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Top 10 Wrestling Controversies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nick Williams.

Wrestling is fake. There, we said it. But sometimes, things get a little too real. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 wrestling controversies. For this list, we’ve selected the most shocking and unbelievable real-life moments and controversies to take place in the world of professional wrestling.

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Special thanks to our users Daniel John, Chris Davis, RaidersPaul, Eric Wallace, Marteen Sandoval, OKay Fabe, Jerrythebowler and CaptLagoon for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest


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Script written by Nick Williams.

Top 10 Wresting Controversies

Wrestling is fake. There, we said it. But sometimes, things get a little too real. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 wrestling controversies.

For this list, we’ve selected the most shocking and unbelievable real-life moments and controversies to take place in the world of professional wrestling.

#10: Sting vs. Jeff Hardy

At TNA’s Victory Road pay-per-view in 2011, two icons – Sting and Jeff Hardy – were set to fight. The problem? Jeff Hardy was looking at drug charges, and after disappearing for a few hours before the fight, showed up allegedly so messed up on something he could hardly stand, let alone fight in his long-awaited match with Sting. What followed was one of the most uncomfortable moments in wrestling, as Hardy, visibly intoxicated, staggered into the ring. Sting was clearly upset – but not as upset as the fans, who booed loudly as the match ended in about a minute-and-a-half.

#9: Muhammad Hassan

Mark Copani, aka Muhammad Hassan, was a talented wrestler who portrayed a man of Arab descent during his brief tenure in the WWE in the mid-2000s. At the time, fear and xenophobia following the events of 9/11 were still high, so Hassan’s debut was met with heat from mainstream media. Things escalated exponentially when, at SmackDown! taped July 4th, 2005, Hassan knelt down to pray and let his masked henchmen take on The Undertaker. Three-days later, the London Subway Bombing terrorist attack made this entire storyline seem in even worse taste, and Hassan’s character was ultimately scrapped. Ironically, he was actually Italian-American.

#8: Undertaker Loses at WrestleMania XXX

The only thing more prestigious in the WWE than a Championship title was The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania. Having been unbeatable in 21 straight matches, nobody expected anyone to take the Dead Man down – let alone Brock Lesnar. After all, Undertaker was practically on the verge of retirement. Of course, most people forgot the age-old wrestling mantra “You always go out on your back,” and so on April 6th, 2014 the Undertaker, having suffered a real-life concussion during the match, was beaten cleanly by Brock Lesnar on the biggest stage in wrestling, making Brock the 1, in 21 and 1.

#7: Matt Hardy / Edge / Lita Love Triangle

In the early-2000s, Matt Hardy and Lita were dating, both on-screen and in real life. However, by mid-century, again IRL, an affair between Edge and Lita began, and things got heated backstage. The story made its way into the ring, and Matt Hardy was fired, wrestling independently for a while before being brought back by the WWE to engage in a feud with Edge over Lita. Things culminated in a brutal cage match at Unforgiven 2005, where Matt Hardy finally got his revenge. Of course, with Lita by his side, Edge beat Hardy right back in a ladder match at Raw a few weeks later, so the celebration was short-lived.

#6: Steroid Trial

Professional wrestling – and pro sports in general – have always been a hotbed of steroid scandal, but things initially came to a head for the WWE in the early-‘90s, when Vince McMahon was indicted in federal court due to a series of allegations concerning the distribution of steroids among wrestlers. The prosecutor had a star witness, Hulk Hogan, but at the last minute the Hulkster flip-flopped and stated that Vince had never provided him with drugs. Since 1994, the WWE has been under close scrutiny concerning steroids, but unfortunately that hasn’t stopped several tragedies from occurring.

#5: Mass Transit Incident

At an ECW house show in 1996, Axl Rotten and New Jack where supposed to square off in a tag team match. When Axl no-showed, a massive, 350-lb man going by the name of Mass Transit, claiming to be of age and to’ve been professionally trained as a wrestler, offered to substitute. Turns out, he was only 17, and New Jack beat the living hell out of him with a toaster and crutches, before “blading” him in the middle of the ring and prompting paramedics to arrive. Mass Transit’s family eventually tried to sue ECW unsuccessfully.

#4: CM Punk Walks Out on the WWE

It began with CM Punk’s controversial ‘pipe-bomb.’ Punk cut an extremely realistic promo on the microphone that blurred the lines between reality and fiction. That promo, combined with one of the longest championship runs ever, turned Punk into a true superstar. Then, something changed. In early 2014, he packed his bags and left the WWE with no reasons given and no public address. Punk recently recorded a podcast with Colt Cabana, exposing some WWE practices he deemed unprofessional and unacceptable. Call us crazy but it feels like Punk is actively trying to burn his bridges back to the WWE.

#3: Owen Hart’s Death

It was supposed to be a standard stunt, but what occurred that night in 1999 was one of the worst tragedies in the history of wrestling. At the time, Owen was playing the role of “The Blue Blazer,” a goofy super-hero style character. For his theatrical entrance, Hart was going to be lowered from the rafters on a harness to a safe level, at which point he’d get tangled up in the wires, release himself and fall ungracefully into the ring. Unfortunately, something went wrong partway through his descent, and Owen came crashing down over 50-feet. He died not long after. Perhaps the most controversial aspect about this tragedy was the fact the WWE decided to continue the event that night.

#2: Montreal Screwjob

This one’s full of he-said-he-said, but here goes: Bret Hart, one of the most popular men in WWE at the time, was feeling under appreciated by his company and boss-man Vince McMahon, so he chose to jump ship for the WCW in 1997. McMahon wanted Bret to forfeit the Championship before leaving, but Hart was allegedly unwilling to drop the title to one of his biggest real-life and on-screen rivals. As a result, a non-scripted ending was executed, with Shawn Michaels putting Bret Hart in his own signature submission, the Sharpshooter, and the referee calling for the bell. The relationship between Bret Hart and the WWE was tenuous for years because of this screwjob, but they’ve recently made up.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

- Raven Crucifies The Sandman

- Kane’s Katie Vick Necrophilia Storyline

- Edge & Lita’s Live Sex Celebration

- Fingerpoke of Doom

- Lex Luger Defects to WCW for First Nitro

- David Arquette as WCW World Heavyweight Champion

#1: The Death of Chris Benoit

Chris Benoit was one of the most technically proficient wrestlers ever. His illustrious career culminated in a feel-good championship win at WrestleMania XX. But when Chris Benoit no-showed an event in June 2007, his friends knew something was amiss. By the time police eventually entered the Benoit home, they found the wrestling star, his wife and seven-year-old son dead from an apparent double-murder/suicide at Benoit’s hand. Though the motive for this tragedy died with Benoit, theories including steroid abuse and brain damage have been suggested. Though it led to a shockwave of changes in the company’s drug policies, this remains the most tragic controversy in the WWE’s history.

Do you agree with our list? Which wrestling controversy interested you the most? For more sporty top 10s published every

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