How often have we seen something unbelievable unfold in front of our eyes? Something magical taking shape, history being written right before you. Wrestling is truly unpredictable; yes, the matches are rehearsed and the winners are pre determined, but that’s not the beauty of pro wrestling. Let me go on the record and say Vince doesn’t own pro wrestling. Just because he says WWE isn’t ‘Sports Entertainment’ doesn’t mean pro wrestling isn’t. And when you are in such a captivating business, sometimes things just happen, even they weren’t meant to be that way. In that sense, pro wrestling is in a whole different league of its own. When you have a scripted scene turning into reality, breathing on its own, taking its own course of life, you cannot do anything but just stand back and watch in awe as the magic unfolds, and you feel lucky to be part of the experience.
Such things have happened in pro wrestling before. You have scenarios where the so called ‘scripted business’ turns into reality, something much more than what you could have anticipated. An example of that would be the Montreal Screwjob. Going into the match, everyone thought it would be an iconic battle and in the end, one of the two men would win fair and square (at least in the wrestling business’ sense), and Bret would leave for WCW. But what happened during the match gave glimpses of how pro wrestling can take a life of its own, how reality is induced into the sport, and how it can change the landscape of the industry. How it can create heroes, and the way it can make someone a villain in an instant. This is why pro wrestling has such an ardent following.In this article, I will go through 5 such major instances which, while they didn’t necessarily go out of control based on their reality aspect, but did help in changing the careers of the superstars involved. How heroes were made, legends were born and good guys turned into the villains, although it wasn’t meant to be.
1. Bret Hart Vs Steve Austin (WM 13, No Disqualifications Submission Match)
This is perhaps the best example of the point I tried to make with this article. The background of the match is interesting. After losing to HBK the previous WM, Bret spoke out how the next WM was going to be HBK’s ‘giving back’ match, so to say. But it turned into a Bret – Austin feud, with them going at it since the SS ’96, and then escalated when Hart eliminated Austin at RR ’97, but the refs didn’t pay attention, and Austin came back to eliminate Bret, and win the RR. Austin then cost Bret the WWF title on numerous occasions. The blow off match at WM also featured the MMA legend, Ken Shamrock, who was the referee for the bout. Going into the match, Bret was the good guy and Austin was the heel, but by the end of the match, that changed.
Austin considers this match, and rightly so, the best match of his career. The match was simply sensational and would make the top 5 of the greatest WM matches of all time, and might even go on to win it! The subsequent ‘double turn’ came when Austin, in spite of losing a lot of blood, didn’t give up, and when Hart applied his finisher, the Sharpshooter, Austin passed out due to the pain instead of giving up and the match was awarded to Bret Hart. But Hart still didn’t let go, attacking the lifeless body of Austin, and Ken interfered. And the fans started to cheer Austin and boo Bret. And this was when Hart became ‘The bad guy’, and the rise of Austin began.
BrandonGarner added Shawn Michaels Vs Bret Hart Iron Man Match
4. Chris Jericho Vs Shawn Michaels (WM 19)
This was built as a ‘Protégé vs Mentor’ classic, and the match itself was highly anticipated. Leading into the event, the ‘Ayatollah of Rock n’ Rolla’ Chris Jericho proclaimed how he was better than Shawn Michaels, and how he had emulated him throughout his entire career, and how he always wanted to be like him. And then he claimed he would beat the HBK at Wrestlemania, since Shawn was known as ‘Mr. WrestleMania’. At the showdown, these guys put on one of the best matches of WrestleMania history. They two guys tore the house down, and the Seattle crowd witnessed one of the best matches taking place right in front of their eyes. I remember watching the match, and just being blown away by the pace of it.
On this night, something interesting happened. Jericho was a former World Champion, and had accomplished almost everything in the business. Everything, except the one thing that would put him on the shelf of the greats: stealing the show at WrestleMania. Before the match, Jericho was seen as a former World champion, but after the bout, he was seen as a great in the business. It is fascinating how one match can change the stake of an individual in the world of pro wrestling, and on this night, even though Jericho lost to HBK, he cemented his legacy among the greats in the wrestling world.
5. HHH Vs the Rock (SummerSlam ’98)
We all know who HHH is and who Dwayne Johnson a.k.a The Rock is. At this point in time, these two men have been two of the biggest names in the WWE history. Both men have had impressive careers in the wrestling business, and have entertained the fans all the world over for years. One nicknamed ‘The Game’ and the other ‘The People’s Champion’, the Rock and HHH have had one of the most intense rivalries in the history of the WWE. But back in ’98, these two guys were in the mid card, climbing the ladder inch by inch, scrapping to the main event level. They weren’t there yet; they needed something to elevate themselves to the next level.
Then came Summerslam ’98 for the Intercontinental title. Back in those days, IC title was one of the most prestigious titles, and actually mattered in the WWF. So we saw two younger wrestlers taking on each other for the WWF IC title. At this point, The Rock was with The Nation of Domination, while HHH was a member of the original DX.
When these two guys met, something changed. Something big happened for both these guys. Their careers were catapulted into the big league, and their rise to fame received a big push.
The Rock and HHH put on one of the best matches of ’98, and one of the best ladder matches at that time. Both of these guys gave everything they had to win the IC title. Back in those days, the IC title was the pedestal for a young superstar to burst into the main event scene. HHH and Rock put on a classic, and in the end, HHH won the title. What happened next? These two superstars went on to become two of the biggest names in the industry, with HHH winning the WWF/E World title multiple times, as did The Rock.