We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but it turns out that whilst very physically taxing, pro wrestling is in fact a pre-determined contest for the purposes of entertainment.
Well, that’s what’s supposed to be happen. There are occasions where pro wrestling matches have gone off script and have become very real indeed.
Here we break down those times when wrestling matches have turned in to real shoot fights.
Sexy Starr vs. Rosemary, Triplemania XXV
This match became one of the most controversial bouts amongst workers and fans in recent history. The story goes that at the conclusion of the match Starr decided to hyper extend Rosemary’s elbow beyond the required angle and kept applying pressure for as long as possible after the bell.
At this point fans did not realise something was amiss, as this is often done for storyline reasons to enhance the aggression of the heel.
Shortly after though, online reports started to emerge that Starr had gone into business for herself in an attempt to injure Rosemary.
After the debacle Cody Rhodes said that Starr would never compete in an AEW ring, Road Dogg called for her to be blacklisted and Chris Jericho humorously referred to her as a ‘Sexy piece of sh*t’ on his podcast. Not a good day at the office for Starr.
Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax, WWE Raw, August 30th 2021
This is an interesting entry because nobody really knows just what the hell went on. This was a mix of co-operative pro wrestling and, well some not so co-operative wrestling.
According to PWInsider, Nia Jax reportedly dropped Charlotte incorrectly too high up towards her back and neck area, which caused Charlotte to retaliate.
After this point both competitors were looking at each other awkwardly before the match descended into some very legit looking pushing, slapping, punching and hair-pulling until Jax abruptly picked up the win.
What’s perhaps most interesting about this incident is that this part and only this part is the section that WWE chose to upload to their official YouTube channel.
Ric Flair vs. Vader, WCW Starrcade 1993
This match at Starrcade is widely regarded as an absolute classic. It features arguably the greatest worker of all time, Ric Flair against the formidable Vader, who quite frankly clearly enjoyed taking liberties with opponents.
Vader gained a reputation for being too stiff and would often throw his strikes wildly and with force at his opponent’s head, causing disorientation.
Despite managing Vader in the story line, Harley Race was more concerned with supporting his real-life friend. On his Woo Nation Uncensored Podcast, Ric Flair famously tells the story of Harley Race demanding:
“If you don’t hit that big fat baby back, I’ll never talk to you again”
This pep talk spurred on the ‘Nature Boy’ to launch a flurry of very stiff punches and chops directly to the face of Vader, who did not appear to like when his enthusiasm was reciprocated back towards him.
The emotion and passion displayed in this onslaught of attacks without doubt added to the quality of the match and in this case the two were able to turn an awkward scuffle into something that in the long-term worked in their favour.
Kurt Angle vs. Daniel Puder, WWE SmackDown, November 4th 2001
It’s difficult to call this unfortunate event an official match and one gets the feeling that something like this could never happen on WWE television in the modern era.
Unfortunately for both wrestlers involved it was still the wild west somewhat back in 2004 as Daniel Puder, a WWE Tough Enough $1,000,000 contender decided to take on Kurt Angle in a shoot wrestling match on Smackdown.
Unsurprisingly, Angle quickly took Puder down, but to everyone’s surprise, the rookie had secured a kimura arm lock on the way down.
Thankfully, Jimmy Korderas was on hand to quickly make the 3 count, giving Angle the victory and stopping the Olympic gold medallist from potentially being embarrassed on TV.
Whilst many chalk this up as an unofficial win for Puder, that would in fact be incorrect. Angle has argued that the match was in fact, a wrestling match, not a grappling or ju-jitsu tournament and that had angle been prepared for submissions his approach may have been different.
It seems that WWE didn’t learn the lesson from getting pro wrestlers to fight for real after the absolutely disastrous 1998 Brawl For All.