Ranking the 10 Most Memorable Unscripted Moments in WWE History
Although roughly 99.9 percent of the things that have happened in professional wrestling over the years have been carefully scripted and planned for, spontaneity is bound to creep in every once in a while. In fact, some of the most memorable moments in WWE history were unscripted.
While some of those unscripted moments were positive and others were negative, they're all memorable due to the fact that they took the wrestling world by surprise. The vast majority of wrestling fans understand that everything is scripted these days, but even the most jaded fans aren't immune to marking out for a spontaneous event.
Among the best 10 most memorable unscripted moments in WWE history are a number of diverse happenings, including injuries, concepts and off-the-cuff moments in matches or promos.
In the interest of focusing on the positives, though, tragedies such as Owen Hart's untimely death won't be included, as we remember that for all the wrong reasons.
With that said, here are the 10 most memorable unscripted moments to ever take place in the WWE.
10. Mankind Picks Up The Rock's Glasses
One of the most entertaining combinations in WWE history was most definitely The Rock 'n' Sock Connection. Although The Rock wasn't particularly thrilled about having to team with Mankind, their partnership was a major success as their comedic abilities meshed so well. Never was that more apparent than when The Rock was cutting a promo during an episode of SmackDown.
Generally speaking, The Rock was the more serious of the two and often became annoyed with Mankind, while Mankind was simply trying to get The Rock to like him. The odd couple ultimately became WWE Tag Team Champions three times and formed a strong bond as well, so a lot of good came of their unconventional union.
The most popular interaction between The Rock and Mankind was probably the "This is your life" segment in which Mankind brought in people from The Rock's past. That entire segment was scripted, however. One moment that was spontaneous, though, was when The Rock was cutting a promo and was about to deliver his famous "If ya smell what The Rock is cooking" line.
As he did it, though, his sunglasses came flying off, at which point Mankind picked them up and handed them back to The Rock. The crowd erupted in applause and The Rock said, very matter-of-factly, "The Rock thanks you for that." It may not seem like much on the surface, but it was a very funny moment.
9. Brawl for All Tournament
One of the most ridiculous concepts in WWE history was the Brawl for All tournament. This tournament was held in the summer of 1998 and it was essentially a shoot-fighting contest that involved WWE superstars actually engaging in combat. The fighting was a mixture of boxing and MMA and was meant to add an element of realism to the product.
There were 16 different superstars who took part in the tournament and it didn't go well for most of them. Steve Blackman, Road Warrior Hawk and Savio Vega all suffered legitimate injuries, but the man who incurred the most damage was Dr. Death Steve Williams.
Dr. Death was a huge star around the world and regarded as one of the toughest men in wrestling, so most believe that Brawl for All was meant to get him over as a beast in the eyes of the fans.
Rather than just building Williams in the traditional sense, though, he took part in the tournament and was ultimately embarrassed. Bart Gunn shockingly knocked him out in the second round and went on to win the whole tournament.
As bad as Brawl for All was, the WWE had an opportunity to make Gunn a star. Instead, he was pitted against famed boxer Butterbean at XV.
Not surprisingly, Gunn lost in 30 seconds and the WWE had nothing to show for the tournament. Brawl for All was real and memorable, but it certainly wasn't good.
8. CM Punk's Pipebomb Promo
Most wrestling fans would agree that current WWE Champion CM Punk first rose to true stardom in the summer of 2011 after he delivered what has since been dubbed his pipebomb promo.
On an episode of Raw, Punk interfered in a match between John Cena and R-Truth, and while both them were prone in the ring, Punk went to the top of the ramp, while wearing a "Stone Cold" Steve Austin shirt, and cut the best promo of his life.
Punk brought up a number of different issues and revealed that his contract was up and he would be leaving the WWE after Money in the Bank. He badmouthed Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, he degraded the fans and even gave a shoutout to his good friend, Colt Cabana. Punk said things that many fans have thought for a long time and that is why the promo is so well regarded.
The only thing more controversial than the promo itself, though, may be its inclusion on this list. I'm fully aware that Punk didn't hijack the show and that the WWE brass knew he was going to cut a scathing promo, but it was a worked shoot rather than a straight work. Punk essentially had free reign of the microphone, so it was technically an unscripted moment.
I still believe to this day that Punk meant most of the things he said, and although the WWE gave him a platform to say those things, I doubt they knew exactly how far he was going to go. Even if Punk's promo wasn't totally spontaneous, it deserves a spot on this list.
7. Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon Can't Break the Glass
There are times over the course of a match in which things don't go according to plan and that forces the combatants to call an audible on the fly. Such instance occurred in the street fight between Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon at King of the Ring 2001, but rather than abandoning the original plan, Angle and Shane-O Mac set out to finish what they started.
At one point during the match, the action spilled to the top of the stage. Part of the King of the Ring set was a number of glass panes and Angle attempted to suplex McMahon through it. He failed the first time and tried again, but McMahon once again bounced off the glass. On top of that, Shane hit his head on the stage fairly hard.
McMahon could have called the stunt off, but they gave it one last try and Angle was able to put him through. He then tossed Shane through yet another glass pane after that. The plan all along was for Angle to put McMahon through the glass, but it was only supposed to take one suplex. Instead, they had to go through the process three times.
While Shane definitely got his bell rung, this unscripted moment was great for the match. It made Angle look vicious and McMahon look tough, and it simply added to the realism of the street fight.
6. MSG Curtain Call
While it didn't happen during a televised WWE event, the MSG Curtain Call is an incident that most major wrestling fans have at least heard about.
In early 1996, it was well known that Diesel and Razor Ramon would be leaving the WWE for more lucrative contracts in WCW. Their final WWE obligation was at a house show in New York City, and they certainly went out with a bang.
Although it wasn't widely known at the time, a group of wrestlers known as The Kliq controlled many of the backstage booking decisions in WWE. Among the members were Diesel and Razor along with Shawn Michaels, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and the 1-2-3 Kid, although the latter wasn't involved in this particular situation.
At the close of the show, Diesel, Razor, Michaels and Triple H all embraced in the ring. This was an issue because two of them were faces and two of them were heels, so they weren't supposed to interact in that way in front of the fans. Kevin Nash maintains in the video above that they received clearance, but Triple H was subsequently punished for the incident by having his push curtailed.
Whatever the case, Vince McMahon obviously didn't stay mad for long as Michaels continued to be the top guy in the company, Triple H married McMahon's daughter, and both Nash and Scott Hall were welcomed back down the line. Even so, many consider the MSG Curtain Call to be the first big blow against the concept of kayfabe.
5. Vince McMahon Blows out His Quads
Fans never want to see somebody get hurt in wrestling, regardless of the situation, but there are some rare instances in which it's tough not to laugh about it.
One such situation occurred at the 2005 Royal Rumble pay-per-view. John Cena and Batista were the final two participants in the Rumble match, but they went over the ropes at the same time, prompting Vince McMahon to strut angrily to the ring.
The purpose of McMahon's appearance was to restart the match with Cena and Batista as the final two combatants, but while getting into the ring, he somehow managed to blow out both of his quads. McMahon slid into the ring and attempted to stand up, but his legs buckled and he fell to the canvas. Nobody knew exactly what to make of the situation, but Vince had legitimately injured himself.
I'm sure Vince was in a lot of pain and it was an unfortunate situation, but the circumstances surrounding it were comical to say the least.
All McMahon had to do was enter the ring, and he suffered a debilitating injury because of it. Vince isn't a wrestler, but he has competed in many matches and always managed to come away from them no worse for wear.
Entering the ring proved to be too much for the boss, though. McMahon ultimately recovered and can probably have a good laugh about it now along with everyone who witnessed it at the time.
4. Jerry 'The King' Lawler Suffers a Heart Attack on Raw
The No. 4 most-memorable unscripted moment in WWE history was nearly among the most tragic as well, but thankfully everything ended up working out for the better.
During the Sept. 10, 2012 edition of Monday Night Raw, there was some commotion during a tag team match between Team Hell No and The Prime Time Players. It turns out that long-time WWE announcer Jerry "The King" Lawler had suffered a heart attack.
Lawler collapsed at the announce table and was rushed to the hospital. A visibly shaken Michael Cole reported that Lawler's heart attack wasn't part of the show and he provided updates throughout the night, although he did not commentate after the incident.
Fans were left wondering if the unthinkable had happened to Lawler, but luckily he made a full recovery and is back announcing once again.
The fact that Lawler's heart attack happened at a WWE show was actually a blessing in disguise as there was plenty of trained medical personnel ready to act should such a situation arise. They were able to revive Lawler and he went through the necessary procedures at the hospital to ensure that he would be all right.
Lawler's heart attack reminded many of Owen Hart's untimely death in that it happened out of nowhere and the remainder of the show didn't seem worth watching. Luckily, Lawler's situation ended up working out and disaster was averted.
3. Jake "The Snake' Roberts' Cobra Makes a Meal out of 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
As his nickname would suggest, Jake "The Snake" Roberts made a living off a gimmick which featured him carrying a snake with him to the ring. While the snake would normally only get involved after the match with Roberts innocently throwing him on his opponent, an unscripted moment involving the snake on a late-1991 episode of Superstars of Wrestling garnered Roberts major heat.
At the time, Roberts had begun feuding with Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Since Savage lost a retirement match and wasn't allowed to compete, Roberts constantly poked and prodded both Savage and Miss Elizabeth. Savage finally had enough on the aforementioned Superstars of Wrestling episode and he got into the ring with Roberts.
Savage became tangled in the ropes, however, and Roberts had his cobra bite Savage's arm. The cobra had been devenomized and the bite itself was planned, but Roberts couldn't get the snake to release the bite, so it was far more severe than it should have been. Savage had blood gushing out of the puncture wound and it was quite a gruesome sight for the time.
While Savage was fine and didn't suffer any serious injuries, it was a potentially dangerous situation. Snakes are wild animals that can't necessarily be controlled, and even though Roberts was experienced at handling snakes by that point, he struggled to diffuse the situation. Luckily, something worse didn't come of it.
2. Daniel Puder Nearly Breaks Kurt Angle's Arm
During Kurt Angle's WWE heyday back in 2004, he would host a segment known as the Angle Invitational in which he would invite people to the ring to have a match with him. Angle would always come out on top, but things almost went terribly wrong on the Nov. 4, 2004 edition of SmackDown. After beating one Tough Enough contestant, Angle challenged yet another in the form of Daniel Puder.
Puder went on to win the Tough Enough competition, but he is best known for what he did to Angle on this particular night. Puder has a mixed martial arts background and went on to have some MMA success after his wrestling career and he locked Angle into a Kimura lock. The Kimura has since been popularized in wrestling by Brock Lesnar, but Puder was the first to utilize it.
Angle was in a predicament as he either had to tap out or have his arm broken. Angle was able to get Puder into a pinning combination, though, and the referee quickly counted to three despite the fact that Puder's shoulders weren't on the mat for the entire count. Angle technically won the match, but he was embarrassed by Puder's stunt.
Puder eventually got his, though, as he was buried during the 2005 Royal Rumble and eventually released from his WWE contract. Although it was probably a terrible move for his long-term prospects in WWE, people will always remember Puder as the guy who nearly made Angle legitimately tap out.
1. Montreal Screwjob
Seeing as though it's one of the most famous moments and scandals in the history of professional wrestling, it shouldn't be a surprise to see the Montreal Screwjob at No. 1 in a list of most memorable unscripted moments. The Screwjob occurred at the Survivor Series 1997 pay-per-view in Montreal during a match between then-WWE Champion Bret "Hitman" Hart and Shawn Michaels.
Hart was soon set to depart the WWE for a more lucrative deal with WCW, but he refused to drop the title to Michaels. Hart and Michaels had well-publicized issues with each other backstage and Hart believed Michaels was disrespectful. Rather than having Hart lose the belt to someone else, though, Vince McMahon orchestrated a ruse.
Hart went into the match thinking that he would win and then drop the belt to a different wrestler before leaving. McMahon didn't want to risk Hart taking the title with him to WCW like Alundra Blayze did with the Women's Championship, though, so he felt the need to trick Hart.
The plan was for Michaels to put Hart in his own sharpshooter submission, at which point referee Earl Hebner would call for the bell, and that is precisely what happened.
Hart went ballistic after the match as he spit in McMahon's face and assaulted him backstage. Some maintain to this day that it was a work, but most agree that it was the ultimate unscripted moment. It took many years, but Hart eventually reconciled with both McMahon and Michaels and he is now once again part of the WWE family.