We all know that most things that happen in the world of professional are scripted. Whether it’s the words said in promos, or even the match itself, wrestling is a sport where every move is planned out with an unbelievable accuracy. The planned events are often entertaining, but it’s the memorable moments that happen spontaneously that can become iconic.
Often when a wrestlers goes off script, it is completely improv, with the performer feeding off of the energy of the crowd. In fact, we would venture to say that 99.9% of the unscripted moments are reactionary, with the wrestlers not knowing the impact that their deviation from the plans will have.
Unscripted moments have their negatives and their positives, but in either case they can develop lives of their own way after they occur. For example many of the entrants on this list today are some of the most iconic moments in all of wrestling history. Of those said moments, many of them took wrestling fans by surprise, and influenced the business of professional wrestling thereafter.
Unscripted moments have the unique ability to unite all wrestling fans in a single instant, as casual fans are entertained, and smart fans are actually shocked. Smart fans in particular are always looking for moments that can spark a conversation about whether or not a moment in wrestling is real. Since they are so few and far in between, we have listed the best of the best here for you today.
This list will not include anything morbid or tragic like the untimely death of Owen Hart, it also will not include worked shoots, and planned chaos. So sorry folks, the Brawl for All, and the Bash at the Beach incidents will not be on this list. As always feel free to let us know your opinions in the comments below.
21 Every Ric Flair Promo Ever
Is it fair to group together four decades worth of promos into one entry? Who cares, because besides being wildly entertaining, the Nature Boy writes all of his own promos on the spot. The WWE understands the method of Flair's promos, and was actually hesitant to bring him back into the company because of this. But just think, if a writer would have been scripting Flair during his career, all of the memorable promos like Space Mountain, Fat Boy, and even WOOOO, would have never existed.
20 Daniel Puder is Tough Enough
One of the most infamous shoot incidents in WWE history took place during a Tough Enough segment in 2004. Daniel Puder, who was a contestant on the watered down version of the reality show, got into a shoot wrestling match with Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle.
Before being “pinned”, Puder was able to lock in a kimura submission hold on Angle, nearly breaking his arm. While the segment is one of the most memorable moments in Smackdown history, it almost ruined Angle’s character, by forcing him to either tap, or have his arm broken.
19 Vince Swayed by People Power
Not every moment that goes off script has to be controversial, sometimes it can all be in good fun. When Vince McMahon returned to the WWE in November of 2012 to fire (storyline) John Laurinaitis, the CEO decided to change the ending to the segment after reading the crowd reaction.
The original ending of the segment was never supposed to feature McMahon driving out on the injured Laurinaitis’ scooter, let alone have Vince throwing the scooter off the top of the ramp. The camera shows Sheamus having a legitimate laugh at McMahon’s antics, which were unplanned and news to everyone in the arena.
18 Rock ‘n’ Sock
In what was one of the oddest pairings in the history of wrestling, The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection would eventually be one of the most entertaining acts in the WWE. The chemistry between the mismatched stars didn’t start off perfect, and had to be built up over the course of several months.
Mankind and Rock’s rapport started clicking after a segment that wasn’t scripted, where The Rock’s trademark sunglasses fell off by accident. The crowd thought it was funny enough, but really got behind the team after Mankind picked up the glasses and returned them to The Great One. This in-ring accident would mark the birth of the chemistry of two of the biggest stars in the history of wrestling.
17 Bob Backlund Backstage
The benefit of having a wrestler who plays a character that is absolutely insane, is that when they mess up, no one notices. That is why when Bob Backlund got confused on camera during a live episode of Raw and asked to do the take over again, no fans were the wiser.
Kurt Angle would go on to mention during an interview that Backlund missed his mark, and instead of putting a backstage worker in the Crossface Chicken wing, he awkwardly walked forward and backwards until WWE cut away from the shot.
16 Great Antonio vs. Antonio Inoki
This entry is about two Antonios, two tough guys and one very real shoot match. The match took place in Japan in 1977, and featured The Great Antonio no selling to the legendary Antonio Inoki. It’s hard to say where the match was supposed to go, but where it ended up going was infinitely more entertaining.
Inoki, who was being manhandled by Antonio, eventually snapped after being slapped and elbowed over and over again. Inoki deviated from the script and took Antonio to the ground and stomped on his head...repeatedly.
15 Torn Quads
When Batista and John Cena botched the ending of the 2005 Royal Rumble match, Vince McMahon walked down to the ring with an unmatched ferocity. The Chairman of the Board attempted to enter the ring with the same intensity, but suffered a double quadricep tear in the process. With both of his legs out of commision, McMahon was forced to yell all directives from a seated position. McMahon would eventually be helped out of the ring and the match would end the way it was planned.
14 Victory Road
At TNA’s Victory Road pay per view in 2011, Sting took on Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. The match lasted an abysmal 88 seconds and saw an intoxicated Jeff Hardy stumble his way to the ring before being finished off by Sting.
After the referee noticed the state that Hardy was in, TNA management was made aware, and Eric Bischoff was forced to come out and make changes on the fly. Many fans assume that Bischoff gave full creative control to Sting to finish the match as fast as possible, which he did.
12 JBL Destroys Blue Meanie
At ECW’s One Night Stand, the show culminated in a brawl that saw the ECW originals ending up on top. Though they may have won the war of the night, some of the ECW soldiers lost their own battles; mainly The Blue Meanie.
The story goes that Meanie was taunting John Bradshaw Layfield in the ring during the brawl, which resulted in the wrestler turned commentator throwing real punches. By the end of the show Meanie was left a bloody and battered mess at the hands of JBL.
11 Pipe Bomb
The Summer of Punk in the WWE had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was the end of an episode of Raw, with John Cena laying in the middle of the ring. While the actual promo time was planned, all of CM Punk’s promo was completely unscripted. The information that we heard him spew was from the heart, and seemingly therapeutic for the former WWE Champion. Although he had permission to shoot in the promo, the microphone was actually cut off on Punk as he was about to trash WWE’s Be A Star campaign.
10 Sunny Days
There are plenty of memorable moments during the all too real feud between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels during the 1990s. One moment that got a bit too personal for the duo is when Michaels inferred that Hart was having an affair with WWE Diva Sunny during a promo. The claim of Hart having “Sunny days” apparently caused tension in the Hart household, and eventually went on to be substantiated by both Michaels and Sunny.
9 Mickie James and the “V”
Though the Attitude Era showcased a ton of sexual content, the match that may have pushed the envelope the farthest was when Mickie James took on Trish Stratus at WrestleMania 22. The match featured James grabbing Stratus’ crotch while attempting to escape a bulldog, she then followed it up by licking her fingers.
If this wasn’t erotic enough, James finished off the gesture by sticking her tongue between her fingers in the shape of a “V”. Vince McMahon was not pleased at the change of script, and was furious at James when she got backstage.
8 Booker T is Coming for You
Before Hulk Hogan dropped the “N” bomb in 2015, Booker T dropped it on Hogan in an infamous wrestling blooper. The slip up came as a result of Booker T, along with his brother/tag team partner Stevie Ray, giving an intense promo backstage at a WCW event. Booker T became an internet celebrity by finishing off the promo with the line “ Hogan, we comin for you N****”. Even though Booker has a resume full of accomplishments, it is this unscripted moment that will go down as his most memorable moment.
7 I Am The Game
After a few years of floating around in the mid-card for as punishment for the Curtain Call, Triple H spilled his guts during a “shoot” interview with Jim Ross. The interview, which aired on an episode of Sunday Night Heat, saw Triple H firmly assert himself as a top talent in the WWE.
Triple H explained to Jim Ross “I am the F****** Game!”and literally the next night on Raw there were signs that read “The Game” in the signature D-X green color. The interview gave birth to not only a catchphrase, but a character trait for the COO of WWE.
6 Vader Answers a Question
Leon “Big Van Vader” White has always had a bit of a reputation in the world of wrestling. It has been said that Vader is very protective of the business, and even more of his character, often inflicting pain to retain his integrity. Obviously a reporter in Kuwait didn’t do any research on the 300 pounder, because when he asked Vader and The Undertaker if wrestling was fake, Vader responded aggressively. Not only did Vader uphold kayfabe, but he disregarded promoting the event he was there to promote, and threatened the reporter while using profanities live on camera.
5 Stupid Kofi
When Kofi Kingston started feuding with established main event talent Randy Orton, it seemed as if WWE was trying to build another top talent in the company. During one of their matches on Raw however, Kofi forgot how the bout was supposed to end, which upset The Viper.
If Orton would have just ended the match with an RKO, no viewers would have noticed the mistake, but Orton got up and yelled “STUPID” at Kingston a number of times. Due to Orton yelling at Kofi, many people knew something was up, as his normal routine never included him yelling at his opponents.
4 Regal Besmirches Goldberg
In the midst of an undefeated streak in 1998, Bill Goldberg was scheduled to defeat William Regal on an episode of WCW Nitro. While both men have different accounts of the match, the tape doesn’t lie, and what it shows is a very stiff fight.
According to Goldberg, Regal took advantage of him, and didn’t stick to the script, as Regal didn't want to put Goldberg over. The aftermath of the match included Regal being released from WCW, and the match living on in infamy.
3 Montreal Screwjob
Well, depending on who you ask the Montreal Screwjob was a scripted moment, but for the sake of this argument we will take the controversial event at face value. In 1997 during the main event of the Survivor Series pay per view, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels would face off in Hart’s last match as a WWE contracted wrestler.
Hart, who was the WWE Champion at the time, refused to lose his final match, putting WWE in a tough situation, where the champion would be leaving the company with the Heavyweight Title in hand. Vince McMahon’s solution to this problem was to ring the bell without Hart’s knowledge during a submission move, ensuring the integrity of his company's title would be upheld. Shawn Michaels was in on this, but as far as Hart knew, the rug had been pulled from underneath him.
2 Bloody Austin
Steve Austin has a history of great matches at odd numbered WrestleManias, with WrestleMania 13 starting this tradition. The 1997 pay per view would see Bret Hart and Steve Austin face off in a No Disqualification Submission match. The unscripted moment in this match as revealed by Austin on his podcast, was the addition of “color” or blood to the match.
Ironically the blading that was added in the match by Hart without the knowledge of WWE officials would go on to be one of the most iconic images of Stone Cold’s career.
1 Austin 3:16
When Steve Austin won the 1996 King of the Ring, fans witnessed the inception of the Attitude Era. While defeating Jake Roberts was enough to cement Austin as a main event star, it was his post match promo that would launch him into superstardom.
The infamous promo birthed two of wrestling's most quotable phrases. The first catchphrase would be an off the cuff retort to a Jake Roberts biblical promo from earlier in the night, which is why The Rattlesnake used his own verse when saying “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass”. At the end of the same promo Austin would put an exclamation mark on his point by saying “that’s the bottom line, ‘cuz Stone Cold said so”. Neither one of these catchphrases were planned, or scripted, with Austin saying everything in the moment.