Let’s face it, being a wrestling fan can be pretty embarrassing at times. We’ve all been there, sitting in our living room watching our favorite wrestlers taking part in an awesome match that is absolutely blowing us away. Ecstatic with what we are seeing, we call for whoever else is around, whether that is a family member, friend, or significant other, to come join us and check out the wicked action. By the time they get around to joining us the action has come to an end but that isn’t the worse of it. We’re now stuck in a moment where somebody we care about walks into the room as we sit there embarrassed due to whatever awful television has replaced the match we were so stoked by. Those moments where we felt ashamed to be a wrestling fan made us reflect on how some of the people who actually work for the company must feel too. That inspired us to put together this list of the top fifteen most embarrassing WWE moments of the past five years.
Considering this article is being written in 2017, we’ve decided that anything that took place in 2012 or after will qualify to possibly be included here. For our purposes, an embarrassing moment can be anything from sensitive backstage info getting out, botches, bloopers, wardrobe malfunctions or anything else we can assume someone would find embarrassing. Finally, we’re not just talking about things that the WWE corporate entity would rather not been found about, as the feelings of all of the company’s talent and fans were also considered.
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15 The Rise and Fall of Tensai
How incredible is it that Matt Bloom, the man who has been known as Prince Albert, A-Train, The Hip Hop Hippo and a litany of other names was brought back in 2012 to be a main event monster? Renamed once again, this time as Lord Tensai, he returned to the company after years of being one of the biggest stars in New Japan Pro Wrestling and based on that success seemed capable of being a star. However, the tone-deaf rebranding, including a vaguely racist outfit and obviously offensive manservant, led to his failure long before making his debut. Currently the head trainer in the Performance Center, his return succeeded on that level but it is embarrassing for the WWE that they failed horribly where New Japan had gone before.
14 Ric Flair Forcing Himself on Becky Lynch
An absolute legend of the industry and the only person who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice, Ric Flair has a hallowed place in the history of the business. Often referred to as the dirtiest player in the game for good reason, throughout his career he has constantly came up with new and interesting ways to cheat his foes, almost always the good guys, out of wins. Also, known for playing a womanizer on television, a role that seems to be pretty close to reality based on behind the scenes stories and his many divorces, his behavior at the 2016 Royal Rumble shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Still, just because forcing a kiss on an unsuspecting woman isn’t something that is shocking for him to do doesn’t make it any less disgusting. Clearly, the WWE even realized it was a mistake as they edited the moment out of the recording that exists on the WWE Network.
13 The Miz and the Figure Four
Speaking about the former leader of the Four Horsemen, kissing Becky Lynch isn’t the only reason why he will come up on this list. Another storyline he was involved in is a perfect example of just how badly a WWE arc can fail on every level. When the decision was made to link him with The Miz in 2013 it seemed like an odd fit. Sure, the younger star was just as prone to boasting as Ric but despite a few similarities they were extremely different men. One part of the storyline involved Ric handing down one of his signature finishing moves, the Figure Four Leglock, to his young charges. The major problem with this was that The Miz couldn’t pull the move off, as exemplified by how awful he looked when trying to use the move in a 2013 match against Dolph Ziggler. A move that legions of fans have attempted on their friends or little brothers successfully, the fact that a former WWE Champion was so horrible at it is simply mindblowing.
12 The Old Day
When The New Day debuted in the WWE it seemed like they could be destined for abject failure. Set up as a play on the minstrel shows of old, audiences didn’t know what to make of them but over time the trio became one of the most popular acts in the entire company. Unfortunately, the wrestling industry has never been big on subtlety and before too long the decision was made to have them all over WWE’s telecasts which led to overexposure and some awful television. Unquestionably the worst segment these talented men ever took part in, the debut of The old Day was so awful that even they mocked themselves for it the following week. We suppose that was the best way they could have reacted to being in one of the worst wrestling segments in recent years but it did nothing to make fans forget how bad it truly was.
11 Exploiting Paul Bearer’s Death
This entry would have been much higher on this list, possibly even taking our top slot, if it weren’t for the fact that Paul’s sons have said they gave the WWE their seal of approval. When Paul Bearer died in 2013 wrestling fans around the world mourned the loss of one of the most memorable managers in the history of the business. Most associated with The Undertaker, although he also did wonders for Kane and Mankind, it made sense for Taker to pay tribute to him on television. However, fans should have been able to expect his death not be trivialized and used as fodder for a bad guy to get a reaction from the crowd. Of course, that wasn’t the case as CM Punk, a man who was feuding with Taker at the time, mocked the death of the WWE legend multiple times over the following weeks. Punk’s own manager at the time, Paul Heyman, even pretended to spill Paul’s ashes on the ground in a profoundly disrespectful moment.
10 Roman Reigns' Suffering Succotash
The man that has clearly been tapped by Vince McMahon as the heir apparent to John Cena’s run as the man in the WWE, Roman Reigns has been booked as a star since he started out on the main roster. Introduced as a member of The Shield, during the tenure of that trio his partners in crime, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, did the majority of the heavy lifting on the microphone. Once they were broken up and the men went their separate ways Roman was left to fend for himself verbally and the results were pretty bad. Unsure of himself and prone to stammering mid sentence, those problems were easy to choke up to his relative lack of experience. However, the WWE should be embarrassed that they did the man they want to be their main man no favors. Given some of the worst scripted lines we can imagine, one night on Smackdown he could even be seen saying that Seth Rollins was full of “suffering succotash”. The WWE actually had a man who was supposed to be a badass uttering lines associated with an animated cat. Wow, just wow.
9 Farting Natalya
The Hart family is one of the most respected clans in the history of the business. Between the accomplishments of men like Stu, Bret, and Owen as well and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith, they deserve their place in the industry’s history. Continuing on through the work of people like David Hart Smith, Teddy Hart, and even Tyson Kidd, despite all those men’s talents Natalya seems to be the flag bearer for her generation. A general in the ring that is able to make almost anyone look good if you ask us, she should be a major stumbling block for any woman trying to make a name for herself in the WWE. Instead, the company has oftentimes made her look like a joke but never more so than with the way they used her in early 2012. Portrayed as being very flatulent, for several weeks whenever she was in front of a camera a clearly fake fart sound could be heard. Treating someone of her stature as such a joke is a major failure for the WWE.
8 Mocking Kaitlyn’s Weight
For a company that has a longstanding anti-bullying campaign called Be a Star, the WWE certainly doesn’t back up their words with actions. We say that because they have a long history of bullying their talent and going out of their way to embarrass them on national television. One of the greatest examples of this is when they had LayCool refer to Mickie James as Piggy James, an infamously derided storyline. Yet, for some reason, another time when they did almost the exact same thing has been largely forgotten. A pivotal part of the women’s division for a time Kaitlyn suffered the same treatment Mickie had years earlier. Apparently, WWE management felt she weighed too much and opted to disrespect her in front of the world by booking her in a storyline where an image of her was photoshopped to make her much larger.
7 Stephanie McMahon’s Public Accident?
Embroiled in a feud with Brie Bella at the time, at Payback 2014 Stephanie McMahon was on the receiving end of a vicious slap to the face. Wearing a blue dress at the time, she looked shocked and started to make her way towards the locker room slowly. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, she can be seen running as fast as her legs will take her. Just prior to disappearing from the sight of the fans, the director cut to a shot of her and from the back, her dress seems to be wet in a telltale place. This left many fans convinced that she’d just peed herself in front of millions of people, something that has never been confirmed or denied. Despite never knowing for sure, even the fact that there are some who think she may have lost control of her bladder is embarrassing enough to make this list.
6 Seth Rollins Private Leak
One night in February of 2015 the wrestling world was in for a shock on social media. When Seth Rollins suddenly featured a fully nude image of WWE developmental talent, Zahra Schreiber on his Instagram account it seemed like a mistake had taken place. Even more surprising due to the fact that he had a fiancée at the time, apparently his significant other didn’t take too kindly to him seemingly stepping out on her. As a result, she uploaded a pair of full-frontal nude images of the future WWE Champion on her account. An embarrassing series of events for any celebrity to be involved with, Seth was very fortunate that the WWE didn’t feel the need to punish him due to this incident as that seemed like a real possibility.
5 Rusev & Putin
Anyone familiar with the history of the business probably wasn’t too surprised that this took place but the WWE bringing up Vladimir Putin wasn’t a good move. Despite the fact that the industry has a lengthy history of using America’s battles with foreign powers to get people to root against wrestlers, that practice should have been a lot more subtle by 2014. When they scripted the dastardly duo of Lana and Rusev to show their allegiance to the murderous Russian President many were offended. Even covered by mainstream outlets like the Washington Post, it proved to be the wrong kind of publicity. That is because the article they published included disgusted reactions of some fans, especially in light of the Ukraine incident that was in the news at the time and the anti-gay laws he was a proponent of.
4 Royal Rumble Winners
There is no question about it, the Royal Rumble is one of the most anticipated WWE events each year. That is due to the Royal Rumble match, which has been used as a stepping stone several times over the years for wrestlers on the cusp to turn themselves into the stars they deserve to be. Unfortunately, since the 2012 event, there hasn’t been a single time where the winner left fans excited for the future. In 2012 Sheamus won and fans were underwhelmed that he prevailed and the following year John Cena stood tall at the end in a highly predictable moment since we all knew he was set to wrestle The Rock. Randy Orton prevailing this year, amazingly enough, may be the best-embraced winner as the company made it seem like Roman Reigns might win and the "anyone but Roman" sentiment won out. The three most controversial winners came in a row, when Batista, Roman Reigns, and Triple H prevailed one after the other. This has served to turn one of the WWE’s most popular events into a yearly disappointment for many fans.
3 CM Punk’s Departure
There is no doubt about the fact that CM Punk is one of the most popular wrestlers the WWE had worked for them in the last decade. The longest reigning WWE Champion in twenty-five years, there was even a time where he seemed like a couple of right moves could have seen him eclipse the career of John Cena. Then the night after the 2014 Royal Rumble he walked out of the company, quite possibly to never return again, due to his anger at Batista winning the Rumble match. Appearing on the podcast The Art of Wrestling quite a while later, he levied a lot of accusations against the company, including their doctors putting him at risk and management not caring about his welfare. Combining losing a figure as beloved as Punk with having him run their name through the mud must be a source of embarrassment for the company.
2 Reid Flair Brought Up
Any wrestling fan would probably be willing to admit that at times there has been an inordinate amount of wrestler deaths and it is one of the worst parts of being a fan of the industry. We already touched on one time in the last five years where the WWE disrespected the recently dead but the way they turned Reid Flair’s death into a storyline moment is much worse. Having Paige say there wasn’t “much fight in him” anymore, it was a slap in the face to his family that was still mourning his death. We say that because in the case of Reid’s death, first off he passed much younger and wasn’t able to experience so much life has to offer which arguably makes his demise harder to stomach for those close to him. Worse yet, though, was the fact that his father Ric, a beloved figure, and his mother both revealed that they were not informed that the moment was coming. Instead, two parents who suffered the loss of their son were taken by surprise when the biggest company in the industry their family had sacrificed so much for disrespected his memory.
1 Alberto Del Rio and the Web Producer
A wrestler that was pushed to the top quickly after he debuted and would become a four-time Heavyweight champion for the company, Alberto Del Rio seemed like he’d be around for years. That is why so many followers of the industry were shocked when it was announced that he’d been released in August of 2014 but what really took many aback was the reason why. Evidently, Alberto was the target of a racist remark by a WWE Web producer, he is said to have told him to clean his plate for him, the wrestler didn’t take to kindly to the remark for good reason. Opting to slap the producer in the face, he was fired for striking a fellow employee.
While we did understand Alberto’s actions there is an argument to be made that violence like that is never acceptable in a company like the WWE and as such his release was deserved. The problem this event posed to the reputation of the company was three-fold, however. First off, they employed a racist. Secondly, it took them a while to fire the producer despite the disgusting comment. Finally, anyone who follows the industry closely can tell you about any number of physical altercations backstage, typically between wrestlers, that didn’t result in anyone involved being let go. In fact, fights in the back have been allowed in the company to such a degree that there is at least one article on the official WWE website that lists several such incidences which didn’t result in anyone being released. So, you allow full-fledged fights but fire a guy for simply slapping someone who disrespected him and an entire race of people? That is something to be ashamed of.
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