Producing television is a demanding job, one which requires a lot of fast creative thinking. It’s no wonder that it takes most T.V. series—like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things–over a year to produce a single season. It takes a lot of people working tirelessly to get everything right.
Professional wrestling differs from other television shows in one very crucial way: they’re working on the fly, all year round, to produce brand new content week after week. This can lead to some highly engaging storytelling, including episodes which can respond directly to current events in a matter of hours. At times, it leads to disastrous, uncouth, or just plain unusual results.
To paraphrase Bret Hart, the world of wrestling is a cartoon, one which never ends. There is a constant need for new narratives to unfold each week, especially now, in the age of three-hour RAWs and five-hour WrestleManias. Sometimes, the creative minds at work behind these T.V. shows evoke the image of throwing crap at the wall and seeing what sticks. As a result, the storied history of professional wrestling is spotted with storytelling that, when analyzed years later, makes a viewer scratch their head and wonder just who the heck thought such an idea made sense.
20. Vince McMahon Clears J.R.’s Colon
In the annals (pun intended) of wrestling history, there have frequently been real-life injuries and medical conditions incorporated into on-air storylines. None, however, have been quite as strange or unusual as the time Vince McMahon scraped a plethora of foreign objects from Jim Ross’s colon.
In 2005, doctors discovered a serious blockage in Ross’s colon, thus requiring surgery to remove it. While recovering, Ross was fired as part of a storyline to explain his absence. When news of his real-life colon issues surfaced, WWE ultimately included the surgery in an on-screen scene that found McMahon pulling unusual items from Ross’s posterior, including a bagged goldfish, an Oklahoma Sooners football helmet, and J.R.’s own head.
McMahon quipped that this was the problem: J.R. had his head up his ass.
19. Edge & Lita’s Live Sex Celebration
Fresh off his first capture of the WWE Championship, Edge announced that he would celebrate by having “hot, unbridled sex” in the middle of the ring with his girlfriend Lita. Cue the saucy pink lighting and a king-sized bed for the controversial lovers, a celebration for the Rated-R superstar of the championship he stole from John Cena and the woman he stole from Matt Hardy.
Of course, Edge and Lita never did the deed—Ric Flair and John Cena came to rain on the X-rated parade—but the segment, which occurred in 2006, drew some of the highest ratings that RAW had seen in years, which was surely the point of the whole stunt anyway.
It may have been a cheap and poor-tasted ploy to get eyeballs on the screen, but there’s no denying that the stunt worked.
18. Judy Bagwell On a Forklift
In the summer of 2000, in the wake of Vince Russo’s meltdown at Bash at the Beach, the ill-fated WCW produced New Blood Rising, a pay-per-view replete with haphazard gimmick matches and inane booking. Among them was the “Judy Bagwell on a forklift” match.
A feud between Buff Bagwell and Kanyon had reached a fever pitch, in which matters got personal. In this showdown for Buff’s mother’s honor, the infamous Russo-era match template of “X on a pole” achieved its most absurd form. In a bout that ultimately saw the Bagwells standing tall over the nefarious Kanyon, viewers couldn’t help but feel that they’d just had their faces spat in.
Now, close to twenty years later, the Judy Bagwell on a forklift match remains as one of the more ridiculous examples of bad booking happening on WCW’s deathbed.
17. Scott Steiner Hates Ducks
Don’t ever let anyone tell you Scott Steiner likes ducks. Out of context, one might wonder how on Earth this image of a man taking a baseball bat to a plastic duck might fit on a wrestling show, but as we have seen, sometimes the most unusual ideas make it to broadcast in this world.
For context, at this time Steiner was feuding with Goldberg, an adversary who repeatedly had Steiner’s number. In a fit of anger, Steiner was tearing through the backstage area looking for someone—or thing—to take his anger out on. Unfortunately for avian fans, Disqo, the inanimate duck companion to Disco Inferno, got in Steiner’s way. The rest is (very odd) history.
As seen here, WCW took a turn for the highly unusual in its final days.
16. The Kennel From Hell Match
This one is a doozy. In the fall of 1999, Al Snow was riding high on one of his several reigns as Hardcore Champion. The Big Boss Man challenged him for the title at Unforgiven, having goaded Snow into meeting him in this match after killing Snow’s dog Pepper and tricking him into eating it.
If that doesn’t sound bizarre enough for you, consider the match itself: a steel cage rose from the ring from which the competitors had to escape, after which they would have to navigate the ringside area that was allegedly going to be crawling with bloodthirsty canines, and then escape from a Hell in a Cell structure.
And if that doesn’t sound bizarre enough still, the mutts displayed absolutely no interest in attacking Snow and Boss Man. They were too preoccupied with relieving their bladders and attempting to mate to bother with human affairs. The match was a bust because of this, but one wonders how such an insane idea made its way to fruition to begin with.
15. The Attempted Castration Of Val Venis
A stalwart of the Attitude Era, Val Venis charmed audiences with his pornstar character and relentless pursuit of any pretty thing on two legs. His trademark baritone rasping out hello, ladies… fit perfectly with his lusty character. But such relentless pursuit of, let’s say, adult relations can land a guy in hot water, such as when Yamaguchi-San attempted to castrate Venis.
Yamaguchi-San, the shamelessly racist Asian stereotype that he was, pursued Venis wielding a samurai sword when Venis had sex with his wife. Yamaguchi-San and his gang of ruffians dragged Venis into a back room someplace, bound and stripped him, but just before the fatal slash of the sword, the lights blacked out and the segment ended ambiguously.
The following week, Venis appeared on RAW accompanied by John Wayne Bobbitt, a man whose wife had cut off his “tool” while he slept years earlier. Venis claimed that Bobbitt—a fairly stocky man with no muscle definition to speak of—had saved him from Yamaguchi-San. Bobbitt’s face read of someone who wished dearly they were not famous for the reason they were famous.
The Val Venis castration angle remains one of the strangest of the Attitude Era; for as uncomfortable and weird it sounds in writing, it was twice as much to watch play out on air.
14. Hornswoggle Revealed As Vince McMahon’s Son
In 2007, a storyline began in which Vince McMahon was alleged to have fathered an illegitimate son with a mistress. The son was revealed to be Hornswoggle, the short-statured Cruiserweight Champion. This led to a series of strange events, including Hornswoggle being stripped of the championship and the diminutive wrestler being pitted against much larger opponents, like The Great Khali, as a show of “tough love” from his supposed father.
This feud between McMahon and Hornswoggle culminated in a steel cage match that saw interference from Finlay and JBL, ending with the alleged illegitimate son suffering a severe injury at the hands of JBL’s relentless beating. Shortly thereafter, the storyline was abruptly ended when JBL claimed Hornswoggle was Finlay’s son, which Finlay later corroborated.
All in all, it was a strange storyline to watch unfold, especially to see it arrive at such an unceremonious conclusion.
13. Kane Abducts Lita
Poor Lita found herself on the wrong end of more than her fair share of creepy, sexually-charged angles. In this one, during a feud between her boyfriend Matt Hardy and Kane, the Big Red Machine abducted Lita and forced her to confess to Hardy that she hadn’t ever loved him, and that her fictional pregnancy was the Demon’s doing and not Hardy’s. The implication that Kane had raped Lita loomed in the background, and uncomfortably hinted at as she broke down, pleading for Matt to come rescue her.
If that wasn’t strange and creepy enough, the feud continued to include a match between Kane and Hardy, in which the victor would win Lita’s hand in marriage, and Kane won! Despite her and Hardy’s best efforts to foil Kane, including a run-in during a match the Demon had with Edge, Kane seemed pleased, claiming that his preferred style of love was challenging, even violent. After Lita slapped him in the face, Kane smiled and claimed the couple was going to have “one hell of a honeymoon.”
The worst part of this storyline is that it developed into an amicable relationship between Kane and Lita. She would go on to be his valet for several months, during which time Kane turned face due to Lita miscarrying the baby.
12. Kurt Angle’s Milk Truck Attack
During the ill-fated Invasion angle where ECW and WCW banded up to take down WWE, which saw a McMahon at the helm of each brand, Kurt Angle stormed a ring full of Alliance members, spraying them with milk from a fire hose. This milk truck attack, a callback to when Steve Austin did the same to Vince McMahon and others with a beer truck, saw Angle using his long-running pro-milk one liners as a force to topple his opponents.
Although the Invasion was a lackluster chapter in WWE’s history, missing many of the top talents that made WCW and ECW so enticing in the first place, this stands as one of the most bizarrely awesome moments in the company’s history. Angle was at the peak of his powers here, dismantling his opposition with milk as the audience cheered feverishly for the absurdity.
11. Sting Takes Off His Sting Mask To Reveal He Is Sting
If you’ve spent any time on the internet looking at wrestling content, you’ve most likely seen this gif. To recap, it finds Rob Van Dam in TNA, during a heated rivalry with the Icon Sting, high-fiving the crowd when, suddenly, an audience member hits him with a steel chair. The camera pans and reveals that the audience member is a muscular, tall man in a Sting shirt, wearing a Sting mask. Once RVD has been floored, the man takes off his mask to reveal that he is, well, Sting himself, in full face-paint.
The feud between RVD and Sting actually produced some pretty good matches, but this moment has survived as the most enduring of their rivalry. It has become a meme, a popular reaction gif both in and out of wrestling forums, mostly due to the plain silliness of Sting’s unmasking, but also owing to the very weak chair shot. RVD’s overselling of the hit that barely touches him didn’t make it any better.
To those who don’t recognize the parties involved—two of the industry’s best performers—it very effectively makes professional wrestling look pretty silly.
10. Brian Adams As The KISS Demon
In late 1999, the band KISS appeared to perform a live concert on WCW’s Nitro, after having been hinted at lurking off-screen to court Brian Adams, who had just walked out on the nWo, to be their in-ring representative in taking down the New World Order. This episode of Nitro lost to RAW in the ratings; turns out that people tuning into a wrestling show aren’t necessarily interested in a KISS concert.
To further add to the ridiculousness, Brian Adams abruptly began appearing as himself again not long after his debut as the Demon, never wrestling a match under the gimmick. The character was inherited by another wrestler, Dale Torborg, who would then go on to lose almost every match he appeared in.
Originally, the Demon was intended to lead a stable of KISS-themed wrestlers, with each member of the band having their own in-ring representative. In the past, WWE and other wrestling companies have had great success working with musicians to broaden their audience, but perhaps this cheesy angle was better off scrapped.
9. Mike Awesome, The “Fat Chick Thrilla”
Among the most shocking of WCW’s ravenous acquisitions of rivals’ talent was when Mike Awesome debuted on Nitro while still holding the ECW World Championship. It resonates to this day as one of the most shocking debuts of the era, and perhaps of all time. Awesome was an ECW original, and seeing him on Nitro with the company’s top strap around his waist infuriated the ECW loyals both in the audience and the locker room.
After a three-company negotiation to get ECW’s title off of Awesome—which saw WWE employee Tazz win the title in a one-night-only appearance, before dropping it to Tommy Dreamer—the former champion began a run with the New Blood faction. However, the rest of his time with WCW would be marked by several unfortunate gimmicks, including the most ridiculous, “The Fat Chick Thrilla.”
In this role, he portrayed a character who had a proclivity towards large women, a comedy gimmick that flopped hard and fast. He would come to the ring accompanied by heavyset valets, cut promos on their physical virtues, and ultimately embarrass himself, the company, and the industry, all while making fans very uncomfortable. The gimmick was, thankfully, short-lived, but did irreparable damage to Mike Awesome’s WCW tenure and career.
8. ECW’s Gulf Of Mexico Match
In 2008, the rebooted ECW brand, now under the auspices of WWE programming, featured a mostly flaccid attempt to cash in on the nostalgia wrestling fans still felt for the original ECW’s unhinged, chaotic product. Although there was certainly great wrestling that occurred during this time, the brand was doomed to never live up to its predecessor.
Part of the reason was in WWE-ECW’s liberal usage of bad gimmick matches, including the “Gulf of Mexico Match” between Chavo Guerrero and CM Punk. The match was a street fight, the goal of which was to throw your opponent into the Gulf. Chavo and Punk, being two superb performers, did the best with the lot they were given here, but the absurd premise gave way to an awkward and clumsy match.
7. Sunny’s Secret Lover
Signed to WWE in 1994, when she was only 22 years old, Sunny quickly became one of the most popular Divas of the era, owing to her supermodel-level good looks and appearances in salacious angles. Before moving on to even further popularity in ECW and WCW, Sunny had the dubious distinction of appearing in a softcore sex scene with someone dressed in an Elmo costume.
You read that correctly. In a backstage angle that found Sunny alluding to a secret lover, the anticipation of young viewers to find out who the lucky man was reached its peak, when finally it was revealed that her lover was a man in a cheap imitation of an Elmo costume.
The ultimate goal of showing that Sunny had such a strange love life remains unclear. A cheap laugh, perhaps, or as a way to humiliate the performer? Either way, whatever the motivation, it has given us one of the most ridiculous moments in WWE’s history.
6. Tim White’s Suicide
In 2002, referee Tim White injured his shoulder officiating a Hell in a Cell match between Triple H and Chris Jericho. After he returned, he re-injured the shoulder at WrestleMania XX two years later, and subsequently retired from being a referee.
White would appear onscreen again the following year, interviewed by Josh Matthews at the bar he owned, revealing that the shoulder injury had ruined his life, sent him spiraling into a deep depression accented by alcoholism and suicidal thoughts. White produced a shotgun from beneath the bar and fled off screen, firing the weapon in an apparent suicide attempt.
Later, it was revealed that the attempt was a botch, and White had shot himself in the foot. This led to a series of questionable humor between White and Matthews called “Lunchtime Suicide.” For several months, a new video appeared on WWE.com every Thursday, each of which ended up with White trying and failing to kill himself.
The series culminated in a video in which White instead attempted to murder Matthews at the same bar where the initial interview had taken place. To see such heavy subjects as suicide and alcoholism, and eventually homicide, tackled in a humorous way by the cartoon world of wrestling was nothing short of odd.
5. Jeff Hardy’s Intoxicated Main Event
During the early aughts, Victory Road was one of TNA’s signature pay-per-view events, and in 2011 the main event was to feature Jeff Hardy facing off with Sting for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. However, the match was cut down to a scant 90 seconds when it was made apparent to the referee and Sting that Jeff Hardy was, to put it lightly, exceptionally intoxicated.
Hardy nevertheless was under the impression that he would be wrestling a full match, performing his entrance and teasing the crowd for several minutes with a t-shirt throw. Once the match began, though, Sting forced a pin on Hardy, and the match ended to a booming chorus of boos from the paying audience. Sting would leave the ring immediately after the pinfall, shouting, “I agree!” to the angry fans.
The decision to send Hardy out despite his obvious intoxication remains as one of the most nonsensical decisions made by any wrestling company in recent memory.
4. Hornswoggle Revealed As Anonymous RAW General Manager
Wrestling fans learned to cringe or groan at the sound of an email being received from the Anonymous General Manager of RAW, whose reign of terror over the flagship show lasted a full year between the summers of 2010 and 2011. The many unusual and unfair proclamations delivered via a heel Michael Cole, including one that reversed the decision of WrestleMania XXVII’s Lawler/Cole match, gave the audience the impression that this annoying, but looming offscreen presence would one day be revealed as the ultimate heel.
Instead, fans got Hornswoggle. After the poor reception of the illegitimate son storyline, the returning Hornswoggle was revealed as the GM after a WWE writer allegedly suggested it as a joke. This anticlimactic salt in the wound served no purpose but to further frustrate fans with an angle that had been phased out, and abruptly brought back to TV before finally dying a slow, pitiful death.
3. Scott Steiner’s Math Promo
A wildly popular video on reddit and other fan forums, Scott Steiner’s infamous and unintelligible math promo found the self-proclaimed genetic freak calling out Samoa Joe for his inferior physique. Steiner’s claim that against any normal wrestler Joe would have a 50-50 chance of victory seems accurate enough, and one can even follow the logic that the odds of beating a physical specimen like Steiner are much lower.
But then the promo goes completely off the rails. Alluding to the triple threat stipulation that “add[ed] Kurt Angle to the mix,” which would cause Joe’s chances to “drastic go down,” Professor Steiner’s calculations ultimately arrive at his odds of defeating Samoa Joe as surpassing 100 percent.
This insane promo is best appreciated by viewing it, so here is a link for your viewing pleasure. As a bonus bit of absurdity, Angle would not compete in the triple threat, having suffered an injury, and was replaced by Kazarian. Samoa Joe walked away from the match victorious, retaining the TNA World Heavyweight Champion and proving that Steiner’s calculations may have been off.
2. Katie Vick
Triple H and Kane were embroiled in a feud that led to a match at No Mercy in 2002, where the winner would receive the unified Intercontinental and World Heavyweight Championships. During the lead-up to this match, Triple H revealed that Kane had been involved in a romantic relationship years earlier with a woman named Katie Vick, whom Kane had accidentally killed in a car wreck and then, well, “defiled” the corpse.
Triple H claimed to have footage of the deed, which was then shown as ‘Trips himself donning a Kane mask and having relations with a mannequin in a coffin. Regardless of the fact that this verified that Triple H’s claims were false, the storyline’s blatant allusions to necrophilia did not sit right with most fans.
WWE is no stranger to invoking images of the dead. Kane and The Undertaker are prime examples of how that kind of gimmick can work brilliantly, but perhaps they learned their lesson here to leave the sexy stuff and the dead things separate.
1. The Final Deletion
Here we arrive to a gem in the absurd, nonsensical, odd, and uncomfortable mud.
In a match against his brother Jeff, Matt Hardy suffered a major storyline injury when Jeff performed a Swanton bomb on him through a table. After disappearing from TNA television for a prolonged period, Matt returned claiming that Jeff had “broken” him and began referring to his brother as “Brother Nero.” The new character, “Broken” Matt Hardy, has since proved wildly popular in the struggling TNA.
The feud between the Hardy brothers reached its climax in a special episode of Impact called “The Final Deletion,” which saw the Hardys duke it out all around their “compound” in North Carolina to determine who would have full control over the Hardy brand. Matt was ultimately victorious, defeating Jeff and forcing him to thenceforth embrace the “Brother Nero” identity.
The match—which featured drone attacks, a colluding landscaper, fireworks, among other things—sounds on paper like the exact type of nonsensical gimmickry wrestling companies should avoid, especially one as lukewarm as TNA. But the match was successful due to the steadfast commitment to its silliness by its actors.
The Final Deletion is exhibit A of how sometimes the most ridiculous ideas can be brilliant.
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