There was a time when professional wrestling was believed to be undeniably real, but now almost everyone is aware that it’s scripted; the action in the ring may be real, but only the viewers aren’t clued in who the night’s victor will be. These days it’s almost impossible to tell someone you’re a wrestling fan without being asked: “You know it’s fake, right?” The constant reminder can get pretty annoying, especially since no matter how much you train, jumping off of 12 foot ladders never really feels too great on the back.
While the pain that wrestlers feel is from the ring, the ropes, or a shattered prop, occasionally they will actually inflict real pain on each other (most of the time, it’s an accident). Every now and again wrestling gets out of hand and can turn into a real bare knuckle brawl. Over the years there have been quite a few instances of wrestlers getting into full-on fist fights, and as a result, some competitors have gotten seriously hurt for real (if it only it had been McMahon).
So when has wrestling gone off script, and become an ultra violent blood sport that would MMA fighters wince? Here are the top 10 matches where the wrestling wasn’t fake, and neither was our excitement.
#10 – Ryan Kidd vs. Tony Kozina
While Magnum Pro Wrestling might not be as popular as the WWE, it still produced one of the biggest matches of all-time: Ryan Kidd was only a teenager when he was slated to go against Tony Kozina at a 2012 show. While the match was supposed to be scripted in Kidd’s favor, Kozina got a microphone before the match and told the crowd that what they were about to witness a real contest of wrestling.
The reason for Kozina’s sudden outburst, and desire for a real match, was that Kidd had hopped on the internet the previous day and started to badmouth him. What followed Kozina’s announcement was something worthy of an immediate arrest for Kozina, who delivered piledriver after painful piledriver to the helpless Kidd: it was brutal! Kidd was lucky that his neck wasn’t broken as a result of the on-screen beatdown, and we haven’t heard much from either wrestler since. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but even I know that if you smack talk a wrestler, you’re probably going to catch a smack-down.
#9 – Wendi Richter vs. The Spider Lady
During the 1980’s, Wendi Richter was the biggest name in women’s wrestling, and was hailed as one of the best female wrestlers in the WWE. “The Fabulous Moolah” was the head honcho of the women’s division, holding the Women’s Championship title for nearly three decades and establishing a record for the longest held title; Richter ended her reign at Madison Square Garden, but she lost the belt soon after to Leilani Kai, with Moolah serving as Kai’s manager.
Richter would earn the belt back at Wrestlemania I, and was receiving a lot of attention for her victories; when Richter asked for more money and was declined, she threatened to leave the WWE altogether out of spite. The Spider Lady was the next match that was scheduled for Richter, but she looked different, and it was revealed to be Moolah in a mask; Moolah won the rigged event even though Richter kicked out, and Richter tried to steal the title back, she ended up quitting after the match (that’s what I call a sore loser).
#8 – Lex Luger vs. Bruiser Brody
One of the most brutal and infamous wrestlers of all-time is the aptly named “Bruiser Brody,” who traveled all over the Country to build up his fan base; meanwhile, a young superstar named “Lex Luger” was an amateur wrestler that was on the fast track to being a main event player. Within two weeks of debuting, Luger won a title match, and was slated to be the newest member of a wrestling team called “The Four Horsemen.” In one of his final matches before leaving, Luger and Brody were set in a cage at the heart of Florida, and tasked to battle it out until only one man was left.
When Luger tried to play out the match normally, Brody refused to make it look like he was being hit at all, and gave the impression he was unstoppable; not wanting to lose, Brody started throwing real punches at Luger, with some fans claiming he had gripped thumbtacks in order to make Luger bleed. Luger was so upset at the unsportsmanlike conduct, that he climbed out of the cage, grabbed his stuff from the locker room, and bailed. Bruider Brody may have won his match against Luger, but his performance in the ring cost him his reputation, and earned him the nickname “Bruiser the Loser;” I may have made that last fact up, but Brody is a big enough jerk to deserve it!
#7 – JBL vs. The Blue Meanie
Depending on who you ask, the biggest bully in the history of wrestling locker rooms is John Bradshaw Layfield (better known as JBL). JBL was part of the WWE roster that was invading the ECW pay per view called “One Night Stand;” since JBL was near the main event, and on the forefront of the WWE roster, he was cutting into promos to get the ECW crowd riled up.
The federation feud led to a big (scripted) brawl between the members of the two wrestling organizations, where JBL went straight for “The Blue Meanie,” hitting him several times with some particularly stiff punches; nobody is sure why he selected The Blue Meanie as a target, but before long the two were locked in an absolute slugfest. Soon after the close of the brawl, the two were put into a match together on “Smackdown,” and The Blue Meanie got his revenge: instead of hitting JBL in the body with a chair, The Blue Meanie took the opportunity to smash him in the head (which is a big no-no unless you’re getting payback). JBL may have got the first laugh, but The Blue Meanie not only forced him to calm down, he made him “take a seat.”
#6 – Andre the Giant vs. Akira Maeda
One of the biggest (both literally and figuratively) stars in wrestling history is the beloved Andre the Giant; while wrestling in Japan, he was scheduled to face Akira Maeda: a local legend who was famous for his matches against larger opponents. Some say that Maeda upset the league’s owner, Antonio Inoki, to the point where he intentionally scheduled an uneven match so that Andre could beat him up for real. Andre was incredibly intoxicated when he appeared in the ring, and neither competitor wanted to lose: the entire match was a recipe for disaster.
Maeda started to kick Andre as hard as he could in an attempt to knock the giant off his feet, but no matter how hard he kicked, Andre wouldn’t budge. After attempting a few submissions on his agile opponent, Andre got fed up and booted Maeda in the head. After his injury, the resulting match was some of the worst wrestling ever shown, and the crowd started to boo. Andre tried to coax Maeda into pinning him, but after Maeda refused, the two began to fight again and were quickly disqualified from the match: creating a tale of David Vs. Goliath that didn’t end so well for the little guy.
#5 – Stanislaus Zbyszko vs. Wayne Munn
You would have to be pretty old to remember who these two names, and are probably even older if you actually remember them wrestling each other. Stanislaus Zbyszko was the NWA Champion, but wasn’t getting the kind of booking he deserved from the venue, as they tried to promote Wayne Munn as the next champ. Joe Stecher was a promoter from the NWA’s rival company, and offered Zbyszko a hefty sum of money to make his match against Munn a real one.
Munn walked into the ring expecting a scripted match against Stanislaus with a win at the end, but instead he got a rude awakening! Zbyszko threw technique to the wind and manhandled Munn into the center of the ring: it was such a bad display that the referee wasn’t even counting to three on pin attempts. The crowd started to go wild for Zbyszko’s domination, which prompted the ref to actually finish the count to prevent a possible riot; whenever you compete against a man whose name you can’t pronounce, you should never expect it to be simple.
#4 – Steven Regal vs. Goldberg
Steven Regal (who is now known as William Regal on WWE’s NXT promotion) is a consummate professional in the ring, and has been wrestling since the mid 80’s. Regal made his way to the WCW in 1992, and was there for six years before finally being scheduled in a match on “Monday Nitro” against the crowd favorite: “Goldberg.” At the time, Goldberg was in his first year and riding an incredibly long undefeated streak, but Regal wanted to see if he was the real deal, and whether he could actually hold his own.
According to reports, the match between Regal and Goldberg was supposed to be no longer than two minutes (otherwise known as a squash), in which Goldberg came out on top. Instead of a usual one sided match, the crowd got a six minute mess in which Goldberg was forced to pull out more than his usual two moves; Regal would grab the ropes on pin attempts, put Goldberg into submissions, and make him look completely lost. Goldberg took the win in the end by slamming Regal down hard, which goes to show you that no matter how skilled you think you are if you play with a bull then you get the horns.
#3 – Perry Saturn vs. Mike Bell
When Perry Saturn joined the WWE in 2000 he was a part of “The Radicalz” faction along with Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko, but despite being a solid wrestler, was the least popular of the four. Saturn got knocked farther down the card as a result of his unpopularity, and they wanted to build him back up by facing him off against a ‘jobber’ by the name of Mike Bell; the match started off sticking to the script, but soon escalated into a real competition.
Bell threw Saturn over his shoulder with an armdrag, which nearly gave Saturn a severe head injury; Saturn got so upset that he punched Bell to the point where he fell out of the ring. Saturn proceeded to repeatedly throw Bell against the steps outside the ring, nearly rendering the poor no-namer unconscious; the punishment for Saturn’s rage-fit was his participation in a storyline where he was dating a mop named….Moppy: that’ll teach him to be cleaner in the ring.
#2 – Kurt Angle vs. Daniel Puder
The WWE hit reality show titled “Tough Enough” is currently in the process of a revival, but has actually been around for quite some time; when it originally became a part of “Smackdown,” the contestants were sitting ringside when the superstar Kurt Angle entered the ring and offered any of the contestants a chance to face him in a match. Daniel Puder was the one that answered Kurt’s challenge, and felt he could win on account of his history with practicing mixed martial arts.
Angle was supposed to beat him quickly, but Puder wanted to show that he could hang with the big dogs by actually giving Angle a real fight. Puder actually came close to defeating Angle, but the audience sitting in the back wasn’t too happy about the results; the referee got a signal in from the head honchos to count Puder in a pin, even though his shoulder’s weren’t on the mat. Puder would end up winning the “Tough Enough” competition, but was released in 2005 (I guess he wasn’t “popular enough”).
#1 – Great Antonio vs. Antonio Inoki
When it comes to the pro wrestling scene in Japan, there is no bigger name than Antonio Inoki. Inoki was a hero to the Japanese people, a wily veteran that knew his way around a ring as if he had been born in it; Great Antonio, on the other hand, was a wrestler from Croatia that wasn’t nearly as popular, and when the two squared off in a match, Great Antonio refused to act out any of the moves that Inoki was dishing out.
Inoki started to complain into the ear of Great Antonio: giving him a stern talking to; Great Antonio didn’t appreciate Inoki’s “disrespect” and started to punch him in both the neck and his head. The unexpected barrage of attacks from Antonio angered Inoki, and he was so frustrated that he tackled the massive wrestler and began repeatedly kicking him; Inoki’s kicks were so powerful that Antonio quickly lost consciousness, and Inoki’s manager had to come into the ring to stop him from potentially killing him. It wasn’t long after the violent match that Great Antonio “got the boot” from future gigs.