Given his status as the primary genius behind World Wrestling Entertainment, chances are, no single human being thinks about sports entertainment more than Vincent Kennedy McMahon. In some form or another, McMahon has played a role in developing literally hundreds of superstars, either by creating their gimmicks or scripting the broad strokes of their activities inside the ring. Of course, no one is perfect, and McMahon has had plenty of bad ideas in his repertoire along with all the good ones. Depending on wrestlers’ position when presented with one of these clunkers, turning it down could cost them their job, meaning lots of these bad ideas made it all the way to TV.
The mere fact a program is broadcast on television doesn’t mean all of the performers on said show were happy to be on it. In the world of pro wrestling, it seems that no talent level is safe from the risk of McMahon’s slip ups negatively affecting their careers. While the worst of McMahon’s wrath is focused on rising lower tier talent, thus cementing them at the bottom forever, the trend has risen all the way to the top, with the unluckiest athletes in the main event also seeing their careers rapidly plummet because of a stupid idea McMahon basically forced them to perform.
Obviously, the reason these stupid ideas hurt the careers of the involved wrestlers is that fans hate the ideas even more than the performers ever could. Once a superstar gets associated with a particularly awful angle, pretty much nothing will make the WWE Universe at large forgive them. Yet, the fact remains they had no choice but to do what they were told, knowing the only alternative was getting fired. Keep reading for 15 WWE moments everyone except Vince McMahon knew were going to bomb.
15. The Gobbledy Gooker Was For The Birds
At this point, even WWE is admitting that the debut of The Gobbledy Gooker at Survivor Series 1990 was the nadir of pro wrestling as a genre. For several weeks, a giant egg had been carted around on Superstars and Prime Time Wrestling, with anticipation gradually building to what could possibly be inside. Most people figured it would be a new wrestler, but they had no idea what was in store for them when the thing finally hatched, revealing Héctor Guerrero in a giant turkey suit. According to WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson, this idea came directly from the mind of Vince McMahon himself, who thought the giant turkey, which went on to do a dance, by the way, would be a huge hit with children. To his credit, Guerrero understood the idea was simply to make kids smile, but the second he hit the ring to do his dance, he realized the idea was a massive failure on arrival.
14. The ECW Mastermind Knew It Shouldn’t Come Back
For many fans, the pinnacle of sports entertainment was never achieved in WWE, and certainly not WCW, but in the smaller Philadelphia promotion ECW. Predicting the Attitude Era, ECW was the first company where hardcore matches were commonplace, as were edgier adult themes than the mainstream company could provide on primetime television. It’s exactly for this reason that Paul Heyman, the head writer and eventual owner of ECW, knew the idea of WWE reviving his company was a huge mistake from day one. Though Heyman liked the One Night Stand Pay-Per-Views, he felt they should’ve ended there, as Vince McMahon was never able to understand the true heart of ECW. Instead, McMahon rebranded ECW into merely another brand, something that actually offended many of the company’s old fans. Eventually, Heyman quit WWE rather than remain involved in the mess and didn’t come back until it was entirely over and done with.
13. Hornswoggle McMahon Was An Illegitimate Idea
To be entirely fair, life for Vince McMahon, or any wrestling promoter for that matter, isn’t exactly an easy endeavor. Creating some ten hours of live television every week takes an incredible amount of dedication, time, and effort, so if a bad idea or two slips through, we can’t exactly hold it against the guy. In worst case scenarios, injuries and bad behavior from the talent can force McMahon to change his mind at the last second, like was the case with his illegitimate son storyline circa 2007. Initially, the idea was for McMahon to learn Mr. Kennedy was his son, but repeat issues between Kennedy and management plus repeat suspensions saw that idea nixed. Essentially as a joke, a WWE writer suggested Hornswoggle take Kennedy’s place, and McMahon found it so hilarious he couldn’t resist. Unsurprisingly, absolutely no one else laughed in the slightest, instead maligning it as one of the worst things to happen in WWE that year. Keep this story in mind, as it presents a trend that will continue later on.
12. Bret Hart Is Not A Racist And Didn’t Appreciate Being Called One
When discussing the infamous Montreal Screwjob, most wrestling historians understandably focus on what happened at Survivor Series 1997 and afterward. To anyone who improbably missed it, the main event ended with Shawn Michaels locking Bret Hart in a Sharpshooter, followed by Vince McMahon himself telling Earl Hebner to ring the bell immediately despite the fact Hart hadn’t submitted. What this leaves out, however, is the buildup that led to the event going down, which explains why Bret Hart was willing to leave WWE in the first place. Part of the issue was that he didn’t like the direction his character was headed in, which, earlier in 1997, included D-Generation X accusing him of racism, thus starting a minor feud with the Nation of Domination. Two years earlier, he had suffered a similar angle with Jerry Lawler alleging the same during Hart’s feud against Hakushi. In both cases, Hart thought it was offensive to call him racist for no reason, yet McMahon wouldn’t budge, even as crowds firmly rejected the horrible idea.
11. Chavo Guerrero Wanted A Little Respect
Though McMahon will probably always be the most respected family name in wrestling, several other familial dynasties have made their mark on the industry, choice amongst them Los Guerreros. As of this writing, the only Guerrero in the Hall of Fame is Eddie, a former WWE Champion who lied, cheated, and stole the hearts of everyone in the WWE Universe. The rest of his family didn’t fare quite as well, though his brothers at least found success on the independent scene. Nephew Chavo did alright at times, too, but in WWE, he was nonetheless strapped with the horrible gimmick of Kerwin White. Wishing to fully gentrify in every sense of the word, White rejected his familial Latino roots to be as stereotypically Caucasian as possible, an idea he later claimed to find highly offensive from the start. More importantly than that, he knew it had no chance of getting over, and indeed, all it managed to do was get people to call WWE racist.
10. Bob Holly Knew His Name Had No Spark
By the end of his career, “Hardcore” Bob Holly etched a fairly memorable place for himself within the WWE Universe. As his name would suggest, Holly’s greatest success was in the hardcore division, having won the WWE Hardcore Championship six times. Holly also won three Tag Team Championships, with his “cousin” Crash, Cody Rhodes, and The 1-2-3 Kid serving as his partners. While teaming with The Kid, Holly was also going by a different nickname in “Spark Plug,” and believe it or not, that was actually take two on the sobriquet. Initially, Vince McMahon named Holly “Thurman Sparky Plugg,” which Holly later claimed made him exclaim, “You’ve GOT to be kidding me!” However, being his first chance at a job in the biggest wrestling company around, Holly did as he was told, waiting a few months until the idea was clearly bombing to approach the boss and ask for a change.
9. Jim Ross Introduces A Horrible Idea
No matter how many times WWE tries the idea (always pitched by Vince McMahon himself, of course), the concept of a wrestler imitating another simply doesn’t work. The sole exception was the original fake Sting, and even that got bizarrely out of hand in due time. Around the same time WCW was coming up with that near home run, though, McMahon introduced his own attempt at the dreaded mimic gimmick, or rather, he had Jim Ross do it for him, almost as a punishment. Rumor has it the main reason good old JR was chosen to introduce the fake Diesel and Razor Ramon characters is that everyone, including JR, had repeatedly told McMahon it was a bad idea that shouldn’t be tried. In retrospect, Ross referred to the moment using one of his trademark folksy expressions, saying the segment “went over like a fart in church.” Granted, Vince McMahon probably finds those entertaining, too.
8. Hornswoggle The Anonymous General Manager
Roughly five years after being revealed as Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son, Hornswoggle doubled down on his appearances in this list with perhaps an even worse angle. Once again, a writer pitched the idea knowing full well it was of the “so bad it’s good variety” at best, and for whatever reason, Vince found the idea utterly hilarious. For two full years, an Anonymous GM tyrannically governed Monday Night Raw, finally revealed on July 9, 2012 to have been Hornswoggle all along. According to WWE writer Kevin Eck, the creative team selected Hornswoggle specifically because of the massive failure of the prior illegitimate son angle, thinking that would clue McMahon in on the fact it was merely a joke. Instead, it was the first time McMahon heard a potential Anonymous GM and didn’t reject the idea outright like he did when his staff suggested Shawn Michaels or Kevin Nash.
7. Vince McMahon Creeps The Big Show Into Working Out
For nothing else than his willingness to do whatever atrocious idea Vince McMahon throws at him, The Big Show should already be a lock for the WWE Hall of Fame the moment he retires. Were this list focused solely on McMahon’s worst ideas, Show would pop up a whole lot more than once, but believe it or not, there’s only one idea the World’s Largest Athlete himself found particularly objectionable. Understandably, it was probably the low point of his career: the day McMahon forced him to dress up like a giant baby and dance for him. Okay, so the ordeal was for a segment on Monday Night Raw, but that hardly made it any less creepy to Big Show, who later described it on Talk Is Jericho as a video a creepy millionaire would use to pleasure himself. Show also claimed the camera operators and other crew present were likewise shaking their heads the whole time, empathetic to his plight at being unable to understand their boss.
6. Lance Storm Can’t Stop Dancing (But Would Really Like To)
For a man whose most memorable catchphrase was addressing the crowd, “If I could be serious for a moment,” Lance Storm would inevitably get forced into some not-so-serious gimmicks during his time in WWE. His first few years with the company went decently enough, with an Intercontinental Championship and a few Tag Team Championships, albeit in the questionable gimmick as an Un-American. Of course, that was merely your run-of-the-mill wrestling xenophobia, and Storm himself saw far bigger problems with the period of his career where “Stone Cold” Steve Austin repeatedly told him he was boring. Due to a misunderstanding with a road agent, Storm believed part of the solution was to dance his heart out, or at least that’s what his character seemed to think. The real Storm would later call it “one of the worst mis-castings in wrestling history,” and he wasn’t the only one who thought so. McMahon must have found it funny, though, because he wouldn’t let Storm stop celebrating his victories with a boogie for almost half a year.
5. Eugene Was Offensively Awful
Truth be told, it might be fair to say Vince McMahon has come up with more patently offensive ideas than outright bad ones. Countless gimmicks and angles in the WWE Universe have left fans with a bad taste in their mouths, but this is an issue of McMahon’s insensitivity, not his warped mind at play. That said, the two definitely converged on several occasions, perhaps worst of all with the creation of Eugene. A very special wrestler, Eugene was portrayed as mentally challenged and was therefore bullied by every heel on the roster. In all fairness to McMahon, Eugene somehow managed to become wildly popular for a brief period of time, yet this didn’t stop critics everywhere from maligning the company for how shockingly offensive it was. McMahon can take solace in the fact large portions of his fan base were as guilty as he was about supporting Eugene’s rise, but considering what that says about how he has conditioned his audience to think, we feel like he still deserves the blame.
4. Hawk Gets Drunk And Falls Off The Titantron
As the only tag team to win gold in the AWA, NWA, and WWE, it almost goes without saying that The Road Warriors were the most dominant duo of the 1980s. Tweaking their name to the Legion of Doom, Hawk and Animal looked to continue that path of destruction into the Attitude Era, recapturing the WWE Tag Team Championships for a second time, but the success wasn’t long lived. Unfortunately, Hawk was suffering from a severe drug habit at the time, and rather than get his employee proper help, Vince McMahon decided to exploit his addictions on national television. Hawk would show up to matches “drunk” or otherwise “inebriated,” causing his team to lose or simply embarrassing himself in cliché alcoholic fashion. Ultimately, the Road Warriors would leave WWE over the angle, as neither of them was happy about it from the beginning. Fans also hated it, and most insiders agree it was disrespectful, yet McMahon made sure to see it out to the conclusion of Hawk’s “death” before letting them out of their contracts.
3. The Legion of Doom’s New Puppet Friend
Only in the WWE Universe could a man’s personal demons being broadcast on national television merely stand as the second-lowest point of his career. Prior to the debacle with Hawk ruining the Legion of Doom’s prospects with his alcoholism, Vince McMahon tried to do so by giving their long term manager, Paul Ellering, a weird puppet named Rocco. From day one, Hawk and Animal despised the stupid thing, feeling it was a pathetic attempt to cash in on their brand without having to pay them royalties. At the same time, they felt it was killing that brand by trying to soften it, with Animal later accurately pointing out wooden dolls didn’t go well with spiked shoulder pads. Eventually, they would conspire to have the puppet “mysteriously lost” at an airport, presumably because McMahon wouldn’t accept their complaints about how dumb it had been.
2. Katie Vick
Ever since Triple H won his first WWE Championship way back in 1999, wrestling insiders have been accusing The Game of abusing his political clout in his character’s storylines. While that may certainly have been the case at some points in his career, not even Vince McMahon’s eventual son-in-law had the political power required to block the absolute worst angle in wrestling history. That’s not a name we’re giving it, by the way—Triple H himself once referred to his dalliance with Katie Vick in such disparaging terms on the Opie & Anthony Show. In the same interview, HHH added that he had to look around during the shoot and evaluate his life for a quick second, though he nonetheless powered through and humped a mannequin in a coffin while wearing a Kane mask. Yeah, we could provide a little more context on that one, but honestly… would it help? Even using the shortest description possible, it’s obvious this idea was atrocious to everyone in the WWE Universe apart from the man who runs it.
1. Kurt Angle’s Brand Spanking New Son
Alright, so this one’s a little early for us to definitively state that the performers involved, or anyone in WWE for that matter, understand how pointless of an idea it is for Kurt Angle to reveal Jason Jordan as his illegitimate son. On top of that, it’s still early enough that the storyline could somehow turn Jordan into a star, and should that happen, we’ll have to eat our words on this one. However, based on the immediate reaction of the WWE Universe, and especially critics of the product, this so-called “shocking announcement” couldn’t have been a bigger failure. Although WWE is, in many respects, a high-octane soap opera, the drama needs to, in some way, relate to the sport of professional wrestling, or else it’s all meaningless back story with no relevant payoff. Since Jordan doesn’t possess that much charisma, the chances of the angle surviving on writing alone are almost nonexistent, and once again, Vince McMahon must be the only one who doesn’t see this, considering he had to green light the idea for it to make the air.
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