As everyone knows, pro wrestling is scripted, sometimes days or even months in advance of what the fans actually witness. It’s a fantasy world of characters, situations, and stories that are developed to entertain and draw people in on a weekly basis.
While writers have to come up with new ideas, every once in awhile a story comes right to them, and it’s really happened outside of pro wrestling. Actual stories that are affecting the performers in their real life tend to become the best stories, at least for the fans.
Pretty much everyone loves drama, as long as they aren’t involved, so for wrestling fans to be able to watch something unfold on their TV that stems from some truth makes everything that much more believable and entertaining to watch.
This collection of entries will go through actual stories that seeped into pro wrestling; some, like “The Montreal Screwjob,” are legendary occurrences and are still talked about to this day, while others are mentioned less, like JBL beating the heck out of the Blue Meanie for real during a match. So, let’s get right to the fourteen times real life and pro wrestling got together to make some must-see TV.
14 Kurt Angle, Karen Angle and Jeff Jarrett
Kurt and Karen were married for ten years before divorcing in 2008; Karen ended up getting married to Jeff in 2010, and all three of them worked together in TNA. All of this is awkward, but it was taken to another level when Jeff and Karen did an angle where they showed off their house (gloating along the way) which also included the kids of Karen and Kurt. Kurt was extremely angry that his kids were in the scene, who were also calling Jeff “Daddy.”
Angle felt like the two were trying to make him look like a “Deadbeat Dad” which he was offended by as well. Jeff and Kurt were in a feud during all of this, which made for some weird television. The climax of the feud was a Parking Lot Brawl where if Angle lost, he would have to move to Mexico, without his children; luckily, Angle won the match.
13 Triple H-Stephanie McMahon Marriage
In 1999, Stephanie was brought on-screen as Vince’s super sweet daughter that was going to get married to Test, who was then a fan favorite. Triple H (who was feuding with Vince) had other ideas by “drugging” Stephanie and taking her to a drive-thru wedding ceremony service. At first, Stephanie played the innocent victim, but then turned on her father saying the whole thing was their idea and she was indeed in love with Triple H.
On-screen the two became a powerful duo, while off-screen a relationship blossomed to the point where they actually got married in 2003. Initially, their marriage was kept separate from whatever was going on in their stories, with a random tongue-in-cheek comment here and there. Over the past couple of years WWE has used their relationship as a way to further feuds with other wrestlers.
12 Exploiting Reid Flair’s Death
Charlotte was the Divas champion and her former best buddy, Paige, had recently turned on her, mostly because of all the attention she received because of the title win and being a Flair. It was a pretty basic feud that didn’t have much fire behind it; that was until Charlotte brought up “fighting every day like my dad did, and just like my little brother did.”
Paige responded “it didn’t seem like your baby brother had much fight in him, did he?” Charlotte’s brother, Reid Flair, was found dead from an accidental overdose in 2013. Most WWE fans had no idea about Reid Flair or his death, so this unsavory comment landed pretty weakly on the live crowd. WWE didn’t ask Ric or Reid’s mother about using this in the material, but rather just going to Charlotte (who was new to the main roster and champion) so turning down the creative team would put her in a tough position.
A shameful use of real life heartbreak for a feud (which Charlotte won) that lasted barely a month after, and Charlotte ended up turning heel anyways, so any type of fan support that was gained through that awful promo was wasted within a month or so.
11 Chris Jericho Using CM Punk’s Past
The feud between Jericho and Punk was something fans wanted to see, but was lacking that emotional spark between the two wrestlers; that spark was eventually found when Jericho brought up Punk’s family history. Now, Jericho basically says his whole family was addicted to drugs and alcohol, which wasn’t true, although Punk’s Dad did drink heavily and was a big reason why he went “straight edge.”
Jericho eventually made a beaten down CM Punk drink alcohol, which helped fans get behind the matches between these two. Although it wasn’t the first time it was used as Punk did a similar (and much better) storyline with Raven in Ring of Honor, Raven was known to have issues with drugs and alcohol while Punk was against all of that stuff, making for an incredibly interesting feud that is worth digging up and watching.
10 The Montreal Screwjob
Bret Hart’s days with the WWE were coming to a close as he was moving over to then rival, World Championship Wrestling (WCW); aside from jumping ship, the larger issue was he was WWE’s champion and Vince McMahon was deathly afraid of Bret showing up on WCW with the title.
The 1997 Survivor Series was held in Canada, a location where Bret refused to drop the title at - the stories vary - but Vince gave Bret some assurance that he could leave with the title at the PPV and they could figure things out from there. Instead, Vince had referee Earl Hebner call for the bell during a submission attempt, giving Shawn Michaels the win and the title.
Bret was obviously angry about this whole situation, spitting on Vince (who was at ringside) during the match and later punching him in the face when the two were backstage. This was one of the biggest real life stories in wrestling history that fans talked about for years after. Eventually, Vince, Shawn, and Bret all seemingly buried the hatchet with some promos and matches.
9 Flair Vs. Foley Rivalry
In Foley’s book Have a Nice Day, Foley called Flair a bad booker, from his WCW days when both wrestlers worked for the company. Ric Flair wrote a book years later called To Be the Man, and called Foley a “glorified stuntman” from all his years of hardcore matches.
Thanks to the real life quotes, the two ended up feuding in WWE using them as a catalyst for a very emotional rivalry between the two legends, including an “I Quit” match at SummerSlam, which Flair won. Overall, the two have reconciled their feelings with each other and worked quite a bit together when both wrestlers were in TNA.
8 Wendi Richter Screw Job
Everyone knows about the Montreal Screwjob, but few still talk about the one that happened to then Women’s champion, Wendi Richter, almost 11 years prior in 1985. Thanks to the Rock ‘N Roll era of wrestling Wendi suddenly became one of WWE’s brightest stars, but due to some contractual issues with Vince McMahon, the Fabulous Moolah was brought in as the masked “Spider Lady” to take the title away. The referee was in on the plan by performing a fast three-count, ignoring that Wendi kicked out at one.
Wendi then ignored the match outcome by continuing to attack The Spider Lady, eventually pulling off her mask to reveal it was Moolah. Vince and Wendi had many disagreements about compensation and this was Vince’s way of strong-arming the wrestler into signing a new contract with the company. Instead, Wendi walked out of the arena in her wrestling gear, never talked to Moolah again, and never returned to the WWE until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
7 Using Paul Bearer's Death In A Story
Undertaker and Punk were heading towards a WrestleMania 29 match, but the major problem was there wasn’t a struggle between the two, aside from Punk just wanting to beat “The Streak.” Then Paul Bearer passed away, and suddenly this feud took a turn for the better or worse, depending on your opinion of Bearer’s inclusion within the feud.
CM Punk began taunting Taker with the death of Bearer; he went as far as dressing up as a druid, sneak attacking Taker, and dumping an urn of “Paul’s ashes” on him. All of this was going on while Punk’s manager, Paul Heyman, was dressed up as Bearer. For the record, Paul’s family was asked before all of this was done, they gave it the okay, but later said actually watching it play out on TV was kind of weird. Undertaker ended up defeating Punk at WrestleMania and had one final tribute to his longtime manager.
6 Aludra Blayze Trashes Women’s Title
Alundra was one of the most popular women’s wrestlers in the mid 80s to early 90s who was able to work her way up to the WWE in 1993. While there, she was able to win the Women’s title three times, and was one of the biggest reasons for the short lived revival in the Women’s division going against legends like Bull Nakano.
In 1995, due to financial troubles, the WWE had to start chopping contracts, and Blayze ended up being one of those unfortunate cuts, even though she was still the Women’s champion. She instantly jumped ship to WCW and ended up literally throwing the WWE Women’s title in the trash, causing her to be blacklisted from WWE for many years. Since this occurred less than a year before the Montreal Screwjob, you can understand why Vince was so paranoid about Bret doing something similar.
5 Edge-Lita-Matt Hardy Love Triangle
In April of 2005, Matt was released by the WWE; during this time Edge (who was married at the time) started an intimate relationship with Lita (who was Matt’s real-life girlfriend of six years) causing one of the wildest love triangles in wrestling history! WWE had paired up Lita and Edge in stories, so this just added to the drama when WWE decided to bring Matt back into the company solely for this feud.
During Lita and Edge’s “wedding” Matt’s music played which foreshadowed his return the next week when he came out of the crowd to attack Edge. The real life affair was brought right into the story and while kind of awkward, made for some really interesting TV drama. The two feuded for the next few months, which Edge ended up getting most of the wins, one that sent Matt to SmackDown for good, while Edge stayed on Raw.
Edge’s wife promptly got a divorce while Edge and Lita lasted just under a year as a couple, before moving on to other relationships.
4 WCW Exploiting Scott Hall’s Alcoholism
In what is probably pro wrestling’s worst kept secret, Scott Hall has had a long battle with drugs and alcohol, which has cost him professionally. For whatever reason, WCW thought it would be a great idea to bring his real life struggles into pro wrestling by giving him a storyline where he would come to the ring “drunk.”
He literally would walk out with a bottle of alcohol, stumble around a bit, and argue with people, even throwing up on other people, including Eric Bischoff. This was back in 1998 and since then Hall took a major tumble down a dark hole, until around 2013 when Hall started to work his way back to sobriety (with the help of Diamond Dallas Page) and get inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
3 Shane Douglas Throws Down The NWA Title
Before Extreme Championship Wrestling there was Eastern Championship Wrestling, and the way to bridge such a change in a promotion was by having the winner of the company’s title – the NWA World Heavyweight Title – actually throw it down saying he didn’t want to be the champion of a “dead promotion” then showing off the new ECW Heavyweight title.
Part of this angle was meant to get ECW over as a new promotion, causing major controversy by bad mouthing NWA, which was a prominent wrestling promotion in previous decades, although, had been dropping in popularity in recent years. At NWA’s expense the tactic worked and went a long way towards ECW popularity across the U.S., influencing the much larger WWE and WCW.
2 Roddy Piper Vs. Mr. T
During the first two WrestleMania shows, Mr. T was a hot commodity that helped bring a lot of eyes to pro wrestling. He was not only in the main event for WrestleMania I, but for WrestleMania II (the second show was in three locations, but he was in the main event of the first venue) and this didn’t exactly sit well with Roddy Piper.
Piper was Mr. T’s opponent at both shows, so most of his annoyance was to promote the matches, but he was bothered by how Mr. T was given such big spots for a guy who wasn’t even in pro wrestling. Others said it was best to keep the two out of the same room as much as possible, because they just rubbed each other the wrong way, which ended up coming across quite nicely on TV.
1 JBL And The Blue Meanie
Blue Meanie went to the internet to talk about how JBL was a bully in the locker room and was known for hazing other employees to the point where a referee (Billy Silverman) actually left the company. Well, JBL wasn’t a fan of being talked about online, so when the two were involved in a (storyline) brawl, JBL went right after Meanie, punching him in the face, leaving him bloodied and with a black eye.
Immediately afterwards, the two got into another altercation backstage, but were broken up by other wrestlers. Meanie was later signed by WWE for a short period of time, in part to have a feud with JBL, that was over fairly quickly.