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Loophole Abuse / Professional Wrestling

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    The Royal Rumble match 
  • The Royal Rumble match is technically inter-gender because it's open to all divisions, including female wrestlers, and there have been four female entrants so farnote . Since the winner is given a chance to challenge the current champion (in this case WWE World Heavyweight Champion), but there isn't a rule it has to be a guy, if a woman enters and wins the Royal Rumble, she could, in theory, challenge the current men's champion.
  • Others have pointed out that nothing in the rules explicitly states that the winner must challenge for a WWE world championship (because it's assumed to be a given); all it says is that the winner gets a championship match at WrestleMania. Thus, the winner could theoretically challenge for another promotion's championship (e.g. the TNA Heavyweight Championship), necessitating a cross-promotional main event at WrestleMania (although this has, of course, never actually happened).
    • Although Chris Benoit did take advantage of a different loophole due to the brand split that divided wrestlers between Raw and SmackDown. Benoit was a SmackDown wrestler when he won the Rumble, but after he earned a world championship match it was pointed out that no rule said he had to challenge for SmackDown's world title. Instead he turned up on the next Raw to challenge for its world title.
      • This loophole was used as a pivot point for a Heel–Face Turn by Batista later on: He won the Rumble with fellow Evolution member Triple H as the WWE champ, and he was expected to then cross over and challenge for the SmackDown title. But at the signing ceremony, after teasing just that, he gives the thumbs down, double-crosses the game, and signs to face Trips...which, of course the only "rule" that said he couldn't was the one set by Trips himself.
    • Turns out that although the Rumble winner may challenge any champion they choose, there ain't no rule saying they must challenge a title holder. When Asuka emerged as the victor of the first ever Women's Royal Rumble, she was given her choice of: Charlotte Flair (RAW Women's Champ at the time), Alexa Bliss (the SDL Women's Champ) and as a surprising alternate choice, the debuting-in-WWE Ronda Rousey.
  • In recent years, the commentators themselves have been eligible to be named as Royal Rumble participants, which can lead to surreal scenarios such as that of the 2012 match, when Jerry Lawler, Booker T and Michael Cole were all entered and at one point were out of their seats at the same time (actually, Lawler and Booker had already been eliminated, but the Rumble is a no-disqualification match, therefore there ain't no rule saying an outside party can't get involved), so for a very brief period of time nobody was calling the match!
  • The Rumble is also open to any human being on the planet Earth. So in 2001, actor Drew Carey was able to be entered despite not even being a WWE employee! (Independent contractor.)
  • One of the main rules of the Royal Rumble Match is that, for an entrant to be eliminated, both feet have to touch the ground after being tossed over the top rope. However, many wrestlers got around some loopholes:
    • One: Have to been seen by the referee in order for an elimination to count. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin took advantage of this at the 1997 Rumble while the referees had to deal with Terry Funk and Mankind when Bret Hart eliminated him, but Austin got back into the ring because of the distraction and the ring announcers didn't have a say, the referees did.
      • Those who aren't entrants can do this too, just as long as the referees don't see them. In 1999, The Undertaker simply had the room darken in order to have The Acolytes and Mideon go get Mabel in order to turn him into Viscera.
    • Two: Both feet have to be on the ground in order to count. At the 1995 Royal Rumble, Shawn Michaels was tossed over the top ropes by The British Bulldog, but only one foot touched the ground, the other was still in the ring.
    • Three: The feet have to be on the mat to count as an elimination, but there are no rules against any particular method of avoiding such contact, including:
      • Landing on a fallen wrestler, as Rey Mysterio did by jumping on The Miz and John Morrison in 2009.
      • Landing and walking on the railing to the steel steps, like John Morrison did in 2011.
      • Kofi Kingston has made a Running Gag out of avoiding elimination this way: He landed on his hands and handstand-walked back to the ring in 2012 (winning a Slammy for it). Then, in 2013, he was thrown from the ring to the announcer's table, stole JBL's chair and bunny-hopped back. In 2014, he landed on the barricade and did a running jump to the ring apron. In 2015 and 2016 he received unexpected help first from the Rosebuds, who caught him instead of Adam Rose, and the following year from his teammates in The New Day, who paraded him around on their shoulders outside the ring.
      • One loophole that was considered, but never actually played, involved Zach Gowen, a one-legged wrestler—the script said he could not be eliminated because he doesn't have "both feet".
    • Four: Elimination by going over the top rope only, between the ropes or under the bottom rope doesn't count. Many wrestlers had this happen and they were safe because of it.
      • A famous example of this was in the 1999 Royal Rumble when both Steve Austin and Vince McMahon went through the ropes and returned later on, though the latter had help in hopes of keeping the former from returning (which can also get you eliminated). It didn’t work, as Austin was able to return by driving an ambulance while The Undertaker was abducting Mabel.
      • However, holding on to the top rope and getting back in is considered safe. Santino Marella thought he got Kofi Kingston, Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler, and Cody Rhodes by throwing them over the rope, as the rule states, only to discover all the men held on, and you can guess who was next.
      • Hiding underneath the ring, provided you were tossed through the ropes, can help you avoid elimination just as long as you're able to return. Jerry Lawler tried in 1996, only to be caught and later eliminated by another who was thrown through the ropes and knew where to find Lawler.
      • Look closely during the 1997 Rumble and you can catch Austin diving under the ropes after Ahmed Johnson chases Faarooq away from the ring.
    • Five: The only way to get a disqualification is going before your number. When your number is up after the ten-count, how you enter isn’t listed and you can enter the match in other ways.
      • Steve Austin did this at the 1998 Royal Rumble by going through the French Commentators when he was called.
    • Six: There are no rules on bringing in a weapon.
      • Mick Foley and Terry Funk did just that in 1998, although a chainsaw brought by Funk should've been banned note  while the former brought in trash cans and steel chairs, which are okay. Later on, Austin used his jacket.
    • Seven: One gimmick at a time, but there are no rules on multiple ones by the same person. Foley took advantage of this in 1998 with his: Cactus Jack, Mankind, and Dude Love.
    • Eight: There wasn’t a rule about snakes in the Royal Rumble.
    • Nine: Speaking of which, size doesn't matter: much like the women, those with dwarfism are also allowed, such as Hornswoggle in 2011 and El Torito in 2014.
    • Ten is a spoof one: If for some reason you cannot enter the match or are prevented from entering it and the match ends before you can climb in the ring, then, technically, you're "still in the Royal Rumble Match." Of course, this loophole doesn't count because the match has to end sometime, and anyone who does not enter the match - for whatever reason - is considered a "no-show" and is forfeited. But in 2015 that didn't prevent Curtis Axel, who was attacked from behind by non-entrant Erick Rowan and knocked unconscious just as he was about to enter, to rant about "never having been eliminated" for more than three months after the event ended. This mindset gradually drove him insane - and, oddly enough, culminated in his Heel–Face Turn.
    • Eleven: In the days (2007 and earlier) when a Superstar was officially entered in a match by the choosing of a slip of paper with a number on it from a backstage bingo tumbler, a non-entrant could technically steal an entrant's number or simply intimidate him into handing it over, as Kurt Angle did to Nunzio in 2005. And because the paper didn't actually have anyone's name on it, it counted for everyone.
      • Also allowed were trading numbers, though naturally someone at 30 very likely wouldn't unless they were offered a very large sum of, add a gimmick that revolved around being wealthy enough to throw around Benjamins like confetti, and you have the plot of the 1989 Royal Rumble match.
    • Twelve: If an entrant is the contractual employee of another entrant, the boss can simply order his employee to stay out of the match while the boss enters in the employee's place, and the employee must agree to this or risk being fired. Invoked by The Miz in 2015 when he ordered Damien Sandow, his official "stunt double" at the time, to let him enter the match in Sandow's place - and this after Miz had already been eliminated! It came to nothing, though.

    Money In The Bank 
  • Most winners cash it in immediately after the champ has already defended the title or otherwise gotten an ass-kicking from someone else, or on the new champ immediately after they win it. It usually works.
  • There ain't no rule saying that whoever wins the Money in the Bank briefcase can't cash it in during the same pay-per-view in which they won it — Kane, Dean Ambrose, Alexa Bliss, and Bayley have all done this successfully.
    • Also, although the title match is a "normal" match — the usual rules about foreign objects and cheating apply — there's nothing preventing the briefcase holder from confronting the champ in the ring, beating the stuffing out of them in all sorts of underhanded ways (often using the briefcase itself as a weapon), and then cashing it in to score an easy victory over a wounded opponent.
  • At WrestleMania 31, Seth Rollins cashed in his briefcase on the champion, Brock Lesnar. What's unusual about that? Lesnar was in the middle of a championship match with Roman Reigns at the time. Apparently there wasn't any rule saying that he couldn't cash in during a championship match, thus making it into a triple threat, which he then proceeded to win.
  • There's no rule saying the current champion can't themselves compete in the MITB Ladder Match. Although it might seem like a waste of a gimmick, it would make sense for a heel champion to want the extra feeling of security. No champion has won the briefcase yet, but it would also open the possibility of a briefcase-holder losing the title, then immediately cashing in for a rematch.
  • Also, it's not enough for someone to simply be the MITB winner, they must actually physically bring the briefcase into the ring and hand it over to a ring official — no briefcase, no match. Cody Rhodes caused some trouble for the 2013 winner Damien Sandow during an live airing of Smackdown from Corpus Christi. The American Bank Center in Christi is built overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, so when Cody swiped the case away from Sandow, all he had to do was run into the parking lot to hurl it into the water. It was replaced the next week, but the original was never recovered.
  • 2017 saw Carmella become the first-ever Ms. Money In The Bank... by having her boyfriend James Ellsworth intervene, pull Becky Lynch off the ladder, retrieve the briefcase and literally hand it to her. The only real rule in a MITB match is that the first competitor to get the case off the hook is the winner. Doesn't say anywhere that a non-competitor can't retrieve it for one of the participants.

    Other Examples 
  • When it comes to an "open" championship match (which is "open" to anyone standing in the ring when the opening bell chimes), you can run across the ring upon the bell being ringed and stay underneath until the right moment; the match would still be valid. A certain leprechaun was able to win the Cruiserweight Championship by doing just that at The Great American Bash in 2007!
  • Classic Professional Wrestling trope. The most obvious is the loophole that a title (usually) can't change hands unless the victory is 'clean'; if a heel champ were to, say, disqualify himself by hitting an opponent (perhaps restrained by his allies) in the groin, or with a foreign object, or stay outside the ring over 10 seconds and get counted out, he'd retain it. Then there's the classic No Holds Barred/Street Fight/Hardcore match, where there Ain't No Rules. Aside from 'win via pinfall or submission'.
    • As with so many other things, Eddie Guerrero was the master of this. While the ref was distracted, he would grab a chair, hit it against something to make a noise, throw it to his opponent, and then lay down. The ref would reach the logical conclusion and DQ his opponent. Or he would take the chair away from the opponent and thus be too distracted to notice Eddie hitting the opponent with a low blow and then rolling him up for a pinfall. Ain't no rule against giving your opponent a weapon.
  • On the 1/29/01 edition of Raw Is War, Vince McMahon announced a Three Stages of Hell match between Steve Austin and Triple H at No Way Out to settle their differences. McMahon then instituted a "zero tolerance" decree and said that if either man attacked the other before No Way Out, Austin would lose his WrestleMania match and Triple H would be suspended for six months. After Austin signed his name on paper, Triple H struck him in the back of the head with the clipboard and assaulted him. He then pointed out to an irate McMahon that he still had to sign the contract (which he then did) before it became effective.
  • The "Pure Wrestling" division of Ring of Honor ran into a lot of this when it was started up. The idea was to tone down striking in favor of grappling, but all that was made explicitly illegal were punches to the head. Each wrestler was given a limited out of rope breaks to prevent them from taking the "easy" way out of holds but that created confusion over illegal holds in the ropes and who it caused a break for, with one case resulting in a loss from an illegal hold, usually considered impossible even in NO DQ matches, because the victim was out of rope breaks.
  • In a Ring of Fire Match, having a wrestler set on fire no longer will result in a win unlike its counterpartnote , but it can only be won by pinfall or submission. The fire is to prevent outside interference, but there’s no rule barring anyone from simply putting down a fire-resistant blanket to create a path to allow it. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan resorted to this to help Bray Wyatt deal with Kane at SummerSlam 2013.
  • When it comes to men and women, it’s rare for a match between them these days. However, nothing says a woman can’t break up a fight or hitting a guy outside of a match. At the 1000th episode of Raw, Stephanie got around this when Paul Heyman started to trash talk about her children, and she let him have it. Triple H warned Heyman about this since he’s the father of Stephanie's children and he’s protective of them too.
  • When it comes to the Elimination Chamber match, there is no rule that forbids one for a chance at any other Championship matches. Considering, this type of match is offered for those who failed to win a chance for a match up at WrestleMania via the Royal Rumble for a chance at another title match and the World and Heavyweight have been unified, there’s a chance to allow Intercontinental Championship or United States Championship to be offered this way, same goes with Divas.
  • At the 2014 Royal Rumble, John Cena learned there wasn’t going to be any outside interference or added stipulations but the match was only going to be won by pinfall or submission, which The Authority promised. Unfortunately for Cena, he wasn't aware that rule was implied for the Authority including The Shield, which they did live up to their word, because they didn’t mention “who” would be that interference. This cost Cena the match when the The Wyatt Family showed up. The next time, Triple H promised Cena and two others, Sheamus and Daniel Bryan, a chance to take part in the Elimination Chamber Match via 6-man tag team match against. However, Cena, Sheamus, Bryan got the last laugh after the Wyatt Family did it again, costing the Shield the match via disqualification.
  • At Extreme Rules 2012, there was a Table Match between Big Show and Cody Rhodes in which the winning stipulation was to have someone thrown through a table to win. However, They didn't specify how the table could be broken, which is why Cody won when he kicked Big Show as he attempted to get back into the ring, stepping on and breaking the table. Show's Oh, Crap! look when he broke it and the ring announcers' total disbelief over it is priceless.
  • In two different Last Man Standing matches, one between John Cena and Batista at Extreme Rules 2010, and another between Alberto Del Rio and Big Show at Royal Rumble 2013, Cena and Del Rio won their respective matches by using duct tape on their opponents' legs around the ring post to keep their opponents from being able to stand up by the count of 10. There is no rule against doing this, and other than the losers whining about their losses, nothing was done to make this illegal.
    • A similar version of this happened during a special Falls Count Anywhere match at Wrestlemania X between the Macho Man Randy Savage and Kona Crush. The special stipulation was that after a pinfall was counted, the pinned man had to get back to the ring within 60 seconds to keep the match going. After going into the backstage area, Savage pinned Crush, then tied him upside-down on some scaffolding to prevent him from beating the count.
  • Rollins also invoked (he never actually mentioned it, but the commentators did) a particularly sneaky one in his WWE Championship match with Randy Orton, where he was granted a stipulation and he chose to set the rule that "the RKO is banned." The beauty of this rule (which Rollins may or may not have been aware of when he made it, but he was certainly aware of it when the time came), is that signature moves are often just standard, classic moves named after the Superstar using them; in this case, the RKO is merely Orton's term for the "jumping cutter" move. Therefore, an RKO is only an RKO if Randy Orton performs it - or, at its broadest, if someone whose first name begins with the letter R performs it. "Seth" does not begin with an R; therefore, he was able to use a jumping cutter on Orton and call it an "SKO." (Of course, Rollins had the backing of The Authority anyway, which meant that he could just have them invalidate the rule even if someone had found a way to close the loophole.)
  • In any match except for a No-DQ Match, the referee has the power to disqualify a competitor who 1) hits an opponent with a low blow or a "foreign object"; 2) benefits from a third party hitting the opponent on his or her behalf, even if he or she didn't want this to happen or never intended it; 3) refuses to release a submission hold on an opponent who has grabbed the ropes after a count of 10 (or 5 nowadays); or 4) hits the referee. However, precisely because the referee is granted the power to enforce these rules, then technically he or she has final word on the subject; simply put, the referee can violate the rules and simply not count it as a disqualification. (Well, not quite: a referee's decision can theoretically be overturned by the higher-ups; and, as Bret Hart proved at WCW's 1997 Starrcade technically speaking, the match does not end until the timekeeper rings the bell, a fact that can be exploited to devastating effect; but in reality neither of these scenarios comes to pass for the most part.) Thus, there is no rule preventing a referee from knocking out a competitor he/she doesn't like, letting the other competitor cover him/her, and counting it as a victory. Strangely enough, this is a loophole exploited by the faces more than the heels.
  • This is the main reason why Rey Mysterio was allowed to keep his mask in WWE in spite of the fact that he was unmasked in WCW. He was unmasked as Rey Misterio Jr.note , and by dropping the "Jr." In his ring name, he was representing his uncle's image on TV note . At least, that's the official ruling — the reality is because Eric Bischoff's handling of his unmasking was extremely disrespectful, especially when his reasoning for doing so was that masked wrestlers weren't "marketable" (which, as the thousands of Rey Mysterio masks amongst legions of WWE fans can tell you, is the farthest from the truth). This angered the commission enough to allow Rey to re-mask without any repercussions. (Even then- Mysterio would wrestle under the mask in the United States and in most countries, but wrestled unmasked in events in Mexico, either past WCW's closing or in WWE, until 2006, passing the time period given before a unmasked wrestler is allowed to re-mask.)
  • Lucha Underground wrestler Pentagon Jr. gets around his contract's television/PPV exclusivity clause to promote himself by having a friend or fellow wrestler film a fan cam version of his matches and then live stream them onto Facebook.
    • He's also been using slightly altered versions of his stage name outside of Lucha Underground and Wrestling/AAA events — calling himself "Penta el Cero Miedo" and "Penta 0M" — to separate his character from either promotion's control.
  • When Braun Strowman entered and won all by himself a tag team battle royal for the right to challenge Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania 34, he was told he had to find a tag team partner for the title match. But nobody said his partner actually had to be a wrestler, so he simply picked out a 10-year-old boy from the crowdnote  and proceeded to demolish the champions and win the titles on his own while the kid stood on the ring apronnote .
  • Lucha Underground has a title called the "Gift of the Gods Championship" that functions similarly to WWE's Money in the Bank briefcase. The title holds seven "ancient Aztec medallions" that are individually placed into settings along the belt. The medallions are awarded through matches, but the GotG match is open to whoever places the medallions into the settings. Brian Cage learned the difference when Chavo Guerrero Jr. ambushed him in the locker room and stole his medallion, and the general manager refused to do anything about it. Cage tried lying in wait at ringside to prevent Chavo from approaching the belt, but he wasn't fast enough and thus lost his place in the title match.
  • Subverted in a 1997 angle where Eric Bischoff got a "restraining order" against the Giant banning the latter from getting within 50 feet of Bischoff. When the Giant breaks it, he is arrested. The next week, Bischoff storms out to ringside, then demands the Giant be arrested for being within 50 feet. Barely able to keep a straight face, the head cop dryly tells Bischoff that a restraining order violation doesn't count when it's the restrainee breaking it.

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