For the pro wrestling haters out there, one of the main critiques pertaining to the product is that everything we see is scripted. However, the purist wrestling fan knows that’s not exactly the case. Time and time again, we’ve seen wrestlers go off script for various reasons. Usually, these moments are some of the absolute best, creating that much more emotion out of the viewers. From standing ovations to emotional embraces in the ring, certain non-scripted moments just tug at our heartstrings. In this article, we look at those exact moments that had us a little choked up.
From Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn celebrating backstage, to John Cena getting a surprise he’ll never forget, these moments prove that not only does pro wrestling have a heart, but it can also get extremely emotional from time to time. Need proof? You came to the right place.
Enjoy the article and like always, be sure to pass along the list to a friend. Here are 15 WWE moments that were NOT scripted and brought us to tears. We start the article off with a wrestler achieving a dream he thought would never be possible and sharing it organically backstage with his life-long buddy. It truly doesn’t get any better than that.
15 Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn Backstage
They’ve been rivals throughout their journey on the main roster so obviously, such an emotional incident was not part of the script. The non-scripted moment was shown on Kevin Owens’ new DVD, and it’s a day in history both he and Sami will never forget.
We turn back the clock to August 29th of last year. With Fin Balor relinquishing the championship, Monday Night Raw was main-evented by Owens and three other competitors as the Fatal-Four-Way Elimination match was set to crown a new Universal Champion. Owen defied the odds and won the encounter, while Zayn watched on backstage in absolute awe at what he was seeing. Following the match, the first person Kevin encountered was Sami; the two shared an emotional embrace which was topped off by Owens telling Zayn, “this is ours”.
14 Randy Wins The Big One
Winning a World Title for the first time is certainly the most special moment in one’s career. We saw how much it meant to Owens in the previous picture and it meant just as much to Randy as well. For Orton, his championship win was a little more special as he engraved his name into WWE history as the youngest champion of all-time winning the strap at the tender age of 24. He defeated Chris Benoit at SummerSlam for the prestigious honor.
Like Owens, what followed up backstage was entirely organic as Randy crashed to his knees in disbelief. Running the SmackDown brand at the time, Stephanie was backstage and embraced Orton following his emotional victory. Both Stephanie and Hunter have managed to stay very close to the Viper throughout his WWE journey. Fast-forward more than a decade later and Orton would win the same championship 12 more times, totalling 13 overall.
13 Bryan & Kendrick At The Cruiserweight Classic
The inaugural Cruiserweight Classic last year was seriously perfect. Not only was the in-ring action five stars, but the stories outside of the ropes also tugged at our heartstrings at various points. One emotional moment we saw took place between two fantastic journeymen of the pro wrestling business.
Facing some personal demons, Kendrick had been away from a WWE ring since 2009. Entering the tournament, Brian was one of the oldest but still put up one heck of a performance. He was finally ousted by the great Japanese sensation Kota Ibushi. Following the match, Daniel Bryan stormed the ring from commentary and embraced Kendrick in an emotional hug that brought both these men to tears, along with receiving a standing ovation from the crowd at hand from Full Sail. It was an organic moment that fans won’t forget from the tournament.
12 Rollins Sheds A Tear
Sometimes, you can script tears; just ask Kurt Angle who put up one hell of an acting clinic when he was deemed the “biological father” of Jason Jordan. In this instance however, the tears were far from scripted. I, myself, can remember having chills up and down my spine for this match as Bayley and Sasha lit up the Brooklyn crowd in an NXT match that fans will never forget. Arguably, this was the greatest women’s matchup of all-time. It seems like the WWE is slowly building towards a rematch, and you can expect Sasha to eventually turn, causing the epic clash once again.
But for now, we still have to look back at their instant classic. Not only did the women in the ring shed a tear, but even the likes of Seth Rollins were caught by the camera weeping once this bout was done with.
11 Shane McMahon’s Return Ovation
Shane likely expected a reaction during his return, but it was quite evident that Shane himself was not anticipating the standing ovation he got from the Detroit crowd during his unexpected return. Gone from the WWE for over seven years, the Joe Louis Arena went absolutely bonkers for Shane. Overwhelmed by the moment, you saw McMahon was visibly rattled, even wiping his eye at one point before he spoke to shed away the tears of joy. It was a night both he and his family will never forget.
Shane would go on to face-off against The Undertaker in a match that stole the show at WrestleMania 32. The emotions continued to run high on that night as Shane shared an emotional non-scripted hug with his father backstage. Clearly, his return to the company was an emotional one, and one the WWE Universe will never forget.
10 Alexa’s Reaction
Given her fantastic work as a heel on the main roster, imagining Alexa getting emotional is almost impossible. However, away from the cameras, the 26 year old is actually the opposite as she’s quite the sweetheart. That was on full display last year when it was announced that she was drafted onto the main roster set to join SmackDown Live.
The emotional call-up was met with tears. The reaction was also completely organic as the NXT roster was not told in advance who would be getting the call-up. Bliss completely lost it at the announcement and following that moment, we can safely say she never looked back. In a little more than a year, Alexa is already a four-time champion winning both the Raw and SmackDown Live Championships on two separate occasions each.
9 Cedric Alexander Gets A Contract
Say what you want about Triple H’s past, but nowadays, it’s quite evident he’s a man of the people. Time and time again, he’s signed tremendous indie talents along with putting on fantastic programs down in NXT. Hunter has a mind for the business and that’s especially true when it comes to talent.
We saw an awesome moment of Triple H signing a talent organically following a match. The moment was obviously non-scripted given the circumstances of it all. Following a mesmerizing display between Ibushi and Alexander, Cedric was eliminated from the tournament. An emotional Cedric saluted the crowd as Full Sail let their voice be heard, chanting, “please sign Cedric”. As he gave the crowd one last salute up the entrance ramp Triple H appeared and no, he didn’t hit a Pedigree on Alexander but instead, raised his hand and nodded his head at the chants. What a moment that was.
8 Warrior's Emotional Farewell Speech
The Warrior's promo from Raw will live on forever. Not only was the promo spectacular at the time, but sadly, it would mean that much more due to his passing just a day later. Finding peace with the WWE, at the very least, Warrior was able to patch things up with the company before it was too late. Unfortunately, the same could not be done with the Macho Man who passed away before making up with the WWE.
Along with a Hall Of Fame induction, Warrior got some time to speak on Raw which was pretty historical given the fact that it was the first time he appeared on the program since 1996. In his emotional final speech, the Warrior stated that his spirit would live on forever in the WWE Universe. Watching this moment today, chills or tears are the likely outcome.
7 HBK Calls It A Career
One of the greatest, if not the greatest, in-ring performer of all-time, Shawn Michaels added years to his resume following his return in 2002. Before that, many thought he’d never wrestle again, instead, he managed to solidify his career as one of the greatest of all-time putting on epic displays inside of the ring. Fans couldn’t believe that he hadn’t missed a beat and that became evident during his comeback match against Triple H way back in 2002 at SummerSlam.
Choosing to retire on a high, HBK fought his last match in a part-two bout against The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. The match is regarded as one of the greatest in the illustrious PPV's history. Of course, the result was scripted but the emotional moments that followed clearly were not; Michaels wept in the middle of the ring as the fans gave him a standing ovation one last time. Thinking of the moment in our minds gives us the chills till this very day. Thank you, Shawn.
6 End Of An Era Salute
WrestleMania XXVIII was highlighted by the main event which featured a once in a lifetime type of matchup between Cena and The Rock (though they’d face-off again at the next Mania). However, it was a match inside of Hell in a Cell that stole the show featuring two legends of the game in Triple H and The Undertaker.
With HBK as the special referee, the match was made that much more dramatic. After a tremendous 30 minute encounter, Taker reigned supreme. What followed was definitely not scripted. The three got very emotional as it signified the end of an era. Hunter would never wrestle consistently again while Taker ended the streak just two years later. The emotional image of the three embracing up the ramp brought us to tears then, and likely, still does now.
5 9-11 SmackDown Edition
September 11th, 2001, was a day the world will never forget. Following the disturbing terror acts, America was forced to respond. Believe it or not, the WWE was one of the first companies to address the situation two days later as SmackDown aired with a special episode dedicated to the acts. Instead of feeling sorrow, the WWE went on by paying homage to its beautiful country and standing up without any fear. The organic program received worldwide media attention as the masses applauded the WWE for their program.
Still to this day, the show is replayed over on the WWE Network as it’s a huge moment in the history of the company. The anthem at the beginning was not scripted as the emotions were completely real; re-watching till this day, it tugs at our heartstrings.
4 Daniel Bryan’s Retirement Speech
Oh, how quickly things can change! We sobbed at the sight of Daniel’s retirement speech last year, however nowadays, rumors are going around that Bryan’s growing his hair out for a future hair versus mask match. Yup, it seems like he’s returning to action, however that seemed impossible during this given night.
The night we’re referring to took place in February of 2016, as Daniel was forced to call it a career due to various concussions. In his farewell speech, everything Daniel said was completely real and not scripted. Before the show, Bryan asked Vince if he needed to say anything specific, where McMahon told him to shoot from the heart but did request he end his speech with a “Yes!” chant from the crowd at hand. It was one of the saddest recent moments. Although, it looks like he’s due to be back in the ring as of next year.
3 Shawn Michaels & Bret Hart Finally Reconcile
As we’ve seen in the past couple of years and throughout the history of the WWE, they love to start the year off with a bang. This year, they literally have no choice as the program is set to air New Year's Day. It’ll fail to live up to the hype of the January 4th, 2010 Raw however, as Bret Hart kick-started the show calling Shawn Michaels out in front of the live crowd. It was the first time the two shared a ring since the ’97 Screwjob. So yeah, emotions ran high.
Although many think the angle was scripted, it in fact was not. In a documentary discussing their feud, Bret revealed that they shared a brief exchange at catering earlier in the day and chose to leave it at that wanting to exchange a real apology inside of the ring. The organic moment was truly shocking and seeing the two embrace brought a huge ovation from the crowd. Michaels stated that he lifted a huge weight off his back which he’d been carrying around for years.
2 Vince & Taker Backstage
Although the main event of the show that featured Daniel Bryan winning the title was pretty epic and a moment on its own, the WrestleMania XXX event will always be remembered as the night the streak finally ended. In one of the most chilling moments in WWE history, the ref hit the mat for a three count following a third F5 from Lesnar. What ensued was absolute shock from the crowd at hand. It’s a moment we’ll never forget.
What’s so surreal about the moment was that only a handful of people actually knew. Even the ref was unaware of the outcome according to news. Before the match, Vince and Taker enjoyed an emotional moment as McMahon hugged his prized WrestleMania asset. That moment was definitely not scripted and one that brought many to tears. McMahon ended up leaving the show accompanying Taker to the hospital after the match.
1 John Cena Gets Emotional
John Cena is now a worldwide star. Along with his numerous endorsements, one of his best partners has come alongside Cricket Wireless. Cena previously aired a commercial in which he surprised fans popping out of a poster. This time around however, the organic commercial took a different twist as fans inspired Cena with some of the most emotional stories you’d ever hear.
Using the motto “never get up”, numerous fans shared their stories of using that formula in tough circumstances. One by one, they came out of the poster unveiling their identities. The emotional moment brought Cena to tears and in all likelihood, it did the same to you, the viewer, watching at home. If you ever need further proof as to why Cena is regarded as the greatest of all-time, watch this video if you haven’t yet.