To many wrestling fans, there’s always that yearning to return to "the good old days”. The Attitude Era is always championed as being the greatest time in wrestling history to some, and part of what made that period in time so enjoyable and memorable to so many was the edgy, more adult-driven actions that we all saw happening on screen and in arenas.
And whilst Steve Austin flipping off his boss was great, and while D-Generation X telling people to suck it was fun, there was one other major element of the WWF/WWE during the late-90s and early-2000s was also helping to sell the product: sex.
As the saying goes, sex does indeed sell. Particularly when your target demographic for so long were males aged 18 to 30. But alas, so many of the more memorable sexier moments of yesteryear simply wouldn’t be allowed to happen in the modern, family-friendly PG landscape of the 2016 WWE product.
Given how the WWE is now against sexualizing its performers, be they female or male, anything that was once deemed even slightly risqué or sexual is an instant no-go for today’s Raw or SmackDown Live. Sure, some of the past moments may have been in bad taste in hindsight, but there were other moments that did actually add to the storylines of the time.
So, with all of this in mind, it’s time to take a look back at 15 moments that have been defined as iconic for their sex factor but yet would never be allowed to happen on modern WWE TV in a million years nowadays.
15 Shawn Michaels Makes Debra Strip
In the bizarre, sexually-charged aggressive days of the Attitude Era, a particular match between Goldust and Jeff Jarrett saw a striptease stipulation in place. Should Jarrett lose, his valet, Debra, would have to perform a strip. Should Goldust lose, it would be The Bizarre One who would instead be performing the striptease.
As the match played out, Debra would smash Jarrett’s guitar over the head of Goldust while the referee was distracted. And thus, Double J would cover Goldie and get the 1-2-3. Not on Shawn Michaels’ watch, though.
Utilizing his role of Commissioner at that point in time, the Heartbreak Kid came down to the ring to put a halt to Goldust’s striptease, instead citing Debra’s actions as DQ worthy and as a result making her strip in the middle of the ring. Sure, the striptease itself was ultimately broken up by Jarrett and The Blue Blazer, but there’s absolutely no chance that the current WWE PG product would ever feature a male authority figure demanding that a female talent strip live on PPV.
14 The People’s Strudel
There’s no dispute that The Rock was a vital and hugely entertaining part of the WWF’s Attitude Era, and even to this day he’s rightfully known as the most electrifying man in all entertainment. Still, even where The Great One is concerned, a lot of what made him so great back at the turn of the millennium would be nipped in the bud these days, as seen by the shock shown by audiences when the former World Champion returns to the WWE and says a line or two that’s totally mild by Attitude Era standards but is a jaw-dropper by today’s standards.
One particular line from The Rock that totally wouldn’t be allowed these days, though, was when he referred to his penis as “The People’s Strudel.” Aaah, the good ol’ days of a non-PG WWE product…
Going one step further, not only would The People’s Champ talk to Lillian Garcia about The People’s Strudel, he’d also talk about how she got wet being so close to Rocky. Of course, he meant wet with perspiration, but we all know where that was intended to go.
13 The Preacher’s Wife
Much like Val Venis had used vignettes designed as advertisements for his latest adult movies to build up his explosive debut, The Big Valbowski would also use such explicit videos when feuding with certain superstars over the years. And one such superstar was Goldust. Well, Dustin Runnels as he was known at the time.
You see, Val was at that point making a point of sleeping with other men’s wives. Runnels, who had stepped away from the Goldust gimmick temporarily, was shocked to see Val utilize Raw’s Titantron to give a glimpse at his latest movie, titled The Preacher’s Wife. What was so shocking? Why, it featured Venis in bed, puffing on a cigar. Then up popped Terri Runnels, the wife of Dustin, who’d been under the sheets and seemingly enjoying The Big Valbowski’s main weapon.
Yeah, so, err, that was one of the times that the WWE insinuated an oral act was happening live on TV – something that would never, ever happen to that extent today.
12 The O Train
Quite frankly, the whole Godfather character just couldn’t exist in the modern WWE arena. A pimp who parades his many hoes while making constant references to smoking weed? Pimpin’ may not be easy, but it’d be an even harder job to try and get this character on Raw or SmackDown Live in 2016.
Now whilst one of his signature moves was called The Ho Train, that was also the name given to the gaggle of scantily-clad women who would accompany The Godfather to the ring during his bouts.
In 2016, the WWE would never, ever refer to any woman as a ho, particularly in the company’s recent push for the women as actual – shock horror – wrestlers, so the whole notion of The Ho Train as the name for a group of, essentially, valets would be shot down instantly these days.
To prove this point, the induction of The Godfather into the WWE’s Hall of Fame earlier this year saw any mention of The Ho Train completely kept away from the WWE TV product.
11 Lita Strips At WWF New York
So, you’re arguably the most talented female wrestler under a WWF contract and you regularly pull off death-defying high-flying moves never seen by a WWF women’s wrestler at that point in time. What better way to maximize your skill-set than by sending you over to a bar to perform a striptease for a bunch of young men.
That was exactly what happened to poor Lita back in 2000 during the build up to the then-WWF’s Armageddon PPV. As one third of Team Extreme along with Matt and Jeff Hardy, Lita was getting set to do battle against The Radicalz at that PPV, and her shooting down Dean Malenko’s advances somehow had led to her stripping.
Granted, WWF New York, later renamed to simply The World, closed way back in 2003, but even if it was still around to this day, there’s no way that the WWE would use the location to have somebody like Charlotte or Sasha Banks scantily shake their booty to a bunch of beered-up wrestling fans. Even more unlikely is that we’d hear Jerry Lawler spout out lines such as “Oh man, I’d love to stuff her stocking.”
10 The Swimsuit Contest
During the late-90s and into the 2000s, the WWF/WWE would regularly put together segments and “matches” that involved nearly-naked performers in such epic battles as a Mud Match, a Pillow Fight, and in Swimsuit Contests. And in amongst all of those bouts, one that particularly stands out is the 2000 Miss Rumble Swimsuit Contest.
In this, Ivory, Terri Runnels, Jacqueline, Luna Vachon, Barbara Bush, and The Kat were the initial competitors. Of course, all would go horribly wrong for viewers when Mae Young appeared and flashed her breasts to the world. Thanks for that, Mae.
To put this into a more modern perspective, this would be like seeing Charlotte, Sasha Bank, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Nia Jax, and Alexa Bliss appear on next January’s Royal Rumble show to do nothing more than flaunt their bodies. And if you’re naïve enough to think that would ever happen, your punishment should be going back and rewatching Mae Young's 80-year boobs swinging live on PPV.
9 The Hugh Hefner Rivalry
Once upon a time, the WWE didn’t think twice about having some of its female talents appear in Playboy. In fact, it actively encouraged it and would promote the hell out of the magazine during its TV broadcasts. These days, however, the WWE would never promote one of its women posing nude in a publication or even allow one of its talents to do such a thing.
Back in the day, though, not only did plenty of WWF and WWE ladies adorn the pages of Playboy and similar magazines, but the company even based an entire rivalry around two women who’d actually both had their own Playboy covers. Now, not only had Sable and Torrie Wilson seen themselves spread across separate issues of Hugh Hefner’s baby, but the pair were engaged in a heated on-screen rivalry that would culminate in the two actually partaking in a joint Playboy spread. Oh, and the WWE had the two also add some lesbian undertones to their on-screen relationship.
Yep, yet another thing that’s never, ever going to happen again in the WWE for as long as the company insist on being PG.
8 The Flashing Fans
To any of us who were watching at the time, we’ll never, ever forget the moments where women would happily flash their breasts because… well, because D-Generation X asked them to.
It’s still debated to this day whether said female fans were plants from the then-WWF or not, but either way this is something that will never be replicated as long as the WWE stays as a PG product.
At a time when the WWE’s target audience was horned-up males between 18 and 30 years of age, it made perfect sense to push the boundaries and raise, err, attention by having fans bare their breasts at unexpected moments. To some, this made the WWF and its Attitude Era even more must-see than it already was. Because boobies!
7 The Wilsons
In terms of slightly ‘out there’ WWE angles and storylines, the whole Torrie Wilson, Dawn Marie and Al Wilson angle of 2002 is one of the more bizarre of the 2000s.
While this whole feud involved Dawn Marie getting married to Torrie’s elderly father, Al, the sexy element of this came from Dawn actually propositioning Torrie. Quite simply, if Torrie spent a night of hot and heavy action with Dawn, she’d call off the wedding to old Al. Cue sordid hotel-shot segments involving sexy underwear and action that wouldn’t look out of place in a softcore adult movie.
Of course, Dawn Marie was the villain in all of this, and even though she had her night with Torrie, she’d go ahead and marry Al before the poor fella died of a heart attack from too much sex. Yes, this all really, really did happen. In fact, the whole thing was dragged out over a painful four months.
6 Kelly’s Exposé
She may not have been great in the ring, but Kelly Kelly certainly made a lasting impression on fans during her stint under a WWE contract. And key to that was how she was introduced to fans back in the relaunched ECW in 2006.
As part of a recurring segment called Kelly’s Exposé, the blonde bombshell became a huge fan favourite for one simple reason: she liked to perform a sexy striptease.
Of course, these strips were always eventually stopped by Kelly’s real-life boyfriend Mike Knox before things got too hot and heavy, but it was still enough to get fans tuning in to ECW to see whether this was the week that finally Kelly Kelly would be allowed to get her wish and drop all of her clothes.
5 The Kat Loses Her Top
Whether you remember her as Miss Kitty, The Kat or simply Stacy Carter, the moment that Jerry Lawler’s then-real-life wife lost her top at 1999’s Armageddon is something that many a hot blooded young male will never forget.
Having only debuted in the then-WWF four months before this PPV, Carter found herself challenging for the Women’s Championship in a Four Corners Evening Gown Pool Match. Of course, it was as ridiculous as it sounds, and safe to say that this match wasn’t exactly one for the wrestling purists.
After defeating Ivory, Jacqueline and Barbara Bush in the match, Miss Kitty celebrated by doing what all men around the globe hoped she’d do: she promptly removed her top and exposed her breasts for all to see.
What was so monumental about this 1999 moment is that it marked the first time that the WWF had ever featured intentional nudity in its product, which is something that would never be allowed in the modern era.
4 Val Venis Is Coming
Pretty much all of what Val Venis ever did in the then-WWF wouldn’t fly these days. The ‘90s WWF landscape saw many a gimmick come and go, and the rise of the Attitude Era saw most of those gimmicks dropped or given a more adult edge. And they don’t get any more “adult” than The Big Valbowski.
In the build up to Venis’ WWF debut fans were treated to several different vignettes, each full of sexual innuendo as this adult film star-turned-grappler was introduced to fans with the message that “Val Venis is coming.” Likely the most memorable of said vignettes was one titled Val Venis: Soldier of Love. What made this one stick out so much was that if featured the hottest star on the planet at that time, Jenna Jameson.
With the current WWE product being a PG environment, seeing a superstar making a whole host of wink-wink puns and playing up his sexuality just wouldn’t happen, let alone putting the world’s hottest adult star alongside him.
3 Mickie Taunts Trish
She may have recently returned to the big time with her match against Asuka at Toronto’s NXT: TakeOver, but Mickie James is often fondly remembered by many for her antics during her first ever WrestleMania match.
After debuting as an obsessed Trish Stratus fan, Mickie’s behaviour became more and more creepy over the ensuing months, eventually leading to her attacking Trish and setting up a match between the pair at WrestleMania XXII. Not only did Mickie make waves by defeating Stratus for the Women’s Championship in that bout, she also famously performed a suggestive taunt at her opponent.
With Trish down and out, Mickie taunted her rival by simulating an oral act. Not only was this a hugely shocking and controversial moment at the time, but the following years saw James’ gesture removed from all home releases and subsequent airings of that PPV. As such, if you watch the match back on the WWE Network, it’s heavily edited and makes for an awkward viewing experience, and Mickie herself has admitted that Vince McMahon berated her for the taunt as soon as she got backstage after the match.
2 Painted Bikini
During the heyday of the Attitude Era, there’s a good argument to say that Sable was at one point the most popular performer under a WWF contract. Yes, there may have been Stone Cold Steve Austin, there may have been The Rock, there may have been The Undertaker, but let’s just say that Sable had certain, err, assets that made her a must-see to so many of the then-WWF’s target demographic.
In fairness, you could likely make this article up of entirely Sable-related entries, but her famous painted hand bikini is something that stands out in the mind of many a young man who was watching the WWF during the late-90s.
The scene was 1998’s Fully Loaded PPV, and a bikini contest was the order of the day. With Jerry Lawler losing his mind, Sable shocked the world by disrobing and revealing that her bikini top was actually made up of merely a couple of hand prints.
You wouldn’t even see a bikini contest in the WWE these days, and you certainly wouldn’t see any of the WWE’s current female talent pulling a stunt similar to what Sable did back in ’98.
1 Live "Show"
An article such as this just simply couldn’t happen without including Edge and Lita’s live sex celebration that took place on a January 2006 edition of Monday Night Raw.
By this point in time, Edge had moved from a tag team specialist alongside Christian, to becoming a solid midcard level talent, to finally being given a shot at the main event scene. Cashing in the first ever Money in the Bank briefcase, the Toronto native beat John Cena for the WWE Championship. And what better way to mark your first Raw as a World Champ, not to mention live up to your recently-acquired Rated-R Superstar moniker, than by having sex in the middle of the ring?
That’s exactly what Edge did, setting up a bed in the squared circle and getting up to X-rated shenanigans with his then real-life girlfriend Lita. That one segment drew a 5.2 rating, which was the highest rating Raw had received in over a year at that point. As the old adage goes, sex clearly sells.