Wrestling shows in the past have always tried to present the most entertaining results, matches and characters to maximize the enjoyment of the fans. However, sometimes their booking, or matches or promos don’t always go as planned. An injury, a botch, a wrestler "going out for themselves" or a shoot promo in which the wrestler goes off script and rips whoever and whatever they want, are just a few examples of unscripted moments that can happen in professional wrestling.
Oftentimes an injury can cause the match to be stopped or a planned finish to be changed. When matches stop or end prematurely, this can oftentimes be spotted by wrestling fans. When a promo gets a little too personal or if a wrestler drops lingo only knowledgeable fans would understand, fans begin to wonder if they’re hearing a shoot during a wrestler’s promo. However, not all unscripted moments can be so easily spotted.
Some wrestlers are so good at blurring reality and fiction, that fans aren’t sure what’s real and what’s fake. Wrestlers can sell an injury or an angle so well they fool the fans into thinking what they are seeing is real. The opposite can also happen. Sometimes what fans saw on television was not what was supposed to happen. Wrestlers are magicians when it comes to improvising, making an accident look scripted, or cutting a heated, passionate promo, making a feud feel like a real-life rivalry. This article is about these unscripted moments that we didn't notice. Here are 10 unscripted moments from WWE and 10 from WCW that went completely over our heads.
20 Shawn Michaels Oversells Hulk Hogan (WWE)
When The Heartbreak Kid, returned to WWE after an alleged career ending injury, Shawn Michaels was a changed man. Shawn found Jesus and ended his backstage antics, womanizing and drug use. HBK was mostly asked to play a babyface role per his request, but working with Hulk Hogan changed that. Shawn Michaels and Hogan were working as a tag team until Shawn Michaels shockingly turned heel and surprised The Hulkster with Sweet Chin Music.
Behind the scenes, Shawn wasn’t happy about turning heel, but that was the only way Hogan would agree to the dream match. Shawn wanted a series of matches in which he would at least win one of them, but Hogan wanted to win every match. With Michaels being frustrated dealing with Hogan, the old HBK returned and completely oversold Hogan's offense in protest during their match at SummerSlam. At one point, Michaels hilariously ran around the ring like a chicken with its head cut off after taking the big boot. While HBK was scripted to lose, the over the top selling of Hogan was not.
19 Nick Patrick’s “Fast Count” (WCW)
The biggest match up in WCW’s history involved Sting versus Hulk Hogan. After a year of planning and building this feud, the match and the overbooked ending of it was an absolute bomb. The planned finish allegedly had Sting losing to Hogan’s Big Leg Drop due to a fast count by referee Nick Patrick. Bret Hart, who had reffed earlier, was supposed to throw out Patrick and replace him, referencing the Montreal Screwjob scenario. Sting would then get the submission fall winning the match and title.
For reasons not completely known, Nick Patrick counted normally, and Sting took a three-count pinfall to Hogan. Bret Hart came out like he was supposed to and derided Patrick for screwing Sting, even though there was no fast count to deride him for. The finish went off the script and made everyone involved look stupid. Rumor has it, Hulk changed the planned finish of the match and convinced Patrick to count normally, to make Hogan look stronger. Knowing Hogan, that doesn't seem too farfetched.
18 JBL Punching Out The Blue Meanie (WWE)
There was legitimate heat between many WWE and former WCW stars, and former ECW stars weren’t immune to the heat either. During the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view involving former ECW stars, WWE stars led by Vince McMahon’s favorite foot soldier, JBL, entered the ring and started brawling with the ECW Originals. JBL, for some reason targeted the Blue Meanie and legit started punching him in the face. While the brawl was scripted, Blue Meanie’s legit beating from JBL was not.
The incident carried over to a storyline with a Blue Meanie and JBL match. However, as payback, fellow Blue World Order member Stevie Richards swung one of the hardest chair shots ever to JBL’s unprotected cranium, giving him a real life concussion.
17 Scott Steiner’s Promos (WCW)
Most fans and even fellow wrestlers think Scott Steiner is seriously crazy, and it’s probably harder to find evidence that he’s sane. Supposedly, many wrestlers were afraid of Steiner, making Diamond Dallas Page the only wrestler with the guts, or stupidity, to actually stand up to Steiner. While some wrestlers don't want to bury their fellow coworkers or upset anyone backstage, Big Poppa Pump gave zero regards and trashed the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and DDP during merciless promos on Nitro.
Unlike the WWE of today, promos weren’t totally scripted, but there were at least bullet points to hit. Steiner made sure to ignore those and just trash whomever he wanted during his promos. His unhinged promos even slammed the company he worked for, and made several references to Steve Austin and WWE which certainly was not at the behest of WCW management.
16 Shawn Michaels Has "A Job To Do" (WWE)
While the old Shawn Michaels wasn’t afraid to throw tantrums and yell at whoever he thought deserved it, the new Shawn Michaels was a lot less of a backstage headache. Still, when HBK wasn’t happy, he wasn’t afraid to make his frustrations visably known. Just ask Hulk Hogan from SummerSlam or John Cena from WrestleMania 23.
When Michaels returned to WWE, he was churning out some of his best work. Shawn HBK's great work would place him into a WrestleMania 23 match with Vince’s golden boy, John Cena, with Shawn booked to lose. Before the match, Michaels can be heard saying, “I’ve got a job to do” ultimately predicting his loss to Cena. This was not in the script for him to say that. When Cena no-sold his leg that Michaels had been working over, Mr. WrestleMania was not happy. Cena went to shake Michaels’ hand after the match, as the script had planned, but Michaels went off the script, refused and replied, “Not today, kid.” Ouch.
15 Steven Regal Vs. Goldberg (WCW)
Who’s next? During a time where Goldberg was destroying his opponents in about a minute, it was Steven (later on William) Regal’s turn to be next. However, Regal was told to give Goldberg a competitive match, and Regal started to legitimately wrestle Goldberg. The fans and even Goldberg himself were confused by Da Man's sudden inability to destroy jobbers despite having left stacks of them in his wake. Unfortunately, Regal attempting to work Goldberg to a good match only made Goldberg look weak and awkward. Goldberg would still get the win, keeping his streak intact, but officials were furious at Regal.
Despite being told to actually wrestle Goldberg, Regal was thrown under the bus, blamed for the horrible match and was fired from WCW shortly after.
14 Kevin Owens And Sami Zayn Not “Feeding” For New Day (WWE)
During a match between Sami Zayn and Kofi Kingston with Kevin Owens and The New Day in their respective corners, Kingston was supposed to get the win with Kevin Owens running in for the post-match beatdown. Owens and Zayn were supposed to let New Day “feed” off of them, meaning the babyfaces would beat up the heels in order to get a positive crowd reaction. Instead, KO and Sami just rolled out of the ring, leaving New Day looking confused.
When Owens and Zayn returned backstage, officials were not happy. They sent both Owens and Zayn home early from the European Tour for unprofessional conduct. Whether Owens and Zayn intentionally blew their spot is unknown, but reportedly, both had been unhappy with their position in the company at that time.
13 Anything Chris Jericho Did In WCW (WCW)
Chris Jericho is a legend and a future Hall of Famer for sure. Before he became a legend, a younger Chris Jericho was making a name for himself in WCW. However, management was all about the New World Order and the upper card. Not really caring about rising young talent, Eric Bischoff told Jericho to just do whatever he wanted when cutting promos. Aside from revealing who was going to win or lose in matches, Jericho had free reign to say and do anything he wanted, which led to the future Y2J saying and doing some of the most outlandish things in pro wrestling history.
According to Chris Jericho, WCW was far more concerned with the top of the card, i.e. Hogan, Nash and Sting, and that the lower card guys were left to their own devices. Jericho’s famous “letter from Ted Turner,” which was written by him the night of the show, his insane hairdo, and "list of 1,004 holds" was completely unscripted and all Jericho. Naturally, WCW would let Jericho leave for WWE.
12 The Rock Interviewing Ringside Fans (WWE)
Two years ago, The Rock had arrived on an episode of Raw to promote the upcoming WrestleMania 32 pay-per-view. The segment included Big Show, Lana and Rusev and an interruption by The New Day in a hilarious segment the likes of which are rarely seen in modern day WWE. during his promo, The Rock noticed fans at ringside dressed as former WWE Superstars. The Rock just couldn’t help himself and actually said, “Well, this is the time where we go off the script” to the fans' delight, and the horror of WWE officials.
WWE officials had to move the fans and tell them to tone their antics because these paying costumers were bringing unwanted attention away from the show and onto themselves. Officials were reportedly freaking out after The Rock not only acknowledged them but gave them air and mic time.
11 The Brain Drops The F-Bomb (WCW)
Bobby "The Brain" Heenan may have been a manager for 99.9% of his career, but he still took the occaisional bump. Years of Heenan distracting the ref and getting pummeled for it took its toll on The Brain’s poor neck. When Heenan worked in WCW, he was used as a color commentator, but secured a no-contact clause due to his neck issues. Enter “The Loose Cannon" Brian Pillman.
Pillman’s “Loose Cannon” gimmick was starting to catch on as his character blurred realty and fiction and displayed unpredictable behavior. Pillman wasn’t aware of Heenan’s neck issues or untouchable status, and while Pillman acted like a cowardly heel to escape Eddie Guerrero, Pillman grabbed Heenan to hide behind him. Heenan thought it was a fan who had jumped the barrier, which wasn’t uncommon, and blurted out, “The F… are you doing?” Heenan apologized for the f-bomb, Pillman apologized to Heenan, and the unscripted incident fueled his loose cannon gimmick.
10 CM Punk’s Pipebomb (WWE)
“Vince is a millionaire, who should be a billionaire.” It was comments like this that made CM Punk’s Pipebomb promo so memorable. During an upcoming match with John Cena, and at a moment when Punk was in contract negotiations with WWE, Punk was given a live mic. Though the plan was for Punk to air out his grievances and say whatever he wanted, Punk’s comments were totally unscripted and not so well received by WWE officials.
Punk ripped Cena, The Rock, John Laurinaitis, Vince McMahon, Vince’s “idiotic” daughter and Vince’s “doofus” son-in-law. He was about to rip the WWE’s Be A Star campaign when WWE cut his mic. Punk signed a new contract, and WWE tried to turn his Pipebomb into as many angles as they could to deflect Punk’s real-life criticisms. To this day, there are debates on how much of the Pipebomb was known to officials, but Punk’s promo skyrocketed his already abundant popularity.
9 Syxx's Promos On Ric Flair (WCW)
X-Pac, or Syxx as he was known in WCW, wasn't the best promo guy, and yet, his promos against Ric Flair were some of his best. X-Pac tore Flair a new one, and despite wrestling being scripted, X-Pac's heated promos made his hatred for Flair feel real. That's because it was.
Backstage politics really rubbed The Kid the wrong way, and this carried over into his promos and feuds. X-Pac would shoot on Flair during promos, and, at one point, X-Pac and his buddies, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, almost refused to put Flair over. Most fans just thought they were witnessing a good feud and had no idea the real life animosity X-Pac held towards Flair.
8 Dusty Interrupts Stephanie (WWE)
Not even Dusty Rhodes was immune to Stephanie’s emasculations and burials of talent. You expected it with Mick Foley, and we’re seeing it with Kurt Angle now. During a segment on Raw involving Dusty Rhodes and his two sons, Cody and Goldust, The American Dream had the audacity to interrupt Steph during her usual berating. During the promo, Dusty went off script and put his hand up in front of Stephanie's face. Although the fans didn't know that the hand to the face was improvised by Dusty, Stephanie visibly wasn't prepared for it and reportedly was not happy.
Of course, having Superstars getting the one up on Stephanie isn’t allowed, and the Billion Dollar Princess wasn’t happy with "The American Dream" not following the script to the letter. Dusty was never seen in any segments involving The Authority after that, although he was involved in a few short backstage segments not involving Stephanie.
7 Booker T Wins The TV Title (WCW)
After just dropping the WCW Television Title to Rick Martel, Booker T was to get his rematch against Martel at Superbrawl VIII. Martel was scripted to retain the title after defeating Booker T and then winning against Perry Saturn immediately following. However, Martel legitimately tore a ligament in his knee and broke his leg on a hip toss. To Martel’s credit, he finished the match, but the ending had to be changed on the spot.
Booker T would end up defeating Martel, and then Booker and Saturn wrestled each other on the fly. The two wrestlers improvised their match with Booker T regaining the TV Title, but the fans had no idea that what they had just witnessed wasn’t supposed to happen at all.
6 Gail Kim Eliminates Herself (WWE)
Not that Gail Kim’s WWE run wasn’t successful, but it’s a little disappointing when you think about what it could have or should have been. Kim’s first WWE departure came when the company was moving in a different direction, i.e. more Divas and models. When Kim was brought back to WWE, nothing had changed and women’s wrestling was treated like a joke. Kim’s frustration with the division led to one of the most hilarious eliminations and departures from WWE.
During a women’s battle royal where opponents had to be tossed out of the ring, Kim was instructed to get eliminated in the first minute of the match, which made sense since she’s only a former WWE Women’s Champion after all. Fed up, Kim just decided to eliminate herself. Though her elimination was scripted, her method definitely was not. Fans who happened to catch it weren't sure if this was some scripted angle or real-life defiance from Gail Kim, but perhaps assumed the latter when she was released by WWE shortly thereafter.
5 Booker T’s Infamous N-word Drop (WCW)
One of the most memorable botches happened when Booker T, along with his brother Stevie Ray, were cutting a promo on Hulk Hogan. Booker T got really into the moment and said, “Hulk Hogan, we comin’ fo you n*****.” Booker immediately and noticeably realized he screwed up big-time, though it happened so fast many fans didn't even notice it.
After the promo, Booker T apologized to Hogan who didn’t even know about the slip of the tongue. Hulk was said to be cool and laughed it off. Needless to say, Booker was not scripted to say that and had a virtual heart attack after he realized what he just called the most popular wrestler of all time.
Booker’s most embarrassing moment is everyone’s gain, however. Countless memes, videos and GIFs have been created from Booker’s slip. There’s no way for him to live it down, now that his botch has become an internet sensation.
4 Mankind’s Cage Spot And Chair Shots (WWE)
Poor Mankind. No wonder he can’t remember which city he’s in. He’s involved in two brutal unscripted moments in wrestling. The most famous moment involved the legendary Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker. After being throw off the top of the cage through a table, a planned spot which almost ended Mankind’s career and life, Mankind would follow that with a choke slam on top of the cage. Unfortunately, the cage panel gave way, and Mankind fell through the cage onto the mat, which was not planned. Jim Ross screamed for the match to end, but Mankind continued despite not remembering the match afterwards.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Mick Foley was put into the infamous "I Quit" match with The Rock in which Mankind would take several unprotected chair shots to the head. Though Mankind was only supposed to take five shots (only?), Mankind wasn't in position for the match to end and had to take an unplanned and additional six.
3 WCW’s Insane Fans (WCW)
Nothing happens on WWE Monday Night Raw or any of the WWE televised shows without the approval of Vince McMahon. In fact, the argument could be made that they go a little too far in controlling the product with officials taking away signs, piping in cheers, moving fans around the arena or even kicking them out entirely. For the most part, WWE has controlled their fans and any “fans” jumping to the ring, or “hijacking” Raw are almost always plants.
However, WCW’s fans were different. WCW’s fans threw garbage into the ring almost weekly, and WCW security has said the arena looked like a warzone after their shows. WCW fans were also notorious for jumping into the ring. When this happened, wrestlers broke character and beat the fan down, holding them until security arrived. Unlike sports fans who run on the field for attention, these fans literally hated the wrestlers in the ring in WCW and attacked them. These fans weren’t plants and caused many WCW wrestlers to ad lib, or regroup from these unscripted interruptions by the fans.
2 The Montreal Screwjob (WWE)
WWE's most famous example of going off the script happened in the 1997 Survivor Series in Montreal. Shawn Michaels faced off against Bret Hart for the WWE Title. Bret was on his way out of WWE but didn’t want to lose in his home country. He said he’d drop the title to whoever and whenever just not in Montreal. However, Vince, Bret’s boss, really wanted him to lose in Canada to generate heat onto HBK.
The script called for Bret to win the match, however referee Earl Hebner, Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon conspired to “screw” Bret. Michaels applied The Sharpshooter, and then Hebner called for the bell without Hart ever submitting. The Hitman knew he just got screwed. Hebner got out of Dodge, HBK lied about having anything to do with it, and Bret punched Vince in the face. Meanwhile, the fans had no idea what they just witnessed.
1 Bash At The Beach 2000 (WCW)
As controversial as the unscripted Montreal Screwjob was for WWE, the unscripted Bash at the Beach segment in 2000 was equally controversial for WCW. The script detailed a match between Hulk Hogan and Jeff Jarrett in which Jarrett was supposed to literally lay down for Hulk for a three count. In what was supposed to be a work pretending to be a shoot, Hogan pinned Jarrett which was supposed to lead to some bigger storyline. However, what was allegedly not in the script, or known to Hogan or Eric Bischoff, was Vince Russo coming down to ring after the match. The worked shoot turned into an actual shoot with Russo eviscerating Hulk Hogan on air. Fans had no clue if what they were witnessing was scripted or not and many today still don't know the truth.
Backstage Hogan was not happy with Russo’s unscripted words on air, and Hogan stormed out of the arena. Hogan would later sue Vince Russo for defamation of character. Hogan was never seen again in WCW, so at least Russo got that part right.