Everybody makes mistakes, and that old adage holds true for corporations such as World Wrestling Entertainment. A company that is responsible for producing multiple hours of television programming on a weekly basis is going to take risks every now and again, and not all of those chances are going to end well for that particular organization. There have been numerous times when WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and others running that ship have been left with egg on their faces. McMahon and company have, as would any good business-minded people, moved on from those mistakes and attempted to generate money in other ways.
Some of the worst moments in the history of WWE involved angles that, truth be told, never should have seen the light of day. In fact, those storylines would not be allowed to be produced in the modern-day era of PG WWE. Other instances could have been avoided had rational thought and reason been implemented. That includes what will forever go down as one of the darkest nights in the history of North American pro wrestling, and also an edition of Raw that was hastily put together and one that after the fact was the type of error that probably should have cost people jobs.
20. Vince McMahon’s Club
Only from the mind of somebody such as Vince McMahon could an angle involving grown men having to kiss his rear end in front of thousands of people in attendance and millions watching at home have sprung. It was not vetoed. Nobody stopped McMahon backstage at an edition of Raw and convinced him that going forward with the plan was probably going to be frowned upon years after the fact. McMahon’s club actually had multiple members, and it only threw fuel onto the fire that is the idea that McMahon sometimes allows his ego to overtake his better judgment.
19. 3-Minute Warning Attack Women
The wrestling business has changed for the better in many ways over several decades. An example is that you will no longer see male-on-female violence on WWE television these days. That was not always the case in the company, however, and the tag team 3-Minute Warning attacking two female performers during an edition of Raw may be the most-notorious of such events. It was reported that one of the women was legitimately injured during this segment, but one does not need to have knowledge of that information to feel disgusted upon seeing it.
18. Trish Stratus Barks Like a Dog
One could sit down and easily produce a list of 20 times that female performers were humiliated and embarrassed during WWE television, but the storyline involving Trish Stratus and Vince McMahon may take the cake. Stratus was forced to strip while inside of the ring, and she also barked like a dog in what was one of the most degrading segments to ever be shown by the company. The WWE is now responsible for PG television and the company also has sponsors to think about, and thus you will have to put in the effort to find footage of these angles. They won’t be publicized by the WWE.
17. Invasion Storyline
The truth of the matter is that one could place this atop a list of the worst moments in WWE history if business and money were the main topics. WWE was the king of the North American pro wrestling world in 2001 with the demise of World Championship Wrestling, and the company was in a position to make television and wrestling history with an invasion storyline that should have been profitable. Instead of getting a feud for the ages, viewers were handed awful booking and a cheapened version of “The Alliance” that was buried time and time again until the idea was abandoned less than a year after WCW died.
Just about everything with the Eugene character from the moment that he debuted on WWE television to the last time that fans saw him was offensive. It was offensive that the company had asked a talented performer who could put on entertaining matches to play that role in front of audiences. It was offensive to people who deal with such disabilities in real life and to family members of such individuals. That Eugene did manage to get over with crowds for a time does not excuse the character nor does it make it acceptable that the WWE went this route for as long as the company did so.
15. ECW Resurrection
There is a perception had by some insiders and wrestling fans that Vince McMahon and others within the WWE were so sick of hearing “E-C-W!!!!” chants at shows that the company went ahead and buried Extreme Championship Wrestling in the reboot of that brand. While that is more than likely not the case, nobody who watched those awful ECW midweek shows can be blamed for at least having the opinion pop up in their heads. What WWE was trying to achieve with ECW remains a mystery, but what is known is that the goal was never reached. ECW is now dead and buried for good.
14. Funeral for Big Show’s Father
This moment was not as offensive as some might have thought due to the fact that Big Show‘s actual father had not really passed away at the time of the angle. There are nevertheless certain topics that are better left being untouched in the world of pro wrestling, and the funeral of the parent of a performer is one of them. The WWE instead went all-in with this attempt to shock viewers, and the result was a moment that never should have occurred let alone aired during a nationally televised show. There is a good reason that this angle never gets mentioned during current WWE shows.
13. Val Venis vs Kaientai
Part of the “Attitude Era” that made the WWE the must-watch wrestling promotion in the world was the company turning to “shock TV” angles in efforts to attract more mature audiences. Having Val Venus, a character who as an adult film star turned pro wrestler for reasons that were never really explained, on television was apparently not enough, as the WWE went with an angle that involved Venus almost being castrated – seriously – during an edition of Raw. This was one of those moments that could easily make one feeling embarrassed for being a fan of this form of entertainment.
12. Mae Young Gives Birth
There remain pockets of WWE fans who long for the days of the “Attitude Era” that changed the way that the company produced television and planned angles. Not everything from those years was a positive for the company, and some moments were offensive to the senses of fans watching. Mae Young giving birth to a hand was something that was hoped to make for cheap laughs, but it instead went down as one of the worst moments to occur in the company at that time. Some ideas should be scrapped in back rooms well before they are shot and then aired on television.
11. Muhammad Hassan Attacks Undertaker
The Muhammad Hassan character was one that could have generated the type of buzz and publicity yearned for by the WWE without the company going too far to the point that Hassan would have to removed from television and ultimately from the organization. Instead, the WWE wrote a storyline that involved Hassan supposedly planning what would have to be referred to as a “terrorist attack” on The Undertaker. Shockingly to absolutely nobody, some sponsors were reportedly not all that happy with seeing this angle play out. The Hassan character was thus not long for the company after that incident.
10. Stephanie McMahon Talks About 9-11
Stephanie McMahon dared to compare her family’s struggles to the September 11 terrorist attacks that occurred in the United States. The WWE recorded her comments, and nobody thought that it would be wise for her to reshoot that video and have a different take on the matter. That video then aired on an edition of SmackDown for the entire world to see, and it has since lived on in infamy via websites such as Twitter. When you realize that all of that actually occurred, it is somewhat amazing that the WWE has managed to make the amount of money that it has generated over the years.
9. Austin Turns Heel
There are times when a top babyface turning heel is good for business in a wrestling company. WrestleMania 17 was not the right time for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to make that switch, and WWE fans and customers let the organization know of their displeasure over that decision in several ways. The Austin character meanwhile took a turn for the worse, as the anti-establishment “Rattlesnake” turned into a whiny corporate employer who did not get over with audiences. It is now, long after the fact, believed that the company would have been better off going in another direction.
8. The Montreal Screwjob
The “Montreal Screwjob” is a historic moment in many ways. It helped create the Mr. McMahon character that ultimately allowed the WWE to defeat World Championship Wrestling in the famous “Monday Night Wars,” and it remains one of the most-famous finishes to a wrestling match in the history of the business. Those positives aside, a performer such as Bret “Hitman” Hart deserved better in what could have been a decent sendoff before he departed the company. At least Hart, Michaels and the WWE have mended fences and managed to put that night in the past.
7. The Billy and Chuck Angle
The saying in business goes that there is no such thing as bad publicity, so the possibility exists that the WWE had no regrets about going forward with the Billy and Chuck storyline. It had been teased for months on WWE programming that the duo was, per the booking, a homosexual couple, so much so that the WWE even planned a “commitment ceremony” involving the two. The story was almost immediately abandoned and turned into a comedy angle, however, something that was offensive to organizations such as GLAAD and to anybody who had invested even a minute of time following it.
6. Vince McMahon vs God
Shawn Michaels was not shy about publicly voicing his religious beliefs during his second run in the WWE. Vince McMahon thought it best to turn that portion of Michaels’ real life into a WWE storyline that involved McMahon forcing the “Heartbreak Kid” to “team up” with the Lord himself. While that idea on its own is ridiculous to anybody who has common sense, the feud also included McMahon cutting promos on God during shows. This crossed a line that did not need to be crossed by the wrestling promotion, as it needlessly offended fans who believe in a higher power.
5. Vince McMahon “Death”
There is an unwritten agreement shared among wrestling fans and companies. Fans actively suspend their disbelief regarding the action that occurs inside of the ring, and promoters do not cross certain lines in telling their stories. Vince McMahon crossed that line when he was “killed” in a ridiculous moment that did McMahon and the WWE zero favors. This moment was made even more regrettable when the news of the deaths of Chris Benoit and his family were made public not long after this story was shown on Raw. Death is a topic that is better off left to other forms of entertainment.
4. Katie Vick Storyline
Triple H was playing the role of the top heel in the industry as the WWE Champion when he was feuding over that title with Kane. The WWE chose to go in a radical direction with that story, telling the tale of a supposed ex-lover of Kane. What was created by Triple H was one of the worst segments in the history of the Raw program, one that the company would probably prefer that fans would forget about moving forward. Odds are that you will not hear about the Katie Vick story in recaps or anniversary episodes of Raw, and we are all better off for that.
3. Vince McMahon Drops an N-Bomb
There are certain words that just should not be said on WWE television regardless of the circumstances or what was intended at the time. Vince McMahon dropping an N-bomb may have resulted in some of those in attendance at the show and some viewers watching via TV chuckling, but it was also an offensive moment that should have been rethought many times before it was allowed to be shown. That somebody scripted this moment and then let it air is a reminder that people who work for multimedia giants such as the WWE are sometimes guilty of monumental miscues.
2. Show Goes On After Owen Hart’s Death
The WWE was left in a state of shock when Owen Hart plummeted to his death in a stunt that went horribly wrong during the 1999 edition of the Over the Edge pay-per-view. While that incident never should have been allowed to occur in the first place for the obvious reasons, that the WWE decided to continue to show up through its planned conclusion was offensive to those watching and also to employees. Cooler heads likely would have prevailed had those making the call had more time to think about it, but they were instead up against it when they chose to continue the show.
1. Chris Benoit Tribute Show
Those within the WWE were left shocked upon learning of the tragedy involving the family of Chris Benoit. With the facts of that horrific incident very much so in the air as of that Monday afternoon, the company understandably went ahead with an edition of Raw that served as a multi-hour tribute show to the life and times of Benoit. It was not until very early Tuesday morning that the public began to realize the true nature of that crime, but it was far too late for the WWE by then. Thus, the Benoit tribute show stands at the ultimate regrettable moment in the history of the company.