The most shocking wrestling moments (100-81)

After the good response my article on the worst celebrity appearances in wrestling got, I decided to do another wrestling article. I decided on the most shocking moments in wrestling history. It was originally going to be a simple top 25 but I severely underestimated how many moments I wanted to write about. I came up with so many that I actually had to cut dozens just to get this to a manageable list.

(Content warning: discussion of suicidal feelings, eating disorders, and homophobic language)

100. Jacob H. Martin vs. James Hiram McLaughlin (June 29, 1876)

One of the longest wrestling matches ever, the Collar & Elbow match between Martin and McLaughlin went on for nearly eight hours, ending in a no contest. The punishing length of the match is considered by many wrestling historians to be the deciding factor in why bookers decided to go from shoot matches to worked matches.

99. WWF changed its name after being sued by WWF (May 5, 2002)

WWF (the wrestling company) and WWF (the wildlife fund) had coexisted with the same acronyms since 1979 but things changed in the early 2000s. Claiming that Vince’s WWF violated an agreement they’d made in 1994 (regarded internal use of the acronym), the panda’s WWF sued the other. Vince fought it for a while before changing their name to WWE in May 2002. However, the panda wasn’t done. They attempted to petition the court for damages (which failed) and to get WWE to censor old mentions of the WWF name (which succeeded). Luckily, the latter bit of nonsense was undone a decade later and you can now watch old WWF matches without distracting blurs again.

98. El Santo is buried with his mask on (February 5, 1984)

Few luchadors were as committed to their lifestyle as El Santo was. Once, while traveling to Texas, he had to remove his mask for the border officers. He made his companion look away before lifting his mask. He showed his face to the public only once, shortly before his death, seemingly so they could know what he actually looked like before he was gone. When he passed away, he made sure that he was buried with his mask on. Over ten thousand people were in attendance, it reportedly took hours just to bring the casket from the funeral parlor to the hearst.

97. Vince McMahon is revealed to be the Higher Power (June 7, 1999)

One of the most insane swerves in wrestling history, which is really saying something, the identity of the Higher Power that the Undertaker served was teased greatly during the summer of 1999. The Undertaker was feuding with Vince McMahon, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock during this period, dealing great suffering to them. Particularly Vince, as he kidnapped Stephanie McMahon. Austin eventually came face to hooded face with the Higher Power, revealed to be… Vince McMahon? Yes, Vince Russo was still writing Raw when this happened. The reveal made no sense, required an embarrassing amount of explanation afterwards, and basically diminished the Undertaker to Vince’s lackey but thanks to the sheer excitement of the reveal and Vince’s amazing promo afterwards, few people actually noticed the negatives when it happened.

96. Paige’s sex photos are leaked (March 17, 2017)

Thanks to a scumbag ex, salacious photos of Paige were leaked in March 2017. Showing her having sex with other wrestlers and doing lewd things with her championship belt, the photos release caused Paige undue stress. She suffered stress-induced anorexia and contemplated suicide due to the leak. There were fears that she would be punished for the pictures with the belt (this is the organization that suspended Titus O’Neil for playfully grabbing Vince) but they thankfully didn’t. Paige (now wrestling under her real name Saraya in AEW) is still thriving and we’re all grateful to have her.

95. Owen Hart breaks Stone Cold Steve Austin’s neck (August 3, 1997)

During Owen Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s scorcher of a match over the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam 1997, Hart botched a Tombstone Piledriver on Austin and dropped him on his head. Austin’s spinal cord was bruised and he suffered temporary paralysis. The impact this bruise had on Austin’s career was staggering. He had to step away from the scene until Survivor Series in November to recover. To write him off until then, they had Austin give Vince McMahon a stunner and be arrested for it. They also had him interfere with Hart’s matches… to make sure that Hart stayed champion so Austin could take the belt from him personally. Bafflingly, Hart never apologized to Austin over this, much to the confusion of Austin and Bret Hart.

94. Sting vs. Ric Flair (March 27, 1988)

Sting was a star on the rise in 1988 but he wasn’t close to being on Ric Flair’s level before their match at Clash of the Champions I. After 45 minutes of the best wrestling ever seen in the States, Sting became everyone in attendance’s new favorite wrestler. Sting had many amazing matches afterwards but this is the one that made it clear he was going to be a god.

93. Stephanie McMahon compares 9/11 to her father’s indictment (September 13, 2001)

One of the most breathtakingly dumb things ever said in the wrestling industry, which is saying something. McMahon tried to relate to the American people, comparing the trauma they experienced seeing thousands of innocents die to the trauma she experienced when her father was indicted for steroid distribution in the early ’90s. One of the most amazing examples of a clueless rich person trying to seem normal. Amazingly, Vince’s 9/11 speech earlier in the episode was actually pretty classy, inviting people to watch their show to take their mind off of the horrors they had witnessed. When Vince outclasses you, that’s pretty sad.

92. Taylor Wilde revealed to be working a second job at Sunglass Hut despite being Knockouts Champion (September 22, 2008)

In an interview with defunct music website Juiceboxdotcom, Wilde revealed that she had to work a second job at Sunglass Hut just to make ends meet. This happened when she was Knockouts Champion for TNA. This set off a furor across the IWC, which only intensified when more news of TNA’s starvation wages came out over the years. All this while TNA was being funded by Panda Energy International, a then billion dollar company. Wilde is still with TNA (now called Impact) and thanks to Anthem running the show now, is almost certainly being paid her actual worth.

91. Rowdy Roddy Piper accuses Vince Russo of killing Owen Hart (April 12, 2002)

Rowdy Roddy Piper shooting on Vince Russo sounds like a dream come true but the reality was horribly unpleasant. Brought in to promote his new book, Piper went off-script to accuse Russo of booking Own Hart’s death. As much as I like to rag on Russo this was a bridge too far, especially since Russo was especially traumatized by Hart’s death. He was responsible for the gimmick that led to Hart’s accident but that’s like blaming James O’Barr for Brandon Lee’s death. It was super uncomfortable and utterly skincrawling.

90. TNA rehires Vince Russo without telling anyone (July 15, 2014)

After a string of abysmal storylines in TNA, a lot of people were joking that Russo was secretly rehired by TNA. The jokes became real when Russo accidentally included an editor at PWInsider (which had been claiming that Russo had been rehired for months) in an email regarding Impact. Russo came clean and was gone from TNA after a few weeks. This had an absolutely disastrous impact on TNA. TNA was in negotiations with Spike TV at the time over being renewed. Spike did not like Russo at all and this incident almost certainly caused Spike to drop TNA. Dixie Carter threw everything away just to work with Vince Russo. Shameful stuff. Thankfully, Impact is now free from both Carter and Russo’s influences.

89. Ken Patera arrested for vandalizing a McDonald’s (April 6, 1984)

It was late at night and Ken Patera was craving a Big Mac. However, McDonald’s was closed for the night, despite there being some workers still inside. Angered, Patera threw a rock through the McDonald’s window (Patera claims the employee threw the rock, because they’ve got rock lying around in McDonald’s). The police came to arrest him at his hotel but it devolved into a brawl with Patera and fellow wrestler Masa Saito attacking the cops. Patera would later by sentenced to two years in prison.

88. Randy Orton says Eddie Guerrero is in Hell (February 3, 2006)

Zero hyperbole, this might just be my most hated wrestling moment. An absolutely disgusting moment, mocking one of the best and most beloved wrestlers to ever live. Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio were feuding and Orton mocked Mysterio for looking upwards to the sky after winning a match, implicitly looking at Eddie Guerrero in Heaven. Orton then pointed downwards and told Mysterio that Eddie was in Hell. Randy Orton would later admit that he was disgusted with himself, even though Eddie’s widow gave him the greenlight.

87. The Rock becomes one of the biggest actors alive

Everyone with a pair of eyes back in the late ’90s could tell that The Rock had charisma for miles but no one (no one) could have predicted that he would become one of the biggest A-listers in the world. His movies aren’t always great and he’s had his fair share of bombs but he’s a reliable asset. WWE trotting him out every so often to get hype can get tiring as a fan but you can’t really blame them considering it works almost every time.

86. WWE airs terrorist angle the same day as an actual terrorist attack (July 7, 2005)

WWE had been rustling a lot of feathers with Muhammad Hassan, an Arab-American themed wrestler (played by an Italian guy from Syracuse, New York). Outraged at the treatment of Muslims post-9/11 (WWE should really stay away from 9/11), Hassan wanted to let the fans know that not all Muslims were terrorists. Well, Hassan did. Vince on the other hand, really wanted you to think Hassan was a terrorist, which led to this unfortunate moment. Hassan and a group of men in balaclavas assaulted The Undertaker and laid him out. This footage was shot on July 4th but it wasn’t aired until July 7th… the same day as the London bombings. WWE had to fire Hassan shortly afterwards to save face.

85. Scott Hall at Top Rope Promotions (April 8, 2011)

By 2011, most wrestling fans knew that Scott Hall had problems but nothing could have prepared them for Hall’s 2011 appearance at the indie Top Rope Promotions. He was completely out of it, couldn’t hold a pen properly, and thought he was in England (TBP is in Massachusetts). It later came out that Hall had had a violent seizure the night before and was doped up on painkillers for his appearance. Countless people (most notably Hall’s Cliqmates Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman) blasted TBP for letting Hall appear in such a state.

84. Brock Lesnar suplexes The Big Show, collapsing the ring in the process (June 12, 2003)

Brock Lesnar and The Big Show were in a hot feud in the early 2000s. They were both gigantic mountains of men, two men that looked like they could feasibly murder each other with their bare hands if they wanted to. In a 2003 episode of Smackdown, Lesnar and Show’s feud became legendary when their tussle made the ring itself collapse. It’s one of the most wild things ever seen in the WWE and one of the most amped a wrestling crowd has been this century.

83. Ultimate Warrior goes on homophobic rant (April 5, 2005)

Wrestling fans knew by 2005 that the Ultimate Warrior was a tool but nothing could have prepared them for Warrior’s insanely homophobic rant. He denounced gay people and said that “queering don’t make the world work.” He tried to defend himself by saying that if everyone was gay, then no one would procreate which would cause the human race to die out, which just made him look dumber.

82. Rowdy Roddy Piper paints half his body black (April 1, 1990)

I’m not posting the black face picture, so here’s a random picture of Piper and Brown.

Rowdy Roddy Piper and Bad News Brown had a feud going on in 1990 that made many a fan uncomfortable. Piper was loved for his loose cannon antics but he could go way too far, as shown by this angle. He’d do promos where his face was half black and argue with himself. At WrestleMania VI, it reached its nadir where he showed up with half his body painted black. If you fire up WrestleMania VI on Peacock, their match is mysteriously absent. (Fun side note to make up for this entry: Piper brought solvent with him to wash the paint off. André the Giant found the solvent and threw it away for shits and giggles. Piper had to go to the airport in half black paint.)

81. Becky Lynch is The Man (November 12, 2018)

After a run that had its highs (her match against Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver in 2015, a fun steam punk aesthetic) and lows (her debut in NXT, where her whole gimick was just “I’m Irish!”, Team PCB), Becky Lynch’s heat had unfortunately settled down and she looked to be settling into a midcarder role. And then the go-home episode Raw before Survivor Series happened and Lynch became the most over person in the entire WWE. Lynch rallied the women’s locker room on Smackdown to invade the women’s locker room on Raw. This was awesome enough but then came Lynch’s confrontation with Nia Jax. Jax, more botch than human, punched Lynch in the face giving her a concussion and a broken nose. This did not phase Lynch one bit and she kicked massive amounts of ass. The concussion unfortunately put her on the shelf but she received a massive burst of hype. After being on the bottom card for WrestleMania 34, she wound up being in the main event for WrestleMania 35 (the first time a woman has ever main evented WrestleMania). She’s one of the coolest people alive and she utterly deserved it.

Next week: Chris Jericho jumps ship, Shawn Michaels gets clobbered, and the Shockmaster trips. See you all then.