The world of sports entertainment is dominated by storylines, but sometimes they don't exactly go over with the crowd as well as it was planned. There's a huge difference between booing a heel because you're supposed to and booing the product because it's either offensive or it just plain sucks, and this list is going to uncover 15 of those infamous moments in wrestling history where the fans made their voice heard in one way or another.
In the old days of wrestling, positive and negative reaction was dictated by the tried and true philosophy of good guy versus bad guy, but eventually the outside world changed at such a rapid pace that fans were no longer interested in seeing the same storylines being played out on television week in and week out. The product became stale and in order to stir things up quite a bit, wrestling promotions started to introduce more and more controversial angles in order to keep their product fresh and entertaining. However, not all of the resulting storylines were home runs.
Some storylines jumped the shark so much that it's embarrassing to even remember that they happened in the first place, while others blurred the lines between kayfabe and reality to a point where a swarm of angry parents wrote very detailed letters to cable networks voicing their negativity. In the end, wrestling history would be forever changed and we the people are partly responsible.
So sit back and relax while we list 15 of the most controversial instances that wrestling fans were none too pleased with!
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15 The Gobbledy Gooker
Booooo! Nobody in the arena that night was excited for that stupid egg to inevitably hatch. Nobody. It remains one of the worst decisions that Vince McMahon has ever come up with (and believe me, he has had an awful lot of terrible ideas), and to this day the mere mention of The Gobbledy Gooker is met with sighs. The egg had been displayed at arenas for months leading up to the Survivor Series and when it finally hatched, the fans in attendance could not have been more disappointed. They were subjected to 10 minutes of nonsensical dancing in the ring and they showed their distaste by rightfully booing the entire time.
14 Fake Diesel/Razor Ramon
Oof. In 1996, Vince McMahon had lost the services of two of his top guys in Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) and Diesel (Kevin Nash) to rival promotion WCW, but in his mind all was not totally lost. He had the realization that he still owned the copyright to the names Razor Ramon and Diesel, so all he would have to do was find two guys who could play the role, right? The result was the infamous "Fake Razor Ramon and Diesel" debacle that the fans instantly soured on and Vince learned the hard way that not just anyone can take over a character and have the same amount of success with the fans.
13 WCW's PPV Cuts Off Early
This one was more of a programming issue rather than a storyline gaffe, but either way 25% of WCW fans were understandably upset when the 1998 Halloween Havoc PPV went dark directly after the three hour time slot that they had paid for was up. Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior had just finished up their 14 minute stinker (widely considered one of the worst matches in the history of wrestling, and fans showed their displeasure by chanting "Warrior Sucks" repeatedly), and as soon as the bell rang to begin the Goldberg versus Diamond Dallas Page championship main event, the feed was suddenly cut from various households across the country. The Warrior/Hogan match was the last match many fans at home saw, which obviously angered them to no end.
12 The Failed Goldberg Heel Run
What do you do with the most over babyface in your company after he returns from a five month long career-threatening arm injury? Why, you make him a heel, right? Goldberg was on the sidelines for quite some time after he sliced his arm open punching through the window of a limousine and the fans eagerly awaited his triumphant return. The product was going to hell in a hand basket at that point and WCW desperately needed their hero to return, but the powers that be had a different idea in mind. They ended up turning him heel and the fans simply never bought into it. It's a controversial moment in wrestling history because a lot of fans at that point turned off WCW in favor of WWE for good.
11 Jeff Hardy/Sting TNA Main Event
Victory Road 2011 is one of the more infamous moments in wrestling history, where not only did the fans get upset with the poor quality of the match, but a wrestler himself voiced his agreement with the fans about the situation as a whole. Sting was set to face Jeff Hardy for the TNA Championship, but the story goes like this: Jeff disappeared from the arena two hours before the main event and showed up five minutes before the bell. He was clearly inebriated in some fashion, so Eric Bischoff had to improvise and most likely told Sting to end the match by any means necessary as to not put himself in danger of getting hurt by the disrespectful Hardy. After a small tussle, Sting immediately Scorpion Death Dropped Hardy and the match was over just like that. As Sting was slowly walking back toward the locker room, fans chanted "B*LLSH*T!" and Sting had no choice but to acknowledge them and agree.
10 Anti-American Sgt. Slaughter
Smack dab in the middle of The Gulf War, WWE's Sgt. Slaughter -- who was as pro-America as they come -- shifted character from his allegiance to the United States to that of an Iraqi sympathizer, which didn't go over too well with any of the fans in 1991. During all of the promos that he cut while he was a heel, fans would never let up their incessant booing, and at one point the heat on Slaughter became so intense that Vince McMahon feared for Slaughter's well being outside of the ring. WWE received numerous death threats from angry fans, so Vince had a security team patrol Slaughter's house just in case anything crazy actually did happen in real life.
9 The Sandman Crucified
In a very controversial angle, ECW's Raven and Sandman thought it would be a good idea to end a match by tying Sandman to a cross and "crucifying" him in front of a live audience. In several shoot interviews, many wrestlers (including potential ECW newcomer Kurt Angle at the time) voiced their displeasure with the highly offensive religious iconography and each one of them noted how quiet the arena became once they saw Sandman on the cross. Kurt Angle was so disgusted with the show that he quit ECW on the spot and signed with WWE, and ECW owner Paul Heyman forced Raven to apologize to the crowd to mitigate the damage that was done.
8 Vince Russo: WCW Champion?
Ugh. At one point in WCW history, Vince Russo -- head writer for WCW and definitely NOT a wrestler -- got speared by Goldberg through a steel cage to win the WCW World Heavyweight title over Booker T. Fans in the arena were seemingly unaware that the match was over and the television feed faded out as Booker T and Goldberg high-fived and walked away from the ring. While Russo was cutting his live promo the following week, fans couldn't resist the urge to vocalize their frustration with how Russo had routinely devalued the WCW title, most notably by previously giving the title to the next person on this list...
7 David Arquette: WCW Champion?
WCW was on a downward slope and David Arquette of all people was thrown into an actual storyline. It was a cross promotion of sorts because WCW desperately needed a way to boost TV ratings and ticket sales for the upcoming movie Ready to Rumble near the end of their run against WWE. On one fateful Thursday night on Thunder, Arquette -- who was vehemently against the angle, mind you -- pinned Eric Bischoff to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The lasting aftermath was heavily unfavorable: the movie was a total failure, and many former wrestlers and wrestling fans alike consider the title change as one of the biggest blunders in wrestling history.
6 Fingerpoke of Doom
A slap in the face would have been way more literal, but the reported 40,000 fans who were genuinely excited for the championship match between Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash were treated to the infamous "fingerpoke of doom." Nash shoved Hogan into the corner and stood in the middle of the ring while he dared Hogan to take a shot. The "shot" would wind up being a poke and Nash sold the move better than anything else in his career, jobbing to Hogan and surrendering the title just for laughs. This head-shaking moment proved to be too much for the fans, who started throwing trash into the ring. It can be argued that this was one of those pivotal points that ultimately led to the demise of WCW.
5 Pillman's Got a Gun!
Maybe THE most controversial angle ever pulled by a pre-Attitude Era WWE, "Loose Cannon" Brian Pillman was in a feud with his former WCW tag team partner Stone Cold Steve Austin when things went a little overboard. Pillman was at his home in a south suburb of Cincinnati (Walton, KY) with a leg injury when a crazed Austin attempted to break into his house. Armed with a 9 mm pistol, Pillman was ready for the assailant and dared him to break through the door. As soon as Austin successfully entered, the feed mysteriously went dark, but WWE announcers relayed that they heard "explosions." Near the end of the RAW taping, the feed was re-established and Austin was seen being dragged out of Pillman's house. The entire event stirred up a lot of negativity from parents all over the country and a formal apology was issued by Vince McMahon the following week.
4 2014 Royal Rumble
Daniel Bryan was the hottest Superstar on the roster, but the WWE didn't believe that the fans were accurate in their devotion. Everyone in the building during the 2014 Royal Rumble became increasingly certain that Daniel Bryan was going to come out at #30, but when Rey Mysterio's music hit and he ran to the ring instead of Bryan, they instantly showered the arena with boos. To make matters worse, their boos got even louder when the WWE's chosen hero Batista ended up winning the Rumble and put himself into the main event of WrestleMania XXX. However, in the end, the fans did get their voice heard: WWE altered their plans to include Bryan in the main event under the stipulation that he beat Triple H to open the show at WrestleMania.
3 2015 Royal Rumble
In back to back Royal Rumbles, the eventual winner would get heavily booed. This has been an ongoing problem with Roman Reigns, as fans have been pretty vocal about their displeasure concerning how he has been force-fed to them as their new face of the company over the last couple of years. Reigns won the 2015 Royal Rumble to the surprise of no one and the move essentially confirmed all of the fans' suspicions that WWE was going forward with their chosen one come hell or high water. Seth Rollins would cash in his Money in the Bank during the Reigns/Lesnar main event at WrestleMania 31 which prevented the fans from rioting (at least for the time being).
2 The Montreal Screwjob
Bret "the Hitman" Hart was on his way out of the WWE for the seemingly greener pastures of WCW, but there was a slight problem: he was still the WWE Champion. The 1997 Survivor Series in Montreal saw Bret take on Shawn Michaels for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in his home country of Canada, which Bret swears had nothing to do with his unwillingness to drop the belt. Afraid that Bret was going to leave for WCW with WWE's championship, Vince did the only thing he could: he made sure Bret never even had the chance by making referee Earl Hebner call for the bell after Shawn executed Bret's own finisher, The Sharpshooter. The fans were understandably confused and upset because it was obvious that Bret never tapped out, and WWE camera crews interviewed several fans after the PPV who all thought that Vince McMahon had screwed their hero Bret Hart.
1 Hogan's Heel Turn
In one of the most surprising turn of events in the history of professional wrestling, Eric Bischoff concocted the genius plan of doing the unthinkable and turning the lifelong babyface Hulk Hogan into a heel. The Outsiders (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash) were beating down on Macho Man Randy Savage and Sting when down the aisle comes the hero, Hulk Hogan, to save the day for WCW. He cleared The Outsiders from the ring instantly, but while Savage was lying helplessly in the middle of the ring, Hogan bounced off the ropes and delivered the leg drop heard 'round the world. Fans knew then and there the identity of the mystery "third man" that The Outsiders had been teasing, and they acted out by throwing whatever concessions they had on hand into the ring. Oddly enough, it was exactly what WCW needed and they instantly gained huge ratings for several years afterward.
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