When a wrestler is able to evoke strong emotions from their audience, it’s amazing to see. Watching them compel you to either love or hate them is an amazing to see. However, there are instances where the unplanned happens, and things go a little off the rails. On a number of occasions, different wrestlers didn’t follow the script. At times in fact, they went so far off the script that they forgot who they were. There have been instances where they said or did things that didn’t reflect their on screen personality at all. There have been instances of wrestlers shooting on others, swearing, or being so emotional that even the toughest and meanest of heels have been reduced to nothing more than jelly-filled piles of goop, shedding tears and otherwise acting contrary to whom they are on screen.
When the camera is rolling and a live audience is watching, the characters are always on. While it can be a challenge to maintain a certain character, a number of times fans were caught off guard and weren’t sure what to think. Were fans always aware that characters went off script? More than likely. There are a number of instances that not only caught fans off guard, but certainly shocked them. Here are 10 Shocking Times Wrestlers Broke Character On Air.
10. Bobby The Brain Heenan in WCW
During his time in WCW, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was known for being a heel commentator that always added colour to each match he commentated. But during one particular match between Brian Pillman and Kevin Sullivan, not everything went as planned. Pillman was billed as a loose cannon and often pretended to go off script during this time in his career. For instance, there was animosity between Pillman and Sullivan, and during their “I Quit” match Pillman stated, “I quit, booker man.” (Sullivan was among the bookers at the time.) It was also during this time when Pillman grabbed Heenan while attempting to avoid Sullivan while circling ringside. Pillman clutched Heenan, and The Brain broke character shouting “What the f*** are you doing?” on air.
9. Hulk Hogan on Vince Russo
WCW was in a tough spot as they were losing money, losing in the ratings and appeared close to closing their doors. The Heavyweight Champion was Jeff Jarrett, and the main event for one particular pay-per-view saw him face Hollywood Hulk Hogan. But rather than there being a hotly contested match between the two, Jarrett entered the ring and laid down for a pin. As a result, we had Hogan break character on air. An upset Hulkster knew this wasn’t the plan, but still pinned Jarrett. After the match, Hogan began to yell at Russo, who was standing on the stage, stating “No wonder this company is in the toilet.” It was the last time Hogan appeared on WCW television.
8. Montreal Screwjob
In November 1997, Bret Hart faced Shawn Michaels for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. This was the day when the term “screwjob” became synonymous with wrestling. As the match was drawing to a close, Michaels had Hart in Bret’s finishing move, the Sharpshooter. This was where things went sideways; Vince McMahon had his referee at the time call for the bell, with the official decision being that Bret had given up. After the match, all hell broke loose. Bret spat directly at Vince and completely tore up the set around ringside. He also signaled “W-C-W” with his hand. This was certainly a break-in character. It is considered by many as one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history.
7. Kevin Owens tearing up in the ring after winning the NXT title
One of the biggest additions to WWE’s NXT brand in 2014 was former Ring of Honor champion Kevin Steen. His long awaited debut was met with a fury of cheers by the Full Sail University faithful during a special NXT Arrival event. Those cheers turned to jeers on the same evening when he turned on his best friend and current NXT champion, Sami Zayn. It was a swerve no one had seen coming, and certainly made fans stand up and take notice. What fans also didn’t see coming was when, after defeating his friend Zayn for the championship a couple of months later, he began to tear up and got emotional over the win. As a detestable heel, getting emotional didn’t seem like the most convincing way to get fans to hate you.
6. Sasha Banks tearing up when she beat Charlotte for the title
The hashtag #GiveDivasAChance was synonymous with four women wrestlers, all of whom were part of the NXT women’s division. Two of those women were at one time allies and now competing against one another as enemies. During the NXT Women’s title match involving Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Bayley, Sasha came out victorious and captured the NXT Women’s Championship. It was an evening celebrated by not just the winner, but the losers as well. This was where the heel and the face both broke character. After the match was over, both Sasha and Charlotte embraced and shed a tear because of the effort they gave. Sasha was the heel that was supposed to be confident in herself, but the brash heel showed something different on this night.
5. The ‘Four Horsewomen’ moment after Bayley beat Sasha
Another instance where heels and faces broke character was after the matchup between Bayley and Sasha Banks for the NXT Women’s title. During the match there was supposed to be little in the way of respect from Sasha towards Bayley. But when the match ended, Bayley walked away the new NXT Women’s champion and everything from there went in a different direction. When we say these women broke character, they not only showed mutual respect for one another but they shed tears and embraced after the match. Added to that was that both Charlotte and Becky Lynch, who had been called up to the main roster, joined Sasha and Bayley in the ring. This certainly ensured that fans knew kayfabe was indeed dead. This wasn’t the first time Sasha had broken character, as it’s become very hard for her to keep her emotions in check and still keep up that hated heel persona.
4. Sting and Triple H shaking hands at WrestleMania 31
The lead up to WrestleMania 31 had been billed as Triple H against Sting, WWE vs WCW, and the Icon’s pursuit to destroy everything that surrounded the Game’s world. The animosity began at the end of the Survivor Series 2014 when Sting appeared and caused Team Cena to defeat The Authority, forcing Triple H to lose power. This continued on, leading to a match at WrestleMania. It was a hotly contested match-up that even saw outside interference by members of D-Generation X and the New World Order. But it was after the end of the match where things went sideways. After Triple H cheated to win the match, Sting and Triple H shook hands. It didn’t make sense that two men so bent on destroying the other and their legacy would show mutual respect at the end of the match. It was certainly a break in character, and a break in story line continuity.
3. Undertaker, Triple H and HBK embracing at WrestleMania 28
The match was being billed as “an end of an era.” What they were talking about probably had something to do with the fact that they’d never face each other again. This would be the second consecutive year that Triple H would face The Undertaker, this time with Shawn Michaels as the guest referee. The match had a number of moments, including a combination Sweet Chin Music into a pedigree, after which the Deadman kicked out, showing his ability to overcome challenges set before him. After the match, in a moment that isn’t done, especially by the Undertaker, all parties embraced. We realize this was a show of respect, but prior to this could you ever imagine seeing the Undertaker hug another wrestler after a match because he respected them?
2. Kurt Angle getting in Daniel Puder’s face
A number of years ago, the WWE aired the first Tough Enough series, which saw a number of different challengers participate. One such participant had a notable background in MMA, that being Daniel Puder. Puder resembled Tito Ortiz with his height and build. During an exchange with WWE superstar Kurt Angle, Puder crossed the lines between fiction and reality as he tried to show his worth against the former Olympian, authentically grappling with Angle and putting him in a submission hold. Angle was none too pleased, and he made sure Puder knew it. He immediately got into Puder’s face and appeared to go from face to heel almost instantly. He hadn’t anticipated the demonstration by Puder, which certainly left Angle feeling discombobulated.
1. Curtain Call
It is considered a moment in time that changed the business, a moment that not only broke kayfabe, but completely shattered it. On May 19th, 1996, Diesel, Razor Ramon, Triple H and Shawn Michaels all stood in the ring together for what seemed would be the last time. Kevin Nash, who performed as Diesel, and Razor Ramon, who was played by Scott Hall, had completed their contractual obligations to the WWE and were leaving to work for WCW. Why is the moment such a break in character? Diesel was a heel and Ramon was a face while Triple H was a heel, and Shawn Michaels was a face. These four men made their real friendship supersede their characters. This was at a time when, if you were a heel and a face, you never made it public that you actually got along. It wasn’t initially seen as a problem when Michaels and Ramon embraced, as both were fan favorites. It was, however, a problem when Triple H and then Diesel joined the mix.