Reality is often distorted for a number of different reasons. When the philosophical mind begins to wonder about “whys,” there is often a sense of absurd delight and existential fear. What if all of this really means nothing? What’s the point of anything? The questioning of reality can cause the greatest human freakouts.
The truth about it all is that there is no distinct truth about anything. There is no real purpose to life other than living for death. We spend all of our time seeking money, fame, sex, drugs, alcohol … answers. We get to watch children grow older knowing that someday they must endure the heartache of losing their parents in the same way we must prepare for such an inevitable fate. This is a cruel reality.
Now then, where can we go when we need a dose of solid fiction; a quick escape from what we know as reality? We can find this in literature, in the words of the great authors. There are television shows and movies that can provide a few hours of this escape … There is also wrestling. The world of fiction-based-athleticism.
Anybody who has been a fan of WWE will hopefully understand that what we are offered is a steady dose of fictitious fighting tangled up in some soap-opera-style dramatics. This pattern has worked for a long time now and continues to present itself in modern WWE programming. However, the fiction involved often feels very real.
While what you see in WWE is mostly scripted, several angles over the years have left the fans wondering as to the true nature of the story. Is it real? The following article will look at some very specific incidents that have left the WWE audience in curious confusion.
These are the top 15 times WWE blurred the lines between reality and fiction:
15. Bam Bam Bigelow Shoves Lawrence Taylor
Having non-WWE talent participate in the main event of WrestleMania has happened a few times over the years. At WrestleMania XI in Hartford, NFL linebacker Lawrence Taylor would challenge WWE Superstar Bam Bam Bigelow.
The build to this match would begin at the 1995 Royal Rumble where Bam Bam Bigelow was pinned in a losing effort of a tag team match; a match that would determine the new WWE Tag Team Champions. Following his defeat, Bigelow was heckled by the live crowd.
That night, Lawrence Taylor, who was sitting ringside would find amusement in the Bam Bam Bigelow situation causing an irritated Bigelow to shove Taylor in a spot that seemed like real life frustration but was obviously used to set up the match at WrestleMania.
14. The Mega Powers Split
When you have a tag team consisting of Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, dubbing them The Mega Powers seems like a fitting title. Hogan and Savage were both at the top of their games when this unusual combination was formed.
During this time, the real life wife of Randy Savage, Miss Elizabeth, was placed into a valet position. The Mega Powers would eventually part ways following some communication problems and perceived jealousy.
In a backstage segment, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were shown arguing with each other with Savage accusing Hogan of attempting to steal Miss Elizabeth; a rumor that was said to have been true to real life. WWE would use this to fuel a Hogan/Savage rivalry.
13. Daniel Puder Showcases His Toughness
The concept behind the WWE reality series Tough Enough is to determine just who is tough enough to withstand competition in WWE. In 2004, a young man named Daniel Puder would prove his toughness on an episode of SmackDown at the expense of Kurt Angle.
Kurt Angle would put the Tough Enough contestants to the test which included challenging them to shoot wrestling matches. When Daniel Puder stepped up, his MMA background would shine through as Puder locked Angle in a Kimura Lock submission hold.
Appearing as though Kurt Angle was about to have his arm legitimately snapped on television by an amateur, the referee would quickly count to three and award the match to Angle despite the fact that Puder’s shoulder were not on the mat the entire time.
12. Stone Cold and Mike Tyson Face-to-Face
WrestleMania XIV is still regarded as a particularly special WrestleMania as it would mark the official start of Stone Cold Steve Austin as top guy in WWE while bidding adieu to the former face of the company, Shawn Michaels.
Even more emphasis was placed on this match when Mike Tyson was announced as the Special Enforcer. When Tyson appeared on Raw to discuss his role at the big show, all eyes were locked on the former Heavyweight Champion and WWE.
This of course would lead to a showdown between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mike Tyson that culminated with Tyson getting flipped off and Austin getting shoved in a hard manner. The incident would capture headlines and as a result would blur the fiction behind the situation.
11. Dustin Runnels Had Enough
One of the more intriguing characters in WWE history is certainly “The Bizarre One” known as Goldust. The character would use blatant sexuality as a tactic to distract and disrupt an opponent; a new form of in-ring offense.
However, the character would eventually run thin and a new direction for Dustin Runnels (real name) would begin. Runnels would actually dump and set fire to the Goldust jumpsuit atop the Raw stage before officially embarking on a new “Born Again Christian” character path.
The idea was strong and Dustin Runnels made his frustration and disdain with Goldust feel pure and true. The audience would eventually catch on that this was simply a ploy to shift characters but at first the lines were blurry.
10. The Radicalz Arrive
In January 2000, sitting in the front row of Monday Night Raw would be Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko; four men who were perceived to be contracted employees of rival company WCW.
Suddenly, the four men would jump the barricade and officially involve and introduce themselves to the WWE audience in a memorable fashion. The group became known as The Radicalz and for a period of time were believed to be “free agents” even though they had already been signed by WWE.
The idea of presenting these men as unsigned wrestlers looking for a place to practice their craft was an excellent idea, as it provided a sense of realism to The Radicalz when they found themselves in scuffles and backstage situations.
9. The Undertaker Shoot on Vince McMahon
To witness The Undertaker out in the ring without his usual attire is a strange sighting. One night during an episode of Raw is War, The Undertaker would walk the aisle in his sweats and air his grievances with Vince McMahon.
During his promo, The Undertaker would also toss a quick shot at Shawn Michaels by stating that he “never lost his smile.” This looked and sounded like a non-wrestling promo until The Undertaker referenced his “brother” Kane and Vince McMahon appeared.
While brief, the suspended disbelief was there while The Undertaker discussed Vince McMahon’s “chosen champions” and the fact that McMahon didn’t want a guy like The Undertaker to represent the company.
8. Mick Foley and Ric Flair: Real Life Hatred?
If ever in need of a wrestling opinion void of sugar coating just turn to Mick Foley or Ric Flair; two legends of the industry for various reasons who hold back nothing and spare no punches when asked an opinion about someone or something.
These strong opinions would cause real life animosity between Mick Foley and Ric Flair who bashed each other in their respective books. Of course, this would spark an idea in WWE that would bring their real life heat to the on-screen programming.
Mick Foley and Ric Flair have since settled their differences but their on-air friction and seemingly stiff psychical altercations would leave fans to believe that a true hatred had not only formed but was playing out on their television screens.
7. Shawn Michaels “Collapses”
The stories of Shawn Michaels in the ’90s are legendary. In fact, even the injuries suffered by HBK have been called into question by many former WWE Superstars who have questioned the legitimacy of Michaels’ ailments.
In November 1995, during a match with Owen Hart on Monday Night Raw, Shawn Michaels would sustain one of these faux injuries following a kick to the head which caused Michaels to “collapse” in the middle of the ring.
Shawn Michaels needed to be removed from television to supposedly recover from an already nagging injury. Therefore, the collapse angle was perpetrated and Michaels was said to have been sent home with a concussion.
6. Bret Hart “Quits”
The WWE record books will state that the winner of the 1997 Royal Rumble match was Stone Cold Steve Austin. However, the actual victor should have been declared as Bret Hart. Stone Cold had already been tossed from the match but his elimination would go unnoticed by officials.
This allowed for Stone Cold to reenter the match and eliminate Bret Hart thus making him the official winner. In the wake of this controversy, Hart would cut a promo on Raw directing his anger towards those he felt had “screwed” him including Vince McMahon.
Following a passionate speech about this injustice, Bret Hart would “quit” WWE; leaving fans to wonder if they had just seen the last of “The Hitman.” Obviously this was a worked angle as Hart would leave the company later in the year in a most controversial manner.
5. The Original ECW Invasion
When the idea for a “One Night Stand” ECW Pay-Per-View came about in 2005, there was an “invasion” of the WWE product. However, fans were well aware that Vince McMahon had purchased all of ECW’s assets therefore lessening the realism of the angle.
Back in 1997, when Monday Night Raw was broadcast from the Manhattan Center in New York City, the first ECW “invasion” would take place as wrestlers from the hardcore promotion would take over the program and present three matches to the supportive crowd.
This was a major night for the original ECW as fans unfamiliar with the product were introduced to an entirely new brand of wrestling while not fully aware of the situations taking place behind the scenes. “How did these guys arrive here in WWE?”
4. The Real Problems of Road Warrior Hawk
Despite opposition to the storyline, WWE would go ahead and use Road Warrior Hawk’s real life drug and alcohol issues to create an angle for the Legion of Doom during the Attitude Era; an angle that proved to cause much controversy.
The Legion of Doom – perhaps the most established tag team in all of professional wrestling – were seen crumbling and falling apart on screen while Road Warrior Hawk would appear intoxicated and suicidal.
The storyline left a bad taste in the mouths of both members of the Legion of Doom as they would subsequently quit the company shortly after the conclusion of the angle, which was essentially a man forced to face a real life demon on television.
3. Triple H Interview
The infamous “Curtain Call” that took place at Madison Square Garden in 1996 would have severe consequences for Triple H while Kevin Nash and Scott Hall moved on to WCW and Shawn Michaels stood as WWE Champion.
Vince McMahon would explain to Triple H that somebody had to take the fall for the incident at MSG and the only persona available for punishment was Triple H. Therefore, a scheduled pushed was altered and Triple H was drastically moved down the card.
Triple H would eventually earn his way back to a favorable position and in 1999 during an interview with Jim Ross on Sunday Night Heat, Triple H would deliver an impassioned promo in regards to the circumstances he has faced in an interview that truly blurred the lines.
2. The Pipe Bomb
In the summer of 2011, WWE had found itself lost within itself as nothing seemed to progress and the fans were desperately asking for something fresh. Then one night in Las Vegas, CM Punk took a seat at the top of the ramp.
The “Pipe Bomb” promo, as it has become known, would shake the wrestling world as the internet blew up with the story of CM Punk and his epic promo. Something fresh had finally appeared; something that made the fans wants to pay attention again.
As time progressed it became obvious that what CM Punk had to say that night was in fact a work but that “Pipe Bomb” moment would prove to be somewhat of a cleansing for the frustrated fans who refused to give up on WWE.
1. Edge, Lita and Matt Hardy
Once the infidelity of Lita became public knowledge, the once beloved Diva would become a scorn woman in the eyes of WWE fans who supported Matt Hardy. The crowd would not allow Lita to live down her affair with Edge.
In turn, Edge and Lita would become an on-air couple in a move that completely made sense as the couple were the most hated villains in WWE. When Matt Hardy began showing up on WWE television to attack Edge, the atmosphere would suddenly change.
There was much uncertainty as to whether or not Matt Hardy was welcomed back by WWE or if he was in fact showing up on his own dime to seek retribution. This confusion was soon cleared up when Mr. McMahon would announce that he had resigned Hardy.
However, the blurred lines did not end there as the promos and matches that would take place would provide the greatest sense of realism any WWE feud has ever produced.
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