The last thing we'd expect a company like the WWE to do is censor material. Or at least make an attempt at it. Sure, the company has shifted into the PG era, but that doesn't take away from the many absurd and violent storylines it still airs live every week.
Through the company's long, storied history, it's shown everything from the company's CEO Vince McMahon being doused by beer to spanking matches between Trish Stratus and the CEO's daughter Stephanie McMahon. We've also witnessed Mae Young give birth to a hand (kayfabe) and the 2004 Divas Search Candidates put the WWE to work censoring material. We've also seen plenty of segments of women being harassed, drugged and humiliated. So, we'd think the WWE would be one company that isn't worried about how the public views and perceives it.
And, in thinking that, we'd be wrong. The WWE is a well-oiled machine that has risen to the top of the wrestling world because of the careful guidance and direction of the McMahon family. While it may not always appear like it, everything they and their team does is meticulously thought out. Every outcome has an alternative outcome. For every plan A, there is a plan B through Z. Argue that as much as you want, but it's true. Unlike it's conquered foes, namely WCW and ECW, the WWE has proven time and again it thinks through its characters and storylines, even if the outcome isn't what audiences always want.
Therefore, it's not surprising to hear that the company continuously goes out of its way to steer public image. It wants its wrestlers to perform in a specific manner, its announcers to speak in a certain tone and its production team to present the event with a definite type of flare. It's also not shocking to hear that the WWE doesn't (and didn't) want its fans to see certain moments, which we'll discuss in more detail shortly.
These moments we'll discuss cover everything from controversy to mistakes. Some of the events that took place live could have been prevented, while others could not. None are kayfabe. And many resulted in the company having to either reshuffle storylines or defend itself publicly.
14 Daniel Puder Fights Angle For Real
Puder putting Angle into a Kamura lock and almost breaking his arm on television is up there with things the WWE would rather not have had on camera.
" [Angle] yelled at me, he got pretty upset. I said, 'hey, I'm playing by the rules, they [WWE officials] told me no striking," said Puder, a former WWE Tough Enough champion.
During an episode of SmackDown, Angle challenged the Tough Enough contestants to step into the ring with him. Puder jumped at the chance and began to go back and forth with the former Olympic Champion. They'd end up on the mat where Puder would put Angle in a Kamura. Former WWE ref Jimmy Korderas said he was "nervous and concerned through the whole ordeal."
13 Fans Dress as Legends Asked to Change Clothing by WWE Officials
WWE is notorious for trying to control how its fans think and act. Just recently, reports surfaced of security ordering, sometimes violently, fans to sit down while Kevin Owens fled the ring after his match with Neville on an October episode of Smackdown. While Owens is a heel, he’s over with much of the crowd who watched him on the indie scene.
A slightly similar incident between officials and fans occurred in March 2015 when the WWE officials ordered a group of fans to behave in a certain way.
During a March 2015 episode of RAW, a group fans decided to sit in front of the hard camera dressed as wrestling legends. WWE officials escorted them to the back and gave them an ultimatum: remove the distracting costumes or lose your front row seats. The fans obliged and removed the costumes.
12 Lilian Garcia Forgets How to Announce Ring Intros
Lilian Garcia is not known to fold under the hot spotlight. She's been performing her entire life in bands and as a radio D.J. She joined WWE in 1999 and on the September 13, 2001 episode of Smackdown she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," which was no easy feat considering the atrocious events that happened just days earlier in New York City.
In 2009 Garcia left the company, but when she returned a few years later she struggled. On an episode of Smackdown in Feburary 2012, she botched the introduction of Jey and Jimmy Uso. The WWE had Garcia voice-over the mistake before it aired later in the week. Then, on a March 2012 episode of Smackdown, Garcia incorrectly introduced Zack Ryder as "Long Island Iced Z, Jack Swagger" when Ryder was set to face Jack Swagger. In May of that same year, she also accidently introduced Sheamus as 227 pounds as opposed to 267 and had a heated disagreement with ex-ring announcer Justin Roberts.
11 The Rock Drops His Glasses “Unceremoniously” in the Ring
During an episode of Smackdown, The Rock and Mankind stood in the ring together as Tag Team Champions. As The Rock was ending one of his promos with his famed line, “If ya smell what The Rock is cooking," his sunglasses awkwardly fell off his head and onto the canvas.
Even as the crowd roared, The Rock immediately stopped his promo and awkwardly looked around. Although it was only 15 seconds between the glasses popping off and Foley handing them to the rock, “it seemed like an eternity,” Foley said. Realizing The Rock wasn’t going to pick the glasses up, Foley did, handed them to The Great One, and the crowd exploded.
10 A.J. Lee Wardrobe Malfunction
In the Attitude Era, this would have been considered tame and acceptable. Between the lingerie showdowns and pudding matches of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Lee's shirt slip-up would have been nothing worth talking about.
Fast forward years later to when Lee was teaming up with Dolph Ziggler. During a match, her top rolled up exposing her black bra underneath. Unknowingly, Lee continued on with her taunting, licking her fingers like a cat. She soon realized the audience wasn't responding to her mannerisms but her exposed chest. She quickly pulled her top back down.
9 The Undertaker Catches on Fire
The Undertaker has always been known to use fire to his advantage, whether it be to scare opponents or beat them. However, he's never been in a situation where they could have severely harmed him or them. This wasn't the case during an Elimination Chamber match.
While making his way to the ring, a pyrotechnic accident left The Undertaker charred and furious. Flames from his entrance hit his jacket, burning it and The Deadman. He immediately whipped off the jacket, ran to the ring and poured water on himself. After the match, Taker walked up the ramp and pointed at the pyro booth, yelling his disdain toward them.
8 Mark Henry Can't Get Into the Cage
Despite his longevity in the business, the World's Largest Man has always had a tough time catching a break, hasn't he?
During the January 6, 2006 edition of Smackdown, Henry was set to attack Batista after his tag match with Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro. This was part of an ongoing storyline between the two.
Henry walked down to the ring and tried to rip the door off the steel cage but failed miserably. It wouldn't budge. If you watch the edited version of Smackdown, he jolts it off in a matter of moments. However, live footage leaked of Henry struggling to get the door off. It took him close to a minute and a half while the wrestlers laid in the middle of the ring waiting.
7 Kharma Breaks Down and Cries
While the WWE did show Kharma crying, they'd rather have you forget she ever did because it was not part of any angle. Kharma debuted in May 2011 as a monster heel. No Diva could match her strength and pure brutality. Many even complained she was simply too strong and hurt them while in the ring.
During an episode of Raw, Kharma interrupted an eight woman tag match. The women surrounded Kharma in the ring, but after a few moments she abruptly fell to her knees and began to cry. The show would cut to commercial and later replay images of her moment as kayfabe. But only a week later, she'd reveal she was crying because she was actually pregnant.
6 The Undertaker's Bike Fails
Big Evil was anything but badass when he made his entrance atop his trademark motorcycle to face John Cena at Vengeance in 2003. As his music hit and the crowd erupted, Taker sat at the top of the ramp staring down Cena.
While the stare down appeared to be a part of the act, not all of it was. The Undertaker's motorcycle had actually stalled, and you can see him trying to start it back up. Eventually he abandons the bike, and Cole, with the save, responds, "Undertaker. He's not going to waste time with the motorcycle. He's going to walk down the ramp. He's going to make his presence felt. He's not going to take his eyes of John Cena."
5 F U Cena Chants at ECW One Night Stand
Sure, One Night Stand was a pay per view and it was a couple of years away from the PG-era, but this was still a pretty aggressive crowd reaction for Cena, and one we can't imagine Vince McMahon was necessarily thrilled about. Even RVD, Cena's opponent and an original ECW member, looked slightly uncomfortable.
Prior to the match, the hostile crowd began to chant "F**k you Cena" over and over again and throw toilet paper. Cena looked horrified, and we can imagine WWE officials backstage would have liked things to go much differently for their superstar in the making.
4 Cena Drools on the Mic
With the amount of time Cena spends on the mic, an embarrassing moment like this was bound to happen. And it did when he announced one evening he'd be teaming up with The Rock at Survivor Series 2011 against The Miz and R-Truth.
Right as he said The Rock's name, saliva dribbled out of his mouth and onto the microphone. Trying to hide the moment, the cameras quickly panned away, but it was too late. The shot went viral.
3 Hiccups in the Divas Revolution
When the WWE called up NXT stand outs Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, there was much fanfare. People were excited about the possibilities they brought to the Divas division--a division which had lacked talent and storyline development for years.
While the Revolution started with flare (see what we did there?) it began to fizzle in time. A lot of that had to do with poor writing from the WWE creative team, but some of that also had to do with botches inside the ring.
For example, on an August episode of Smackdown, Charlotte, Lynch, Banks and Naomi botched a planned finish. Namoi interrupted a pinfall by Charlotte on Banks. She then exchanged pinfalls with Charlotte even though Banks was the legal woman. It appeared as if Naomi had been waiting for Lynch to attack her to set up the finish, but Lynch never did.
WWE never started the match over, but Dave Meltzer, long time WWE writer, reported that WWE officials were irate over how the match ended.
3. Stephanie McMahon is Exposed While Taking a Pedigree
The only thing that may have saved Stephanie from even more embarrassment was the fact that most people didn't have HDTV back in the early 2000s. The image of her being Pedigreed through a table just wasn't as clear as it would be today.
Around the time of WrestleMania X8 Stephanie and Chris Jericho were in a feud with Triple H. The "Billion Dollar Princess" was booked to take a Pedigree through the announce table. As she bent over to take Triple H's finishing move, one of her breasts fell out of her outfit. She tried to quickly cover up her exposed body, but the deed was done.
2 Every Time a Fan Jumps Out of the Crowd
If you’ve watched wrestling religiously for the past 20 or so years—maybe even longer—how many times can you remember fans jumping out of the crowd to be a part of the action? Or, at least being caught on film while doing so?
Probably not often.
But for some reason, it’s become a trend in recent months as fans continue to pop out of the crowd, trying to steal spotlight from the true wrestling stars. For example, during an episode of Monday Night Raw, a fan jumped from the crowd and walked down the stage with Rollins for a few moments. Security quickly detained him.
A couple of weeks later, at Night of Champions, Ambrose and Reigns were set to reveal their mystery partner in a match against the Wyatt Family. Before the real surprise wrestler could enter the scene—Chris Jericho—a fan dressed in Shield attire jumped into the squared circle. He was immediately tackled by security but not before cameras caught the action.
1 C.M. Punk’s Pipe Bomb Moment on Raw
Let’s assume Punk was supposed to go out on stage and deliver a promo on a 2012 edition of Monday Night Raw. It was even supposed to be scathing. However, there is a certain line you don’t cross, and that line is usually fine when it comes to WWE. Badmouthing your boss, his daughter and her husband is frowned upon. Telling the audience that the only thing John Cena is better at than he is, is “kissing Vince McMahon’s ass” is damning.
Just look at what happen to Roddy Piper when Bryant Gumbel interviewed him in a 2003 segment on HBO’s Real Sports. “Everybody’s dead. They are all dying early and nobody cares about it…[The WWE] takes them and they screw them up so much.” The WWE fired him after the interview.
Right as soon as Punk was about to talk about the WWE’s bully-campaign, his mic went off. The WWE would suspend him indefinitely and soon after he’d leave the company for good.