Actors have it easy compared to professional wrestlers. In their TV show and movie appearances, they have all the chances in the world to get their lines right, and when it comes to dangerous scenes, they have stuntmen and stuntwomen to step in their place as doubles. Wrestlers, on the other hand, oftentimes have to cut their promos on live TV, while also making sure they execute their moves flawlessly in the ring, avoiding clumsy botches that may injure their opponents or themselves.
Indeed, you can tell that to any of your friends or family members who keep badgering you about why you keep watching that “fake” wrestling on TV. It’s not easy being a wrestler, or even a commentator or announcer, and throughout the years, we’ve often seen them mess up big-time in front of the cameras, especially when live. And while this is often funny, especially when featured on the likes of Botchamania, there are also times when these mistakes could become career-threatening, career-ending, or in rare cases, fatal.
With that in mind, we’re listing 15 times wrestlers (or in some cases, non-wrestlers) made egregious mistakes on live television, mainly focusing on the funny and/or cringey bloopers, but also including some serious incidents that are not, and should not be considered a laughing matter.
15. Randy Orton: “What’s My Line, Sheamus?”
Many people believe that WWE’s current product suffers from the company’s insistence on scripting almost every promo, and not giving wrestlers leeway to improvise. To back that up, we present to you Exhibit A – the April 8, 2013, post-WrestleMania episode of Monday Night Raw, where Randy Orton and Sheamus were in the ring cutting a promo. Everything was by-the-book Orton, as the Viper, who was never the best promo guy in the world, droned on about Big Show, who had turned on the duo after The Shield beat them at WrestleMania XXIX.
Then came about 15 seconds of awkward silence, as Orton completely forgot about what he was supposed to say. He then approached Sheamus, almost as if to ask, “Hey Stephen (Sheamus’ real first name), what was I supposed to say?” As it turns out, it was just as simple as “Big Show’s mine tonight!”
14. Hollywood Hogan And Flash Paper Don’t Mix
WCW’s Halloween Havoc 1998 pay-per-view is notorious for two reasons. First, because it’s pro wrestling’s equivalent of the old AFL’s “Heidi Game,” i.e. getting cut off for TV viewers due to time constraints. Second, because the excellent Goldberg vs. DDP main event was preceded by one of the worst matches in pro wrestling history, even up to this day – the much-awaited rematch between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, or should we say, Hollywood Hogan and The Warrior.
Everyone knew it – Hogan vs. Warrior II was plodding, lazy, and atrocious in every sense of the term. But the real kicker came when Hogan tried, and repeatedly failed to ignite a piece of flash paper, which, instead of landing on Warrior when it finally lit, blew up on his own face. The comedy of errors ended when Hollywood picked up the win over the Warrior, thanks to the interference of his otherwise incompetent nephew Horace. By that time, fans were just thanking God that the negative-star match was finally over.
13. Mike Adamle’s Entire WWE Run
There’s nothing to joke about when it comes to Mike Adamle’s ongoing battle with dementia, which likely resulted from the hits he took during his NFL career. But we’re still mentioning him in this list because his bloopers as an interviewer, announcer, and Monday Night Raw GM had nothing to do with any neurological disorder, but rather his utter lack of knowledge of WWE’s product.
By far, the most infamous Adamle botch took place during his debut at the 2008 Royal Rumble, where he referred to Jeff Hardy as “Jeff Harvey.” Then you had the time when he called his announcing colleague “The Tazz,” the time he called WWE’s Straight-Edge Superstar “CW Punk,” and those moments when he referred to the company he works for as “WWF” (a good six years after the name change). And you had the bad attempts at humor. Oh, those lousy attempts at humor.
12. Sid Asks For Do-Over, JR Says “We’re Live”
Standing at about 6’9″ and weighing at least 300 pounds, Sid Eudy was supposed to be a big, scary man. Ring names such as Sycho Sid in WWE and Sid Vicious in WCW helped underscore that fact, and while he had the look of a heel world champion, his in-ring skills were, let’s just say, rather limited. Unfortunately, his mic skills weren’t much better, as he’d often get so worked up he’d completely fumble his words, like he did when Jim Ross was interviewing him during the In Your House 5 pay-per-view.
Realizing how screwed he was, Sid asked Ross if he could redo his promo from the top, only for Good Ol’ JR to helpfully tell him, “we’re live, pal.” Fortunately, Sid was able to recover and end the promo strongly, though that wasn’t his worst on-mic screw-up of all-time, as you’ll find out later on in this list.
11. Vader Refuses To Move
Big things were planned for Big Van Vader when the former WCW World Champion made the move to WWE. Even with WWE branding him as “The Mastodon” and “The Man They Call Vader,” the 450-pounder was booked as a force of nature, a humongous man with brutal, hard-hitting power moves, yet the agility of someone 200 pounds lighter. But the L.A. Rams offensive lineman-turned pro wrestler ran into politics early on in his WWE run, with Shawn Michaels reportedly refusing to put him over, and throwing a notorious temper tantrum as they faced off at SummerSlam 1996 for HBK’s WWE Championship.
Indeed, it was Vader’s fault that he missed a cue to move out of the way as Michaels went for a flying elbow drop. But the punishment didn’t fit the crime, first when HBK screamed “MOVE!” repeatedly while hitting Vader with stiff kicks to the head, and next when Vader was essentially dropped down to the upper mid-card for the rest of his time as a heel, then turned face and made into a jobber to the stars in the final year or so of his WWE run.
10. Mean Gene Swears On Air
Really, the only reason Eugene Okerlund was called “Mean Gene” is because the two words rhyme – he otherwise came about as a nice guy and a consummate professional in his long, distinguished career as a pro wrestling interviewer and announcer. But he is, like you and me, a human being who could get startled or worked up over loud noises, such as the SummerSlam sign falling right before he was set to interview Rick Rude and Bobby Heenan.
Alarmed by the sudden noise, Okerlund blurted out the words “F**k it!”, forcing a quick cut to Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura before the interview actually started. And yes, we’re cheating a bit by including this entry – although Mean Gene later on admitted that this was a taped segment that WWE accidentally played during SummerSlam 1989, it was nonetheless included in a pay-per-view everyone knew was live.
9. Hulk Hogan Was The “Right Gay Guy”
Even the best promo men mess up too, and then some. Just ask Hulk Hogan.
On an early-2000s episode of SmackDown, everything was going well as Vince McMahon and Hogan were deep in a heated argument, even with Vince saying “BS” in its full form – PG was still several years away, after all! But it all broke down when McMahon said that he could have had anybody play the role of Hulk Hogan, as Hulk kept trying – and failing – to respond with these words:
“If you actually think I was just the right guy at the right place at the right time, then you’re a bigger delusional bastard than I thought you were.”
With Hulk drowning badly as one mistake led to another, he even ended up calling himself “the right gay guy at the right time.” But there was more, as Hogan kept stumbling, confusing a match he had with The Rock with a match he had against McMahon. Calling this promo awkward and embarrassing is a complete understatement, to say the least.
8. Papa Shango Misses His Cue
Charles Wright’s pre-Godfather gimmick of Papa Shango was a joke to many fans. The voodoo priest gimmick had racist undertones, the special effects were cheesy, and Wright himself was almost as green as grass. But while he ultimately turned out to be another big guy debuted to ultimately lose to WWE’s top faces, bigger things may have been planned for him. Those plans all went to waste at WrestleMania VIII, when Shango ran in late during Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice’s main event match.
The original plan was for Shango to attack Hogan, allowing the Hulkster to beat Sid via DQ. But since he was late in hitting the ring, Sid had no choice but to kick out. Leave it to Sid’s manager, Harvey Wippleman, to cause the DQ himself just as Shango was entering the ring. As you can see, everything turned out alright at the end of the day, but when people talk about Charles Wright’s WWE career, they still often look back at the time when he proved that running in, just like pimpin’, ain’t easy.
7. Goldberg Ends Bret Hart’s Career
As the man, er…Da Man who once won a supposed 173 straight matches, Bill Goldberg was a true homegrown success for WCW. Yet he had a reputation for being a stiff and clumsy worker in the ring, which can be traced to the fact that he was very green as someone transitioning from pro football to pro wrestling. And it was that stiffness that contributed to the end of Bret Hart’s wrestling career at Starrcade 1999.
Although Goldberg had warned Hart beforehand to watch out for the kick, it’s easy to get lost in the heat of the moment, which was what happened when Goldberg did hit Bret with a stiff kick to the head, leaving the Hitman severely concussed. Hart was able to finish the match and lock Goldberg in the Sharpshooter to retain his WCW World Championship, but he was never the same after suffering that concussion, and announced his retirement soon after WCW issued him his pink slip via FedEx.
6. The Shockmaster
We may never know how good Fred Ottman’s WCW push was supposed to be when the former Tugboat and Typhoon defected from WWE to become The Shockmaster. What we do know is that he was supposed to join forces at Fall Brawl 1993 with Sting’s babyface team against the heel team led by Sid Vicious. But one month before that, he was to make his debut on Ric Flair’s “A Flair for the Gold” segment at Clash of the Champions XXIV. And what an unforgettable debut it was.
As we now know, it was an unforgettable debut in the worst, and most hilarious possible way, as The Shockmaster tripped through, instead of crashing through the gimmicked wall, with his faux-Stormtrooper helmet falling off and briefly revealing his face. This sparked gales of unscripted laughter from almost everyone who took part in the segment. But what’s amazing is that WCW kept going with the gimmick, only this time, they turned him into a comedy character whose shtick was that of being unbelievably clumsy.
5. Booker T: “We Comin’ For You, [N-Word]”
Booker T may not be setting the world on fire these days as a color commentator, but as a wrestler, he was very solid and entertaining on the mic. That was true in the mid-’90s as he was climbing up the ranks as one of WCW’s more promising young talents, but the future five-time (you know how the rest of it goes) WCW Champion made a very embarrassing boo-boo on a June 1996 episode of Nitro.
That boo-boo, of course, saw Booker bellowing out the words “Hulk Hogan, we comin’ for you, n*****!” during a Harlem Heat interview segment with Mean Gene Okerlund. Booker immediately realized his gaffe, putting his face in his hands, and while nobody made a big deal about it back then, YouTube has since made Booker’s accidental use of a racial slur one of the most memorable on-air bloopers in wrestling history.
4. Sid “Has Half The Brain That You Do”
And we’re back to Sid Vicious, a man so unhinged that he accidentally called himself stupid on live television. Most of you probably know what we’re referring to here, but for the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with this Sid blooper, it took place on a late-era episode of WCW Monday Nitro, as he was cutting a promo on Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. The first half of this infamous line turned out well, as he said that Hall was half the man that the was. Unfortunately for Sid, the second half was an absolute disaster, as that’s where he said that he has “half the brain that (Hall) does.”
Everyone knew that Sid had screwed up – the fans, the announcers, and especially Hall and Nash, as the camera cut to them breaking character and unable to control their laughter. And one can also say that that gaffe was symbolic of the state WCW was in at the time – a bigger joke with every passing episode of Nitro.
3. Owen Hart Drops Steve Austin On His Head At SummerSlam
In his short life, Owen Hart achieved a lot in his pro wrestling career, and while he never made it past the upper mid-card in the WWE, he is remembered as one of the most technically-sound wrestlers of his era, much like his older brother Bret. But had he not tragically lost his life in a freak ring accident in 1999, he’d probably have a hard time living down that time he nearly ended “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s career at SummerSlam 1997.
In that match for the Intercontinental Championship, Hart had Austin in a piledriver that had gone horribly wrong, as he ended up dropping the Texas Rattlesnake on his head, breaking his neck in the process. Despite being in excruciating pain, Austin went on to win that match, with Hart trolling him in character by introducing a new catchphrase – “Owen 3:16 says I just broke your neck!”
In real life, though, it was far more complicated, as Austin alleges that Hart never visited him in the hospital or attempted to apologize for the botch while he was recovering. That may have been the reason why Stone Cold was a no-show at Owen’s funeral two years later, as Bret recalled in his autobiography.
2. The Flying Beast Makes A Crash Landing
There’s a good reason why Brock Lesnar is called The Beast Incarnate. Not only is he much larger than the average WWE wrestler at close to 300 pounds, he’s also a legitimate amateur wrestler and former UFC Champion, and an impressive athlete for a man his size. But there’s also a reason why “Shooting Star Press City” isn’t a thing, and for that, you’ll obviously have to go back to WrestleMania XIX, where Lesnar faced Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship.
While it’s true (and damn true, to quote Lesnar’s ‘Mania opponent that night) that Brock was able to pull off the shooting star press during his time in OVW, WrestleMania turned out to be too big a spectacle for the young Beast to try the high-risk maneuver out. Lesnar ended up missing very badly, as Angle was just too far away for the move to appear plausible. And while the match received excellent reviews overall, that botched shooting star press is still the first thing fans remember about Lesnar vs. Angle at WrestleMania XIX.
1. Rey Mysterio And Perro Aguayo Jr.
In a pro wrestling career that’s lasted nearly three decades, Rey Mysterio has earned the respect and adoration of fans around the world, not only for his skill as a high-flyer, but also for his undeniable charisma and wholesome appeal to younger fans. But he does have one black mark in his career, an unfortunate accident that resulted in the death of a fellow Mexican wrestling veteran, El Hijo del Perro Aguayo, aka Perro Aguayo Jr.
This all took place at an AAA event, where Mysterio and Extreme Tiger were facing Aguayo and Manik in a tag team match. Mysterio would score the winning pin on Manik, but at that time, no one was aware that the dropkick Rey landed on Aguayo’s head earlier in the match didn’t just knock him out. After several unsuccessful attempts to revive him, Aguayo was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead just hours after the accident, only 35 years old at the time of his passing.
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