It’s mostly forgotten how World Class Championship Wrestling really shifted the production values of wrestling on television. They were the ones who introduced multiple camera angles, close-ups, mics at ringside and more as well as the ones to first have guys coming out to entrance music. They also began creating vignettes, stuff outside the arena for some good times. This included such things as the Freebirds on “Bad Street” and the classic segment where Jimmy Garvin had to be David Von Erich’s valet for a day. It soon inspired other promotions to do the same sort of thing to various degrees of success.
WCW is of course infamous for their rather horrific vignettes like “Bash at the Beach” and “Lost in Cleveland” while both promotions used it a lot for setting up future stars. WWE also had their “Tuesday Night Titans” shows and others with some wacky video stuff too. Some of it could be funny and work well but others, not so much and just adds dumb stuff for no reason. A lot of them are infamous for wastes of time and money, and it’s astounding to see that they’re given a lot of time. It became a bit less common with the rise of backstage promos and skits in the Attitude Era but they still pop up now and then and can be downright laughable if not outright insulting. From trying to set up a new worker to enhancing an angle, they can be pretty bad in wrestling programming. The WWE has given us some terrible vignettes over the years, a reminder that as bad as things can be in the ring, it can be even worse outside it.
Here are 15 of the worst vignettes in WWE history.
15. Ken Patera’s Comeback
Ken Patera was a really big deal in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. An Olympic weightlifter, he was a good wrestler too, facing off against competition, a top heel and reigning as Intercontinental champion. In 1984, he and Mr. Saito were involved in an attack at a McDonald’s that had Patera sentenced to two years in prison. When he got out, he made his return to WWE but instead of returning him as the bad-ass heel, the company strangely decided he made a better face.
Thus, segments showed Patera working out and the bizarre idea of how he blamed Bobby Heenan (his manager in 1984) for what happened. This was totally out of nowhere as Patera just didn’t come off all that heroic, just a con lashing out. It was meant to create a new hero for the time but just hurt Patera’s career more in the long run.
14. Beaver Cleavage
Vignettes were commonplace as a way of introducing guys and building people up. Sometimes, they were great setting up a guy as a big deal before he entered. And other times, they were just bad. Such was the case in 1999 as former Headbanger Mosh was repackaged as “Beaver Cleavage,” shown in black and white bits played like a 1950s sitcom kid with a rather busty “mother” doing double entendres in interviews. It was worse than it sounds, just so idiotic to see wasting them time and it built to Mosh “breaking character” on camera to declare it was stupid and walked off. The vignettes showed no promise to this character at all and as wasteful a push as any WWE has ever attempted.
13. Mark Henry and Sammy
Poor Mark Henry, a terrific worker who had to put up with some truly terrible angles. The theory is that Vince had signed him to a 10 year contract before seeing his limitations and trying to get Henry to quit but he refused no matter what crap he got. Still, it was pretty bad in 1999 when, as “Sexual Chocolate,” Henry began wooing Chyna who agreed to go on a date only after Henry dated her hot friend Sammy. They had a date but then Henry came begging Chyna not to tell what happened. She showed video of the two getting together only for it to come out that “Sammy” was a female impersonator. It was an embarrassing bit and showed the rough T&A overtaking WWE at the time and amazing Henry’s kept going after this.
12. Boss Man Crashing Funeral
This infamous segment had the Big Boss Man and the Big Show matching up with Show’s father dying and Boss Man mocking him in a poem. It set up this video of Big Show at his dad’s funeral, giving an eulogy only for Boss Man to show up in a pickup truck to insult him. He then chained the coffin to the truck and took off as Show leapt onto the coffin which was dragged around. This set up a horrible PPV battle between them and is often mentioned among the craziest bits WWE has ever done.
11. El Matador
One might notice that WWE has issues regarding racial tone. Such a case was in 1991 when long-time worker Tito Santana wanted a change. So looking over what this man had to offer, WWE decided to give him the most openly cliché Mexican gimmick imaginable. Tito was shown returning to his Mexican home to get with people and “discover his roots” and soon drawn to the strength and courage of matadors. Thus, he decided to remake himself as “El Matador” in a dumb new costume and makeover. It didn’t do much for his career other than these videos of him with an obviously non-threatening bull and pushing every stereotype of Mexican life around that came off as insulting.
10. Steamboat’s Ninja Training
Having proven himself as a fantastic worker in Mid-Atlantic, Steamboat was considered a top hire for WWE in 1985. They decided to enhance his stuff as a martial arts expert which included a segment of Mean Gene interviewing him on his training at a park and showing off moves. All well and good but then a bunch of guys who looked like they walked off a B-movie shoot came around to attack and Steamboat fought them off.
As great a wrestler as he was, Steamboat wasn’t a natural at karate and looked odd wielding a sword against his “attackers.” Astonishingly, this did nothing to get him over until his epic feud with Randy Savage and even Steamboat couldn’t sell this one.
9. Slaughter’s Forgiveness Tour
The heel push for Sgt. Slaughter in 1990 was due to the tensions leading to the Gulf War, the heat pretty big when he won the WWE title. However, by the time WrestleMania came along, the war had ended and Hogan easily won and in various rematches as well. So in the fall of 1991, Slaughter began to do a series of videos at various patriotic places, saying he had let his lust for the title get the better of his judgement and “I want my country back!” Instead of getting him back over, the videos just turned fans on Slaughter more as a hypocrite for his actions and he never really recovered from this. A good heel but begging the fans to forgive you isn’t the way to win you as a face.
8. Fuji Vice
This is seen as a “so bad it’s good” thing but even today, it’s pretty ridiculous. This segment for “Tuesday Night Titans” took place in the middle of the “Miami Vice” craze that was hitting the country in 1985 with fans taking on those fashions and such. Leave it to WWE to try and capture that wave with this bit of kids finding a dead body and call in Magnificent Muraco and Mr. Fuji for some reason. The “acting” gives adult movies a bad name as they follow clues to a yacht of women who tie them up to drop them in the ocean before they’re rescued by a cop with a horrible mustache. While great in promos, acting didn’t come naturally to these guys and this remains a crazy bit even by “TNT” standards.
7. Search for the Undertaker
The entire Undertaker arc of 1994 was bizarre with him losing a casket match to Yokozuna and then the wild speech before levitating away. For the summer, WWF decided to have a bunch of videos of Leslie Nielsen as Frank Drebin going around searching for the Undertaker. From pools to hotels and more, Nielsen would bumble around looking and asking nutty questions and always just missing the Undertaker behind him. It built to SummerSlam as Nielsen teamed up with George Kennedy, still searching the arena before the horrible Taker vs Taker battle. Funny as Nielsen is, he couldn’t salvage this ridiculous segment that dragged for months.
The video series “Are You Serious” had fun with this classic segment as in 1988, Gene Okerlund found himself in an alleyway as Slick came out with a boom box and some black street folk. Announcing a new find from deepest, darkest Africa, Slick called out “Behold!” as fire flashed in a garbage can and the One Man Gang showed up in a blue bodysuit, yellow jacket and hat and now calling himself Akeem the African Dream. It was as idiotic a makeover as you can ask for and the segment made it a joke before he even stepped into the ring for a bad move.
5. Little People’s Court
A lot of the antics of the reunited DX can count for this list but this has to top them all. Somehow getting on the bad side of Hornswoggle, Shawn Michaels and HHH found themselves being sued and ordered to come to a special court. After crawling under the ring and down the basement, they came to a room of midgets who had them on trial. Hornswoggle “testified” in grunts and yells with video of DX manhandling them and the court then pelting them with garbage to drive them running away. Dumb already even without it somehow leading to Hornswoggle becoming the DX “mascot” and showing how small humor can fail big time.
4. Katie Vick
A must for this list. This infamous 2002 angle had HHH accusing Kane of murdering his high school girlfriend Katie, a needless twist in their feud. That led to segments of HHH at a funeral parlor for Katie, wearing a Kane mask and going at a mannequin of her for the now infamous “I screwed your brains out!” line. On a DVD, most everyone agrees this was a horrific segment but Vince still defends it as funny, showing how his sense of humor is more than a bit off to say the least.
3. Billionaire Ted
Even McMahon admits this was a rather bad idea. As WCW began moving ahead with pushing “Nitro” and such, McMahon felt the need to hit back. His solution was a series of videos of “Ted Turner” looking like a total idiot listening to the over the hill “Huckster” and “Nacho Man” making bad jokes. It was totally dumb and made WWE look like complaining children when WCW was trying to fight against them. It’s become a bit to mock on things like the “Monday Night War” series and Vince’s ego once more overriding his common sense.
2. Dusty Rhodes “Common Man”
A bit on Dusty Rhodes’ 2006 DVD was guys talking of how Vince was trying to punish Dusty on his entry to the company with stuff like the polka dot outfits. Before that, WWE began to push Dusty as a “Common Man” by a series of videos showing him in jobs like a plumber flashing plenty of crack in his rear and doing clogged toilets to pizza delivery and more. They presented Dusty as more of a nutty goofball and making him look like a joke. To his credit, Dusty just shrugged “I’ll get it over anyway” and he did but the videos were still among the more annoying of the time.
1. Tim White Suicidal Promos
Ellen Degeneres once joked “I don’t know if the guy who came up with “My Mother the Car” was on drugs or not. But the network executive who decided to put it on the air, man he HAD to be on something.” The same attitude seems to count for this. In 2005, White was shown despondent and drinking during a PPV at a bar, taking out a shotgun and a shot heard off-screen. Fans were irate and they had to explain White had shot himself in the foot. For God knows what reason, WWE decided to run with this as fans were treated to weekly videos called “Lunchtime Suicide” with White attempting to kill himself in various ways.
Yes, it’s as nutty as it sounds with Josh Matthews showing up to talk to White and watching each attempt fail in a “funny” way. It culminated with Matthews himself shot by accident by White. It was a totally nutty idea that wasted so much time and was downright insulting as well to people with serious problems and it’s amazing it actually got on the air.
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