Professional wrestlers make a living out of pretending to fight each other, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to actually fight should the situation call for it. Plenty of wrestlers are trained in varieties of martial arts and other fighting techniques in order to help them convincingly pull off what they do in the ring, not to mention the fact most of them are big, tough people in general, and they work out seven days a week. One might think most fans are smart enough to take this knowledge and use it to deter them from challenging wrestlers to real fights. It’s been still done plenty of times though, and sometimes the non-wrestler wins.
We’re going to be clear about something upfront: most of these weren’t exactly fair fights. In wrestling, unless circumstances call for it, only a despicable heel is going to use a weapon, or engage in a 3-on-1 fight, or start a fight by attacking their opponent from behind. As it would turn out though, you have to be a pretty despicable person in real life to attack someone due to a performance they gave on television, so most of these fights fall into that pattern. That doesn’t change the fact the following 10 incidents are all instances where professional wrestlers were challenged by and lost fights to every day people.
JBL is a former WWE World Champion and current broadcaster for WWE. Joey Styles is a former broadcaster for WWE, but despite spending around two decades in the wrestling business, he never once wrestled a match. Though a huge fan of wrestling who clearly knows the names of plenty of moves, Styles is a full foot shorter than Bradshaw, and has none of his training or upper body strength. Regardless of the clear size and occupational advantages, the one time the two came to blows, Styles was the unabashed victor.
9 Lio Rush
Many of the wrestlers on this list were playing major roles as bad guys in WWE or an equally mainstream company when a fan attacked them, but you hardly need to be famous to have issues with a deranged public. Lio Rush is 21-year-old wrestler with only a few years in the business, but he has already begun making appearances for well-known independent promotions such as CZW and Ring of Honor. In early 2016, Lio won the ROH Top Prospect tournament, showing his star is slowly but surely on the rise.
Plenty of fans miss the atmosphere the rowdiest crowds of the 1990s provided in wrestling, but one thing they don’t miss were the morons who would run into the ring and try to attack the wrestlers. For some reason, this was mostly a WCW thing, but it occasionally happened in WWE, too. It was so rampant in WCW, the wrestlers usually caught the attacker before they could do anything, but Raven wasn’t quite so lucky. During an episode of WCW Thunder, Raven was giving a promo complaining about the pain caused by his groundbreaking work in ECW when an unknown attacker pulled him out of the ring and started hitting him.
7 Randy Orton
Randy Orton is one of the biggest stars in modern WWE. The Viper is a former 12-time WWE World Champion, and was usually one of the most hated men in the business while he won those titles. Not only has Orton been hated in the ring, but diehard fans have really directed their vitriol towards him as a person. Rumors have run rampant about his personal attitude affecting the careers of Kofi Kingston and Mr. Kennedy, and the feeling his boring personality has permeated through WWE to create a generally boring product is a familiar one to many fans.
6 Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman is rapidly ascending the ranks of WWE as the biggest, newest, and possibly scariest member of the Wyatt Family. Although he has the look of a classic WWE superstar, fans resent Strowman on the belief he isn’t at all trained or naturally talented enough for his high position on the card. Most fans portray this feeling by booing him or changing the channel, but at least one fan has taken a more direct, physical approach.
5 Ole Anderson
We tried to make it clear up front, but for this next portion of our list, we’ll reiterate the point many of these weren’t exactly fair fights. While our previous entries prove fans are still attacking wrestlers years after the industry secret was revealed and everyone on Earth knew that wrestling was fake, there’s at least one way in which things have improved since back then. Recent fans have run into the ring and attacked wrestlers, but back in the day, at least a couple deranged fans chose to lie in wait in the corridors of an arena to unsuspectingly attack a wrestler, and in a few cases, stab them. It’s the least fair kind of fight there is, but it’s still a fight, and it’s how an elderly man nearly killed one of the future Four Horsemen.
4 "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
LL Cool J once rapped if “you said you slapped Roddy Piper and you didn’t get a hassle, that’s a lie,” and the man spoke the truth. With a combative personality that lead to WWE.com naming him the greatest villain in wrestling history, it’s no surprise that if fans are crazy enough to attack wrestlers, Piper would be one of their prime targets. Being such a villain for so long in his career, maybe it was inevitable that a few of his attackers succeeded. According to Piper, he was stabbed three times, and at least one of those stabbings came extremely close to killing him.
3 "Classy" Freddie Blassie
On rare occasions, fans will attack a hated heel. On an even more rare occasion, fans will attack a hated heel and somehow end up victorious. In extremely rare occasions, a heel will end up so hated, fans will simply never stop actually attacking them. WWE Hall of Famer “Classy” Freddie Blassie claimed he was stabbed at least 21 times.
2 The Messiah
Maybe it isn’t fair to say indy wrestler The Messiah lost a fight against every day people, insofar as those people were hired to attack him without his knowledge. Several people trying to kill you isn’t particularly less fair than one person unexpectedly trying to stab you, though, so it stands in tradition with those past few entries. In early 2002, The Messiah joined the “ultraviolet” CZW after spending the first few years of his career in the much-maligned hardcore promotion XPW. Later that summer, two men entered his apartment alleging to be friends of his roommate, but later revealed themselves to be hit men when they attacked The Messiah and cut off his thumb.
1 Shawn Michaels
Unquestionably the most famous story on our list, in October of 1995, Shawn Michaels, the future Justin Credible, and several other wrestlers were partying at a bar in Syracuse, New York. Michaels was up to his usual drunken antics and began hitting on a woman they had just met. It turns out the woman didn’t really appreciate HBK, and she was also dating a Marine, so that Marine and a few of his buddies decided to give Michaels such a vicious beating he needed time off TV and couldn’t even walk out and lose the Intercontinental Title to Dean Douglas.
The story has been disputed in many ways, from why exactly the Marines felt the need to attack Michaels, to how many of them there were, and most importantly how bad the beating actually was. HBK didn’t press charges, so nothing concrete has ever been determined, but it’s clear he suffered a pretty serious beating at the hands of some normal people, or at least he wanted us to think he did.
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