In mid-1999, WWE was hitting its absolute peak, with the popularity of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and the Attitude Era so extreme WWE needed a second major TV show. Monday Night Raw had been the flagship program for six years at that point, and quite frankly, it’s remained that way even after SmackDown debuted. In 2002, the WWE Brand Split made half of the roster exclusive to each show, and for a few years, that actually brought SmackDown up to Raw’s level on the success of several incredible workers and Paul Heyman’s booking strategies.
Unfortunately for SmackDown, the success didn’t last. It wasn’t long before Raw was the clear ratings winner between the two brands, and that meant the big names went on the big show (not to be confused with the Big Show, who was all over SmackDown). The feeling was solidified at last when Booker T, on television, said he didn’t want to be on SmackDown because it was the second rate show. That was about 10 years ago, and somehow SmackDown has survived a decade of forgettable stories and questionable moments since.
Although Booker was pretty much telling the truth, Raw has had some pretty horrible moments in its run. At the same time, SmackDown hasn’t been exempt from truly stupid wrestling angles, either. The worst moments seemed to happen earlier in SmackDown’s run, but that could be related to the fact most people just completely stopped caring about SmackDown after a certain point, including WWE writers. The show just got so boring it’s been a long time since anything interesting enough to even get called “bad” has happened. With that said, here are 12 moments from when people were still watching Vince McMahon probably wishes we’d forget about.
12. The Big Show Gets Sprayed With Poop
WWE has tried its hand at comedy many times, and it often has resulted in unmitigated failure. One of the main reasons seems to be Vince McMahon’s sense of humor is pretty, well, gross. In 2003, Eddie Guerrero was feuding the Big Show, and tricked him by having free burritos delivered to his locker room. Of course, the burritos were somehow laced with laxatives, and Big Show ran out of the ring during a match while holding his ass, to the amusement of Vince McMahon, Eddie Guerrero, Michael Cole, and virtually no one else. Things somehow just went downhill from there.
After the Big Show lost a match via count out because of the laced burrito, Show was understandably mad at Eddie and tried to take out his frustrations on Eddie’s nephew, Chavo. Chavo ran away from Show, who stood in the ring like a goof while Eddie rode out on a septic tank that had a hose attached to it for some reason. Big Show tried to run away, but to the surprise and amusement of none, Eddie sprayed Show with the sewage for a solid two minutes. Somehow, it wasn’t the shittiest moment in SmackDown history, but it came close to it in a very literal fashion.
11. Natalya’s Gastrointestinal Problems
If you’re like Vince McMahon and you thought Eddie spraying the Big Show with poop was the wrestling equivalent of Harvard Lampoon, you’re going to love this one, too. Almost ten years after Big Show nearly pooped his pants as part of his gimmick, Vince McMahon’s obsession with bathroom humor took a downright cruel new direction. Natalya Neidhart, daughter of former WWE Tag Team Champion Jim Neidhart and niece of Hall of Famer Bret Hart, was saddled with the terrible, unfunny, embarrassing gimmick of having some kind of gastrointestinal problem that made her fart a lot. The gimmick mostly took place in backstage segments, but occasionally extended to the ring and caused her to actually lose matches because referees would run out of the ring plugging their nose. From start to finish, it was just an awful, disgusting gimmick to give to anybody, let alone a talented member of a respected wrestling family.
10. The Big Bossman Interrupts The Funeral of The Big Show’s Father
Speaking of respected wrestling families…in late 1999, WWE was running a weird, tasteless angle revolving around the Big Show’s father dying of cancer. Cancer is a serious disease that shouldn’t really find its way into a wrestling angle, and WWE made sure to make things as offensive as possible to prove why. Bossman first paid crooked police officers to lie to Big Show and tell him his father died before he actually did. It got worse after his real “death,” hitting a fever pitch at his funeral. As a video airing on the November 11, 1999 episode of SmackDown showed, Big Bossman crashed the funeral and attacked the Big Show. He then tied Big Show’s father’s casket to his police car and drove around the cemetery while Big Show held on to it, being dragged around while crying. Bossman didn’t seem like a wrestling heel here, he seemed like an evil cartoon, and Big Show just looked sad, which makes sense, but doesn’t exactly sell wrestling tickets.
9. Daniel Puder Almost Breaks Kurt Angle’s Arm
Daniel Puder was eventually named the winner of the fourth Tough Enough competition, but he basically burned all of his bridges in the wrestling industry on the way to accomplishing that feat. On the episode airing November 4, 2004, Kurt Angle challenged the Tough Enough contestants to a shoot wrestling match in the ring, meaning the battle would be unscripted and if challenged, the Olympic Gold Medalist would have to rely on his actual wrestling skill to defeat the rookies. He quickly beat the first challenger, but things got very intense very quick when Puder stepped forward to give it his best shot. A former MMA fighter, Puder perfectly trapped Angle in a Kimura Lock within seconds. Referee Jim Korderas quickly improvised a finish and pretended Angle was pinning Puder, but most observers realized Puder very easily could have broken Angle’s arm if no action was taken. Despite nearly making one of WWE’s top stars look like a fool on national TV, Puder somehow won the competition. Regardless, he was released from his contract less than a year later.
8. JBL Hates Mexicans
John Bradshaw Layfield is now known as one of the more sycophantic supporters of the Authority on Monday Night Raw, but his true rise from a midcard tag team wrestler to the main event took place on SmackDown. His first major feud on top of the card was against the WWE World Champion at the time, Eddie Guerrero. JBL could’ve focused on Eddie’s problems with addictions, his questionable past, or his lying and cheating attitude, and used those qualities to garner heat, but this is JBL, so instead he focused on the fact Eddie was Mexican. Using racism as part of a gimmick is extremely questionable, and JBL made sure there wasn’t any question this was a terrible idea when he actually went to the United States-Mexico border and attacked a family of “illegals.” Apparently the segment was supposed to be viewed as comedy, but we just see it as bigoted and abhorrent.
7. The Big Show Attempts To Murder Kurt Angle
We’ve said it plenty of times before, but apparently it bears repeating: professional wrestling and murder shouldn’t mix. In this case, no one ever implicitly stated the words “dead,” “killed,” or “murder,” or anything of the sort, but it’s hard to see what other result the audience was supposed to infer. The bad idea began in mid 2004, when Big Show arbitrarily offered to retire if he couldn’t defeat Eddie Guerrero. He couldn’t, of course, which Torrie Wilson found hilarious for some reason, causing Big Show to chase her. Show catches Torrie atop a 20-foot high balcony and threatens to throw her off, before stopped by Kurt Angle. Angle saved Torrie, but he also ended up the victim of attempted murder when Big Show chokeslammed him off the balcony. The camera angles heavily implied Angle was dead, with blood pouring out of the back of his head. Kurt bounced back on TV two weeks later with barely a scratch, making the storyline irresponsible as hell when it comes to accurately presenting head injuries, on top of being questionable in the first place.
6. Kurt Angle Shoots The Big Show With A Tranquilizer Gun
Attempted murder is a pretty serious crime, and turnabout is generally considered fair play, so it makes sense that last one would have a pretty direct follow-up. Several months after Big Show tried to kill Kurt Angle, Angle was back in the ring and teaming with Luther Reigns. The main event of the September 23, 2004 episode of SmackDown saw the duo pair up against Big Show and Eddie Guerrero, and the match had one of the most unique endings in SmackDown and WWE history. After Mark Jindrak interfered on behalf of Angle’s team, Angle ran out of the ring and assembled a tranquilizer gun, which he used to shoot the Big Show.
While shooting someone with a tranquilizer dart isn’t the same as shooting someone with a bullet, it really jumps the shark on the concept of weapons in wrestling, asking why every single wrestler ever hasn’t tried this. Granted, a few seconds of thought answer the question by telling you it’s way, way too dangerous to actually do that, and WWE can’t keep showing it on TV as if it were practically harmless. Of course, if they realized that, one wonders how the idea even made it to the air this one time.
5. Everything About Al Wilson
The less said about Al Wilson is probably the better, but here we go…in 2003, Torrie Wilson was one of the more beautiful divas in WWE, and she had just appeared naked in Playboy. Obviously, WWE wanted to build a storyline around her to promote her major pictorial, but their method of doing so remains one of the most hated storylines in the history of SmackDown. Torrie’s father Al Wilson was introduced, and for reasons absolutely no one could ever explain, Torrie’s fellow WWE diva Dawn Marie fell madly in love with him upon first sight. The two quickly wed, in their underpants, on television, as young lovers are wont to do. Shortly after, Al Wilson “died,” the implied cause of death being sexual exhaustion. Torrie and Dawn brawled during Al’s funeral leading to a Pay-Per-View match, after which the old man was never mentioned again.
4. Stephanie McMahon Comments on 9/11
WWE received a great deal of praise for the September 13, 2001 edition of SmackDown. Airing live just two days after the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the event was one of the first major gatherings in the United States since the country was under attack. Opening with a powerful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” and featuring superstar testimonials on patriotism and their love of America throughout the night, SmackDown elevated itself beyond a wrestling show and presented itself as a force standing tall against terrorism. Until Stephanie McMahon started talking.
Stephanie McMahon has been a millionaire heiress the majority of her life, so maybe it isn’t surprising that when she heard America was under attack, she took that news to be entirely about herself. While the other superstars talked about American pride, Stephanie mostly focused on how her father got arrested once. She attempted to make it into a Pro-USA message, by saying America was just like the McMahon family and would band together stronger than ever just like them…but that only made it sound MORE self-centered, completely glossing over the fact a national tragedy had just occurred. It’s not surprising Stephanie was never exactly questioned for her comments within the company, but fans remember them to this day whenever she attempts and fails to relate to normal humanity.
3. Billy and Chuck Don’t Get Married
In 2001, Billy Gunn was a lifelong tag team wrestler known for his time in the Smoking Gunns and the New Age Outlaws. Chuck Palumbo was a new face in WWE, making the jump during the Invasion but not really having any kind of personality of his own until he teamed with Billy. As Billy and Chuck, the two performed under one of the most blatant “gay lovers” gimmicks in wrestling history. Rico was added as their “personal stylist” and before long, the two were engaged to be wed as part of wrestling’s first ever gay marriage. WWE was actually receiving positive media attention for the angle being presented fairly tastefully, and representatives from GLAAD were invited to attend the September 12, 2002 SmackDown, where the wedding would be held.
Of course, the wedding never quite took place, as wrestling weddings very rarely do. Eric Bischoff presided over the ceremony in heavy make-up, and his performance is the one part of the segment we really have to praise. The rest of the wedding, which saw Billy and Chuck claim the whole thing was a publicity stunt and Rico was trying to trick them, was one of the most offensive bait-and-switch’s WWE has ever pulled off. The company could have made a serious statement about equality, but instead turned the very idea into a joke.
2. Randy Orton Says Eddie Guerrero Is In Hell
On November 13, 2005, Eddie Guerrero passed away due to heart failure. WWE and the wrestling world at large were devastated by the loss of one of the greatest and most beloved performers in recent memory, airing multiple tribute shows and inducting Eddie into the WWE Hall of Fame almost immediately. Unfortunately, not everyone felt like praising a legend shortly after his early and unexpected death. On February 3, 2006, Randy Orton insulted Eddie’s best friend Rey Mysterio by telling him Eddie wasn’t in Heaven, but in Hell.
Your personal mileage on how offensive that is may vary, but what’s relevant is that Eddie did and Rey still does claim to be highly religious, so a comment like that would definitely offend their sensibilities. Considering Eddie was one of the greatest WWE performers of all time, and he had just passed away months ago, it was in extremely bad taste to say something that would unquestionably offend him and his family. We can’t be too surprised Orton was the one to go there, though, as this isn’t exactly the first time people have complained about him.
1. Muhammad Hassan Martyrs Daivari
July 7th, 2005, the public transport system in London, England suffered a terrorist attack carried out by suicide bombers. Taped two days earlier and airing that night, WWE wrestler Muhammad Hassan rather explicitly martyred his manager Daivari on SmackDown after a group of “terrorists” attacked the Undertaker. Although the word terrorism was never said, anyone paying attention to the angle, WWE, or Hassan’s character over the past year completely understood the implication.
Removed from the context of WWE, it actually looked even worse, considering the men attacking the Undertaker were all dressed in a manner not unlike the people in actual beheading videos, and they attacked Taker by choking him with a wire. While they didn’t use the word “terrorist,” they did use the word “martyr” to describe how it looked when the masked men carried Daivari away from the ring. SmackDown was nearly canceled following the incident, but ultimately only Hassan lost his job (which isn’t exactly fair, since it wasn’t his idea to film the angle or broadcast it). Some other SmackDown moments may have been embarrassing for the company or the performer, but this is the only one that nearly cost them the show, so it has to be on top of the list.