15 times WWE wrestlers got physical for real
It's no secret that WWE, just like any other professional wrestling company, is scripted. The wrestlers practice their matches, winners are already determined, special props are made to ensure safety, and finally, wrestlers make sure they are safe.
For this list, we are going to take a look into some circumstances where wrestlers decided to turn the scripted sport into a reality.
#1: Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane at Royal Rumble 2018
At Royal Rumble 2018, Brock Lesnar defended the Universal Championship in a triple-threat match against Braun Strowman and Kane. At one point, Strowman caught the former UFC fighter with a knee strike to the face.
This caused Lesnar to hit Strowman legitimately, even dropping the SmackDown star to his knees. Braun later stated that when they reached backstage, they both just laughed it off and apologized to each other.
#2: Nia Jax vs. Charlotte Flair exchanged punches on RAW
Nia Jax and Charlotte Flair caught the attention of many fans during their match on an episode of RAW. In the August 30, 2021 edition, their punches and slaps seemed more personal. The heated bout ended with Jax power-slamming Flair for the win.
Nia later shared that the exchange was just a miscommunication and that they were real-life friends. Stating that after Charlotte hit her, Jax began returning them. They cleared the air once they went backstage.
#3: Chris Jericho had to "calm down" Shane McMahon
In WWE Survivor Series 2016, a classic five-on-five elimination tag match occurred between the RAW and SmackDown brands. Shane McMahon joined the blue team, while Jericho joined the red. At one point, both men faced off and McMahon landed multiple stiff punches to his opponent.
Chris finally had enough after getting hit three times. As a result, he kicked Shane in the face and dropped a double kick from the second rope. As recalled by the now AEW star, he asked Shane to "calm the f**k down" after the latter was laying in the ring looking dazed.
#4: The Blue Meanie ended up with a bloody head after an encounter with JBL
At ECW One Night Stand in 2005, a special event honoring the aforementioned brand, many well-known stars from the promotion returned to perform. At the main event of the match, a brawl between ECW Originals and WWE stars broke out. This was when John Bradshaw Layfield hit The Blue Meanie, causing the latter to be busted open.
The fight happened after JBL heard The Blue Meanie state John was a bully during an interview. Backstage, Meanie was stitched up by doctors and received double pay. Years later, both stars have since buried the hatchet.
#5: Kurt Angle almost broke his arm in 2004 by a Tough Enough contestant
In 2004, the Stamford-based promotion brought back WWE Tough Enough. The show's finalists were then featured on SmackDown, wherein they were challenged by Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle. Daniel Puder then stepped in and while wrestling for position, Angle shot for a takedown but Puder caught Angle in a kimura lock. Kurt attempted a pin while still in the submission move. The referee counted to three and awarded Kurt the win.
After the match, Kurt was visibly upset and got in the face of Puder. The latter won that season's Tough Enough, but his relationship with the WWE Hall of Famer did not improve.
#6: Ken Shamrock and Vader had a nasty exchange in 1997
Ken Shamrock came from a famous MMA background, and he had to learn the difference between the sports the hard way. In the 1997 In Your House event, he faced Vader in a No Holds Barred match.
Ken legitimately punched his opponent, and the latter asked him to stop. When the former MMA fighter did not listen, Vader returned with his own real punch as well.
#7: Perry Saturn took matters into his own hands after Mike Bell's botch
During an episode of WWE Jakked/Metal on May 7, 2001, Mike Bell botched an arm drag while competing against Perry Saturn. The latter then legitimately beat up his opponent. Aside from punches, Saturn threw Bell outside the ring and even drove him to the steel steps.
#8: The APA and The Public Enemy had issues moments before their WWE match in 1999
The APA (JBL and Farooq) went up against The Public Enemy in Sunday Night Heat in 1999. Moments before their bout, the latter group expressed that they didn't want to go through with the planned finish. The APA took offense and proceeded to beat down their opponents.
The match ended with no winners, which was originally supposed to be The APA winning. Luckily, no brawl broke out backstage and both groups quickly resolved their issues.
#9: Randy Orton learned a valuable lesson after a real shot from The Undertaker
On a 2005 episode of WWE SmackDown, Randy Orton accidentally hit The Undertaker too hard on the head, causing The Deadman to be busted open. The Viper recalled apologizing backstage, and The Phenom simply accepted the apology and stated a "receipt" would come later on.
The receipt came at that year's WWE Armageddon event during Hell in a Cell. While both men were outside the ring, Orton was leaning against the apron when 'Taker hit him with a chair. The moment taught Orton that a superstar's number one priority should be their opponent.
#10: Kevin Nash and PCO (Jean-Pierre Lafitte) did not agree on a finish in 1995
In September 1995, Jean-Pierre Lafitte (aka Count-Pierre-Carl Ouelette) was scheduled to lose against then-WWE Champion Diesel at a house show in Montreal. The Canadian star refused a quick Jack Knife and pin finish, so it was changed to a double count out.
The following night at another house show in Montreal, PCO performed a leg drop from the top rope and landed on the side of Kevin's head. The champion retaliated by kicking his opponent between the legs followed by a few punches. The match ended with a powerbomb, but the fight continued backstage before they were separated.
#11: Kevin Nash had another real exchange in 1994
Kevin Nash returns to this list as Diesel. In 1994, he was part of the Royal Rumble when he was punched for real by Virgil. As recalled by Nash, Virgil was only supposed to come in and get eliminated, but he had other plans. As a result, Kevin retaliated with his own punches before eliminating him.
#12: Big Show "gave" Kofi Kingston a sunken chest
Compared to the rest of the actions on this list, this one wasn't as personal. During a WWE RAW match in 2009, Kofi Kingston accidentally hit a stiff kick on the Big Show. Later on in the match, The New Day member received a harsh slap on the chest from the former superstar. Fortunately, no feelings were harmed and both stars even joked about the incident, stating that the chop resulted in Kingston's sunken chest.
#13: Stone Cold Steve Austin stomped Booker T
One of the most memorable encounters in WWE history is between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Booker T in a grocery store. However, both stars mostly remembered a real exchange that happened in a different past.
Stone Cold previously recalled receiving an accidental stiff punch from Booker T, even claiming he got knocked out. The Rattlesnake, in turn, responded with a boot to the nose. Still, there is no animosity between the two stars now.
#14: Hardcore Holly attacked Rene Dupree over a speeding ticket
In 2004, Hardcore Holly teamed up with Charlie Haas vs Rene Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki at a WWE house show. While Holly and Dupree faced off, Hardcore began delivering real shots at his opponent. As it turns out, this was because Rene used Holly's rental car, which later got a speeding ticket that Hardcore had to pay for.
#15: Maven was on the receiving end of a chair shot by Snitsky
In WWE Survivor Series 2004, Maven was attacked backstage by Snitsky prior to their main event match, which ended with a bloody head. Maven returned to the match and hit Snitsky with an elbow. In return, Snitsky responded with a chair shot.