Ever step in dog manure and half your junior high school class laughed at you? How about getting rejected by that one person you really like? Being embarrassed is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s intertwined with our lives, just like oxygen and taxes. You can learn from those embarrassments by eating some humble pie, or maybe take that feeling, roll it up into a ball, burn it, and become a stronger human being for it.
Whatever the case may be, the same applies to the WWE. Just like any other company, the image of the product is very important. Many times the WWE has embarrassed themselves and their image. Some of these embarrassments are light hearted and we can laugh at, while others are quite disturbing. One thing is for sure, WWE would rather not talk about it by throwing it under the rug and claiming nothing is there.
Thank god for the internet, lawsuits, shoot videos, and dedicated fans that want nothing but the truth. Otherwise, we may never have heard about these embarrassing tales of the WWE. So, if you had a bad day and felt embarrassed about something, maybe this will cheer you up. Enjoy.
15 Perception of Women in the WWE
The women’s revolution that kicked off last year in the WWE may not be what everyone was hoping for, but it did come a long way from the titillating and salacious storylines from the past involving female Superstars. There’s a profound difference between this generation and those from the past in regards to wrestling, showmanship, and charisma. Today, girls are inspired by Bayley’s commitment to continually put on a great show.
Back then, girls were inspired to look like Playboy models and hook up with guys in the locker room. Can we really blame Vince McMahon for using sex as a way to boost ratings? We’re all a bit capricious about that question, but it still holds true that the WWE objectified women to boost their ratings, something that would be shameful today.
14 Having Legit Boxing-style Matches
In 1998, WWE decided to bring more reality based content into their programming by holding a boxing tournament among the Superstars. The only hiccup was, this wasn’t going to be kayfabe, but an actual shootfight in the ring. Whether it was Vince Russo’s idea or not, the project will go down as one of the most embarrassing moments in the history of professional wrestling.
According to many employees of the WWE, Steve “Doctor Death” Williams was the favorite to win the contest, however, Bart Gunn ended that fantasy by knocking him out in the second round of the tournament. Gunn would go on to face Butterbean, a legit boxer, at WrestleMania XV and get obliterated in convincing fashion. The WWE has never tried to have real combat fights in the squared circle since.
13 Using Death in a Storyline
Death can be a very sensitive topic to discuss and can be very tricky to use in wrestling. Paul Heyman and ECW learned firsthand that having a live crucifixion can turn off many supporters. WWE has walked that fine line many times and it usually doesn’t turn out nicely for them. When Triple H and Kane were feuding in 2002, WWE creative decided to have Hunter fornicate with Kane’s deceased girlfriend at her own funeral.
Sure it's kayfabe, but it still turned off many people and received one of the worst reactions in wrestling history. More recently, during a Paige and Charlotte feud, they brought up the death of Ric Flair’s son, David. Once again, the angle was received with terrible reviews. Stay classy WWE.
12 Kennel From Hell Match
You have a steel cage, a Hell in the Cell, and ferocious dogs around the ring. What can go wrong in a Kennel from Hell match? Everything and anything, that’s what can go wrong. Maybe it looked good on paper, maybe creative was intoxicated when they came up with the idea, or maybe they were just trolling the fans and knew it would be a bad idea.
Regardless, WWE went along with the gimmick match between Al Snow and The Big Boss Man. Selling the match on the idea that the dogs will be ruthless and scary, WWE wishes that can have this one back. Instead of being intimidating, the dogs acted like dogs and weren’t a threat at all. It’s arguably the most embarrassing match in wrestling history.
11 A Den for Drug Abuse
Thousands of people chanting your name, beautiful women throwing themselves at you, and everyone wanting to be your best pal. This sounds like the life of a rock star, but it also holds true for many Superstars in the past and present. This whirlwind experience can lead to the darker side of life, such as drug abuse. Whether it was in a locker room, an after party, or on the road, many wrestlers have succumbed to drug abuse under the WWE’s watch.
One such notorious example is Shawn Michaels' checkered past. His drug abuse is widely noted and he did change for the better, but that can’t be said for others. Many Superstars have passed away due to the abuse of drugs. It’s why the WWE formed a drug abuse testing policy as well as helping former employees end their addictions.
Once upon a time, Vince McMahon only saw promise and talent in wrestlers that were equipped with muscles on top of muscles. If you were looking like Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins, then the WWE was not the place for you. Steroid abuse in the WWE came to a boiling point in 1993 when the Vince McMahon was charged by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York for acquiring anabolic steroids and handing them to his Superstars.
The alleged charges also stated he employed a Pennsylvania doctor to write out prescriptions for easy access to drugs. McMahon beat the charges and the WWE kept the verisimilitude of no one using steroids in the company going, but we all know that wasn’t the case. The next number on our list would bring back the debate of steroids in the WWE.
9 Chris Benoit and the Tribute Video
It’s hard to talk about the history of wrestling and not mention Chris Benoit. He was a pioneer, a trailblazer, and insanely talented worker in the ring. With that said, he also succumbed to his own demons, murdering his wife, Nancy, and 7-year-old son Daniel before killing himself in ‘07, in a terrible situation that garnered a lot of mainstream media coverage.
The tragic event left the wrestling industry devastated and there were more questions than answers. The incident taking place over the weekend and news not traveling as fast as it does today, WWE only knew that Chris and his family had died. Without knowing more facts, WWE decided to make a tribute video for a man who murdered his family less than 72 hours ago, something the WWE surely regrets, though they can't be truly faulted for.
8 Plane Ride From Hell
It’s an epic tale that involves many prominent members of the wrestling industry, but that also embarrassed many within the WWE company. In 2002, the WWE was at a crossroads from having a party animal style atmosphere to the corporate one we're used to seeing today. You can drink your butts off and pull as many pranks as possible during the old days, something hardly seen or reported today. The “Plane Ride From Hell” was a flight from Britain to the United States after a European tour.
Many wrestlers were stressed out and wanted to have fun. Mr. Perfect got into a wrestling match with Brock Lesnar which turned into a shoot, Goldust was harassing his ex-wife Terry, Michael Hayes fought John Bradshaw because he thought he snipped his hair with scissors, even though it was X-Pac, and Ric Flair was walking around with only his robe on. Many people faced disciplinary action after the incident and it’s mythology will live on.
7 Concussion Lawsuits
The NFL has been the poster child for concussion awareness ,as well as having a responsibility to protect their employees from life-threatening injuries. That’s why the NFL shelled out over $700 million in a settlement in 2013 to 18,000 former players for concussion-related injuries over their careers. With the NFL on board to make the league safer, WWE has followed their steps in trying to protect their stars and we hope the steps they take will help prolong the lives of wrestlers who might be affected by these issues.
Just like the NFL, WWE is also being slammed with a lawsuit by 53 wrestlers, alleging that the company should be held accountable for long-term neurological effects from concussions. Chavo Guerrero Jr, Joseph "Road Warrior Animal" Laurinaitis, James "Kamala" Harris, and Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff are just some on the list.
6 Censoring Fans
The WWE’s propaganda machine would make Edward Bernays a proud man. The image of a company is just as important as the product and WWE makes sure their image is what they want it to be. If they want to give the illusion that everyone loves Roman Reigns, then they will edit an anti-Roman Reign sign that a fan brings to an event.
Don’t believe us? It happened during WWE’s Payback when a fan brought a sign that read, “When it Reigns, it bores.” When seeing an image of the sign on WWE’s homepage, they post-edited “it bores” out of the picture. It’s also on record that they take away CM Punk signs and manipulate the audio when fans express their opinions of a Superstar that WWE doesn’t agree with.
5 Once Called the WWF
While we discussed Vince being a savvy veteran of the court system, there was one major lawsuit that he lost, which ended the WWF era. Once upon a time, starting in 1979, the WWE was called the World Wrestling Federation. For decades, the acronym was synonymous with professional wrestling.
That all changed in 1994 when WWE’s parent company, Titan Sports, Inc, granted the World Wildlife Fund the letters and said they would only use the acronym sparingly in their promos and stop writing out 'WWF'. This was in ’94, but WWE kept on using “WWF” until a U.K. Court of Appeals ruled that the WWE was in breach of their contract with the conservation organization. It was glorious to see Superstars stutter to say WWE because they used the acronym “WWF” for so long.
4 Sexual Assault Lawsuits
Vince McMahon has become a wizard when dealing with lawsuits. His skullduggery and unscrupulous tactics have ended lawsuits quicker than an episode of Raw. We guess being the owner of a multi-million dollar company you have to be. It still doesn’t count for the embarrassment that comes with each lawsuit. The WWE has had a long history of sexual abuse claims by former female employees.
The first was Rita Chatterton, a female referee (the first) for the WWE. She claimed on Geraldo Rivera’s show that Vince sexually assaulted her in a limousine. Nicole Bass claimed she was sexually harassed and even Sable filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit, claiming the same crime. Bass’s lawsuit was dismissed while Sable and the WWE settled out of court. Not only women have claimed sexual harassment in the WWE, but also men, such as this next person on our list.
3 Tom Cole Scandal
Many don’t know who Tom Cole is, but those who've been fans of the industry for a very long time may remember him from the WWE. Cole spent his teen and young adult years working for the WWE as an ring attendant in the 80s and 90s. It wasn’t until 1992 that he would come out as someone who was sexually assaulted by employees of the WWE. The sexual charges rocked the company and three men were let go from their positions.
The accused was former wrestler Terry Gavin and backstage worker Mel Philips. The third man to be fired was Pat Patterson, but he was rehired later. Cole obtained an undisclosed settlement and left the business for good. You would think WWE would be more sensitive to sexual abuse, but that hasn't always been the case.
2 Subtle Racism
Racial tensions in the United States haven’t been this prevalent since the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s. The discussion of social injustice, cultural misunderstandings, and disinformation that creates more harm than good has been on the forefront of many more recently than not. That’s why the WWE doesn’t want you to know about their lax environment for racism to flow in the company for a very longer than it should have.
Don’t believe us? Watch a Greg Valentine promo on the Junkyard Dog and tell us that wasn’t racist. Even Roddy Piper decided to don black face makeup during a match with Bad News Brown, and he was supposed to be the babyface. We can also point on the stereotyped roles many black and Spanish Superstars are put in.
Fortunately, the WWE has been more aware of their creativeness when it comes to minorities but they're still embarrassed by who's number one on the list.
1 Banished Their Greatest Creation
To all the Hulkamanicas out there, say your prayers, take your vitamins and you will never go wrong. It looks like Hulk Hogan didn’t follow his own advice and ended up in deep water with the WWE and many anti-racist activists.
It was embarrassing when The Hulkster promised Vince McMahon he wouldn’t sign with another company after leaving the WWE, only to sign with Ted Turner’s WCW. It was also embarrassing when a private tape conversation was leaked online and created a nightmare for the WWE and Hulk. Hogan was spewing out some racist remarks that cost him his status at the WWE. Their greatest creation ever, banished. However, there have been some hints that WWE is testing the waters for his return, by using some of his quotes in the promotional material, but nothing is certain as of yet.