We all know that wrestling’s fake, but the fact that it’s scripted – well, the majority of it anyway – doesn’t make us love it any less. Major wrestling events are still awe-inspiring spectacles – just because they’re scripted it doesn’t take the gloss off these events. Different people love wrestling for different reasons; whether it’s their love and admiration for the athletes themselves, or the athletic feats and capabilities of some of the industry’s top performers – the theatrics of it all is what makes people flock to the WWE arenas and spend their hard-earned cash on pay-per-view events.
But sometimes, wrestling gets real; it’s a business after all and sometimes tempers flare, situations get the better of certain people and things get out control. It’s understandable in the testosterone-fuelled world of wrestling, that scripted events or an individual’s personal affairs – real-life feuds for example – could spill over into the ring. But remember, the majority of the wrestlers have been trained in the art of wrestling for the cameras, so when they try to do things beyond their capabilities – when things get too real – it normally ends in disaster. Sometimes events just go wrong and wrestlers have to improvise – or they’re caught in the crossfire between a rock and a hard place! These are 15 wrestling moments that got very real – moments you and the fans didn’t know were real, but that played out nevertheless.
15. Andre The Giant vs. Akira
Andre The Giant marched to the beat of his own drum back in the day. One day he was pitted against Japanese wrestler Akira, who had a reputation of being too stiff in the ring with opponents. Promoter Antonio Inoki decided to teach Akira a lesson by pitting him against Andre. Andre no-sold just about every move from Akira, which had Akira looking frustrated.
Some say Andre was drunk during this match and he looked out of it. The match was incredibly sloppy, as both guys were completely out of sync. How could a planned match be that bad? Well it’s because the match featured real strikes and both guys acting very unprofessionally.
Eventually Inoki realized how bad this was and sent guys out to interfere, so the match could end due to a double DQ.
14. Mass Transit incident
If you’re a wrestling fan – which we’re sure those reading this article are! – then chances are you’ve heard of Mass Transit. This infamous incident occurred in 1996 at an ECW event in Massachusetts and involved the young Eric Kulas; don’t have a clue who he is? That’s because he was in a way, blacklisted from pretty much every wrestling promotion following that night at the Wonderland Ballroom in 1996; he died five years later due to weight issues, and Kulas’ career was over – he’ll forever be remembered for taking centre stage during one of wrestling’s’ most notorious moments. Paul Heyman also got into strife over the incident.
Eric Kulas – an untrained 17-year-old eager to perform – lied about his age in an effort to get in the ring and stand in as a replacement for Axl Rotten. New Jack – his opponent – bladed him, but bladed him way too deeply, severing a couple of arteries in the process. Blood was spurting out of the cut as medics rushed to his side.
13. Masahiko Kimura vs. Rikidozan
This event occurred way back in 1954, shortly after the inception of The Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance – the nation’s first wrestling promotion. Coming from the world of sumo wrestling, Rikidozan quickly made waves in the wrestling industry, and in 1953 he had his first major feud with a judoka – Masahiko Kimura. It was a major feud at the time; Kimura with his judo, Rikidozan with his sumo background – a clash of styles that were to be pitted against each other in the ring. A number of matches were scheduled to take place between the two, the first one was scripted to be a draw, but Rikidozan broke kayfabe. It turned into a shoot fight that ended in Rikidozan knocking Kimura stone cold out. It’s rumoured that Rikidozan’s death in 1963 – he was stabbed – was due to that infamous night- a form of retaliation from one of Kimura’s fans – but this was never proved.
12. Perry Saturn vs. Mike Bell
Perry Saturn had a pretty bad time of it in WWE. He tasted some success with ECW and then WCW, but when he joined WWE in 2000, he was a major flop. He was a workhorse, but the company just didn’t rate him, didn’t give him the opportunities- unless it meant getting all lovey dovey with a mop! Remember Moppy people?
In 2001, he faced Mike Bell – a relatively unknown guy at the time. Bell’s inexperience and lack of wrestling ability showed; there were some dangerous moves in Bell’s repertoire – moves that were endangering Saturn – and this pissed Saturn off no end. Suddenly, Saturn snapped; he began striking Bell with real blows and almost did some serious damage after he propelled him from the ring and started pummeling him into the steel steps that were at ringside. Saturn was reprimanded for this unprofessional display and was soon given the Moppy gimmick.
11. Tony Kozina vs. Ryan Kidd
This match was seriously intense; the new kid on the block got his just deserts – as Kozina would put it.
This match took place at a Magnum Pro show in 2012, between Tony Kozina – a veteran of the profession – and the aptly named Ryan Kidd – a kid at the time, aged just 16 years old.
It was at a So Cal Young Boy Trial Series – at 16, Kidd was certainly young, but didn’t let the event get the better of him. The two were billed to face each other, and leading up to the show, Kidd was building it up, talking trash about Kozina – just doing the things loud-mouthed teenagers do.
But when it got down to business, Kozina didn’t see it as business – he took the trash talk personally and tried to ruin Kidd’s career just as it was about to take off. Those piledrivers certainly shook Kidd up; Kozina tried to teach Kidd a lesson and put the young buck back in his place.
10. Jake Roberts vs. Randy Savage
In 1991 on an episode of Superstars, Jake Roberts and Randy Savage were involved in a moment that got very real and could have caused far more damaged than it did.
The two had been feuding for a while, and at one point, things came to a head which resulted in the Macho Man charging into the ring to confront Roberts. Obviously, the confrontation turned physical – Roberts got the better of Savage, and at the end of it had him splayed out across the ropes.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts was called that for a reason – he brought snakes into the ring. Now, the snakes he brought were de-venomized and were trained to bite and release on cue. But on this particular occasion, when the snake grabbed a hold of Savage’s arm, it just wouldn’t release it. When they eventually got Savage free, his arm was a bloody mess and he had to be rushed off to the emergency room; all was well about a week later.
9. Acolytes Pummel Public Enemy
Sometimes in the crazy wrestling business, backstage problems are settled in the ring. Public Enemy learned this the hard way in a match against The Acolytes. When Faarooq and Bradshaw learned that newcomers Public Enemy refused to go along with the planned finish for their match, they decided to teach them a lesson.
When the match began, The Acolytes proceeded to absolutely beat the living daylights out of Public Enemy. They threw them as hard as they could into the ring steps, delivered numerous stiff chair shots and hit them with everything they had.
Even when the bell rang to end the match, The Acolytes continued to punish Public Enemy. While many assumed this was all to sell The Acolytes as a vicious team, it turned out this was a real punishment and Public Enemy was released soon after.
8. Bash At The Beach 2000
By mid 2000, the internet was starting to become more prominent among wrestling fans, so fans became aware of backstage problems in WCW during its final years. One big problem was Hulk Hogan’s ego, as he constantly exercised creative control in his contract and one day, Vince Russo seemingly had enough.
Hogan wouldn’t lose cleanly to Jarrett, so Russo had Jarrett lay down in the ring and allow Hogan to pin him. Many assumed this was all part of the show. However Russo soon cut a scathing promo on Hogan, which Hogan felt was beyond what had been agreed on beforehand.
Hogan never wrestled for WCW again and sued the company for defamation regarding Russo’s promo, so there was clearly a lot more truth to that promo and that whole situation than we initially thought.
7. Luger Leaves The Cage
Lex Luger was being booked as the next Hulk Hogan, so it was very routine of him to score big wins over tough guys in matches. When he was booked to go over Bruiser Brody in a cage match, Brody clearly didn’t like it. Throughout the course of their match in the Florida wrestling territory, Brody no-sold all of Luger’s offense. Luger looked confused, even turning to the ref asking what to do.
Eventually Brody started leveling Luger with some real blows, which really threw Lex off. He decided he had enough and climbed out of the cage, effectively ending the match. Multiple theories have emerged from this, with some saying Luger legitimately ran off in fear, while some say he was just tired of Brody’s unprofessionalism displayed in the ring.
Either way, this was all real and in no way planned out.
6. Brawl For All
The Brawl For All was a shoot fighting event from the get-go, featuring all real combat. The competition lasted for a couple of months – from June-August 1998 – and was essentially as advertised – a real-life brawl for all. It was a concept thought up by Vince Russo, and of course Mr. willing to try anything – Vince McMahon gave it the go-ahead.
At the time, a lot of wrestlers on the roster were left with nothing to do, so the management thought that having their wrestlers box each other could be a good alternative.
Initially, the fans had no clue what was going on, and weren’t shy in voicing their disapproval. Many fans assumed this was scripted like any other wrestling match, but these fights were in fact real and the wrestlers suffered for it.
Many wrestlers on the roster sustained legitimate, serious injuries – they were out of their depth when it came to the real thing. Needless to say, after Bart Gunn was destroyed by professional boxer Butterbean, the competition was permanently scrapped and nothing like it ever happened again.
5. Vince’s debilitating injury
If you’re a Vince fan, you would’ve felt his pain whilst watching the 2005 Royal Rumble PPV event – if not you would’ve fallen on the floor in hysterics. It was a comical moment – not for Vince of course.
John Cena and Batista were battling it out in the ring, when they both tumbled over the ropes. Ordinarily this wouldn’t have been a problem and they’d both just be eliminated, but the issue was that they were the final participants. Batista was booked to win, but this false finish put a wrench in the plans.
This caused Vince to get involved; he purposefully strode out making his way to the ring, but as he was doing so, his quad just ripped. Now Vince is a big guy so he has some mighty quads.
It therefore understandably caused him a lot of pain and he could hardly stand up. He somehow managed to get into the ring, but when he slid under the rope, he just couldn’t stand up; his legs buckled and he crashed back down onto the canvas.
4. The Original Screwjob
Everyone is familiar with the Montreal Screwjob, but a screwjob occurred much earlier back in Madison Square Garden. Wendi Richter was the biggest name in women’s wrestling at the time and was holding the WWE Women’s Championship. Eventually she demanded bigger money from Vince McMahon. She wanted paychecks similar to Hogan and threatened to leave the company with the title.
Richter would take on the Spider Lady in a title match, but Spider Lady was actually Fabulous Moolah in disguise. All of a sudden, Moolah wrapped Richter in a small package and despite kicking out, the ref counted to three and named Spider Lady the new champion. Richter grabbed the belt and clutched it all the way backstage. She quit the company immediately after when she found out what they had done.
This was well before fans were aware of the nature of sports entertainment, so this incident is often forgotten, but it was about as real as you could get.
3. MSG Curtain Call incident
This refers to an incident in 1996, when some of the biggest names in the business broke kayfabe in order to show the world their bromance.
During that period, it was pretty much common knowledge that Diesel and Razor Ramon were on their way out of WWE. The two were members of The Kliq, as were Shawn Michaels and Triple H.
Two were faces and two were heels – basically they were meant to stick to script and not get all emotional – at least not display their emotions in the way that they did. Who would have thought that a hug would have caused so much hullabaloo? Well it did, but for some reason, only Triple H – now the golden boy – received any form of punishment.
The four hugged it out in the ring for all to see and raised their arms to the crowd in celebration of their friendship. A massive incident at the time that was totally unscripted – spur of the moment stuff from the best buddies.
Of course now we know the whole story behind this, but at the time, many fans were left confused as to what was happening.
2. Goldberg vs. William Regal
By the time early 1998 rolled around, Goldberg had torn through a lot of the WCW roster and he was set for yet another routine squash victory when pitted against Regal on an episode of Nitro. By this time, Goldberg hadn’t really been tested in a match, so the veteran Regal decided he would test the rookie out to see if he could work a legitimate match.
Throughout the match Goldberg looked perplexed, not knowing how to carry a match that required more than a couple of power moves from him.
The stories vary as to whether Regal sabotaged the match to make himself look stronger or if he was just following orders. Regal claims he was told to work a six-minute match. In any event they weren’t on the same page, so this match was a far cry from a typically scripted match.
1. Kurt Angle vs. Daniel Puder
Back in 2004, Angle used to be involved in a segment during which he would invite rookies in the ring to wrestle with him. It was called the Angle Invitational, and on one particular night – on SmackDown November 4th – he had a couple of matches with two Tough Enough participants. The first he defeated easily, but then Daniel Puder came along.
Puder was a little bit better than Angle had thought – he went on to win Tough Enough – and used a combination of MMA and wrestling in the ring. Angle was quickly in trouble as Puder got him in a Kimura lock. Angle almost broke his arm as he held back from tapping out. The referee eventually counted Puder down for three, despite his shoulder being up, to end the match as to prevent Angle from getting a broken arm.
This certainly wasn’t planned and almost ended in disaster for Angle who went on to reign supreme while Puder fell by the wayside with WWE.
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