Two years ago, WWE Home Video released OMG! The Top 50 Incidents In WWE History, a 3-disc set devoted to covering the most memorably outrageous moments in the Vince McMahon Jr. era. I finally had a chance to screen it recently. As fun and amusing as the list is (despite the lack of backstage insight), it’s hardly authoritative. (Too many silly incidents are included over truly shocking ones.) Here are some other notable occurrences that didn’t make the cut.
1. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper spoils an award ceremony (December 28, 1984)
Few moments have mattered more in the evolution of the WWE than this one. It was the 1984 Christmas house show in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou Albano were being honoured for various things including their charitable endeavours. Then, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper showed up. After insulting the guests of honour, he changed history by slamming Albano’s award, a framed platinum record, right through his head. He then proceeded to powerslam Lauper’s then-manager David Wolff and even kicked his client for good measure. It was only when Hulk Hogan returned to the ring (he had left after co-accepting an award presented to the WWF by Lauper) that Piper and bodyguard Cowboy Bob Orton departed the scene. The incident instituted Albano’s permanent babyface turn, gave Piper immense heat and, more importantly, set in motion the events that would lead to the main event of WrestleMania. With the exception of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it clip of this moment being shown during the segment where Piper cuts The Haiti Kid’s hair, the OMG! DVD failed to include it in its Top 50 list.
2. The MSG Screwjob (November 25, 1985)
Twelve years before Survivor Series 1997, there was an earlier screwjob involving Vince McMahon and a babyface title holder. Wendi Richter was on her second reign as the WWF Womens’ Champion when she was set to defend her belt against a masked opponent known only as The Spider Lady during a televised house show at Madison Square Garden. (Back then, all MSG shows (with the exception of pay-per-views) were aired live on the MSG Network.) Backstage, Richter was led to believe she would be retaining that night. But secretly, McMahon had concocted a scheme with her opponent.
As The Spider Lady rolled up Richter in a small package, the champion appeared to have kicked out in the middle of the referee’s count. But the official kept counting to three, much to the confusion of everyone including commentators Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura. Legitimately livid, Richter attacked The Spider Lady after the finish. When she successfully removed her mask, she turned out to be The Fabulous Moolah, one of Richter’s original trainers, her one-time tag team partner and rival for more than a year. As a perplexed Howard Finkel announced Moolah as the new champion (“The Spider? The Fabulous Moolah?”), Richter continued to attack.
So, why was the former title holder screwed out of her belt? One word: money. It would mark the last time she would ever wrestle for Vince McMahon.
3. The Snake DDT’s The Dragon on concrete (May 1, 1986)
During a taping of Saturday’s Night Main Event, Jake Roberts was set to square off against Ricky Steamboat. But the match never happened. That’s because The Snake viciously attacked The Dragon to set up a feud that would last for many months.
The signature moment of the attack was a horrendous DDT on the concrete floor. (There were no gymnastic mats protecting the hard surface at the time.) Backstage, before the segment was even recorded, Roberts privately expressed grave reservations about the safety of the bump. But both McMahon and Steamboat assured him it would be ok.
They should’ve listened to Roberts. After he delivered his finisher on the floor, The Dragon was knocked completely out. Roberts had a hell of a time trying to lift his heavy limp body back into the ring so he could put Damien, his python mascot, on top of him. In the end, Steamboat suffered a nasty concussion. But the heat the spot generated for The Snake made this one of his strongest programs.
4. The Honky Tonk Man plays a tune on The Snake’s head (January 27, 1987)
After interviewing the future InterContinental Champion on his talk show segment, The Snake Pit, during a Wrestling Challenge taping, Jake Roberts made the pivotal mistake of turning his back on his guest after he thought he left. When he turned back around, he got levelled by The Honky Tonk Man’s acoustic guitar. These days, when someone takes a bump like that the guitar instantly disintegrates. But because Honky used a real guitar, The Snake suffered a serious neck injury. The stunt turned Roberts ‘face and set up a match with Jimmy Hart’s protégé for WrestleMania III but it also cost him a run with the InterContinental title.
5. Hulk Hogan bodyslams Andre The Giant and pins him (March 29, 1987)
For me, it was the most memorable moment in the history of WrestleMania but apparently not important enough to include on OMG!’s Top 50 list. Despite being on defense for much of the match, in the famous climax a revitalized Hulk Hogan scooped up Andre The Giant, a 7 foot, 500-pound human being, and slammed him to the canvas. After dropping a leg, he delivered his real-life friend’s first pinfall loss in years. Interestingly, the controversial 1988 rematch where Hogan dropped the title after a 4-year reign on live TV did make the OMG! list at number 50.
6. Elizabeth takes a scary bump from Randy Savage (February 5, 1989)
During the second live broadcast of The Main Event, The Mega Powers took on The Twin Towers in a tag team match. At a crucial moment, The Macho Man Randy Savage was about to be thrown through the ropes to the outside of the ring. Instead of hitting the floor, though, he landed right into Elizabeth, knocking her cold. At first, it looked like a horrendous mistake. But as soon as a crestfallen Hulk Hogan carried her in his arms all the way back to the dressing room, it was clear this was very much a work. As an abandoned Savage took a pummelling from Big Boss Man and Akeem during his partner’s prolonged absence, Hogan held Elizabeth’s hand hoping she would be ok. It was only when she urged him to go back to The Macho Man that he returned to the match. Once Hogan got the tag from a severely weakened Savage, The Mega Powers got the duke. But while attending to Elizabeth backstage afterwards, the partnership unravelled for good.
7. Lita’s horrifying suicide dive (December 6, 2004)
The last time two female wrestlers main evented Raw was nine years ago. A villainous Trish Stratus defended her Womens Championship against the popular daredevil Lita. Midway through the match, the champion was outside the ring and her challenger saw an opportunity. As Lita attacked Stratus with a suicide dive through the ropes, she landed awkwardly on the floor, hitting neck first with her back considerably bent. Astoundingly, the redhead was able to continue with the rest of the match and ended up winning the title.
8. Randy Orton breaks his collarbone but walks away still in character (June 1, 2008)
During his Last Man Standing match at One Night Stand for the WWE title against his former Evolution mentor Triple H, The Legend Killer was supposed to take a routine over-the-top-rope bump to the floor. Unfortunately, he landed so hard, he could clearly be heard saying, “I think I broke my collarbone.”. Walking towards him with his trademark sledgehammer, The Game brought the match to a quick finish as he decked Orton in the head with it. As the referee counted, Orton made sure to stay down for the full 10 seconds to assure Triple H the victory. Afterwards, as WWE officials helped him walk away from the ringside area, the audience clapped sympathetically knowing Orton’s injury was legitimate and not part of the show. Still lucid enough to remember he was a heel at the time, Orton angrily started yelling at fans at ringside to “shut up”. Despite being in considerable pain, the future Viper remarkably stayed in character. Who said kayfabe was dead?
9. The Big Show choke slams John Cena into a spotlight (April 26, 2009)
At WrestleMania 25, John Cena regained the World Heavyweight Championship in a Triple Threat match against champion Edge and The Big Show. (The moment where he simultaneously lifted both men on his back actually made the OMG! Top 50 list.) At Backlash the following month, The Rated R Superstar got his mandatory one-on-one rematch. Late in this Last Man Standing contest, the participants battled each other back to the staging area when an unwanted giant entered the fray. A pissed off Big Show ultimately grabbed Cena by the throat and chokeslammed him right through a giant spotlight. As fire extinguishers immediately put out the flames that resulted from the champion slamming hard into the glass, because he couldn’t possibly get up before the count of 10, Edge regained the title. Cena would get his revenge by beating the giant at Judgment Day the following May.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, July 11, 2013