Storytelling and characters are very important in the world of WWE. It is these things that keep the WWE Universe coming back week after week to watch Raw and Smackdown, and ensure people pony up their $9.99 every month to watch events on the WWE Network. When WWE gets it right, their stories are compelling, must-watch TV. The superstars play their parts to perfection, and the audience invests themselves in the struggles of the underdog babyface going up against the domineering heel, or the badass superstar hellbent on attaining a Championship belt. The mix of in-ring psychology and athletic moves combine with the backstage segments and promos that build the rivalries, and when it all comes together perfectly, it’s a wonderful thing to behold.
But what happens when everything doesn’t come together perfectly? WWE have a huge amount of storylines in their history that were ruined for one reason or another, be it real-life events or injuries causing them to change their plans, or ill-advised character turns and motivations failing to resonate with fans. On occasion, they’ve also told stories so unbelievably stupid and poorly formed that it’s baffling that they managed to be aired on television at all.
So, read on and find out which 15 storylines were so terrible that the superstars involved regretted taking part in them!
15. Mideon In All His Glory – 2000
Dennis Knight wrestled for the WWF from 1996 to 2001, performing under a range of different personas. However, he is most likely to be remember for his (brief) time as ‘Naked Mideon’. Allow us to explain.
When he first arrived in WWE, he was one half of a tag team: The Godwinns, two hillbilly pig farmers from Arkansas. Who were also professional wrestlers, of course. Anyway, Knight was Phineas I. Godwinn, and he had considerable success with his ‘cousin’ Henry, as they won the Tag Team Championships twice. However, after Henry (real name Mark Canterbury) suffered a bad neck injury and was forced to retire, Knight required a new gimmick.
Thusly, he was kidnapped by The Undertaker, who was the leader of The Ministry Of Darkness at the time, an awesome Satanic heel stable. They brainwashed him and re-christened him Mideon, which was pretty cool. But then that also ran its course in fairly quick fashion. Luckily, WWE had the Naked Mideon idea up their sleeves: he would simply show up to wrestle wearing nothing but a fanny pack, a thong and boots. Yep. This gimmick was also short-lived, and he was released from his contract soon after.
14. Rikishi Is A ‘Bad Man’ – 2000
Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock. Triple H. Mick Foley.
These men are all legends in WWE, thanks in no small part to their contributions to the business during the Attitude Era, the biggest boom period in pro-wrestling history. One of the most famous storylines of this era was the ‘who ran over Stone Cold?’ mystery. At Survivor Series in 1999, Austin was hit by a speeding car backstage (writing him off TV in order to have neck surgery that required a nine-month recovery time). When Austin finally returned, fans were excited to find out which villainous superstar was behind the vicious and cowardly assault on Austin.
Imagine everyone’s dismay when it was revealed to be Rikishi Phatu, the chunky dancing Samoan who used a move named the ‘Stinkface’ (which involved rubbing his massive posterior in the face of his opponents). Rikishi had always been a popular mid-card act, but he was vastly out of his depth amongst the likes of Austin etc. His heel turn and big push up the card to main event status was baffling from the get-go. Fans struggled to accept it, and Rikishi’s ‘Bad Man’ persona lasted a measly three months before he was bumped down the pecking order again.
13. Matt Hardy’s Heel Turn Against Brother Jeff – 2009
Matt Hardy is currently one of the most entertaining and innovative superstars in all of wrestling. His ‘Broken Matt’ persona in TNA has been a revelation: a knowingly ludicrous, wildly over-the-top and gut-bustingly silly character, it has brought him his biggest success since his days in WWE. It’s all a far cry from the lamentable heel turn he executed against his brother Jeff on Smackdown in 2009.
The idea behind this feud was solid: Matt was angry at Jeff, his reckless and self-indulgent screw-up brother who somehow had always attained greater success and was more popular than him. However, even with this deep well of real-life and storyline enmity to use, the feud was preposterous. Jeff was unable to sell any sort of believable emotion, and Matt was forced into delivering increasingly ridiculous promos. The worst of which was when Matt indicated he was responsible for the (real) house fire that took the life of Jeff’s (real) dog Jack. He even had Jack’s collar that he said he salvaged from the wreckage of the house. No fan believed for a second that Matt would do anything like this to Jeff, and using the dog’s death for storyline fodder was deemed in poor taste.
12. Edge Kidnaps Paul Bearer – 2010
The storyline ‘father’ of The Undertaker and Kane, Paul Bearer was a ghoulish and vastly over-the-top persona who was always entertaining. His helium-voiced, wild eyed delivery has gone down in legend, and the industry was saddened whenever the real man, William Moody, died in 2013.
One of his later appearances in WWE was in 2010, when Kane was feuding with Edge over the World Heavyweight Championship. Edge was the babyface in this story, which definitely made it peculiar when he kidnapped Bearer and held him captive, torturing and degrading him. For weeks. Seriously.
He threw dodgeballs at the old man and force-fed him pizza. He then used a dummy of Bearer to trick Kane into thinking he’d straight-up murdered his dad: running over the dummy with his car and throwing it down a flight of stairs. This made Kane so insane with worry that when he saw a dummy placed on top of two ladders, near a balcony, he pushed it over in a rage. He was then horrified to discover it was the real Bearer, and he had fallen to the concrete floor below. Presumably, you know… to his death. That mischievous Edge sure was a character!
11. Vince McMahon’s Illegitimate Son – 2007
This storyline had one of the most regrettable endings in WWE history. So much so that the company has swept it completely under the rug in the years since.
In August 2007, it was revealed that a paternity suit was pending against Mr McMahon, the WWE’s Chairman Of The Board and biggest on-screen villain of the Attitude Era. Apparently he had an illegitimate long-lost child, who fans later learned was a male member of the WWE roster! Gasp! Who could it be? Whoever it was was certainly going to experience a big boost in their career, as this was a plum role in the company’s biggest ongoing storyline. Most fans believed the sensible option was Mr. Kennedy, a young hotshot superstar on the rise, who had long been rumoured for a major push.
But it was Hornswoggle. The leprechaun that lived under the ring. Ha! WWE sure swerved us there! Mr. Kennedy was then released from his contract less than a year later, which was a regrettable end to the WWE tenure of someone who had all the potential in the world. All in all, this was a bit of a shambles.
10. The Undertaker ‘Dies’ And Ascends To The Ceiling – 1994
The Undertaker is, obviously, one of the most legendary figures in pro-wrestling history. The man has been a mainstay in WWE for nearly three decades, and it’s hard to imagine the wrestling landscape without him. However, that isn’t to say that he hasn’t been involved in his fair share of questionable stories.
At the 1994 Royal Rumble PPV, Taker was facing the mighty Yokozuna in a Casket Match for the WWE Championship. The match was fairly controversial, given that it involved a huge amount of interference and storytelling shenanigans in order for big Yoko to pick up the win. A total of nine (yes, nine) other heel wrestlers got involved and helped Yoko shove Taker inside the Casket and shut the lid. And then things got really weird.
Smoke began to billow from the casket and Undertaker appeared on the TitanTron screen, vowing to return. Then the casket exploded (on the big screen, though not actually in the arena) and someone resembling Taker was shown ascending to the ceiling of the Civic Center. Then the PPV continued with the Royal Rumble match, even though an undead wrestler ‘died’ and ascended to the heavens.
9. Hulk Hogan Feuds With A Fictional Character – 1989
This storyline was all sorts of bonkers.
We’ll have to start with a disclaimer, though. We recognize that Hulk Hogan himself is a fictional character, portrayed in pro-wrestling by Terry Bollea. But, there’s a difference between the amped-up persona a wrestler portrays on TV and a fictional character from a movie, right? So when Zeus, the bad guy from Hogan’s 1989 dud No Holds Barred, began a feud with Hulk in WWE, fans were understandably bemused.
For one thing, Hogan wasn’t playing Hulk Hogan in the movie; rather, he was a character named Rip Thomas. So, why would Zeus, Thomas’ arch-nemesis, come out of the movie world to wrestle Hulk Hogan, not Rip Thomas? And why did WWE think this was in any way a good idea considering Tiny Lister, the actor who portrayed Zeus, was not a trained wrestler?
8. Stone Cold Turns Heel At WrestleMania 17 – 2001
Stone Cold Steve Austin himself calls the decision to turn his character heel in the main event of WrestleMania X-Seven the ‘worst call he’s ever made’. At the end of his match with The Rock for the WWE Championship, Austin took a steel chair (handed to him by his nemesis Mr. McMahon) and struck his opponent sixteen times with it. He then celebrated winning the title by sharing beers with McMahon, while the crowd looking on is disgust and shock.
Austin admitted that the idea was his own, as he felt that it would be a huge moment for WrestleMania and thought that he could draw huge money to the business as a heel. Unfortunately, he came to see that the WWE fanbase simply didn’t want to hate him at that time. He was too popular as the company’s lead babyface, and was making everyone incredible amounts of money in the process. It just wasn’t the right time to turn the character, and in hindsight, was a pretty awful idea. Fans wanted the beer-swilling, anti-authority Stone Cold who raised hell; not the whiny, temperamental prima donna he became as a heel.
7. Big Show’s Father’s Funeral Is Crashed By Big Boss Man – 1999
The Attitude Era was the largest boom period in pro-wrestling history, as previously mentioned. The storylines during this period took no prisoners; they were edgy, violent and the writers pushed the envelope as much as they could, all in the name of ratings. Of course, given this environment, occasionally some things were going to be put on TV that really shouldn’t have been. The Attitude Era was therefore home to some of the most tasteless, uncomfortable stories ever seen in wrestling, and the Big Boss Man gatecrashing the funeral of Big Show’s father was one of them.
The feud started when word got out that Big Show’s father had terminal cancer (though, in reality, Show’s father had died years before). Bossman then had one of his crooked police colleagues tell Show his father had died, and then they mocked his tearful reaction. Then whenever the ‘funeral’ was held, Bossman invaded, using a chain tied to the back of the Blues Brothers Bluesmobile (!) to tow the coffin away… with a grief-stricken Big Show clinging on to it for dear life.
6. Val Venis Loses His ‘Pee-Pee’ – 1998
During the Attitude Era, it was obvious that sex sold. The amount of scantily clad divas on-screen at all times was obvious, and several of the wrestlers had suggestive gimmicks as well. There was The Godfather, who was a pimp and came to the ring with a bevy of ‘ho’s’. Then there was Val Venis, a porn star character who was introduced in 1998 alongside real-life adult actress Jenna Jameson. None of this would fly in WWE’s current PG-Era, of course and Venis’ introductory storyline might have taken things a step too far.
Venis immediately began a feud with Kaientai, a group of Japanese wrestlers. Venis had an affair with Shian-Li Tsang, the on-screen wife of the leader of the group, Yamaguchi-San. This led to Kaientai kidnapping Venis and tying him up backstage, where they threatened to ‘choppee choppee’ his ‘pee-pee’ with a samurai sword. Yep. They even succeeded! Luckily, Venis was fine the next week, saying he was saved by ‘a little shrinkage’ and help from his pal, John Wayne Bobbitt. Yes, the guy whose penis was cut off by his wife in 1993.
5. Shawn Michaels Tag Teams With God – 2006
WWE have offended most of the world at some point in their history with some of their more incendiary storylines and characters. But one of our favourites has to be whenever Vince McMahon took aim at the biggest babyface of them all: Our Lord and Saviour, God.
Yes, this actually happened.
This crazy storyline involved Shawn Michaels feuding with Vince and his son Shane, all while also trying to fend off the Spirit Squad, a group of five male cheerleaders who kept interfering on behalf of the McMahon’s. This is weird in and of itself. But then Vince said that Shawn’s victory at WrestleMania 22 was an ‘act of God’, and so booked a match at the Backlash PPV pitting Vince and Shane against Shawn and his tag team partner: God. Who even had a spotlight and entrance of his own in the match. This… this was definitely even weirder.
Shawn, who was well-known as a born-again Christian at this point, has since said that he wasn’t offended by the story, as it was so absurd and over-the-top. But he did understand why it would have upset some more purist Christians, and he took some flak from people in his faith who believed he shouldn’t have agreed to the angle.
4. Vince McMahon’s ‘Death’ – 2007
This particular storyline was cut short almost immediately by a real-life tragedy, and consequently is seen as something of a black eye for WWE.
At the One Night Stand PPV in 2007, Vince lost his ECW Title to Bobby Lashley and he quickly spiralled into depression, babbling incoherently while looking completely despondent. Then, on an episode of Raw dubbed ‘Vince McMahon Appreciation Night’, current and former stars all gave their (negative) opinions on the man. At the end of the show, a saddened Vince walked to his limousine… which promptly exploded into flames, with Vince inside! WWE then played the angle like it was 100% legit, and some of their business partners even phoned to offer their condolences. The stock price of the company even dropped!
Then the unthinkable happened. Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son, before committing suicide, and the wrestling world went into a tailspin. Suddenly, having wrestlers and announcers act like Vince was really dead, delivering heartfelt speeches about the ‘tremendous loss’, felt in extremely poor taste. The angle was dropped completely, with the storyline explanation that Vince had faked his death to see if fans and his family still loved him.
3. The Brawl-For-All – 1998
The Brawl For All was a shootfighting tournament held in WWE in the summer of 1998. The idea was for 16 mid-card wrestlers to go up against each other in legitimate fights, and the winner would be crowned the ultimate tough guy in WWE.
Participation in the tournament was strictly voluntary, but lots of wrestlers saw this as their way to prove how genuinely tough they were. They weren’t simply sports entertainers, you see! Vince Russo, the lead writer of Raw at the time, said he devised the tournament after hearing Bradshaw say he could beat anyone on the roster in a barfight.
Naturally, six of the guys involved sustained legit injuries, and Steve Williams (WWE’s pick to win the whole thing) had his credibility destroyed after he injured his hamstring and was knocked out by Bart Gunn, a lower card wrestler from a failed tag team. Fans were bored by the matches, as they enjoyed the showmanship of pro-wrestling rather than the brutality of real fighting. Jim Cornette has described the whole debacle as ‘the stupidest thing the WWE’ ever did, and there are many who agree with him.
2. Muhammad Hassan Terrorist Storyline – 2005
This storyline was so regrettable that it led to the early retirement of the wrestler involved, a man who was being groomed as a future World Champion before everything went wrong.
Marc Copani portrayed Mohammad Hassan, an Arab-American character who complained about the anti-Arab prejudice he experienced in America after 9/11. You can already see that this character was always going to be a lightning rod less than 4 years after that awful event. WWE then went too far with the character. On an episode of Smackdown, Hassan prayed and summoned five men clad in black ski masks who beat and choked The Undertaker out with piano wire. The men then carried Daivari, Hassan’s manager, up the entrance ramp above their heads, the religious imagery obvious.
Three days later, the London bombings took place and UPN, the network that aired Smackdown, pressured WWE to take Hassan off TV after the angle attracted national attention in the New York Post and Variety. Hassan and Daivari were both sent back to developmental to alter their gimmicks, but Hassan ended up being released from his contract. He quickly announced his complete retirement from wrestling, which was a sad end to a once promising career.
1. Katie Vick – 2002
This name is likely to send chills up the spine of anyone involved in the lamentable storyline between Triple H and Kane that aired on Raw in 2002. It was a story that was mind-bogglingly dark and yet also absurd. Necrophilia really is a subject that shouldn’t be brought up in a pro-wrestling setting, people. The crazy thing was that it took the negative reaction to this story for WWE to realize that!
It all started when Triple H accused Kane (who we previously believed was some sort of human monster burned beyond all recognition) of murdering his high-school girlfriend, Katie Vick. So, Kane had a normal teenage experience now? Eh? Anyway, Kane then explained that Katie died when they were involved in a car crash, caused by their heavy drinking that night. Yuck.
Then it got worse. The next week, a video was shown of Triple H (dressed as Kane) at Katie’s funeral. Alarmingly, he actually climbed into the casket with the dummy of Katie… and proceeded to simulate sex with it. The commentators were dumbfounded, and everyone watching got very uncomfortable, very quickly. The storyline was then quickly dropped a few weeks later.