WWE has had a long and successful history, and that itself has made it one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world.
Since its inception, fans have seen many jaw-dropping moments both inside and outside the ring, and many of those moments have moved them in a way they'd never expected.
Many such moments have been extremely emotional for the viewers, as they have witnessed some impressive storylines, some heartbreaking retirements, and a few instances when kayfabe bled into reality.
In this article, we will look at the 10 most emotional moments in WWE history, and the impact it had on the entire WWE Universe.
#10 Shawn Michaels retires Ric Flair
We’ve seen many Career vs. Career matches in WWE, but the one between Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair moved every single person in the arena in such a way that we still get goosebumps whenever we see images and videos reminding us of the match.
At WrestleMania 24, Ric Flair's "Career Threatening" match against Shawn Michaels saw the two veterans go at it in one of the most emotional matches we’ve ever seen.
Flair fought through a Sweet Chin Music and a modified figure four leglock, but he never gave up hope and kept on fighting.
In the end, Michaels said to Flair "I'm sorry, I love you", before nailing a final Sweet Chin Music before pinning the legend and ending his 35-year-long wrestling career.
After embracing Flair who was in tears, Michaels left quickly as Flair got a long-standing ovation from the crowd.
Flair embraced his family at ringside and then, as he proceeded to go backstage, he thanked the crowd for their support. This was arguably one of the most emotional retirement matches we’ve ever seen along with the one in which The Undertaker retired Michaels.
You’d have had to be living under a rock to have missed all the fanfare and hype that surrounded Kofi Kingston and his rise to the top after over a decade in the company.
Kofi was always seen as an extraordinary wrestler, and the company allowed him to win several Championships during his career. However, he never won ‘the big one’ even once in his career. After Mustafa Ali suffered an injury and was replaced by Kofi in an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship, fans began to back up their favorite Superstar and went all out to demand the top title for him.
This allowed the company to build an emotional storyline involving one of their hottest factions, The New Day, and their leader, Kofi Kingston. Throughout his journey to the top, the company threw everything they had at him in order to make his journey even tougher.
This allowed his rise to the top to become one of the most emotional ones for the fans, as they believed that they were the reason he was getting his deserved push.
Finally, Kofi defeated Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35 to fulfill his lifelong dream and won the WWE Championship. The victory saw almost everyone in the ring and around break into tears as, as Big E and Xavier Woods hoisted their leader upon their shoulders to show the world what the moment meant to them.
#8 Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth’s reunion
This story isn’t one about winning Championships or retiring, but one about a story the creatives told perfectly in the ring. It's a story that shows that even though several on-screen relationship stories haven't gone the way intended, a few have been told well and have touched the fans.
The story saw Savage replace Elizabeth with Sensational Sherri as his manager. As Savage continued his heel-turn, he came to a retirement match against The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII, which he lost. After the match, Sherri began to beatdown Savage as Elizabeth looked on from the audience.
She then entered the ring herself and threw Sherri out to protect The Macho Man. This led to Savage and Elizabeth once again reuniting on screen, and the crowd was moved to tears by the act which remains one of the best stories WWE ever told.
#7 The Undertaker vs. Mankind
It was a brutal match that had everything one could ask for, along with a few spots that gave the audience goosebumps and felt legit concern for the Superstars involved.
Inside Hell in a Cell, the two men used everything they could within the structure. This prompted them to climb to the top of the stage, after which Foley took two huge falls that could have either ended his career or killed him.
The most memorable part of the match was Mankind being thrown off the structure by The Undertaker through the announce table. J.R., who was the commentator during the match, exclaimed "My God, King, Foley's Dead!"
The match showed how much the two men, especially Foley, loved wrestling and would go to any extend to entertain the audience.
Even to this day, the fans recall it as one of the best matches of all time and the emotional impact it had on hardcore fans remains.
#6 The Montreal Screwjob
Remember the Monday Night Wars? When WCW and WWF had one of the most fierce rivalries in the history of sports-entertainment? That’s when fans got one of the most intense moments in wrestling history, and it involved almost everyone in the company.
Bret Hart, one of the greatest wrestlers to ever step in the ring, was about to leave WWF for WCW after receiving a contract offer that Vince McMahon could not match. Bret, who was seen as the bigger star, did not want to job-out to Shawn Michaels with whom he had personal problems. Vince, on the other hand, wanted to build Michaels at the expense of Hart and did not see Hart taking the loss as a problem.
During the match, Michaels locked Hart in the "Sharpshooter," and referee Earl Hebner called for the bell. Hart never tapped out, but still lost the match as Vince watched from ringside.
After the match, Vince and Michaels headed to the back as Hart spelled out WCW in the air for the entire world to see. The entire match and the end of it were extremely emotional for diehard wrestling fans who respected the company. They were furious with the way things turned out, and even to this day the “Montreal Screwjob” remains one of the most iconic moments in wrestling history.
#5 The Undertaker’s “retirement”
There’s no doubt that one of the most emotional moments in hardcore fans’ life would be the retirement of The Undertaker. At WrestleMania 33, the fans came very near that moment.
Undertaker took on Roman Reigns at the event in a No Holds Barred Match. However, The Phenom ended up losing the match to The Big Dog at the Grandest Stage of Them All.
After the match, Undertaker was left alone in the ring by Reigns and fans continued to chant The Undertaker’s name. The megastar then took off his gloves, and along with his hat and coat, left his gear in the ring gesturing a possible final match.
The fans were stunned and did not know what to think and whether to believe that The Undertaker’s legendary career had come to an end. Undertaker walking over to his wife Michelle McCool in the audience further confirmed that The Deadman had indeed retired.
While this moment was extremely emotional, Undertaker once again returned to the ring to squash John Cena at WrestleMania 34 and continues to wrestle to this day.
#4 Jerry “The King” Lawler suffers a heart attack
This was one of those moments that made fans realize that everything is possible in wrestling, and everything around it is very real too. During Monday Night RAW on September 12, 2012, WWE Hall of Famer and commentator Jerry "The King” Lawler suffered a legitimate heart attack on air.
There was silence on-air throughout the episode, as fans in attendance saw Lawler getting attended by medical personnel. As fans back home were also left in the dark, the entire moment was very emotional and surreal as everyone wanted to know what had happened and if Lawler was fine.
After Lawler was attended to, Michael Cole announced that Lawler’s heart had stopped for 20 minutes before he was revived using a defibrillator.
Luckily for him, he survived after undergoing some medical procedures and was back in his commentary spot only two months after the heart attack.
Lawler is still one of the most famous commentators in the industry, and fans to this day remember the time when Lawler came very close to death on-air.
#3 Edge’s retirement
We’ve seen many WWE Superstars stick with the company for decades before retiring from the sport. Most of them retire after they hit their 40s and 50s and have achieved almost everything one can possibly achieve in the ring.
One man who wasn’t lucky enough to last that long was Edge. On April 11, 2011, during an episode of Raw, Edge announced that he had to retire due to cervical spinal stenosis.
It was obvious that Edge was trying to hold back his tears as he gave an extremely emotional speech and looked back at his career and the risks involved in wrestling.
Edge, who broke his neck in 2002, revealed that he felt numbness in his arms before WrestleMania 27, and was told that he should retire if he didn’t want to end up in a wheelchair soon.
The fans were left in shock and tears as the news was too much for them to take in. He’d won a total of 31 championships prior to his retirement, and there was so much more on offer for him before he had to step back.
The Superstar made a shocking return to the ring at the 2020 Royal Rumble, and it remains to be seen just how fit he is and how long he'll continue wrestling for.
#2 Roman Reigns’ Leukemia announcement
It’s not often that you see a Superstar strip down from his in-ring character to who he really is and address the WWE Universe in a heart-to-heart segment. That is exactly what Roman Reigns did in October 2018 on RAW as the Universal Champion.
After telling the world about his real-life self, Roman revealed to the world that he suffered from leukemia, and even though it was in remission for some time, it’s back and he had to step away from the ring to battle the disease.
The announcement left the entire WWE Universe and everyone in the locker room completely stunned, as they could not believe what they’d just heard. Reigns also said that he’d be forced to relinquish his Universal Championship as he could not defend it anymore.
The same crowd that would usually hate on Reigns or booed him stood up in support for him and chanted in his support. As Reigns returned backstage, he was embraced by the entire locker room who had nothing but best wishes for the top Superstar.
This was an extremely emotional and moving moment for the WWE Universe who was once again reminded that the characters we see in the ring suffer from real-life problems too.
#1 Eddie Guerrero’s tribute show
Eddie Guerrero’s name has gone down in history as one of the best the world ever saw, and his services to WWE will never be forgotten.
On November 13, 2005, Eddie Guerrero was found dead in his hotel room by his nephew, Chavo Guerrero. Aged just 38, Eddie could have achieved much more in his career, but his untimely death was seen as arguably the most emotional moment in the history of sports entertainment.
The same night, WWE dedicated a show to the late Superstar. The show began with a ten-bell salute and all the WWE superstars on the entrance ramp. A video tribute was played as fans showered the arena with "Thank you, Eddie" chants.
Almost every superstar on the ramp had tears in their eyes, as none of this was kayfabe, and the entire WWE Universe felt the effect of Eddie’s loss.
Check out the 10 Superstars who have paid tribute to Eddie Guerrero HERE.
Several WWE superstars shared stories about Eddie during the broadcast. Every story moved the fans to tears, and to this day, Eddie’s death remains one of the most tragic and intense moments in WWE.