The WWE has come a long way when it comes to their TV product. From their humble beginnings in New York which ushered in the “Rock N Wrestling” era, to the times where their shows consisted of cartoony characters which mainly catered to children and where it seemed all the mid-card wrestlers had a day job (a clown, garbageman, plumber etc.), the WWE is now a corporate juggernaut with a brand recognized all over the world.
However, there was a time that the WWE was a business on the verge of bankruptcy due to the big budget and competition of WCW. Out of desperation, the WWE pushed the envelope with provocative storylines during the beloved “Attitude Era” which took them out of PG. The stories were edgy and some were downright sleazy but it worked and they became the industries heavyweight champion and transformed into a monopoly.
While those TV-MA days are long gone with WWE now a corporation with stockholders and standards to follow, the company has cleaned up their act. Be that as it may, as long as the company’s owner is Vince McMahon—who’s known to have a perverted and often sick sense of humor and storytelling—sleaziness may always linger in the company's background and shows up on their product. In this list, we cover those disgusting and often tasteless moments that made us gasp and wonder how they were able to get away with it on television.
15 Torrie Wilson’s Father And Dawn Marie Get Married
WWE is often described as a male soap opera, but there have been times where WWE went a little too heavy on the soap opera storylines which made even the most loyal fans cringe and wonder why they spent their nights tuning in. One such storyline was the Torrie Wilson/Dawn Marie debacle in 2003 which involved (no joke) Torrie Wilson’s real life father getting involved in the drama as Dawn Marie sparked a relationship with Al Wilson that lead to an engagement. The wedding aired on an episode of SmackDown and resulted in Al Wilson having “died” from a vigorous night of consummating the marriage with Dawn Marie. The angle would mercifully come to an end with a Stepmother vs. Stepdaughter match.
The story was trash WWE TV at its sleaziest and isn’t something that anyone is clamoring to go revisit on the WWE Network.
14 2004 Divas Search Disaster
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Long before the Women’s revolution and resurgence in the WWE, the women were regarded as “divas” and were known more for their sex appeal and physical assets than their in-ring ability. In a quest to keep men tuning in with eye candy, WWE held a Diva Search in 2004 to try and find their next female star.
What resulted were a series of weekly contests and terrible unscripted skits with the Diva contestants to try to garner fan attention and votes. There were tons of cringeworthy moments but it was capped off by a segment known as “Diss the Diva” where the finalists were given a live mic to insult their competition. This proved to be a big mistake as the ladies laid into each other with unscripted verbal barbs that belonged on Jerry Springer. The censors had a field day bleeping out lines like “having a c*ck in your mouth has nothing to do with wrestling” and “c*m sucking gutter slut”. It was a total trainwreck that WWE would want everyone to forget.
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While the Attitude Era had its fair share of raunchiness, the early Ruthless Aggression Era of 2002 when WWE’s ratings were falling led to desperate attempts to reel in the casual fans while subjecting their core fanbase (that wanted to watch, well, wrestling) to garbage television. One of their bright ideas was HLA, which stands for “Hot Lesbian Action.” RAW GM Eric Bischoff promised HLA to the crowd as an answer to the buzz created on rival show SmackDown, with their gay wedding publicity stunt between Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo. The entire show was hyped around two unknown women, coined simply as “the lesbians,” kissing and feeling each other up in the ring, directed by GM Bischoff. The embarrassingly sleazy segment went long and Eric Bischoff called in tag team duo 3 Minute Warning to end the segment by mercilessly beating the women with slams and splashes. Tasteless, trashy and misogynistic. You won’t ever see this segment in any commemorative replays.
12 Hardcore Crossdressing Match With Patterson/Brisco
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During the Attitude Era, the introduction of the Hardcore Championship was initially a joke but became legitimized by competitors vying for the title. Al Snow, Road Dogg, and Crash Holly among others, along with the implementation of the 24/7 rule made the Hardcore Championship must-see TV during the year 2000. However, a rather ugly blemish on the title’s lineage was when Pat Patterson won the championship and then was headlined in a Hardcore Championship match versus Gerald Brisco that would inexplicably be an evening gown match. Both men would crossdress in evening gowns with the winner being the person strips the other of their evening gown. It may have been at this point that the championship jumped the shark, but it would have a resurgence in 2001 with stars like Kane, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam and the Undertaker competing for the belt before being unified with the Intercontinental Championship.
11 Muhammad Hassan Terrorism Angle
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Muhammad Hassan had the makings of a star. He was basically a more charismatic and talented version of how Jinder Mahal is today. Hassan was a different kind of heel who was intelligent and spoke of being discriminated against for being Arab-American in a post-9/11 world. Hassan enjoyed a lot of success and rubbed elbows on TV with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels and John Cena. However, it was his feud with The Undertaker which was his most memorable—for the wrong reasons. In an angle that was highly distasteful and offensive given the timing of a terrorist bombing in London, Hassan’s character was inexplicably turned into an evil terrorist caricature with a group of masked minions who attacked Undertaker with piano wire and then carried Hassan’s manager like a martyr. This angle would result in Hassan’s character being killed off prematurely and taken off television.
10 Mae Young Gives Birth To A Hand
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WWE has had its fair share of comedy storylines on their shows that serve perhaps no purpose other than to get a chuckle out of Vince McMahon. In 1999, Mark Henry had a “sexual chocolate” gimmick of a ladies man and wound up in a sexual relationship with WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young. This resulted in Mae Young announcing that she’s pregnant with Mark Henry’s child. When the time came for Mae Young to give birth, WWE televised the delivery on RAW and it was revealed that Mae Young gave birth to a hand. The angle was revolting while WWE meant for it to be funny. These are one of those storylines that make you want to not tell people you’re a wrestling fan.
9 The Jim Ross Colonoscopy
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While “good ol' JR” Jim Ross is a WWE Hall of Fame commentator beloved by fans around the world, in Vince McMahon’s eyes, he’s always been someone to pick on. In 2005, Jim Ross would be taken off TV because he was scheduled to have a colonoscopy. Vince McMahon thought it’d be a great idea to make fun of Ross with an infamous segment that he passed off as being footage of JR’s surgery. In the segment, Vince McMahon played the doctor performing the colonoscopy and would pull things out of a fake rear end which included a number of random objects, capped off with a model of JR’s head used as a pun for “JR has his own head up his ass.” It was a terrible and tasteless mockery of Jim Ross’ health issues. While Vince would probably defend himself by saying it was all in good fun, in actuality it was insensitive and embarrassing.
8 Vince McMahon Club
If it hasn’t been made clear by now, a lot of the moments on this list either involve Vince McMahon or are the brainchild of Vince McMahon. The “Mr. McMahon Kiss My Ass Club” is definitely one idea that Vince is quite proud of while fans could hardly stomach it. McMahon’s heel person started the club as a way to abuse his power with his subordinates. The Kiss My Ass club started and ended in 2001 but made a comeback in 2006 and in 2008 with Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Vince’s own son Shane being among the names having the misfortunate of joining the club. Every time it occurred, it was groan inducing and each segment went on way too long. However, we’re sure Vince loved every second.
7 McMahon’s Multiple WWE Diva Flings
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Torrie Wilson, Trish Stratus, Candice Michelle, Sable. What does this elite class of WWE Diva beauties have in common? They were all involved in fooling around with the boss, at least on television. When looking at any of the backstage segments that Vince had with these women, it appears that Vince McMahon uses his own company and TV show to act out his wildest fantasies. Whether it’s healing Candice Michelle of “labigytis” or making out with Trish Stratus in front of a wheelchair-bound Linda McMahon, Vince sure has a blast being the horny old man, at the TV viewers' expense. Unfortunately, it’s his company and show so he can do what he wants with it.
6 Heidenreich Takes Advantage of Michael Cole
You would think that of all the kooky storylines that WWE has come up with they would at least steer clear of something like sexual assault, right? Wrong. In 2004, they crossed that line in a segment that was both inappropriate and unnecessary, with Heidenreich, a large menacing wrestler who had a psychotic gimmick. On an episode of SmackDown, Heidenreich would emerge from the crowd and grab Michael Cole at the commentary booth and carry him through the crowd, kidnapping him. Later in the show, Cole is seen in a locker room pressed up against a door from behind by Heidenreich who grunted and recited poetry in Cole’s ear. It was a creepy segment that was unlike anything ever seen on WWE TV before, which may have been what WWE was going for. In interviews about the segment years later, Heidenreich claimed that it was Vince McMahon’s idea which oddly enough, Vince had a dream about and wanted to play it out on the show.
5 “Choppy Choppy”
This angle was probably the most memorable and shocking moment of the Attitude Era and had all the elements involved to make it too hot for TV. Val Venis had an adult film star/womanizer gimmick at the time and was embroiled in a feud with the Kaientai stable whose manager was an Asian man named Yamaguchi-san. Val revealed a video that he had a fling with Yamaguchi-san’s wife and in retaliation, Yamaguchi San threatened to as he put it “choppy choppy” Val Venis’ “pee pee.” Venis would be attacked after a match by the group and dragged backstage where Yamaguchi-san had a sword ready to slice. The video went black and in the end Val was spared. The storyline has been shoved under the rug for its wildly raunchy content which outraged parents of young wrestling fans at the time and put heat on WWE by media outlets for their lewd programming.
4 Trish Barks Like A Dog
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This is one segment that came back to bite Vince McMahon and his wife Linda because of how terrible it was. In 2001, Mr. McMahon had Trish Stratus as his mistress after claiming he wanted a divorce from Linda McMahon. McMahon would turn on Trish saying he had grown tired of her. Trish begged for forgiveness from Vince but Vince would respond with an uncomfortable exchange where he told Trish to get down on her hands and knees and bark like a dog. It was a terribly degrading segment that was one of the big reasons that Linda was denied a Senate seat when she ran for office a decade later. Looking back at the footage of the segment, it’s a very uncomfortable watch especially with how far the WWE has come in portraying women more positively.
3 Edge And Lita's Live Celebration
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The Rated “R” Superstar had won his first WWE Championship by cashing in his Money In The Bank contract on John Cena and he wanted to celebrate, so what better way than having a “Live Sex Celebration” with his girlfriend Lita on RAW? That was the attention grabbing hook for an episode of RAW in 2006 and fans all wondered how this stunt was going to be pulled off. The ring was decorated for the occasion with a bed in the middle of the ring and continued with Edge and Lita uncomfortably removing their clothing. It’s a cringe-inducing segment for people watching at home as well as the people in the arena. The segment would be saved by appearances from Ric Flair and John Cena, but overall it was definitely not a segment you could comfortably watch with your family.
2 Hawk Suicide Angle
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WWE from time to time likes to make art imitate life by mixing real life happenings and incidents with WWE storylines but this one took things a bit too far. Road Warrior Hawk was part of the popular Legion of Doom tag team with Animal which ruled the '80s and early '90s. During the Attitude Era, however, they were not featured as much until they were forced into doing a storyline with highlighted Hawk’s alcohol and drug addiction problems. Hawk was to be drunken and suicidal and his tag partner Animal tried to stabilize the team by adding a member, Puke (Darren Drozdov). The angle climaxed when Hawk climbed the Titantron apparently wanting to commit suicide and was being talked down by Puke, who pushed Hawk as he fell off the 'tron. The storyline never received a resolution as Hawk and Animal both quit WWE because of their disapproval of the storyline, while Puke was repackaged as Droz, a shortened version of his real surname. Looking back, the angle is regarded by many as being disgusting due to how it made light of suicide, depression, and addiction.
1 The Katie Vick/Triple H Segment
Anyone who has been a fan of WWE long enough would have known this terrible WWE moment would make the list and top it. It was 2002 and at the time, Kane was embroiled in a feud with Triple H. Triple H then decided to go out of left field and mention a female from Kane’s past named Katie Vick. In the weeks that followed, it was learned that Vick was Kane’s girlfriend when he was younger and died in a car accident while Kane was driving. Triple made allegations that Kane committed necrophilia with the dead body and then reenacted the incident in an embarrassing-to-watch scene on television. This has gone down as the worst storyline in WWE history and is always looked back by fans and people in the industry as an awful disaster that one can only laugh about. Fans and WWE themselves are still trying to wipe this abomination from their memories.