Sports entertainment is a type of spectacle, which presents an ostensibly competitive event using a high level of theatrical flourish and extravagant presentation, with the purpose of entertaining an audience. Unlike typical athletics and games, which are conducted for competition, sportsmanship, exercise, or personal reflection, the primary product of sports entertainment is performance for an audience's benefit, thus they are never practiced privately. Commonly, but not in all cases, the outcomes are predetermined; as this is an open secret, it is not considered to be match fixing. In 1989, the company used the phrase in a case it made to the New Jersey Senate for classifying professional wrestling as "sports entertainment" and thus not subjecting it to regulation like a directly competitive sport.
In this aspect, we as spectators are meant to suspend our disbelief while watching the product and simply enjoy it for what it is, sports entertainment. However, sometimes this form of entertainment can toe the line a bit too closely, coming across more controversial or tasteless than something one would call enjoyable. When this happens it results in one of two ways. First, if it is an angle or storyline that is simply controversial, most fans are able to separate themselves from this and still enjoy the entertainment value without having a negative reaction. On the other hand, when an angle or storyline is tasteless it almost always results in some form of backlash. This can occur in the form of online bashing, letters, protesting, etc... The bottom line is, professional wrestling is meant to be a form of entertainment but when you like to push the envelope, every once in a while you may push it a little too far and not in a good way. Risks have to be taken to put out a good product, but these entries were just plain tasteless and common sense should have been exercised in nixing these ideas.
10 10. Pepper
In the WWE's Hardcore division, Big Boss Man's major feud was with Al Snow, a feud that eventually involved Snow's pet chihuahua, Pepper. At SummerSlam, the two competed in a Falls Count Anywhere match that spilled into the backstage area, the street and, finally, into a nearby bar. Just prior to the match, Snow had set Pepper's pet carrier near the entranceway, so minutes into the match, Boss Man picked it up, taunted Pepper, and struck Snow with the carrier (carelessly tossed it behind him). Jim Ross immediately apologized to viewers for the act, and stated that Pepper had actually been removed from the box prior to the match.
Two weeks later, the Big Boss Man kidnapped and ransomed Pepper, eventually arranging a meeting with Snow where he tricked him into eating a meat dish supposedly made from Pepper's remains. The storyline then led to the dreaded Kennel from Hell match, which was offensive to the viewers in a whole other way.
On the April 5, 2004 episode of RAW, Nick Dinsmore made his WWE debut as Eugene. He was portrayed as the “special” and overly excited nephew of RAW general manager Eric Bischoff.
The character was established as having some kind of learning difficulties, although the WWE wisely chose to never label Eugene as having any specific condition. His first storyline saw Eugene attempt to earn a spot on the WWE roster, much to Uncle Eric’s dismay. Even though the WWE presented this as an underdog story with the special needs Eugene eventually being triumphant, the angle still received criticism. Happy ending or not, the WWE was still giving the message that Eugene’s family was ashamed of him and that he wasn’t accepted alongside the other wrestlers because of his special needs.
8 Matt Hardy Did It
At the 2009 Royal Rumble, after losing an ECW Championship rematch to Swagger, Matt Hardy attacked his brother Jeff with a steel chair, allowing Edge to win the WWE Championship. On the January 27, 2009 episode of ECW, it was announced by General Manager Teddy Long that Hardy had requested, and been granted, his release from ECW, and had re-signed with the SmackDown brand. On the January 30 edition of SmackDown, Hardy explained that his actions at the Royal Rumble were due to him being fed up with "sharing the spotlight" with Jeff and taking care of Jeff when he was nothing more than a "self-destructive screw-up" and a "constant mistake", and that, from that point onward, he no longer considered Jeff as a partner or sibling.
As part of the buildup to this feud, Hardy implied that he was responsible for all of Jeff's accidents leading back to November, including an assault in a hotel stairwell that prevented him from appearing at Survivor Series, an automobile accident and a pyrotechnics accident. Finally, on the March 3 edition of SmackDown, he also implied that he was responsible for the fire that burned down Jeff's house, going so far as to reveal that he had in his possession a dog collar that supposedly belonged to Jeff's dog, who perished in the fire. This provoked Jeff into viciously attacking him.
7 Jeff Hardy vs. Sting – TNA Victory Road 2011
On March 23, 2011, Sting defended his TNA Heavyweight Title against Jeff Hardy at Victory Road in the main event. The match was contested under no disqualification rules but ended up being over in only 90 seconds when Sting pinned Jeff Hardy after hitting the Scorpion Death Drop (the one and only move in the entire match). After the match, the fans were visibly upset voicing their displeasure while Sting walked back up the ramp, Sting – who had a sour look on his face during most of this – said, “I agree, I agree.”
According to reports, the main event was cut short over backstage concern over Jeff Hardy’s condition. TNA later apologized to its fans for the pay-per-view "falling short of a standard" and offered six months of free access to the TNAondemand.com library to anyone who bought the event. As a result of everything that unfolded at Victory Road, Jeff Hardy was subsequently sent home from the Impact! tapings the following week, and written out of the next month of TNA programming
6 Vince and Trish
In early 2001, Trish Stratus became involved in an angle with WWE chairman Vince McMahon, during a time when Vince's wife Linda was institutionalized following a demand Vince had made for a divorce during an episode of SmackDown on December 7, 2000. Vince and Stratus's relationship increasingly angered the boss' daughter, Stephanie McMahon.
At No Way Out on February 25, Stratus and Stephanie squared off, with Stephanie scoring the victory after a run-in by William Regal. In the midst of a tag team match that pitted Vince and Stratus against Regal and Stephanie the next night on Raw, Stratus was the victim of a set-up by Vince, Stephanie and Regal. Regal executed his finisher on Stratus and Stephanie then dumped sewage over Stratus' body. Vince stood over Stratus, and he told her she was a toy with which he had grown tired of playing and that it was over. The angle continued the next week on RAW with Vince forcing Stratus to strip down to her black bra and panties in the ring and bark like a dog.
5 Katie Vick
In October 2002, Kane began feuding with Triple H, leading to a match at No Mercy on October 20 in which both Kane's Intercontinental Championship and Triple H's World Heavyweight Championship were at stake. In the weeks preceding the match, Triple H claimed that several years earlier, Kane had an unrequited relationship with a woman named Katie Vick. He claimed that after Vick was killed in a car crash, Kane had sex with her.
Triple H later threatened to show video footage of Kane committing the act in question; however, the footage that finally aired showed Triple H (dressed as Kane) simulating mock sex with a mannequin in a casket; Kane's tag team partner The Hurricane responded the following week by showing a video of Triple H (rather, someone wearing a Triple H series of masks) getting an enema.
4 Piggy James
Mickie James made her SmackDown debut in October 2009 with a win over Layla. On the October 30 episode of SmackDown, a controversial angle began that saw WWE Women's Champion Michelle McCool and Layla (collectively known as LayCool) bully James.
On the November 6 episode of SmackDown after James defeated Layla, McCool gave James the name "Piggy James", that sent James to tears, resulting in a five-on-five elimination tag team match at the November pay-per-view event Survivor Series, where Mickie's team prevailed over McCool's team with James and Melina as the sole survivors. The storyline feud continued into the Royal Rumble on January 31, 2010 where Mickie finally defeated McCool to win her fifth Women's Championship. Over the next couple of weeks, Vickie Guerrero was introduced into the rivalry, choosing to side with LayCool over James. On the February 26 episode of SmackDown, McCool used her rematch clause to face James for the Women's Championship, with Guerrero acting as special guest referee. After Vickie slapped Mickie in the face, McCool pinned her to regain the title.
3 Constant Humiliation of Jim Ross
In WCW during the late 90s, Ed Ferrara took the on screen name of Oklahoma and began copying WWE announcer Jim Ross, also mimicking his Bell’s Palsy. He had previously done an impersonation of Ross in the WWE during an angle with Tiger Ali Singh where he was called from the audience as a fan and did his Ross impression. The character was considered by most as distasteful and nothing more than a means for Russo and Ferrara to put their own grievances on the air.
Not to be outdone by WCW, Mr. McMahon himself actually did his own impersonation of Jim Ross on the June 11th, 2012, edition of Monday Night RAW. The segment featured Vince McMahon backstage showing Hornswoggle his impression of the legendary commentator. So much for that Be A STAR campaign.
2 New Jack
In October 2004, New Jack, wrestling for Thunder Wrestling Federation, was scheduled to fight fellow wrestler William Jason Lane. During the match, New Jack pulled out a metal blade from his camouflage wrestling attire, and stabbed Lane 14 times; this action caused New Jack to receive various felony charges, including for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated assault to commit murder.
New Jack claims that the two met prior to the match and agreed to use a "piece of metal" to inflict injury. Despite this, a police officer that was recording the incident stated that it looked like it went "past a routine wrestling match." The promoter of the event, Mr. Maurice Williams, claims the event was never intended to be hardcore. New Jack has claimed that he only stabbed Lane nine times.
1 Exploiting Eddie Guerrero's Death
On November 13, 2005, Guerrero was found unconscious in his hotel room (The Marriott City Center) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by his nephew, Chavo Guerrero. Chavo attempted CPR, but Guerrero was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived at the scene. He was 38 years old. An autopsy revealed that Guerrero died as a result of acute heart failure due to underlying atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. That same day at a WWE "Super Show" where SmackDown and RAW were both taped, Mysterio gave an emotional speech about Guerrero, and in a show of respect removed his mask (though he put his head down, so no one could see his face). Mysterio went on to defeat Shawn Michaels in an interpromotional match later that night. After the match, Michaels and Mysterio hugged in the ring and Mysterio pointed up to the sky, crying, in memory of Guerrero.
Fast-forward two months; Mysterio was the second entrant in the 2006 Royal Rumble match. He won the match and earned a world title shot, last eliminating Randy Orton. He lasted 62 minutes, a Royal Rumble record. Orton urged him to put the title shot at stake in a match at No Way Out. In the weeks preceding No Way Out, Orton made extremely disparaging and disrespectful remarks about Eddie Guerrero. Many fans felt the comments were unwarranted and distasteful in the wake of Guerrero's death. The WWE’s choice to utilize Eddie Guerrero’s death as a promotional tactic was not only tasteless it was by far the most disgusting moment in the history of professional wrestling. It "won" the Wrestling Observer's annual "award" for the Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic, and for good reason.