Let’s face it—World Wrestling Entertainment, and indeed the sport of pro wrestling, in general, isn’t exactly for everyone. Beyond the shocking number of people who can’t get past the fact it’s scripted and enjoy it for what it is, there are also many valid complaints about the questionable and perhaps adult content often seen in sports entertainment. That’s not to mention the sheer violence of it all, as not everyone likes watching people get their heads smashed in with steel chairs and sledgehammers, whether it’s real or not.
It's the detractors worried about WWE producing risqué television we’re focusing on for this article largely because they seem to have the most logical argument. Sure, violent programming can affect susceptible minds, but the truth is, wrestling is no more bloody than most other TV shows or certain music videos or movies. However, wrestling’s bizarre factor has been firmly in tact from the beginning, and the genre has produced countless hours of content that simply wouldn’t fly anywhere else in entertainment.
For the most part, the explanation for this trend all comes down to the man in charge: Vince McMahon. As the owner and CEO of WWE, McMahon decides the sort of television his company puts on the air. Apparently, he believes catering to the strangest sense of humor and openly offending millions at a time on a very personal level is the best way to go about getting ratings.
Truth be told, the man does have a point, as we’re still talking about his craziest ideas years after they happened. The catch is that we’re doing so in a horribly negative way, and he doesn’t seem to mind. To learn the specifics, keep reading for 15 disturbing AF WWE moments that left fans feeling extremely uncomfortable.
15 Vince Makes Trish Strip
Being the main source of sports entertainment’s most offensive moments, there should be no surprise that Vince McMahon finds himself scattered throughout this list, and in some of the absolute lowest segments his programming has produced at that. For female wrestling fans, probably the worst thing McMahon ever did was have future WWE Hall of Famer and pioneer for women in the industry Trish Stratus strip to her underwear, crawl around on all fours, and bark like a dog for his amusement all in the middle of a wrestling ring.
The segment was so maligned it even affected Linda McMahon’s second career in government, with many news reporters asking her for comments despite it having happened a full decade prior to her candidacy in the Connecticut Senate. All anyone in the company could say in their defense is that WWE is about heroes and villains, and Vince was a clear villain here, who later got his revenge when the heroic Trish helped Shane McMahon defeat him at WrestleMania X7. Unfortunately, that’s nowhere near enough retribution for such a vile and uncomfortable moment, and few fans are buying the excuse.
14 JBL “Protects” The Border
In today’s wintery political climate, everyone has his own opinion on immigration, illegal or otherwise, and what the government should do about the situation. Regardless of where one falls on the debate, the behavior of WWE Champion JBL during his feud against Eddie Guerrero would be downright deplorable, if real, and even in scripted form, it had lots of SmackDown fans changing the channel. To elaborate just how much JBL hated Mexicans, a statement he proudly professed many times, he traveled to the US-Mexican border and “harassed families illegally crossing the border.” Had the whole segment been a joke with a punch line that JBL couldn’t find anyone to terrorize, maybe it would've worked. Unfortunately, the payoff is that he actually discovered a full family of people trying to enter the country and beats them up off camera, like the giant bully he is on and off camera.
13 Tim White Has Had Enough
Sadly, depression is an issue millions of people around the world have to deal with every day, and there’s no doubt some overlap between those suffering the disorder and fans of sports entertainment. As they often do, WWE tried to capitalize on this shared emotion by creating a long and elaborate storyline about one of their performers feeling existential grief, which actually might have turned out fine if the payoff was that he overcame his problems and started to succeed again.
Unfortunately, this is WWE we’re talking about. Instead of an uplifting tale of overcoming obstacles, the company had retired referee Tim White cut an interview with Josh Matthews about how a Hell in a Cell match caused the injury that ended his career. Downtrodden over the scenario, White then pulled out a shotgun and threatened to kill himself live on camera. Fans heard a blast, but White turned out fine… so the next week, he tried eating a box of rat poison -- and so on, each fake suicide more offensive than the last. Anyone to experience real depression knew the whole ordeal was in outrageously bad taste, yet the low profile kept by White prevented this story from being that big a deal in the long run.
12 Heidenreich Assaults Michael Cole
Some female wrestling fans might get a little uncomfortable whenever a male wrestler touches one of his female coworkers in a way she didn’t want or expect, and that’s totally understandable. Any male fan who doesn’t get why this is should check out a segment between Heidenreich and Michael Cole, as unwanted touching is clearly not an issue solely faced by women. The most disturbing part of what Heidenreich did to the WWE announcer is the blasé and unimportant way it was treated, as, make no mistake about it, Heidenreich raped Michael Cole in the middle of an interview. The giant wrestler pushed the small announcer against a wall and thrust his hips repeatedly, so there’s really no other way to read what happened. While sexually assaulting an innocent victim is obviously stuff of villainy, it’s a little bit too real for a pro wrestler to use the idea simply to earn a few cheap boos. And again, the real killer of the angle is the fact WWE pretty much never mentioned it again, apparently leaving poor Cole to deal with the severe trauma forever.
11 JR’s Colon Surgery
Ask just about any wrestling fan of the past 30+ years who the greatest American announcer in modern wrestling history is, and 95% of the will instantly and without hesitation offer the same reply: Jim Ross. Good Old JR is a class above almost every other commentator in wrestling, if not just sports, in general, and yet, rather than reward him for decades of consistent jobs well done, Vince McMahon seemed to take a perverse pride in mocking the WWE Hall of Famer at absolutely every opportunity possible. The worst such incident came in 2005, when JR needed some time off Raw to undergo very real colon surgery. Were he a wrestler, WWE might have made a quick statement on their website about how JR was recovering and would be back soon, leaving it at that. However, because of McMahon’s bizarre enmity towards Ross, he and a buxom actress portraying a nurse appeared in a segment depicting JR’s operation. The punch line was that the real reason JR went to the hospital is that “his head was stuck up his ass,” an absurd assertion he never got any comeuppance for, leaving most fans with a horrible taste in their mouths.
10 Hawk Falls To His Death
Believe it or not, Tim White’s repeat attempts to commit suicide were far from the only time WWE implied a performer’s life was severely in jeopardy. In fact, during the Attitude Era, they heavily implied a pro wrestler was killed on camera and never discussed it again. Already, this is pretty uncomfortable territory, and once one throws in the fact this wrestler’s death was directly related to his real-life struggles with drugs and alcohol, it becomes almost wholly unbearable.
Prior to ever working for WWE, Hawk and Animal, the Road Warriors, were world-renowned as one of the best and most destructive teams in wrestling history. Twice, Vince McMahon tried to intervene and screw that up, first by giving them a puppet in the early ‘90s and then by making Hawk’s alcoholism his defining characteristic during the Attitude Era. Dumb as the puppet was, the addiction storyline was significantly more offensive and uncomfortable, especially to those who struggled with drugs themselves. Of course, one needn’t experience addiction first hand to know how messed up it was for the angle to end with Droz pushing Hawk off the Titantron, never to be seen again and thus presumed dead.
9 Goldust Freaks Out The Dead Man
Recognized upon arrival as “The Bizarre One,” WWE in no way tried to hide how strange the Goldust character was going to turn out. Even so, many fans were shocked and confused at just how strange his antics were, digging into wrestlers' homophobia when playing sexual mind games against them. In one sense, this character is brilliant, as many WWE superstars are indeed the sorts of macho men who would get furious if someone questioned their sexuality. Unfortunately, a large number of WWE fans apparently felt the same way, getting scared and offended by the implications of Goldust’s character.
In one case, the outrage was actually warranted. Included in Goldust’s detractors was none other than Kevin Nash, aka Diesel, reigning WWE Champion when The Bizarre One debuted. One segment in particular that Nash felt went way over the line saw Goldust and Mankind attack The Undertaker, followed by Goldust crawling over The Phenom’s unconscious body and making sexually suggestive gestures on top of him. Despite what some wrestling fans may think, there’s nothing offensive about homosexuality in and of itself. However, men sexually assaulting other men is an entirely different story, and that’s basically what Goldust was doing here.
8 Miscarriage Angles Always Fail
Given the increased role of women in WWE, hopefully, the company will eventually learn how to start writing female characters as more than mere clichés. If not that, perhaps the clichés will at least start getting positive. Knowing WWE, even these lower standards may be too much, so let’s just beg them to never do another miscarriage angle. In fairness to Vince McMahon, he’s not the only wrestling promoter to try such a thing, as WCW did the exact same thing, as well. Regardless of where they happen, miscarriage angles never work out well, always offending and for pretty much no reason at that.
The first we’re aware of was naturally smack dab in the middle of the Attitude Era when D’Lo Brown apparently got Terri Runnels pregnant. Not long after that, Brown was also responsible for causing her to accidentally miscarry the child, followed by her revealing the whole thing was a lie, invalidating it all. In the WCW example, Stacy Keibler had the miscarriage, and when WWE did the same awful idea a second time around, it was Lita. Neither of these women played it any better than Terri, who looked back on the role with deep regret, arguing Vince Russo had basically forced her to do it.
7 The Boogeyman Eats Jillian Hall’s Mole
For those who feel WWE is at its worst when they go full cartoon, The Boogeyman must have been an absolute nightmare. Generally appearing in a puff of smoke and eating a shocking amount of live worms, The Boogeyman was absurd and terrifying all at once, traits that made him a serious threat to anyone able to get over how unrealistic it all was. WWE sure made it hard to do that, though, especially when The Boogeyman’s weird magic tricks started affecting other wrestlers' lives. Before we go any further, let’s mention another disturbing image constantly appearing on SmackDown during that same era in Jillian Hall. While otherwise beautiful, Hall had a massive and unsightly mole on her cheek, which apparently constituted a storyline-worthy characteristic to the WWE writing staff. Digressing back to the point, that mole finally disappeared when The Boogeyman came face to face with Jillian and… licked it off. Well, it’s not like that was any grosser than eating a hundred worms.
6 Vince Chokes Out Stephanie With A Pipe
Alright, we get it. Professional wrestling, especially that of the hardcore variety, is going to be extremely violent. There’s a reason none of the items on this list simply detail matches that got too bloody or those where a participant was horrifically injured. Disturbing as those moments were to look at, there’s no deeper implication to the scenario to make us genuinely uncomfortable -- except, that is, for one particular no-disqualification bout that happened to also boast its status as the only father-daughter match in WWE history. Naturally, this match could only be contested by Vince and Stephanie McMahon, both of whom absolutely beat the hell out of one another during the match. Ultimately, Vince won the war in very definitive fashion, choking out his daughter unconscious with a steel pipe while wearing a maniacal look on his face. That the whole thing took place mere days before Stephanie’s wedding to Triple H only serves to make the glee Vince took in strangling the life out his daughter all that much more difficult to watch.
5 Mr. Yamaguchi-san Choppy Choppy Val Venis…
It almost seems like an oxymoron, yet should a puritanical wrestling fan exist, the character of Val Venis must've been sending off warning signs from the moment of its conception. Catering toward fans' most primal desires and looking for an image that could penetrate the minds of females in the audience, Venis was wrestling’s first adult-film star. That said, he was far from the last, as a big part of his gimmick was somehow seducing almost every WWE diva to catch his attention and getting them to star in his next films.
One of the first and highest-profile such co-starring roles was held by Mrs. Yamaguchi-san, the wife of (obviously) Mr. Yamaguchi-san, who, in turn, managed a stable of Japanese high fliers called Kai En Tai. Horrifically offended that his wife would cuckold him on film, Yamaguchi-san had his minions kidnap Venis, tie him up in the backstage area, and chop off his, ahem, member, with a sword. The next week, Venis would joke about having been saved by some well-timed “shrinkage,” but this didn’t stop legions of male fans from wincing every time they thought about the infamous segment.
4 Pillman’s Got A Gun
The whole point of sports entertainment is that while the superstars of WWE are big, bad, and ready to fight, they’d prefer to do so inside a wrestling than in a manner that blatantly breaks all sorts of laws. For better or worse, this concept kind of went out the door during the Attitude Era, when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, in particular, got arrested for his antics practically every week on Raw -- and almost always with good reason. Before Austin ending up in handcuffs was a regular thing, his first offensive act was a home invasion, breaking into Brian Pillman’s home while the Loose Cannon was being interviewed by Kevin Kelly. In a legitimate twist, Pillman was the one looking to do something truly illegal, pulling out a gun and threatening to shoot Austin on live television if he came any further. Never backing down, the Rattlesnake pounced, and the camera cut out to the sound of a bullet being fired. Even hardened wrestling fans who were dying to see an ass-whooping that night were shocked by this level of realistic and extreme violence, something they’d have to get used to as the Attitude Era progressed.
3 Mae Young Gives Birth To A Hand
There’s uncomfortable, there’s disturbing, and then there’s Vincent Kennedy McMahon. The world will never know what happened to the guy as a child that resulted in such a bizarrely offensive sense of humor, yet we do know the results, and they’re downright horrifying. Before zeroing in on what is perhaps Vince’s strangest and least funny joke ever, one must understand a little bit about the career of Mae Young. For most of her career, Young was an "also ran" at best, never achieving fame, success, or critical acclaim until her late 70s. Suddenly, she was McMahon’s favorite tool for comedy, stripping naked on Pay-Per-View and forcibly making out with men a third her age on a weekly basis. As if that wasn’t disturbing enough, Young’s most infamous contribution to wrestling was her relationship with Mark Henry, which somehow resulted in her pregnancy. Well, maybe "pregnancy" isn’t the word because Young didn’t produce a child… she fell ill mere weeks after the conception was announced, and then gave birth to a white human hand. There’s literally nothing we can add to explain how unsettling it all was.
2 Triple H Humps A Mannequin In A Coffin
How could Vince McMahon possibly top his latest and greatest punch line in having Mae Young give birth to a hand? Why, anyone pondering that query clearly isn’t all too familiar with the man. At this point, it should become evident that McMahon’s favorite brands of humor are darkly sexual, and his absolute nadir emphatically marks off both categories. In late 2002, Triple H was feuding with Kane over both the World and Intercontinental Championships. Because unifying the two top titles in wrestling wasn’t enough to sell tickets, HHH also started claiming the Big Red Machine was in a drunk driving accident as a teen that took the life of his friend, Katie Vick. Moving past how this shattered Kane’s entire backstory up to that point, even more confusing was the video HHH offered as “proof” of his story. In that footage, HHH himself donned a Kane mask and humped a mannequin inside a coffin for an uncomfortably long time. Contrary to selling tickets, many fans watching Raw that night turned off their TVs and never watched WWE again, too worried what the next affront to good taste could possibly be to stick around and find out.
1 The "Kiss My Ass" Club
Alright, this list is coming to an end, so let’s just cut to the chase. Of all the disturbing things Vince McMahon has forced his employees to do over the years, none quite hold a candle to inventing a club where membership was gained by literally puckering up and kissing the WWE CEO’s naked buttocks. Thankfully, only a particularly unlucky half dozen WWE superstars, including Vince’s own son Shane, have been forced to join. However, the low frequency of induction ceremonies hardly makes them any less horrific in retrospect. The worst of all was definitely when The Undertaker beat the hell out of Jim Ross and shoved his unconscious face directly between Vince’s naked cheeks. The incidents with William Regal, Shawn Michaels, and Mick Foley weren’t any easier to watch either. The scariest part? Knowing Vince, the club could always make an unwanted comeback regardless of how old he is, and now that his body is starting to sag, we might see more than just his ass.