Wrestling is a tricky business. Trying to present an entertaining show often means taking a few risks with content. And with those risks come the possibility of doing something that comes off very badly for the audience. It’s not just a bad gimmick or character. It’s an angle or another move that is hard to watch. Sometimes, it’s because it’s so bad, others because it just affects you the wrong way but either way, it’s a bit that crosses a line big time.
WWE are naturally big offenders here, especially during the “Attitude Era” where they were throwing out so much. However, other promotions have offered their own stuff that makes it hard to take seriously, not just blurring the lines for wrestling but making it very hard for fans to get into something because of how it comes off. It’s not just stuff terrible or such, it’s things that affect your tastes as a person and just don’t like to watch at all, even if they’re part of a big angle. Here are 20 examples of moments in wrestling that were not just hard to watch in quality but made the viewer downright uncomfortable seeing it and how much the lines of taste can be blurred.
21 Mark Henry’s Antics
17 Mr. McMahon's “death”
Vince McMahon has pushed the envelope a lot but in 2007, he crossed a serious line. To cap off a “Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night,” Vince entered a limo which promptly exploded. It was sold as totally real with video tributes to Vince and wrestlers talking of him in somber tones. The reaction was quite bad as fans found this in very poor taste considering real life tragedies like Eddie Guerrero and Owen Hart whose emotions the angle was playing on.
It backfired big time when the Benoit murder-suicide went down and the whole thing was dropped, showing how Vince’s ego gets in the way of common sense and what fans might be comfortable watching.
16 Victory Road 2011
Arguably the worst PPV main event of all time, this ranks as one of the lowest points of TNA’s existence. It was to be a big battle between Sting and Jeff Hardy for the TNA World title with Sting coming out ready to fight. A full minute passed before Hardy stumbled through the smoke and it was quite obvious this man was in absolutely no condition whatsoever to be anywhere near a ring. His eyes were glazed, he was swaying and seemed to have no clue what was going on.
15 Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle
14 Vince and Trish
Vince has half-joked about Linda being “poor dear, having to marry me” and it’s amazing what that woman has put up with. That includes the completely bizarre angle of early 2001 where Linda seemed to suffer a stroke and was put in a wheelchair. Vince soon took up with Trish Stratus and the sight of him making out with the hotter young woman in front of his “comatose” wife was more than slightly disturbing.
13 Anything with Judy Bagwell
12 Hawk’s Fall
The Road Warriors were regarded as one of the greatest tag teams in history but by 1998, their star power had faded quite a bit. An angle was created of Darren Droz taking the place of Hawk who was often seen stumbling to the ring and in a daze. Given Hawk’s well-known reputation for hard partying and drinking, it was a bit hard to watch. It all built to the bit of Hawk atop the titantron, a drunk mess as Animal and Paul Ellering tried to talk him down and Droz went up to get him.
11 Heidenreich and Michael Cole
10 Orlando Jordan
A talented worker, Jordan was becoming a big deal in 2010 after coming out as bisexual, a pretty bold move for a wrestler. So leave it to TNA to mess it up as badly as possible. Rather than try to push Jordan as a brave man being himself, TNA had him come out wrapped up in yellow tape, often wearing a mask and squeezing lotion on himself to rub over.
9 Tim White
On the “OMG” DVD, various wrestlers openly ask “who the HELL thought this up?!” In 2005, veteran referee Tim White was shown at a bar, drinking his sorrows over an injury ending his career. After talking of things being over, White was shown getting a shotgun out and a gunshot heard off-screen. Naturally, the idea of suicide was rough for any time but especially coming so soon after the death of Eddie Guerrero. It was revealed White had just shot himself in the foot and (for who knows what reason), WWE turned it into a regular online video of White trying to off himself in various ways but failing, nicknamed “Lunchtime Suicide.”
8 Vince vs. Stephanie
You really have to wonder about Vince McMahon’s issues. To finish off a big feud he was having on camera with Stephanie, Vince challenged her to an “I Quit” match on PPV. This was coming just days before Stephanie’s real wedding to Hunter and Linda warning Vince “if she has a black eye for her wedding, so help me…” Fans can put up with a lot but seeing a father and daughter fighting in the ring is something else and it just came off badly, not heat on Vince and leaving you amazed at how the man operates. Well, at least they never went through with the proposed incest storyline when Stephanie got pregnant.
6 Vince vs. God
Like so many other things involving Vince McMahon on this list, practically everyone notes how much in poor taste this was but Vince insists it was a great thing. As he and Shane feuded with Shawn Michaels in 2006, they brought up Shawn’s new faith in God, leading to a bit of Vince challenging Shawn to partner with the Almighty against the McMahons.
5 Billy & Chuck
It’s not pretty but it has to be said: There is a serious air of homophobia in wrestling, as there is in all other sports. Wrestling has played with it from time to time to varying degrees but the Billy & Chuck angle of 2002 had to be the worst. After teasing it for a while, the two were ready to have a full “commitment ceremony” in the ring and while their antics weren’t as overt as they could have been, it was still a bit much for fans to accept.
4 Heroes of Wrestling
3 Fritz Von Erich’s “Heart Attack”
The tragedies of the Von Erichs are well documented. By 1988, David and Mike were dead and Kerry was still recovering from a nasty motorcycle accident. Some have criticized Fritz for turning too much of a blind eye to his family’s problems and even promoting the big legacy of loss up for fans. Nowhere was that more evident than in 1988 when the “New Freebirds” that included Iceman Parsons and others got into a brawl with Kerry and Kevin in a cage match and Fritz entered the fray.
2 Katie Vick
A telling bit on the 2006 “McMahon” DVD has just about everyone (HHH, Shane, Stephanie, Linda, Jim Ross etc...) talk of how this was one of the single most tasteless, horrible things imaginable…and Vince insists it was funny as hell. It’s one of the most infamous bits ever as HHH made up a story of Kane “murdering” his girlfriend, Katie Vick and then doing a bit attacking a dummy in a coffin complete with “I screwed your brains out!”
1 The Sandman Crucified
ECW was always known for pushing the limit, it’s how they became famous. It fit Philadelphia, a city well known for the most brutal and hostile fans in all of sports. But this was one time even that audience was rocked by what they saw. As part of a brutal feud between the Sandman and Raven for the ECW title, Sandman was attacked by Raven, Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie who beat him down. They then brought a wooden cross from under the ring, tying the Sandman to it with barbed wire wrapped around his head, leaning him against the ring in a clear crucifixion pose.
For once, the ECW Arena wasn’t filled with wild cheering or booing. Just silence as even the most jaded fan was taken aback by this sight. Paul Heyman realized how bad this was and ordered Raven to go out and break character to apologize for anyone being offended. Raven and Sandman have both claimed fans took it too harshly but clearly both misread how it would be perceived. It hurt ECW as Kurt Angle was backstage at the event, talking about joining but seeing the moment drove him away. It’s the most famous example of ECW going too “extreme” for its own good.
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