Sports entertainment is supposed to be exactly that: entertainment. But sometimes athletes get a little too real and the result is something that the viewer at home is completely unaware of. Sometimes these occasions play out into actual storylines, like the time when Edge legitimately had an affair with Lita while she was still in a real-life relationship with Matt Hardy. Those situations do happen from time to time, but we're going to focus on the times when viewers at home may not have been aware of the real life drama that actually played out in a wrestling ring.
Yes, all matches are scripted; this isn't news to anyone. However, whether or not both parties adhere to the script is another thing. There's a term in professional wrestling called "shoot," where wrestlers decide to say "to hell with the script" and go rogue. This leads to interesting television because the viewer at home has already been trained to understand that nearly everything in the wrestling world is based off of fiction, but that's not always the case.
This list is going to focus on the times in which real life repercussions happened due to backstage drama or in-ring occurrences. Some wrestlers were fired for their mishaps, while others had to endure punishments that saw their TV time get devoted to embarrassing situations just to teach them a lesson. No matter what actually happened, most viewers at home may not realize that these situations only happened because of the way business is handled within professional wrestling.
We hope you enjoy our list of the 16 moments when professional wrestlers took matters into their own hands!
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16 HBK Lost His Smile
Okay, we all know that HBK forfeited the WWE World Heavyweight title on the claim that he had "lost his smile," but did you know the actual back story behind that whole situation? Shawn Michaels was the champ and essentially refused to job to his bitter rival, Bret Hart. So Michaels (allegedly) conjured up a knee injury and vacated the title in the middle of the ring upon the premise that he had lost his smile. In reality, Bret and Shawn were supposed to square off at WrestleMania 13 and Shawn was supposed to put Bret over, but that never happened. Bret, to his defense, actually devised a great scenario where Shawn would never be pinned nor submit, rather he would succumb to a leg injury at the hands of The Hitman, but Shawn vehemently refused and decided to simply walk away. In the end that WrestleMania 13 match against would be held instead be held between Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin, where the two of them had one of the greatest matches in the history of WrestleMania...
15 Owen Hart's Reboot of the Blue Blazer
Owen Hart spent several years early in his WWE career as "The Blue Blazer," a gimmick that he never really felt was at the top of the list of things that would propel him into success as a professional wrestler, but nonetheless he took that gimmick and ran with it as much as he possibly could. Fast forward to The Attitude Era and here we see Owen Hart at a crossroads of sorts; Owen never liked the idea that the business was taking a direction that he was uncomfortable with, but he knew that he had to somehow play the game in order to stay on television. When he refused to do an angle where he was in a sexual relationship with one of the female valets, he put his foot down with management and the punishment was that previous gimmick: The Blue Blazer. Owen took his punishment in stride, but sadly things took a horrible turn for the worse...
14 Saturn's "Moppy" Gimmick
Perry Saturn spent several years climbing the ladder of success in order to make it onto WWE television, but I doubt that he ever imagined that his crowning achievement in professional wrestling would be an angle that he shared with a mop. The story goes like this: Saturn was in a squash match with a jobber named Mike Bell when he absolutely lost it and beat the ever living hell out of him for pretty much no reason whatsoever. The punishment was for Saturn to spend his TV time devoted to being in love with a mop, which he fully embraced and remains his most famous angle he ever had as a professional wrestler.
13 Juventud Was Fired for Doing a 450 Splash
Juventud Guerrera put himself into a position that nobody in the WWE was very comfortable with and his punishment was only because they were looking for any reason to give him the boot. When he arrived in 2005, he had already rubbed all of the established WWE Superstars the wrong way by previously impersonating The Rock during his time in WCW, so when he defied WWE's request to not do his 450 splash for his finisher, WWE finally got their chance to get rid of Guerrera. As a result the rest of the WWE roster was no longer subjected to the incessant egotistical demeanor that he felt was on-par with the already famous and way more established "Great One."
12 New Jack Wanted to Kill Vic Grimes
New Jack and Vic Grimes shared a special rivalry when they were combatants during their stints across ECW and XPW. After New Jack and Grimes endured the legendary Danbury Fall, New Jack was hell-bent on not letting Grimes walk away without letting him know that the pain was still very much real. In a scaffolding match in XPW, New Jack and Grimes were suspended 40 feet above the ring with only tables stacked beneath them to break their fall. It was New Jack that made it a point to have Grimes miss each and every one of those tables based solely on the fact that Grimes had chickened out of the previous Danbury mishap. Grimes grazed one table on his way down and hit the ropes in a very sickening bump, but New Jack claims that he was aiming to throw him directly into the ring post, and we're all glad that he failed in his mission.
11 The Undertaker Gives HBK an Ultimatum
WrestleMania XIV saw Shawn Michaels against the hotter-than-hot Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the whole world knew who was going to be the victor when all was said and done. The world knew, but one wrestler in particular made it a point to make sure that the plan to put Austin over was definitely going to happen: The Undertaker. Many wrestlers have noted that The Undertaker went up to Shawn before the match and made it clear to him to do the right thing, and while the match was happening in front of the WrestleMania crowd, The Undertaker sat in front of a monitor backstage with his fists taped ready to teach Shawn a lesson or two about "business." In the end, Shawn dropped the belt to Austin, and as soon as the final bell rang, The Undertaker took off the tape on his fists and thankfully never had to unleash the fury that I'm sure Michaels didn't ever want to see...
10 Jeff Jarrett Lies Down for Hogan
Was it a work? Was it a shoot? No matter how you choose to look at it, the result is the same: Hulk Hogan wasn't about to play the game with WCW, Vince Russo, or Jeff Jarrett. Bash at the Beach 2000 saw WCW champion Jeff Jarrett against Hollywood Hulk Hogan, and the match was no more than a farce when all was said and done. Hogan played his creative control card with Russo and wasn't willing to lose clean to Jeff Jarrett, so when it came time for the main event, Jarrett simply laid down... literally. At least that was the plan that everyone supposedly agreed on, but when Hogan pinned Jarrett and left the building, Russo cut a fierce promo calling out Hogan and his tyrannical backstage politics. Hogan never again wrestled for WCW and sued the company for defamation of character, leading everyone to believe that most of what Russo said was the truth. That's how quickly works can become shoots.
9 Antonio Inoki vs. The Great Antonio
Antonio Inoki once had a famous "match" against Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time. The Great Antonio was no boxer, nor was he great at anything besides inexplicably no-selling every move an opponent tried to do against him. He was notorious for that, so Inoki clearly had an agenda during their match together and made an example out of him. After The Great Antonio no-sold a slew of Inoki's punches and dropkicks, Inoki finally cracked and gave him a few stiff shots to the face. Then he took down the monster and legit kicked him square in the head for refusing to do business and the result was a gory mess, with The Great Antonio receiving so many shots that his face was absolutely covered in blood. Let that be a lesson to everyone: sell moves or else someone might hurt you for real.
8 The Jericho and Goldberg Dispute
For several weeks leading up to a WCW PPV, Chris Jericho was attempting to solidify himself as an upper card talent by picking a feud with the most unlikely of opponents: Goldberg. Goldberg was the champ and had squashed just about every single one of his opponents in less than a minute, but Jericho was clever and devised an angle where he would start "beating" Goldberg every week on Nitro and Thunder. He defeated a little person who was named Goldberg, cut a promo in the ring challenging Goldberg on a night where Jericho knew he wasn't even in the building and therefore won the match by default, etc. The angle really got over with the crowd... but not with Goldberg. Goldberg didn't have a wrestling background and couldn't believe that the audience would ever buy that the 220 pound Jericho could ever come close to beating the 300 pound Goldberg, so when their feud was about to culminate at a PPV, Goldberg no-showed the event and went hunting instead.
7 Why HBK Oversold All of Hogan's Moves
Hulk Hogan has a history of whining until he gets his way and this situation is no different. He and Shawn Michaels were set to square off at the 2005 SummerSlam PPV where Hogan was initially booked to win, only to lose a rematch at a later PPV. Hogan however pulled his creative control card and turned down a possible rematch which would see Shawn pick up some redemption. This angered Michaels to the point where he did the only thing he could do: blatantly mock The Hulkster. He oversold just about every move in the match which made Hulk look like a washed up fool and Michaels even went as far as lifting his own leg straight up in the air for the three count just to put the icing on the cake. We'd like to think that good words were exchanged during the handshake after the match, but the look on Hogan's face said otherwise.
6 Jericho Blows Up on Referee Charles Robinson
Chris Jericho was in a match against Neville when the sequence before the finish was about to take place. Neville went for a baseball slide through Jericho's legs when he accidentally rolled his ankle really bad and couldn't continue on with the match. Referee Charles Robinson was aware that Neville could have been injured during the move but Neville didn't quite communicate the severity of the situation. Jericho had already heard from Neville that he was in trouble, so Jericho decided to quickly end the match with a roll-up in order to take it home without further injuring Neville. Robinson was unaware of all this so he neglected to count to three, which enraged Jericho so much that he very clearly yelled out "HE'S HURT!" and shoved Robinson, disqualifying himself in the process. The two continued to shout at one another very briefly, but the angle ended up working out perfectly in the end. The two had a laugh about the situation on Jericho's podcast.
5 The Acolytes Destroy Public Enemy
If there's a lesson to be learned when facing The Acolytes (Bradshaw and Faarooq), it's probably best to listen to everything they have to say. According to several sources, a booked match against Public Enemy turned sour when The Acolytes learned that their opponents had refused to do the suggested finish to the match. This enraged The Acolytes to a point where they proceeded to completely annihilate Public Enemy for almost five minutes, throwing them into the ring steps as hard as they could, hitting them with extremely stiff chair shots, and essentially destroying them with absolutely no remorse. The bell eventually rang out of nowhere to signal the end of the match, but that didn't stop The Acolytes from inflicting even more damage well after the fact. Lesson learned.
4 Daniel Puder Shoots on Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle was doing his usual upbeat pep talk (you know, telling them how great they are and that they're all winners; things like that) to the crew of Tough Enough when he issued an open challenge to anyone who wanted to face him in the ring. After he broke the ribs of one of the takers, Daniel Puder stepped in and promptly used his background training in MMA to try to test Angle. The two of them felt each other out for about 20 seconds until Puder got into position for an arm lock, which quickly turned into a very dangerous and very much real Kimura lock. Angle was trapped, but luckily referee Jim Korderas immediately recognized the danger and counted Puder's shoulders down for the 1-2-3. Angle was none too happy with Puder and who could blame him since it was supposed to be an amateur wrestling match, not an MMA shoot.
3 JBL Bullied The Blue Meanie During ECW's One Night Stand
At ECW's One Night Stand PPV, the rival rosters of WWE and ECW were supposed to have a good old fashioned brawl in the middle of the ring when JBL singled out The Blue Meanie of all people and gave him a pounding that seemingly came out of nowhere. Bradshaw pelted Meanie with so many stiff rabbit punches and solid strikes to the face that The Meanie was severely bloodied, all for reasons unbeknownst to him at the time. When they got backstage, JBL confronted Meanie and said, "You were talking about me on the internet," which Meanie didn't exactly disagree with. Revenge would be had, however, by having Stevie Richards absolutely lay out JBL with a very stiff chair shot during a match on SmackDown that legitimately concussed Bradshaw. Meanie and Bradshaw have since become very good friends.
2 Mabel Was Almost Fired for Crushing Diesel
Kevin Nash (Diesel at the time) was in a match against Mabel when there came a time for a spot to happen that Nash had refused to do in fear of serious injury. Mabel ignored Nash's wish and proceeded to squash his lower back with a modified Bonzai dop. This move caused Nash to struggle to finish the rest of the match and when they returned to the backstage area, Vince McMahon reportedly served Mabel his papers and wanted to fire him on the spot. Nash stepped in and told Vince that firing Mabel wasn't necessary, so as a result of the situation Vince buried the championship push that they had in mind for Mabel, eventually phasing him out of the company a few months later.
1 Hogan Didn't Know if Andre Would Put Him Over
Andre the Giant was literally a giant and could have done whatever he pleased inside of the wrestling ring. He didn't have to answer to anybody and he certainly didn't have to job to Hulk Hogan if he didn't want to. WrestleMania III was a real-life situation where Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan legitimately had concerns over whether or not Andre was going to do what was best for business. That point was made awfully clear very early on in the match when Hogan went to slam Andre but was overwhelmed by his mass, falling down and very nearly getting pinned under the weight. Andre didn't do much to help his opponent out of the pin, so that right there could have altered the history of professional wrestling as we know it today. Eventually Andre did the job for Hogan and the entire company breathed a sigh of relief, but not without Andre making them sweat throughout the entirety of the main event.
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