Despite decades of success and millions of fans around the world, the mainstream media has never quite accepted professional wrestling. There have been moments when wrestling was extremely popular or culturally relevant, and major network news had no choice but to interview wrestlers and the people running the companies, but they always seemed to do so with a certain level of contempt. More than once, full news segments have been dedicated to manipulating wrestlers into admitting what they do is dangerous and overly violent. Sometimes, though, the wrestlers deserved it—in a few instances, they just acted like morons on live television.
Gotcha journalism can be a useful tool in politics, testing how much a politician truly knows and what their real feelings on an issue are, but in wrestling, it’s kind of absurd and cruel. The wrestlers rarely actually get flustered by it; they just get confused and then upset when the news producers inevitably edit their interview to try and make them look bad. The times the tactic worked and the wrestlers were successfully pissed off tended to go even worse for everybody. Obviously, the news is an intensely valid part of society and we don’t mean to knock it, but these 10 stories show that maybe mainstream news and wrestling just don’t mix.
10 WCW On The Cover Of USA Today
Arguably the most embarrassing moment in the history of professional wrestling saw David Arquette pin Eric Bischoff to win the WCW World Championship. For any wrestling fans who missed the nadir of the industry, Arquette is an actor/comedian smaller than most cruiserweights, who wrestled two or three professional matches for WCW in the year 2000 to promote the film Ready to Rumble. Why did this happen? Apparently Vince Russo was a firm believer in the adage there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and he really wanted to make front-page news.
9 Exposed! Pro Wrestling's Greatest Secrets
8 Hardbody Harrison On Fox Birmingham
7 Mr. Kennedy On Fox News
6 Diamond Dallas Page On Nancy Grace
A good deal of the items on this list focus either on a wrestler or wrestling company publicly making a bad decision. The only bad decision Diamond Dallas Page made was agreeing to be on Nancy Grace. Grace, on the other hand, made overwhelmingly bad decisions during the interview, like only she can. Shortly after the death of the Ultimate Warrior in 2014, DDP was invited on Nancy Grace, allegedly to discuss Warrior's life and legacy. Grace instead exclusively talked about steroids, assuming Warrior died because of steroid abuse, despite all reports indicating he died of natural causes.
5 Vince McMahon On Bob Costas
WWE is entirely clean and corporate today, but it hasn’t always been that way, as evidenced by one of Vince McMahon’s appearances on HBO’s On The Record with Bob Costas. The interview took place in March of 2001, which was a hugely successful time for WWE and Vince McMahon in general, with one glaring exception: the XFL. Costas grills McMahon over his failing football enterprise, clearly pissing him off in royal fashion.
4 Mick Foley On 20/20
3 Vince McMahon, Bruno Sammartino, Billy Graham, Barry O, Dave Meltzer And Others On Donahue
The early 1990’s were an extremely tumultuous time for Vince McMahon. He nearly went to jail for alleged steroid distribution, and just a few years before that, WWE faced a rather serious underage sex scandal. Former young male employees were alleging abuse from Pat Patterson, Terry Garvin and Mel Phillips. Patterson has been Vince’s right hand man for decades, and the other two were WWE agents for years until the scandal. In 1992, Phil Donahue had Vince and a variety of wrestlers appear on his show to discuss the accusations.
Vince appeared with future WWE Hall of Famers Billy Graham and Bruno Sammartino, former WWE jobbers Barry O and Tom Cole, and former WWE ring announcer Murray Hodgson. Wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer also appeared, later claiming he was the only person to talk to McMahon off-camera, and saying he’s never felt more hatred in one room than when all of the other former superstars were looking at McMahon. The exact facts of the case at hand are iffy and were never made completely public, but almost no one comes out of this particular show looking good.
2 John Cena On CNN
In late 2007, CNN aired a documentary titled Death Grip: Inside Professional Wrestling, where they interviewed a number of major superstars about steroid abuse, amongst other topics. The most damning moment of the documentary saw John Cena answer a question about whether or not he had ever done steroids by saying, “I can’t say I never did them, but you can never prove I did.” Obviously, Cena said those words, but his actual answer to that question in particular was, “Absolutely not.” Cena’s other words came later in his response, as he was voicing his frustration nobody in the mainstream media believes him when he answers the question honestly.
1 Dr. D Slaps John Stossel
Professional wrestling is fake. Everyone over the age of 10 who watches WWE knows this, and in fact, most of the kids under 10 realize it, too. The only people who seem to care about this are people who don’t like it to begin with, news reporters, and occasionally, pissed off wrestlers with serious attitude problems. The truth may not have been total public knowledge in the mid-80’s, but enough people knew that John Stossel decided to confront ‘Dr. D’ David Schultz about it on 20/20, late 1984. While most wrestlers at the time probably would have still denied it publicly, Schultz took a more direct approach, slapping Stossel twice and continuing to threaten him after he started trying to run away.
Schultz was immediately suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission and was fired from WWE shortly after the incident. Over 30 years later, it remains one of the most embarrassing moments in wrestling history. It didn’t matter if wrestling was fake or not—the guys who wrestled were big idiots. Stossel sued over the assault and settled out of court for a hefty sum. Schultz has spent years claiming McMahon told him to hit Stossel, but he also spent years claiming Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper and Randy Savage were just siphoning his fame, so maybe he’s not the most reputable source.
Sources: WWE, PW Torch
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