WWE does more than just what is seen on television and pay-per-views. In addition to televised events, the WWE puts approximately 200 live events – also known as house shows – per year. These are usually low-key events that have smaller crowds in towns that couldn’t support a live episode of RAW or SmackDown, not even the smaller PPVs like Payback and No Mercy.
The mood is different at these non-televised events. Wrestlers are able to focus more on their in-ring work and put on what some might argue is a better show. Things that happened at live events used to be the kind of knowledge that was hard to come by. But with today’s focus on social media and smartphones with cameras, it’s easy for a botched move at a house show to become well known.
There are not safety nets in the form of TV editing. In a way, there’s a higher amount of pressure to execute well in these matches. But just like on live television, WWE live events still usually have a number of fails, botches and other embarrassing moments for the wrestlers. Fans usually have a tolerance for most of them considering that no one person is 100 percent perfect all of the time.
That doesn’t make them any less entertaining. Many moments involve interesting interactions with the crowd that would never make it to WWE television. Then there are botched moves either during the match or during one’s entrance that can sometimes be kept off-screen with the advantages of tape delay and changing to another camera.
The following are 15 of the funniest fails that have happened during WWE live events, a.k.a. house shows.
15 Kevin Owens Can’t Get Ahold of Fan’s Sign
Kevin Owens truly knows how to act perfectly as a heel. Whether during a televised show, at a live event or through his social media accounts, Owens is able to show he doesn’t really care whether the fans like him or not. Being that over as a heel in the WWE is what helps boost someone like Owens to the WWE Universal Championship last year. It was a respectable run that saw a lot of highlights.
But Owens was not perfect as one live event in October of last year showed. As he was making his way to the ring, Owens saw a sign that he wasn’t particularly fond of. It was a Seth Rollins sign that he tried to rip out of a fan’s hands. He missed not once, but twice. Fans laughed as Owens just continued his way towards the ring; trying to act as if nothing embarrassing just happened.
14 Regal Calls Audible for Pro-U.S.A. Crowd
In the WWE, the superstars like to feed into the crowd in a way to get them to cheer and boo accordingly. One of the easiest ways to do that is to feed into the American pride chants that can sometimes break out when the villains have an anti-American gimmick. A perfect example was the La Resistance tag team that included Sylvain Grenier and Robert Conway. But those chants didn’t work perfectly in a 2004 live event against the team of William Regal and Tajiri.
The pro-American crowd in Dothan, Ala., chanted “U.S.A.” repeatedly in the match. Conway then got on the offense against Regal and Tajiri before throwing them both out and doing a Hulk Hogan pose. The crowd booed since Conway was considered the “heel.” But Regal grabbed the microphone and exclaimed “What did you bloody expect? He’s the only American in the ring.” It was a funny moment that would never have been allowed on television.
13 Botched Pin Attempt Leads to Unexpected Women’s Title Change
Wrestling fans on sites like Reddit often like to have interesting conversations like one about whether a championship has changed hands by accident. One such conversation brought a few different examples that aired on live television. For example, there have been moments where a ladder or championship shot fell from above the ring and landed in a wrestler’s hands. But one moment you wouldn’t expect to see would be someone not kicking out when they’re supposed to.
During a 2007 house show in Paris, France, Melina was in a triple threat for the WWE Women’s Championship against Mickie James and Victoria. Victoria was unable to kick out of James’ pin attempt. This led to an unexpected title change. The WWE would then quickly have a match where Melina got a one-on-one rematch against James, winning in the process. Unlike many botches on house events, this one is still officially recorded in the WWE record books.
12 NXT Championship Triple Threat Suddenly Becomes Elimination Match
It seems that one of the easiest things for a WWE superstar to remember is to know when to kick out of a near pinfall. It was previously mentioned to have happened during a triple threat women’s match that forced the WWE to have an immediate championship match for the right person to reclaim the title. However, the WWE has had to make an adjustment based on someone not kicking out in time.
During a 2014 house show in Glasgow, Scotland, Neville defended the NXT Championship against Sami Zayn and Tyson Kidd. Kidd would pin Zayn, which led to some confusion between the two as Kidd’s music hit. The WWE did make a quick save by announcing that Zayn was eliminated from the match. Neville would then quickly pin Kidd to retain the NXT Championship.
11 Roman Reigns Stumbles Over Top Rope Into Ring
The Shield was arguably one of the most popular factions to have come onto the main roster in recent memory. It had three different kinds of wrestlers that made the dominant trio. Seth Rollins was the speedy and agile superstar. Dean Ambrose was more was a technician in the ring. Roman Reigns was easily viewed as the powerhouse of the group. So it would be weird seeing any of them try to do anything outside of their respective wheelhouses.
During a 2013 WWE live event in 2013, The Shield came down for a six-man tag team match. Reigns was on the apron and attempted to jump over the top rope and into the ring. This was the kind of move one would expect from someone like Ambrose or Rollins. Reigns got one of his feet caught on the rope, which sent him tumbling into the ring and landing on his butt. No surprise when the fans were laughing at the Big Dog.
10 CM Punk Calling Out Two Aussie Fans
CM Punk is not known for having the friendliest personality when it comes to fan interactions. He’s always come across as someone you can get away with heckling without him responding. In one case during a WWE live event in Australia back in 2011, Punk apparently got into a shouting match with a fan sitting at ringside. The video only shows the last half of the exchange starting with Punk making fun of two fans in particular.
He was heard on a fan video saying “I guess you’re right, I only pick on women. That’s why I’m picking on you two.” This was followed up with the viral line “You have a vagina.” The line was crossed when Punk called the fan a gay slur. However, one has to think the fans did something to get him worked up. Punk has said in previous shoot interviews that he responds to fans the way he is approached.
9 Paul London Eliminated From Battle Royal, Still Retains Title
Paul London has had some interesting moments in his WWE career. One notable fail that made it on television was being caught with a goofy grin as Vince McMahon walked backstage before being involved in the exploding limousine scene in 2007. But when it comes to house shows, London’s funniest fail took place during a Cruiserweight Championship battle royal in April 2005 in Cardiff, Wales. London would end up being eliminated after he was unable to hold onto the ropes.
That left Billy Kidman and Chavo Guerrero as the final two, who looked confused for a moment. London was meant to retain since it was a house show. Both ended up eliminating themselves at the same time. This is where things get weird. The referees ruled they were both eliminated simultaneously. Both were sent back into the ring, with London. London would win and hold onto the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
8 Ric Flair Gets Finn Balor’s Name Wrong
When you are retired from a job, there’s a chance you might not keep the best memory of everyone who is currently there. Regardless, if asked to introduce someone new to you, it might be best to make sure you get their name right. Ric Flair was not able to do that when he was booked as the special guest general manager for a WWE live event in Dublin, Ireland. Well, at least he got the man’s home country right.
Flair was meant to make an announcement regarding the WWE NXT Championship at the show. But instead of saying “Finn Balor,” Flair referred to him as Fit Finlay, the latter still being involved in WWE as a backstage producer. A few might say it was an honest mistake since Finlay was at the event. However, Flair has been guilty of poor memory and decisions linked to his drinking habits.
7 Ryback Hits Old Lady With His Banana
The title sounds wrong on a lot of different levels. While it’s not as X-rated as it sounds, the story still rings as one of the funnier stories the former WWE superstar Ryback has shared. During an online podcast earlier this year, The Big Guy shared a story about a house show where he had the intentions of making one of his opponents laugh in the ring. In a six-man match with The Usos against the Wyatt Family, Ryback pulled out a banana from his singlet.
He then slowly peeled it, ate most of it and then threw it outside the ring. Ryback claimed he was aiming for the floor. He was told by the referee and the other wrestlers in the ring that the banana actually hit an older woman sitting at ringside. According to what Ryback heard, the woman was not paying attention when it hit her in the head. The real question remains why anyone would eat a banana out of a singlet? Even if it was his own, it’s still weird.
6 Lillian Garcia’s Near Fall At N.Y. Live Event
Lillian Garcia has been viewed as a pretty successful ring announcer through the WWE’s Ruthless Aggression era in the 2000s and early 2010s. But in 2012, Garcia had a few mistakes that plagued her both at televised events and at untelevised live events. One noteworthy moment came during a 2012 live event in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The first moment came when Garcia tripped while making her entrance to the ring.
A few months prior, she broke her shoe on a trip and then in another show, she tripped and fell to ground. While embarrassing in N.Y., Garcia did catch herself. Her night was still rough as she incorrectly announced a No Hold Barred match between Kane and Randy Orton as a No Disqualification match. The good news is that she never got injured in her multiple trips and falls on the way to the ring.
5 Table’s Legs Collapse Under Bray Wyatt
Tables have been a classic “foreign object” in the history of professional wrestling. Table spots are often used to help boost a spot done in a hardcore-style match; usually enhancing a powerbomb, slam or other similar move when an opponent is driven down. However, tables also tend to have a history of sometimes not cooperating with the wrestlers. Anyone who watches the Botchamania series online knows that many tables just don’t bend or break under pressure.
Bray Wyatt found himself dealing with that kind of table during a 2014 live event. During what appeared to be a No Disqualification match with Dean Ambrose, Wyatt brought a table to the ring. But Ambrose would counter and place Wyatt on the table. As the Lunatic Fringe climbed the top rope, the table’s legs collapsed under Wyatt. The spot was essentially ruined as the match continued. Insert monocle and evil laugh from the table.
4 Rey Mysterio Falls Out of Ring During 619
Rey Mysterio will always go down as one of the best luchadors to find success in the United States. He worked for virtually every major wrestling promotion from the 1990s through the 2000s. He had plenty of high-flying and aerial moves that excited the fans, including the 619 finisher. Despite being one of the best in his field, even Mysterio can make a mistake here and there. One that happened in a March 2009 house show stands out through.
While teaming with Shawn Michaels against Chris Jericho and Kane, Mysterio had both of his opponents leaning on the ropes to set up 619. When Mysterio launched himself towards the ropes, he appeared to have fallen through to the floor. It looks like it might have been a matter of not getting a good grip on the ropes. It was likely the exception to a case of hitting the move perfectly 99 out of 100 times.
3 Ring Rope Snaps In John Cena vs. Big Show Match
Big Show has been involved in some infamous moments when his weight may have played a factor in the ring breaking, like when the ring collapsed after Brock Lesnar delivered a top-rope superplex on Big Show. But not all moments where Big Show is guilty of damaging the ring has the same epic moment feel. During a 2016 live event in Manila, Philippines, Big Show was standing on the second rope with the intent to do a corner splash onto John Cena.
The middle rope actually snapped and he just missed landing onto Cena. The match finished up, but many fans were sharing the video of the rope break. This was before his recent weight loss. Maybe something like this might have led to a wake-up call to get Big Show motivated to lose weight to now weighing less than 400 pounds.
2 Roman Reigns Can’t Help But Laugh At K.O.
Kevin Owens is a lot like CM Punk. He doesn’t feel he has to be nice to every fan who talks to him. Whether it’s through social media or during a live event, Owens tends to have a few good one-liners ready and on standby. Owens also seems to be quite the riot during the WWE’s untelevised house shows. One moment in December of last year was funny enough to make his opponent Roman Reigns laugh.
While keeping Reigns grounded in a headlock, Owens was caught on video arguing with a fan. K.O. would take this time in the match to essentially break down how much money he makes in a week, which he states is likely more than the fan makes in a year. While actually going into things like royalties and other factors, Reigns has to cover his face to hide his laughter. Unfortunately for the Big Dog, it was caught and shared on the internet.
1 Vince McMahon Stops Match For Being Boring
Vince McMahon has been known to make changes at the last minute if something was happening that he didn’t like. He’s made changes to storylines in a 180-degree fashion. That includes willing to go out and stop a match deemed too boring. This took place during a 2003 WWE live event during a match between Rhyno and Tajiri. The two were already placed on notice when McMahon told them not to make any mistakes.
But as the match continued, the fans chanted “boring” while Rhyno had Tajiri in a headlock. McMahon would actually walk out to the ring, get on the microphone and put an end to the match. He would then go on to the next segment, which featured a biking contest. Rhyno would say in a 2015 interview that he did end up with a good check for the night. He claimed McMahon might have felt bad since the check was bigger than expected.