In today's PG Era of the WWE, it's rare when a promo pushes the boundaries of "good taste" or "proper decorum."
Sadly, Miley Cyrus certainly won't get invited to stop by Monday Night Raw to smoke up all the Divas and #freethenipple while refereeing a main event between Roman Reigns and Luke Harper. Marilyn Manson won't show up at a PPV, pretend it's 1997 again, do something ridiculous to distract John Cena, thereby costing him the world title in a Hell in a Cell match against Bray Wyatt. Lena Dunham won't stop by to be a guest ring announcer, only to drive the WWE universe into a frenzy by mentioning that abortions aren't the worst thing in the world.
On the bright side, Donald Trump, probably won't be making any more wrestling appearances until his presidential campaign inevitably fails. So we've got to take the good with the bad.
Nonetheless, a recent angle involving Paige, Charlotte, and a deceased member of Charlotte's famous family pushed some buttons and was promptly erased from WWE continuity. This incident reminded us of a handful of questionable promos and angles of yore.
Putting together a contemporary list of promos that crossed the line presented some unforeseen problems. When worked "shoots" were common, it was the '90s and '00s, and some of the segments that seemed edgy at the time scan as relatively tame by modern standards. For instance, many people were deeply offended when Raven crucified The Sandman in ECW. Later, after The Undertaker crucified The Big Boss Man, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and tried to string up The Rock, crucifixion in wrestling didn't seem like such a big deal anymore!
So here's the best we could do for promos and angles that crossed the line, and could still make people at least a little uncomfortable these days.
15 Paige Mocks Reid Flair (Sorta)
In a segment leading up to last Sunday’s Divas Title match between Paige and Charlotte, Paige noted that “he didn’t have much fight in him, did he?” in reference to the death of Charlotte’s brother, Reid Fliehr, after he lost an apparent battle with drug addiction in 2013. Does using such a real life tragedy seem insensitive to the Fliehr family, or, for that matter, the tens of thousands (hundreds?) who have lost loved ones to the rampant opiate addiction epidemic in the United States? Very much so! And it certainly would’ve made Paige look like an insufferable jerk, thereby adding much needed sizzle to her heel turn and feud with Charlotte.
14 CM Punk Makes Fun of Jeff Hardy’s Drug Problems
13 CM Punk and Paul Heyman Mock Paul Bearer's Death
Not that William Moody would’ve had it any other way (or so we suspect), but the death of the man who portrayed Paul Bearer was exploited in a storyline to dump heat on the WrestleMania confrontation between The Undertaker and CM Punk. Arguably, the match didn’t need a tacky angle to get massively over. Then again, having CM Punk do a bunch of interviews where he talked about how much he respected The Undertaker would’ve been more than a little bland.
12 AJ Styles Testifies, Ruins Tournament Ending
Here’s a gem from 2005. Having just defeated AJ Styles to win the PWG Battle of Los Angeles Tournament, Chris Bosh began a tribute to Steve Austin’s legendary “3:16” promo. Either not understanding the reference or not caring about context, Styles rose from the mat, retroactively no-selling his defeat, and chewed out Bosh for what most would consider a minor blasphemy. Styles comes off like a self-righteous nitwit and Bosh gets his big win overshadowed by the bigger star’s tantrum. Way to go, AJ.
11 Basically Every Dudley Boyz Promo On Audiences in ECW
Look, before we even begin with this entry, we can't include any video evidence for this one, as the language is a little too graphic for our humble site.
10 Scott Steiner Wants to Go Watch Stone Cold
9 Vince Fakes His Own Death
8 Scott Hall’s Boozing
7 Pillman 9mm
6 “Jumpin’” Jeff Farmer
5 Dreamer Accidentally Blinds Sandman
A lit cigarette in one eye and a Singapore Cane in the other led to the Sandman’s “retirement” back in the early ‘90s. The angle was taken to, pun intended, “extreme” lengths, with Jim Fullington refusing to leave his house to prevent anyone from noticing his eyes still worked. Tommy Dreamer dedicated the rest of his career to his sightless former adversary.
4 Basically Every New Jack Promo In Smoky Mountain
3 Jeff Jarrett Makes Hulk Hogan Look Like Al Sharpton
2 Jerry Lawler Loses His Mind
In the last promo, Jarrett stops short of dropping the “N-bomb” or waving the confederate flag. Jerry Lawler shows no such restraint in this promo. Apparently to hype an upcoming match with Goldust, without any warning or lube, the onetime “King” of Memphis stuffs homophobic hate speech into the earholes of the WWE universe. More disturbing yet, Lawler accuses Dakota Runnels, Goldust’s daughter, of promiscuity. Dakota was born in 1994, meaning she couldn’t have been much older than three years old at this point. That's too young for sexual innuendo, even by Jerry Lawler’s standards.
1 Come On, Vince...
Vince McMahon certainly won’t go down in history as a great feminist ally for at least a dozen already well-documented reasons. Even if we set aside the handful of real world sexual misconduct charges against him, plenty of his onscreen interactions with female stars have been pretty thoroughly icky. But this instance of Vinnie Mac threatening to arrange for The Undertaker’s wife (who might’ve been Michelle McCool, depending on when this aired) to be sexually assaulted by a biker gang is just…...The only words that come to mind are “No.” and “Please, Never Again.”
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