There are plenty of times in a WWE program where the audience is forced to ask themselves “Is that really happening?” whether it be an amazing move that should have killed someone, such as Kalisto’s recent TLC Salida Del Sol off the top of a ladder or Mick Foley’s historic Hell in a Cell bump or asking themselves that question when things seem to go off-script with a promo like CM Punk’s famed “pipe bomb” speech.
Then, there are those times when WWE fans are forced to ask themselves, “Is that really happening?” and it's not a good thing. It can be something silly, like when The Shockmaster inadvertently fell down after crashing through a set wall at a WCW pay-per-view or it can be the introduction of a ridiculous character such as Jerry Lawler’s dentist, Dr. Isaac (“Somebody I’ll be Kane and then I’ll show them!”) Yankem.
The WWE owns up to most of its gaffes, even sometimes putting fun spins on them, like having no ending to the “Mae Young is Pregnant” storyline. You’ll remember she gave birth to a rubber hand in that classic.
Then there are those times the WWE wants to forget about. It can be something that was completely out of their control, but shines a negative light on their company, or it can be a character or storyline that was just too far out-of-line that it had to be scrapped immediately and ignored forever. Fortunately for wrestling fans, we have long memories and plenty of videotape. Here are 15 such situations the WWE wishes we’d forget about.
15 Ric Flair’s Drunken Burying of Everyone
As part of the festivities leading up to SummerSlam 2013, the WWE held an all-star panel to both promote the 2K14 video game and simply talk about their careers in the business. Along with people like Daniel Bryan, Paul Heyman and Mick Foley, a clearly inebriated Ric Flair was on stage. It took a little while, but the event went off the rails with Flair doing such things as saying Daniel Bryan shouldn’t be on the panel because he wasn’t tough enough, slamming Hulk Hogan for having so many back surgeries, burying Bret Hart and The Undertaker for not wanting to take his chops, and making repeated references to drinking alcohol. If you haven’t seen this on YouTube, it’s really worth a watch, although many speculate allowing this panel to get so out of hand was a major reason Jim Ross no longer works for the WWE.
14 Chyna Was Here
It’s hard to know whether it’s the fact she was the current CEO’s ex-girlfriend whom he left for the daughter’s boss or if after her wrestling career she publicly devolved into a famous mess, appearing not only on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew but also a series of adult films, but if they can avoid talking about Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, the WWE will. The last time she was publicly acknowledged was during the second Stone Cold Podcast when Steve Austin asked Triple H if she would ever make it into the Hall of Fame. The man who created NXT quickly said he didn’t think it was going to happen and moved onto the next subject.
13 Linda McMahon, Character and CEO
Who doesn’t make a good senator? A catatonic woman who needed mental help after her philandering husband had her committed. Also, a woman who has a history of running a company that has routinely used sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and bad taste may not make the best senator and her opposition during her two failed bids at a US Senate seat for Connecticut brought up both issues. With little ammunition to fire back other than the fact she ran a successful entertainment company, created a lot of jobs and were philanthropic with issues like breast cancer, literacy and the Special Olympics, McMahon tried to avoid her tied to WWE. She hasn’t been mentioned in WWE broadcasts for nearly 10 years.
12 Reid Flair Passed Away
The Tuesday morning after the Raw prior to Survivor Series left everyone wondering if the WWE had crossed a line using the death of Reid Flair as a talking point in the feud between Charlotte and Paige. WWE released a cryptic email making it sound like Charlotte was willing to go through with it, but Ric Flair said nobody consulted him and he couldn’t have imagined his daughter saying no regardless of what she thought. By the time the Survivor Series happened six days later, the death of Reid Flair had been scrubbed from the storyline and the women hated each other because, you know, reasons.
11 Wrestlers Used to Use Popular Songs for Entrance Music
An argument can be made that had Hulk Hogan not used Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger and Junkyard Dog hadn’t used Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust, two of the most iconic songs of the early 1980s, as their entrance music, they may not have burst onto the scene as strong as they did. At some point, WWE recognized they could save money on rights fees and make a few bucks selling their own music and the era of using songs in popular culture as theme songs was over, with the exception of CM Punk using In Living Color’s Cult of Personality at the end of his run. WWE continues to decline payment of rights fees, choosing to dub over music in their old footage, leaving the impact of the entrances of people like The Midnight Express in the NWA or Sandman in ECW a shadow of what they were.
10 Curtis Axel’s Hulk Hogan impression
It seems like second (and third generation) wrestlers who had fathers in the business who didn’t have a lot of charisma have done well for themselves, such as The Rock, Roman Reigns and Randy Orton. However, second generation wrestlers whose fathers had a lot of charisma, like Ric Flair and Bruno Sammartino, have struggled to find their voice. Curtis Axel, son of Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, is one such wrestler who was never able to get his footing until he started doing a tongue-in-cheek impression of Hulk Hogan following the 2015 Royal Rumble. Unfortunately for him, racist comments made by Hogan surfaced and WWE distanced themselves from their former champion. This left Axel without a character and he’s been rarely seen ever since.
9 Blood is Red
When a wrestler in the WWE bleeds now, it is completely by accident, not because of the razor blade they hid in their wrist tape or were handed by the referee. As professional wrestling, and health concerns of the wrestlers have evolved, the practice of “blading” has all but come to an end in the WWE and because of the family-friendly, sponsor-driven corporate structure of the WWE, blood is simply unacceptable except when it happens “the hard way” as wrestlers call it. Roman Reigns got bloodied from a headbutt in his world championship win on Raw recently, but you can bet in replays, it will be shown in black-and-white as almost all footage is presented now that features blood in it.
8 Mark Callaway Played a Biker Version of The Undertaker
It’s not that any of us have forgotten this, it’s just that the WWE wants us to forget The Undertaker played a biker with the nickname “The American Badass” during The Attitude Era. Rumors have Vince McMahon hating the character, as he reportedly hated a lot of the direction of the WWE during his battle with WCW during the Monday Night Wars or it just kills the mystique of The Deadman that he once gave very lucid promos and seemed to be part of a “gang” which was par for the course on WWE programming at the time. Either way, when footage of The Undertaker is shown in historical context, you’ll notice almost none of it comes from his biker character days.
7 He Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken
It’s safe to assume that one of the biggest regrets where WWE can say “we were trying to do the right thing” was when they hastily threw together a tribute to Chris Benoit the day after he and his family were found dead in their Georgia home. As that Monday night wore into Tuesday morning, officials discovered exactly what happened, revealing Benoit murdered his wife and his small son and then killed himself. The following night on its ECW-branded television show, Vince McMahon said that you would not hear of Benoit’s name on WWE programming again and they’ve stuck 99.9 percent to that rule, with the exception of a couple of specials or DVDs.
6 They Put Everyone Else Out of Business
WWE loves to tell the narrative of how they were the little guy and overcame the corporate giant of WCW during the Monday Night Wars. There may be a level of truth to it, but what they always seem to quickly gloss-over in their history of wrestling pieces is that they were the WCW to every territory back in the 1980s and early 1990s, but in this case, they won. An argument can certainly be made with cable television and the jockey for position that was coming from organizations like the NWA, AWA and even UWF that a national expansion was going to happen, it was just a matter who got to it first. Their formula was to cherry-pick the best talent from around the country, similar to what NXT has been doing with the indies. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.
5 Unprotected Chair Shots to the Head
At the recent Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view, there were dozens and dozens of chair shots to the gut, the arms, the legs and the back. With the exception of a diving Superman punch while holding a chair off the steps, the show didn’t have a single shot to the head. It’s only been like this in the last decade or so, as the world has learned more about concussions and the long-term health risks. That, coupled with portraying a more family-friendly product, has caused WWE to put an even stricter ban on headshots than they’ve done on blood. It’s hard to argue with wrestler safety, but it takes a real suspension of disbelief to think that if someone was going to hit somebody else with a chair in real life, the head wouldn’t be the first target.
4 A Woman Named Sunny was the Original Diva
Gather ‘round the fire kids so Grandpa can tell you a story of early dial-up Internet access. In the mid-1990s, as America was just getting wired up, a service called America Online made the cyber world a reality for the first time for many people. WWE wisely had a small presence on the platform, which included a photo gallery for downloads. This was also just as WWE was recognizing that its aging teenage fanbase started liking girls. The perfect storm arose and a new WWE personality (they weren’t branded “Divas” until the end of her time) named Sunny became the most downloaded woman on the Internet. Fast forward almost 20 years to drug problems, multiple arrests for drunk driving and domestic violence, stints in jail and doing adult shows on Skype to pay the bills and you’ve got the Tammy Sytch of today. The WWE would prefer you don’t know about this hot mess, so they rarely reference what she once was.
3 The Story of Katie Vick
Katie Vick was a sweet high school cheerleader. Her only sin was that she caught the eye of Demon Kane. He made a few mistakes and Vick ended up dead. Years later, he was still haunted by what happened to her and he just happened to be in a feud with Triple H at the time. In what is largely considered to be the worst moment on Monday Night Raw’s history (at least the Mae Young hand birth was absurd), Triple H taunts Kane by going into a funeral parlor, opening a casket that has a mannequin in a cheerleader’s costume and simulating having sex with it. Yes, it was simulated necrophilia. Somebody with a brain stopped that story line in a hurry and with the exception of a brief reference by Triple H on a network special, nothing has been said about this tasteless storyline since it aired.
2 CM Punk Existed
The bad blood between WWE and CM Punk wasn’t a mystery to anyone and actually played into a storyline for the end of Punk’s tenure in WWE. He walked out the day after Royal Rumble in 2014, both too beat-up to continue and too burnt out to care. In subsequent months, the audience learned just how physically ill Punk got and (at least his side of the story) how bad the WWE treated him, including firing him on his wedding day. There has been no wrestler to ever receive more chants after he left a company than CM Punk and they were heard even at the latest TLC pay-per-view. For his part, he says he’ll never wrestle professionally again and is pursuing an MMA career. WWE has show absolutely no interest in mending fences, having tricked a Chicago audience into believing he was going to show up and then never mentioning Punk again.
1 The Steroid Trial
In 1993, Vince McMahon was indicted in a federal court after a Grand Jury found enough evidence to suggest he was distributing and forcing his wrestlers to use anabolic steroids, which had recently become a banned substance. At the 1994 trial, McMahon was found not guilty with the defense team resting before even presenting their case. The fallout from the trial, however, were the revelations that McMahon used steroids as did Hulk Hogan, who had publicly denied it. The trial also exposed the lax procedures WWE used for drug testing and overall wellness. Despite his big win, the results were just too damaging and, even 21 years later, the trial is never mentioned on WWE television.