Wrestlers go off-script all the time. In fact, there’s a good chance that some of your favorite promos and matches featured a wrestler abandoning the script slightly. In some ways, promotions look for wrestlers that know how to go off-script. Their ability to do so also means that they probably know how to call a match on the fly or adapt to the crowd. However, there is a very good reason that scripts exist in the first place. They help promoters tell a cohesive story and keep the unbelievably wild world of professional wrestling in-check. Without scripts, you’d have a far less cohesive overall show.
That’s why wrestlers sometimes get punished for going off-script and going into business for themselves. Sure, sometimes they can get away with it if their shenanigans lead to something truly classic, but most WWE performers who abandon instructions end up having to pay the price. Even still, there have been some instances of a wrestler going off-script and being punished for it that stand above the rest. Sometimes, that’s because the punishment they received is unbelievable. Other times, it’s because their off-script moments changed wrestling forever. These are the 15 times that a WWE star went off script and paid the price.
15 15. Juventud Guerrera Has an Awesome Match and is Immediately Fired
There was a time when Juventud Guerrera was seen as one of the cornerstones of WCW’s cruiserweight division. His strange looks and high-flying style made him a must-see performer. Like most of the other people on the WCW roster, the company botched Juventud Guerrera’s booking before they botched their entire operation. When WCW shut down, Juventud Guerrera went to WWE and looked to rekindle the spark that he ignited when he entered WCW.
Instead, Juventud Guerrera decided to start doing a bunch of banned and crazy moves during a SmackDown taping.
While the crowd was delighted to see such a performance, WWE couldn’t help but feel that Juventud Guerrera kind of screwed everyone else by having an awesome match that was going to make everyone else look boring. They fired him shortly thereafter.
14 14. Titus O’Neil is Suspended for Touching Vince McMahon
This is one of the strangest off-script moments in recent memory. Following the Daniel Bryan retirement segment on Monday Night Raw, Vince McMahon headed back to the locker room. As he passed the wrestlers onstage, Titus O’ Neil grabbed Vince’s arm and seemed to share a laugh with him. After the fact, WWE announced that O’Neil had been suspended a shocking 90 days for “unprofessional conduct.” At the time, nobody - including O’Neil - was sure why the performer was suspended. So far as anyone can tell, it was related to the fact that he grabbed Vince McMahon’s arm. How such a simple moment could lead to a 90-day suspension - which was later reduced to 60 days - is something that nobody could really figure out.
13 13. Bart Gunn Wins Brawl For All and Is Knocked Out/Fired Because of It
This one is interesting because it involves a wrestler going off script during a sequence that wasn’t supposed to be scripted. See, WWE arranged a “shoot fight” tournament called Brawl for All. Even though the fights weren’t supposed to be scripted, the tournament was arranged to get real-life tough man Steve Williams over with the audience.
When Bart Gunn beat Williams and won the whole thing, he upset WWE’s grand plans.
As a reward/punishment, WWE decided to pit Gunn against the super heavyweight champion, Butterbean. Gunn was not only many pounds shy of Butterbean’s weight class, but many years shy of the boxer’s experience level as well. Gunn got absolutely destroyed by Butterbean at WrestleMania and was fired shortly thereafter. He probably should have taken a dive.
12 12. JBL Loses to Blue Meanie and Gets Smacked in the Head
In case you never heard, you should probably know that JBL is a bit of a jerk. Actually, he’s worse than that. He’s a complete bully who has never had a problem abusing his fellow wrestlers in the ring. For instance, JBL drunkenly beat up the Blue Meanie following the 2005 One Night Stand event over some comments Meanie had made about JBL in a shoot interview.
As punishment, WWE decided to have him lose to the Blue Meanie on SmackDown. While that’s bad enough, JBL’s real punishment came from Meanie’s best friend, Stevie Richards. During the Meanie/JBL match, Richards came in and hit JBL with one of the most devastating chair shots in the history of professional wrestling. Truth be told, we think JBL would have been a much nicer person if things like this had happened more often.
11 11. Braun Strowman Says The Words “Title Shot” and Gets Chewed Out
You wouldn’t think that Braun Strowman would struggle to stick to the script. After all, he mostly only says his own name when he speaks at all. However, Strowman is still a guy that has a lot to learn about the business. That means he’s prone to making some little mistakes. For instance, Strowman cut a promo on Raw not too long ago in which he used the words “title shot” in reference to an upcoming match. The correct terminology in WWE is "title match."
According to Mick Foley, Vince McMahon tore into Braun Strowman for the slip up the moment that he stepped backstage. It might sound like a little thing, but Foley claims that such verbal beatdowns help turn the potentially good wrestlers into guys that desire to be great.
10 10. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are Kicked Out of Europe for Changing A Match
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens have been doing things their own way ever since the two entered the business. Their respective routes to WWE are certainly best described as unconventional. However, their independent mindsets may have come back to bite them recently while the two were on a European tour.
It seems that Owens and Zayn decided to slightly alter the end of their match with The New Day.
While the alteration wasn’t major - they avoided a post-match beatdown - it was enough of a deviation from the script to inspire WWE management to send them home before the tour was completed. Some people speculated that there might have been more to this story or that it was part of the pair’s character development.
9 9. Wrestlers Get Pregnant and Get Fired
This is a slight variation from going off the script that still feels relevant to the idea. See, when a wrestler goes off-script, that usually means that they decided to make a deviation from what was planned. That can include everything from a different match ending to changing some words in a promo. If you’re a female wrestler, though, there is another way you can go off-script.
Both Dawn Marie and Kharma’s releases are believed to be related to their respective pregnancies.
Dawn Marie was fired shortly after she announced that she was pregnant, and Kharma’s WWE career fell apart not long after her pregnancy and tragic miscarriage. You’d think that WWE would be understanding of such things, but they’ve proven that they don’t like pregnancies wrinkling their scripts.
8 8. Daniel Puder Outwrestles Kurt Angle and Suffers a Royal Rumble Beatdown
While many people know the off-script portion of this story, most wrestling fans don’t know the punishment that it resulted in. In case you’ve never heard this story, just know that Kurt Angle held an open challenge in which he asked a series of young grapplers to legitimately try to beat him in the ring. Daniel Puder, an experienced MMA fighter, stepped in and did just that. Referees were able to save the storyline by counting a pin in favor of Angle, even though Puder's shoulder wasn't down. It was clear that Angle and WWE were upset with Puder. While the moment helped Puder earn some extra work, it also earned him a spot in the Royal Rumble. That might sound like a good thing.
It turns out that WWE booked Puder to enter the Royal Rumble while some of the roster’s heaviest hitters were in the ring.
Puder was thrown into the Rumble, sandwiched between veterans Bob Holly, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, who all clearly took liberties with Puder. Look back at those chops and stiff shots and you'll see what we mean.
Puder was beaten blue, eliminated, and fired shortly thereafter.
7 7. Ric Flair Blades at WrestleMania and Pays Heavily
We should probably mention that Ric Flair is notorious for going off-script. Nearly every memorable Ric Flair promo that you can think of was cut without the full approval of someone in the back. Most of the time, nobody bothered to really rebuke Flair because his unscripted promos typically led to solid gold. However, there was at least one time that Flair went too far. Prior to his WrestleMania VIII match with Randy Savage, Flair was told not to blade (cut himself on the forehead) during the match. Flair did cut himself during the match and was fined heavily. Oddly enough, Bret Hart bladed during that same event and escaped punishment. Of course, that’s supposedly because Hart was able to convince McMahon that the blood happened naturally.
6 6. The Rock Has Too Much Fun on Raw
For the most part, The Rock is immune to the usual rules that dictate how closely wrestlers should stick to the script. It was hard enough to tell The Rock to stick to a script when he was an up and coming wrestler. Now that he’s one of the biggest movie stars in the world, it’s probably even harder to keep him under control. For instance, one of The Rock’s recent return trips to WWE was highlighted by an appearance on Raw in which he cut a vicious promo on Lana, interacted with some fans in costumes, and telephoned CM Punk. That’s all well and good, but it turns out that WWE didn’t strictly approve of any of those things. Of course, none of them added up to anything worse than a verbal rebuke.
5 5. Gail Kim Eliminates Herself From a Battle Royal
You ever have one of those days when you’re just not feeling like giving it your all at work? You know, the kind of day when you just want to bury your head and not lift it until it’s time to go home? Well, it turns out that Gail Kim had several of those days at WWE. See, Kim was never especially fond of WWE’s creative practices and booking decisions. This meant that she occasionally phoned things in during her later days with the company. The most memorable instance of her apathy occurred during a battle royal in which Kim eliminated herself and just walked to the back. At the time, some people speculated that she was trying to get fired. Kim pretty much verified that fact.
4 4. Perry Saturn Beats Up a Jobber and Has To Work Bad Storylines
Beating up jobbers is a time-honored wrestling tradition that probably shouldn’t be a tradition at all. The idea is certainly a bit cruel. You call in a couple of local guys, pay them as little as possible, and then have your biggest stars just beat the hell out of them for a few minutes. However, even the most famous of jobber beaters usually understood that there were limits. Perry Saturn is not one of those people.
During a match with Mike Bell, Perry Saturn snapped and started to deliver one of the most vicious beatings ever captured by a professional wrestling camera.
WWE didn’t fire Saturn even though they probably should have. Instead, they decided to give him bad gimmick after bad gimmick, including the Moppy bit, and then fire him.
3 3. Batista is Fined $100,000 for Blading
We spoke earlier about the consequences of blading when you’re told not to, but we didn’t really talk about why wrestlers get fined for blading. There have been points in wrestling history when promoters allowed and encouraged blading. However, whenever a company like WWE is trying to improve their image, they decide to fine wrestlers for Blading. Batista knew that, but he decided to blade during a cage match against Chris Jericho anyway.
He figured that the worst thing that could happen is that Vince McMahon would fine him about $25,000. What really happened is that Vince McMahon fined him $100,000 over the incident. Batista felt like he was in the right and was being punished to such a severe degree for reasons that had nothing to do with him.
2 2. Daniel Bryan Chokes Justin Roberts and Loses His Job
This is arguably one of the most notorious events in fairly recent wrestling history, but there are quite a few details surrounding it which remain mysterious. The basic story here, though, is that Daniel Bryan decided to choke announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie as part of the infamous NXT invasion storyline. Shortly thereafter, Daniel Bryan was released by WWE for unprofessional conduct.
There are some who say that this was part of a long-term storyline designed to get Bryan over. However, the more popular story states that the tie choke incident deeply disturbed some key WWE advertisers who caught wind of the incident. Not wanting to choose Daniel Bryan over untold amounts of money, WWE decided to just release Bryan and wait for things to cool down.
1 1. Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H Change Wrestling History With a Hug
No unscripted event in WWE history has ever changed the business quite like this one. In 1996, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall informed Vince McMahon of their desire to leave WWE. Their last matches were scheduled to take place during a Madison Square Garden show. Shortly after the Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash main event, Hall and Triple H decided to join their friends in the ring and enjoy a group hug.
Because heels were hugging babyfaces, WWE was forced to acknowledge that wrestling was scripted.
The fallout of this event was tremendous. Hall and Nash carried their “real life” storytelling style to WCW and formed the revolutionary nWo. Triple H lost his planned King of the Ring push and suffered a severe career setback. The man who won that year’s King of the Ring tournament, Steve Austin, would go on to save the company.
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