Throughout the years, there have been many wrestlers, characters, gimmicks, and moments that have captivated the attention of the fans and often times their adoration. But every now and again, a wrestler and/or a character will come down the pipeline that captivates in a negative light. A performer who has been given the arduous task of offending the WWE Universe. If not given the task purposely, then it might have been a case of poor judgement by Creative not realizing the collective conscious of the fans.
Offensive and subjective always changes with the times and the era of Sports Entertainment that we’re in. When Hulkamania was running wild, it was the same time Rocky was boxing Commies, so our own American Hero fighting off rasslin’ Russians didn’t seem so terrible. Back in The Attitude Era, it seemed as if it was everyone’s job on the roster was to offend and it seemed that the fans during that time weren’t offended, but ate up every bit of it.
As The Attitude Era came to a close, and the WWE went back to more PG friendly programming, the attempts to offend seemed to have simmered down. For all of the offensive characters over years, some have found success, while others were a dud. In today’s world though, they would either have to have their characters seriously tweaked or have to think of a completely different one, because all of these characters would never be able to work in today’s WWE.
Sure it’s obvious, but a lot of these choices are 100% completely obvious choices for offensive characters. Part of Eugene’s character was a pretty cool idea for a wrestler. Eugene was a diehard fan who know everyone’s move set and utilized some of those moves, like the Rock Bottom. Here’s what is offensive: Eugene was, as a base character, was clearly supposed to have intellectual disabilities.
14. Stone Cold Steve Austin
One of the greatest characters that ever laced up his boots and worked inside a 20X20 ring could have only existed and thrived during The Attitude Era, where the crass was king. We all love Stone Cold Steve Austin and still hope he’ll lace up his boots one last time, but the guy was the dictionary definition of offensive. He cussed, he was crass and he flipped off authority figures as flipping people off became his signature salute. He destroyed anyone and anything in his path and spent a good portion of his post match celebration getting hammered and even after Raw went off the air, the Rattlesnake just kept drinking. Certainly not a role model for today’s PG rated, family friendly audience, no matter how many fans still love him today.
13. Ted DiBiase and Virgil
Virgil wasn’t just Ted DiBiase’s corner man or butler, he was his servant. The guy had to do everything for The Million Dollar Man. He had to take lumps from all of DiBiase’s opponents and rub the guy’s disgusting feet. Meanwhile, DiBiase was being a jerk to fans, offering them money to do seemingly easy and menial tasks, such as dribbling a basketball and then kicking it away at the last moment. While DiBiase goading fans isn’t a huge issue and are great heel tactics, the fact that he had a servant wouldn’t fly today.
12. Intense Anti-American Heels
During the Cold War, wrestling had all kinds of villains from foreign countries who would denounce our way of life and/or play up their own country’s stereotypes for heel heat. Men like Nikolai Volkoff, Nikita Koloff, Mr. Fuji, and, of course, The Iron Sheik all denounced America and the way Americans lived. In recent years, guys like Mohammed Hassan have taken over the intense anti-American role. While WWE will still use anti-American rhetoric with certain Superstars, today’s slander of the country is nothing compared to the past.
11. Turncoat Slaughter
Sgt. Slaughter was a grand American hero and his appearances on G.I. Joe made him one of the first crossover stars of the Hulkamania Era. But when Iraq invaded Kuwait, which signalled the beginning of Desert Storm, Sgt. Slaughter defected from American patriot to a man who worshipped the ground Saddam Hussein walked on. He wore a turban, denounced America, and burned Hulkamania in effigy. The company’s stock would plummet to below the center of the Earth if they tried this nonsense today. Imagine if Kurt Angle returned, espousing the words of one of America’s enemies and burned a Cena shirt? They’d be sued by everyone and perhaps Angle would be arrested.
10. New Jack
To be fair, New Jack wouldn’t work in the WWE in any era, ever. First, he’d be a cancer backstage, since he shoots on anyone and everyone for a variety of reasons. Also in a world where the WWE pleads with its fans not to try this at home, New Jack is a waking example of tragic wrestling accidents, from the Danbury Fall to Mass Transit. Try explaining to sponsors like Toys R Us why they need to sell his action figure. Literally impossible.
9. Cryme Tyme
As The Gang Stars, Shad Gaspard and JTG were a couple of OVW standouts who got to feud with the likes of CM Punk. In a recent podcast with Jim Ross, JTG explained that Vince wanted them to be his lovable cheating babyfaces. They would steal other wrestlers stuff and auction it off to the crowd. While they weren’t as offensive as if they had worked during the mid-nineties, WWE.com had a disclaimer about the group stating they are a parody in the vein of Saturday Night Live, which means Creative actually knew for a change how many people they might have offended and put out a blanket “relax and calm down” statement.
Yes, one of the hottest Divas of all time is on this list. During The Attitude Era, Sable got some of biggest pops ever from male fans who no doubt lusted after her. She was the object of Triple H’s, Vince McMahon’s, and of course Marc Mero’s affections. But make no mistake about it, many of the blond bombshell’s actions wouldn’t clear WWE’s PG rating today. First and foremost, she competed in matches against some of the men and violence towards women is a humongous (and justified) no-no nowadays. More importantly, her most memorable moment ever, from 1999’s Fully Loaded, was the handprint bra, which could be construed as the wardrobe malfunction of the century and wouldn’t fly in today’s family friendly WWE Universe.
7. Mr. McMahon
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon might have a ball toying with their employees, but they have nothing on the CEO; who Jim Ross declared on more than once occasion as the “devil himself, Vincent Kennedy McMahon.” He targeted employees on a weekly basis, placing them in absurd situations. More importantly, the guy was a lecherous jerk, hitting on many Divas, while famously having Trish Stratus bark like a dog for him. The Vince McMahon of today puts his kids against each other, forcing them to run Raw together, while the McMahon of old would have fought each of his kids to prove his own dominance and just run the show by himself.
6. The Godfather
You knew this one would be here. The Godfather, the WWE’s resident fun loving conductor of the Ho Train, has zero place in The New Era, The PG Era, and was even perhaps too offensive for The Attitude Era. For many male fans, this was one of the greatest gimmicks of all time. But a wrestling pimp who offers up his girls to opponents who are willing to walk away from matches would turn away a lot of highly sought after sponsors, not to mention many mothers who would undoubtedly forbid their impressionable kids from watching a guy who proclaims “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy” every week.
5. The Dudley Boys (Old School)
Sure, those damn Dudleys are still around, raising hell and helping out new stars like Enzo Amore and Big Cass. But they are floating by on their old reputation and nothing else, which is okay because Bubba Ray and D-Von were two of the most vile and offensive characters in wrestling history. In ECW, their promos were the stuff of legend, inciting near riots from the fans. Paired with Joel Gertner, master of dirty limericks, The Dudley Boyz were definitely wrestling’s equivalent to the Not Ready for Prime Time Players. When they did get to the WWE, they toned down their promos, but increased the violence…against women. No Divas were safe as the brothers decimated every single one of them, putting the Divas through tables all over America.
4. Brian Pillman
Believe it or not, Brian Pillman and his actions were the line. Everything he did and/or had supposedly planned to do had pushed the line of good taste and was the measuring stick of things that you could and could not do in professional wrestling. Clearly too controversial for WCW, he left and, in ECW, he proved he was too extreme even for them when he wanted to urinate in the ring. Supposedly he wanted to, at some point, chain himself to the goal post at the Super Bowl. On top of that, there’s “Pillman’s Got a Gun?” One of the greatest Cruiserweights of all time reinvented himself into one of the key figures who helped launch The Attitude Era, but there’s no way he’d be hired by WWE today using his Loose Cannon bit.
3. Val Venis
The vignettes with the legendary, Jenna Jameson. The gyrating hips and terrible puns. Romancing Ryan Shamrock, Terri Runnels, and Mrs. Yamahuchi-San. All in a tough day at the office for Val Venis. Similar to The Godfather, Val Venis worked a gimmick that wouldn’t even be thought up today. As the WWE’s resident adult entertainer, Venis had one of the most memorable and beloved gimmicks of The Attitude Era. On top of that, Venis was actually a good wrestler, so the man behind the character, Sean Morley, could work and possibly get over today. But with the WWE firmly entrenched in a PG rating and an entire Universe filled with small, impressionable children, they could barely get away with a Ladies Man gimmick, much less a full-fledged adult film star gimmick.
2. The Sandman
Nevermind that the guy could barely work a match. He came to the ring smoking a cigarette, drinking several beers (and sharing some with the fans), eventually bashing a can or two on his head busting him open – and he hadn’t even gotten to the ring yet! He did it all while brandishing a Singapore cane, which is commonplace now, but was meant to offend back then since an American kid was actually punished for a crime he committed in Singapore by caning. It’s an obvious choice, but it doesn’t change the fact that he just wouldn’t work in these times.
1. Goldust (Original)
In his current form, he’s just a dude with weird gold paint who sings with R-Truth. But there is no chance that the Goldust of twenty years ago would be able to exist today. The androgynous and bizarre one spoke softly, sometimes erotically and creepily to his opponents. The mind games Goldust played with his opponents and their homophobic reactions would bring about sponsor and viewer complaints in today’s world. Thankfully for Goldie and his fans, ‘Dust has shown so many sides of the character over the years that he has had the same kind of longevity that his father has shown.
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