WWF The Main Event: The Mega Powers vs. Twin Towers match, which ends with Randy Savage's heel turn against Hogan, saw the intended tearjerker when Miss Elizabeth was knocked unconscious (after Savage was thrown onto his tiny valet) and the played-up uncertainty of her condition when Hogan became distraught and practically carried her back to the dressing room. A tensely timed commercial break (at the bottom of the hour, for network affiliates to air local commercials) came as Elizabeth was still unconscious and Hogan was pleading for the doctors to save her life. Of course, critics today call this pure Narm, due to some poor acting by Hogan and Elizabeth's "miraculous" recovery.
Much more successfully executed was a highlight/tribute video of Hogan, showcasing his 1984-1990 WWF career, that aired on WWF's syndicated and cable programs in June 1990. The video – featuring a "sad" version of his entrance theme "Real American" – was used to build up the Hogan-Earthquake feud, which had escalated when Earthquake sneak attacked Hogan on The Brother Love Show (aired a week earlier). The video included footage from the "sneak attack" of crying fans watching medics carry Hogan from The Brother Love Show set, and ended with a locker door (with Hogan's T-shirt) closing, the latter used to play up the "uncertainty" of Hogan's future wrestling career. note In reality, Hogan took a hiatus in the early summer of 1990 to heal from injuries and to film the movie Suburban Commando, which was released in 1991. At the end, "Mean" Gene Okerlund's voice began cracking and was in near tears as the segment came to a close. Tugboat (Fred Ottman), who was being billed as one of Hogan's "close friends," was also shown becoming very emotional, praying for his friend's health.
The ending to Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair at WrestleMania 24 was this all the way. It was hard not to see Ric Flair, an old, beaten veteran whose career was riding on a victory, struggle to his feet knowing full well that Michaels was going to hit his superkick and end him. The fact that Flair had to beg Michaels to do it, and once Michaels did he first audibly said, "I'm sorry, I love you," and then, right after the win was official, hugged Flair made it even worse. Seeing Flair pull himself up, knowing he was done was bad enough, but having Shawn apologize prior to hitting his finisher was heartbreaking. Flair's farewell on the following Raw made maybe even more tears than the match itself: Flair got a huge This Is Your Life-style send-off, with many of his old compadres from the NWA and WCW (most prominently the rest of the Four Horsemen) coming out to greet him, followed by the entire roster of WWE - faces and heels - coming out to the ring to applaud as "Leave the Memories Alone" played on the P.A. and the crowd repeatedly chanted "THANK YOU, RIC!". Sadly, WWE putting their all into what they thought was legitimately Ric's retirement was out and out for naught when he returned to the ring a little over a year later in TNA, the result of financial debts from years of money mismanagement.
The ending to Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker II at Wrestlemania 26. Michaels did everything he possibly could to put down the Deadman but he just couldn't win. What really brings chills is that unlike Flair who accepted his retirement at the hands of HBK, just before Taker could finish off Michaels with a final devastating Tombstone, Michaels taunted Taker with his signature thumb across the throat and slapped Taker showing that Michaels would NEVER stop fighting. Then after the pinfall, Taker shook HBK's hand acknowledging Michaels once and for all as one of the best to ever set foot in the ring.
The next night on RAW, Shawn Michaels would give his retirement speech, topped off by Triple H closing the show by leaving two DX glowsticks on the ramp in the shape of an X.
WrestleMania 20's ending scene (pictured) is one of those it's impossible not to feel a wide range of emotions at. There are both tears of glory, over having seen both Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit reach the summit after climbing the mountain for many years, and of sadness when you consider the two's eventual fates.
Speaking of Eddie Guerrero, his tribute shows that aired after his untimely death. The tribute video set to Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt" made things so much worse, as did seeing guys like The Big Show and Benoit bawling their eyes out. See it here
The real killer was that night's main event match between Chris Benoit and Triple H, where after Benoit won, the two men embraced in the middle of the ring, both having broken down crying.
What makes the whole deal worse is that consequences of Owen's death rank among the most foolish imaginable. A bad mock-superhero gimmick combined with a goofy descend-from-the-ceiling entrance while strapped into a rig that released way too easily. The decision that The Show Must Go On despite his death (it happened during the infamous "Over the Edge" PPV) is still debated to this day. The Death of WCW explained it best:
Owen didn't die due to a heart problem likely brought on by the excessive steroid abuse; he didn't overdose on the popular combination of alcohol and pain pills; he didn't die by any fault of his own.Owen James Hart died because he was a company man, a pawn in a ratings battle that had already been over for a long time.
The Chris Benoit tribute was just as bad (and in fact ended on the WrestleMania 20 ending shot) especially in light of what it turned out led to his death.
The speeches at each year's Hall of Fame can run into this, especially for deceased inductees. It's probably to call the Hall of Fame ceremony each year the most emotional night in wrestling, in both good and bad ways.
Both Shawn Michaels' and Triple H's speeches for Shawn's 2011 induction. Hunter's was mostly an affectionate roast, but the end is pure Tearjerker, when he tells Shawn he loves him. Shawn's was a cry-fest the entire way through.
For old-school fans, Magnum TA walking to the ring right before the finals of the 1987 Crockett Cup tournament. Magnum was in a car crash in October 1986 and told he would most likely never walk again. He walked out to the ring, hugged his longtime friend, Dusty Rhodes, and his longtime enemy turned Dusty's tag team partner, Nikita Koloff.
In Pro Wrestling NOAH there's Kenta Kobashi's real-life kidney tumor diagnosis in late June 2006... possibly the only thing that could force a hiatus for a wrestler who'd already sacrificed his knees to keep the company afloat in its infancy. Fortunately, while it would be almost 18 months later, he would recover and actually returned to the ring in a match that gave NOAH its first legitimate sellout in months (if not over a year) and itself was a Tearjerker. The whole scene was so emotional that the ringside announcer could be heard crying as he talked during Kobashi's entrance. (Tragically, months after that it would be reported that his mother was diagnosed with cancer.)
A few months earlier, in February 2006, WWE Tough Enough III winner Matt Cappotelli was forced to relinquish the OVW Heavyweight Championship and leave wrestling to undergo treatment for a cancerous brain tumor, and gave a tearful farewell speech on OVW's locally-sydnicated TV show. The video circulated around the internet wrestling community, and brought tears to many eyes. He and John Morrison were the co-winners that season.
June 13th, 2009 will be a date many Japanese wrestling fans will never forget: on that day, legendary Japanese performer (and Pro Wrestling NOAH co-founder) Mitsuharu Misawa died of a heart attack resulting from a spinal cord injury after taking a belly-to-back suplex during a match.
There was also the tribute to him on the next show. The Japanese have a reputation for not being overly emotional, so seeing Akitoshi Saito (the man who killed him) openly bawling really hit hard.
Some of Mick Foley's "Anti-Hardcore" promos, most especially the one where he tells of how he wanted desperately as a youngster to prove that wrestling could be a legitimate, respected sport. Then he had his ear thrown in the garbage in Munich in 1994, and a nurse stare at him in shock, saying "It's all a big joke"? "All because I don't know the German word for formaldehyde." (He even had to tell the medics, "Vergessen sie nicht, bitte, mein ohr in der plastiktasche zu bringen!", literally, "Please don't forget my ear in the plastic bag!") There comes his revelation, and he ends it with, "Professional wrestling... will never be respected. No matter how many bones I break, no matter how many ears I lose, no matter how many brain cells have to die!"
The retirement speech of Tommy Dreamer - the last ECW Original on the active WWE roster - on the December 29, 2009 episode of ECW on SyFy reduced a good number of fans to tears, including some who weren't even fans of Dreamer.
Seeing Beulah and his daughters at ringside, and watching Tommy carry the girls up the ramp and wave goodbye while his original ECW theme, "Man in the Box" played was extra-tearjerking.
In January 2009,Lisa Marie Varon (Victoria) was announced to be retiring after over seven years with WWE. What makes this even more sad is that she spent half of that time being a jobber and source of comic relief; it left many wondering how long it would be before she'd had enough. Indeed, she was even made to lose her last match against Michelle McCool and the retirement speech she gave afterwards wasn't even shown on TV. It was posted on WWE.com, and it was indeed a tear jerker to see Victoria stand in the ring and say "I can't tell you what an awesome rollercoaster this has been. But the thing I'm gonna miss is each and every one of you fans. I do this for you, and I love you with all my heart, and thank you so much for your support" and a "Please don't go" chant from the fans should definitely get the waterworks going. She then hugged the commentators, high-fived fans in the front row with tears streaming down her face, and blew kisses to the fans in attendance. To cap it all off, she pulled the familiar "psycho pose" she had adopted during her first heel run. Of course, her retirement didn't last long - she popped up in TNA under the name Tara about six months later.
Trish Stratus' retirement match at Unforgiven 2006. She was probably the only female superstar WWE built up that ever got a "storybook" ending. In her hometown of Toronto, she faced off against WWE Women's Champion Lita, whom she had faced in her very first match and with whom she'd had an on-and-off rivalry with. In the end, she made Lita tap out to the Sharpshooter (to quote Jim Ross, "a move as Canadian as Canadian [gets]!") to win her seventh and final Women's Championship, breaking the record of The Fabulous Moolah (who had six) and earning her a standing ovation from the thousands of fans in the crowd. Hearing the "thank you, Trish" chants and seeing Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and a teary-eyed Lillian Garcia give her standing ovations is enough to make anyone get teary eyed.
Although virtually unknown in the U.S., or even this generation, the legendary El Santo truly deserves a mention here. Originally starting out in 1935 this silver masked luchador represented the best of mexican pro wrestling. He went on to become one the biggest stars in the 50's and 60's to the point where he had a comic book series and had 50 films made about him (with cameos in two more). He became a superhero for so many of his fans and continued to fight it out in the ring until retiring in 1982 at 64 ending one of the longest professional wrestling careers in history (47 years). The last three matches of his career featured some of the greatest Mexican pro wrestlers in history such El Solitario, Huracan Ramirez * The hurricanrana is named after him and Gory Guerrero. For those wondering, yes Gory was the patriarch of the legendary Guerrero wrestling family, Eddie was his son and Chavo his grandson; yet El Santo is still considered more famous.
The 7.22 episode of TNA Impact ended with an emotional promo from Tommy Dreamer, who, along with Mick Foley, Raven, Stevie Richards, and Rhyno, had been "invited" to TNA by Dixie Carter. Whether or not it was a Worked Shoot, he gave a heartwrenching promo about watching his friends and the company he loved be fired and ruined by WWE. He asked for one night to celebrate ECW and prove to the wrestling world that they're still worth the effort of a company and love of the fans.
AJ Lee elimination from season 3 of NXT. Here was a girl who had dreamed of being a diva since she was a little girl and had been a huge WWE fan her whole life. With one week left in the competition she was eliminated in 3rd place. She burst into tears and gave one of the most heartfelt speeches I've ever heard. Even the people at SLAM Wrestling were calling her elimination a travesty.
April 11, 2011 - Edge announcing his retirement. He came out on Raw and gave a kayfabe-breaking, heartfelt speech about how this life was all he'd ever wanted. From when he was a little kid named Adam Joseph Copeland watching Wrestlemania VI, to when he and his best friend were training in Canada as wrestlers, Edge dreamed of becoming a professional wrestler. He went from that awestruck little kid to a twenty-seven time champion (11 world title reigns among them), the most championships anyone in the WWE has ever held. His final match in the WWE was a successful title defense of the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, and he was so grateful to have been able to go out in the pinnacle of his career. Unfortunately, as a result of his surgically-repaired neck, he risked total paralysis if he continued to compete. The fans gave him multiple standing ovations, many Superstars have been Tweeting their support of him, and "#ThankYouEdge" and "Adam Copeland" (his real name) trended on Twitter for almost 24 hours straight.
When WCW aired its last Nitro on March 26th, they aired this tribute video to WCW. Despite all the bad things that befell WCW during its last years, this video tells you "It's over, WCW is gone for good and will never return!" Fans who followed WCW for years knew what was going to be taken away from them.
An unfortunate entry from outside the ring, a documentary produced by ESPN as a brief examination of the rise and fall of Scott Hall. A lot of it is very poignant, but it really stings at the end:
Scott Hall: I just laugh as a defence, so I don't cry.
Diamond Dallas Page posted a tribute to his late friend and fellow wrestler, Chris Kanyon, on his Youtube account. Kanyon, under pressure from being both gay and bipolar, committed suicide in 2010. For most of the tribute, Page is smiling, obviously lost in memories of happier times with his friend. Then, toward the end, Page, visibly choked up, says his last goodbyes to Kanyon: "God bless ya, 'cause I'm sure that, wherever you are, man, that you're happier than when you were here."
This one sentence from CM Punk after an infamous segment involving him, Chris Jericho and a bottle of liquor:
"The one thing that was going through my mind was...(really long pause)...I smelled exactly like my father used to".
Triple H vs The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 28, with Shawn Michaels as guest referee in what was called the "End of an Era" match. The match mostly consists of them beating on each other relentlessly for over thirty minutes with chairs and sledgehammers, but it's Shawn who drives things home emotionally. At various points he's pleading with both men to stop the carnage and let it end, but neither is willing to do so. The climax comes when Taker starts to finally take control of the match and Triple H, tired and beaten, takes one last sledgehammer shot to the face, and Shawn turns his back and looks away, no longer able to watch. Taker hits his finisher and wins, completing an undefeated 20-0 career at Wrestlemania. Then both Taker and Shawn help Triple H up and walk together to the top of the ramp, looking out at the fans and sharing one final hug before leaving.
The second half of the 9/10/2012 episode of Raw featured Jerry Lawler actually collapsing after a tag team match, rushed off the scene to a local hospital. There was real fear that Lawler had died, due to him initially being unresponsive to medical treatment. They opted to continue the show, but major angles had to be scrapped, and Michael Cole took the rest of the night off from commentary, only providing updates on Lawler's condition. He even had to say "this is not part of the show", then sitting down at the announce table and putting his head in his hands. It just became hard to watch, waiting for any form of information on Lawler's condition.
Every October, WWE partners with the Susan B. Komen foundation for breast cancer awareness month. While most of the Superstars' spots are the standard "support this foundation for a cure for breast cancer" pieces, Layla's is a bit more personal. She talks about how her own mother died of breast cancer, and you can literally hear her voice break in the middle of the vignette as she talks about how her mother never got to see her wrestle, let alone her level of achievement (she'd just had a run with the Divas' title not long before this vignette aired), and would never get to see her be married. And then it gets downright hard to watch as Layla breaks down onscreen, talking about the wishful part of her that wants to believe that her mother is still alive and just a phone call away.
The documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family follows the Knight family from Norwich. During filming, the daughter got signed to WWE, where she now competes as Paige. As expected, there is an incredibly emotional goodbye at the airport as she prepares to head off to Florida. What makes this even more poignant is that her parents are both known as Ax-Crazy monster heels, as is Paige herself. Seeing all of them breaking down and weeping into each other's arms as they say goodbye is a little hard to take. Especially as mother Julia tries to hold it together until her daughter leaves and then just completely collapses into her husband's arms in tears.
Chris Candido (better known as Skip) suffered a broken leg during the opening minutes of TNA's Lockdown Event. The following week on Impact he appears despite being in a great amount of pain and helps The Naturals win The Tag Titles. One of the last images of the show is of him clutching The NWA Tag Titles with joy in his eyes and grinning at having guided them to success. That would be the last time he was ever seen in Pro Wrestling as a few days later he would die during an accident involving Surgery. TNA would respond by hosting The Chris Candido Memorial Cup holding a tournament consisting of rising stars teaming with veterans to pay tribute to him.
April 6, 2014, Wrestlemania 30, New Orleans: The Undertaker's Streak is broken by Brock Lesnar. As Lesnar and Paul Heyman leave the ring celebrating, Taker and by extension the entire crowd are just left stunned by what had transpired as if they still can't believe it happened. After the reality finally sinks in, Taker just...leaves the ring, acknowledging his defeat as the crowd chants "Thank you Taker!"
The Ultimate Warrior gets inaugurated in the WWE Hall of Fame, class of 2014. Then he appears on the 4.7.14 RAW for the first time in 18 years, talking about how one becomes immortal...and then he dies the very next night.
The joshi promotion JWP provides an intensely poignant one: In August 1997, Mayumi Ozaki delivered a very routine powerbomb on Plum Mariko in a tag team match, went for the pin and got it, because Plum was knocked unconscious, and never woke up, officially dying the morning after the match. She had developed an undiagnosed brain abscess after years of head injuries from wrestling. At her memorial show in October, a tag match was booked as the main event— two other JWP mainstays in Dynamite Kansai and Cutie Suzuki against Oz and Plum. It was obviously a tag match in name only, but Plum's ring gear was in her and Ozaki's corner to represent her presence. Ozaki proceeds to be demolished by Cutie and Dynamite for over thirteen minutes, in what amounted to her paying penance to the woman who was her real life best friend, out of the guilt she felt for that last match. All three were in tears, as the four represented the core of a promotion based around girls who had been rejected by the AJW academy as sixteen year-olds yet continued with their careers in spite of it, becoming the original JWP academy class, and made a promotion successful enough to rival AJW, with Kansai and Ozaki ending up winning that company's tag titles in the much beloved trilogy of matches against Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada (receiving the Observer's Match of the Year in 1993). The crowd is almost completely silent for the match until the end, when they cheer for this effort performed in Plum's memory. It's a truly unparalleled moment in wrestling.