It can be tough to be a wrestling fan. Wrestling still has a stigma about it that makes non-fans think that if you like it, you’re not that bright. Never mind that people are addicted to reality TV or other stuff and wrestling still isn’t as dumb as the typical Adam Sandler comedy. Yet wrestling fans still have to put up with folks dismissing it all as an act, not getting the drama or real danger involved and why we care about it so much. It’s hard to explain and it gets even harder when wrestling promotions seem to go out of their way to drive us crazy with their antics.
It’s easy to single out WWE but frankly, so much of their stuff doesn’t compare to other bits throughout history. WCW appeared to be masters of providing things that made wrestling look completely idiotic and TNA seems to be following in their footsteps. That’s not to mention various indies and other bits that provided crazy stuff too. It’s not just stuff that’s bad (like Shockmaster), it’s downright insulting to the intelligence of viewers and makes wrestling look like a total joke. It’s stuff that makes it hard for us as fans to get into taking the business seriously and outraged this stuff can happen. Here are 15 of the many moments when you felt embarrassed to call yourself a wrestling fan and how, for all the good stuff the business has given us, it’s had a lot more bad as well.
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15 Sharmell vs. Jenna
Quite possibly the worst women’s match of all time and high on the list of worst PPV battles ever. While their own Knockouts were taking second jobs in order to make ends meet, TNA decided to shell out thousands to land Jenna Morasca, whose claim to fame was on “Survivor” years before. She and Booker T’s wife, Sharmell, were pushed into a feud culminating in a match that earned its “minus five stars” rating. It was humiliating watching this be given time, these two barely able to handle anything like a real match and how low TNA could sink. Even today, it’s a horrid bout that makes you feel for those involved and how frustrating this company can be.
14 Fingerpoke of Doom
This is more “sheer rage” than embarrassment but it still has to rank on this list. WCW was coming off breaking Goldberg’s unbeaten streak with Nash winning the World title and the heat extreme. Fans thought they would be getting a rematch to set things up and kick off 1999 in a good way. Instead, they were given one of the biggest turning points in wrestling history with Goldberg “arrested,” Hogan challenging Nash who fell to a finger poke, allowing Hogan to win the belt and celebrate.
The New World Order, an angle tired beyond belief, was back to push itself up more and a clear sign made that the young guys of WCW could forget getting ahead in any way. The beginning of the end of WCW and a moment that made any fan of the company ashamed they followed it this long.
13 Vince vs. God
You have to wonder sometimes what goes through Vince McMahon’s head. His 2006 feud with Shawn Michaels had some good stuff like their terrific WrestleMania brawl but Vince just had to go the extra step. He took exception to Shawn’s religious beliefs (which most everyone acknowledges made Shawn a better man) and challenged Shawn to a tag match of him and Shane against Shawn and God.
This included a video of Vince in a church proclaiming himself better and at match time, a spotlight indicated “God.” When Vince yelled at “him” to back off, the spotlight retreated and Vince and Shane cheated to beat Shawn. Even if you’re not religious, watching this was insulting on multiple levels, did nothing to help the feud out and one has to worry about Vince’s ultimate fate.
12 Dungeon of Doom
When Hulk Hogan came to WCW, the entire company began a shift from being the antidote to the cartoonish antics of WWE to copying them totally. Rough as it had been in his first year, Hogan’s influence got worse when he helped WCW create the worst stable ever: the Dungeon of Doom. Kevin Sullivan led Kamala, the Zodiac (Ed Leslie in makeup), the Shark (the former Earthquake), Meng in a cheap mask, obese Loch Ness, leprechaun Braun (who was actually normal size) and the Giant.
They did skits from a “cave” with Hogan breaking into it with acting on par with a grade school play and the matches were a true house of horrors. That includes Halloween Havoc with the “Yeti,” who looked like a mummy attacking Hogan and his “dark turn” after his mustache was shaved. As bad as WWE may have been in 1995, WCW could be just as insulting and no wonder that year is one of shame for many a fan.
11 Cruiserweight Champion Hornswoggle
Once, the Cruiserweight title was a serious deal, first with WCW as their matches kept fans tuning into Nitro during the Monday Night War. WWE revived it to be a standout on SmackDown, boosting Rey Mysterio and others up nicely and keeping fans thrilled while giving smaller guys a place on the card. In 2007, Chavo Guerrero defended it in a multi-guy match with Hornswoggle running through the ring as the bell rang. At the climax of the match, the leprechaun got on the top rope and hit a “tadpole splash” to get the pin and become the champion.
Had this been a brief thing, it wouldn't have been too terrible but WWE had him defend it with the following months-long bit of him and Chavo in a feud involving tricks out of a Looney Tunes cartoon and the title eventually deactivated. So not only a joke but ruined a once great division, a move that makes you angry at a company so dumb.
10 Kiss My Ass Club
The first time, it wasn’t too bad and fit the ego of Mr. McMahon with his demands that, to get his job as WWE Commissioner back, William Regal had to kiss Vince’s bare rear end. Vince being Vince, he couldn’t let it rest there and insisted on doing it time and time again. He would get into it with dancing in the ring and flashing his rear end constantly to the hate of fans and while it could be turned on him at times (forced to kiss Rikishi’s rear end), it got to be too much.
But Vince couldn’t let it go and thus the owner of a multi-million dollar company made guys kiss his bare ass, hardly the best way to sell your product as something serious. Yet another example of Vince pushing his own wants onto the audience despite how bad it made everything look.
9 Abyss’ Magic Ring
Abyss was a fantastic performer in his early years with TNA, a true monster in various battles, silent but so deadly. As time went on, TNA saw fit to make him look weaker, allowed to talk and soon in comedy angles. But nothing could top the bit in 2010 when, after a losing streak, Abyss was pulled into Hulk Hogan’s office as Hogan did a speech that, even by his own standards, was completely hyperbolic ranting insanity, yelling about Superman and Popeye and himself. He then gave Abyss his WWE Hall of Fame ring which supposedly granted Abyss incredible strength for battle. This led to matches against A.J. Styles who was backed by Ric Flair who put his own ring up. That’s right, two of TNA’s best feuding over the HOF rings of another company held by two elder stars. The head-smacking was extreme and yet one more reason TNA drives you so crazy.
8 Katie Vick
Almost everyone rants on this as one of the single dumbest things ever created yet Vince McMahon continues to laugh, saying it was funny. Kane and Triple H, two guys perfectly capable of having a decent feud without any additions, were pushed in 2003 with the revelation of Kane having caused the death of his high school girlfriend, Katie Vick. They kept pushing this more and more as the backstory with the famed video of Hunter simulating sex with a dummy dressed as her in a coffin. To this day, one of the worst things WWE has ever put on their programming and an angle that no doubt drove a lot of fans away in large droves even before the finale.
7 Jay Leno
Only WCW could do this. To headline a PPV, they did not have Goldberg, the red-hot World champion. No, instead they had DDP teaming with Leno against Hogan and Bischoff. Leno was mostly on the outside until tagged in to attack Hogan, slapping him in an armbar and keeping it on just so news photographers could get a photo of it. On a DVD, Chris Jericho speaks for many by saying that the sight of the host of the “Tonight Show” manhandling one of the wrestling’s biggest stars “made me ashamed of our business.”
Leno and DDP won the match, of course, but the fans were the losers in a bout that got WCW some publicity but just made the company look like a mess and fans embarrassed to say they enjoyed it.
6 Mae Young
Hard to do a list like this without including her. The former wrestler made a “comeback” in the late ‘90s in matches and set up as a randy senior citizen, some of it funny but most of it a distraction. This included her program with Mark Henry where she announced she was pregnant. This would lead to one of the most infamous moments of the Attitude Era as Mae gave birth to…a glove. It was just a baffling “huh?” moment that left fans totally lost and why that era had just as much garbage as any other.
When Turner took over WCW, they began making moves to compete with WWE and sadly, that included cartoonish antics. A key case in point was in 1990 when Sting’s injury threw out plans to have him win the World title earlier over Flair. To keep him busy, WCW had Sting come out at Capitol Combat with a partner: Robocop. Yes, WCW paid to have a guy dress in the huge armored suit for a segment where the Horsemen tossed Sting into a small cage by the ring. Robocop came out and despite being outnumbered five to one and walking at the pace of a slug, he made the Horsemen flee in terror before tearing open the door of the cage to save Sting. So damn dumb and perhaps a telling sign of the depths WCW would sink to over the next decade.
4 David Arquette
The moment WCW passed the point of no return. The company had been in tough straights before, of course, but this was when fans knew they were done. To get some cheap publicity for the flop “Ready to Rumble,” Vince Russo decided it would be a great idea to have David Arquette win the World title in a tag match. To say this didn’t go over well was an understatement, as fans livid at this. Arquette himself hated it but gave the money WCW paid him to the families of Owen Hart and Brian Pillman. That still doesn’t make up for a moment that crushed fans and made pro wrestling a bigger joke than any of Arquette’s movies.
3 Trump vs. O’Donnell
We all know Vince McMahon loves to jump on what’s hot in the mainstream and try to work it into wrestling. But this was just so, so bad. In 2007, Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump were having a major beef, slamming each other constantly in interviews and getting press. So Vince decided to bring on a pair of impersonators, an overweight “Rosie” and a “Donald” whose hair looked a lot more like Vince’s. The backstage stuff was dumb enough but then they proceeded to have what most would consider the absolute worst in-ring conflict of 2007, rolling around, punches and more, so atrocious that the crowd were chanting “TNA TNA” during the battle. Vince may have loved the publicity but it was the bad kind for WWE.
2 Judy Bagwell
How this got so huge is baffling. After nearly breaking his neck in the ring, Buff Bagwell had a huge groundswell of fan support that could have boosted him for a big babyface run. Naturally, WCW blew it by having him come back and instantly go heel. He and Scott Steiner would feud with Rick Steiner, who got Buff’s mother, Judy, to come out and give him a talking-to. Once more, WCW couldn’t let that be, oh no. Instead, they had Judy coming out more and more and when Rick won the tag titles on his own, he picked this 50-year-old woman with no experience as his partner. That was bad enough but then flash forward a bit to the infamous “Judy on a Forklift” match that turned her into a prop. And people wonder why Buff was never taken seriously.
1 Vince Russo Gimmick Matches
Frankly, most anything Vince Russo has done can make you ashamed to be a wrestling fan. The problem was Russo loved “big moments” and such but didn’t get how you have to build to them, just tossed major stuff all out there and thought fans would eat it up. Bad as so many of his angles are, it’s his gimmick matches that drive you crazy. It can’t be a simple bout, oh, no. Russo needs to turn it into a ridiculously overbooked affair with multiple rules and ideas that turn it into a total mess. Just look at his creations:
*The San Francisco 49’ers Match where Jeff Jarrett and Booker T had to grab boxes containing either the World title, a blowup doll, a photo of Scott Hall or a glove.
*The Lockbox Challenge, where a terrible Knockouts match for keys led to the opening of briefcases running from a title belt to doing a striptease in the ring.
* The Last Rites Match with the idea to shove your opponent into a casket lowered from the ceiling.
*Putting on a pole anything from a bottle of Viagra to various weapons.
*The Reverse Battle Royal, cited as one of the worst bouts imaginable.
Not to mention slews more, all total messes and making wrestling look more like a joke and not mattering compared to Russo’s desire to push angles and characters too much. Russo’s entire tenure in WCW was a mess yet somehow his idea of “spicing up” matches just made it even worse.
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