The 5 Greatest Unscripted Disasters in Pro Wrestling
Even if you hate sports, you can still love seeing things go hilariously wrong. Well, I have good news: Pro wrestling was made for that shit. I've spoken before about how professional wrestlers are the best actors in the world, and other Cracked writers have shown us some pretty brutal scenes from when wrestling gets too real. They're so rare, but when these moments do happen, they instantly become legend for wrestling fans. So let's all appreciate the fine art of unplanned disasters like ...
Jeff Hardy Shows Up to His Headline Pay-Per-View Match Completely Bombed
Jeff Hardy is widely considered to be one of the best "daredevil" type wrestlers who ever lived. For years, he was portrayed as the ultimate underdog -- a performer with immense amounts of talent, but lacking the bulk and aggression necessary to overpower his superior, Speedo-wearing title holders. And more recently, he was known as a big ol' fuckin' drug lord.
Somewhere between being a WWE superstar and having his pretty-boy ass tossed in jail on five felony charges for cocaine, opium, Vicodin, and steroids, he moved on to TNA, WWE's laughably bad "competition." He then worked his way up to a world title match with legendary wrestler and The Crow fetishist Sting, which was to be featured in their 2011 pay-per-view Victory Road. It was the match ... the headliner that people paid actual money to see, both at the event and at home. And what they got was just flat out bizarre. Even by "dudes in face paint who aren't ICP" standards.
"Hey, if Brandon Lee objects, he can just call me up and- Oh, wait. Shit."
The match hit bottom before the introductions were even finished and just started digging down from there. Hardy's music hit and then played to an empty stage for 47 seconds. On paper, that doesn't sound like that long, but seriously, stop what you're doing and time out 47 seconds. It's an eternity -- especially on TV, where even five seconds of silence can bring a crowd to an uneasy confusion. Now watch as that amount of hanging awkwardness gets centered on clouds of dry ice, neon lights, and lasers ... and no Hardy.
It went on for so long that it started to feel like he had abandoned the show altogether, and just as the audience was about to give up, Hardy stumbled out of the fog and got all '60s flower child with the camera.
"Whoa, man. What if like what I see as red, you see as ... like ... corn ... what was I talking about? Am I real?"
Now, keep in mind that the TNA officials knew that he was fucked up at this point, but they didn't know it was this bad until minutes before he was due to walk out and perform. So while Hardy was stumbling down the ramp and trying to absorb the pretty colors, TNA's management was rushing around backstage, trying to figure out how to avoid the inevitable lawsuit that forces them to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds. Remember, this was the match that they had built up for weeks as the reason for you to give them money for a show that's normally free.
When they finally got around to the actual introductions, the crowd booed Hardy, and he returned the sentiment by flipping them off:
And no, this isn't his normal wrestling hand sign. You're thinking of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
After introducing Sting, a new song started up and general manager Eric Bischoff came out, giving the "time out" hand signal. He proceeded to the ring and shook Jeff Hardy's hand, leaning in to wish him luck. Or at least that's what he was pretending to do. In reality, he was relaying new instructions for the match, which were something along the lines of "Lay your stupid fucking ass down and end this quick. You're in no condition to be out here, you goddamn drug addict." Something like that -- we can only speculate. He then walked over to Sting and passed the info to him as well, again, under the guise of "I'm just here to wish you luck."
There was a small mock scuffle to give Bischoff his exit cue, and then the match began. For the first full minute, Hardy walked around the ring, doing that thing you do with a ball to get your dog all wound up, where you hold it up (his T-shirt, in this case) and pretend that you're about to throw it, but then decide against it at the last second because you're a horrible, manipulative dick. Meanwhile, Sting sat back and just smoldered with anger because, remember, he's just been told by management that he has to somehow quickly end a highly promoted match that every potential rioter and arsonist in those seats paid to see.
The actual meat of the match lasted 20 seconds. There was some hair pulling and a punch or two thrown. And then out of the blue, Sting just bends Hardy over backward into his finishing maneuver, the Scorpion Death Drop, and plants him hard onto the mat. Now, check out the three count here:
Notice how Hardy tries to kick out at the end, but it looks all awkward, like he's being forcefully pinned to the mat so he can't get up and continue the match? Yeah, that's because he is. Sting knew Hardy would try to put on a full performance, so the only way to end it was to pin him for real. Then, like an extremely pissed-off father who just caught his son tattooing his infant sister in her crib, Sting stared a hole through Hardy and walked away. As he neared the top of the ramp, the crowd was chanting "bullshit," to which Sting turned around and offered a sympathetic "I agree."
JBL Beats the Fuck Out of Blue Meanie ... for Real
There are so many stories about why this took place that it's impossible to give an accurate account. Some people say that it started with an Internet cat fight. Others say that JBL (the big guy with the cowboy hat in the above video) walked into the arena knowing that he was going to attack the Blue Meanie (an out of shape fat dude who already had staples in his head from an injury the night before).
What we do know for sure is that there was a staged brawl that went down in the ring, and both men were a part of it. A few seconds into it, JBL found Meanie and fist-tagged his suckhole. A whole bunch. And when it all settled down, the Blue Meanie looked like whale afterbirth.
Oh yeah, don't eat while you're reading this article.
Once the WWE got wind of the incident, they put an immediate stop to it, because you can't have your talent fighting for real like that. You're risking major injuries, lawsuits, and lost TV time when one of them has to take time off to heal up.
Oh, no, wait -- that's what a normal company would do. The WWE actually worked the very real incident into a storyline and pitted these two men against each other. These men who clearly hated each other and were not afraid to break the cardinal rule of wrestling and legitimately throw down.
Meanie finally got some proxy payback in a "no disqualification" match that -- wait for it -- also became real. In that match, JBL was supposed to be hit in the head with a chair by another wrestler named Stevie Richards. However, in the world of wrestling, you obviously don't take a full-on shot to the head with a large hunk of metal. That shit would literally fucking kill you. There are techniques to giving and receiving those shots that maximize the amount of noise made by the impact while at the same time reducing the amount of force put across the performer's skull.
At 5:25 in the above video, you'll notice that Richards follows none of those safety techniques. He just rears back and cracks JBL with a shot so hard, I'm genuinely surprised he survived, let alone remained conscious. Yes, that chair shot was scripted as part of the match. No, it was not supposed to be delivered in that very real, very purposeful manner. By the way, if you don't like blood, stop watching after that, because it gets pretty bad.
That's their "let's get the fuck out of here before he wakes up" walk.
When asked about it, Richards said, "JBL had it coming. It's that simple." And then he told WWE that they could fire him if they wanted because he didn't give a shit. He did what was right.
Andre the Giant Shows Up Drunk and Decides to Be a Dick
Here's the problem with hiring a guy as big as Andre the Giant: He can do whatever he wants, and there isn't a goddamn thing you can do about it. If he decides he wants to take a shit on your chest, you just have to quickly come to terms with the fact that you're about to get shit-chested. All you can do is try to craft a thank you speech that touches him enough to not move on to other bodily expulsions.
In the above video, Andre is wrestling Akira Maeda in the highly respected New Japan Pro Wrestling. The thing is, Akira was kind of a douchebag piece of shit who thought he was much, much better than he actually was. He was known for legitimately attacking other wrestlers in the ring, JBL style, so the company's booker supposedly asked Andre to teach him a lesson in humility. Andre evidently took this to mean "Get drunk and flop on top of the guy a few times. Then walk around for 30 minutes while he kicks the fuck out of your leg fat."
"This is for all those future Princess Bride jokes."
And that's exactly what happened. Akira attempted to work a legitimate match a few times, but Andre wasn't having it. Growing more frustrated by the minute, Akira just started taking the giant down and putting him in legitimate cross arm breakers and ankle locks -- maneuvers that if applied correctly on non-gigantic men would give them a nice case of surgery after the match.
In response, Andre started full force kicking him in the face. He didn't just not give a fuck. He had no fucks in the first place. One cannot give fucks that one does not have.
Finally, 25 minutes into the bout, the founder of the company came down to ringside and attempted to talk to both wrestlers, but he might as well have been talking to the goddamn ring itself. Akira continued to kick the shit out of Andre's legs, and Andre continued to stumble around drunkenly until he was finally taken down one last time, at which point he straight up told Akira, "Pin me." When Akira refused, the Giant repositioned himself in the ring, spread his arms, and offered the free pin again.
Which is a lot like being offered free room and board by Sarlacc. Sometimes it's just safer to pass.
Eventually, everyone from both sides of the booking got offended enough that they entered the ring, and the match ended in a unanimous clusterfuck. Akira later went on to kick a man so hard in the face, it broke his fucking orbital bone. He was fired after that one.
Hulk Hogan Story Goes Too Far and Runs Him Out of the Company
This is one of my favorite wrestling moments of all time, because there is so much bullshit going on here, it's almost impossible to tell what's set up, what's scripted, what's real, who's in on it, and who has been left out of the loop. It's just such a gigantic, twisting Inception-like maze of bad ideas.
It all starts with this match at WCW's 2000 Bash at the Beach pay-per-view. The story goes that Jeff Jarrett, the blond guy in the shiny shorts, was their world champion. He had a title match versus Hulk Hogan, and the creative team wanted Hogan to lose this one to help solidify Jarrett's character as a legitimate champion. Hogan didn't like that idea, so he invoked a clause in his contract that gave him creative control, effectively letting him choose his own storylines and match outcomes. In the wrestling world, he's known for this kind of douchebag self-promotion.
I had a couch that looked like that once.
After some back and forth, they decided to do a "worked shoot." What that means is that they would be making it look as if what was going on in the ring was unscripted and unplanned, even though every second of it totally was. So Jarrett headed to the ring, along with Vince Russo, the head writer for WCW, and proceeded to lie down at Russo's instruction. He then threw the belt at Hogan and said, "There you go. Pin him."
Hogan looked absolutely disgusted and asked for a microphone. As Russo walked away, Hogan said, "That's why this company's in the damn shape it's in -- because of bullshit like this." He then put a foot on Jarrett's motionless body and had the ref count it out.
This is actually how you get elected to office in Georgia.
Everything up until that point was totally scripted. See, people were for the first time getting into the behind-the-scenes stuff, so they all knew about Hogan's antics, and they knew about the bullshit politics that happen in wrestling promotions. So Russo took advantage of it. Here's where it gets crazy.
What wasn't scripted was that after Hogan had left the building, Russo came back out and went on a total fucking tirade about him. He laid out exactly what happened, including bringing up Hulk's "creative control" clause. He talked about the plans that they had to scrap because of it. He called Hogan every name in the book and said, "I promise everybody, or else I'll go in the goddamn grave, you will never see that piece of shit again." And he was right. At least in the WCW, because Hogan never came back. He filed a defamation of character lawsuit a short while later, but it was eventually thrown out.
"Whatcha gonna do, brother, when Hulk Hogan's Lawyermaniacs come crashin' down on YOUUUUUU?!"
Had Russo not come back out and gone on that rant, the plan was for Hogan to return after a four-month hiatus. In the meantime, WCW would have created a new title belt and crowned a new champion, assuming that Hogan had quit the company for good. So when he eventually returned to the ring, he could claim, "Hey, I'm the real champion," and they'd have to have a huge match to settle it. Instead, when Russo got real, Hogan got pissed and said, "Fuck this shit, I'm outtie 5000, homeslice." Or whatever it was that old white guys said in the '90s when they were trying to act all cool.
WWE Tries Out Actual Real Fighting, Proves Wrestlers Suck at It
So what do you do when your sport is based on fake fighting, but real fighting is stealing your audience? That was the situation in 1998 that resulted in the Brawl for All, and it was universally considered to be the single stupidest fucking idea the WWE ever let go past the "drunken dare" stage. At the time, the UFC and tough man competitions were getting huge, and not being satisfied with just dominating the wrestling world, the WWE thought, "Let's directly compete with them by pitting untrained fighters against each other in real hand-to-hand combat. What could possibly go wrong?"
Well, other than shattering the illusion that these guys could actually fight. For example, one of their bigger stars at the time was "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, and he was marketed as a brutal tough guy. They were about to give him a big push, which means he would have gotten a major storyline, some extremely important matches, and the spotlight. What happened instead was that he got his ever-loving fucking ass kicked by a guy named Bart Gunn ... the same guy in the above video. Not only did he get knocked out, but he injured his knee in a takedown. And just like that, Dr. Death's actual wrestling push was over.
"Not in the face! Not in the face!"
The second thing that went wrong was that several wrestlers ended up legitimately injured. See, it turns out that when you get a bunch of 300-pound untrained dudes taking haymakers at each other, it tends to fuck up the human body. Who could have known?
They kept this thing going forfuckingever, and it was so painful to watch. The crowd would chant "boring" during the matches (you can hear them doing it in that Dr. Death fight). The punches were just so awkward and clumsy. No one knew what the hell they were doing. And worst of all, the people in the audience didn't pay for a real fight -- they paid for some good old-fashioned fake-ass wrestling. But they kept Brawl for All rolling regardless, right up until Wrestlemania, where the winner of the tournament, Bart Gunn, won the honor of fighting a real trained boxer, Butterbean. Finally, we can see what happens when the best wrestling has to offer takes on a mediocre, overweight boxer! Surely this won't ruin any childhood illusions!
You know what's coming next. Here's Butterbean knocking Gunn's soul completely out of his fucking body in the first round of that fight: