The PG era in WWE started back in 2008 when the company switched their television rating from TV-14 to PG. Vince McMahon wanted to change the approach of WWE for many reasons. It was no longer the 90s and the style that found success in the Attitude Era did nothing but harm WWE’s reputation. The Chris Benoit incident from 2007 also influenced this, a change was needed for the company after all the backlash that followed. The mainstream perception of WWE was worse than ever leading to the company trying to no longer push the envelope. There was also the hope of bringing back younger fans and families to the audience.
Since the PG era started, WWE has banned numerous things such as blood, swearing and overly sexual content. The rules have been enforced for the most part in creating a family friendly environment. There have been a small number of instances of WWE television seeing the PG rating broken. Some of these were intentionally planned, others were done without WWE knowing and a few were complete accidents. All delivered memorable moments given how rare it was in the time frame. We'll take a look at fifteen shocking WWE moments from the PG era that actually weren’t so PG.
15 Brock Lesnar Decimating Randy Orton
Brock Lesnar has been the culprit in intentionally breaking the PG rules multiple times. Despite WWE wanting to create a family friendly product, they'll most likely give Lesnar the freedom to do what he wants. One drastic situation featured Brock getting too violent in the main event of SummerSlam 2016.
14 Roman Reigns & John Cena Getting Too Real
The most recent example of WWE staying away from their usual guidelines featured John Cena and Roman Reigns going at it in the ring. Both Superstars were trying to sell their upcoming dream match by getting personal with each other. Cena called out Reigns’ flaws and inability to cut a promo or be “the guy.”
13 Brie Bella Slip
The accidental moments of breaking PG are the most embarrassing ones. Brie Bella wasn’t too pleased when she ended up doing so on live television. During a segment on a live episode of Raw that required her sitting in the ring in a casual dress rather than wrestling gear, one of Brie’s nipples was visible. It was one of the most glaring “nip slips” to ever occur in a WWE ring.
12 Enzo & Lana Work "Not So PG" Angle
This moment was actually recent taking place in 2016, which in truth, makes it even harder to believe that it took place. The story was straight out of the Attitude Era playbook as Lana and Enzo setup a private meetup at a hotel. You truly don't see edgy material like this nowadays.
11 CM Punk Mocking Paul Bearer's Death
WWE went back to the old school approach to the wrestling business when exploiting Paul Bearer’s real life death. The passing of Bearer impacted the WWE Universe considering he was the longtime manager of The Undertaker. Longtime fans will always associate the two with each other. WWE utilized this as Undertaker was feuding with CM Punk heading into WrestleMania 29.
10 Paige Suggestively Licks Natalya
Paige has been one of the most interesting women in WWE since joining the company. Controversy has followed Paige and she clearly isn’t someone that's afraid to break rules. One bizarre moment featured Paige trying to add a new aspect to her act. Paige was wrestling Natalya on Main Event and the smaller show felt like the best place to experiment.
9 Chris Jericho Hitting Shawn Michaels' Wife
The feud between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels was one of the first big angles of the PG era to push boundaries. Jericho and Michaels planned a very risky segment to get their feud really going on a personal level. Michaels was planning to leave the ring forever with his wife by his side. Jericho interrupted them and “accidentally” punched Michaels’ wife in the face when aiming for Shawn.
8 Big Cass References Seth Rollins' Leaked Pictures
Seth Rollins became a controversial figure due to his personal life hitting the internet. The allegations of Rollins cheating on his fiancé with fellow WWE performer Zahra Schreiber led to everything getting ugly on social media. Rollins’ fiancé found revenge by leaking nude pictures of both Rollins and Schreiber on his Twitter and Instagram pages right before an episode of Raw started.
7 Ric Flair Tells Natalya To Kill Herself
The antics of Ric Flair have seen him forget the rules many times. WWE struggled to keep him from breaking their guidelines when it comes to the PG era. One of the worst moments of someone breaking PG in WWE featured Flair losing his cool and going overboard in a heel promo. While working as the manager of his daughter Charlotte, Ric snapped at her opponent Natalya.
6 AJ Lee Roasts Bellas
AJ Lee and the Bella Twins had legitimate heat backstage due to differing personalities. They were the biggest successes in the Women’s Division at the time competing for the top spot. AJ often held nothing back when going at the Bellas in promos. One specific moment that broke PG saw her unleash a savage promo going after all of the women in the division.
5 The Rock & John Cena Get Personal
Another example of someone breaking the PG rules to insult John Cena was the return of The Rock. WWE’s biggest name took short breaks from Hollywood to appear on WWE television in a two year long feud with Cena spanning between three WrestleMania events. Both men pushed the envelope with Rock crossing the line numerous times.
Some of the non PG moments focused on Rock using the b-word to describe Cena multiple times and accusing Cena of adultery at one point. Things would get quite uncomfortable to watch due to both men losing their cool and getting quite personal. Considering Cena and Rock delivered the biggest box office match in WWE history, you have to admit that breaking PG will work in the right feud.
4 Brock Lesnar Blading
WWE has enforced a strong policy against bleeding in the ring. The protocol is to stop the match and clear any cut that is causing the blood. This is done to protect the safety of the performers and ensure nothing dangerous goes down in the ring because of it. Samoa Joe and Finn Balor could have had a classic match at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, but the match was stopped numerous times due to Joe’s bleeding.
3 Paige Mocking The Death Of Charlotte's Brother
WWE intentionally planned one non-PG moment that rubbed most viewers the wrong way. The hope was for Paige to become a hated heel to put over Charlotte Flair as the new top face in the Women’s Division. Someone backstage had the idea for Paige to reference the death of Charlotte’s younger brother Reid.
2 Saying Matt Hardy Killed Jeff Hardy's Dog
The feud between Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy back in 2009 created a very personal rivalry between the brothers. There was a storyline based on Matt doing dastardly actions to Jeff out of jealousy for his younger brother becoming a bigger star. Jeff was red hot off his reign as WWE Champion and Matt turned heel in time for a match at WrestleMania XXV.
1 Randy Orton Making Out With Unconscious Stephanie
Another segment that took place on the road to WrestleMania XXV also broke PG in a shocking way. WWE decided to finally acknowledge the real life marriage between Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Triple H came to the aid of the McMahon family after Randy Orton continued attacking them on a weekly basis. One specific moment broke PG when Orton crossed the line.
Orton handcuffed Triple H to the ropes before doing his signature moves to Stephanie. The idea of a man beating up a woman in front of her husband was bad enough, but it got worse when Orton planted a kiss on an unconscious Stephanie. It added a lot to make the storyline a heated rivalry. However, it remains one of the most shocking moments of the PG era.
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