The action that takes place inside of a wrestling ring is the product of a team of performers, writers and producers creating a quality show for fans to enjoy. Part of the entertainment of wrestling is suspending disbelief to feel that it is a legitimate contest, despite knowing that it is a produced event. However, sometimes outside influences can impact what ends up happening inside the ring, whether fans like it or not.
Emotions run high in the wrestling industry due to the passion that everyone has. Because of those emotions, things can get tense and ultimately boil over and become a legitimate incident. Due to the ramifications of these incidents, sometimes the wrestling product is impacted which causes plans to change.
10 Before The Montreal Screwjob
The relationship between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels is well documented, which came to a crescendo at the 1997 Survivor Series. The Montreal Screwjob is an infamous point in wrestling history which sent shockwaves through the wrestling industry that were felt for years to come.
However, the backstage moments that helped push the Screwjob to the finishing point were just as impactful. As a result of Michaels implying that Bret was having a legitimate affair with Sunny, the two got in a scuffle backstage that not only worsened their relationship but likely made Michaels an all-too-willing participant to screw Bret Hart out of the WWE Championship legitimately.
9 All Out
While wrestling fans initially rejoiced when CM Punk returned to professional wrestling after signing with AEW, things quickly spiralled out of control. There is no denying that Punk is a controversial figure in wrestling due to his outspoken attitude. Still, few fans could have predicted the numerous incidents that would happen during his short AEW tenure.
Following the critically acclaimed All Out event in 2022, CM Punk walked away with the AEW World Championship after defeating Jon Moxley. However, it was the post-show media scrum that would produce the real fireworks when Punk went off about his true feelings towards other members of the AEW roster. This ultimately led to a legitimate fight backstage that would put in motion numerous changes to AEW operations and send careers spiralling.
8 The Plane Ride From Hell
To say that professional wrestlers can be rambunctious would be an understatement as there are too many reports in the world that show just how wild they can be. However, when reports about the infamous 2002 “plane ride from hell” surfaced, it shocked even the most hardcore fans.
With personalities like Ric Flair, Brock Lesnar, Curt Hennig and Scott Hall getting into loads of trouble on an airplane, it turned things upside down. Many wrestlers were fired due to the on-board incidents which took place on the flight, and many had legal action taken against them that impacted their careers.
7 Austin Takes His Ball And Goes Home
For wrestling fans in the Attitude era, there was no star greater than “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. For years, Austin had been the main event player in WWE who had carried them through the Monday Night Wars and remained the most popular member of the roster. However, even the greatest of superstars is not immune to frustration in the workplace.
With WWE Creative seemingly going in a new direction, Austin felt that he was being lost in the shuffle. After being asked to participate in programs that he felt were not of his calibre, he walked out of WWE in 2002 causing many plans to reshuffle and disappeared for several months before coming to an agreement with Vince McMahon.
6 Nailz Vs. Vince McMahon
It is easy for fans to understand that sometimes employees can get frustrated with their bosses at work, but very few would take it upon themselves to physically assault them. However, Kevin “Nailz” Wachloz did not get that memo when he attacked Vince McMahon in 1992 over a pay dispute.
Years later, Wachloz would testify against Vince during his highly publicized steroid trial. Ultimately, Wachloz’s testimony helped keep McMahon out of prison when he claimed that he had extreme hatred for him, which contradicted his earlier testimony and made him inadmissible to the court.
5 The Rock & John Cena
There are few wrestling stars greater than both John Cena and The Rock, but since they were from two different generations, fans never thought they would ever see them clash inside the ring. Ultimately, they finally got their wishes as their paths began to cross leading into WrestleMania 27, which led to their big match at WrestleMania 28.
However, their feud actually stemmed from public comments made by both parties in separate media outlets. Both men criticized the other over their career performances, which would lead to many of the comments they made during their feud being legitimate and only further fueled the fire during their feud.
4 Young Bucks Forget To Shake Hands
Given the success of AEW with The Young Bucks at the helm, it is difficult to imagine that at one point they were knocking on WWE’s door to join the company. However, in 2011 there were like many other independent wrestlers trying to make it in the industry, but they ended up stepping on some toes in the process.
During a WWE tryout in 2011, Booker T alleged that both Young Bucks had accidentally leaned on his jacket and were “acting disrespectful” by not shaking his hand. Longstanding traditions in wrestling say that every hand must be shaken inside the locker room, and by being viewed as disrespectful, it gave the Bucks a rough reputation that hurt their WWE prospects. Thankfully, an incident like this likely contributed to them starting their own company many years later.
3 XPW Invades ECW
While larger companies like WWE and WCW were normally the focus in the early 2000s, smaller companies have the ability to make waves too. ECW was well-known for challenging authority, but it made headlines when another company invaded their territory.
At the 2000 Heat Wave event, rival personnel from Xtreme Pro Wrestling attended the event and attempted to hijack the show. Ultimately, a brawl took place in the parking lot between both companies, which only served to hurt XPW’s reputation and further spiralled them into closing not long afterwards.
2 Edge, Matt Hardy & Lita
When real-life issues find their way onto television programming, it can sometimes result in a bad situation for all parties. However, it also has the ability to make careers skyrocket if the performers involved are able to remain professional. Had it not been for the real-life drama between Matt Hardy, Edge and Lita, then many careers would be different.
Following the news of Edge and Lita’s legitimate affair while she was with Matt Hardy, the wrestling world was set on fire. Combined with Hardy’s recent release from WWE, fans were incensed and instantly turned on both Edge and Lita, which helped catapult them to being the top heels in the company for years.
1 CM Punk & Jack Perry
CM Punk’s poor choices in AEW started with his involvement in the backstage antics at All Out 2022, but they did not stop there. Towards the end of his run with the company, many members of the roster were uncomfortable with his presence, but some voiced their opinions louder than others.
At All In 2023, Jack Perry vocalized his displeasure with Punk during the event, which led to a legitimate fight backstage between the two. Both wrestlers were suspended for their actions, and this ultimately led to Punk being let go from AEW altogether, ending one of the biggest return stories in wrestling history.