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Wrestling's Scummiest Moment Ever?


Liam O'Rourke

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Melanie Pillman being interviewed by Vince the night after her husband legitimately died, live on television was pretty scummy. It felt like a total ratings ploy and massively exploitative. The interview is actually quite distressing, and Melanie seems understandably distraught. The whole thing feels grubby and ugly, not to mention desperate.

 

I remember his closing question being something to the effect of how she was going to support her family now that she was a single parent. Even now as I write that I am disgusted.

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Rob Black.

 

 

That IWA incident where a number of wrestlers and a child, came out to beat the fuck out of Mike Levy. A kicking is shit, but not scarce, however, several wrestlers kicking the fuck out of him in front of the crowd is both shit and highly disturbing. From what I remember it was due to a botched spot.

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CM Punk and the Undertaker for me, that was really uncomfortable to watch - especially the promo where he opened an urn and poured ashes over the downed Taker. I know it came out afterwards that Bearer's family agreed for it to happy, but it made me pretty uneasy watching.

 

Eddie Guerrero was all kinds of wrong, Orton's 'he's down there in Hell!' line was in horrifically poor taste.

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That IWA incident where a number of wrestlers and a child, came out to beat the fuck out of Mike Levy. A kicking is shit, but not scarce, however, several wrestlers kicking the fuck out of him in front of the crowd is both shit and highly disturbing. From what I remember it was due to a botched spot.

Fucking hell, forgot about that. Ian Rotten is proper slime. IIRC, Rotten's little kid even got in on the beating

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I'm going to stick to on-screen stuff here. There's frankly too much that must have gone on behind the scenes that we'll never know about that will be even more reprehensible than anything we do know. The premature deaths, the effect of all the unprotected head shots with weapons, the hazings and 'ribs', the prevailing mindset of 'you go on even though you're injured, and if you get even more injured, that's your fault', the cover-ups… too much to even think about.

 

So I'm going with a few on-screen things. They're not individual moments, more related to attitudes, but each one has plenty of offending moments.

 

1) Misogyny.

The Attitude Era's the biggest culprit for this, but its effects went on for years afterwards. How long were the majority of female characters in wrestling defined by how much cock they'd had? It's excruciating to watch back and see how women were treated. There's the fact women would be physically abused by men for babyface pops (Austin beating up Lita, the Dudleys having their whole gimmick based on putting women through tables and getting pops for it, Austin stunning Stacy Keibler FOR NO FUCKING REASON), and the fact they'd be physically abused by men to get heel reactions as well. The idea of anyone beating up Mae Young or Moolah has always made me feel ill, quite frankly, and I know you can respond to that with a little "the idea of even looking at Mae Young or Moolah makes me physically ill" joke, or say "well, they were up for doing it, weren't they? So it's fine", but I don't accept that. I don't care if they were happy to do it, or that either of them were ten thousand times tougher than I'll ever be, I do not find the concept of eighty year old women being physically attacked entertaining IN ANY WAY.

 

And even they couldn't escape the overt sexualisation of women in that era. Want to get a pop, and you're a woman? You're going to have to take your clothes off or get your tits out. Virtually everything about women in that time was defined by, as I said, how much cock they'd had, or whose cock they were currently having. You've got the obvious examples like Sable and her hand-print bikini, Debra and her 'puppies', The Kat wanting to get naked all the time, and so many others. And these, by and large, were your babyfaces. If you had a woman who didn't want to strip or get her tits out, like Ivory, say, or Molly Holly, SHE BECAME A HEEL FOR IT!

 

But you've got the women who were ostensibly all about their in-ring skills. Lita, say, who I would argue got over by her wrestling, with moonsaults and Litacanranas and so on, or Jacqueline, who wasn't too shabby as a wrestler at all, or Molly again. Even they get sexualised. Lita when she was a babyface had a thong hanging out of her arse the whole time, and her biggest ever storyline was based on her being a slut. Jacqueline got her tits out how many times? And when Molly was all about wrestling, the thing they had with her was that she was a virgin (HEEL!) and had a big bum. I don't want to sound like a Shimmer-obsessed neckbeard here, and I don't want to make it sound like all female wrestlers should be boring technical wrestlers who just wrestle and nothing else (I've only watched one Shimmer show and found it quite boring, actually) but everything was about looks or sex.

 

And this went on long past the Attitude Era. How long did female wrestlers basically have to get a boob job to get noticed in WWE? Nidia, Shaniqua, Mickie James, Melina, Gail Kim I think, the list goes on. The Bellas, too, if I'm right. There's Serena and her nose job as well. No wonder when TNA started the Knockouts Division it was such a breath of fresh air, at least until it started focusing on Velvet Sky's arse or having Roxxi unwillingly have her head shaved for a babyface pop.

 

And again, you can say "well, they must have been happy to do it, or they wouldn't have done it", but that's not the fucking point. The 'Trish barking like a dog' angle has already been brought up, and that (along with the times she had to snog the face off Vince) was awful to watch then, I can only imagine how unbearably offensive it would be to watch today, and I don't care if Trish was happy with it, or if she suggested it, or whatever, I don't find women being treated like that entertaining.

 

You've also got the general treatment. Chris Jericho in 2001 whenever he was talking about Stephanie McMahon. The Rock, also talking about Stephanie McMahon. The language used about women in promos, both in these specific cases and generally. I know Stephanie was a heel, but come on. Jerry Lawler on commentary. The level of objectification is appalling. It's really, really appalling. Woman's a heel? She's a whore! She's a slut! She's probably a hooker! Woman's a babyface? Get your tits out, lass! And again, that went on for years afterwards - God-bothering Shawn Michaels getting a blowie off a random skank under a table at a barbecue in 2006, for example. Fucking hell.

 

Then you've got Bra And Panties matches. Lingerie Matches. Mud wrestling matches. Lingerie Pillowfights. People go on about the Stacy miscarriage angle. I watched New Blood Rising last week, for which I blame this forum entirely. That angle is offensive. Hideously offensive. But it came at the end of a match where she and Major Gunns (case in point) had to wrestle each other's clothes off and then jump in a mud bath for some reason. That's not as offensive, I grant you, but it's still horrendous. You can again argue "product of its time, blah blah", but that doesn't change the fact that it's so, so misogynistic, and watching it with adult eyes, I'd consider it indefensible and, more importantly, SCUMMY AS FUCK.

 

 

2) Homophobia.

 

Want to land a great verbal blow on your opponent? Accuse him of being gay! Everybody boo him, he's different to us! There are hundreds and hundreds of examples of the latent homophobic prevalent in wrestling, especially in the Attitude Era, but again, afterwards as well (Vince Loves Cock comes to mind, you've also got Billy & Chuck, you've got most of John Cena's raps), but there are so many during Attitude I can't even begin. I think every babyface probably used homophobia to get pops at one point or another - The Rock certainly did. The very idea of Goldust being gay provoked heel heat and, significantly, was portrayed as such, but I'm talking about the stuff in the background. The little comment you drop in your promo, the 'dick in mouth' expression you make during a match, the little jibe you make at your opponent, the little 'cock sucker' joke you might make so the audience laughs at the other guy. Basically homosexuality was an insult, and something to be ashamed of, to furiously deny, or a concept so offensive that you have to attack the guy who accused you of it. You might want to say "product of its time, redneck audience", blah blah fucking blah I don't care. To use the idea of being gay as something vile, as something to provoke you, as something inherently wrong, is dreadful, and SCUMMY AS FUCK.

 

 

3) Jingoism.

 

Bit more straightforward here. Are you foreign? YOU'RE A HEEL, YOU HATE AMERICA, YOU EITHER LOVE IT OR GET OUT, USA, USA, USA! You've got your tasteless angles, like Sgt Slaughter in 1991, you've got your obvious attempts to provoke the cheapest of cheap heat like Muhammad Hassan. Watch those introductory vignettes again - the guy is making a valid point about the treatment of Muslims in post-9/11 America, and his arguments make sense, and he wants to show that not all Muslims are terrorists. So he debuts and the crowd BOOS THE FUCK OUT OF HIM SO THEY TURN HIS CHARACTER INTO A TERRORIST. Horrendous. You've got the stereotypes. Fucking hell, the stereotypes. Japanese stereotypes - Kenzo Suzuki and Hiroko come to mind, but you've got Yokozuna ‚Äčeven though he wasn't even Japanese. French stereotypes - I dare you to watch the Christopher Nowinski vs. Scott Steiner 'debate' from that Raw in 2003 where La Resistance interrupt, the jingoism on show there is abominable. Mexican stereotypes - the Mexicools on their lawnmowers, anyone? And so on, and so on. So they play on those stereotypes, and these Trumpian fears of FOREIGN = EVIL, not to show their young, impressionable audience that being different is okay, but so the glorious heroic 'Murican can save the day against the evil foreign Johnny, USA USA USA SCUMMY AS FUCK.

 

 

4) Straight up blatant racism.

 

Booker T in the run up to WrestleMania 19. Black guys coming to the ring in chains. Saba Simba. Cryme Tyme. And that's not even getting into the 70s and 80s where you didn't even have to pretend you weren't racist. And this all coming from Vince McMahon, the world's biggest fan of Bobo Brazil. SCUMMY AS FUCK.

 

 

 

(don't worry, I'm nearly done)

 

 

5) TREATMENT OF THE DEAD.

 

Eddie Guerrero and Brian Pillman have already been mentioned. But they are far from the only times wrestling has exploited real life deaths to … well, to do what, exactly? It's never been proven to draw, has it? And the worst thing is, they don't fucking learn from this. Paul Bearer. Jerry Lawler's mum. Reid Flair. Once again, you can claim "oh, their families were alright with it if it got on TV, so it's fine". Leaving aside the fact that arguably in the case of Reid and indisputably in the case of Pillman that that's just not fucking true, EVEN IF THEY'RE OKAY WITH IT DOESN'T MEAN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO DO IT. I am not entertained by real life exploitation of real life people who have really died. IT'S A FICTIONAL TV SHOW, IT DOESN'T NEED TO DO THIS. (and that's leaving aside 'fictional deaths' like Big Show's dad or Katie Vick which are offensive on a whole different level.)

 

I could go on and on and on about how utterly awful it is that any wrestling angle should have to resort to this, the fact it gets okayed by anyone, and the fact that they don't learn from something like Pillman or Eddie and JUST STOP EXPLOITING THE DEAD. If Chris Benoit hadn't murdered his family I daresay he'd have been used in an angle within a year of his death. And it's a whole other argument to bring up continuing Over The Edge 1999 after Owen Hart died in the ring in the middle of the show, but they carried on the show after Owen Hart died in the ring in the middle of the show. I know that's not exploiting the dead, and I know that must have been a phenomenally tough decision to make, and you could argue for hours about whether it was the right thing to do, but sometimes, just sometimes it's okay for the show to not have to go on.

 

But using recently deceased wrestlers, or relatives of wrestlers, as mere fodder for a storyline? It's the most shameful, disgusting, sickening thing wrestling does, and sadly keeps on doing, to no benefit for anyone, and it's SCUMMY. AS. FUCK.

 

 

 

And like I said at the start, this is just the stuff we see on screen...

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It's hard to top the whole Muhammed Hussan arc. Whilst they tried to dress it up as the character being American all along and it was in fact Predudice of the audience, there was no way you could fall for what was really going on. The fact that the character was around for six or seven months before being sent to hell via the stage floor at, where else, The Great American Bash is alarming.

What happened then? TNA sign Davari give him the same gimmick and give him theme music that starts with an aeroplane crashing

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I'd probably go with running with the Hassan attack on the Undertaker, where Hassan accompanied by people dressed as Islamist terrorists choked out The Undertaker- aired the same day as 7/7 (though, taped before).

 

Given the jingoistic attitude towards Murica and their war on terror that WWE had at the time, you'd have expected them to be able to edit out that segment on such a poignant day for one of the WWE's largest international markets.

 

Otherwise the Melanie Pillman interview comes to mind, as well as the Rey/Eddie thing, the recent Paige/Charlotte promo. I'd probably also add the angle ECW ran where I believe Raven carried out a mock cruxcifiction on the Sandman in front of the Sandman's son who would have only been ten or so at the time. I believe Kurt Angle was scheduled to appear at this event just after he won his gold medal but left the ECW Arena in disgust.

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I always think of the whole no ring/ ring gate incident which happened on our soil in 2001 I believe.

 

A wrestling promoter and a few hundred fans all losing money and wasting a whole day down to petty jealousy on the UK scene.

 

The Mike Levey incident also stands out, in fact Ian Rotten in general makes me feel sick and depressed just looking at him.

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3 main ones have already been mentioned:

 

Undertaker/Hassan - On one hand I can see why they thought it would generate business given Vince is stuck in the 80's but it was poorly executed and in very poor taste.

 

Kane/HHH/Katie Vick- One of the few times that I have gotten angry at the tv - it was simply needless, did not advance anything in terms of the overall angle and was disgusting.

 

Brock Lesnar/Zach Gowen - Awful to watch at the time, watched it a few days ago again and the absolute beating he gave a disabled person
‚Äč(albeit one who wrestled professionally) was and still is horrendous. The fact he was only 19 or so at the time makes me wonder if there was a bit of naivety on his part but it is shocking to watch.

 

As above - Ian rotten/Mike Levey. Horrific.

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I don't think taking your 10 year old to ECW is best advised, crucifixion or no.

 

Here's an interview with Gowen on the Lesnar stuff:

Doesn't sound like he was in too much danger with Brock - the world's nicest bloke as we all know, though he did get briefly KO'd from a powerbomb. Think I'm just a sick fuck cos I loved that match. It was like something you'd do on a Smackdown game on ultra easy mode when bored. Would consider it the best squash I've ever seen. Totally underlined Brock's qualities

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