5 WWE matches that didn’t take place on American soil – Shawn Michaels controversy; Brock Lesnar squashed
Over the years, WWE has expanded to several new overseas markets and is now an international phenomenon. The company also has superstars from all over the world on its roster, who have helped to expand its international audience. Every year, events are produced all around the world to cater to this growing fanbase.
WWE now regularly visits Saudi Arabia with WrestleMania-caliber cards that are stacked with some of the biggest names in professional wrestling. In the late ’90s and early ’00s, the promotion used to have the annual Rebellion shows, which were exclusive to the UK.
There have also been several traditional pay-per-views, such as SummerSlam and WrestleMania, which have taken place outside the US. With that being said, here are five huge WWE matches that didn’t take place on American soil:
#5 Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart (WWE Survivor Series 1997)
Shawn Michaels challenged Bret Hart for the WWE Championship at Survivor Series 1997 in a highly-anticipated match. The two stars had friction behind the scenes and Hart was on his way to WCW. The match ended with an unscripted incident and came to be known as the Montreal Screwjob.
Hart and Vince McMahon agreed that the match would end in a disqualification. The Calgary native didn’t want to lose in Canada so he agreed to drop the title at a later date. However, Shawn Michaels and his party weren’t happy with the proposed finish.
Without informing The Hitman, McMahon decided that Michaels had to win the title. During the match, there was a planned spot where HBK put Hart in the Sharpshooter. Referee Earl Hebner ended the match immediately and Michaels was awarded the victory by submission.
The incident laid the foundation for McMahon’s heel character, who was an integral part of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s incredible success. WWE regards the Montreal Screwjob as the official beginning of the Attitude Era.
#4 Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar (WWE Survivor Series 2016)
Goldberg returned to the WWE ring for the first time in 12 years to face Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2016 in Toronto. While the audience embraced him with open arms in the build-up to the match, there were concerns that the fans in Toronto would reject Goldberg due to the Bret Hart incident.
However, those concerns were soon laid to rest as the former WCW star walked into the arena as a conquering hero and made short work of Lesnar. Goldberg went on to win the Universal Championship from Kevin Owens at Fastlane 2017 before dropping the title in a rematch with Lesnar at WrestleMania 33.
#3 British Bulldog vs Bret Hart (WWE SummerSlam 1992)
SummerSlam 1992 ended up being one of the greatest events in WWE history, as over 80,000 people (figure reported by WWE) thronged to Wembley to watch their compatriot, The British Bulldog, face Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship.
The atmosphere was unique as football horns blared amid an incredible crowd. Even though The Bulldog wasn’t in the best condition, Hart carried him to an instant classic. The match is still fondly remembered by British professional wrestling fans and won PWI’s “Match of the Year” award for 1992.
#2 Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior (WWE WrestleMania 6)
Hulk Hogan faced Ultimate Warrior in one of the biggest matches in professional wrestling history, where both the WWE Championship and the Intercontinental Championships were on the line at WrestleMania 6 in Toronto. Future stars like Edge, Christian and Lance Storm were all in attendance for the event.
Hogan brought in a new generation of fans and was WWE’s biggest star as the company underwent a period of exponential growth. The Ultimate Warrior was the first superstar to threaten his position as the top babyface. The audience had taken to Warrior and were ready for the passing of the torch.
Even though Hogan dropped the title in an epic tussle, he made an enormous impression. Toronto remained one of his strongest markets for the duration of his career.
#1 Hulk Hogan vs The Rock (WWE WrestleMania 18)
Hulk Hogan returned to the Grandest Stage for the first time in almost nine years when he faced The Rock at WrestleMania 18 in Toronto. But on this occasion, Hogan wasn’t wearing his classic red-and-yellow outfit. He was the heel leader of the nWo going up against one of the most beloved stars in WWE.
While the audience did have a desire to see Hogan return to his original persona, the fans in Toronto took it to another level. They rejected The Rock and cheered Hogan as the two legends had one of the most iconic matches in professional wrestling history.
Hogan broke away from the nWo in the aftermath of the bout and turned babyface. He went on to defeat Triple H and have another run as WWE Champion.