When it comes to the things that are shown on WWE TV, sometimes there are questions as to what is fake and what is real. There has been an increase in a number of in-ring promos that are now thought to be “shoot” or “off the cuff” ever since the WWE Universe truly believed that CM Punk’s original Pipebomb was real.
Over the past few years, there have been a number of things on WWE TV that the company has tried to pass off as real things that could happen when in fact they were all part of the storyline. The company has gotten much smarter over the years when it comes to using social media and even their dirt sheet news reports to their advantage, which makes it much harder nowadays to figure out what is actually real and what only exists in the limits of WWE’s “Kayfabe.”
Being a WWE fan can be hard sometimes because WWE is trying to present a story on the screen that doesn’t always make sense. There will always be real life factors involved that will have the casual fan questioning if someone actually went off script, but it is so much harder to tell now than it once was.
The following list looks at just 15 times that WWE recently lied to their fans and wanted them to believe that something on WWE TV was a “shoot” because they knew that it would get a much more controversial reaction. In fact, all of these were events that the company had planned.
15. “Once In A Lifetime”
It was the showdown that the WWE Universe had been waiting a number of years for. Finally, two of the biggest stars that WWE had ever created were about to go one-on-one and it was going to be the biggest match to ever take place at WrestleMania 28.
The match was billed as “Once in a lifetime” because something this exciting would never happen again. The WWE Universe would never see John Cena go one-on-one with The Rock again so this was going to be huge! The build-up to the match was incredible and the match itself definitely delivered. However, WWE later decided that because of the success of their first showdown, the main event for WrestleMania 29 the following year would be exactly the same match but this time billed as “Twice in a lifetime.” How does the WWE even have the audacity to question why the WWE Universe has trust issues?
14. CM Punk’s Pipebomb
To this day there are members of the WWE Universe who think that this was one of the greatest promos ever cut on WWE TV. It was believed that CM Punk had become tired of the way he was treated in WWE, so he was given a mic and he decided to air all of his grievances before he would later walk away from the company.
The mic went off part way through the promo as Punk began talking about WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, but it was still real enough for the WWE Universe to sit up and take note that Punk was going to change things before he left. Sadly, it was later discovered that this was another great WWE storyline. Punk played the role as effectively as the company thought he would and managed to make “The Summer of Punk” one of the best summers that WWE has ever had.
13. Brock Lesnar Attacks Randy Orton
Some things in WWE do look like they are real, and none more so than at SummerSlam back in 2016 when Brock Lesnar not only destroyed Randy Orton in their match, but he continued the beatdown following the match and left Orton in a pool of his own blood in the middle of the ring.
The conclusion of the biggest event of the summer looked so real that Orton’s friend Chris Jericho actually physically attacked Lesnar for his actions when he finally walked back through the backstage curtain, only to be told that it was planned. The WWE Universe went mad about Brock going off script and doing whatever he wanted, and how Orton was just the latest victim. It was later revealed that Orton knew about the beatdown all along and actually agreed to it. It seems that Orton was happy to take one for the team to allow Lesnar to look like an even bigger beast than normal.
12. Vince McMahon’s Limo Explosion
Vince McMahon has been on and off WWE TV for the past decade and he often disappears and reappears whenever he wants, but back in 2007, it was decided that Vince would be walking away from the company this time, for good.
Vince walked into the backstage area, out through the doors to the parking lot and then got into his limo, which exploded as soon as he closed the door. The scene looked like something out of a movie and was so convincing that news stations were picking up on news that McMahon was dead the day after. American President Donald Trump even commented that he thought Vince was dead after he saw the explosion. It turns out it was just another WWE storyline so that the Chairman could spend some time away from his company, and it seems that Vince doesn’t know how to walk away from anywhere quietly.
11. Mark Henry Retires From WWE
“The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry has been loved and hated by the WWE Universe in equal measure over the past few years, but nothing got him more heat from the fans of the company than when he faked his retirement speech back in 2013 as a way to hit John Cena with a cheap shot when he really thought that Henry was saying goodbye to his wrestling career.
Henry definitely fooled the members of the WWE Universe who were in attendance that night as they chanted “Thank You Henry” throughout the segment, before Henry showed that he really was a fantastic actor and hit Cena with a World’s Strongest Slam to send a message that he was coming for his WWE Championship. Of course, Henry never won the title and after announcing his real retirement a few weeks ago, it seems that this one will always be seen as the title that got away.
10. John Cena Vs. Roman Reigns
The most recent feud on this list sees two of the biggest stars of WWE today finally focusing their attention on each other as they built up to their historic match at No Mercy last weekend.
Roman Reigns was absolutely destroyed on the mic by John Cena as he brought up the fact that Roman failed a WWE drug test, that he was bad at promos and that he was the reason he couldn’t walk away from the company because he was unable to step up and take his place. It looked like it was getting heated in the ring at times as personal issues in the lives of both stars were brought up and the WWE Universe was convinced that Cena had once again gone off script and decided to “shoot” on Reigns. It was later reported that this was all supposed to happen; WWE set the promos up to look real so that it would be controversial and once again the company would get more eyes on their product ahead of their match.
9. CM Punk Walks Out With The WWE Championship
CM Punk promised that he would defeat John Cena at Money in the Bank in 2011 and that he would walk out of that arena with the WWE Championship. Punk followed through on this promise; the only catch was that Punk had already signed a new deal with WWE before he stepped in the ring that night, and was never going to actually leave the company.
The match and the ending worked so well, it seemed as though Punk had fooled everyone until he turned up on Raw the next night with new music and a new attitude that helped him to overcome a lot of obstacles in his final few years in WWE. WWE allowed the WWE Universe to believe that Punk would not be returning to the company after Money in the Bank, but somehow they convinced “The Best in the World” to stay, for a few more years at least.
8. Seth Rollins Injures His Knee Ahead Of WrestleMania
Seth Rollins‘ knee gave out on him at a WWE Live event in November 2015 and he was forced out of action for more than six months because of this, when it was revealed that he needed surgery.
Rollins returned to the company in May 2016 and seemed to be back to the standard he once was, until he was attacked by Samoa Joe on an episode of Monday Night Raw following the Royal Rumble in 2017. It was reported that the attack had caused a problem with Rollins’ knee that could keep him out of WrestleMania. Rollins tweeted pictures of his knee to show how bad the issue was, and it seemed that The Architect was about to miss his second consecutive WrestleMania as fans prayed for good news for him. It was later reported that Rollins was never actually injured. This was just a good way to set up a “non-sanctioned” match between Rollins and Triple H at WrestleMania and the WWE Universe ate it up.
7. All The Times That The Ring Has Been Broken
The WWE Universe has seen the entire ring break on numerous occasions over the past few years, as WWE has tried to show just how big some of their athletes actually are by having them deliver a big move off the top rope that would later see the ring completely collapse on impact.
The Big Show and Brock Lesnar once did this, and more recently, The Big Show and Braun Strowman showed their sheer size when they managed to break the ring on Raw and send the referee sailing to the outside. When this happened for the first time, it was incredible. It seemed as though the ring had actually broken on them, but the more times WWE has done it, the less realistic it actually became. Now, few fans are fooled by the fact that WWE obviously had to put the ring on a timer to break at that point.
6. The End Of The Streak At WrestleMania 30
It was one of the biggest shocks that WWE have ever handed the WWE Universe, but at WrestleMania 30, Brock Lesnar delivered an F5 to The Undertaker and the referee counted the pin that signalled the end of his historic WrestleMania streak.
The news reports after the match indicated that Lesnar had “shoot” pinned Undertaker and decided that he was ending the streak, regardless of whether or not he was supposed to, whilst Paul Heyman backed these claims as well. The WWE Universe speculated about whether Brock would be fired for his actions before it was later revealed that Vince McMahon, The Undertaker, the referee, and Lesnar all knew that he was ending the streak that night. But because they were the only people who knew, this came as an incredibly huge shock to the world of professional wrestling as a whole and widely considered to be one of wrestling’s best surprises.
5. John Cena’s Injury In 2007
WWE is very good at over-exaggerating superstars’ injuries so that it seems that they will be on the treatment table for much longer than they actually are. This was best used to WWE’s advantage back in 2007, when John Cena was “apparently” put on the sidelines for a year with a pectoral injury.
WWE stated that he would be out of action for the better part of a year and the company was then forced to find a way to get by without him. WrestleMania season came around in 2008 and none of the WWE Universe expected Cena to make his return at the Royal Rumble, let alone go on and win the match and main event WrestleMania. It was a huge shock for the WWE Universe and proved that sometimes WWE has a good reason to lie to their fans because it sets up some incredible moments.
4. Brian Pillman Has A Gun
Sometimes WWE does go too far. The company tests the water with a lot of their controversial storylines and are seemingly out to shock the fans most of the time. One time where the company definitely went too far was when they set up a feud between Brian Pillman and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.
Austin had threatened Pillman and stated that he would go to his house to beat him up, so Pillman was shown with a gun making sure he could protect himself. It was seemingly a normal reaction to a threat from Steve Austin, but things didn’t fully get out of hand until Austin showed up at the house, the cameras went out and a gunshot was heard. There were a number of complaints about this being shown afterwards and WWE actually had to apologize and admit that this really was crossing the line on a family show.
3. The Heat Between Daniel Bryan And The Miz
The Miz and Daniel Bryan‘s careers have been entwined from the beginning, but it is only over the past year that WWE has really been able to tap into The Miz’s promo ability and show what he is capable of when he has someone like Daniel Bryan to work with.
Talking Smack featured some heavily emotional moments between Miz and Bryan that were speculated to be building up an in-ring return for Bryan. That never happened. Despite this, the promos between the duo felt so real that the WWE Universe was convinced that Bryan and Miz actually hated each other and Bryan would literally take him into the parking lot and brawl it out with him if he couldn’t get cleared. This wasn’t the case. The promos were planned to look that way and both men remained inside the boundaries of what they had planned, which showed just how well they worked together.
2. Attendance Figures At Huge Shows
It is well-known that sometimes big companies decide to inflate their attendance figures somewhat to make their show look like it is much more popular than it actually is. Many companies manage to get away with this, but WWE was truly caught out at WrestleMania 32 when The Rock announced the attendance figure to be much higher than it actually was.
WWE was hoping to break the attendance record for the AT&T Stadium in Texas, so they needed to be over 100,000 fans. The attendance announced was 101, 763 and it was said that they had broken the record. The real total was in fact closer to 93,730, and Vince McMahon himself was later forced to admit that the figure they showed wasn’t actually the paying ticket amount, but one that included people working on the event as well. This means that WWE failed to break the stadium record, but they did set their own record, which isn’t a bad consolation.
1. “The Montreal Screwjob”
The aftermath of one of the most infamous WWE incidents in history is one that has been filled with speculation, rumour and hearsay, to the extent where it is hard to know the difference between what is fact and what is fiction.
What is known is that Vince McMahon’s side of the story states that Bret Hart had refused to drop the title to Shawn Michaels before he left WWE for WCW, so he was left with no choice but to take it, because he couldn’t have Hart turn up on WCW with his title and have another Madusa-style angle. It seems that Bret had actually told McMahon that he would drop the title and even offered up a number of different scenarios, but Vince had made the decision to screw over Bret anyway. There were rumours that it happened so that McMahon came off as a bigger and better heel ahead of his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, but this could just be more speculation added to one of the biggest controversies in the history of professional wrestling.
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