As much as fans don’t like to hear it, there’s no two ways about it: Wrestling is fake. The falls are very real, but the outcomes are very predetermined. In fact, no one is quite sure when wrestling stopped being a shoot (a legitimate fight) and started being a work (a fake one). Sometimes, though, the participants work themselves into a shoot and an actual fight breaks out. Witness the following examples of the fake world of professional wrestling getting all too real.
Kurt Angle vs. Daniel Puder: Olympic hero Angle called Tough Enough contestants into the ring for an Olympic-style wrestling match. Puder decided to show off his submission wrestling prowess—a totally different sport. He keylocked Angle’s arm, almost breaking it, before the referee counted a fast three count. Puder tried to shake Angle’s hand, but Angle screamed in his face, lecturing him about how stupid he was for giving up his back for the sake of an illegal hold. Puder later got his in the Royal Rumble as Eddie Guerrero, Bob Holly and Chris Benoit proceed to chop the shit out of his chest.
Andre the Giant vs. Akira Maeda: Andre the Giant, the world’s heavyweight drinking champion, showed up drunk to work one night. The reason “why” is steeped in mystery, but for whatever reason, Andre the Giant just didn’t want to do business. Maeda kept taking him down and applying submission holds, which are hard to keep on a seven-foot tall, 500-pound giant who doesn’t want to cooperate. Andre laid down, commanding Maeda to “pin me,” which just made matters worse, before the situation became a full-on brawl.
Antonio Inoki vs. The Great Antonio: Do not sandbag Antonio Inoki or he will make you regret it. Inoki is the founder of “strong style,” a method of Japanese wrestling that makes a fake fight look real by basically not pulling punches. And when Croatian strongman The Great Antonio decided to make Inoki look a fool, Inoki proceeded to slap the snot out of his nose and stomp on his head even after he was unconscious.
Lex Luger vs. Bruiser Brody: Luger got a huge push in Florida before he’d paid his dues, getting the top belt in the territory in two weeks. Road dog veteran Bruiser Brody didn’t care for it, and started shooting on Lex during his final match in Florida. Luger openly asks the referee what he’s supposed to do, finally giving up and nonchalantly climbing out of the ring for the win. He didn’t even take a shower before he drove up to North Carolina for his next gig in what would later become WCW.
Koji Kitao vs. Earthquake: This one got ugly fast. Kitao and Earthquake were both sumo wrestlers with big followings in Japan. Kitao had been officially expelled from the sport of sumo, and in the world of pro wrestling, he wasn’t a fan of losing or even making his opponents look good. So he decided to shoot on Earthquake, going so far as to try to eye gouge him. Earthquake, for his part, suplexed a giant, unwilling man, which looks ugly but is awesome.
Rikidozan vs. Masahiko Kimura: Rikidozan (right) invented pro wrestling in Japan. Masahiko Kimura (left) was a judo legend. But when Kimura botched a kick, Rikidozan attacked for real, with tragic consequences. In retaliation, a member of the yakuza stabbed Rikidozan in a nightclub with a urine-soaked blade, and he died of a related infection.
The Spider Lady vs. Wendi Richter: You might know of the Montreal Screwjob, the doublecross where Vince McMahon, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and others conspired to humiliate Bret Hart while taking the WWE title off him. Less well known is when Vince McMahon employed The Fabulous Moolah in a mask to do the same to Richter. The match is over almost as quickly as it begins as the referee fast-counts Richter out of her title.
Antonio Inoki vs. Muhammad Ali: Remember Inoki from earlier? Well, he and Ali were scheduled to work a boxer vs. wrestler fight, a precursor to MMA that was popular at the time. Ali’s camp got wind, however, that Inoki planned to shoot on the aging fighter. Indeed, Inoki spent an hour kicking the crap out of Ali’s legs. Ali immediately got on a plane home with no press conference and injuries sustained in the fight effectively ended his professional career.
D-Von Dudley and Mass Transit vs. The Gangstas: Mass Transit lied to then-ECW promoter Paul Heyman, claiming to be 23 when he was actually 17. Heyman put the kid in a match with New Jack, who’s known for having a bit of a screw loose on a good day. The match called for a blade job, where wrestlers intentionally cut themselves. Well, Mass Transit outsourced his cuts to New Jack, who severed two arteries, causing the kid to bleed like a stuck pig while New Jack yelled “I don’t care if this motherfucker dies. I hate white people. I hate people from Boston.”
Ed “Strangler” Lewis vs. Ray Steele: Finally, we dig way back into wrestling’s primordial past. Ed “Strangler” Lewis (right), the Hulk Hogan of the 1920s, and Ray Steele (left) were scheduled to work one another at Madison Square Garden. For reasons that aren’t clear, the two never locked up. Instead, they circled for 20 minutes before Steele got fed up and punched Lewis in the face, knocking him out. The referee disqualified Steele and Lewis kept the title.