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.
Sometimes the fans are left none the wiser, as WWE folds the real occurrences into their storylines.
Shane O Mac & Kurt Angle sustain injuries
The Street Fight between Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon at King of the Ring 2001 is perhaps one of the matches that showcased 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.
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.
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 is 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.
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 after winning a match goaded Savage into entering the ring. He attacked Macho and tied 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.
A security guard tries to stop Gronkowski
At Wrestlemania 33, NFL star Rob Gronkowski, aka Gronk, was meant to jump the barrier and help out his friend Mojo Rawley.
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.
The Shield’s mystery partner
In 2015’s Night of Champions 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.
The Public Enemy run afoul of the Acolytes
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.
Daniel Puder nearly breaks Kurts arm
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.
Fan joins Seth Rollins on the way to the ring
When Rollins started cockily strutting down the ramp towards the ring for the main event of the September 7th, 2015 episode of Raw, 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.
Sheamus knocks out Jeff’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.
Kevin Owens and Aj Styles play ‘Hot Potato’ with US 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.
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.
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.
The VaudVillains accidently 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.
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.
Neville gets hurt and Y2J 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.