Depending on whom you ask, Christmas may well be the most wonderful time of the year. The snow falls, the family gathers around the fire, and World Wrestling Entertainment invites Santa Claus into the ring to get his butt kicked. Wait, what?
Whether it makes sense or not, Santa Claus has been making appearances in WWE since as early as 1992, and the company has been acknowledging Christmas in one way or another pretty much since Vince McMahon took the reigns from his father. That doesn’t mean it has always worked, though, and in fact it tends to bomb spectacularly far more often than it fills the world with holiday cheer. The fact is, Santa Claus, and Christmas in general, don’t really fit in with the world of sports entertainment, and every effort at pigeonholing the festivities into Raw, SmackDown, or various Pay-Per-Views make that more obvious with each passing year.
Chances are, WWE will never stop trying to ingratiate Christmas and other holidays into their programming. Generally speaking, the company will do anything to achieve mainstream acceptance, and there’s no denying Christmas and the holiday season are such a huge part of life to most people that it makes sense for wrestlers to talk about it. The sad fact is most wrestling characters don’t really lend themselves to the Christmas spirit, and attempts at forcing them together rarely works out. Most of the time, it’s better to just ignore it happened altogether. Keep reading to learn about 15 holiday themed WWE moments Vince McMahon wants you to forget.
15. Santa’s Present For Doink The Clown
The character of Doink The Clown was on a rapid downslide by November 27, 1993, when Ray Rougeau interviewed him on an episode of Superstars of Wrestling. Ray Apollo had recently taken over the role of Doink to harsh criticism, generally due to the fact he played the character as a clear-cut babyface. Explaining why the once clever evil clown concept doesn’t work when he’s supposed to be cute and fan friendly, during the interview in question, Doink invited Santa Claus to the ring so they could experience an early Christmas. Santa naturally brought a sack of toys with him and allowed Doink to dig in, allowing Doink to discover dwarf wrestler Claude Giroux inside, painted as his new sidekick. Because of an earlier ruling that Doink could no longer have imposters after turning face, he decided to name his miniature manager Dink. Dink took Doink’s clownish antics even further over-the-top, distracting from any wrestling the two were involved with and not giving particularly interesting promos while doing so. The fact Dink was a present from Santa makes the whole thing seem even dumber and more dated in retrospect, and stories like this explain the terrible reputation the once creative Doink now holds in retrospect.
14. Kurt Angle vs. Santa Claus
One of the biggest shocks of this list will probably be the fact Santa Claus was a regular performer in WWE since at least the early ‘90s, though he doesn’t have the best track record as a performer. At Armageddon 2004, Jolly Saint Nick went one on one with an Olympic Gold Medalist in Kurt Angle, and unsurprisingly the Olympian dispatched Santa in a manner of seconds. In fairness, like many of the other Santa moments on this list, the match wasn’t without some genuine pieces of comedy. The battle came out of a Kurt Angle Invitational, an open challenge Angle had been making on SmackDowns of the era. Once Santa accepted, Kurt complained that his daughter loved Santa more than him, and said it was time to send Santa back to the North Pole “with Tazz and the rest of the elves.” The flaw, though, is that Kurt Angle was one of the absolute top stars in the company at the time, and wasting his considerable talents on a Pay-Per-View comedy segment was a clear sign WWE was already running out of things to do with him. With segments like this, it was almost a foregone conclusion Kurt would be running to TNA within the next couple years.
13. The 12 Days Of WWE Christmas
WWE loves parody, and this list makes it obvious they enjoy dipping into the holiday fun, as well, so it tracks that they would create a number of holiday song parodies throughout the company’s six decade existence. Especially with a song like “The 12 Days Of Christmas,” there’s no denying WWE could easily switch around the lyrics to make the tune about bodies slamming and rumbles rumbling, and so on and so forth. Mark Henry did in fact provide the eight bodies slamming, but most of the other lines were so incredibly specific to the angles and superstars of 2014 that the song had no replay value in subsequent years. Even worse, it was poorly produced, badly sung, and the video was lo-fi enough that it fit on YouTube, but not in the WWE Universe. The 2014 version was actually the second time WWE attempted to rebrand Christmas, having previously done so the year earlier on YouTube’s “The JBL & Cole Show,” only slightly better because it involved more wrestling history than the latter attempt. Unfortunately, it was just as poorly produced and sang, which is why neither of the songs gets brought up anymore today.
12. Santa’s Gift For Hornswoggle
Now that the term “midget wrestling” is in and of itself a fairly offensive concept, sports entertainers like Hornswoggle unfairly receive a small amount of controversy merely for existing. Of course, segments like this explain why that is, as dwarf sports entertainers (intentionally or not) are often complicit in creating the worst stereotypes about their culture. Case in point, for the first five whole years the character was wrecking havoc on Raw and SmackDown, Hornswoggle couldn’t talk, a fact accepted as basically normal. One could argue he was a leprechaun or a comedy character, but this only serves to prove dwarves are always thrust into these sorts of demeaning roles. In any event, on the November 29, 2011 episode of Raw, Hornswoggle won a match that granted him a gift from Foley Claus, and the prize he chose was the ability to talk. Strangely enough, once Hornswoggle was able to talk, he started appearing significantly less than ever before, only further elaborating that real life human dwarves don’t have much of a place in wrestling unless they’re willing to be offensive caricatures if not flat-out leprechauns.
11. The 12-Woman Jingle Belles Match
The winds of change tend to blow at a snail’s pace, which is how something like the Jingle Belles match can happen concurrently with WWE claiming women’s wrestling is undergoing a revolution. Two days before Christmas 2013, practically all of the women working for WWE at the time engaged in a giant tag team encounter pitting the cast of Total Divas against the other ladies in the company, with WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee at ringside providing color commentary. Lee was the only highlight of the match, as she focused her commentary on how stupid it was to have the women parade around like sexy Santas (or in Aksana’s case, says AJ, a “sexy fruit roll up”) when a real wrestler like her was reigning as champion. The idea was for AJ to be a heel, but absolutely everything she said was valid, such as when she said she hoped to God she’d never have to be on Total Divas at the same time the gals in the ring were doing a really goofy comedy spot that set women’s wrestling back a good five years.
10. The Survivor Santa
When discussing matches between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series, typically fans focus on the latter of the two, which took place in 1997. The 1992 encounter was arguably a better match, and more importantly to this list, it also had an even stranger ending. The Montreal Screwjob might be bigger in terms of historical importance, but it was hardly a normal occurrence at any point in time when Santa Claus greeted Bret Hart in the ring after he defeated Shawn Michaels to retain the WWE Championship. Christmas was more than a month away making the appearance seem a little out of place to begin with, and it didn’t make much sense for fighting champion Bret Hart to pal around with Santa after a match, either. Sure, he was a plucky babyface at the time, but Bret was too busy excellently executing his opponents and thinking about wrestling to deal with a child’s icon. Like practically every Santa appearance on this list, this thus became yet another attempt at pigeonholing Christmas into wrestling where it didn’t belong, made worse by doing so after what should have been a landmark match in two future legend’s careers.
9. Santa Gets Run Over By Alberto
We’ve all heard about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer, so it was clever enough for WWE to turn the concept on its head and have Santa himself get run over by a car. If, that is, said car had been able to fly, or in the very least outside when the accident happened. However, if Santa was casually handing out presents to fans at ringside, and a car somehow crashed into him anyway, the only thing anyone would think is whoever was driving the car has got to be the worst driver of all time. Such was the case when Alberto Del Rio ran over Santa Claus on December 24, 2012, the one highlight of the segment being the crowd chanting “You Killed Santa” rather than buy into WWE’s stupidity. Although Alberto very clearly hit Santa on purpose (it would’ve been impossible to do it by accident), he seemed distraught over the incident, apparently meaning the whole thing was a ploy for babyface sympathy. The rest of the superstars, lead by Booker T, were equally crushed by Del Rio’s terrible driving, treating the whole thing far too seriously and making it hard to believe any of them when an actual wrestler really gets hurt.
8. The Santa Lock Challenge
In general, Chris Masters and his Master Lock Challenges have but all been forgotten by most of the WWE Universe, and with good reason. Masters eventually evolved into a reasonably underrated performer, but his first few years in WWE were dire, lowlighted by the incessant and uninteresting attempts by jobbers to break his Full Nelson. At the 2006 Tribute To The Troops, Masters invited US soldiers to embarrass themselves against his simplistic maneuver, but not before insulting Santa Claus and proving not even Jolly Saint Nick could pass the challenge. The Tribute To The Troops events are typically light, unserious affairs to give the servicemen and women whatever entertainment WWE can offer them, so it wouldn’t be fair to complain about how none of this particularly mattered in the long run. However, it’s pretty easy to complain about how infantilizing it was to pretend hardened soldiers would care about Santa Claus, though truth be told, they reacted to the segment better than most of Santa’s efforts in wrestling. It wasn’t cool of Masters or WWE to beat up a soldier after he took care of Santa, either, even if Santa went on to reveal himself as JBL and get revenge for himself and the guy from the army.
7. Ebeneezer Piper’s Christmas Carol
Complain though we may about WWE ignoring ongoing storylines to pigeonhole Santa Claus into the show every December; if ever WWE created a TV show where such a diversion was entirely accepted, it was Tuesday Night Titans. Hosted by Vince McMahon and Lord Alfred Hayes, TNT was a talk show parody focused entirely on wrestling, including ridiculous parody videos and vignettes starring the top superstars of the era. On December 20, 1985, the format was used to present “Rowdy” Roddy/Ebeneezer Piper’s version of A Christmas Carol. The parody was actually pretty brilliant, using the top villain in wrestling as a stand-in for the evil Scrooge, having him mock and insult the ghosts of Christmas past and future while they showed him images of his bad behavior, all of which Piper was more than prepared to justify with a scowl. Unlike Scrooge in the classic version, Piper ultimately rebuffs the ghosts entirely and kicks them out of his bedroom, going to bed angry (which is probably normal for the Hot Rod). The segment is arguably the best on our list, and yet its barely been mentioned by WWE in over 30 years, leaving it a mere footnote in history until Vince decides to start publicizing it again.
6. The Battle For Christmas
Lots of wrestlers have been challenging and dressing up as Santa Claus on this list, so it’s only natural that eventually two wrestlers would dress up as Santa Claus at the same time and do battle. It happened December 23, 2013, (the same evening as the Jingle Belles match) during what was called The Battle For Christmas, with Mark Henry representing the “Good” Santa and Damien Sandow the “Bad” Santa. The unofficially hardcore affair mostly consisted of Henry and Sandow brawling around a holiday themed set, the evil Santa smashing presents and the good Santa striking righteous retribution because of it. Maybe the match would’ve worked if the costumes were the full extent of the joke, but as per usual it was truly ruined by the commentary, who treated it like the ultimate battle between good and evil, further invalidating any future attempt they would make at actually earning the fan’s respect. JBL in particular was unbearable, demanding the good Santa get arrested and the bad Santa take over, pretty much just because he was a heel and that’s what you’d expect.
5. D-Generation Xmas
Ten years is a long time for a man to grow, which explains how the 1997 and 2009 versions of a D-Generation X Christmas were so wildly different. While Triple H and Shawn Michaels have evolved even more since their second holiday together, they likely don’t regret it anywhere near as much as they do the first, taking place on the December 22, 1997 episode of Raw. The two opened the show walking down to the ring in bathrobes, which they soon opened to reveal the audience’s Christmas present, which was that they were wearing extremely small revealing thongs. Though their bodies were censored, the corporate version of Triple H that we know today would never get away with such a PG-13 segment, and that wouldn’t exactly change just because it was the holiday season. Later in the night, HHH and HBK would also go on to destroy the European Championship, predating the Fingerpoke of Doom by two years when Shawn’s Christmas gift to Hunter wound up being the title.
4. A Jingle For Jillian
Technically speaking, A Jingle With Jillian isn’t a singular moment per se, but rather a horrible Christmas album released by former WWE diva Jillian Hall. Calling it horrible isn’t an editorial comment, either—the whole point of Hall’s character at the time was that she loved singing despite being completely tone deaf. Poorly warbling her way through holiday classics like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” Hall’s album was as unlistenable as it was intended to be, somehow placing on the Billboard 200 in spite of itself. Regardless of whether or not it was the point, A Jingle With Jillian was so bad that everyone involved with it is likely embarrassed to have made it in retrospect. Hall’s career is most likely over in WWE for good, and there’s no way for Vince to even cash in on ironic William Hung money with the record anymore, so it’s probably better the world forgets it entirely rather than subject anyone new to it’s unique brand of horror.
3. K-Kwik’s White Christmas
Racially based humor only works when you believe the best intentions are behind it, which given pro wrestling’s track record with race relations it is a tough leap to make whenever WWE tries to dip into that well. Take for example the Christmas Day 2000 episode of Raw, featuring Kurt Angle’s entire family of lookalikes happily parading around the ring and the backstage area with the Olympic Gold Medalist most of the night. In their second segment together, the Angles ran into K-Kwik (a.k.a. R-Truth) backstage and introduced themselves. After looking the group up and down, K-Kwik quipped, “Now that’s what I call a veeerrrry white Christmas.” Honestly, it’s not that bad a joke, and there’s no reason to think any racism (or reverse racism) was at play in the joke itself. So, what’s the problem? Well, can anyone name a single other thing K-Kwik did in his initial WWE run (especially once The Road Dogg left him on his own)? Probably not, because he didn’t do anything else. Kwik occasionally showed up backstage and said nothing, but this one silly racial quip was the only noteworthy usage of a man who later became a multi-time NWA World Champion, and therefore it would be fair to argue Kwik very literally only got hired by WWE to be “the token black guy,” and that the company never even acknowledged his talents in the ring.
2. Steve Austin Beats Up Santa
The same episode of Raw where D-X presented their Christmas farce, WWE aired a pre-taped video from the week prior featuring Steve Austin beating up Santa Claus. Though “Stone Cold” was firmly cemented as the biggest babyface in the company by then, it was a different time, and to be fair, Austin wasn’t unjustified in his attack. Moments earlier, Santa had mocked a young fan, something even the vicious Rattlesnake refused to abide. After exchanging some words, Austin gave Santa a Stone Cold Stunner much to the approval of the crowd. While it was a hit at the time, the interaction between Austin and Santa nonetheless fell into the pitfall of only being relevant one month out of the year. Digging deeper, Austin was acting kind of out of character even caring about Santa in the first place, as his real issue was that he believed this Saint Nick was an imposter. Whether Austin would believably care about that or not, the segment doesn’t exactly work now that the Attitude Era is over and beating up Santa Claus once again looks like something only a huge jerk would do. Unless, of course, Santa kept acting like a jerk himself, which brings us to the number one moment on our list…
1. Xanta Claus Sells Out
Santa Claus got beat up a lot on this list, so maybe it isn’t too surprising Jolly Saint Nick would take matters into his own hands and start wrestling. Granted, the short time he did took place in late 1995, a bit before most of the more violent incidents he later faced. The evil Xanta Claus debuted at In Your House V: Season’s Beatings, first handing out toys to kids in the crowd. It soon proved to be a ruse when Ted DiBiase failed at buying Savio Vega’s services, causing Xanta to reveal even he could be bought by The Million Dollar Man by way of attacking Savio. Xanta went on to wrestle a match on Wrestling Challenge against Scott Taylor, easily winning while further acting like a bullying heel. Despite the win, as soon as Christmas season was over, so was the story of Xanta Claus, as his character wouldn’t make sense 11 months out of the year and he had to be written out immediately. The one upside of Xanta was that Balls Mahoney portrayed the role, injecting his trademark enthusiasm and underrated talents to even the silliest role imaginable.