You may remember that last year, yours truly composed an article listing the top 10 most surreal moments in wrestling. Well, it was hard to limit it to just 10 so I figured a sequel article needed to be written. Wrestling in general is a scummy business, there’s no bones about it so the amount of shameful moments are endless. Here are 10 more unfortunate incidents taking place in World Wrestling Entertainment, World Championship Wrestling, and Extreme Championship Wrestling.
One of the most promising athletes to ever enter pro wrestling was none other than Scott Hall whose personal demons helped stunt his success. Hall has a longstanding history with substance abuse; most famous being his numerous bouts with alcohol. With his problems escalating in the late 90s, what do the folks in charge of WCW make him do? Drink on-camera during his matches.
Hall would often stroll to the ring with a nice brewski in his hand and sip away. He would even take breaks mid-match for some liquid courage. He’d also slur his words when trying to deliver live interviews and in one instance, even vomited outside the ring. What type of message was this sending? Were we supposed to feel bad for Hall for only being able to get through competition with the help of alcohol or were we supposed to laugh at him for being a helpless boozer? The whole charade was in poor taste and did nothing but help send Hall into a downward spiral that cost him several jobs in numerous companies, some friends, and even relationships within his family not to mention worsening his health. It wasn’t until Diamond Dallas Page took him under his wing with his life-changing DDP Yoga, that he was finally able to straighten out his life.
The hardcore, anti-establishment that was ECW was never known to be politically correct. One of the company’s hottest feuds was between Raven, a brooding, grungy outcast and Sandman, a beer drinking, cane swinging maniac. During their rivalry, Raven was able to turn Sandman’s wife, Lori and his young son, Tyler against him. Tyler denounced his father and started dressing like Raven in an act of defiance. To push the envelope even further, a mock crucifixion took place with Raven and his flock tying a bloodied Sandman to a huge wooden cross using barbed wire. The company received a ton of backlash from the angle which led to a public apology by Raven. Owner Paul Heyman would plead ignorance and claim he didn’t know the storyline was going to go to this far. If you thought this would be the last time religion and wrestling would mix, then you’d be wrong. As I mentioned in my last article, Undertaker would “crucify” Steve Austin in 1998 in a much more goofier fashion.
Fun fact: This incident actually happened on the same night as Kurt Angle’s pro wrestling debut. Angle, fresh off his Olympic gold medal win, was invited to the show by fellow Pittsburgh resident, Shane Douglas and took place in an in-ring confrontation with the Human Suplex Machine, Taz. However, Angle threatened to sue the company if he appeared in the same episode as this stunt.
A staple of the early days of the Attitude Era was a late night program entitled Shotgun Saturday Night. During its formative months, the show was given a unique feel by emanating live from several hot spots around New York City. Places such as the All-Star Cafe in Times Square, Penn Station, and the Mirage nightclub (which is now popular concert venue, Terminal 5) were all chosen to host the action. In an effort to keep the shock element, a very bizarre segment aired with resident sextress, Sunny, seducing a large man dressed as Elmo. No I’m not making this up.
At the time, Tickle Me Elmo was the hottest children’s toy around but Sunny made sure to mention that this was no ordinary Elmo, no this was Tickle’s older brother, Fondle Me Elmo.
Sunny talked provocatively to this living, breathing doll, who by the way was sporting a thong, and once the lights went out, cartoony sex noises filled television sets everywhere.
The man who portrayed Elmo? None other than former goofy WWE on-air personality Todd Pettengill. The background for the skit? Why, Pettengill’s house of course. Who shot it? Pettengill’s wife!
This was the wrong kind of trashy and just made a lot of people scratch their heads. Were we supposed to find this sexy? Well one thing’s for sure, Sunny did look great that night.
On a live edition of Monday Night Raw in 2012, the commentary for the Team Hell No/Prime Time Players match abruptly stopped. For several minutes, the competitors kept wailing away at each other in total silence with only the audience’s reaction being conveyed to the home viewer. After the contest ended, a dejected Michael Cole broke character and worriedly informed viewers that Jerry Lawler, who actually competed earlier in the night, passed out at the announcer’s desk and was taken to the hospital. He prefaced his words by declaring that this was not part of the show and the situation was all too real. While Lawler was fighting for his life, updates from a visibly distraught Cole on his condition were provided all throughout the night but most still weren’t optimistic about Lawler’s survival. Right before the show drew to a close, Cole mentioned that Lawler was starting to breathe on his own and was responsive to doctors’ orders, making the masses hopeful that he was going to pull through. It was later revealed that Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack but would make a full recovery. Jerry would return to calling the action a few months later but hasn’t participated in in a WWE ring since since (though he still competes on the indy circuit).
This was definitely one of the most nerve racking moments in WWE in recent memory. After Owen Hart’s passing 13 years prior, fans just weren’t ready to accept another live demise of a WWE superstar. Me and a lot of fans were worried about Jerry’s life throughout the three hour broadcast but we’re thankful he’s still with us today.
Steve Austin, one of, if not the single biggest wrestler in history, has taken up a new hobby in recent years: podcasting. He is the host of The Steve Austin Show, a popular podcast featuring interviews with wrestlers both past and present as well as prominent figures in sports, film, and music. In an effort to up the subscribers of the WWE Network, a live edition of the show was broadcast one night following Monday Night Raw featuring none other than Austin’s greatest rival, WWE CEO himself, Vince McMahon, who rarely gives candid interviews. Over the course of the hour-plus discussion, the aging owner proved just how out of touch he is with reality and his fellow employees. He claimed that many of his wrestlers simply don’t take enough initiative to become megastars; failing to reach for the “brass ring”. He also mentioned that the last wrestler to do such a thing as John Cena. I sort of find that hard to believe when many of the company’s hottest stars like Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, and Bray Wyatt, were set-up to fail in favor of the hand chosen, Roman Reigns.
One of the more insulting points he made was claiming that internet favorite, Cesaro, wasn’t popular enough to warrant a run at the top and that he can’t connect with fans. The same Cesaro who has wowed crowds with his incredible feats of strength, had many excellent matches, was able to get a move as old school as the giant swing over again, and got a huge ovation after winning the Andre the Giant Memorial battle royal.
The entire exchange between the two pretty much summed up that today’s roster just doesn’t live up to the guys of yesteryear. Why do you think they’re constantly bringing back past performers for nostalgic runs? The real despite the fact that the booking is terrible and no one really giving a chance to advance themselves to the upper tier of the card. It was obvious that some of McMahon’s answers genuinely surprised Austin and not in a good way.
There has never been a superstar quite like the Ultimate Warrior. His iconic theme song, colorful appearance, and unmatched energy coupled with his impressive strength helped him to become one of the top dogs in the WWE in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After a falling out with Vince McMahon in the later half of the 90s, WWE proceeded to not acknowledge that he even existed. Footage featuring him was rarely used and he was never mentioned on any programs. In 2005, McMahon attempted to make peace with Jim Hellwig (Warrior) but he dismissed the gesture which led to the DVD release of the documentary, The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, a smear piece that bashes the man and his legacy. For the better part of the decade, Warrior was nothing more than a punching bag for Vince McMahon and his corporation.
Further proving that there’s no such thing in professional wrestling as a burned bridge, both parties patched things up in 2013 and Warrior was ultimately inducted into the 2014 class of the WWE Hall of Fame. Following his emotional speeches at the ceremony and the April 4th, 2014 edition of Monday Night Raw, fans noticed that this was the happiest Jim Hellwig looked in years. They also noticed that he kept clutching his chest.
Four days later on April 8th, Warrior suffered a heart attack and passed away at the age of 54. On the following edition of Raw, they held a memorial for him complete with a 10-bell salute. Just when both sides finally made peace, one lost his life. It was reported that Hellwig was in poor health during Wrestlemania weekend which is a true shame.
To me, it’s really weird hearing the company praise the guy after years of mocking him and even releasing an entire documentary (which as you can tell, was never mentioned again) trashing him. I’m glad the man got to have one last moment in the spotlight but me and many others find it a bit hypocritical how they changed their tune, when not even a decade earlier, he was high on Vince’s blacklist.
It’s not unfair to say that WWE has a particular image in mind for their female competitors. They like all their Divas to be super fit and super thin. The company also has a certain way of punishing these beautiful women once they don’t fit that particular mold. That being they get mocked on television for it. Enter Mickie James, who, by the time, the late 2000s rolled around, was one of the most prominent divas on the roster. James has always been skinny but because she gained a little weight (barely noticeable to many), WWE went out of their way to call her fat along with other awful names. The most notable incident being where the lead heel duo in the Divas division, Laycool, constructed a video photoshopping James’ face onto a pig, dubbing her Piggy James. The segment was so scarring that it caused Mickie to break down into tears in front of the live audience and to millions watching all over the world.
You would think it would stop here but years later, they did the same to former WWE Diva, Kaitlyn. The Hybrid Diva mentioned in her RF Video shoot interview that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon noticed that she had been gaining weight due to a thyroid problem and soon, that fact was used for fuel during her feud with A.J. Lee. Absolutely embarrassing for WWE to publicly shame a woman for body issues..
Like the Melanie Pillman interview, this incident rarely gets brought up when listing the most tasteless events in WWE history. Chris Kanyon was always a hard worker and one of the most underrated grapplers in WCW. Once WCW was bought by WWE in 2001, Kanyon came over in the merger and the company seemingly had big plans for him. Unfortunately, an injury sidelined the brash New Yorker and put him on the shelf for quite some time. In real life, Kanyon was a closeted homosexual and backstage reports stated that he was bullied quite often due to the fact. He became very depressed but knew that his talents would help him overcome all hurdles. Or so he thought.
After missing from television for over a year, Kanyon re-emerged during an in-ring skit featuring the Undertaker on Smackdown. He stepped out of a large, wooden box (see, he came out of the closet. Hilarious, right?) dressed like Boy George and singing the Culture Club hit “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” to an unamused Taker. The Dead Man responded by completely slaughtering the guy ending the brawl with a sickening chairshot to Kanyon’s skull as the crowd goes crazy. The whole idea was, “let’s make the queer dress up like a queer and get his ass kicked by the biggest star in the company on national TV. That’ll show him!” The act bordered on a hate crime and was hard to watch knowing what Kanyon was going through at the time. There was no excuse for this.
Kanyon would be released from WWE a year later and officially came out in 2006. Sadly, he committed suicide in 2010.
Tragedy befell WWE on November 13th, 2005 when one of its most talented WWE competitors, Eddie Guerrero, passed away at the age of 38. A series of heartfelt tributes aired and the company expressed just how much the Latino athlete meant to them. Later, In a total lack of class, WWE used Eddie’s death as a main point in several feuds. Heels would often insult him and his legacy in an effort to get a cheap reaction from crowds. Examples such as Big Show spitting on Guerrero’s trademark low rider and Randy Orton saying that Eddie wasn’t in heaven, but rotting away in hell were just some of the off-color remarks wrestlers used in a poor attempt to sell feuds. What was even harder to watch is that Eddie’s best friends, Rey Mysterio and Chris Benoit, and his nephew, Chavo Guerrero willingly took part in it. Eddie’s widow, Vickie was even hired by the company to take part in tarnishing his image and was used as nothing more than a punchline for many years before morphing into a genuine character.
Despite being dead, Eddie’s name was used for storyline purposes for well over a year after his passing including a rather stupid storyline involving Benoit and Chavo battling over Eddie’s estate.
An incredibly low point in WWE’s history.
Once upon a time, Chris Benoit was known to be one of the most respected and hard working wrestlers ever to step foot inside the squared circle. A man who wrestled all over the world and spent over 20 years competing before finally achieving his big break, winning the world title at Wrestlemania XX in 2004. Benoit was one of the most popular wrestlers in the company but his legacy would soon take a very dark turn. Benoit, along with his wife, Nancy, and son, Daniel were found dead in their Atlanta home on Monday, June 24th, 2007. Details surrounding their deaths hadn’t come into light and their bodies were discovered just hours before a live broadcast of Monday Night Raw.
At the time, there was a storyline being conducted where Vince McMahon was “killed” in a limo explosion and suspects were being narrowed down. A staged funeral featuring a casket and a pre-taped video of McMahon reading his will were set to take place that evening. When news of the Benoit incident broke, the storyline was dropped and the live three-hour edition of Raw was ultimately cancelled. The program instead opened with McMahon, alive and well, inside an empty arena admitting that his storyline was fake but the death of the Benoit family was real. Throughout the night, wrestlers shared fond memories of the veteran and several of his classic matches aired.
24 hours later, everything changed.
News broke out that Chris Benoit actually murdered his wife and son before taking his own life. WWE panicked as they had just aired a tribute to his memory a day earlier. They were heavily criticized for celebrating his life when they really had no idea. Later that night, during the company’s ECW program, McMahon opened the show referencing the story and ensured audiences that Benoit would never be mentioned during WWE programming again.
Benoit was then seemingly erased from wrestling history altogether. His name, accomplishments, and matches are never acknowledged and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. His history is generally glossed over and it wasn’t until the WWE Network’s launch last year that people were able to view his matches again. How keen are WWE in making sure no one knows who Chris Benoit is? Well, presentations on WWE Network are often broken up into chapters, usually by matches. No one is allowed to skip straight to a Chris Benoit match or even search his name on the network.
That classic moment between him and Eddie Guerrero embracing each other at Wrestlemania XX is tarnished forever.