrestler to a fight. A masked fan who attended a TNA event in the mid-2000s clearly doesn’t feel the same way, as he bickered with Jeff Jarrett from the crowd for almost a minute before jumping the barricade and attempting to climb and enter the ring. He didn’t make it far though, as Jarrett, James Storm, and basically everyone else around the ring jumped and beat the moron in order to successfully stop him. It takes more than just a costume to get into the ring, my friend.
3 Once Upon a Time in Mexico...La Parka Punched a Fan
Ever wonder what former pro wrestlers do after they leave the major US promotions? Well, if you’re La Parka, the Mexican Luchador who was a member of the WCW from 1996-2000, you’re spending your time punching fans in the face. Not that the dude in question didn’t have it coming though. After La Parka was kicked into the audience by an opponent, a fan attempted to rip off the wrestler’s mask, and the Luchador responded by clocking him square in his smirking face. In true performer fashion, La Parka headed back to the ring to continue the match before his victim even hit the floor.
2 CM Punk - WWE Monday Night Raw, 2012
Although it’s fun to see wrestlers interacting with fans, and exciting to see them get physical once in a while, here’s how things can go very wrong. After attacking Vince McMahon on the October 8, 2012’s Monday Night Raw, CM Punk went into the crowd while Ryback tended to the boss. The fans got a little too handsy though, with one smacking Punk right on the back of his head. The wrestler responded by spinning around and destroying the face of the fan, breaking his glasses in the process. The only problem is that video of the incident shows Punk hit the wrong guy. He later apologized.
1 Chris Jericho in Parking Lot
Fan attacks and wrestlers responding isn't just prone to happen inside the arena during a show. This kind of stuff probably happened a lot more back when fans thought everything was real, but some wrestlers have drawn so much heat, fans will attack them. Chris Jericho was attacked while leaving a show in Victoria, BC. In this altercation, fans were hitting Jericho's car. When he got out to confront them, a fan spat in his face and shoved him, to which Jericho responded by shoving the fan down and fighting off several others, while yelling at security to do their jobs.