When Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling started up, it sold itself on the premise that it was the enemy of the Japanese mainstream. By their sixth anniversary, FMW had drawn a crowd of over fifty eight thousand people, meaning they had themselves become part of the Japanese mainstream. Not even the legendary Zenjo could outdraw FMW at it's peak, the only "pure" puroresu companies that could being All Japan Pro Wrestling, New Japan, NOAH, the various incarnations of the Universal Wrestling Federation, which could also all be traced back to Rikidozan's JWA, or in layman's terms, as mainstream as it gets and Tokyo Pro Wrestling, which only lasted four years.
In Adam "Edge" Copeland's autobiography, On Edge, there is a picture captioned, "One of the best ways of getting heat from the crowd is to spear Lita". A year or so later, his affair with Lita was exposed... yeah, he did get a lot of heat for "spearing" her (Lita got more, though).
All Lita stuff aside, towards the end of Edge's book, he said that he thinks he's headed for a heel turn, and states that while he's okay with that, he works better as a face. In the best way possible, he was wrong.
At "his hair vs. hair" match with Kurt Angle at Judgment Day 2002, Jerry Lawler said Come JR, admit it, this guy needs a haircut when Edge was coming out and would later win the match. Fast forward to 2012. Edge, after retiring from wrestling, got a haircut.
Edge seems to get a lot of these, as he cut a promo shortly after winning the 2001 King of the Ring where he took down Billy Gunn, claiming he failed to get over after he won the 1999 KOTR and went on to say "If in two years I'm not WWF Champion you can just shoot me because I promise not to 'Billy Gunn' this account". In two years, Edge would get a broken neck and be out of action for over a year, and would struggle as a babyface before being turned heel and became WWE Champion, but only in 2006 (although he won the title several times since then). To top that, when he returned in 2010 as a face he effectively bombed and the crowd turned on him at his WrestleMania 26 match with Chris Jericho, thus forcing the creative team to turn him heel again. Fate doesn't like to be tempted, Mr. Copeland.
Triple H vs. Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania XII, Triple H became Executive Vice President of the WWE. When he was a main event star, in order to kick out of the Pedigree, his finisher, you needed written permission from Triple H himself. During this match, Triple H used the Pedigree on the Ultimate Warrior and Warrior just stood up from it like it's nothing. If this were to happen in the Triple H lead WWE, the career of the wrestler would possibly be on life support.
Also, Triple H was the low man on the Clique totem pole. Warrior was coming back after a 3+ year-long absence and Vince McMahon needed someone to sacrifice to him. This paled in comparison to the Madison Square Garden incident, which took place a month and a half later, and which found him being sacrificed... again.
Again concerning Triple H, the end of an old theme song of his finished with the snarky remark, "Who's sleeping with who around here?" Guess who married the boss'sdaughter. They also married in kayfabe before they married in real life.
Pete Rose appeared at WrestleMania XIV, XV, and 2000 (a.k.a. XVI) and was beaten up by Kane at the first two events (he was given a stinkface in the third). In his first appearance, which was held in Boston, he insulted the Boston Red Sox (whom his team, the Cincinnati Reds, had beat in 1975 to win the World Series) and said the Red Sox couldn't win a World Series and mocked the Curse of the Bambino (before Kane came out and destroyed him to cheering from the crowd). Three World Series championships for Boston later, who's laughing now, Pete?
And the nickname of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970s was the Big Red Machine, which became Kane's nickname in his first run.
Howard Brody wrote a column in 2002 explaining why Ring Warriors was not the NWA, and a follow up column in response to all the negativity it drew with his former friends before putting a good word in for one of the few he had left, Future Of Wrestling promoter/wrestler Bobby Rogers for getting Dusty Rhodes, Kevin Sullivan and Abdullah the Butcher together in the ring with him for FOW and drawing 4000 die hard territory fans out to attend. Come 2011 and Ring Warriors officially joined FOW in the NWA with intent to resurrect "the three sacred letters" only to be right back out at the end 2012 when Bruce Tharpe took over.
During Jeff Hardy's first stint in TNA, his entrance video contained the words "See You in the Future." Fast forward years later, and Jeff is now back in TNA.
During the annual WWE show in Iraq in 2003, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin actually gave John Cena the Stone Cold Stunner after being unimpressed with his "You Can't See Me" taunt. This was before Cena was made the top face of the company as Austin had been in the late '90s; the event has become both funnier and much more symbolic in hindsight.
Triple H: "The Game". Ric Flair: "The Dirtiest Player In The Game". And then they teamed up in Evolution...
Deliberate homage, "The Game" is wrestling, Flair's bragging about being the biggest cheater, and Trips (who is a gigantic Flair mark) talked about how people said they were students of "The Game" but he was "The Game".
On the edition of SmackDown prior to the 2009 edition of Bragging RightsJohn Morrison had a confrontation with his former partner The Miz, mocking Raw and its recent parade of guest hosts, by saying it had become a "poor man's Saturday Night Live" and asking "who's next, Big Bird?". Fast forward two years and The Muppets hosted Raw on Halloween.
Which contained another hilarious hindsight moment; Edge had at one point called Sheamus Beaker. So come the Muppets hosting, Beaker and Sheamus meet backstage through a confrontation with Christian, and Sheamus tells Beaker he can't make it to the family reunion.
In a backstage segment with Trish Stratus, Melina said if she beat her "wouldn't that be a kick in the head?". This◊ needs no explanation.note Bonus protip: an old storyline friend of Trish's was involved in that picture.
When champion body builder Lenda Murray tried out for WWE, the company got bashed for entertaining the idea of debuting a fourth"scary" black woman on the roster, after Jacqueline, Jazz and Shaniqua, complaining that all the white women bar Molly Holly were conversely being held up sex symbols. Well, WWE ended up taking all its black women off TV until the debuts of Kristal Marshal and Alicia Fox, who were complained about for opposite reasons, getting to skip developmental all together thanks to the Diva Search and getting a deal after being seen on a spread from a fashion magazine, respectively.
Just before WWE Tough Enough Season 5 premiered, contestant Ariane Andrew said in her promo "I am the next WWE Diva". She would be eliminated on the very first episode but then it became even more hilarious when she was signed anyway and also became the first of the contestants to debut on WWE TV in a regular role and make it to WrestleMania.
It becomes even funnier when, as of mid 2012, WWE actually released Andy Leavine, who did win that season.
Earl Hebner was the brother of WWF referee Dave Hebner, and a referee himself. He made his WWF debut at a 1988 card called The Main Event, (kayfabe) posing as his brother and screwing Hulk Hogan out of the title by counting three when his shoulders were clearly off the mat. Fast forward nine years...
Remember the Zodiac? Well, his catchphrase was "YES! NO! YES! NO! YES! NO!" Fast forward 17 years, and Daniel Bryan would use both "YES! YES! YES!" and "NO! NO! NO!" as catchphrases.
Ray Traylor, best known as the Big Bossman, was a prison guard who became a professional wrestler. His tag team partner Akeem, real name George Gray and better known as The One Man Gang, is a pro wrestler who became a prison guard.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Antonio Inoki once defeated Pakistani Champion Akram Pehalawan in Pakistan to the surprise of the crowd. After the match, Inoki stood up and raised his fists in the air in a traditional victory pose. Possibly without realizing it, Inoki may have saved his own life by doing that, since the fans were originally going to riot in protest, but Inoki's pose made them think that he was actually praying to Allah. As of 1990, although it wasn't revealed until 2012, Inoki actually would pray to Allah on a regular basis, since he in fact converted to Islam(while remaining a Buddhist).
At one point in their 'relationship', AJ Lee proposed to CM Punk, who eventually answered by telling her that he wouldn't marry her. They got engaged and married in 2014, a mere two years after that very storyline.
Another one for Punk. In the 2010 Royal Rumble he ended up getting beaten up by Beth Phoenix. Roughly a year later the two would end up dating off screen. Depending on your humour, this could become even more hilarious now that they've since split up - and Punk's fiancée AJ (and eventual wife) was the one that 'retired' Beth from WWE.
Before her Survivor Series match against the Total Divas cast AJ cut a promo with her team trying to rally them up. Her specific words "Total Divas has new episodes playing on the E! Network...and none of you are on them. Total Divas doesn't want any of you". The team included divas Alicia Fox, Summer Rae and Rosa Mendes. They would all end up added to the cast of Total Divas - Summer in season 2, Rosa and Alicia in season 3. What's more is that they were also the first three Divas eliminated from the heel team. If you can't beat 'em indeed.
TNA once had a Knockout called Peyton Banks (also known as indie wrestler Rain). Fast forward to 2015 and you have the names of two NXT Divas - Sasha Banks and Peyton Royce (previously known as indie wrestlers Mercedes KV and KC Cassidy).
Another wrinkle in the AJ Lee/CM Punk story (this one out of Kayfabe): when AJ was just a teenager, she looked up to Lita as a heroine and an inspiration. There is a video of her tearfully receiving an autograph from Lita at WrestleMania XIX in a touching moment...which then turns into a bout of hilarity once it's remembered that Lita and Punk had dated at one time but AJ would go on to be his spouse in the end.
Also mixed with Irony- before his debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble, TNA put a story on their website saying they were close to re-signing AJ Styles, only for him to sign with WWE instead, since they offered more money. note Some believe this was a Take That! to Styles, but a number of sources act as though these negotiations were legitimate. Several months later, TNA got a measure of revenge by signing former ROH wrestler Moose the same way.
Wade Barrett led The Nexus's invasion of the WWE. Seven years later, as GM Stu Bennett of Defiant Wrestling, he's on the receiving end of such an invasion by the IPW UK roster. The man himself lampshaded this.
During WWE's "Wrestlemania goes Hollywood" campaign for Wrestlemania 21, John Cena and JBL parodied A Few Good Men, with Cena (during his "Doctor of Thuganomics" days) in the role of Kaffee. Cena would later adopt a Marines-inspired patriotic gimmick.