The WWE is the most universally recognized form of sports theater today, yet it has still had more than its fair share of unpredictable moments.
Whether it’s a real world injury that prevents a wrestler from fighting, or a scripted feud that becomes real outside of the ring, some battles just don’t go according to plan. These moments in the wrestling world are referred to as “shoots,” derived from the term “straight shooting.” While some shoots are little more than temporary setbacks, others are drastic enough to permanently change a wrestler’s angle.
4: Eddie Guerrero Vs. Aggressive Fan
If there’s one rule WWE fans must obey when attending a WWE event, it’s definitely “don’t enter the ring.” Unfortunately, one assertive fan didn’t feel like playing by the rules.
Enter the fateful 2002 ladder match between Eddie Guerrero and RVD. Just as Eddie was getting ready to perform his next move on RVD from atop the ladder, a fan storms into the ring and attempts to knock the ladder out from underneath the wrestler’s feet. Fortunately, Eddie was able to see the fan coming and jumped from the ladder in the nick of time as security proceeded to tackle the assailant and drag him out of the ring. Though the incident was only a short interruption in the flow of the match, it’s still troubling to think how seriously injured Eddie could have been were it not for his quick reflexes. Remember, leave the fighting to the professionals!
3: Stephanie McMahon actually marries Triple H
It’s not uncommon for the leading hero and heroine of a movie to find love in real life, and as it turns out, the WWE is no different.
Stephanie McMahon, daughter of WWE head honcho Vince McMahon, officially entered the WWE canon in 1999 as both a professional wrestler and a key love interest at the center of several emerging storylines at the time. However, when her true love was revealed to be Triple H, the face of the entire industry would be changed forever. What started as strictly an onstage relationship evolved into a genuine love story, and all subsequent plots involving the two had to be altered out of respect for both the couple’s private life and other wrestlers who felt Triple H’s relationship put him at an unfair advantage in the business. Today, Stephanie and Triple H are happily married with three daughters, and they continue to hold a significant place within the WWE empire.
2: The Shockmaster
This list wouldn’t be complete without some love for the WCW, as they were home to one of the most hilariously tragic shoots in the history of the industry.
Formerly known as “Tugboat,” wrestler Fred Ottman was set to make a dramatic debut under his new alias, “The Shockmaster,” after switching from the WWF to the WCW. Complete with what appears to be a Stormtrooper helmet covered with silver glitter, Ottman was planned to reveal himself by smashing through a wall – Kool-Aid man style – while pyrotechnics hailed his entrance. However, only the top section of the wall gave way when the Shockmaster performed the maneuver live, causing him to stumble head first onto the floor as his helmet stumbled off his head. Just like that, the man designed to be a hyped new wrestler in the WCW universe turned into a clumsy comic relief figure, as his character was written into a klutz to salvage his colossal failure of an introduction. Let it never be said that first impressions don’t matter!
1: The Montreal Screwjob
Let’s face it, it’s impossible to talk about wrestling shoots without spending time on The Montreal Screwjob. Never has a shoot been so dramatic, so complex, and so controversial.
In the days leading up to the 1997 title match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, there was significant internal strife in deciding how the match would be concluded. Hart, the official champion of the time, refused to lose his title to Michaels due to the longstanding feud between the two that existed both in and out of the ring. However, Vince McMahon was reluctant to give Hart the title due to the wrestler’s pending departure to rival network WCW. They had “compromised” that the match would end with a disqualification, which would allow Hart to technically keep his title, but a much darker plan was brewing that Hart could not have foreseen.
When the fateful match went live, Shawn Michaels held Hart in his signature “sharpshooter” move, and despite Hart not giving in, the match was called with Michaels as the winner. In the confusion that erupted after the bell rang, it became clear to fans what had happened. McMahon had orchestrated the circumstances to declare Michaels the champion without Hart knowing, and the audience became visibly upset with the outcome. It was an event that would reshape the industry, as it was not only infamous in its own right, but it would also cement McMahon as a villain in the WWE canon for years to come.
The Montreal Screwjob is considered to be a legitimate betrayal by the majority of fans, though some believe that Hart was in on the shoot and was playing up the drama. Michaels and Hart called a truce in 2010, so any bad blood that once existed can now be considered water under the bridge. Still, the incident remains a cautionary tale of what can happen when real world drama manages to find its way into the ring. Even if you think you’ve seen everything, it never hurts to expect the unexpected.