The other day, I let the fine folks of ReaderLand in on my favorite moments in the history of Monday Night Raw. It was a fun look back at the matches, promos and segments that have made me mark out the most over the last 19 years. I had a good time thinking back and coming up with the entire list, with nothing but the positives filling my mind.
I'm not going to be so lucky this time around.
In today's column, I'll be looking at my least favorite moments in the history of Raw. The moments that made me shake my head in disbelief. The moments that made me rethink my decision to be a wrestling fan. The moments that made me want to kick an elderly woman down a flight of stairs. If I can make it to the end of this column without shedding a single thug tear, I will consider it a major moral victory.
I'm almost afraid to get this started, but I think I've wasted enough time, so, uh.. shall I proceed? (Yes, indeed.) Less dew eet!!
Triple H, Shawn Michaels, & Their Odd Obsession With Male Genitalia - Numerous times
In the summer of 2006, when Shawn Michaels and Triple H reformed DX, a lot of the Attitude Era fans were excited. DX was exciting back then. They were edgy. They pushed every limit to the best of their abilities. Both men have legendary careers, and were surely headed to the WWE Hall Of Fame (with HBK, of course, actually making it to the Hall Of Fame in the time since).
What we got was two 40-year-old men that were obsessed with penis. Oh, and before some smartass says it, I realize Triple H was on the verge of turning 37 when DX reunited, so he wasn't technically a 40-year-old.
They had gotten a lot older (obviously) since the days of the original DX, but more importantly, I had gotten older. The fans that were watching the original DX in the Attitude Era had gotten older. Sophomoric humor is hilarious.. when you're a sophomore. It's not so funny anymore when you're nearly a decade removed from your sophomore year. All we got from these two were dick jokes. Dick, cock, dick, cock, dick, cock.. it was just a never-ending parade, like they really wanted to get their point across.
I have to point out that I'm including them here for the dick obsession, not for the entire time they were together for the reunion. They had a few entertaining moments together that didn't involve penis in any way. Shawn Michaels hitting "Stan" with Sweet Chin Music backstage was, and still is, funny. The non-dick parts of their Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon impersonations were, and still are, funny. Unfortunately, their obsession with the male genitalia seemed to overshadow everything else they did during that time.
The Exact Moment We All Knew Jackie Gayda Wouldn't Cut It In Wrestling - July 8th, 2002
Bradshaw & Trish Stratus VS Christopher Nowinski & Jackie Gayda.
Just reading that sent chills down the spines of many of my readers.
This match is an almost-unanimous choice for the worst match in Raw history. Bradshaw would be the first to tell you that he wasn't exactly Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat when it came to pure technical wrestling ability. Christopher Nowinski was coming off of Tough Enough, and didn't exactly have a whole lot of in-ring experience. Trish Stratus, while being the most popular Diva in the history of the company, was never known for her fantastic wrestling skills. This match isn't making the list because of them. No.. this match is being included because of Jackie Gayda and Jackie Gayda alone.
The problem with live television is that your screw ups are there for the world to see. You can't edit them out in post, you can't come out later in the show and film things again. Gayda, another Tough Enough competitor, really surprised a lot of people when she won the first season. People assumed she won more because of her attractive face and fitness model body than because of her in-ring talent or the potential she had.
In the first real "spot" of the match, Gayda was standing by the ropes, and when Stratus went to attempt a move.. some move.. Gayda just stood there, causing Trish to jump right past her, land on the ropes and have to look back awkwardly. Trish got back to the canvas and went for a takedown, but Gayda wasn't ready for that, either, and nearly killed Stratus by landing on her head. To play it off, Gayda gave one of the poorest-looking chokes to Stratus for a second or two.
The end of the match saw Trish seated atop the turnbuckle, and Jackie going up for what appeared to be an attempt at a Superplex of some sort. Trish knocks her off the rope, and Jackie lands on her feet, but still flailing her arms around and selling a dazed appearance as if she just fell 15 feet and landed on the back of her head. She stood there for a second or two before charging back in, only to get kicked, which she sold in a complete 360 spin as if she were the Tazmanian Devil. Even with the super dramatic sell, she got right back up, facing the opposite direction, and started walking backwards, where Stratus jumped from the turnbuckle for a Bulldog attempt. Unfortunately, Gayda missed that cue, as well. Stratus hit the mat, with Gayda still standing on her feet, before she then decided to drop to the mat, selling as if she had just suffered a massive stroke. Trish covered for the pin, and the match was over.
From bell-to-bell, the match lasted all of 3:15, but considering the fact that Gayda was in the ring for 95% of it, it was about as painful a 3:15 as you could possibly see. Jackie had no idea what she was doing in the ring, and while Trish did her very best to try and make something out of nothing, she isn't a miracle worker, and everyone's eyes were bleeding by the end of the match.
The Anonymous General Manager Is Anonymous No Longer - July 9th, 2012
I'll be the first to admit that we, as wrestling fans, can sometimes ruin things for ourselves with wild speculation and assumptions. If any of you disagree with that.. well.. I'm sorry to say it, but you're a fool. It's what we do. We either read the rumors and the "dirt sheets", and we believe everything they say, or we make our own assumptions, putting two and two together in our heads. Sometimes it makes four, but other times, it makes seven.
During the entire Anonymous Raw General Manager storyline, we all speculated on who it was. Was it Vince McMahon? Was it Shane McMahon? Was it Stephanie McMahon? Was it Paul Heyman? Was it Mike Adamle? People were going in all directions in trying to figure out who would be revealed as the person "behind the computer". Part of it was because it's fun for us to speculate. Part of it was because we were all so annoyed with the storyline and just wanted to see the random computer noises and the horrible production work (Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are supposed to be reading e-mails on the laptop monitor, so the cameraman and WWE production team feel it would be a great idea to stand directly behind them, where it was blatantly obvious that they were reading a piece of paper that was on the keyboard) go away.
Almost as quickly as the storyline began, it pretty much disappeared, without any sort of reveal. We forgot all about the whole thing until the recent storyline of bringing old General Managers back began. Maybe we would finally get to see who the General Manager was the entire time.
We sure did find out.
It was only two weeks ago, so you should all know, by now, that Hornswoggle was revealed as the person sending all of those e-mails.
It made no sense. For one, Hornswoggle was a face, and had been almost nothing but heel activities as the GM. Was this a heel turn for Hornswoggle? If so, what the fuck for? Two, up until recently, Hornswoggle was portrayed as a mix between a small child and a mentally handicapped adult. Now, all of a sudden, we're supposed to believe that he was sending all of those e-mails for months? On top of that, think back to the times that the e-mails were being sent. The person sending them was the fastest typist in the history of ever, sending e-mails that were multiple paragraphs long in response to something that someone said in the ring, but they were sent mere seconds after it was said. So, Hownswoggle.. half-child, half-mentally handicapped for years.. was now the world's fastest typist, and was smart enough to run an entire show on a weekly basis. Seems legit.
It was a stupid cop-out that didn't make any sense and didn't appeal to anyone. They built a storyline, made it disappear without any sort of reveal or payoff, brought it back way down the line when nobody cared anymore, and then gave a reveal that everyone on the planet hated. They would have been much better off just having the whole thing go the way of "Who was driving the white Hummer?" and "Who kidnapped Samoa Joe?", and just forgot all about it. It would have pissed less people off.
Katie Vick.. Nuff Said - Multiple times
A very large chunk of the IWC continues to have beef with Triple H to this day, and fairly or unfairly, some of that hate and vitriol has to do with his involvement in the Katie Vick storyline in 2002.
Having Triple H and KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE feud isn't enough, apparently. Having Triple H and KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE feud over the World Title isn't enough, apparently. No.. WWE decided to add a little something extra to the feud. Katie Vick was what the company felt was necessary.
Katie Vick, as we would find out, was KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE's ex-girlfriend. One night, long before he became a wrestler, KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE got drunk, but decided to get behind the wheel of a car, anyway, driving Katie around. There was an accident, and in said accident, Katie lost her life. Triple H, being the amazing detective that he is, found out about the incident, and decided to reveal it to the world, in an attempt to torture KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE with it. Fun times were had.
Unfortunately, it didn't end there. We had to get a segment of Triple H, wearing a KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE mask, attending the "funeral" of "Katie Vick".
Was he there to mourn the loss of a loved one? Perhaps to pay his respects to the family?
Negative. He was there to take the "corpse" to Pound Town.
He climbed into the casket and began to hump it, simulating sex. Thousands of television sets changed channels immediately. It didn't end there, though. At the end of the episode, Triple H was kidnapped by KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE, and KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE basically threatened to anally rape Trips, saying that it was Trips' turn to be "screwed".
From there, we got a Katie Vick mannequin making an appearance in the ring, as well as a "comedy" segment of "Triple H" getting a painful-looking enema in a hospital somewhere. The entire thing was just brutal and pointless, appealing to the lowest common denominator. Whenever I think of this entire travesty, I think of Vince McMahon, sitting backstage, laughing his ass off over the entire thing, while everyone else just stands there uncomfortably. Far too often, Vince allows things on WWE television that only he will find entertaining, even at the risk of angering the viewing audience. Hey, while we're on the subject..
Digging Deep To Embarrass Jim Ross Again - October 24th, 2005
First and foremost, forgive me for the bad joke in the title of this section.
Anyway, we've all seen it.. Jim Ross gets embarrassed and humiliated on WWE programming a lot. A lot. It is widely reported that both Vince McMahon and WWE Executive Vice President Of Television Production Kevin Dunn get their proverbial rocks off on insulting Jim Ross at every possible turn.
During this particular week, Jim Ross was actually out of action due to a real life surgery on his colon. That part wasn't a storyline, but Vince and Kevin, the stand-up citizens they are, decided to take JR's real-life surgery and put it on television. Vince came out and told the world that he had "graphic" footage of JR's surgery, and he proceeded to show a skit, where he (Vince) was playing JR's doctor. His name? Doctor Hiney. GET IT?!? What followed was a few minutes worth of fart noises, the sounds of toilets flushing, and Dr Hiney pulling various objects out of the colon of "Jim Ross". Objects such as:
- An action figure of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
- A bottle of BBQ sauce
- A toy owl
- The other hand that Mae Young apparently gave birth to (The Palmer to the Handrew we saw at Raw 1000, perhaps)
- A football
It ended with a mannequin head wearing a cowboy hat being pulled out. Get it?!? Because Vince thinks Jim Ross has his head up his ass?!?
Jim Ross went into the surgery to find out if he was dealing with colon cancer, folks. Quite the serious operation. Thankfully, he was found to be cancer free, but it was still a tense time in the Ross family, and WWE decided to make a joke out of the entire thing. If it were a funny joke, it wouldn't be as bad, but it was one of the least funniest things WWE television has ever featured, with "humor" that even elementary school children would find to be stupid and beneath them.
It was exactly the type of thing that makes it embarrassing to be a wrestling fan. I don't even want to think of how many televisions were watching that segment, with someone that isn't a wrestling fan either in the room or walking in, and a legit wrestling fan had to defend the business by saying that type of thing is a semi-regular occurrence. That makes me want to weep silently.
Shut The Fuck Up, Cole - Numerous times
For as long as I've been watching pro wrestling, there have been play-by-play men and color commentators that were either faces or heels. Jim Ross and Gordon Solie have put themselves into various Halls Of Fame because of their work as faces on commentary, while men like Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Jesse "The Body" Ventura have put in legendary work as heels on commentary. That's fine. I get that. However, even with Heenan and Ventura heeling it up on commentary, they made sure that they were never the focal point of anything. They still helped to call the matches, and to make the people in the ring the "stars", and rightfully so.
Michael Cole, on the other hand, went way overboard when WWE decided to make him a heel. Instead of just switching his opinions and points of view, Cole had to yell and scream during matches.
During every match.
All match long.
Now, I don't know about you, but when I watch wrestling, I'm watching to see the wrestling itself, and occasionally, to see wrestlers cut promos or perform in backstage segments. I'm not watching so I can essentially be yelled at by Michael Cole for two hours. I'm not watching so Michael Cole can verbally bury the talent left and right. It's common sense. If these wrestlers are half as bad as Cole is making them out to be, why on EARF would people want to watch them on television every week, let alone spend their hard-earned money to watch them perform on pay-per-view every month?
An old wrestling term is "talking people into the building". It's where wrestlers can cut promos that convince people, one way or another, to buy a ticket when the promotion comes to their town next, or, in other ways, to make them order the pay-per-views. People like Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes did a fantastic job of that. Hulk Hogan was great at it. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock excel at it. John Cena does a fine job of it these days. Michael Cole is basically "talking people out of the building". As I said, all he did was run down the talent in the ring.. talking about how bad they were, how they weren't worth wrestling on television, how lame they were, etc. That's not putting anyone "over". That's a horrendous job of being a play-by-play man, and at this stage of his career, Jerry Lawler isn't good enough to reign Cole in, and would often find himself lost in the yelling and screaming, almost seeming to give up altogether. Making the entire thing worse is that Cole talks through everything. It isn't just like a wrestler that might irritate the hell out of you, where you might only have to see them or hear them for a few minutes. Making the entire thing even worse is that Cole was placed on Smackdown, as well. That's four-plus hours (counting overruns) of television every week where Cole was his overbearing self, and when you throw in a three-hour pay-per-view every month, that's an insane amount of time for people to dread having to listen to wrestling commentary.
Keep in mind, I've said all that without even mentioning the fact that he was inserted into storylines, and we had to see him wrestle several times. Thankfully, he has been able to tone it down a lot recently, because he was causing more and more people to tune out every week.
Money Can't Buy Love.. Or Safety, Apparently - Multiple Times
When Vince McMahon first announced "McMahon's Million Dollar Mania", the WWE Universe went banana pancake over the idea that Vince would be giving away $1 million of his own money every week to various fans. It was a crazy idea, but people don't become billionaires by playing it safe and being 100% sane.
While Vince did, in fact, give his money away to various people, what everyone remembers from those weeks has nothing to do with cold, hard cash. What people remember is that Vince McMahon.. again, a man who made himself into a billionaire at one point in his life.. had absolutely no idea how to use a telephone. A telephone. Now, I know that Hawaii is often behind the times a bit, with things reaching here slightly later than the rest of the country, and sometimes, the rest of the world, but even we have had telephones here, going back to even before I was born. They've gone from the old-school rotary phones to the newer, push-button keypad phones. If I've had telephones in my life for the last 30 years, then Vince McMahon has had telephones in his life for at least the last 30 years. There's no way around it. I get that he's rich, and that he's had assistants and/or secretaries for a long time, but we watched him during Million Dollar Mania, and he looked like a man who had never even seen a telephone in his life, let alone used one. It was painful and cringe-worthy to watch him have to stare at the phone for seconds before.. beep.. boop.. bop.. boop.. beep.. dialing people's numbers slowly. It was embarrassing to watch him misdial and have to try again. It was a shame to watch him not quite know what an answering machine was. While I'm on that topic..
I understand that it's live television, and that "anything can happen in the World Wrestling Federation", but come on, Vince.. you couldn't straighten all of things out before you went on the air? If these people are stupid enough to sign up for the contest, and then decide they don't want to follow the rules and aren't there to answer their phones to win the money, that's their own problem, but don't put that on television. Get with these people backstage, during a commercial break or something, and tell them you're going to call them back in X amount of minutes on live television. Having you sit there and wait.. and wait.. only for it to go to an answering machine on the air? Bad television.
Of course, the other thing people will remember when they think of Million Dollar Mania is how it ended, with the "accident", and the set collapsing on top of Vince, seriously injuring him. Vince even decided to break kayfabe to show the world just how super real the accident was by referring to Triple H by his real name of Paul. This is the same man (Vince) that once did a backstage segment during the Attitude Era where he called the operator and asked for the number of "The Undertaker", as if the man's phone number was going to be listed under "Undertaker, The 867-5309" or some shit. Hearing him use Triple H's real name was something different, but everyone saw right through it, especially considering Vince came nowhere close to being hit by any part of the stage, and we could all see that, clear as day.
The entire thing was a good idea, but it was just poorly executed, from beginning to abrupt end.
Trumps & Rosies & Obamas & Clintons, Oh My - Multiple Times
This section includes two different events, involving different people, but they're also incredibly similar, and they belong together. When Vince McMahon decides that he wants to get "political", or when he finds any sort of enemy outside of the wrestling business, he likes to make his feelings known, even if it means shoving them down the throats of wrestling fans who, quite frankly, couldn't care less.
In promoting a match between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell, Vince was taking advantage of a real-life feud between the two. That, in and of itself, was a smart idea. Vince hasn't always capitalized on pop culture references while they were relevant, so for him to strike while the Trump/Rosie feud was still in rotation on all of the news and entertainment shows was something different. Nobody in their right mind really expected either Trump or Rosie to actually appear on Raw, though, especially with it being billed as a fight/match, and not a debate, etc. Sure enough, we got people pretending to be Trump and Rosie, and "Rosie O'Donnell" was basically destroyed, from being portrayed as being twice as large as she really is (being called a "Double-chinned Diva") to her losing the match. The crowd shit all over the entire thing, chanting "Boring, Boring", "T-N-A" and even "We Want Wrestling" all throughout. The "match" lasted over six minutes. Think about that. Think about the matches you've seen on Raw in the last 19 years. Think about how many of those matches didn't last six minutes. I've seen WWE/World Title matches on Raw that didn't even last that long. To prove a point, though, Vince McMahon thought it would be a great idea to stretch this match out a bit, and why? Because Rosie O'Donnell had been outspoken against him and the wrestling business in the past? Who fucking cares? Millions of people have been outspoken against Vince McMahon and the pro wrestling business through the years. If Vince focused on them and dedicated television time to them, we'd never have real wrestling again.
"Barack Obama" VS "Hillary Clinton" was easier to watch, but it was still a mess. "Obama" came out with comically large fake ears on, and was nothing more than doing a quasi-Rock impersonation. GET IT?!? Barack.. The Rock.. pretty much exactly the same thing! "Hillary" was basically a helpless wife who couldn't control her husband. Their match was shorter, and thankfully, it ended early when Umaga made his way out. Samoan Spike to "Obama". Samoan Drop to "Hillary". You see, the McMahon family is known for being very strong Republicans, while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are both Democrats. Having them fight, having no winner, and then having them both destroyed? Quite symbolic, and I'll bet you Vince McMahon was loving every second of it backstage.
Both events were just pointless (to the rest of the world) wastes of time. You're not helping to put anyone over pulling stunts like that. Again, it's all about what Vince finds entertaining, as he continues to prove how detached from society he really is.
Ohhh, What A Jump! - November 16th, 1998
We should have known things were going bad when Road Warrior Hawk, one of the greatest tag team wrestlers of all-time, was turned into a bumbling, stumbling alcoholic character. Apparently upset over Puke (who would later be referred to as Droz) becoming a new member of the Legion Of Doom, Hawk turned to alcohol. Because the WWF was clearly a great working environment, they would let Hawk do commentary at ringside, even though he was supposed to be wasted beyond belief. Folks, I'd like you to show up to your job completely hammered tomorrow, and see what they do. My guess? It won't involve placing you in a different section of the job so you can do something else.
One night, Hawk came out during a random Legion Of Doom match, and he began to climb the TitanTron. Animal and Droz quickly made their way to the stage, and they were soon joined by referees, company officials and Paul Ellering, their former manager. From atop the TitanTron, Hawk made vague threats about wanting to kill himself, while Animal and Ellering (who was a heel, and was feuding with LoD at the time) broke all sorts of kayfabe in an attempt to talk him out of suicide. When the talks didn't work, Puke decided to reveal to the world that he was a suicide prevention specialist, so he began his own climb to the top of the TitanTron. If he just talked Hawk down, this probably wouldn't even be mentioned here. What actually happened is that Puke "accidentally" pushed Hawk, and Hawk fell behind the TitanTron, making quite the loud noise when he hit the ground, even though none of it was actually seen by anyone.
What was the point of the entire thing? *Kanye shrug* I have no idea. It didn't turn Hawk into a huge, sympathetic figure, primed for a singles push. It didn't turn Droz into a dastardly heel, primed for a singles push. Of course, we never got to find out about Droz, as he became a quadriplegic after breaking his neck during a match with D'Lo Brown less than a year later (he would eventually regain movement in his upper body and arms, but remains paralyzed from the waist down to this day). The entire segment was just in poor taste, and served no purpose whatsoever. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
The Outsiders.. Back In Again? - September 23rd, 1996
1996 was when the wrestling world changed. Forever. Again. The nWo debuted, and they set the industry on fire. However, just as soon as the group began, rumors began to circulate that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, the first two members of the group, were heading back to the WWF. Keep in mind, this was in the early stages of the internet "dirt sheets", where everything we read, no matter how far-fetched it might have seemed, was taken as gospel. If you read it on the internet, you took it as the truth, and if it didn't happen, your first thought was more along the lines of "plans must have changed" instead of "stupid dirt sheets lying to everyone" like they would be these days. Then, Jim Ross himself said on an episode of Raw that the rumors were true.. Razor Ramon and Diesel were returning to the WWF. Incredible.
Time would pass, and it was finally time for the big return. Before it began, Jim Ross was in the ring, and he said he had something he wanted to say. He would then proceed to cut a "shoot" promo on Vince McMahon and the WWF, mentioning how many times he's been fired, and how the company has generally treated him like garbage since his arrival three years earlier. After his very passionate and angry promo, he introduced Razor Ramon's return, and Razor's familiar music hit, bringing back.. Razor.. Ramon? Nope. It was a fake. Soon thereafter, we'd get the return of a fake Diesel, as well. At least with the fake Diesel, it was the man formerly known as Isaac Yankem DDS and the man who would go on to be known as KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE, so there was that little bit of entertainment in the entire thing, but man.. it was all a ploy to help turn JR heel. He mentioned that, with his job in the WWF front office, he helped many free agents leave the company to sign with WCW, as "revenge". It didn't work. The entire thing was scrapped quickly. Jim Ross was back to being Jim Ross again. The fake Razor would soon be gone from the company. The fake Diesel would make sporadic appearances for the next few months before becoming KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE in 1997.
I was a huge nWo fan at the time, but even with that said, I was really excited over the idea of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash returning to the WWF. The company was really lacking in major star power at the time. Steve Austin was still a midcarder on the rise, and hadn't begun his reign atop the business yet. The Rock hadn't even debuted as Rocky Maivia yet. The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were there, of course, but people had already begun to grow tired of them doing the same thing for years. There was no DX yet. The WWF just needed help, and the return of a main eventer in Nash, as well as the return of a man who saw his stock rise in Hall, would have done wonders for them. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed at the impostors that I saw.
Something that you'll notice as a difference between part one and part two of this column.. when I listed the best of Raw, everything was listed once, but when I listed the worst of Raw, half of the mentions were things that happened on multiple occasions, making them even worse. Yuck. Once again, I'm turning it over to you, ReaderLand. What are some of your least favorite moments in Raw history? Whether they're things I mentioned in this column or not, I'd like to hear what you've hated in the 19 years of Raw that we've been given. Holla at ya boy and let me know what's on your mind.