5 Times The Unwritten Rules Of Professional Wrestling Were Broken

It's no secret to wrestling fans that unspoken rules in WWE have existed since its earliest days. There are simple rules, like shaking hands with everyone you meet for the first time that day backstage and staying throughout a show in its entirety, to many more strange rules. During the Attitude Era, breaking protocol could get a star sent to what was known as "Wrestler's Court" and "punished" for their wrongdoings at the hands of The Undertaker and JBL.

Even former chairman Vince McMahon had his own strange set of rules for those around him, including his infamous dislike of sneezing. Outside of the list of unwritten rules, there are of course the slightly more set-in-stone, yet still ridiculous laws, like language stars are allowed to use. "Wrestler, "title shot," and "title belt," are reportedly banned words within the company, with the talent having to be referred to as "Superstars" at all times.

We're taking a dive into just some of the occasions that WWE and its wrestlers have broken these unwritten rules. From breaking kayfabe, to non-televised title victories remaining canon on television, if there's a rule, someone within the company is likely to break it, despite it not being written in the books.


In perhaps the most famous account of wrestlers breaking an unwritten rule, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Diesel, and Razor Ramon broke kayfabe for good in what has become known as the "Curtain Call." The incident saw the men, close friends backstage known as "The Kliq," hug in the middle of the ring following a match at Madison Square Garden in May 1996, completely breaking character while doing so. Diesel and Razor, the real-life Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, were about to leave the company for its main competitor, WCW, and were saying goodbye to their friends.

The incident happened at a WWE live event at MSG. Nash wrestled Michaels, who was then WWE Champion, in the main event. Hall wrestled Triple H, who was still portraying his "Blue Blood" character at the time. Fans weren't surprised to see Hall hug Michaels, two babyfaces, after the match, but when heels Nash and Triple H joined in before the four men turned to the crowd, fans were shocked. The incident was also captured by a fan in attendance. Vince McMahon and WWE brass were outraged, as character dynamics between faces and heels, both in and out of the ring, remained sacrosanct at that point. 

It was Triple H who suffered the brunt of the punishment for the Curtain Call, with Nash and Hall out of the company and Michaels reigning as WWE's top star. He was set to win that year's King of the Ring tournament, but instead suffered multiple losses to mid-tier talent. The Curtain Call could be considered one of the first incidents in WWE history that publicly broke an unwritten rule.


The fact AJ Styles won the United Stations Championship from Kevin Owens itself wasn't shocking, it's the fact that his title reign as a whole broke an unwritten rule in the company. Styles' victory over Owens came during a live event at the company's spiritual home of Madison Square Garden, and usually, live events are self-contained. They're considered non-canon and titles rarely change hands on these shows, even though champions do compete on them.

WWE and other promotions use non-televised shows for exposure and to test reactions to gimmicks, wrestlers' characters, and match-ups, before potentially using them on TV or a major show. Live events are often scripted in favor of babyfaces winning most of the time to make the crowd happy. If a heel champion retains, a babyface may win by disqualification so the title doesn't change hands at that time. In the days of the "Monday Night War," Booker T and Chris Benoit traded the WCW World Television Championship back-and-forth at these events, but Booker always had it in his hands when it came time for the next "WCW Nitro."

This time, however, Styles didn't drop the belt back to Owens before WWE's next TV taping. Styles was still the champion during the next "WWE SmackDown." The company broke their own unwritten rule of making sure a champion still had their title in their hands by TV time. The pair went on to feud for the belt, and continued to have televised matches. Styles' win wasn't entirely unprecedented, however. The breaking of this unwritten rule has occurred a few times in history, including Diesel winning the WWE Championship from Bob Backlund at an MSG live event in 1994.


Most wrestling fans have heard of the old, unwritten rule in WWE that wrestlers never win in their hometowns, especially babyfaces. It's a trope that has existed in the wrestling sphere for quite some time. Many fans believe that Vince McMahon, when he was still in power, took some kind of sick pleasure in humiliating talent.

However, in recent years, that hasn't seemed to be the case. A prime example, and possibly even where this unwritten rule became more lax in the company, happened back in 2011 at the Allstate Arena in Chicago during Money in the Bank. "The Second City Saint," CM Punk, took on WWE Champion John Cena, at the height of his "Super Cena," or "Big Match John" era. It may have been because the crowd in the windy city would have rioted if Punk didn't walk out of the arena as champion, but Punk got the win in his hometown. Cena is another example of this unwritten rule not being followed, as he took the World Heavyweight Championship from Chris Jericho in his home town of Boston during Survivor Series 2008.

A prime example of not one, but two unwritten rules being broken is the retirement of Trish Stratus in 2006 at the Unforgiven pay-per-view in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Stratus defeated real-life best friend (but at that point, bitter onscreen rival) Lita to win the Women's Championship. Stratus also broke the unwritten law of a star going out on their back and putting over another talent when retiring. Toronto was left feeling "Stratusfied" when the star walked away with her seventh and final championship.


The engagement of Nikki Bella and John Cena after their victory over The Miz and Maryse in mixed tag team action at WrestleMania 33 also surprisingly broke an unwritten rule in the company. It's not the fact that two stars can't be in a relationship or even work together in an angle on a brand, it just seems to be an unwritten rule within the company that any kind of romantic interactions within the ring are doomed to be interrupted and ruined. Cena and Bella got to celebrate their special moment, in front of tens of thousands, in relative peace. Usually, when it comes to these loving moments whether it be a proposal or wedding, which are most often kayfabe, however, are certain to be interrupted with a run-in.

One of the most famous wrestling weddings to descend into chaos was that of Stephanie McMahon and Test. As the two took to the altar, Triple H came to the ring to speak his peace. As the horrified couple looked on, Triple H revealed video on the titraton of himself and "The Billion Dollar Princess" in a car, heading into a drive-through chapel in Las Vegas. Though McMahon was obviously unconscious, it was revealed the two were actually already wed.

The initial wrestling wedding that descended into chaos was of course that of Miss Elizabeth and Randy Savage. The Summerslam wedding was interrupted by Jake "The Snake" Roberts. After the cake was cut and the couple had their first dance, they started to open their wedding gifts. One particular gift contained an angry snake inside, and the subsequent arrival of Roberts and The Undertaker ruined the nuptials. The Savage wedding truly set the tone for all wrestling weddings to come.


Kevin Owens has always been a star to break the rules in WWE, but he went a step too far and broke an unwritten rule during his debut on the main roster. The former "WWE NXT" Champion would make his debut during an episode of "WWE Raw" when he responded to John Cena's United States Championship Open Challenge. Owens hit the champion with a pop-up powerbomb to lay him out, setting up a match between the two at the upcoming Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. While debuting with the "NXT" Championship and laying out Cena was shocking enough to fans, Owens proceeded to stomp right on the US Championship, breaking an unwritten rule in the company to not disrespect a championship.

It's certainly not the first time a championship has been disrespected in the company, however. The most notable happened in 1995 when Alundra Blayze dumped the WWE Women's Championship in the trash on an episode of "WCW Nitro," something she later said she regretted doing. Another instance of a title being blatantly disrespected, however in storyline, was "Stone Cold" Steve Austin throwing the Intercontinental Championship over a bridge on an episode of "Raw" in 1997 during the early stages of his feud with The Rock.

Owens would go on to defeat Cena at Elimination Chamber, but in a non-title match (he wouldn't win the US title until defeating Chris Jericho for it at WrestleMania 33, almost two years later). Cena returned the favor in the rematch, however, beating Owens at Money in the Bank, and then proceeded to win the rubber match at Battleground, where Owens succumbed to Cena's STF submission. Owens would go on to win the title three times, but never stomped on the gold again.