Originally, I was planning on writing an article regarding Roman Reigns and his reputation amongst the WWE fanbase currently, but this past Monday Nights edition of RAW hosted one of the worst wrestling segments I have ever sat through, which is a bold claim. The infamous Sami Zayn interview of Bobby Lashley’s ‘sisters’ didn’t just annoy me but annoyed me into looking back at some of the similar slip-ups that WWE have achieved in the past, and how they compared.
Despite the WWE being the most storied & successful entertainment brands on the planet, it isn’t without its downfalls. The company has created countless memories that will live on in the hearts & minds of millions for years to come but sadly some of those memories leave the sourest of tastes in the mouths of professional wrestling fans, many of which we want to forget.
No, I’m not talking about your generic answers such as the ‘Bayley: This is Your Life’ or ‘The Old Day’ segments, I mean those segments that are so aggressively terrible they haven’t just resulted in the demise of superstars and their reputations, but sadly reflected on the WWE’s overall mindset (whether those reflections are accurate or not is up for debate).
I wanted to shed light on the WWE product, and what it reveals may not be pleasant especially to those that are passionate about this industry but may provide some education on how not to book a professional wrestling product. What is being discussed today are the 5 worst segments in the history of the WWE, at least from my own personal perspective.
I’m always up for any suggestions on how to improve this list, but I realistically cannot see any choices that are as terrible as the ones I’m about to discuss.
#5: Mae Young Gives Birth to a Hand
Most of us regard the Attitude Era as the peak of professional wrestling, or at least the general consensus of people does from the point of quality. This era was filled with the most talented and fleshed out roster the business has ever seen, not only did they push the traditional boundaries of professional wrestling on a weekly basis, but the product produced red-hot crowds on every single sell-out crowd they performed in front of.
A gigantic chunk of that era fell on the use of satire to develop storylines, characters and was just a general means of WWE (at the time the WWF) attempting to push their programming’s boundaries even further. One of the most noteworthy results of their satire was Mark Henrys ‘Sexual Chocolate’ persona, framing the now ‘Worlds Strongest Man’ as a playboy who on almost a weekly basis found himself in a new love affair, none however we as ‘memorable’ as the one he had with WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young.
In terms of comedy the angle was brilliant for what its intent was, and some of the moments between the two showed a weird yet fantastic chemistry that only added to the charm a character like Mae Young brought on screen. However, like WWE has done on so many occasions, they took it too far.
During an episode of RAW in 2000 the twos relationship came to its peak point at that time, with the kayfabe birth of their first child. The show itself played up the comedy that surrounded both Henry & Young prior to the key moment of their ‘child’s’ birth but resulted in Young herself giving birth to a hand. You read that right, a hand.
Gerald Brisco who was present during the filming of this segment followed up the initial birth by throwing up on the floor besides both Henry & Young, a reflection of how any fan would feel while watching such an angle. The angle itself has since become a wild satirical piece, even garnering a call-back during the 1000th edition of RAW in 2012 to boisterous cheers, which was a welcome change to the angles initial reaction.
#4: Hornswoggle is revealed as the ‘Anonymous RAW General Manager’
In any form of entertainment, it is vital that a long-term storyline is followed up to perfection. Having a lengthy program, character arc or build doesn’t just take lots of time & effort on the part of your creative team but requires the attention & investment of your audience.
2010 was an odd year for the WWE, as the company’s PG guidelines began to show their impact on the weekly programming many elements of the product began to shift, with new stars being introduced following the departure of some former legends (i.e. Undertaker, HBK, Triple H, etc.) to either a more part-time roll in the company or retirement entirely.
One of the company’s big introductions was the ‘Anonymous GM’ who ran Monday Night RAW on a weekly basis without any real sense of identity, clues or mystery as to whom the person behind the computer was. The character had been voiced through Michael Cole at the time and while speculation ran rampant over the months of this angle, it ultimately came to a halt fairly quickly in mid-2011.
Fans were left with none of their questions or concerns answered until 2012 rolled around. With the company preparing to embrace a new full-time General Manager a weekly special guest was brought in to run the show, one of them being none other than the ‘Anonymous GM’ themselves. A show-spanning angle took place as Santino Marella attempted to uncover the mystery of the GM and who stood behind the computer that had ruled WWE programming for so long, what we got was a swerve that none of us saw coming nor was it a swerve that would necessarily satisfy our urges, as the GM was revealed to be Hornswoggle.
Hornswoggle had long been a satirical element of WWE programming for almost half a decade at that point, going from a vicious leprechaun to Vince McMahons ‘son’, but this just seemed to overstep that fine line between comedy and ridiculousness. The angle not only received backlash from fans who had any slight questions over the ‘Anonymous GM’ but was yet another fine example of WWE favouring comedy over something that potentially could have provided genuine intrigue.
#3: Every Single Bra & Panties Match
I’m almost certain this is the one choice that will receive unanimous votes from anyone who reads this, because who in their right mind thought these matches were a good idea?
The Attitude Era was famous for its boisterous male talents who not only received some of the best storylines and angles in company history but were allowed the time & development to put on some pretty crazy matches during that period. Sadly, we can’t say the same for the women of that era, who on countless occasions were subjugated to abominations like these ‘matches’. The rules were fairly standard; first woman to strip their opponent down to their undergarments wins the match which in turn did absolutely nothing for either performers credibility.
What was baffling about these scenarios was that the women on the roster from the period of 1998-2004 were as talented as ever and could have easily rivalled the efforts of their male counterparts but instead received this treatment. Compared to the modern-day product matches like this gave off awful messages regarding the company’s women, particularly to any of the younger generations watching. Instead of providing viewers with a professional look at the talent behind their female athletes, they were lowered to the standard of pure vanity and nothing more, something I cannot believe was manufactured by the most lucrative wrestling brand on the planet.
Thankfully over a decade removed from those tragic days, women aren’t just being used more prominently on wrestling programs but have been receiving more pushes than many of us could have imagined. Instead of Bra & Panties they step foot inside Hell in The Cell, Steel Cages, Ladder Matches & most recently being the prime attraction of their very own Royal Rumble match. This is certainly one memory all of us can leave behind happily.
#2: Vince McMahon vs God
Distasteful. I don’t think there is one word better suited for this segment than distasteful.
2006 was a strange year for the WWE with the infamous reunion of DX, the return of ECW, the rise of John Cena & certainly one of the worst build-ups to a Pay-Per-View match I have ever seen in all my years of watching this business. Prior to his reunion with best friend Triple H as part of DX, Shawn Michaels embroiled himself in a feud with company chairman Vince McMahon which originally culminated in a clash at Wrestlemania 22, which the former walked out of victorious.
The rivalry however didn’t end just there as McMahon retaliated against his rival in the following weeks demanding more punishment to be inflicted to ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ in their rematch which would occur at that years Backlash event. With the stipulation now being a handicap match featuring Shane McMahon on the side of the boss, Vince mocked Michaels by allowing him a partner larger than anything fathomable, god himself.
Most people took this as a joke, but one that must have raised concerns considering the track record Vince McMahon has with controversy in the WWE. In a segment feature on the build towards the fateful event, Vince & Shane paid a visit to a church to challenge and literally mock god and it turned out exactly as awful as it sounds in my description. Religion is certainly not a key element of wrestling programming by any means and I wish it had remained that way here.
A topic such as this was very difficult to take both seriously or from the stance of satire, as the whole concept just came across as incredibly unnecessary and left a bad taste in fans mouths following these events. It didn’t help either that the segment was held in a real church in the US, which feature Vince crafting his own 12 Commandments, portraying himself as the ‘God’ of WWE & even forcing his son to read out a pre-written psalm which again, is as awful as it sounds.
I know Vince McMahon has been involved in some controversial work during his WWE tenure, but none rivalled the distastefulness that followed this angle. That is, unless you don’t go onto #1 on this article.
#1: Bark Like A Dog
I hate to sound as aggressive as I’m about too, but there has (arguably) never been a more disgusting and vile angle in the history of professional wrestling. Similar to what I mentioned earlier an angle such as this spoke volumes on the state of the WWE’s Women’s Division during this period and also how backwards the company’s policies on women were, especially when compared to the modern-day product.
This angle played a fairly prominent role in WWE history however as it was used as a catalyst in the build to the Vince vs Shane McMahon match at Wrestlemania X-Seven, widely regarded as the best wrestling show of all time. One of the key elements of this angle was Vince McMahon announcing he was cheating on his wife Linda and having an affair than none other than Trish Stratus, which on its own actually gained him legitimate heat with audiences.
In bizarre fashion however, Vince decided to manipulate his power to the women around him in order to establish dominance, by making them bark like dogs. You read that right, Vince McMahon made one of his finest talents crawl on her knees and bark like a dog in front of millions of viewers watching around the world.
Not only was this angle extremely degrading to Trish Stratus and her reputation but was just vile as a basic storyline angle. These segments while only used on one or two occasions were extremely unsettling, vile & demeaning regardless of whether that was the intended effect on the audience. Seeing a woman of Stratus’ calibre forced to get on her knees and crawl around is easily the most disgusting thing I’ve had to sit through as a fan, especially considering what she would go onto accomplish in the later years prior to her retirement.
The angle itself paid off at Wrestlemania X-Seven itself, with Stratus finally standing up to the ego of her overly-inflated romantic partner, but this didn’t remove the damage that had already been done. Moments such as these should be a pleasant reminder of how lucky we should be as fans to have a women’s division like we do now, one that gives women a platform to steal the show on instead of being demeaned & subjugated on.
I love professional wrestling, I just wish moments like these didn’t make me hate it too.