Kayfabe is WWE’s unwritten code that ensures that wrestlers always live in a sort of bubble when they are on WWE TV so that children and the younger members of the WWE Universe think that wrestling is still real. It is all about maintaining the illusion, so stars must always stay in character during meet and greets and interviews. WWE wants their superstars to seem like their characters when they are on and off screen.
Of course, Total Bellas and Total Divas over the past few years have shown that there are storylines behind WWE’s programmes, which means that kayfabe has been somewhat broken for a number of years now. Although, there are still some superstars like Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker who comfortably still live inside their bubble and take their on-screen characters seriously.
On WWE TV, the company still likes to have as much control as they can, and they really don’t like their superstars breaking character if they don’t have to. Sometimes there are reasons why they need to break character, such as an injury or if something has happened in the crowd, but most of the time, there is no reason why it should happen and WWE could decide to punish the star for their actions. The following list looks at 15 times you didn’t realize that wrestlers had broken their character, because some stars are much better at hiding their mistakes than others.
15. Mean Gene Curses On TV
Mean Gene will always be remembered as one of the greatest WWE announcers of all time, but it seems that even Mean Gene managed to slip up on live TV at one point when he was caught by surprise.
Gene was interviewing Bobby Heenan and Rick Rude back at SummerSlam in 1989 when the SummerSlam backdrop decided to fall behind him. Gene was obviously caught by surprise and could audibly be heard cursing as he turned to see where the noise came from. The cameras then cut to the crowd as the poor commentators were left to pick up the pieces, but this wasn’t Mean Gene’s fault. In fact, his interview with Rick Rude was pre-recorded, the production team just played the wrong tape. It has become one of the most famous breaks in character of all time, and it wasn’t even live.
14. Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy is considered to be one of the most popular wrestlers of all time, but he has been held back by his addictions over the past few years. WWE was able to control many of Jeff’s issues while he was with the company, but when he made the switch to TNA, it became obvious that he was still struggling.
At the Victory Road pay-per-view back in 2011 when Sting and Hardy collided over the World Heavyweight Championship. It was obvious that there was something wrong with Hardy. The former Champion refused to stay down for a pin fall and seemed to have forgotten everything that was supposed to happen in the match, so Sting was forced to legitimately pin Jeff and make it so that he couldn’t kick out. Many have speculated that Hardy was on drugs at the time, but the true reason behind this issue is still unknown.
13. JBL And The Blue Meanie
At the end of ECW’s first One Night Stand event, a huge brawl took place, that saw all the ECW Originals and the WWE Superstars in attendance take part. Most brawls are made to look as real as possible, but one pairing in the middle of the brawl made things much more personal than they should have been.
When the brawl finally ended and the chaos subsided, Blue Meanie was seen covered in blood at the hands of John Bradshaw Layfield. JBL had punched the star and opened up a wound that was stapled closed in his head. The duo continued to throw real punches at each other throughout the brawl, but both men admitted that they had no idea why they were actually fighting with each other, since they didn’t know one another before they collided in the ring that night.
12. Booker T Says A Racial Slur
Booker T is currently employed by WWE as a commentator because someone in the company obviously admires his speaking ability. The person in question obviously conveniently forgot the time Booker dropped an offensive racial slur in an interview on an episode of Monday Night Nitro back in 1996.
Harlem Heat was cutting a promo on Lex Luger before their match and Booker T got carried away and not only called out Luger, but he called out Hulk Hogan too, claiming, “We’re coming for you.” He then proceeded to use a racial slur that should never be uttered on TV. Booker knew that he had messed up as soon as he said it, as he put his head in his hands and turned around. The incident has been mocked a number of times on TV, most notably when WWE Chairman Vince McMahon used the word when talking to John Cena back at Survivor Series in 2005 with Booker T in earshot.
11. Triple H Consoles Fan
Triple H was one of the biggest heels on WWE TV back in 2015, but his instincts as a father were much stronger than his ability to stay in character. Triple H was sitting at ringside watching a match that Seth Rollins was part of and he decided to remain in character and shout at a fan nearby. A little boy who was close to The Game and his wife reacted by breaking down in tears, and Triple H couldn’t allow himself to be the reason the little boy was upset.
Triple H got up and consoled the child at ringside and told him that everything was OK and that he was just joking around. After the show officials then led the little boy to the backstage area where he met Triple H and learnt that he wasn’t really a bad guy, something that has never happened in WWE before.
10. Randy Orton And Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston is now one-third of The New Day and considered to be one of the longest-reigning tag team Champions in WWE history. Back in 2009, things were a lot different for the former United States Champion. Kofi looked to be ready for a push to the top of the card until he came up against Randy Orton.
Orton and Kost faced off on an episode of Monday Night Raw and it seemed as though Orton wanted to go for his RKO finisher, but he needed Kofi to have his back to him for it to work. Kofi got up facing him on two occasions before Orton was forced to deliver the move anyway. He was visibly annoyed with Kofi and went on to shout about how stupid he was after his win, and many fans assumed that Randy had something to do with Kofi’s drop down the WWE card following this match.
9. CM Punk Breaks Character To Laugh At Triple H
WWE made the decision to unify the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Championship back in 2013, and in order to announce this decision to the crowd, the company brought together all the former Champions in the ring ahead of the TLC event.
It is well-known that CM Punk and Triple H didn’t like each other both on screen and in real life and it was The Game that was the main reason why Punk decided to walk when the found out that he had to face him at WrestleMania 30. When Stephanie McMahon announced that her husband was the pinnacle of all the men in the ring as a 13-time Champion, Punk can be seen visibly laughing and shaking his head in response to her comments, something that he was obviously punished for backstage afterwards, since he was disrespectful towards one of the biggest stars the company has ever produced.
8. Kofi Kingston Loses His Accent
Kofi Kingston had been billed from Jamaica ever since his WWE debut back in 2009, which meant that he used to have to put on an accent. Of course, Kofi wasn’t actually from Jamaica. He was from Ghana, West Africa and found it hard to continue to keep up the accent.
A few months later, Kofi was attempting to help restore order in the ring on Raw ahead of the Bragging Rights Pay-per-view but in the heat of the moment, he forgot to do his accent. Triple H asked Kofi, “Aren’t you supposed to be Jamaican?” and the former United States Champion had no response as he realized that he had just ruined his character in front of the world. Kofi was then billed from Ghana, West Africa and wasn’t forced to put on an accent again. Of course, WWE still jokes about the blunder, with The Usos recently bringing it up in a rap battle on SmackDown Live.
7. CM Punk Hits A Fan
CM Punk has made the headlines over the past few years for all the wrong reasons since he walked away from WWE back in 2014, but while he was still part of WWE, he wasn’t making headlines for the right reasons either.
Back in 2012, CM Punk had just finished a match with Vince McMahon and ran into the crowd to avoid any further interaction, but while he stood in the crowd listening to McMahon shout about his loss, Punk became the victim of a number of fans who decided it was OK to kick and punch the former Champion. Punk reached the point where he had had enough and turned around and punched a fan a number of times, even though he was completely innocent in the whole affair. Punk later apologized but the fan went on to sue Punk for the incident, which left him humiliated and bruised.
6. Daniel Puder Tries To Fight Kurt Angle
Daniel Puder came to WWE after a successful stint in MMA and was one of the favourites to win WWE Tough Enough back in 2004. One of the challenges that WWE decided to set for their competitors was to step in the ring with Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle.
Puder jumped at the chance to face Kurt and decided to make a statement by going against the plan of the match and seeing if he could force Angle to tap. Puder locked in his Keylock submission and the referee had to act fast to prevent Angle’s blushes. In the end, Angle did get the win, but this didn’t go over too well with the veterans in the back who were watching, and they then ganged up on Puder at the Royal Rumble a few months later to show him why you don’t try to break character and attack a WWE veteran.
5. Vince McMahon Rises From The Ashes
Back in 2007, following his loss to Bobby Lashley for the ECW Championship, the company began planting seeds that would lead to the demise and then retirement of Vince McMahon. This all lead up to a point where McMahon headed to his limo backstage before it burst into flames with him inside. McMahon was supposed to stay off screen for a few months after this to allow Triple H and Stephanie to take over in kayfabe.
Sadly, McMahon wasn’t able to stay off TV for long, since the Chris Benoit double murder-suic*de then forced him to return to TV and show that he was completely uninjured in the blaze. Incredibly, the WWE Universe never found out who it was who tried to kill the billionaire either, but Paul London was fired for smiling about the incident backstage, so my money is on him. He did look like a shifty character.
4. Kevin Owens Forces Roman Reigns To Break Character
If you follow Kevin Owens on Twitter or have ever seen his reactions to fans at independent events, then you will know that one of the worst things you can do to Owens is heckle him. Back in January, a fan decided to shout at Owens and call him fat. Owens then reacted in his usual way.
He went on to tell the fan how much money he had made that year just in royalties while he had Roman in a rest lock in the ring. It all became too much for Roman, who ended up giggling at what Owens was shouting and then tried to hide it by putting his hands over his face. Roman has been known to break character a number of times on-screen, but given that Owens is one of the most talented stars WWE has on the mic and the fact that this was hilarious, we can probably forgive Roman for not being able to maintain his composure.
3. The Montreal Screwjob
The Montreal Screwjob is the most famous break of character in the history of WWE, as Chairman Vince McMahon was forced to take matters into his own hands when he thought that Bret Hart was going to leave WWE for WCW and take the Championship with him.
He faced Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series back in 1997 and even though Michaels managed to put Hart into the Sharpshooter, Hart didn’t tap. The referee called for the bell and the title changed hands before Hart realized that he had become the victim of a setup and spat at Vince McMahon, who was at ringside. Bret completely broke character by spitting at the chairman, something that he perhaps shouldn’t have done if he was still going to be considered a “good guy.” The Montreal Screwjob is one of the best-known incidents in the history of WWE and it is still as famous now as it was 20 years ago. It just goes to show that even the best stars break character sometimes.
2. Randy Orton And Shane’s Sons
Shane McMahon only returned to WWE last year and faced The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania with his three sons at ringside. The son of the WWE Chairman then decided to be part of the SmackDown team at Survivor Series a few months later, but a spear from Roman Reigns may have momentarily knocked the SmackDown Commissioner out cold.
Shane’s sons at ringside were worried about their father as he was helped out of the arena, so Randy Orton decided to slide out of the ring and assure them that their father was OK and what had happened was supposed to happen. Orton was a heel superstar at the time, so the company could not have been happy that he broke character to talk to Shane’s sons. As a father, Orton obviously knew that he had to make sure his friend’s children were OK.
1. Chris Jericho Gets Intentionally Disqualified
Chris Jericho is widely considered to be one of the best wrestlers in the world, so when he sees that a star is injured when they are in the ring with him, then he is forced to take action.
During a match between Neville and Jericho on Monday Night Raw back in 2016, Neville seemed to trip and injure his leg. This injury meant that the high flyer was unable to climb the ropes to deliver his Red Arrow finisher, so Jericho needed to do something to end the match. When he went for the cover on Neville to quickly finish it, the referee refused to count because he knew this wasn’t supposed to be the end. Jericho then had no choice but to push the referee and tell him that Neville was hurt so that he could get disqualified. The break of character is something that isn’t common for Jericho, but he knew he had to act quickly in the moment to get Neville the help he needed.
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