Chances are, in today’s PG Era of wrestling, you won’t find many moments that offend your sensibilities. These days, the focus is on the wrestling, the violence has been watered down and the women are treated like the fierce competitors they are rather than objects of desire for the WWE’s male fanbase. Sexuality has also taken a back seat as the wrestling giant now focuses on creating more family friendly content for their young fans. However, there was a time when that most definitely wasn’t the case. In the 90s and early 2000s, the WWE had a much different attitude about offending viewers, so much so they branded it the Attitude Era. It was a time when anything could happen, the WWE taking the “all press is good press,” approach and breaking just about every taboo imaginable to shock audiences and push the boundaries of censors everywhere.
This was especially the case when it came to sexuality and other explicit content. In those days, you couldn’t watch an episode of Raw or Smackdown without being confronted with scantily clad women pushing their sexuality about as far as the censors would allow. Instead of participating in competitive bouts worthy of the main event the way they do today, the women of the WWE (or WWE Divas as they were called in those days) would regularly participate in bra and panties matches, bikini contests, lingerie pillow fights and other gimmick matches meant to accomplish one thing: To show skin and in turn, titillate WWE viewers.
The following list examines moments in wrestling that did just that. While none of these will be considered examples of great wrestling, they certainly got the blood pumping for fans everywhere in moments that both shocked and entertained. Here are 15 times wrestlers revealed a lot in the ring.
15. Sable’s Handprints
One of the biggest examples of the WWE prioritizing looks over ability is the bikini contests that would frequent their programming. Instead of having the women wrestle it out to prove who was superior, the ladies of the WWE would often settle their differences in a bikini contest, a situation all women can surely relate to. One of the earliest instances of this took place at the Fully Loaded pay-per-view in 1998 where Sable and Jacqueline decided to settle their feud over Marc Mero by seeing who looked the best wearing practically nothing.
It was a contest that offered perhaps the most skin of any in the company’s history after a wardrobe malfunction with Jacqueline’s swimsuit left her exposed. However, the image that has lived on in the years since has definitely been Sable prancing around the ring with nothing covering her but a pair of handprints.
14. Trish Stratus Gets The Tables
When the Dudley Boyz made their WWE debut in 1999, leader Bubba Ray quickly made a name for himself thanks to his twisted love of attacking women and putting them through his signature weapon, the table. It’s a gimmick that most notably culminated in a program between him and future Hall of Famer, Trish Stratus who was managing T&A at the time. After Stratus managed to ward off an attack from the Dudley boy by planting a kiss on him, the seven-time Women’s Champion began to play a series of head games with the ECW graduate, coming out to the ring to distract him during matches and even recording a series of vignettes meant to throw him off his game.
While the storyline would culminate with Dudley eventually putting the legendary women’s wrestler through a table, the vignettes, which featured a lingerie-clad Stratus making a series of pointed double-entendres about tables, have yet to be forgotten.
13. The Kat Bares All
If you’re looking for a time in wrestling that couldn’t be more different than today, look no further than the year 1999. After two years of skyrocketing to mainstream success thanks to their censor-bending tactics and penchant for shocking viewers, the WWE was now emboldened to push the envelope further than ever before, having squarely won the Monday Night War against WCW. This was especially the case when it came to the Divas of the WWE who were being subjected to increasingly ridiculous matches going into the new millennium to achieve the sole purpose of watching two half-naked women slap each other.
This directive seemingly reached its apex during the Fatal Four-Way Evening Gown Pool Match at Armageddon 1999 in which The Kat, Ivory, BB and Tori fought to strip each other of their gowns to win a wrestling championship in what has to be a low moment for the title. However, in a moment that almost got the sports entertainment giant in a heap of trouble, The Kat decided to celebrate her victory by flashing fans in what would become the first instance of intentional nudity on WWE television. It’s a moment that was undoubtedly more memorable than the match itself.
While The Kat’s victory celebration will certainly go down as the peak of the WWE’s objectification of women, this moment from 2002 can probably be attributed as the time when the company finally went too far. In what might be the WWE’s most exploitative segment ever, Eric Bischoff announced to a hyped Monday Night Raw crowd that the main event of that night’s show would not be a wrestling contest but HLA between two women not associated with WWE in the least, HLA standing for hot lesbian action. It all started out as promised, the two beautiful women undressing and locking lips, however as Bischoff would soon reveal, the whole thing was a set up for his dominant tag team 3 Minute Warning who would run in and deliver a vicious beatdown on the two women, one of which actually suffered cracked ribs thanks to the attack.
It was a baffling segment that got them a ton of bad press for its needless violence against women. And while it’s still unclear why a tag team like theirs would need to beat up two defenseless women to assert their dominance, the moment can definitely be attributed to the trend of scaling back on hyper-sexuality and violence against women that the WWE would experience in the years to come.
11. Kelly Kelly’s Expose
The year was 2006 and the WWE was on the cusp of a mass female exodus (most notably Trish Stratus and Lita) that would push the wrestling giant onto a new, more frivolous direction with their female talent. It’s then that their newly introduced ECW brand would debut the character of Kelly Kelly. Billed as an “exhibitionist,” Kelly wouldn’t engage in in-ring competition but instead served as the show’s resident dancer, performing in a weekly segment titled “Kelly’s Expose” in which she would strip for the raucous fans.
Being the WWE in the mid-2000s, she would never get that far before being interrupted by her jealous boyfriend Mike Knox. However, the introduction was a good indication for how the company would present their female performers moving forward.
10. Mae Young Wins (?) The Miss Royal Rumble Swimsuit Contest
Much like the swimsuit contest mentioned earlier between Jacqueline and Sable, the 2000 Miss Royal Rumble Swimsuit Competition was a revealing affair, just not in the way anyone wanted it to be. During the contest, The Kat, Terri Runnels, Jacqueline, Ivory, BB and Luna Vachon each took turns disrobing for the crowd in what could considered your run-of-the-mill, if uneventful swimsuit contest, that is until the final participant stepped forward. Then 76 year-old Mae Young, a pioneer in women’s wrestling and icon of the sport would enter the contest, wearing a tasteful one-piece, however, she wasn’t finished.
“All my fans here want to see my puppies and they’re going to get to see my puppies,” she said before hiking down her suit and giving the crowd in attendance an eyeful. While she would eventually be crowned victorious in the contest, it’s hard to name anyone involved here a winner.
9. Torrie Wilson And Dawn Marie’s Hotel Rendezvous
While the WWE has often taken inspiration from the world of soap operas, one storyline between Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie in 2002 would leave many fans scratching their heads due to how little sense it made. It all started when Marie began dating Wilson’s father in an attempt to get in her competitor’s head (?). After weeks of lingerie contests and slapfights between the two backstage, Marie offered her rival a deal: Meet her in her hotel room and she would break things off with her father.
While what went on behind closed doors in the room remained a mystery, Marie revealed all at Armageddon 2002, debuting footage from the fateful night and showing just how far Wilson was willing to go to keep Marie and her father apart. As it turns out, what the would-be stepmother really wanted was a night with her, showing a clearly reluctant Wilson undressing and deeply kissing Marie. While things only got more ridiculous and soapy from there, the segment was definitely a favorite for many teenage fans.
8. Fan Flashes D-Generation X
That’s right, at the height of the Attitude Era not even the fans were safe from baring all during a WWE taping. After successfully winning a tag match with Triple H and X-Pac during a 1998 episode of Monday Night Raw, cameras caught the attention of a beautiful fan in the crowd holding a sign that made explicit use of DX’s catchphrase, “Suck It,” with arrows pointing to her chest. In yet another effort to take things to the extreme, Triple H would single the fan out, gesturing for her to flash him.
However, when she pulled up her shirt revealing her bra, the Cerebral Assassin was left unsatisfied, motioning for her to do it for real. In a moment that would not play on live television today, the fan obliged, yanking up her undergarment and giving DX, as well as the fans in attendance, for quite the show.
7. Torrie Wilson And Candice Michelle Get Wet And Wild
What do you do when it’s the dead of summer and you’re looking to end a ratings slump? Stage a Wet and Wild match of course! In what would prove to be the first (and only) outing for this seasonal gimmick match, Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle faced off in what would turn out to be a glorified wet t-shirt contest with indeterminate rules.
You won’t find much in the way of wrestling in this bout but that’s also kind of the point, the two ladies (dressed in white of course), taking turns hosing each other down with super-soakers and lobbing water balloons at each other’s barely covered chests. In the end Wilson would emerge victorious, earning the cover of that summer’s WWE Magazine, but it seems like the real winners were the WWE’s predominantly male fanbase.
6. Stacy Keibler’s Table Dance
Vince McMahon has had a number of inappropriate onscreen relationships with his female talent over the years. From making Trish Stratus bark like a dog to appointing Sable his “special friend,” if you were a beautiful woman in the company between 2001 and 2007, chances are you were involved in one storyline or another that required you to be a lot closer to your boss than most job descriptions entail. However, few could have predicted that a 2002 segment featuring McMahon and Stacy Keibler would go on to become one of the most popular gifs in WWE history.
The segment would begin with McMahon interviewing a series of more qualified but less attractive people for the position (translation: boring), until Keibler would come out and throw her hat into the ring for the job. How would she showcase her qualifications you might ask? By performing a table dance of course, the leggy blonde climbing onto McMahon’s desk and hiking up her skirt to show him exactly what she’d bring to the role. The segment is perhaps most responsible for giving a generation of young men unrealistic expectations for their first job interview.
5. The Thong Stinkface Match
Back in the early 2000s, Rikishi was one of the most popular mid-card wrestlers around, known primarily for wrestling in a thong and for his beloved signature move the stinkface, in which he’d force his exposed behind into the face of his downed opponent. The WWE would routinely find new ways for him to use it against just about everyone on the roster, becoming one of their most anticipated running gags. However, at Summerslam 2000, the WWE decided to answer a question no one asked: What if the stinkface was sexy?
In one of their more forgettable, although nonetheless bizarre gimmick matches, Terri Runnels and The Kat would face off in a thong stinkface match. The match, which would of course require the competitors to be dressed in nothing but swimsuits, would only be won by the woman who could shove her behind in the face of her opponent first. The Kat would eventually emerge victorious, her prize being…pride we presume?
4. Jacqueline Loses Her Top
While The Kat’s victory flash at Armageddon is often credited as the first instance of intentional nudity in the WWE, that’s only because this next entry occurred at the UK-only event, Capital Carnage. The 1998 pay-per-view featured a mixed tag match that would pit Jacqueline and Marc Mero against their bitter rival Sable as well as Christian. However, while the match itself was unremarkable, what ensued afterwards was anything but.
After being defeated by the Women’s Champion, Jacqueline decided to take her frustrations out on the referee, beating him mercilessly until Sable decided to intervene by ripping off Jacqueline’s shirt, leaving her exposed. The moment was left unedited in the North American version of the VHS release, leaving quite the surprise for many young wrestling fans as well as their parents.
3. Sealed With A Kiss
When Sable shocked audiences by returning to the WWE-fold in 2003, she found herself in a very different company from the one she left in 1999. While still no strangers to over-sexualizing their female talent, the wrestling giant finally had a roster of respected women’s wrestlers as well, leaving little for Sable to actually do. This resulted in a confusing storyline in which the former Women’s Champion developed an infatuation over (and/or was possibly jealous of) reigning Playboy covergirl Torrie Wilson.
For weeks the Sable Bomb-practitioner would play mind games with Wilson, flirting with her and even stripping in front of her one moment before turning on her the next. The feud would naturally culminate in a bikini contest at Judgement Day in which the two would compete to see who could wear the skimpiest bathing suit. It’s a contest, Wilson almost lost after she unveiled a relatively modest two-piece, upping the ante by taking that suit off as well to reveal what essentially amounted to two pieces of string. Being WWE, Wilson would celebrate her win by, what else? Kissing Sable in the middle of the ring.
2. Trish And Stacy Get Dirty
In the early 2000s, not even the Women’s Champion was safe from having to duke it out with her fellow Divas in a mud match. However, as Trish Stratus proved during a 2002 match on Raw, just because the WWE gives you lemons, doesn’t mean you can’t milk an epic wrestling moment out of them. In the summer of 2002, then-Women’s Champion Stratus was set to defend her title against Stacy Keibler in a lingerie mud match because, as Eric Bischoff informed them, “No one cares about women’s wrestling.”
However, not willing to simply give fans the mindless titillation they were looking for, Stratus decided to take things to new heights and show people exactly how much they cared. In one of the most re-played moments of Stratus’s career, Keibler would throw the seven-time Women’s Champion off of the stage and into the pool of mud below. The breathtaking stunt is said to have been Stratus’s idea, earning her first-ever “holy s**t,” chant. So while fans still got two beautiful women rolling around in mud, at least they got something out of it too.
1. Edge And Lita’s Live ‘Celebration’
It’s hard to talk about moments in wrestling that showed a lot of skin without mentioning the highly controversial (and highly rated) live sex celebration between Edge and Lita on Monday Night Raw. After winning his first WWE Championship at New Year’s Revolution the night before, Edge decided to stage a celebration that would send censors into overdrive by bedding his girlfriend, Lita in the middle of the ring.
While nothing was explicitly shown, save for an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction for Lita, the R-Rated couple did take things about as close to the line as you could get without crossing it, insinuating some pretty graphic acts. Both superstars have since admitted that it’s not a moment they look back proudly on. However, they can take some solace in the fact that it’s one of Raw’s highest rated segments ever and a piece of wrestling history.
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