The world of pro wrestling is more volatile than just about any other field of work. Wrestlers are supposed to stay professional and only exchange fists in the wrestling ring through the choreographed predetermined matches but things sometimes extend to real life. The industry is inherently competitive with everyone trying to get the best spot to make the most money possible. Everyone wants to be at the top and that can cause issues between two parties failing to get on the same page. The wrestlers have always had a macho attitude of wanting to prove their toughness through fists so it led, to various real life fights.
Most of the fights take place backstage or outside of the ring since the top priority is to do your job in the ring. A real fight breaking out on national television would likely cause legal issues and everyone involved would be fired or at least punished. The victor of a fight often depends on the setting around it. Some wrestlers have more friends in the locker room that will stop it if they are getting beat up and others are outcasts to the point where the others will watch, letting the fight continue if that person is losing. The only constant is they are always ugly situations.
These stories almost always leak on the internet. The world of wrestling websites, podcasts and shoot interviews cause secondhand information to be shared of the incidents. It would be difficult to believe any fights in recent history went undocumented without someone spilling the beans. Most fights have the obvious winner being the stronger, bigger or tougher party. That isn’t always the case though as some underdogs have used their advantages to get the victory in the battle. These stories will be broken down here as we look at the rare top ten cases of real life wrestling fights featuring an unlikely winner.
10. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
The most personal rivalry in the backstage wrestling world featured Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart absolutely loathing each other during the late 90s. Hart held the reputation of being soft spoken and well respected in the locker room. Michaels was hated at the time for his brash personality and bullying tendencies.
The two finally had a fight in a backstage bathroom after months of bickering and Bret got the upper hand, punching Michaels repeatedly in the face with no strikes back. Many would have expected Michaels to win the fight considering how arrogant and bold he was. The fight was the case of the bully typically not being able to back up his words and Hart won the battle.
9. Ken Shamrock vs. The Nasty Boys
Ken Shamrock is one of the toughest men ever to step foot in the wrestling world after years of training in mixed martial arts. The oddest fight Shamrock ever took part in was a real life scrap with The Nasty Boys.
Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags pissed off Shamrock before his rise to fame. The out of shape tag team made rude and inappropriate advances to Shamrock’s female friend causing him to tell them off and threaten them. Shamrock apparently went to fight the team in their hotel room but the two slobs got the better of the MMA fighter when Knobbs hit him from behind with a lamp post. The fight wasn’t fair, but two fat dudes beating up a MMA badass is still shocking.
8. Buff Bagwell vs. Shane Helms
The early days of the WCW Invasion went poorly and Buff Bagwell was at the center of the worst moments. Following a horrible match on Raw against Booker T that killed WCW’s chances at surviving as its own promotion under WWE’s banner, Bagwell brought his poor attitude to workouts when he picked on Cruiserweight Champion Shane Helms.
The undersized Helms would seem to have little chance against the muscular Bagwell, but ended up winning the fight against the odds. Helms threw a frozen water bottle at Bagwell’s head and started beating him down until other wrestlers broke it up. Buff was not “the stuff” on this day.
7. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle
Brock Lesnar is probably the last person in the wrestling industry that you would want to have a real fight with. Well, that’s unless you are Kurt Angle. The Olympic Gold Medalist shared a story of the two friends getting into a competitive fight in the wrestling ring before a show.
Both men wanted to see who would win in a “shoot” match going back to their amateur days. Angle states he had his way with Lesnar and got the upper hand until the battle ended. This wasn’t the case of heated fists being thrown but it was actually more intense with pride on the line and Angle pulled off the upset.
6. Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart
The Montreal Screwjob will always go down as the most controversial night in WWE history. The script being flipped on Bret Hart changed the future of everyone involved and shook up the wrestling industry. Hart was rightfully livid and took out his anger by punching Vince McMahon right in the face backstage after the match for going back on his word.
There’s no surprise in Bret winning a fist fight with McMahon, but the fact that he gave a black eye to the most powerful man in the business without getting mauled by everyone around him is absolutely stunning. The black eye seen all around the world will live on in infamy.
5. Eve Torres vs. Matt Hardy
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) January 20, 2014
Matt Hardy did not attack Eve Torres, but he got a little too hands on and started play-wrestling with her at a bar on the wrong night. The older Hardy brother had a few too many drinks and hazed the newly debuted Eve by putting her in wrestling moves. Eve stated things escalated far too quickly for her liking and she felt her safety was being threatened so she choked him out. The diva who eventually married Rener Gracie was training in mixed martial arts and used the submission to take Hardy out. This story has been shared by many and Eve likely uses it in her classes where she teaches women how to use these moves against any unruly men threatening them.
4. Yoshi Tatsu vs. Sheamus
The WWE have always portrayed Sheamus as one of the tougher men in the company, but his track record in real fights don’t seem to back it up. While both men were making the transition from FCW to the main roster, Yoshi Tatsu apparently let Sheamus borrow some money from him.
The story goes the future WWE Champion never paid back Tatsu and always made obviously fake excuses to get out of making things even. Yoshi had enough and apparently instigated a fight between the two that saw him beat Sheamus down with ease. This was a win for both underdogs everywhere and anyone with a friend that won’t pay back owed money.
3. Goldberg vs. Chris Jericho
No one would ever pick Chris Jericho to defeat Bill Goldberg in a real fight due to the drastic differences in size. Goldberg is a beast of a man that was known for unintentionally injuring wrestlers due to how strong he was. Jericho could not match him in stature but he did beat Goldberg up in a backstage scuffle.
The two had personal drama that went back to the WCW days and the fight took place when Goldberg joined WWE. Goldberg apparently insulted Jericho in his first days in the WWE locker room and Jericho responded by putting the former NFL star in a deep headlock refusing to let go. Jericho showed Goldberg things were different in WWE and Goldberg never was able to strike back.
2. Batista vs. Booker T
Batista and Booker T worked together for quite some time in WWE but the relationship wasn’t always friendly. The two ended up getting into a brutal fight during the filming of the Summerslam 2006 commercial. Batista’s ego was growing and started to rub people the wrong way during that time. This led to him saying the wrong thing to Booker that led to Booker beating him down badly.
All reports indicated Booker dominated the fight and proved he was truly as tough as everyone says he is. Batista’s face had a black eye and various cuts on it following the fight and he apparently started to treat his coworkers better after that day.
1. Joey Styles vs. JBL
The most improbable wrestling fight featured the small announcer Joey Styles getting the better of Texan bully JBL. This fight, of course, took place on a plane coming back from Iraq of all places following a “Tribute to the Troops” trip.
JBL was drunk and started bullying multiple people on the plane. The larger JBL picked up Joey Styles right after dumping ice cold water on the ring announcer as a part of the “hazing fun”, despite Styles having worked in WWE for years. Styles had enough and knocked out JBL with one stiff punch to the face. JBL sported a bruised face and didn’t continue the fight, thus proving the best way to stand up to a bully is to confront him.