Five times WWE injected elements of real-life scenarios into storylines
Here are five such incidents when WWE did not shy away from blurring the lines between kayfabe and reality.Updated: Jun 04, 2020 17:50 IST
This past Smackdown, Jeff Hardy was involved in a controversial angle. Of all the potential storylines possibly available, the creative decided to pick from Hardy’s history of DUI offences and proceed with it. The fact that Hardy was arrested for allegedly running over Elias did not go down well with the audience, but this isn’t the first time WWE has narrowed in on the thin line between reality and entertainment. Here are five such incidents when WWE did not shy away from blurring the lines between kayfabe and reality.
The Matt Hardy, Edge and Lita Love Triangle
Lita and Matt Hardy started dating soon after they paired up with Jeff as Team Xtreme. However, after completing nearly five years, Lita (real name Amy Dumas) cheated on Matt with Edge (Adam Copeland). Matt, who got to know about the situation, addressed the issue on public, which led to Hardy breaking Kayfabe and ruining Lita’s storyline as Kane’s wife. As a result, WWE released Matt in 2005, and cashed in on Dumas and Copeland’s real-life love story to bring them together on screen, a move that worked wonders for the company as the pair went on to become the most hated on-screen couple, receiving repeated jeers from the crowd. However, an online petition wanting to re-sign Matt began circulating and he was re-signed by the WWE in the summer of 2005. This led to a series of matches between Hardy and Edge, the real-life heat between the two bringing out some of the best hardcore, intense matches. This solidified Hardy as a singles performer in the WWE and allowed Edge to become one of the most hated heels of all time.
The Death of Paul Bearer
The Wrestlemania 29 match between CM Punk and The Undertaker was centred around the death of Paul Bearer (real name William Moody). Bearer, who had served as Undertaker’s manager during the first half of the 1990s and later in the late 90s, passed due to a heart-attack and right after his death, Moody became a driving point in WWE storyline. WWE Raw held a tribute show for Bearer which began with Taker paying tribute to his friend before CM Punk’s music hit. Punk would mock Bearer by over the next few weeks, impersonating his shrieky voice, and stealing the urn. Things went a bit too far when Paul Heyman dressed up as Bearer and Punk poured the ashes of the urn onto the Undertaker. Even though the WWE had taken the approval from Bearer’s family for the storyline, Michael Moody, the son, “said seeing it on screen was a different story.”
Straight Edge vs Charismatic Enigma
Punk and Jeff were involved in one of PG era’s hottest feuds during the summer of 2009. Right at the centre of it was Punk, who was portraying the Straight-Edge gimmick, whereas Hardy, in real-life was battling issues related to substance abuse. He had violated the WWE’s Wellness Policy, with two strikes. The WWE gave Punk the license to go all out, laying Hardy’s problems with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes in the open. From pills to prescriptions to arrest histories, not a single element went untouched. Punk and Hardy’s feud ended at SummerSlam in August, but once Jeff departed you knew how much the angle affected him. About a year later, a video surfaced where Hardy went on a rant on Punk, dropping the MF bomb and ridiculing his act of blurring the lines between reality and story-telling.
Bret Hart vs Vince McMahon
The Montreal Screwjob is perhaps WWE’s single-biggest controversy till date. For 12 years, the image of Bret Hart spitting on the face of Vince McMahon following the owner’s questionable decision to take the WWE title off Hart at Survivor Series 1997. For 12 years, Hart and McMahon stayed away from each other’s face before both finally decided to bury the hatchet in 2009. For the first time in over a decade, Hart emerged in the WWE on the first edition of 2010’s Raw. Although the heat between Hart and McMahon wasn’t as intense as it was back in the day, they weren’t the best of pals – they still aren’t. The WWE decided to get done with the Screwjob incident once and for all by setting up a No Holds Barred match between the two at WrestleMania 26, giving Hart a much-needed closure.
Cena vs Rock – Once in a lifetime
Although there was never real-life heat between John Cena and The Rock, the two guys at one point, simply did not like each other. When Dwayne Johnson left WWE behind for a career Hollywood, Cena became the new face of the company. In an interview with The Sun, Cena said wrestling was something he and many other guys wanted to do their entire life, indirectly taking a dig at the Rock’s film career. So when The Rock returned to WWE in 2011 after a seven-year-long absence, the WWE began planting the seeds of a dream match between the two. The build-up itself took a year, and when Wrestlemania 28 season was around the corner, there WWE creative pulled out all the stops to ensure the feud felt real. From Cena taunting the Rock over reading promos from his wrist, to the Great One taking cheap shots at Cena’s failed marriage, it was one heck of a build-up.