World Wrestling Entertainment/Federation’s history with shocking and offensive storylines runs deep. This list could reach fifty examples easy. For a company so connected to its audience, you might think that they would know which buttons should not get pushed.
When looking at its history, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. There are few topics that the WWE will leave off the table. WWE head honcho Vince McMahon seems to be the one behind most of these ideas. When a billionaire with little filter is constantly conjuring up ideas from incest to turn of the 20th century racist stereotypes, the incidents start to stack up.
With the company’s PG era in full swing, the offensive angles have decreased in a considerable amount. That doesn’t mean that they are entirely gone, though. Nothing is safe when considering angles and characters. Through the years, the WWE has used the dead, mentally challenged, and religious deities to stir the storyline pot. In truth, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. When you are a male soap opera with no off-season, you have to do some things to keep things interesting and compelling.
Then again, there are some things that should have stayed in the writer’s room. For all the offensive things the WWE has done in their history, these are some of the few that got some of the most heated responses from the public.
Big Show’s Father’s Funeral
In 1999, the Big Show’s father had “died” while he was in the middle of a feud with the Big Bossman. That always leads to trouble in WWE world.
At his funeral, Show began to deliver his final last words to his father. He looked distraught in his black leather suit and tiny sunglasses – both a different kind of offensive. As he began to speak, Bossman came rolling up with a loud speaker attached to the roof of his car. From there, Bossman asked Show’s mother if she wanted to have sex, chained the casket up, and took Show on a casket ride through the grave yard until Show took a tumble.
In the realm of WWE ideas it’s not nearly the worst, but messing with the dead is always bad. Too bad this wouldn’t be the last time for WWE.
McMahon vs God
Mr. McMahon has always seen himself as a god of sorts. When born again Christian Shawn Michaels had to take on Shane and Vince at 2006’s Backlash, his partner came from above. During the match, God had his own entrance and was represented as a beam of light.
Near the end of the bout, Mr. McMahon told everyone that God had left the building as Shawn Michaels needed his help. You’d think there’d be a redeeming moment to satisfy religious fans, but there wasn’t. The McMahons beat HBK and God with help from the Spirit Squad. Holy crap.
Eugene was portrayed by promising WWE talent Nick Dinsmore. Once he debuted as the “special” nephew of then-GM Eric Bischoff, there was no turning back for his career. It’s amazing to believe that the WWE would think that putting a promising talent in the role of a disabled man would be a good idea.
What’s more shocking is that they believed that this was a good idea for several years. Near the end of his run, Eugene would be bullied by Vince McMahon because God and the mentally challenged are two of Vinnie Mac’s natural enemies. After failing two drug tests, Eugene and Nick Dinsmore were finally done.
When Val Venis arrived on the scene, the adult film star almost immediately began a feud with the Japanese stable Kai En Tai. Val Venis was the target of their attacks when their manager, Yamaguchi-san, saw a video of his wife and Venis engaged in an affair. That’s not the offensive part. Infidelity is nothing in the WWE’s realm of offensiveness.
The stable’s stereotypical Japanese mannerisms and actions (An offensive practice the WWE uses on most Asian talent) went to new levels when they aimed to “Choppy choppy” Val’s, well, Venis. At the end of Raw, Kai En Tai had captured Val and were about to get their revenge. As Yamaguchi-san made his strike the feed cut out, leaving fans wondering what happened. Next week, Val revealed that he had barely escaped castration due to some convenient shrinkage.
Poor Super Crazy, Psicosis, and Juventud. The talented luchadors all deserved much better than this. Eventhough the stable (Eventually a tag team after Juventud’s release) were fed up with perceptions of Latinos, their message failed to reach. That’s no surprise considering that the group debuted on Smackdown riding a lawnmower, wearing groundskeeper uniforms with Mexican flags and berating Americans as “gringos.”
The WWE has never been good at portraying non-white American talent. In its attempt to show Mexicans as strong, capable talent, they made them a new level of offensive.
This is one of the more infamous moments in WWE history. Muhammad Hassan was another character fed up with the portrayal of his people on television after the 9/11 attacks. So how does one dispel these stereotypes? By having the most stereotypical entrance music, vocally praising Allah in entrances, and attacking fan friendly faces. Just what the Islamic image needed in America at the time, right? After Muslim-Americans voiced their concerns about an non-Muslim praising Allah on television, Hassan reduced some of his actions.
The incident that made Muhammad Hassan infamous in WWE history was the night his prayers summoned five masked men to hang the Undertaker in the middle of the ring on Smackdown. That alone would be offensive on several levels. When considering they aired the taped footage three days after the London bombings, it’s no surprise that UPN pressured the WWE to keep the character off their channel. Muhammad Hassan would be permanently removed from WWE soon after.
Michael Cole’s Implied Rape
It’s no secret that Vince McMahon has some twisted fascinations when it comes to angles. There have been a few instances of him wanting to create incest angles. This is even worse. Whether it was him or another person on creative that greenlit the idea of implied rape, that person needed to re-evaluate some of their thoughts. When Heidenreich kidnapped Michael Cole, fans got to see one of the most uncomfortable moments in the company’s history.
The whole scene was creepy. The lights were dark. Cole was up against a wall struggling. Heidenreich was dominating him before finally reading him a poem. Sure, WWE likes to swerve their audiences, but rape is not the way to go. Ever. The whole scene was uncomfortable to watch and done in bad taste. According to Heidenreich, like many of the ideas on the list, this came from one of Vince McMahon’s dreams.
CM Punks Pours Out Paul Bearer
CM Punk’s bid to end the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak took a turn for the twisted when the Undertaker’s legendary manager died in real life. Three weeks after his death, Punk dumped out his “ashes” on top of his opponent to close an episode of Raw. Even many of the most hardened WWE fans felt that this was over the line.
Paul Bearer’s son said he wasn’t happy with how the angle played out either. The whole scene was shocking and over the line. Then again, when considering how the WWE has handled the dead over the years, this one is not the worst by any stretch of the imagination.
WWE seems to have trouble looking past race and geographical location when creating characters. There could have been several examples to put here. From their portrayal of Native Americans with Tatanka, Kamala, Umaga as savages from foreign lands, if a Superstar is non-White, non-American, they could end up with a pretty offensive gimmick.
Cryme Tyme’s angle of being thieving Brooklyn hustlers was ridiculous. Their gaudy clothes, jewelry and antics were what you might expect an ignorant racist to conjure up when describing what they thought black youth were. While the team ended up endearing themselves to fans for most of their run, the idea of two scheming black youths never sat well with many people.
Earthquake Kills Damien The Python
What won’t the WWE consider when creating stories and angles. If rape, incest, and desecrating the dead are on the table, you better believe that animal cruelty is as well. While this spot could have been given to the time the Islanders kidnapped and ate Matilda the British Bulldog, Damien’s death earns the spot by a slim margin.
Watching Jake the Snake tied up in the ropes wailing as Earthquake stomped around the bag of Damien shocked tons of young fans. Hearing their shrieks as Earthquake was about to crash down on Damien is still unnerving. Imagine the WWE trying to pull this off in today’s era. PETA would be on them in seconds. Then again, it’s surprising WWE hadn’t tried to capitalize on something like this when the Michael Vick situation was going on.
Billy And Chuck
WWE did themselves in with this one. Not only was the whole Billy and Chuck angle offensive to the image of homosexuals. It was also offensive because WWE had been working with GLAAD up until the famed wedding for the tag team.
GLAAD claimed to be duped by the company, thinking that this would result in the positive portrayal of homosexual Superstars on the roster. Instead, everything turned out to be a publicity stunt within a publicity stunt. WWE got increased press while Billy and Chuck claimed to do the same on television.
When you add their manager, Rico, into the equation the whole thing gets more offensive. Then again, if you remember TNA’s awful portrayal of Orlando Jordan during his bisexual angle, this one might be tame.
When Vince McMahon wants a back story to an angle, he doesn’t go generic. No, he goes with a murder/necrophilia background to drive the message home. What furthered the whole situation was Triple H’s bullying of Kane for the death of his girlfriend. In today’s climate, this wouldn’t air for several reasons.
It’s amazing to think in any time frame that a scenario like this would make it to air. Watching Triple H dressed as Kane having sex with a dummy might be one of the worst things the WWE has ever decided to put on television. One former member of the creative team described how the whole thing came to be,
“That was never even talked about until the vignette aired, and it really wasn’t talked about after that again. That wasn’t an idea by a writer, that wasn’t pitched to anybody. That was the vignette that was of the sick minds of the McMahon family that was taped in the funeral home that night.”
There’s only a few ways you can get more offensive than this. But, there’s no way the WWE would…
Mr. McMahon Says The N-Word
…say the N-word on television? Yup, they did that. In the most mind boggling moment of them all, the WWE thought it’d be a good idea to have an on-air talent use the N-word. Not only that, but it should come from the older, white owner of the WWE while talking to the white rapper John Cena. Wow. Just wow.
It was as if the WWE and Mr. McMahon thought that the idea of an old guy trying to act hip wasn’t tired enough. Instead, they could squeeze a bit more juice out of it by having him say the most offensive word in the English language. They only made things worse by having him then walk by a shocked Booker T and Sharmell like nothing happened. Just like many bad ideas from the WWE, they seemed to think making an obvious offensive situation would show how dumb it actually is. Instead, it looked like an old white billionaire just said a disgusting word on television.