Professional wrestling can be viewed as the perfect combination of sport and theater. It takes plenty of athleticism to pull off the variety of throws, holds and strikes performed in the ring. 'Perform' is a key word because it’s also a form of entertainment with athletes taking on a diverse collection of personalities.
It is one of the more unique forms of entertainment that is scripted ahead of time. Various promotions have their own collection of writers that not only help develop characters, but also storylines that we see in the form of matches, vignettes and other types of segments. However, the script is never followed 100 percent perfectly. Unlike television shows and movies on the big screen, this performance is live in front of anywhere from hundreds to thousands of fans.
There will be mistakes, and things happen that end up being more real than what was originally scripted. Sometimes, it works out for the best. An unscripted moment can actually lead to a superstar having an impact that cements one or more legacies in the business. Then there are those unscripted moments that are obvious disasters. A trip that leads to a wrestler falling the wrong way and injuring himself. Or someone wasn’t working at 100 percent, for whatever reason.
These moments, good or bad, are easily remembered by fans for multiple generations. This is a look at some of the most memorable unscripted moments in professional wrestling history. Real moments that ended up disastrous and others that became legendary.
16 Disaster – Vince McMahon Blows Out Both Quads
The 2005 Royal Rumble match saw two of the Ruthless Aggression Era’s biggest stars at the end of the 30-man match. Both Batista and John Cena found themselves over the top rope and hitting the floor at the same time. Referees argued to decide who the winner was. This led to Vince McMahon running down the aisle, throwing his jacket to the ground and getting in the ring. Unfortunately, Mr. McMahon might have been a little too emphatic as his legs buckled shortly after sliding into the ring.
15 Legendary – Mankind Picks Up The Rock’s Glasses
In addition to being a hardcore legend in the WWE, Mick Foley also had a memorable tag team with The Rock – The Rock ‘n Sock Connection. It was an interesting team with The Rock being the overconfident member who was forced into joining forces with Mick Foley. The two shared some entertaining moments that included the famous “This is Your Life” segment. The duo was at the peak of their popularity in 1999.
14 Disaster – Andre The Giant Wrestles Under the Influence
Andre The Giant is a legend in more ways than one. While he was one of the biggest legends, literally, through the 1970s and 1980s, he was also someone known for his abilities to drink in excess. He was a man who enjoyed a fine wine, or maybe ten. He also didn’t mind working while intoxicated. In 1986, Andre certainly had a good amount before a match in Japan against Akira Maeda.
13 Legendary – Triple H Blows Quad in Match
Triple H might have developed quite a bit of power in the WWE, but he certainly earned his stripes in the business. Many people praise him for always putting the company before his needs, even if it meant working a match while injured. One of the best examples was during a 2001 tag team match where he and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin faced Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho on RAW.
12 Disaster – Antonio Inoki vs. Muhammad Ali
Back in 1976, Muhammad Ali was king of the boxing world. Well after his legendary fight against Joe Fraizer in the “Thrilla in Manilla”, Ali met the president of Japan Amateur Wrestling and asked for a challenge. Japanese wrestling icon Antonio Inoki stepped up. But it turns out that Ali wanted it to be fixed and not to be hit with full force. Ali’s camp demanded no kicks while standing up. They also demanded no throwing, no locking holds or any kind of strikes.
11 Legendary – Shane McMahon vs. Kurt Angle in 2001 King of the Ring
Shane McMahon was certainly a risk taker whenever he entered in-ring action. He also gained a lot of respect from the WWE Universe during a match with Kurt Angle at the 2001 King of the Ring pay per view. There was a spot during the match where Angle was going to suplex Shane McMahon into one of the glass panels on the stage. However, sugar glass was not used in the spot, and instead real glass was used without either of the men knowing.
10 Disaster – Jeff Hardy vs. Sting at Victory Road 2011
Jeff Hardy’s addiction to drugs has been well documented through his wrestling career. But it gained a lot more of the spotlight during TNA Wrestling’s Victory Road pay per view in 2011. Hardy’s music hit and some moments passed before Hardy actually came out. When he did come out, Hardy nearly fell going up the ring steps and while doing his pose in the corner. It was sad because it was supposed to be a quality match against Sting for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
9 Legendary – CM Punk’s Pipebomb
Fans knew that CM Punk’s contract was expiring back in the summer of 2011. But the WWE wanted to make his real-life frustrations into a wrestling storyline. This led to CM Punk being put into a WWE Championship match against John Cena at Money in the Bank. In an effort to promote the main event, the WWE gave CM Punk a microphone on live television in a June 2011 episode of RAW. Wrestling fans learned quickly how CM Punk truly felt about his status in the company.
8 Disaster – Bash at the Beach 2000
In the final years of existence for World Championship Wrestling, there were a number of moments that made the company look bad. There were infamous moments like the “Fingerpoke of Doom” or David Arquette winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. However, at Bash at the Beach the belt was held by Jeff Jarrett and the plan was for Hulk Hogan to defeat Jarrett in the main event. After the bell rang, the Jarrett - the champion- just laid down for Hogan to get an easy pinfall victory.
7 Legendary – Mankind Chokeslammed Through Hell in a Cell
Mick Foley has made a name for himself with Hell in a Cell. Fans consider his 1998 fall from the top of the cage and onto the announcer’s table as one of his most iconic moments. The match with Undertaker is often remembered as the beginning of his hardcore legacy. But one of the big moments of that match was not planned. Moments after Foley was thrown off the cell, he climbed back to the top of the cage, only to be chokeslammed through the cell.
6 Disaster – Mass Transit
While wrestling fans are used to violence in professional wrestling, there is an actual line where we can only view so much blood. That line was crossed in Extreme Championship Wrestling in November 1996. During a house show, The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustapha Saed) squared off against D-Von Dudley and the debuting Mass Transit. He was a young man who was really only 17 years old, and who was somehow able to convince promoter Paul Heyman that he was 19 and trained.
5 Legendary – The Curtain Call
During a good portion of the 1990s, there was a group of superstars who had a good amount of power in the back; that group was called The Kliq. The Kliq included Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman and Triple H. It was a collection of heels and faces that had gained favor with Vince McMahon in real life. But one time during a non-televised show at Madison Square Garden, they all (except Sean Waltman) broke character and came together inside a WWE ring for what many fans call “The Curtain Call.”
4 Disaster – Brawl for All
While WWE had a lot of memorable moments during the Attitude Era, the Brawl for All was one of their worst ideas ever put on television. In 1998, the tournament was meant to help give a big boost to “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. It was meant to be a way to build up a big match against he and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The tournament was a shoot-fighting tournament that was closer to MMA than it was to WWE.
3 Legendary – Austin vs. Hart at WrestleMania 13
One of the big matches that helped make “Stone Cold” Steve Austin a main event superstar was his bloody match with Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 in 1997. Many fans consider the image of Austin’s bloody face screaming while he was in the Sharpshooter to be one of the more iconic moments of wrestling. However, the blood was not part of the original script. In fact, it was actually not allowed in the WWE at the time.
2 Disaster – The Shockmaster’s Debut
A professional wrestling debut is usually meant to be a very special moment for a superstar, however not all of them can go as planned. Fred Ottman was signed to work for WCW and was meant to be a mystery partner for Sting, Dusty Rhodes and Davey Boy Smith. In a segment at Clash of Champions XXIV in 1993, the three announced in front of their opponents Sid Vicious, Big Van Vader and Harlem Heat that they had a shocking mystery partner.
1 Legendary – Montreal Screwjob
It might not have been the prettiest way for the WWE Championship to change hands, but it was one of the most memorable moments that is still talked about today. During the 1997 Survivor Series pay per view, the WWE Championship was defended by Bret “The Hitman” Hart against Shawn Michaels. Hart’s contract was expiring, but he didn’t want to drop the belt in Canada, but the WWE apparently had other ideas.
When Michaels put Hart in the Sharpshooter, Hart’s signature submission, the referee called for the bell and ruled that Hart had tapped out. This was an awkward moment that actually affected storylines moving forward in WWE.
It also formed the heel character for Mr. McMahon, who was ringside during the Montreal Screwjob. For years, fans sent hate towards Michaels and McMahon for the incident. But the hatchet was buried when Hart returned to the company 12 years later.
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