10 Surprising Moments WWE Deceived Their Fans

WWE has certainly had its fair share of shocking moments over the years. Learn about the times they purposely deceived their viewers (you won’t believe the stories)!

10. Emmalina

At arguably the prime of her career, Emma suffered a back injury and underwent surgery that put her on the shelf for a lengthy stretch. While many wrestlers are omitted from storylines during the rehabilitation of their injuries, WWE promoted her throughout.

They teased vignettes that showed the once silly Emma, now presenting herself as a model in a far more serious manner.

The segments were odd, titillating, and mysterious, and WWE didn’t let up with them; they made her impossible to forget.

WWE vignette for Emmalina.
WWE vignette for the arrival of Emmalina. [Photo: WWE YouTube channel]
Then, in February of 2017, nearly ten months after being sidelined, Emma was back. Well, as Emmalina now.

But as quickly as Emmalina came, she left.

Months of build-up and hype were for nothing as Emma emerged onto the entrance ramp, announced her transformation from Emmalina back to Emma, and walked backstage, leaving fans stunned.

This was master-level trolling here from WWE.

But that said, Emma was never able to capitalize on the momentum.

She was always one of the best female performers in the WWE, and this was one of several missed opportunities for her.

9. Kevin Owens Imitating Steve Austin

There’s nothing more exciting for a wrestling fan at a live show than hearing that iconic glass shatter and knowing that you’re about to see Stone Cold Steve Austin wreak havoc.

That’s what fans thought they would see on Monday Night RAW on March 22nd, 2022, only for Kevin Owens to emerge and troll the fans in Chicago with his best Steve Austin impression.

Kevin Owens imitates Stone Cold Steve Austin on Monday Night Raw (bald cap and all) on March 22nd, 2022.
Kevin Owens imitates Stone Cold Steve Austin on Monday Night Raw (bald cap and all) on March 22nd, 2022. [Photo: wrestlinginc.com]
Owens cut a promo and soaked in the nuclear heat he received from the angry WWE Universe that night as he verbally attacked Austin, his home state, and his “washed up career.”

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The Texas Rattlesnake got his revenge at WrestleMania 38 when he came out of retirement to defeat Kevin Owens in a memorable match.

8. Vince McMahon Wins the WWF Heavyweight Championship

Nobody likes it when a promoter books himself to win the company’s World Championship, but that’s exactly what Vince McMahon did in 1999. And he knew exactly what he was doing.

Vince McMahon as the WWF World Heavyweight Champion in 1999.
Vince McMahon as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 1999. [Photo: WWE]
Never a regular in-ring performer, Vince challenged Triple H to a WWE (then WWF) Championship match with his son Shane as the special guest referee.

Triple H destroyed Vince for the entirety of the matchup, but things took a turn for the worse when that sound of glass shattering filled the arena.

Steve Austin emerged and took out Triple H and Chyna, who accompanied him ringside. This allowed Austin to pull an unconscious Vince over Triple H and Shane to make the three count.

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Vince McMahon would only hold onto the WWF Championship for one week before vacating it on RAW. However, fans were not pleased when the company’s former CEO essentially held the rest of the roster hostage during his brief run on top.

7. Sheamus Defeats Daniel Bryan in 18 Seconds at WrestleMania 28

Daniel Bryan and Sheamus are two of the most reliable workers that WWE has ever had. Still, they weren’t showcased as such at WrestleMania when Daniel Bryan and Sheamus fought one-on-one for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Sheamus defeats Daniel Bryan after only 18 seconds at WrestleMania 28.
Sheamus defeats Daniel Bryan after only 18 seconds at WrestleMania 28. [Photo: WWE]
We were excited and led to believe we’d be treated to a technical and hard-hitting affair between Bryan, who was finally getting his moment, and the Celtic Warrior, who seemed unstoppable for months prior.

As soon as the bell rang, Bryan gave his on-screen girlfriend and manager at the time, AJ Lee, a steamy kiss, only to turn around right into a Brogue Kick.

The match lasted all of 18 seconds, and the massive throng felt robbed of a performance.

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Many thought this could finally be Bryan’s opportunity to shine.

Instead, according to PWInsider (H/T: Bleacher Report), WWE had Daniel Bryan lose in 18 seconds simply to surprise fans by doing something nobody expected. Rather, it left fans (and Bryan) feeling trolled.

6. The Miz Imitating The Rock

Like Kevin Owens dressing up as Steve Austin, The Miz became The Rock on RAW in 2012.

The Miz imitates The Rock's signature entrance on Monday Night Raw in 2012.
The Miz imitates The Rock’s signature entrance on Monday Night Raw in 2012. [Photo: WWE]
Nothing is more exciting than hearing a legend’s iconic music, and this was no different.

On the road to WrestleMania 27, The Rock was announced as the host and the special guest referee for the main event match between The Miz and John Cena.

Although he was absent for much of the build, The Rock was a driving force behind the main event. Then, one day on RAW, his music suddenly played, and it seemed like he was finally back!

As Rock’s music hit, The Miz strolled out from backstage to mock the legend and Cena.

The Miz used The Rock’s star power to scratch and claw his way into relevancy, and it worked here as he displayed a rare moment of dominance against John Cena.

Much to the chagrin of those who believed that The Rock was back, this was a smart and memorable troll.

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5. The “Retirement” of Mark Henry

Future WWE Hall Of Famer and the “World’s Strongest Man,” Mark Henry, was involved in one of the most unexpected swerves in WWE history when he used an emotional fake retirement ceremony to challenge John Cena for the WWE Championship.

Mark Henry "retires" from WWE in 2013.
Mark Henry “retires” from WWE in 2013. [Photo: Esquire]
On an episode of RAW in 2013, Henry made his way to the ring in a salmon-colored suit and made a heartfelt speech about his career, love of wrestling, and gratitude toward his supporters.

He then stated he was retiring, followed by John Cena entering the ring to congratulate him on a stellar career.

In what first seemed like a bittersweet moment, Henry shocked us all by pulling Cena into his World’s Strongest Slam finisher and laying waste to the 16-time Champion. This earned Henry a WWE title shot, which he would later lose.

This moment was a giant deception, but it reminded us how unique a talent Mark Henry is and how he was taken for granted during much of his WWE run.

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4. The RAW General Manager Reveal

The anonymous RAW general manager storyline had so much potential and intrigue. However, it is since remembered as one of WWE’s biggest missed opportunities.

The infamous RAW General Manager laptop would send anonymous updates throughout shows from June 21st, 2010, to July 18, 2011.
The infamous RAW General Manager laptop would send anonymous updates throughout shows from June 21st, 2010, to July 18, 2011. [Photo: Cageside Seats]
As the fans waited anxiously on who would become the new RAW General Manager on June 21st, 2010, a laptop placed in the ring acted as the anonymous and interim authority figure. Throughout the show, the computer would deliver updates, make matches, and more.

This would go on until July 18th, 2011.

The eventual reveal of the GM wasn’t as glorious as anyone had hoped, as Hornswoggle was pulled from underneath the ring and revealed to be the anonymous GM all this time.

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It was an awkward segment between him, Vince McMahon, and Santino Marella.

Sometimes WWE trolling can fall flat, too.

3. Roman Reigns Enters the Royal Rumble at Number 30

The 2017 Royal Rumble was a wild show, but the actual Rumble match was shaping up to be one of the most star-studded bouts ever, with The Undertaker, Goldberg, and Brock Lesnar all competing in the mayhem.

As the clock ticked to number 30, fans imagined surprise entrants such as Daniel Bryan or even certain WWE legends.

Finally, however, Roman Reigns emerged through the curtain. He was soon showered with boos from the disappointed audience.

Roman Reigns enters the 2017 Royal Rumble at number 30 to a chorus of boos.
Roman Reigns enters the 2017 Royal Rumble at number 30 to a chorus of boos. [Photo: WWE Network]
WWE knew precisely what they were doing. They listened to the audience and understood that many felt like Reigns was being shoved down their throats at the time. By placing him number 30, WWE played beautifully into that narrative.

They’d trolled us yet again.

2. “CM Punk” at the United Center

A few months after CM Punk quit WWE, RAW took place in his hometown.

For years, Punk’s faithful couldn’t accept that he had left, and chants for him filled arenas around the country. Fans practically hijacked the shows for the first few months, especially in Chicago. On this particular night, fans wanted him badly, and you could feel it.

Then, suddenly, his music hit. The Allstate Arena shook from the deafening roar.

But then the unthinkable happened.

Paul Heyman mocks CM Punk as he cuts a promo for the Chicago crowd on WWE RAW in 2014.
Paul Heyman mocks CM Punk as he cuts a promo for the Chicago crowd on WWE RAW in 2014. [Photo: CagesideSeats.com]
Instead of Punk, Paul Heyman appeared. The WWE Universe had been trolled.

Heyman stated, “CM Punk isn’t here right now. He’s over at the United Center watching the Blackhawks!” It was the first time WWE had mentioned Punk on screen since his absence.

He even mocked Punk’s famous pipebomb promo as he sat cross-legged in the center of the ring and lay down the new law of the land.

It was masterful trolling.

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1. Shawn Michaels Trolls Montreal

In what was arguably the best troll in WWE history, Shawn Michaels bravely marched into a hostile Montreal crowd after the infamous Montreal Screwjob and cut a promo on Bret Hart, Montreal, and the rest of the WWE.

The audience showered HBK with some of the loudest boos ever heard on RAW as they clamored and dreamed of a Hitman return.

As chants of “You screwed Bret” rained down, Hart’s music filled the arena, much to the surprise of Michaels.

Our hero was returning!

Or so we thought.

Shawn Michaels trolls fans in Montreal by playing <a class=
Shawn Michaels trolls fans in Montreal.

The shock on The Heartbreak Kid’s face was completely fake, and the crowd that had become unglued with excitement now faced the harsh reality that Michaels had trolled them all.

The reaction was incredible, and WWE capitalized on the screwjob blurring the lines between fiction and reality during this segment and continued that for years to come.

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Between social media and so much access to the wrestlers today, it’s ever so hard to troll wrestling’s passionate viewers. But on these ten occasions, the WWE successfully did just that.

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Ethan Absler is a freelance writer covering professional wrestling for NBC Universal and The USA Network. He is an independent wrestler based out of Chicago with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Missouri.