The 25 Most Emotional WWE Moments Ever

T. Schaefer@@t_schaefer_Analyst IIIDecember 9, 2011

The 25 Most Emotional WWE Moments Ever

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    It's odd to think of the concept that professional wrestling can elicit moments so emotional that they live with you forever.

    There are times where you cried because an event was so sad or where you "marked out" so hard that you forget the entire thing is simply a story.

    They all stick with you.

    Through either real life circumstances or creating story lines that touch a personal level, the WWE has a knack for making these moments that stick with us. Be they moments of sadness, happiness, shock or vindication; human beings instinctively identify with those ideas and feelings.

    As such, we remember them for what they are.

    They are moments as cherished as anything else we see on tv or even experience in our living, breathing world. They are all power reminders of what has been, what could have , or how things really are.

    When I began doing this article, I thought it would be a simple thing to research the topic, collect some videos, write a , description, and call it a day.

    It turned out to be much more difficult than I ever imagined.

    To be blunt, this is the most difficult article I have ever written.

    This list isn't meant to be all inclusive, but merely a collection of experiences that left their mark on me as a fan.

Honorable Mentions

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    These were considered for the list, but didn't make the cut for various reasons.


    Brian Pillman's death.

    While tragic and untimely, there are a fair share of deaths in the slide show by necessity. While Pillman was a hell of a wrestling talent, I needed to exclude some deaths so the article wasn't so moribund.


    Christian winning the World Heavyweight Championship.

    There are a few title wins in this slideshow. While I am an avid fan of Christian, there were other title wins that possessed just as much impact.


    Shawn Michaels' and Ric Flair's retirement speeches.

    While highly emotional, understand that I wanted to concentrate on the point of impact rather than dwell on what was. Certainly deserving by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't feel them appropriate for my intent. 

Benoit and Guerrero Hug at WrestleMania XX

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    Jim Ross sold this moment so well.

    In what many considered the best match of the night (and the year), Chris Benoit culminated a storyline that originated with him going "coast to coast" in the Royal Rumble.  Interjecting himself into the ongoing Shawn Michaels & Triple H feud, Benoit wanted his title shot with them at WrestleMania XX.

    After dumping Michaels to the outside while he was going for Sweet Chin Music, Benoit reversed an attempted Pedigree by Triple H into the Crippler Crossface. Eventually rolling into the center of the ring, Triple H was forced to tap out.

    In the ensuing celebration,  Eddie Guerrero came down into the ring and clapped for his long time friend. Both men, whose careers took parallel courses across the world, hugged in a genuine embrace on wrestling's biggest stage aptly dubbed "The Showcase of Immortals."

    Before Guerrero's and Benoit's early deaths, Benoit was able to create this circumstance which would stand to be one of the infamous events in the history of the WWE.

    At the time, however, this stood as one of the most celebrated moments in the history of wrestling.

    It stands as a powerful reminder of the history of both for these men as individuals and together as friends.

Michaels Retires Flair:at WrestleMania 24

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    "I love you. I'm sorry." - Shawn Michaels to Ric Flair

    You can see the emotion on Michaels' face before he nails "Sweet Chin Music" and pins Flair in his last match in the WWE. As Flair comes to in front of nearly 75,000 people, a look of sadness appears on his face as he walks up the ramp for what should have been the last time.

    The send off could not be described as anything less than "royal." However, a short time later Flair began work for TNA.

    While it did diminish the overall meaning of the sendoff to a degree, this is still a testament to the impact that one of the all-time greats has upon us as fans.


The Undertaker Retires Michaels at WrestleMania 26

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    "Stay down!" - Undertaker to Michaels

    A few years later, Undertaker would retire Michaels in a similar fashion at WrestleMania 26.

    The storyline was that Michaels became obsessed with Undertaker. It came to a head at Elimination Chamber where Michaels cost Undertaker his championship. The resulting match was widely considered the best of the year.

    Thus far, Michaels has honored his retirement commitment and stayed away from the ring.

    Michaels was inducted into the WWE's Hall of Fame earlier this year.

    In another emotional moment which saw his long time running mate in "D-Generation X," Triple H would be the one to induct "The Showstopper."

    Moments such as these have a powerful personal impact.

    HBK's retirement speech was deep to a lot of people, and rightly so. 

    But to me, they deal with the aftermath of the moment. The last pin is what makes the moment itself.

CM Punk Wins the WWE Title at Money in the Bank

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    This inclusion might be a bit debatable.

    However, it stands as a testament to the power a beautifully crafted storyline can have.

    Capitalizing on a number of dirt-sheet rumors, real life circumstances, and finely done promo work, this was arguably the best storyline in recent memory.

    Punk announced a few weeks before Capitol Punishment that his contract was coming to an end with the WWE. During the build up, Punk launched a "worked shoot" promo that set the wrestling world on fire. Punk was suspended by Vince McMahon as a result of his words. It took John Cena threatening to quit to give Punk his match.

    During the match, Chicago's rooting for their home town hero was absolutely spine tingling.

    Cena played the heel role during the match and took the jeers from the crowd with absolute professionalism.

    The ending sequence featured McMahon and Raw general manager John Laurinaitis coming down to re-enact the "Montreal Screwjob," only to have Cena punch out Laurinaitis while screaming, "A man is going to win this match."  Rolling back into the ring, Cena walked into a "Go To Sleep" from Punk which resulted in a three count.

    What culminated was one of the most deafening pops in the history of the WWE.

    McMahon called out Alberto Del Rio to cash in his newly won "Money In The Bank" contract, but Del Rio ate a kick from Punk before the bell sounded.

    Punk subsequently blew a kiss to McMahon and tore through the crowd to close the Pay-Per-View.

    All of this resulted in the WWE's first "5 Star Match" from Dave Meltzer in over a decade and launched Punk as the WWE's hottest superstar. The entire angle had something of a disappointing follow up that suffered from "sequalitis."  But the flawless execution and phenomenal storytelling gave fans a night to remember for a long time.

Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth Re-Unite

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    One of the most storied couples in wrestling history is Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth. 

    The story goes that Miss Elizabeth was Randy's valet. She usually held the ropes for Savage when he entered the ring.

    In a build up for WrestleMania V, Savage accused Hulk Hogan of lusting after Miss Elizabeth. This resulted in a match at WrestleMania V for Savage's WWF Title. In the match, Elizabeth interjected herself between the men several times before being ejected from ringside.

    Hogan went on to defeat Savage and regain the WWF Title.

    Randy then dumped Elizabeth for Sensational Sherri. Elizabeth wasn't a regular on tv for a few years. 

    Fast forward to WrestleMania VII where Savage lost a match to Ultimate Warrior. Sherri turned on Savage and began beating on him. Miss Elizabeth stormed the ring, making a triumphant return to Savage's side by grabbing Sherri's hair and throwing her down.

    In a turnabout of their roles, Savage held the rope for Elizabeth as they exited the ring.

    I don't think there was a dry eye remaining after watching that.

Raw Is Owen

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    At Over The Edge 99, Owen Hart fell over 70 feet to his death.

    He was supposed to be lowered into the ring as part of his "Blue Blazer" gimmick. However, a harness failure resulted in it giving way long before it should have. 

    In one of the worst calls in WWE history, they decided to continue with the Pay-Per-View and announced his death on the show while the live audience wasn't given that information. The WWE drew a ton of flack for continuing the show despite the death.

    The next night, however, became "Raw Is Owen."

    It featured wrestlers breaking kayfabe (wrestling protocol) and talking about their memories of "The Rocket" Owen Hart. The WWE gave the wrestlers the option of working or not. Ten matches wound up being booked that night with absolutely no angles involved.

    The end of the show featured "Stone Cold" Steve Austin coming down the ring and grabbing a few beers. He waited for an image of Owen to pop on the Titantron. He whispered something inaudible and toasted the fallen Rocket. A parting picture to Owen with his birth and death dates was shown before the show faded to black.

    This end segment was especially memorable because Austin, who was billed as the "Toughest S.O.B. in the WWF," visibly broke down in the segment.

    It was oddly appropriate because Owen broke Austin's neck on a botched pile driver and put Austin out of action for months.

    This Bud's for you, Owen.

Eddie Guerroro's Death

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    When Eddie Guerrero died in 2005, fans all over the world were stunned. Guerrero  was one of the most beloved wrestlers in the world.

    The following tribute to him was appropriate.

    It featured a ten-bell salute, wrestlers who talked about him and his legacy, and a video showing highlights of his life.

    Guerrero was subsequently inducted in the WWE's Hall of Fame and he is still honored to this day.

    The WWE turned his death into an angle for Mysterio, who won the Royal Rumble that year and went on to win the WWE Championship.

    Ironically, the "Eddie Exploitation" was not well received by some fans. It became a WrestleCrap induction and the recipient of their "Gooker" award for worst angle of the year.

    Regardless of how the WWE handled the situation, what remains is that a legendary wrestler went long before his time and such situations are always tragic.

SmackDown After 9/11

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    The events on September 11, 2001 left the world, as Americans knew it, changed forever.

    It was one of those "you remember where you were" moments that live with you. It was a terrible tragedy that resulted in two wars, a fallen national identity, and thousands of lives.

    After 9/11 one of the most telling aspects of our world that changed was the fact that sporting events across the nation were cancelled. 

    Americans crave athletic competition. Imagine a world with no football, soccer, basketball, or anything else of the like.  It happened for weeks after the tragedy.

    Well, almost.

    SmackDown was scheduled on September 14th. In doing what the WWE does best, it continued on with life. Pro wrestling stepped forward to fill a void that was left. The most telling part was how the wrestlers talked about the impact that 9/11 had.

    I remember reading an article once where the writer was talking about how he was trying to deal with his grief over the tragedy. He went on to talk about how watching wrestlers, visibly breaking down, helped him cope with the events of that dark day.

    If these men—larger then life superheroes were crying over the events—then it was okay to be sad and feel grief.

    In a way, SmackDown, an inconsequential show where guys beat each other up in scripted combat, helped with the healing of a nation.

Edge's Retirement

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    Edge took to Raw for a promo, which was common enough.

    After all, he is Edge.

    However, he dropped a bombshell when he announced he had to retire due to cervical spinal stenosis—it was like a bombshell was dropped.

    Edge is a legendary wrestler with multiple title reigns of every single kind there is in the WWE.

    His sudden retirement left a void on SmackDown and in the WWE that's hard to replace.

    Edge's retirement forced the WWE to move Randy Orton to SmackDown to replace Edge's name value.

    For all of his name value, however, Orton is no Edge.

    Edge has come back for spots now and again, but to never see him compete in the ring again was a bitter pill to swallow.

    In some ways, it still is.

Triple H Returns at Madison Square Garden

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    "In case you've forgotten just who the hell I am, let me remind you. I am THE GAME!" - Triple H.

    You simply have to watch the video to understand why.

    Triple H was kept out of action for a number of months after tearing his quad in a tag team match with Austin against Benoit and Chris Jericho. In the match, he sustained the injury while saving Austin from a pin. Triple H continued the match and even took a "Walls of  Jericho" on the announcer's table.

    Let it never be said that Trips doesn't love the business.

    The fact that he came back at all is remarkable given that the quad injury should have ended his career.

    After "The Game" hits, the crowd explodes as Triple H comes down to the ring. He takes a few minutes to soak in the admiration of the crowd before cutting into his return promo.

    If you are (or were) a fan of The Game, this stands out as an emotional moment for obvious reasons.

Mankind vs. Undertaker at King of the Ring 1998

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    The match was barbaric.

    It was so good and so brutal.

    It lives on as the best match some have ever seen.

    Mankind and Undertaker used every aspect of the structure they could. Mick took two falls in this match that could have killed him—and probably should have. The most notorious part of the match was Undertaker throwing Mankind off the roof of the structure through an announcer's table.

    J.R., in the way that only he can, bellowed, "My God King, Foley's Dead!"

    The shock value of Foley's leap of faith from the top of the structure merits placement on this list. 

    I remember watching this and thinking Foley really was killed for the sake of entertainment.

    It remains an amazing spot that still gives me that "9 Volt Battery" feeling in my tongue.

Hogan Bodyslams Andre

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    I admit it and I feel no shame in this admission.

    I marked for Hogan when I was kid.

    Hogan was the "All American" man and the biggest star of his era.

    It's scenes like this that defined him for the generation.

    Listening to announcers calling the action still makes me giddy on the inside.

    When I was a kid, I watched with stark awe as Hogan picked up the massive Andre the Giant and put him on the mat.

    After Hogan hit his leg drop, the three count was academic and 93,000 people exploded from their seats.

    Even in these times with intricate story lines and social media extensions, sometimes the simplest things are the most meaningful.

    The exultation of seeing the hero defeat the villain will always remain an intrinsic thing that human beings need to feel.

    Hogan putting Andre on his back is probably the greatest extension of that feeling.

Ultimate Warrior Defeats Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI

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    A lot of these moments happen seem to happen at WrestleMania.

    The build up began at Royal Rumble '90 where Hogan and Warrior were in the ring with Rude and Barbarian. Both the heels tagged up on Hogan, but Warrior saved Hogan. Turnabout being fair play, Hogan nailed a double clothesline on the dastardly duo, while the opponents were trying to eliminate Warrior. Hogan's move dumped Warrior over the top.

    This setup a titanic "Title vs. Title" showdown at WrestleMania VI which remains one of the most awe inspiring things I've ever watched.

    In The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior it was noted this match was designed to be a passing of the torch from Hogan to the Ultimate Warrior.

    However, as these things go, Warrior left the company not long after due to a pay dispute.

    I admit some personal bias in this simply because I marked for Hogan as a kid for this match but it still makes me giddy a bit thinking about it.

The Montreal Screwjob

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    In the midst of the competition between WCW and WWF known as the "Monday Night Wars," this was as close to defeat as the WWF came.

    Bret Hart was going to leave the WWF for WCW after receiving a contract offer that McMahon could not match. Bret had some issues about jobbing out the title to Michaels, with whom he had personal problems. McMahon wasn't completely sure Hart would take the pin.

    There was a sequence where Michaels locked Hart in the "Sharpshooter," and referee Earl Hebner called for the bell.

    Hart never visibly tapped.

    After the match, McMahon and Michaels were heading to the back surrounded by security while Hart was spelling out WCW in the air.

    When events came to light, fans were in a righteous fury which played to WCW's favor while the WWF was left to re-invent itself.

     It would be a long while before the WWF recovered the loyalty of the fans and Montreal remained a hostile environment for the WWE for years to come.

    I know it left a bad taste in my mouth. Michaels was later quoted "It was never easy being that guy."

Michaels and Hart Bury the Hatchet

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    They say that time heals all wounds.

    It is simply a matter of how long it takes.

    For years, Michaels and Hart held an animosity that was hard to describe. In the same token, it took years before all the parties involved in the "Montreal Screwjob" made peace.

    I remember watching this and felt that subtle warmth throughout my body.

    I felt a mixture of pride and happiness that is hard to quantify into words.

    If you are familiar with the "Screwjob" and the history of these men, this stands as the ultimate testament to how deeply it touched Michaels, Hart, and fans in general.

The Benoit Murder-Suicide

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    The events of June 22nd, 2007 left fans of wrestling shaken to their core.

    Initially, details were sketchy, but it was presumed Benoit was murdered along with his wife Nancy and their son Daniel.

    The WWE did their usual memorial show when one of their talents fell.

    Empty ring and all, the WWE superstars talked about their memories of Benoit while they replayed some of the greatest clips of his storied wrestling career.

    However, as later details emerged of an apparent murder-suicide, McMahon gave a video statement before the next program, ECW, took to the air. The WWE subsequently went on an editing rampage to write Benoit out of their history.

    To this day, the entire incident elicits vitriol and anger from wrestling fans.

    The anger and shock of the incident will forever remain in the annals of WWE history. 

The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18

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    WrestleMania 18 in Toronto gave a dream match of The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan. It wasn't a passing of the torch match, but simply a great match with the crowd eating everything up. 

    Hogan took the pin on a "Rock Bottom" and "People's Elbow". Afterwards, they shook hands as both the live and tv audiences ate the whole thing up.

    Scott Hall and Kevin Nash then stormed the ring and beat down Hogan, more or less ejecting Hall and Nash from the New World Order.

    Rock returned and defended Hogan. After Nash and Hall were ejected from the ring, The Rock gave Hogan a tremendous show of respect and urged him to pose the way that only Hogan could.

    If this didn't touch you on some level, then I really don't know what would.

Vince Buys WCW

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    From the doldrums of the "Montreal Screwjob," the WWE came roaring back by spawning the "Attitude Era" and characters such as Austin, Triple H and The Rock.

    This combined with several missteps by WCW ended the "Monday Night Wars" and ended an era.

    This was a great time for wrestling fans.

    Both organizations sought to "one up" the other and spawned great matches, memorable story lines, and legendary wrestlers who were larger then life.

    That era came to a abrupt end during a simulcast one Monday evening on both of the WWE's and WCW's respective flagship shows, Raw and Nitro

    An uncertain future pervaded the world of wrestling as the WWE was the sole promotion left standing at the end of it all.

    As a fan of both promotions, this was a bittersweet moment for me.

    The obvious end of a great era is always hard to swallow.

Chris Jericho Debut

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    Usually, debuts of wrestlers in any promotion fall flat for obvious reasons.

    This was one of the few exceptions.

    During the build up of the debut of Chris Jericho, the WWE ran a series of videos counting down the arrival of "The Millennium." Hardcore fans knew Jericho had jumped ship to the WWE. However, when the "Klaxon Countdown" (which would become a signature of Jericho) finished and his Titantron hit, fans became unglued everywhere.

    Jericho's promo, in which he portrayed himself as a heel, was the stuff of legend.

    Though the Rock undermined Jericho to a degree, it remains one of the most spine tingling moments in the history of Raw and the WWE.

    Jericho went on to have a storied career in the WWE and is rumored to be coming back soon.

    Indeed, the new millennium had arrived as "Y2J" had so prophesied.

Austin Stuns McMahon

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    You ever just want to deck your boss?

    I think it's something that we've all felt at one point.

    Admittedly, I haven't felt that way much, but there have been times where I wanted to knock them on their back, give them a one-fingered salute, and storm off.

    The WWE has always had a remarkable ability to connect with its audience on some level. This was best exemplified by the famous Austin/McMahon feud in the late 90's.

    McMahon and Austin were consistently at each other's throats and McMahon screwed Austin time and again. McMahon was the biggest heel in the company and Austin became the darling anti-hero of fans everywhere.

    Eventually in 1997, Austin had enough of McMahon's schtick and hit McMahon so hard that he had a seizure.

    Austin was subsequently arrested in the storyline, but the vindication felt by fans made it an unforgettable and exhilarating experience.

Randy Savage's Tribute

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    When Savage died of a heart attack earlier this year, it stunned a lot of fans by it's suddenness.

    The WWE aired this tribute video of his most iconic moments and I admit, I teared up.

    There is little else to say that hasn't already been covered.

    R.I.P. Macho Man.

The Undertaker Wins the 2007 Royal Rumble

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    It's hard to think about honestly.

    The Undertaker debuted in the WWE in 1990.He had been through his share of bad feuds and bad matches with bad wrestlers.

    Through it all, The Undertaker has remained loyal to the fans and to the WWE.

    I like to think that "The Streak"  will remain an unbreakable record, but I fear that one day, the WWE will get a wild idea that it would, in fact, be a good thing to break one of the most sacred things in wrestling.

    In any circumstance, one of the major blemishes on "The Phenom's" career was that he never won a Royal Rumble. Despite all his strong performances; multiple world championships, and his streak, this was always an egregious oversight as far as I was concerned.

    That oversight was corrected but it took a while.

    It took 17 years but he finally won one at the Royal Rumble 2007.

    HBK and Undertaker put on a strong performance as the last two in the ring, but Undertaker got the better of the Showstopper in this one.

    I watched this with a sense of vindication in my eyes and felt immense pride for Undertaker that he got some of his due.

    He went on to WrestleMania 23 and defeated Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship.

Austin Drives the Beertruck

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    As wrestling fans, we tend to buy into the strangest things.

    As part of the build towards WrestleMania XV where he was to face The Rock for the WWF Championship, Austin interrupted The Rock's interview with McMahon.

    The sheer audacity of the stunt makes this one of the most iconic moments of all time. 

    However, watching Austin bath The Rock and McMahon in a beer from a hose was one of those moments of vindication that makes us smile.

    Austin would go on to defeat The Rock in a "No Disqualification" match to win the WWF Title.

Undertaker Hugs Ric Flair

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    In a surreal moment during Ric Flair's retirement speech, Undertaker came out and hugged Ric Flair in a supreme moment of respect.

    During Flair's retirement speech, the entire locker room chanted, "Thank you, Ric! Thank you, Ric!" 

    After Raw went off the air, the WWE posted an "exclusive video" showing the Undertaker coming out to his theme.

    After the roster and staff parted like the Red Sea, Undertaker got into the ring, shook Ric's hand, and embraced Flair. 

    It remains a touching moment between the two most iconic men to ever grace the ring.

    Vince also got in the ring and hugged Flair and raised his hand in one last gesture of respect.

Jeff Hardy Leaves the WWE

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    It's always sad to see a man like Jeff Hardy go down.

    In the summer of 2009, Hardy was in a heated feud with CM Punk that Wrestling Observer gave their "Feud of the Year" award.

    In order to continue their epic battles, Hardy needed time to heal his painful herniated discs.

    Punk and Hardy continued their feud in a "Steel Cage" match on SmackDown that was so good the WWE included it in their "Best Steel Cage Matches of All Time" dvd.  A stipulation in the match was that the loser would have to leave the WWE.

    Punk defeated Hardy which resulted in Hardy leaving the WWE to recover from neck and back injuries.

    Hardy cut a heart-felt promo about leaving the WWE while the crowd chanted, "Thank you, Jeff!" 

    Ultimately, Hardy would wind up back in TNA but suffered a number of well documented personal problems.

    The speech remains memorable and sad for a number of reasons.


    Thanks for reading! Was there one left off the list? What moments, happy, sad,  or shocking have touched you as a fan? Feel free to leave a comment below.