One of the best and most unique things about professional wrestling (or “sports entertainment” as the WWE insists we call it) is the way that it blurs the lines between what’s real and what’s not.
Fans are a lot more clued in to WWE’s tricks than they were back in the good ol’ days, and so the company has to work that much harder to try and convince us that what we’re seeing has an element of realism to it.
After all, it’s much easier to suspend your disbelief when you believe in what you’re seeing unfold in the squared circle.
This is obviously very difficult in the current climate of heavily scripted entertainment, but there are certain moments that couldn’t have possibly been planned and have left the wrestlers forced to make up something on the spot.
Sometimes the fans are left none the wiser, as WWE folds the real occurrences into their storylines.
With that in mind, here are the 15 Unscripted WWE Mishaps Only Wrestling Superfans Know About.
15. Nia Jax accidentally repeatedly drops Charlotte Flair
Messed up moves or “botches” are pretty commonplace in wrestling. It’s par for the course. However, sometimes the botches look so painful that it’s hard not to worry about the wellbeing of the performers.
In a match on the April 10, 2017 episode of Raw, Nia Jax took on Charlotte Flair. The match turned sour when Jax hoisted Flair for a shoulder breaker and dropped Flair on her head, spiking her onto the mat.
Head/neck injuries are no joke, but Flair seemed to be fine.
Then, to add injury to more possible injury, Jax messed up catching Flair from a moonsault to the outside, leading Flair to land on her face.
Flair managed to escape with no lasting injuries, but if any match proves that people should heed the WWE’s constant reminders to not attempt any of these moves at home, it’s this one.
14. Shane McMahon hits his head & Kurt Angle hurt his tailbone
The Street Fight between Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon at King of the Ring 2001 is perhaps one of the matches that showcases the fabled Attitude Era at its best.
One of the match’s biggest moments came when Angle overhead suplexed Shane into a glass partition. However, the glass didn’t break as planned, leading McMahon to bounce off and hit his head hard on the concrete. McMahon was concussed but still insisted that the match continue.
This is a rather obvious mishap, but what many fans may not know is that Angle was hurting too. He took a nasty suplex on the concrete just prior to the glass moment and broke his tailbone.
This was obviously a problem for the planned finish, which was a special Angle Slam from the top rope, but Angle managed it anyway. Thanks to the tireless efforts of both men, the match ended up being an instant classic.
13. Emma accidentally wins an NXT Fatal 4-Way
On the August 26, 2015 episode of WWE developmental show NXT, we had a Fatal 4-Way between Emma, Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Dana Brooke.
Multi-wrestler matches are nothing new, but this one had more intrigue than most.
Emma hit one of her signature moves, the Emmamite Sandwich, on Becky Lynch and went for a standard pin.
Nobody was expecting her to get the three count, but she somehow got it.
Emma looks shocked and the commentators struggle for words, while the crowd is stunned. You can even read referee Drake Wuertz’s lips saying “Be happy – you won!” to her.
It’s not clear what actually went wrong, but theories range from Lynch being briefly knocked out to Dana Brooke missing her cue to drag Emma outside the ring.
Either way, it wasn’t supposed to happen and Emma got a surprise win out of the deal.
12. AJ Styles’ Royal Rumble debut
AJ Styles’ surprise entrance at Number 3 in the 2016 Royal Rumble may be one of the greatest wrestling moments in recent memory.
It’s clear what they were going for here. Roman Reigns clears the ring and is left waiting. The buzzer sounds and some unfamiliar music hits, the video screen showing a cryptic “I am.”
We cut to Reigns’ puzzled expression before the graphic then flashes up the word “phenomenal” and the crowd goes absolutely nuts.
At least that’s what we’re meant to have seen. Instead, the camera holds on Reigns’ face for way too long, meaning that we can’t see what the crowd are losing their minds over.
This wasn’t a huge problem, but it was frustrating for fans watching at home. WWE later rectified this with a special YouTube video featuring unseen footage of Styles’ iconic official debut.
11. Macho Man is bitten by a cobra
A feud between the Macho Man and Jake “The Snake” Roberts turned pretty ugly in 1991 during a taping of WWF Superstars of Wrestling.
Roberts had just won a match and goaded Savage into entering the ring. He does and Jake attacks, tying him up in the ropes.
Roberts goes to his infamous snake bag and pulls out a cobra, which bites Randy Savage’s arm.
This was scripted, but when it came down to it, the snake wouldn’t release its grip, despite Jake’s attempts.
This was super-shocking at the time, considering that this was the era of Saturday morning cartoon-esque wrestling, and it served as a genuinely disquieting moment as the (thankfully de-venomed) snake nibbles on the Macho Man’s arm.
It proved too real for several younger members of the audience, especially when Savage was stretchered away from the ring.
10. A security guard tries to stop Rob Gronkowski
Since its earliest days, Wrestlemania has featured celebrities getting involved in the action. At Wrestlemania 33, NFL star Rob Gronkowski, aka Gronk, was meant to jump the barrier and help out his friend Mojo Rawley.
This is all well and good, but one of the security guards clearly didn’t get the memo.
After Jinder Mahal goaded Gronk and threw a drink in his face, Gronk finally has enough and vaults the barrier. However, you can see a security guard try and stop him before a swarm of referees descend on her, presumably to tell her what’s going on.
There are a few seconds of genuine confusion before things get back on track. Gronkowski rips off his shirt and shoulder tackles Jinder, a move that turned the tide of the match and led to Rawley winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
9. The Shield’s mystery partner surprises everyone
Leading in to Night of Champions 2015, it was teased that Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns would have a mysterious third partner to take on the Wyatt family.
The surprise partner would turn out to be Chris Jericho, but before he could make his entrance, a fan somehow managed to get past security and joined Ambrose and Reigns in the ring before being hastily escorted away by officials.
The pros that they are, the wrestlers managed to keep their cool and even play it off as a joke, with Bray Wyatt mockingly saying “That’s your guy?” before laughing his head off.
WWE takes fan invasions very seriously and at the end of the PPV, they released a statement in no-nonsense language, saying “WWE takes the safety of our performers very seriously and any fan entering the ring area will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
8. The Public Enemy run afoul of The Acolytes
There aren’t many legendary matches that took place on Sunday Night Heat, but The Public Enemy vs The Acolytes was one of them.
The Public Enemy were meant to get completely destroyed by Faarooq and Bradshaw, but apparently objected to the finish where they’d be put through tables.
According to John Layfield, Public Enemy decided that they didn’t want to go through with it at the last minute.
The Acolytes were told to carry out the table finish as planned and that’s what they did, forcibly putting them through tables to end the match.
The match is pretty brutal to watch as it’s clear that Faarooq and Bradshaw aren’t pulling their punches. Public Enemy were victimized by The Acolytes, taking all sorts of chair shots and being kicked through a table before the end bell was finally rung.
7. Daniel Puder nearly hurts Kurt Angle
On the November 4th , 2004 episode of Smackdown, Kurt Angle laid down a challenge to the contestants of the WWE reality series Tough Enough.
Angle had already flattened Chris Nawrocki and hurt his ribs, and Daniel Puder was next on the chopping block. However, Puder refused to follow the script and went into business for himself.
He put Kurt in a very real Kimura lock and refused to release it. This wasn’t a good look for the Olympic hero and the referee stepped in, counting a three count despite Puder’s shoulders not being fully on the mat.
Angle was clearly angry after the debacle and got in Puder’s face after their brawl. Puder won that series of Tough Enough, earning a contract with the WWE, but the Angle incident didn’t do him any favors and he was released after a short stint with the company.
6. A fan joins Seth Rollins on the way to the ring
Another show, another dumb fan who hopped the barricade. In the main event of the September 7th, 2015 episode of Raw, John Cena and the Prime Time Players took on Seth Rollins and the New Day.
When Rollins started cockily strutting down the ramp towards the ring, a fan appeared from nowhere and started striding along with him.
It’s very unlikely that this was planned, as John Cena’s reaction confirms that this wasn’t meant to happen.
The fan was quickly apprehended by the referee and security. Thankfully, no harm was done.
It’s tempting to see these incidents as amusing, but the man could have been a potential threat to the performers and it’s a good thing that he was tackled and dealt with fairly promptly. Don’t jump the barricade, it’s not worth it.
5. Sheamus knocks out Jeff Hardy’s tooth
The Hardy Boyz made their triumphant return to the WWE at Wrestlemania 33 as the surprise forth team in a ladder match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship.
Team Extreme won, and at Payback 2017, they defended their titles against Sheamus and Cesaro. The Hardys retained, but not after Jeff took a serious boot to the face by Sheamus, knocking his tooth out.
If replays of the moment weren’t enough to make you wince, WWE also uploaded some behind the scenes video of the now gap-toothed Jeff getting some medical attention backstage.
Injuries are nothing new to Jeff Hardy. After all, he made his career diving off of ladders. Even so, it really had to hurt.
Weirdly enough, it managed to work in the story’s favor, as Sheamus and Cesaro turned heel after the match and beat the Hardys down, despite losing the match fair and square.
4. Kevin Owens and AJ Styles play “hot potato” with the U.S. Championship
During Battleground 2017, Kevin Owens faced champion AJ Styles for the United States Championship.
The two had a fairly lengthy battle, but controversy reared its head when it came to the end. Owens countered a submission attempt into a pin and somehow got the three count.
The finish was awkward and unspectacular, leading many to believe that a mistake had been made.
According to Chris Jericho, the finish was indeed botched and he was brought in for a Triple Threat match to put the belt back on Styles as originally intended.
As Styles won the U.S. Championship back mere days after Battleground, it seems more than likely that the finish was screwed up and the wrong man had his arm raised at the end.
The reason for the odd ending has never been given, but accidents can and will happen, they’re just normally not as high profile as this one.
3. The Vaudevillains accidentally win by TKO
At Payback 2016, Enzo Amore, Big Cass, and The Vaudevillians faced off in a tag match. Their fight lasted for about three minutes until Enzo was thrown under the bottom rope to the outside.
Enzo hit his head hard on the middle rope and slammed into the mat before landing outside in a heap. Enzo’s glassy-eyed expression told the referee all that he needed to know and the match was stopped.
Amore ended up suffering a concussion from the botched ring exit. While no result was announced on the show, the Vaudevillains were declared the winners and became #1 contenders for the belts soon after.
Luckily, Enzo suffered no lasting injuries from the incident, which could have ended up a lot worse than it ended up being.
2. Randy Orton loses his cool with Kofi Kingston
Randy Orton used to be infamous for his temper, if backstage stories are to be believed. The Viper has calmed down since, but there was an incident on a 2010 episode of Raw when Orton took on Kofi Kingston.
Rumor has it that the planned finish involved Orton hitting his career-ending punt, but for one reason or another, Kofi wouldn’t stay down for the move.
Orton gets visibly annoyed by this and gives Kofi a vicious looking RKO instead, berating him and repeatedly calling him names.
Without Randy blowing up at Kofi, it’s unlikely that anyone would have known that this was an error, but here we are.
In retrospective interviews, Kingston was clear that Randy was mostly in-character during the incident and there’s no lasting beef.
1. Neville gets hurt & Chris Jericho shoves the referee
Chris Jericho fought Neville on the March 14th, 2016 episode of Raw. Things took a bad turn when Neville slid through Jericho’s legs and genuinely hurt his ankle.
He soldiered on, but told Jericho to end the match early because he was seriously hurt. Jericho tried to pin Neville with a roll-up to end things, but the unaware referee Charles Robinson only counted two.
Jericho became frustrated and decided to get in the ref’s face to get disqualified, taking the spotlight off Neville.
The two had some heated words before Jericho was finally DQ’d and Neville could get the medical attention he needed. Neville managed to break his ankle and shin thanks to the slide, but Jericho saved him from making things any worse.
Jericho and Robinson handled this like complete professionals, but if you didn’t know what happened, you’d probably be none the wiser.
Can you think of any other events in WWE that weren’t scripted? Sound off in the comments!
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