The WWE is a company just like any other company. It is in business to be successful and make a profit. In order for that to happen, the people running that company have to do whatever is necessary to entertain its fans, to keep them interested, and most importantly, to keep them coming back for more. Very often that means thinking outside the box and trying new things.
This can lead to fans being treated to an array of special moments, from never before done matches and first title wins to amazing high spots, great interviews and killer promos. The sight of Mick Foley (Mankind) winning his very first WWE Championship is a memory I will always carry with me. Stars like Ric Flair, Edge and Shawn Michaels saying goodbye to their fans one last time before retiring has brought tears to more than a few eyes. And who can forget CM Punk’s infamous pipe bomb on RAW?
Those are just a few of the long lasting memories that come with being a fan of the WWE. But unfortunately every coin has a flip side. For all of the highs, for all of the ups, there has to be a few downs and a few lows. When a company like the WWE is willing to do anything and everything they can to provide the best entertainment possible they are bound to miss the mark a few times. And not just miss the mark, but go over the line completely. From cooked pets and pregnant senior citizens to bad jokes, back stabbing and dead ex-girlfriends, they have tried it all and fans have seen it all. Whether they have wanted to or not.
Let’s take a look back at 20 WWE moments that made fans traumatized.
20 Three Minute Commitment
For some wrestling fans, and for some people in general, the idea of two men being in an intimate and loving homosexual relationship is an uncomfortable situation to deal with. Well what about one that turns out to not even be real at all? For months, the tag team of Billy and Chuck would drop not so subtle hints that they might want to be more than just partners in the ring. And finally, on the September 12, 2002 the WWE Universe was invited to the commitment ceremony of Billy and Chuck. I was watching it originally as it all unfolded and I distinctly remember thinking that there was no way this was real.
Even with the support of GLAAD behind them and all of the publicity the episode was getting, it just seemed to have what I called “The Mark of McMahon” all over it. And in the end I was right. Both men would admit at the last minute that it was all a stunt, only to be blind-sided and beaten down by Eric Bischoff and his two heavy henchmen. It might not have been uncomfortable for everyone, but it was definitely strange. And probably not needed.
19 Mae Day
Mae Young was a true pioneer in the wrestling industry. She was also involved in some truly weird story lines and some truly odd moments in the WWE in her later years. In 2000 at the Royal Rumble at the tender young age of 77, Mae was entered into the Miss Royal Rumble Swimsuit Competition. I have no idea why, other than to assume that the thought of it made Vince McMahon laugh. Anyway, the ring was filled with The Kat, B.B., Jacqueline, Luna, Ivory, Terri Runnels….and late entrant Mae Young.
Much to the dismay of the contest’s host Jerry “The King” Lawler, Mae made the most of her moment, parading around the ring in her one piece bathing suit. She even pulled down the top half at one point to flash the judges and the crowd. If that isn’t enough to make everybody involved uncomfortable, then I don’t know what it is. A key word used by The King throughout the Attitude Era, was “puppies.” Well on this night it was Mae Young who had a chance to let the dogs out.
18 Wounded Warrior
One of my favorite tag teams and quite possibly the most devastating tag team of all time without a doubt has always been the Road Warriors. Known as the Legion of Doom in the WWE, these two monsters looked like bodybuilders but moved like athletes. Hawk and Animal wore face paint, spiked shoulder pads and left destruction in their wake. And in the days before everyone had their own theme music, they stormed to the ring accompanied by Black Sabbath’s Iron Man. Needless to say I was sold on these guys from day one. It still pains me to think of what the WWE did to them in their last go-round with the company.
We all know that Vince McMahon has never had a problem turning a wrestler’s real life issues or “personal demons” into a story line. Well someone thought it would be a good idea to take Hawk’s struggles with drugs and alcohol and add that to his on-screen character. He was said to have missed matches and would show up “under the influence” in the ring. Of course the logical next step is that he begins having suicidal tendencies and finally climbs to the top of the Titantron to kill himself. Now this was all done as part of a more detailed story. But ya know what? I’m not going to bother explaining it. Because it doesn’t matter. The whole thing was in extremely poor taste no matter how you slice it.
17 Dude Looks Like a Lady
I have always said that I am a fan of the women’s division in professional wrestling. So when they announced a special battle royal for WrestleMania XXV that brought together current superstars with divas from the past, I have to say I was pretty excited. No Trish Stratus and no Lita. But hey, there were still 25 divas in the ring. Not to mention Candace Michelle at ringside with of course, Mae Young. Not a bad match either. You have to love Battle Royals no matter who is in them. However, this one featured a diva that fans didn’t quite recognize right away. Or maybe they just didn’t want to. Well “she” would go on to win the match and be crowned “Miss WrestleMania, unfortunately. It took about two seconds to figure out that Santina was just Santino Marella in drag. Can someone please explain to me the reasoning behind having a man sneak into a women’s battle royal and win it? In my opinion it was more than just uncomfortable. It took a special moment away from all 25 competitors and made the women’s division in general look weak and silly. The powers that be must have figured that out too, because luckily for us Santina was gone almost as quickly as she showed up.
16 A Dog Eat Dog World
Nothing screams uncomfortable in modern society like cruelty to an animal. Unfortunately for the writers in the WWE, the same rules never seem to apply. In fact, sometimes it’s the things that are accepted the least that the company will embrace the most. Go figure. So I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise when Al Snow’s beloved chihuahua Pepper became a delicious little part of his feud with the Big Bossman. After dognapping Pepper during a Hardcore title match, The Bossman announced on RAW that he would return the dog if Al would agree to meet him in his hotel room a few days later on SmackDown.
After treating him to a nice sit down meal and just before a hardcore sized beatdown, Bossman revealed that the founding father of the JOB squad was actually eating Pepper. Now did anyone really believe that The Big Bossman actually killed, cooked and fed Al Snow his own dog? Of course not. At least I hope they didn’t. But boy did those two men (and Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler on commentary) go to some great lengths to pretend it happened. And that was enough for me.
15 Screw You
While doing some research for this article it dawned on me how awkward and uncomfortable things can get when real life finds its way into a WWE program. Without a doubt, Shawn Michaels and Bret “The Hitman” Hart will go down as one of the great rivalries in WWE history. A big part of that is probably because the tension fans felt on screen and the hatred these two men had for each other at the time was very very real. Bret won the WWE title from The Undertaker at SummerSlam in August of 1997. Just a week before “The Hitman” was set to face Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam in Montreal, he signed a contract to leave the company and go and wrestle for WCW. Vince McMahon didn’t want Bret to depart to his biggest rival as champion, but Bret refused to drop the title in his home country to someone he despised so much. During the match, Michaels would lock Hart into his own signature move, The Sharpshooter. On orders directly from Vince McMahon at ringside, referee Earl Hebner called for the bell, declared Shawn the winner and awarded him the championship. The only problem is that Bret never gave up.
The obvious “screw job” would lead to Bret spitting in his boss’s face, making the WCW symbol to the camera in the middle of the ring, a backstage altercation, and the Hitman leaving the company on some seriously bad terms. A pretty disrespectful sendoff for one of WWE’s most loyal, popular and longest tenured employees.
14 Daddy Issues
Question….what’s more uncomfortable that a 50-something year old man throwing himself at a young woman half his age on television? How about having that man dressed up as the girl’s father while he’s doing it! Yep, in case you missed it. That happened on the Halloween episode of SmackDown back in 2002. Stephanie, looking great in her witch costume I might add, walked into her office only to find “her father” there waiting for her. The Vince mask would come off to show that it was Eric Bischoff, who would shock Stephanie and everyone watching by planting a long, hard kiss on the Billion Dollar Princess.
Two things have always come off as strange to me about this segment. One, is that it was completely unnecessary. It came out of the blue and didn’t set up a feud, a match or even and interview. Seemed like they did it just to do it. The second thing that is weird about this whole set up? It was directed by none other than Vince McMahon himself.
13 Bad Kharma
I might be in the minority here, but I have always been a fan of women’s wrestling. What can I say? It’s the truth. Well a few years back I was watching TNA Wrestling and I was introduced to a monstrous female known as Awesome Kong. The nearly 6 foot, close to 300 pound African American wrecking machine was pretty impressive to watch. And I remember wondering how cool it would be if the WWE was to sign her one day. Well that day actually did come. Unfortunately, this was one of those cases where the fantasy for me was way better than the reality. Changing her name to Kharma, she came out for a few weeks to attack and lay out every diva that she could get her hands on.
Then one night on Monday Night RAW during a tag match with eight divas in the ring, Kharma’s music hit out of nowhere. The divas gathered together, looking pretty nervous while Kharma stalked to the ring like she had done many times before. Only this time without any warning or explanation, she burst into tears, dropped to her knees and was eventually left there alone. It would be explained later that she was crying because she found out she was pregnant. But that didn’t make the initial segment any less strange when it happened.
12 A Little One-Sided
I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone to hear me say that sometimes the WWE can go just a little too far. Surprised? Anyone? But sometimes, just sometimes, they can go even farther than that. In 2003 the company signed a trained young wrestler named Zach Gowen. What made this young man’s journey so special, aside from being a cancer survivor, is that he only had one leg. At the same time, the WWE wanted to show us all a more vicious, more dangerous side of Brock Lesnar. So it made perfect sense for “The Next Big Thing” to beat down the much smaller, hugely disadvantaged Gowen in a match on SmackDown. But this wasn’t any old kind of a beat down. Once the match was over, Brock would go on to deliver chair shots and not one, but two F5s into the ring post.
And did I mention that Gowen’s mother was sitting just a few feet away while all this was going on? A bloodied, broken Zach Gowen was taken out on a stretcher and Brock looked like a monster bully. But still, savagely beating the hell out of a one legged kid who you probably have 150 pounds on? I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t exactly impressed.
11 Brian’s Got a Gun
In their WCW days, “Stunning” Steve Austin and “Flyin” Brian Pillman were a successful tag team known as the Hollywood Blondes. But in 1996 as Stunning Steve was making the transition to Stone Cold, he and his former partner became pretty bitter rivals. On an episode of RAW, Austin would fire the first shot by attacking Pillman during an interview in the ring, breaking his already injured ankle. One week later, The Texas Rattlesnake would strike again. This time at the home of Brian Pillman and his wife in the middle of an interview with Kevin Kelly. During the interview Pillman was asked Austin made him feel like a prisoner in his own home.
Pillman’s response was to show a gun to the camera, laugh and scream “when Austin 3:16 meets Pillman 9 millimeter, I’m gonna blow his sorry ass to hell!” In case you were wondering, Austin did show up, breaking through the front door. Pillman held the gun on him, shaking while crew members yelled and Pillman’s wife screamed and cried in the background. In the end no shots were fired and nothing came of the segment one way or the other. In the days before the Attitude Era I guess this was a way for Vince to think outside the box and try something new and exciting. Although threatening to shoot someone in your living room might not exactly be the best message to send to people watching at home.
10 Totally Shocking
Okay, you really have to give it up to Shane McMahon. He was born into a wealthy family. He was probably given everything he could have ever wanted while he was growing up. I’m sure he could have also asked his dad for some nice, easy, cushy office job when he was ready to enter the work force. But that just wouldn’t be Shane-o-Mac. Thankfully, Vince’s male heir likes the spotlight as much as the rest of his family. Because of that he’s given us a lot of memorable moments. From jumping off the Titantron to going coast to coast in the ring, to leaping off the top of Hell in a Cell against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32.
One of Shane’s most “electrifying” moments came during a feud with Kane in 2003. The Devil’s Favorite Demon would attack Shane from behind, throwing him out of the ring. After a shot to the head with the ring steps, Shane was handcuffed to the ring post and sprayed with water. Then Kane would take a car battery out from under the ring, along with a set of jumper cables. One side got clamped to the battery. The other side were clamped directly to….Shane’s testicles! Shane did his best to sell it until RVD made the save. You could totally tell it wasn’t really happening. But come on…electrocuting someone’s family jewels? That’s enough to make ANY guy uncomfortable!
9 Lend Me a Hand
Think it doesn’t get any weirder than tuning into Monday Night RAW and seeing World’s Strongest Man Mark Henry in bed with 70-something wrestling legend Mae Young? If you said no to that, then just wait, there’s plenty more where that came from. There are a lot of moments worth remembering during the Attitude Era. There are also a lot of moments worth forgetting. The relationship between “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry and WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young is definitely worth forgetting. The culmination of this romantic relationship came when not only does Mae get to announce that she’s pregnant, but she gives birth….on RAW…..to….a hand?
It was pretty weird, more than a little disgusting and made absolutely no sense to me. I was watching it when it happened originally and couldn’t figure out what in the world they were doing. Or more importantly, WHY they were doing it. Well I can honestly say that over a decade and a half later, I still don’t have a clue.
8 Rated X Superstars
Edge was the first person to win and cash in the Money in the Bank contract. The Rated R Superstar would cash it in on a tired, beaten John Cena, who had just survived five other superstars to retain his title in the Elimination Chamber. In true WWE fashion, the new champ announced that he would celebrate his first title win by having sex in the middle of the ring! So the next night on RAW, Edge and his then girlfriend Lita closed out the show with an actual bed in the middle of the ring. The two would undress each other and climb under the covers together while the music and low lights set the mood even more.
Viewers, many of whom were kids by the way, were treated to a few uncomfortable minutes of movement under the sheets. Finally Ric Flair would come out to put a stop to things, followed by John Cena, who would deliver an Attitude Adjustment to a half naked Lita. Talk about Coitus Interruptus.
7 Chop in the Name of Love
“I choppy choppy your pee pee!” Quite possibly the most ridiculous words ever spoken in WWE. If there is one thing I have learned from being a nearly life-long fan of the WWE machine, it is that Vince and co. have never had a problem with stereotyping. In fact, sometimes they seem to thrive on it. So back in 1998 it made perfect sense that the company would have a Japanese team called Kaientai, complete with a manager that spoke broken English, named Yamaguchi-San. And since it was the Attitude Era, there was also Val Venis, a mid-card wrestler with a porn star gimmick.
These two forces were on a collision course when it was revealed that “The Big Valboski” had slept with Yamaguchi-San’s wife. Guys everywhere slammed their knees together when the manager came out during a Val Venis match to make his threat clear by chopping a salami in half with a samurai sword. Not long after, Val was kidnapped, strung up in the locker room, and Yamaguchi-San brought his sword down just as Monday Night RAW went off the air. Of course Val was fine the next week and business moved on as usual. But still…ouch!
Raise your hand if you remember Heidenreich. Don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. Most people don’t. At 6-foot-8 and 305 pounds he was impressive to look at, and exactly the kind of specimen that Vince McMahon loved. He was given more than one chance to make an impression in the company. One of those chances came in the fall of 2004, when the big man returned as a heel alongside Paul Heyman. His new gimmick portrayed him as a psychopath, complete with some really bad poetry. If that isn’t bad enough, things went a click higher on the creepy-meter when he kidnapped Michael Cole during an episode of SmackDown and dragged him into one of the arena bathrooms to terrorize him.
Whether you know it isn’t real or not, the image of a scared to death Michael Cole pressed up against the wall, with Heidenreich pressed into his back, whispering in his ear that he is going to give him what he knows he wants, is an image that I still can’t get out of my head to this very day.
5 Mr. Sensitivity
“If you’re really sorry, then why don’t you prove to me just how sorry you are.” Those were the words spoken by Vince McMahon to Trish Stratus as she stood in the ring begging for his forgiveness on an episode of Monday Night RAW. Across the decades, Vince and company have certainly had their fair share of moments where they didn’t hesitate to be degrading to women in front of the entire WWE universe. In my opinion, this night didn’t just cross the line….it erased it. While Trish stood in the ring begging, pleading and crying, Vince would proceed to first make the Hall of Famer get down on all fours and walk around the ring like a dog. Then, he wanted to hear her apology in “dog language,” so he made her bark into the mic like one. Of course it didn’t end there. The Chairman would then have Trish stand up and strip down to her bra and panties in the middle of the ring before finally deciding that she really was sorry and had had enough.
The case has been made over the years that whenever something is done to a female talent in the WWE, eventually she gets her revenge and the person doing the degrading gets what is coming to him or her. That might be the case, but this time I felt like any redemption for Trish would be too little too late.
4 Father’s Day
From The Empire Strikes Back to almost every single episode of Maury Povich, discovering the real father of a child is something that has been captured on screen forever. There was something seriously disturbing about it when it happened in a WWE ring on SmackDown. To take the rivalry between Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio to another level, the story line they came up with had Eddie telling Rey and the entire WWE universe that he was the actual father to Rey’s son Dominick. Rey and his wife, with tears in their eyes, brought their son to the ring as Eddie waited with a social worker.
This interaction would lead to the two men agreeing to fight for custody of Dominick at that year’s SummerSlam. The social worker then took Dominick into foster care until after the match, as Rey and his wife cried in the ring and Eddie reassuring his “son” not to worry, because he would be going home with his “real daddy” soon. Seriously? I watched this whole thing again recently. The person I feel for the most is Dominick, for having to be stuck in such a tasteless and terrible segment in the first place.
3 Take a Seat
Some people love the Attitude Era. Some people don’t. But whether you liked it or not, it is hard to disagree that one word you can use to describe that period in wrestling history is “excessive.” Fans of all ages loved the fact that everything during the Attitude Era was over the top. Over the top action, over the top characters, over the top promos, over the top divas. Unfortunately that meant that on occasion, the violence level in the Attitude Era took things a little too far too. For my money, no match back then or even since then was more cringe-worthy than the Rock vs Mankind I Quit Match at the 1999 Royal Rumble.
This match featured Mankind, totally helpless and with his hands cuffed behind his back, taking nearly a dozen brutal chair shots to the head from the Rock. If the sight of a completely battered and bleeding Mick Foley wasn’t enough to make even the most die-hard fan uncomfortable, his wife and two crying young children were right in the front row to witness the entire thing. How many chair shots is too many? How many concussions should one performer suffer? How much blood is the right amount to get a match over? Let's hope we never find out again.
2 The Butt of the Joke
I read a quote once about wrestling commentators that said, “a good announcer can make a good match sound really good. But a great announcer can make a bad match sound great.” If that doesn’t describe Jim Ross then I don’t know what does. In fact, Good Ole’ J.R. is regarded by many to be the greatest wrestling commentator of all time. So why in the world does Vince McMahon seem to hate him so much? From his bouts with Bells Palsy to the Kiss My Ass Club and many more, Vince never seems to let an opportunity to humiliate Jim Ross pass him by.
The worst one of all came on the October 24, 2005 episode of Monday Night RAW. With JR home recovering after a legitimate real life colon surgery, Mr. McMahon saw it as another chance to poke some fun at the WWE Hall of Fame announcer. The show featured a pre-taped sketch with Vince himself in the operating room as “Dr. Heiney.” For a little over five very stupid minutes, they pulled everything out of JR’s supposed rectum from a football to a University of Oklahoma helmet to Jim Ross’ own head. JR had his head up his ass. See what they did there? Honestly, whatever Vince’s issues might have been with him Jim Ross deserved a whole lot better.
1 Katie Vick
The minute I was given the task of coming up with a list of uncomfortable WWE moments, I knew right away what would be in the number 1 spot. I have been a fan of professional wrestling/sports entertainment for more than three decades now. In that time I would like to believe I have just about seen it all. And in all that time there have been only a handful of times where I stared at my TV screen and said, “Ooooh, wow. Really? They’re doing THIS now?” At no time did I ask that question louder than during a segment that is known infamously to WWE fans as “Katie Vick.” Triple H was in a feud with Kane back at the height of his “Big Red Monster” days.
To get inside his head, the Cerebral Assassin announced that Kane had a girlfriend named Katie Vick that he killed in a car crash. To get into his head even further? Climb into a coffin in a Kane mask and simulate sex (noises and all) with a mannequin while pretending it was the corpse of your opponent’s dead girlfriend, of course? There are probably not a lot of moments in life that Vince McMahon would take back if he could. I’m guessing this would be one of them. At least it should be.