People who aren’t into pro wrestling tend to dismiss it as silly and wildly illogical. All this business about heel turns and run ins and screwjobs all sounds like childish silliness, and like anything but logical storylines. But for long time fans, we see something different. I hold that one of the reasons why my love of wrestling has survived for nearly three decades is the sense of drinking one long storyline as one champion gives way to another, and one feud leads to the next.
Even for fans who follow the wrestling logic and accept that some of the internal rules of wrestling are different from what we accept in the real world, there are those moments that leave us scratching our heads. While we may not have noticed them at the time, there are key moments in wrestling—and particularly in WWE—history that we can look back on and wonder why that ever made sense to anyone.
Whether it was a wild change in personality, a one time plot device, or a strange happening in the ring, these are the moments that made no sense in or out of their immediate context. Some of these moments are from celebrated period like the Attitude Era that was so entertaining in its time, but so full of logical gaps when we look back on it. Others come from less popular periods, or even from the last few years when fans are generally paying closer attention and when everything is better archived via the Internet. No time period is entirely immune from having some truly nonsensical booking.
15 Bray Wyatt Summons A Demon Child To Help Him One Time
Extreme Rules 2014 saw John Cena and Bray Wyatt battle in a steel cage match follow up to their WrestleMania XXX showdown. The match saw the debut of a new member of Wyatt’s family—a child who stood on the ring steps and sang to Cena in a demonic voice. The child surprised and distracted—maybe even scared—Cena into paralysis, which allowed Wyatt to recover and steal the victory in the match.
The moment raises a lot of questions. Why did Cena let this child—even a demonic one—stop him from bowling his way out of the cage, or sneaking out around the youngster? And if Waytt had this magical child, and presumably the capacity to morph children in this way, why did he never do it before or since? Wyatt has had plenty of bigger matches, with the world title on the line, or on the big stage of WrestleMania. You’d think he’d use his resources better for those more significant moments.
14 Chris Masters And Chavo Guerrero Flip Personalities
In 2009, Chavo Guerrero found himself locked in an interminably long storyline with Hornswoggle that squandered the last of the Latino star’s prime on a comedy feud that no one liked.
As much as Guerrero vs. Hornswoggle didn’t make much sense to begin with from a storyline or real perspective, it got even worse with the injection of Chris Masters. In Masters’ first involvement, he bullied the leprechaun and seemed to provoke a change of heart in Guerrero, as he looked sympathetic toward his former foe. By the following week’s Raw, Masters and Guerrero had inexplicably flipped personalities. Guerrero was back to trying to chase down Hornswoggle. Master had a change of heart and decided to defend the little guy against the big bully. The incoherence took a bad storyline and somehow made it even worse.
13 Paige And Charlotte Are Crazy
The year 2015 saw the arrival of NXT stars Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks on the main roster, and with it a concerted effort to take women’s wrestling more seriously in WWE. Paige was a great early foil Flair, especially after she won the Women’s Championship, as she played the jealous, overlooked friend who turned heel and had the skills to put on a quality match with Flair.
Midway through the feud, however, Flair turned heel on Paige. It was unclear if fans were supposed to think that meant Paige had turned face again, or if this were a rare heel vs. heel feud. Regardless, the characters and their motivations were quickly impossible to follow. Due to that incoherence, plus Paige ending up on the outs with WWE and Flair moving on to bigger things, WWE has generally swept this storyline under the rug.
12 Triple H May Or May Not Have Sexually Assaulted Stephanie McMahon
During the Attitude Era, good girl Stephanie McMahon who wasn’t really yet a character was set to marry Test. That is, she was going to marry Test until Triple H crashed the proceedings and revealed he had taken an unconscious Stephanie through a drive thru chapel in Vegas and already married her. Helmsley capped his heel promo by asking Vince McMahon not if, but how many times he thought they’d “consummated the marriage.”
While the vulgarity of the segment befit the time of the Attitude Era, it raised an important legal question. If Vince really thought Triple H had sexually assaulted his sobbing daughter, why on earth didn’t he press charges? Heels do a lot of awful thing but rape—and particularly rape of the boss’s daughter—really can’t be acceptable.
11 Kane Explains A Decade Long Master Plan
In 2010, the unthinkable happened. Kane finally got the better of The Undertaker.
The story was that The Undertaker was beaten unconscious and Kane investigated the matter, only for it to turn out Kane was the perpetrator. Kane would go on to layout how his every feud, partnership, and otherwise unnoteworthy interaction with his brother over the preceding 10 years plus had actually been part of a master plan to weaken The Deadman.
A long game like this isn’t completely unbelievable, as Kane is the kind of character who’d do such a thing. The problem is Kane had undergone so many transformations and personal stories over his WWE tenure, that the idea everything was his conscientious choice—including so many things that had nothing to do with Kane—was just absurd.
10 Mae Young Gives Birth To A Hand
The Attitude Era saw a lot of outlandish storylines for sure, but one might argue that none was more downright insane than the romance between Mae Young and Mark Henry. The coupling was difficult to believe in the first place, but then there was the absurdity of the Young getting pregnant in her geriatric state.
WWE must have realized that there was both no logical pay off for this storyline and that any fan paying attention to it at that point would have to expect continued absurdity. WWE went all in, with Young giving birth not to a human child but a rubber hand. The incident was never explained, and only briefly addressed in a quick comedy segment nearly 20 years later, with a grown young man in a hand costume appearing on screen as Young’s son.
9 Kevin Nash Is Really Bad At (And Has No Reason For) Covering His Tracks
2011 saw CM Punk catch fire based on worked shoot promos and sterling in ring performances opposite John Cena. There’s a degree to which it made sense to transition to a three way storyline between Punk, Triple H, and Kevin Nash. The Kliq alumni had a long history of bending reality with stunts like the Madison Square Garden Curtain Call in a way that fit Punk’s identity. Moreover, Punk could theoretically get more over by working with legends from another era.
There were a lot of problems in the plan and its execution, though. Punk jobbing to Triple H undeniably hurt the Straight Edge Superstar. Meanwhile, Nash wasn’t actually medically cleared to wrestle until this storyline was pretty much played out. Worst of all, WWE developed an incredibly convoluted storyline in which Kevin Nash claimed Triple H had texted him to jump Punk, which gave way to a mystery angle of who had actually sent the text. All of this ended anticlimactically with it turning out that Nash had texted himself—a confusing and roundabout way to arrive at the same obvious storyline that Nash had decided to attack Punk for himself.
8 Extremely Fit Mickie James Is Called Piggy
When she entered an angle with Michelle McCool and Layla El, the Mickie James character endured ridicule about her body. The heels called her “Piggy James” and created parody videos all geared at picking on James for being overweight. The main problem with this angle? James was not even a little bit fat—she was incredibly fit. While she may not have been stick figure thin her LayCool opponents, she was quite arguably stronger and in better overall shape.
To make matters worse, Michelle McCool, after losing one match to James, would end up getting her win back to ultimately win the feud. This was one of those bad stories in which a heel did something truly reprehensible and seemed to be proven right for winning in the end.
7 John Cena Has a Tough Year
John Cena lost to The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII. It was a surprising outcome to a lot of fans, who presumed Rock had come back largely to put over Cena as the face of the contemporary era in wrestling. It turned out WWE was working toward a longer redemption story of Cena coming back to beat Rock a year later.
That’s a fair enough story to tell, except that WWE’s suggestion that Cena had had a terrible year and needed this win was oddly inconsistent with what actually happened. Immediately after WrestleMania XXVIII, Cena defeated newly returned Brock Lesnar in a brutal epic of a match at Extreme Rules. He’d go on to win a Money in the Bank briefcase, main event multiple PPVs, and win his second Royal Rumble. While it was a rare year without Cena winning a world title, it was still an objectively very good year, which made the whole story feel artificial for fans looking back and taking the time to consider it.
6 D-Von Dudley Switches Personalities And Brands For No Reason
When WWE split its brands for the first time, the company made a conscious effort to rebrand a number of major stars. One such move was to split up The Dudley Boyz. Bubba Ray would play an upper card face on Raw. D-Von would try out a new heel preacher character on SmackDown.
The heel preacher character wasn’t necessarily bad, and did have some logic to it given D-Von’s speaking style and use of the word “testify” in promos. However, a few months into the experiment, WWE seemed to recognize that split was a mistake and the most fan satisfaction and money rested with the Dudleys as a tag team unit. With no build up or real storyline explanation, D-Von would return unannounced to Raw to help out Bubba Ray and return to their old team as if the preceding months and Devon’s heel turn had never happened. This is a case in which fans were generally happy enough with the outcome to not dwell on the gap in logic.
5 Muhammad Hassan Has Masked Men On Call
Muhammad Hassan was a complex character. While he was a heel, he was a heel with good justification who felt discriminated against because of his Arabic descent, following September 11. As time went on, the character lost some of its nuances in favor playing a more straightforward villain. That all came to a head in the summer of 2005, when Hassan summoned a group of masked men—billed as sympathizers, but not so subtly clad like stereotypical terrorists—to take out The Undertaker.
Whether they were actually meant as terrorists or not, the sidekicks came out of nowhere and made little sense for who Hassan was. Matters got even worse when the episode of SmackDown with Hassan and his cronies aired hours after terrorist attacks in London—a PR nightmare for WWE that led to the company scrapping Hassan’s character altogether.
4 Brie Bella Develops Stockholm Syndrome
Summer 2014 saw Brie Bella get involved in her highest profile wrestling storyline, booked in a rivalry with Stephanie McMahon that earned the two main event promo segments on Raw and resulted in a very good match. The finish to the match was questionable, though, with Nikki Bella inexplicably turning on her sister to help McMahon.
Nikki would go on to defeat her sister in a match that forced Brie into her servitude. That’s when things got even wonkier, as Nikki humiliated her sister, only for Brie to wind up one day acting like a heel herself and aligning with her sister, acting as though Nikki had never betrayed or subjugated her. Might this have been a case of Stockholm Syndrome—in which a captive develops affection for her captor? We’ll never know because WWE didn’t even try to explain it.
3 Tim White Tries To Kill Himself Over Hell In A Cell
In a strange attempt at getting over the gravity of Hell in a Cell, WWE employed a strange angle in the build the 2005 iteration of the match pitting Randy Orton against The Undertaker. Tim White, who’d been the referee for multiple Cell matches, who’d seen a lot of violence up close, and even got bloodied himself, was traumatized by the idea of the Cell and would end brandishing a gun and walking outside with the implication being he’d shot himself.
As if the initial angle weren’t distasteful enough, WWE aired follow up segments even after the Cell match, in which White ate poison and then tried to hang himself. The whole angle put a really strange comedic spin on suicide. In retrospect, it came across as pretty illogical for why White would try to kill himself then, why all of his suicide attempts failed, and why the series would culminate in him ultimately not shooting himself, but rather turning the gun on interviewer Josh Mathews to try to murder him.
2 Diamond Dallas Page Is A Stalker
Diamond Dallas Page was one of a very small handful of homegrown main event level stars that WCW developed over the years. Even more uniquely, he joined Booker T as the only two legit main event caliber performers to immediately sign with WWE and take part in the InVasion angle in 2001.
So what did WWE do with Page? Did they book self proclaimed People’s Champion vs. self proclaimed People’s Champion angle against The Rock? Did he unleash a series of Diamond Cutters out of no where on the WWE’s elite?
No, Page was introduced as a stalker who targeted The Undertaker’s wife.
The angle squandered Page’s charisma and the unique character he’d cultivated (better as a face, but still good as a heel) in favor of a generic gimmick anyone might have played that set him up to be straight up squashed by The Dead Man, particularly when The Brothers of Destruction ran through Page and Chris Kanyon at SummerSlam. You might argue that WWE didn’t owe any continuity to WCW storylines and characters. The thing is, even within WWE’s own lore, Page would inexplicably turn into face motivational speaker in the months to follow, and it’s only as a retired legend that he’s been allowed to more or less be himself.
1 Vince McMahon Is Complicit In His Daughter’s Abduction
When he was leading The Ministry of Darkness, The Undertaker teased the reveal of a higher power who was really pulling the strings of stable. When that man turned out to be Vince McMahon, whom The Deadman had been feuding with, it was a bit of a let own. McMahon as a heel mastermind wasn’t exactly news, and fans had hoped the angle might either reveal a new talent, or at least more shocking turn.
McMahon turning out to be at the head of The Ministry of Darkness brought up all sorts of questions about why the Ministry had targeted McMahon, his family, and his cronies so much in the preceding months. McMahon had ostensibly set up the conspiracy to ultimately screw over Steve Austin, but that part of the Ministry’s dealings was such a small percentage of what they’d done, not to mention that screwing Austin out of the WWE Championship was absurd when he hadn’t even been champion for significant portions of the preceding storyline.
The worst part of all was that one of the Ministry’s most iconic moments came when they abducted Stephanie McMahon and attempted to sacrifice in her a Dark Wedding ritual. WWE did at least acknowledge the absurdity of this choice when it was used for Stephanie to turn heel on her father months down the road.