Hugh Jackman: I punched the wrestler (but I did not break his jaw!)
Who doubts that whole story about Hugh Jackman breaking that WWE wrestler’s jaw the other night?
Hugh Jackman does.
The Real Steel actor tells EW the backstory of his Monday night appearance on WWE Raw, where he appeared to promote his Oct. 7 robot boxing picture. Jackman hung around in the corner of Zack Ryder during his bout with rival Dolph Ziggler. Near the end of the fight, Jackman — who had been taunted by Ziggler in the run-up to the fight — distracted him with a punch to the face. (See the big moment in the photo above.)
Not really good sportsmanship, but it helped Ryder get the advantage and win the match. “Ladies and gentlemen, that was a real ‘steal’ for Zack Ryder,” the announce intoned, simultaneously announcing his campaign for Punmaster of the Universe.
The thing is, there’s a rumor going around that — brace yourself — wrestling is kind of … staged.
I know, I know — sounds crazy. But when Ziggler took to Twitter the day after the fight and claimed the X-Men star had left his jaw with a hairline fracture, well … that sounded crazy too.
Here’s what Jackman has to say about it:
“It was scripted that I would go for that punch,” Jackman tells EW. “But just before we went on, Dolph was yelling at me, ‘You hit me man! Just f—ing hit me!’ During rehearsal I said, ‘I’d like to do it, but I’ve spent 20 years pulling punches, trying not to hit. Trying to make it look real, but not really hit.’ He said, ‘There’s no way. There’s cameras everywhere, there’s crowd everywhere, there’s no way we can “whiff it,”‘ as they call it.”
“So I hit him,” Jackman shrugs. “He said, ‘Hit me as hard as you can.’ So I hit him pretty hard. And you can see it in my eyes. I watched [the clip] again, and you can see me going ‘Uh oh …’ a little. I’m acting like, ‘Yeah!‘ but I’m really like, ‘S—, I kinda really clocked him in the jaw.’”
“The next day I read he really broke his jaw and I wasn’t surprised — but I don’t think he did,” Jackman continues, rolling his eyes. “He’s prone to exaggeration – which is why I hit him! Nah, just kidding!”
Jackman said he has been a wrestling fan since he was a kid. “What they do in the ring is real,” he says.
He puts his hands up. “I saw some faking that night, I’ll be deadly honest,” he says. “It’s scripted entertainment. But in that ring, and when you see them backstage getting warmed up, they get fired up. ‘You better f—ing hit me!’ They’re hitting each other backstage.”
All right, if there’s anything Mickey Rourke has taught us, it’s that wrestlers do endure a lot of physical punishment even if the fights aren’t exactly unchoreographed. But this broken jaw thing? Nah, Jackman’s not buying it. (Anyway, Ziggler was tweeting today about eating peanut butter waffles with WWE divas The Bella Twins, and I’m guessing they weren’t feeding them to him through a tube.)
Still Ziggler, I can’t help but think: Are you going to let a movie star question your integrity like that?
On Twitter: @Breznican