It doesn’t get any better than WrestleMania, does it? When it comes to historical moments in wrestling history, WrestleMania certainly never seizes to disappoint. Time and time again, our jaws dropped from some of the most heroic victories and iconic moments us wrestling fans cherish.
With this being said, there is also the other side of the spectrum. Whether we know it or not, WrestleMania produces a nervous energy amongst its performers. Some of the greatest wrestlers this industry has ever seen have fallen victim to some sort of controversial backstage moment leading up the biggest show of them all. CM Punk and Steve Austin are a prime example of this, both having walked out of the company after hearing what was in store for them on the biggest show of the year. Yes, WrestleMania is that big of a deal for those involved. Let’s now take a look at 12 of the most controversial backstage moments Vince McMahon wants you to forget about.
12 Brock Unwilling To Break The Streak
Contrary to what many wrestling fans think, Lesnar was actually not comfortable breaking the streak. According to Jim Ross, Lesnar thought him winning the bout wasn’t even a question. Ross further speculated that even when Lesnar was told he’d be winning the match, Brock still insisted he wanted to lose, but despite Lesnar’s pleas the decision had already been made. The decision was shocking to everyone backstage. According to sources, Shawn Michaels was scheduled to celebrate with Daniel Bryan following his title victory at WrestleMania XXX, though apparently Michaels was so shocked by the streak coming to an end that he left the arena early and decided to not participate in the main event. It truly was a bizarre night for everyone.
11 Roman’s Family Furious After WrestleMania Defeat
According to sources, the Anoa’i family were furious following the change of plans at WrestleMania 31. Former WWE legend Sika (Roman’s father) was irate following the match-up. An eye witness claims Sika wanted to start a riot, literally. What made the situation worse was the fact that Reigns had over 50 family members there to see him win his first ever championship, and many of them were ultimately caught off guard (as you can expect). According to rumors, family members had to calm Sika down following the match. Sometimes you just have to realize that it’s all entertainment and not personal. Despite his loss, Roman will be the face of the company for many years to come.
10 Punk Walks Out After Hearing His WrestleMania XXX Plans
WrestleMania XXX ultimately ended up being Punk’s deciding factor to leave the business once and for all, at the age of 35. Punk was furious after he found out the ideas the WWE’s creative team had for him going into WrestleMania. The former WWE champion wanted to main event the show, but instead he was rumored to take on Kane in a lower card match. Following the Royal Rumble match, Punk refused to show up to RAW. Later on, the WWE started pulling Punk off of the live show schedule. Later on in the summer, Punk would finally announce he’d never be returning to wrestling again.
9 Austin Walks Out Following WrestleMania X8
Following his match against Scott Hall at WrestleMania, Austin decided to walk out without anyone’s consent. Problems began to arise after Austin was apparently furious with Hogan’s return to WWE television. To make matters worse, Austin was booked to lose against Hogan at WrestleMania X8. As you might imagine, Austin was totally against the idea and refused to work with Hogan claiming Hulk was too slow for him. Ultimately, Austin would get his wish and the match would be changed to Hogan versus The Rock. After Austin’s WrestleMania performance, Steve would take an impromptu break from the company claiming he needed a break. Austin would later return April 1st just in time for the brand extension angle.
In a conversation with Jim Ross, Steve admitted to regretting the situation claiming him and Hogan should have worked. Austin feels like his head was not in the right place at the time, deeming that was the reason for not accepting the match.
8 Lesnar and Goldberg Botch Feast
What seemed like a dream match with so much potential ended up becoming one of the worst matches in both the careers of Bill Goldberg and Brock Lesnar. Not even Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special referee could have saved this painful match. The two wrestlers were extremely unmotivated to wrestle (and that was very apparent). It was known behind the scenes that Goldberg was wrestling his last match with the company because of contract disputes. It was also announced a week before the match that Lesnar was leaving the WWE following WrestleMania to pursue a career in the NFL. The match was a recipe for disaster. The fans cheered on both wrestlers throughout the match. Thankfully, it came to an end after Goldberg hit the jackhammer for the victory. Lesnar flipped off the cameras after the match (he was allegedly pointing the finger to Vince McMahon). What a disappointment this match was to so many wrestling fans.
7 Fans Put Bryan In The Main Event
It was all about the “Yes” movement. There really wasn’t anything the WWE could do to stop the WWE universe's support for Daniel Bryan. Going into the Royal Rumble, fans constantly chanted his name and were devastated following his elimination. Batista ended up winning the match, and his victory was followed up by some pretty nasty boos by the crowd. In the following weeks, McMahon made a rare move and decided to add Bryan into the main event. This was something that shocked many within the WWE, simply because Vince rarely changes his mind. This time, he had no choice; not only had the crowd spoken but the ratings made it evident that Bryan was the company’s top draw. Daniel would go on to Main Event the pay-per-view and capture the WWE Championship.
6 Bryan Loses In 18 Seconds
Once again, poor Daniel Bryan was involved in another controversial situation which was not well received with the audience. After holding the World Heavyweight Championship for 105 days, Bryan fell victim to Brogue Kick by Sheamus, losing the match in 18 seconds. WWE’s intent was to set a record for the shortest championship match in WrestleMania history. This was poorly received with Bryan being a fan favorite. Wrestling fans argue that this was the beginning of the WWE trying to burry Bryan’s character despite the crowd’s favoritism towards him.
5 Hogan Walks Out With The WWE Championship at WrestleMania 9
What should have been Bret’s night, somehow ended up with Hogan walking out with the championship, despite being booked in a Tag Match earlier that night. According to reports, Vince changed the outcome of the event at the last minute. Despite Bret’s frustration, McMahon promised Bret that Hogan would later drop the belt back to Hart, and this would surely put Bret extremely over. When it came time to pass the torch, Hogan refused to drop the title to Hart claiming he wasn’t good enough or over enough. Instead, Hogan ended up dropping the title to Yokozuna, while The Hitman fought Jerry Lawler. Don’t feel too bad though, following Hogan’s departure Bret would become the new face of the WWE’s new generation.
4 Lesnar Rushed To The Hospital Following The Main Event at WrestleMania 19
Lesnar admitted to being in a really bad place during this botch on the biggest stage of them all, WrestleMania. Lesnar’s body was infused with drugs and alcohol, and Brock claims at this point he forgot 2 years of his career.
By the end of the night he would have to deal with a concussion to add insult to injury. Angle and Lesnar were forced to improvise the finish after Lesnar botched the shooting star. Brock was noticeably rattled and dazed following his victory. He was immediately hospitalized following his victory and was in fact diagnosed with a legitimate concussion.
3 Shawn Michaels Refuses To Work WrestleMania 14
Shawn will be the first to admit he was in a very dark place during this matchup. Michaels, whose body was infused with drugs and alcohol to ease his physical pain, knew that his time with the company was coming to an end. With this being said, Michaels refused to drop the title to Steve, wanting to once again vacate the championship. Believe it or not, on the day of WrestleMania the entire roster including Vince McMahon were still unsure whether Shawn was going to drop the title. During an interview, The Undertaker discussed the fact that he threatened to fight Michaels had he not gone out there and dropped the belt to Steve Austin. After finally agreeing, Triple H apparently had to help Shawn put his gear on like a child. Thankfully, this was not the last we would see of Shawn Michaels.
2 Undertaker Collapses Following His Loss
It was said that The Undertaker was in terrible shape heading into his WrestleMania XXX encounter with Brock Lesnar. Many believe this was the reason Taker ended up agreeing to end the streak, and according to rumors, The Undertaker didn’t know if he had any WrestleMania matches left in him. Following the match Taker collapsed once he made his way off the set. Vince McMahon yelled demanding for help. Taker was hospitalized following the match. He was seen in terrible shape leaving his hotel room the next day.
Taker would also once again collapse against Lesnar following their match at SummerSlam. This time the deadman collapsed on camera while making his way to the back.
1 Cena and The Rock Clash...For Real
Working with The Rock was like a dream for Cena, though this perceived thought turned quickly on John and the story became a bit of a nightmare. John was furious with the WWE after The Rock was repeatedly taking shots at him on the air, with John being unable to respond. Cena was so mad that he refused to work the story any longer if he was unable to fight back to The Rock’s comments. Cena said it best: the fans wanted to see “LeBron against Jordan”, with the two at their very best and not Jordan against some pushover. Ultimately, Cena’s requests were met and he was given the green light to attack The Rock verbally on the air. The promos between the two wrestlers were usually unscripted, with the wrestlers literally speaking out of anger towards each other. The situation turned to a scuffle backstage after Cena called out The Rock for writing his promo down on his hand. The Rock was never comfortable taking hits to his character, as you can imagine. Despite the heat, the two were able to work things out and later became close friends.