Wrestling legend Jake Roberts recently described how he got backstage heat in WWE for changing the finish of one of his most important matches ever.
Under basic pro wrestling principles, the booker controls the final moments of the match, who wins and who loses. But in WWE that control has expanded to include not just the who but the how. Vince McMahon and his inner circle have long been known to want very specific finishes and visuals in mind. So when Roberts made a slight change during his match with the Undertaker at WrestleMania VIII, he got heat backstage for it.
Speaking on the DDP Snake Pit Podcast, Roberts said the match was supposed to end with Undertaker hitting a Tombstone in the ring. However, Roberts called a change on the fly and had Undertaker Tombstone him on the floor instead.
“The point is, him doing it to you in the ring, everybody could’ve seen it better. And that’s where I screwed up. It wasn’t something where I didn’t want to do the job … If I didn’t want to do the job, I’d never DDT’d him once.”
Roberts tried justifying this change by saying that Tombstone was a “tremendous kill shot” and that a Tombstone outside the ring was not only more devastating but fit the match’s psychology since he was chasing Paul Bearer around the ring and Undertaker caught him.
h/t: WrestlingInc for the transcription