Top Five Shocking Moments in Pro Wrestling

Lowlife Louie Ramos, Brian Damage, B. Dangerous and Amerigo Diehl

This week we look at top five shocking moments in pro wrestling. Whether it was a surprising debut, heel/face turn, winning a title that you thought would never happen or retirement outta nowhere. We pick our personal top five moments that truly shocked us.


Honorable mentions
Lex Luger walks out during the 1st nitro 
Earthquake attacks the Ultimate Warrior after being picked out of a crowd
Mankind being thrown from Hell in a Cell
Edge 2010 royal rumble return and win
Andre the Giant  turns on Hulk Hogan 
The Giant fall off the side of the roof of the Cobo hall at Halloween havoc

5) Evil twin magic

Main event. Feb 5th 1988, the huge Wrestlemania 3 rematch between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.  This time in front of a live national television audience on a Friday night in prime time. Andre had  the million dollar man Ted DiBiase in his corner, and unbeknownst to everyone else an evil heel twin referee to help screw the Hulkster out of the title. A underhook suplex by Andre, a quick count despite the shoulder being up and we had a new world champion. Seconds later Andre would hand over the title to DiBiase..only for President Jack Tunney to intercede the next day…at the time. Shocking and great television. 

4) Ian Rotten vs Axl Rotten 2/14/95

As a wrestling magazine buying teenager, i had seen all the the pictures of Japan and Puerto Rico..but had never seen something to that high degree of violence in the United states, let alone 100 miles from where i grew up. Finding out this barbaric,  brutal match was happening close to home was shocking and amazing.  The match itself at the time a sight to behold. 2 tough as nails men brutalized each other with a bat wrapped in barbed wire..images that shocked me, and would remain with me forever and inspired me to follow my dream.

3) Snakebit Fall of 1991

Superstars of wrestling,  Jake the snake Roberts, responsible for destroying the wedding reception of Macho Man Randy Savage and Elizabeth, now was constantly baiting Savage, who was retired, to a fight. Then the unthinkable happens. Roberts attacks Savage and ties him to the ropes.  He proceeds to take out a king Cobra from his burlap sack..and proceeded to let the cobra bite the Macho man in the arm. At the moment 15 yr old me really could not understand what i was seeing. But it was one of those shocking and unforgettable wrestling moments. 

2) Manny’s Kneedrop

We all know Bruiser Brody was sadly murdered in July of 1988 in Bayamon Puerto Rico. We also know Manny Fernandez aka the raging bull was a fellow Texan and good friend of Brody. Following the murder, Manny was booked to wrestle invader 3..on a televised WWC card, Manny would beat invader bloody, and then proceed to hit the King Kong the top rope…on to the chest of invader 3..invader would immediately begin to cough up and vomit a tremendous amount of blood only to have Manny kneedrop him a few more times..Fernandez never returned to Puerto Rico, which gives credence to this not being planned.. and to be 12 yrs old watching this on the old Spanish 41 channel on a Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn NY was shocking and unreal. A must find on YouTube if you haven’t seen it 

1) Hulk goes Heel

By 1996 a lot of what we saw didnt surprise us, as the visible cracks in kayfabe had began years earlier ..even yours truly at the time had been smartened up as they say, as i had already began speaking to people within the business for guidance and a lifelong and die hard Hulkamaniac, nothing would prepare me for what i saw at bash at the beach.When Hogan hit the legdrop on Randy Savage i knew i had just witnessed history.  The most shocking moment i saw until that time. ( meaning before i got into the business). My hero and the quintessential good guy had just turned heel. The live attendance peppered him with trash, a fan actually jumped into the ring only to get viciously stomped out by Scott Hall.Hulk had shocked us all..



Eddie Guerrero defeats Brock Lesnar for WWE title

Make no mistake about it, I as a fan was rooting hard for Eddie Guerrero to beat the unbeatable Brock Lesnar for the WWE undisputed title at No Way Out in 2004. While I expected a very competitive match, I just didn’t think WWE would actually pull the trigger and have Guerrero pin Lesnar. After all, Brock was the future of the company. I was so shocked and completely delirious when Eddie pinned Lesnar and became a world champion.

A Moment in Time: Jerry 'The King' Lawler Declares War on ECW | Ring the  Damn Bell

Jim Cornette Appears at the ECW Arena

By the late 1990’s, I had become what I thought was a know it all fan who knew things that were going to happen before they did. That was all due to the internet and dirt sheets that I was reading back in the day. Give credit where credit is due, when Jerry Lawler had his feud against ECW and manager Jim Cornette appeared after the lights went out and came back on I was completely shocked and marked out. A moment in time that I never expected to happen and did. An amazing moment.

Dusty Rhodes Attacks Four Horsemen with Baseball Bat

I grew up a WWF fan, but when my family finally got cable, I was able to spread my wings and watch other wrestling promotions around the country. Once incident that really stood out to me and shocked me was when an injured Magnum TA was assaulted by Tully Blanchard and JJ Dillon of the Four Horsemen. Dusty Rhodes came to his best friend’s aid swinging a baseball bat hitting Blanchard and even Jim Crockett Jr for his troubles. It was completely wild and chaotic and I was glued to my television set.

The Honkytonk Man wins the Intercontinental title

Back in the day, title changes didn’t happen like people changing their underwear. Title reigns usually lasted for a longer period of time and they rarely happened on a random TV taping. Most titles exchanged hands on pay per view, closed circuit television or at house shows. So when a newly turned Honkytonk Man pinned a relatively newly crowned Intercontinental champion in Ricky Steamboat on TV….I was completely shocked and speechless.

Paul Orndorff turns on Hulk Hogan

I was just really becoming a big wrestling fan when this heel turn occurred. Even though the WWF planted the seeds to Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff turning heel for weeks, when it actually happened, I was stunned. How could Orndorff turn on his best friend like that? Why Paul why? Also, why am I siding with Paul Orndorff and becoming a huge Mr. Wonderful mark? It was a well done storyline that did big business for the World Wrestling Federation back in the day. I loved every second of it.

B. Dangerous

There have been many moments throughout wrestling history that could potentially make this list, but for my sake I’m staying within the world of Kayfabe or in-ring occurrences rather than including wrestler deaths and so-on.

5- The Chair Incident in ECW

It’s the ultimate thing when fans get fully invested in a match or an angle and that’s something that ECW had frequently. However, the Chair Incident was almost certainly the ultimate example of that with Terry Funk wanting to promote audience participation by asking someone to toss him a chair… only to find himself buried be dozens of chairs within a matter of moments.

4- Russo Buries Hogan in WCW

Whether a work, a shoot, a work-shoot, we’ll probably never know the full truth. But one thing we know for absolutely certain is that there was tension between Vince Russo and Hulk Hogan for Hogan’s alleged abuse of “creative control” and unwillingness to put-over younger talent.
In this scenario, Russo would march to the ring, verbally eviscerate Hogan for pulling his “creative control card”, declare the WCW World Championship held by Hogan the “Hulk Hogan Memorial Championship”, and guarantee the viewers and those in attendance that we would never see Hulk Hogan in a WCW ring again.
This is also the incident that saw Jeff Jarrett (who was allegedly supposed to retain the belt over Hogan) lay down in the middle of the ring while a visibly frustrated Hogan pinned him to reclaim the championship.

Punk’s Pipe Bomb/Return w/WWE Championship

CM Punk’s “pipe bomb” is the thing of legends. From his condemnation of the McMahons (including Triple H) to his insider peek behind the proverbial curtain to his naming of non-WWE entities… it was masterful and compelling. In that moment Punk became even more of a stick-it-to-the-man antihero than Steve Austin had ever been because we knew that, at least to a significant degree, this was real.

To make the story even more compelling, Punk would go on to win the WWE Championship on the day his contract expired, leave through the crowd after blowing McMahon a kiss, and walk out of the company entirely.

Since Punk was in possession of the physical WWE Championship, a new champion had to be crowned with a new physical belt. The end of that match came with static of the audio and Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” blaring out over WWE TV for the first time, with Punk making his grand return and showing the powers-that-be something they didn’t like when the crowd in attendance made very clear that Cena was not their chosen champion, Punk was.

Rick Rude in Two Places at Once

In the late 90s any true wrestling fan did a lot of channel flipping between Nitro and RAW because every Monday had the potential to make history and you didn’t want to be the poor fool that missed it!

One such occasion was the night Rick Rude appeared with Degeneration-X (w/ a full beard) on RAW only to appear literal minutes later with the NWO, several states away (w/ just a mustache).

Sting Rappels in WCW

Sting came from the rafters numerous times in WCW, but it never got old.

The first time Sting rappelled from the ceiling was January of 1997 and my friends and I, who watched wrestling together every single week, had our minds blown. However, it seemed like almost every time Sting would descend it became better and better!

Week after week we would “pop” huge for that moment we’d see Sting drop down and exact his vigilante justice on the vile NWO, insomuch as it basically became the hallmark of 90’s wrestling to me.


5 Most Shocking Moments 

5. Bob Backlund loses the WWF title. This one was more personal than anything else but I remember being shocked by the news. Long before the internet and the death of kayfabe, as a kid I thought Backlund would never lose. After all, he had been holding the title for almost 6 years, 2135 days, something unheard of in today’s wrestling. When my friends told me what had happened, I was shocked, and more than 37 years later I can still remember where I was when they told me. His loss was designed to open the door for McMahon’s push toward building a nation wide product, and introduced us to Hulkamania.
4. Luger walks out on Nitro- Eh maybe not that important in the history of pro wrestling, but still shocking primarily because, as has been pointed out, it broke the mould for how talent was introduced to new promotions. Prior to Luger, there were weeks long vignets building up to the wrestlers arrival. Once Luger made the unannounced arrival on the first Nitro it paved the way for more important events to happen the same way. Eight months later Scott Hall would show up, unannounced, with no prior hype, and help launch the Monday Night Wars, where it seemed each week, we would see another shocking unannounced arrival into another promotion. 
3. Hogan is the third man- Another great memory, and shocking for many. For those who did not grow up at the height of hulkamania, Hogan was the biggest star, shirts, toys, posters, you name it, his face was on it. Prior to Hogan, the only place to get anything wrestling related was to either buy it at a house show, and those were usually just posters or 8×10 photos, or order it from a magazine. Once Hogan arrived on the scene, merchandise was everywhere and still is today. His heel turn after so many years of being the face of the WWF was shocking.  
2. Death of Bruiser Brody-  As I have said many times, during the territory days, wherever you lived, that was the wrestling that you saw. For me that was exclusively WWF. However, for some reason during the summer of 1988 we started getting some wrestling show that came on at like 10pm Thursday nights, and showed matches from WWC (World Wrestling Council) from Puerto Rico, and sometimes events from World Class Championship Wrestling from Dallas. It was on this show that they reported Brody’s death. To a 16 year old it was devastating, when they said he had been stabbed to death. 
1. Owen Hart-  Not much that can be said that has not already been said. We were watching this pay per-view, as back then we would go to a friend’s house, have a cook-out, then watch the event almost every month. The anniversary was this past Sunday, and 22 years later it is still so disturbing. This was not a drug overdose, or a car accident etc. This was live on TV, during an event, by someone doing what they loved, in a business they loved. I cannot imagine how traumatic it must have been for those there who had to witness it live.  


You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.


10 thoughts on “Top Five Shocking Moments in Pro Wrestling

  1. Of all-time…

    1. Hogan turns heel at Bash of the Beach 1996.
    2. Mankind thrown off the top of Hell in the Cell cage
    3. Macho Man Randy Savage snake bite (I was 10 years old when I first saw that and it traumatized me)
    4. Eddie Guerrero beating Brock Lesnar for the WWE title in 2004.
    5. CM Punk pipe bomb (the last time WWE truly shocked me)

    Honorable mentions: KENTA heel turn in 2019, Rick Rude returns to WCW, the chair incident in ECW, Rock’s countless chairshots to Mankind (I can’t watch that now), the deaths of Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero, and the Chris Benoit double-murder suicide.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 1. Hogan heel turn and creating NWO
    2. Pillman gotta gun
    3. Edge 2020 Royal Rumble return
    4. Big Show signing w/Aew
    5. Goldberg squashing Brock Lesnar

    Liked by 1 person

  3. paul bearer turning his back on the undertaker…that counts for me being a HUGE fan of the deadman growing up and seeing that moment happen was a shock for me…needless to say i was happy to see the undertaker get his comeuppance against paul AND mankind

    Liked by 1 person

  4. – Hogan turns heel. Never expected that especially when he told the fans to shut up
    – Undertaker stuffs Ultimate Warrior inside a casket. Being 10 and started watching few months this left me scared
    – Mick Foley at King of the Ring 98
    – New Jack and Spike Dudley balcony dive on Dudley Boyz at ECW Living Dangerously 98. First ECW show I ever saw and watch those two drop down from the balcony and splatter both Bubba Ray and D-Von through a table always stuck with me
    – Robert Evans vs Portia Perez at Anarchy Championship Wrestling Guilty by Association 2012. First ever intergender match I saw in person. I never seen anything quite like it before. Great match with amazing storytelling of two trying break each other after year long build. The match left a giant impression on me

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d like to add Nikita Koloff’s initial face turn after Magnum TA’s accident. When he came out with Dusty at the Charlotte Coliseum to face Ole Anderson and JJ Dillon, the roof literally exploded off the place. Also the two New Jack/Vic Grimes matches that ended in falls off of scaffolds that could have fatal. 2 events that conceivably might have ended in a man’s death.

    Liked by 1 person

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