The most shocking wrestling moments (80-61)

Here it is, another thrilling installment of the most shocking moments in wrestling history.

(Trigger warning: discussion of grooming.)

80. Kevin Nash books Nitro to have no wrestling for the first hour (March 8, 1999)

One of the most perverse moments in WCW history, Kevin Nash’s first show as a booker was deliberately designed to have no wrestling for the first hour. Instead, we got Nash and Hogan flirting with cougars, a Konnan music video, and one of the Nitro Girls talking about her dogs (OK, this one is acceptable), among other nonsense. Nash legitimately thought that wrestling wasn’t needed for a wrestling show. Shockingly, Nitro got creamed by Raw in the ratings.

79. JBL goosesteps in Germany (June 8, 2004)

John Bradshaw Layfield loved, loved, loved to get cheap heat as champion but he stepped over a major line while performing in Germany. He gave several Nazi salutes and decided to goose-stepped around the ring. Such an act is illegal in Germany and WWE faced a huge storm of controversy. JBL was fired from his job at CNBC but he wasn’t actually punished for it at WWE. Reportedly, they were going to but decided that losing his CNBC job was punishment enough, which… honestly, can’t disagree with that.

78. Chris Jericho joins AEW (January 8, 2019)

Wrestling fans were already excited for AEW when it was first announced, hoping for a competitor to the WWE or at least a different style of wrestling than seen in the increasingly homogeneous shows they were putting on. Those fans got a boost of hype when it was revealed that Chris Jericho, one of the biggest wrestlers ever, was joining. His run with AEW has had its highs and lows, especially the latter lately, but the thrill of his signing can’t be diminished.

77. Macho Man Randy Savage attacked by one of Jake Roberts’ snakes (November 23, 1991)

Jake Roberts liked to intimidate his opponents with his snakes but even the fans were frightened during his match with Randy Savage. Savage had annoyed Roberts before the match, so he decided to get some revenge before the match. He deliberately agitated the snake so it would be extra mean. A little too mean, as even Roberts was shocked by what happened. The snake bit into Savage’s arm and would not let go. The snake wasn’t venomous, so Savage wasn’t in any real danger but it was still shocking to watch. The snake died shortly after the match, leading Savage to joke that he was the poisonous one.

76. Black Saturday (July 14, 1984)

Fans of Georgia Championship Wrestling (also known as World Championship Wrestling, no relation to the one you’re thinking of) tuning in on July 14th for their usual Saturday show were in for a rude awakening. See, Vince McMahon really wanted GCW’s time slot on TBS but Ted Turner refused. So, Vince convinced enough GCW shareholders to sell their stocks to him so he owned their time slot. This was before the internet and the rise of dirtsheets, so 99% of wrestling fans had no idea this was happening until Vince himself popped up on GCW. Vince was there to show off the best that WWF had to offer… which meant re-runs of old matches that are only notable for the fact that they were featured in this sorry spectacle. GCW fans were livid, TBS received over 1,000 angry phone calls and letters over this. The ratings were terrible, probably putting fans off of WWF rather than enticing them. And, to top it off, it helped cause the future World Championship Wrestling (the one you’re thinking of) to get a time slot on TBS. In his attempt to take control of the whole wrestling field in America, Vince alienated fans that he desperately wanted and helped his greatest rival get a time slot. One of the greatest bag fumbles in wrestling history.

75. Madusa tosses the WWF Women’s belt into the trash on Nitro (December 18, 1995)

WWF Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze was released while still holding the title. Shortly afterwards, she jumped ship to WCW (re-named Madusa) and appeared in a skit on Nitro that basically defined her career. She showed up with the belt live on Nitro and tossed it into the trash. Madusa would later reveal that she deeply regretted this and only did it because Eric Bischoff coerced her into doing it. She was blacklisted by the WWF for 20 years because of this act but at least she was in WCW now… where she lost a lot of matches before vanishing for two years. Upon returning to WCW, she was put into a stable with Macho Man Randy Savage that went nowhere, lost a lot more matches, and had a feud with Oklahoma, Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara’s vile parody of Jim Ross. Goddamn, this poor woman. As terrible as ’90s WWF was to women wrestlers (Blayze’s title sat vacant for three years), ’90s WCW made them look like Stardom. At least she’s in the WWE Hall of Fame now. This moment had wider after effects than just Madusa’s career. It played a small role in causing the Montreal Screwjob to happen. But that’s a story for another week.

74. Nick Gage robs a bank (December 22, 2010)

Iconic deathmatch wrestler Nick Gage wore a bandanna when he wrestled but he really should have remembered to bring it when he decided to rob a bank. At the time, he was homeless and addicted to Oxycontin. He was quickly arrested (didn’t even make it to the new year a free man) and spent five years in prison. This has overshadowed literally every other thing Gage has done, including the time where he was legit dead for a few minutes. Ironically, this wound up being the best thing that could have happened to Gage. He got a huge burst of hype upon release and he actually got in shape in prison. He’s had his highs and lows since then (the nadir being the death of his beloved brother) but he’s in a better place now and even popped up on AEW.

73. Ric Flair lasts over an hour in the Royal Rumble (January 19, 1992)

The Royal Rumble is one of the WWE’s most enduring traditions and the 1992 Royal Rumble is one of the most beloved installments. Ric Flair was new to the WWF and the higher-ups wanted to introduce his sheer talent to fans that had never JCP or WCW and good god did they ever. Flair lasted over an hour in the match (the first to do so) and won the whole thing, claiming the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

72. Bret Hart attacked at WWE Hall of Fame induction (April 6 2019)

Bret Hart was on Cloud 9, getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame for a second time, this time for his work with The Hart Foundation, by his beloved niece Natalya. Things quickly changed when a deranged fan jumped the barricade and tacked Hart during his speech. He was quickly pulled off of Hart but this was especially scary since Hart has been in super fragile shape after his 2002 stroke. Thankfully, Hart was alright and finished his speech.

71. FMW’s No-Rope Exploding Barbed Wire Time Bomb Deathmatch (May 5, 1993)

Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling had many wild match formats but none of caught the public’s attention like their imaginatively titled No-Rope Exploding Barbed Wire Time Bomb Deathmatch between Terry Funk and Atsushi Onita. The match itself between Funk and Onita was a corker but it’s the finale that turned the match into an all timer. Onita won the match but Funk was out cold with not much left before the time bomb went off. Onita, one of the best baby faces in wrestling history, did his damnedest to wake Funk up. With seconds left, Onita shielded Funk with his body as the bomb went off. It’s an amazing match whose legacy can’t be diminished by its weak imitators.

70. Dusty Rhodes gored by the Road Warriors (November 26, 1988)

Ted Turner was now in charge of Jim Crockett Promotions and Dusty Rhodes was not a fan of his management. The final straw was Turner’s ban on on-screen blood. In retaliation, Rhodes booked an angle where the Road Warriors attacked him that ended with Animal stabbing Rhodes in the eye with one of his spikes. Rhodes was quickly fired and jumped ship to the WWF, which no one saw coming. After two years of Vince going out of his way to humiliate the legend, Rhodes jumped ship back to JCP, now known as WCW.

69. The Undertaker is accidentally set on fire (February 21, 2010)

At the 2010 Elimination Chamber, The Undertaker was heading to the ring to face Chris Jericho. However, the pyrotechnic technician was not up to the task and The Undertaker wound up being set on fire three times thanks to his ineptitude. He was fired from the WWE near instantly, seemingly out of fear that The Undertaker would legitimately kill him. The Undertaker had expressed his concerns to the technician but his fears were ignored. The Undertaker was cleared to wrestle in an awkward match with Jericho but he thankfully didn’t suffer any real lasting injuries from the incident.

68. Mr. Wrestling wrestles shortly after surviving a plane crash (October 11, 1975?)

On October 4, 1975, a plane containing Ric Flair, Johnny Valentine, Bob Bruggers, Mr. Wrestling, and Jim Crockett crashed, injuring everyone on board (and eventually killing the pilot). The promoters did their best to hide the fact that Mr. Wrestling was on the flight as he was a baby face and all the other wrestlers were heels (and Mr. Wrestling was feuding with Flair and Valentine). To help uphold kayfabe, Mr. Wrestling returned to the ring very quickly. He was obviously in pain during his matches and it was very uncomfortable. Still, Ric Flair later called him “the man who saved wrestling.” (Note: there are some oddities with the date of his return. Most articles say he returns two weeks after the accident but the first post-crash date I could find was a week after the crash.)

67. The Shockmaster debuts (August 18, 1993)

It’s rare that you see a gimmick die in real time but that’s exactly what happened when the Shockmaster made his debut. The Shockmaster was going to make his debut by smashing through a wall and threaten Sid Vicious and Vader. However, someone nailed a board to the bottom of the breakaway wall, causing Shockmaster to fall down. His helmet fell off, revealing him to be Tugboat, the sailor wrestler. Sid and Davey Boy Smith instantly start laughing and Ric Flair could be heard softly muttering “oh no.” Shockmaster tries to go back on script by pointing at Sid and Vader and he starts speaking. Tugboat isn’t the one speaking though, Ole Anderson is the voice of the Shockmaster. If you’re wondering if he’s able to save the segment, Anderson is heard laughing before he begins his tirade. Despite all this, I think that the Shockmaster tripping was the best thing that could have happened to the character. He was never to get over (it’s just a fat guy in a glittery Storm Trooper helmet) but this botch made him legendary.

66. Shawn Michaels gets beat up in Syracuse (October 14, 1995)

The greatest contribution my hometown has made to the wrestling industry, Shawn Michaels was visiting the now-closed Club 37 with The 1-2-3 Kid and Davey Boy Smith. Michaels was flirting with a woman, much to her marine boyfriend’s displeasure. Michael kept it up, leading the club’s owner to have Michaels escorted out. This led to a parking lot brawl between Michaels and the marine and his friends. Michaels got his ass handed to him pretty bad, putting him on the shelf for awhile. Vince was livid over Michaels losing to a civilian but not angry enough to fire him. The story later evolved into there being ten marines, who attacked Michael because wrestling is fake. This evolution came from, shock of shocks, Michaels himself.

65. David Arquette as WCW Champion (April 25, 2000)

WCW was already spiraling the drain in 2000 but it became crystal clear to fans that the promotion they knew and loved was beyond saving when they put their World Heavyweight Championship on the actor David Arquette. There to promote the flop movie Ready to Rumble (starring a good chunk of the WCW roster), the idea to make Arquette champion came from a joke in the writer’s room that Vince Russo thought was a great idea. As if to annoy the fans even further, they had Arquette beat Tank Abbott (an actual MMA fighter) a week later. Arquette was very uncomfortable with the idea. He was a wrestling fan and knew everyone would hate it… because he would have hated it if he was watching. As atonement, Arquette donated the money he made wrestling for WCW to Darren Drozdov and the families of Brian Pillman and Owen Hart, among others. Vince Russo, meanwhile, has no regrets since this got the company a lot of attention.

64. Rob Feinstein caught trying to groom a young boy (March 4, 2004)

Ring of Honor hit a massive bump in the road in 2004 when its founder Rob Feinstein was busted for attempting to solicit sex from a young boy. He was caught talking with a grown man posing as a minor in a sting operation. He stepped down from running ROH but his offenses caused great damage to the company. TNA (a company known for getting into controversies) immediately cut all contact with ROH, despite some of their roster holding ROH titles at the time. A huge mess that nearly snuffed out ROH in its infancy.

63. Kurt Angle lashes out at the audience (November 14, 1999)

Before his debut at Survivor Series, Kurt Angle had been built up as a “real” wrestler and a goodie two shoes. The fans were sick of him before he even showed up. For his debut, he wrestled Shawn Stasiak. It was a decent match but the fans were so sick of him that they still booed. Angle then went on a blistering and amazing tirade against the audience for daring to boo an Olympic gold medalist and it became clear that Angle was going to be an all-timer.

62. The Iron Sheik and Hacksaw Jim Duggan punished for breaking kayfabe (May 26, 1987)

Police officers in New Jersey pulled over a car that was driving erratically. The driver was found to be on marijuana and the passenger was on cocaine. Trace amounts of cocaine were found in the car as well. Both were arrested, with the driver getting a conditional release and the passenger being placed on probation for a year. Both men were released from their jobs over this but not because of the drugs. The men were, respectively, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and The Iron Sheik. They were feuding at the time and Vince didn’t like that they broke kayfabe. They were eventually hired back but their pushes weren’t the same.

61. Roman Reigns reveals that he has leukemia (October 22, 2018)

Roman Reigns circa 2018 was a historically unpopular wrestler, less for his in-ring work (he was green at the beginning but improved) but because of how he was booked as a lovable baby face despite his true talent in playing a despicable heel. When he showed up for the October 22 edition of Raw, the audience was ready to boo. Those plans were dashed when a somber Reigns revealed that he had leukemia. It was at this time that the WWE audience temporarily realized that hating a guy just because they didn’t like him as a wrestler was kind of gross and showered him with love and well wishes. The leukemia has thankfully gone back into remission and Reigns has returned to wrestling. He’s since turned heel, playing to his strengths, and is currently in the hottest storyline of his career.

Next week: Mick Foley won’t quit, Triple H visits a funeral home, and the most disappointing wrestling storyline ever