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#WTFWednesday (3/23/16): Yes, They Went There




It is in my own personal rule in life never to discuss religion with other people. The only exception to the rule is when the person I'm talking to belongs to the distinct minority of people who do not get overly invested or defensive in the discussion. Frankly, it isn't worth the trouble.


Disclaimer: The person who appears in the meme above is in no way quotable for the text displayed on said meme. Seriously, it was just the first pic I saw when I made this. Chill the fuck out.

However, in the land of pro wrestling, there was a time when the writers didn't give a shit if you were offended or not. I mean, at least not initially. There were live sex shows, obvious rape story arcs and infidelity rampant in the WWE that your grandma would have smashed your TV if she saw such heathen behavior poisoning the minds of her sweet flock. It left many dumbfounded to think that the WWE would stupidly choose not just to dabble in a bit of religious aspects, but also a full blown smorgasboard of God-wrestling.


Yes, they did.


1. MUHAMMAD HASSAN AND THE 2005 LONDON BOMBING CONTROVERSY

(Let's start with the heavy stuff because this is really not my cup of tea.)

In 2005, the WWE debuted an Arab-American character named Muhammad Hassan. From the get-go, many wondered what the hell the company was thinking with this. With the 9/11 attacks and the war on terrorism still ongoing overseas, here comes a wrestler with a manager shouting translations in Arabic Farsi (Persian).

However, Hassan was never a terrorist-driven gimmick. On the contrary, his main point was always about how Arab-Americans were unjustly treated in America after the 9/11 bombings, being swept into a general net of public mistrust and abuse. It was very rampant, and it was a dangerous time to be someone of Middle-Eastern descent or simply Muslim. The character had legitimate beef with America.


"And you call me a terrorist?"

After being well-received by fans (in a matter of speaking), the gimmick came to a grinding halt after the July 2005 bombings in London. A few days prior to the attacks, Hassan was involved in a segment after a Smackdown! match between his manager, Daivari, and the Undertaker. After his manager was defeated by the Phenom, Hassan came to his aid by kneeling in prayer on the ramp, 'summoning' five men who attacked the Deadman with various weapons. Afterwards, his minions were kneeling around him as he applied a Camel Clutch on an unconscious Undertaker. Some would have their palms open facing upward, and some would look up in the sky during the attack.




Days later, the bombings happened and the segment became a hot topic among network stations. Bans were issued on the characters involved. People were scared. In the end, the gimmick was killed off during The Great American Bash and Copani peacefully retired from wrestling altogether afterwards.


2. SO MANY CRUCIFIXIONS

There are simply some things that you don't mess with in any form or reason and not expect an overwhelmingly negative reaction. One of which is the cross. Seriously, you just don't.


WTF, GUYS?!

While searching for possible pictures to use for this article, I came upon Antonio Inoki dressed up as a crucified Jesus. When asked,  Lance, our resident puroresu guy, could only say, "Inoki being balls out crazy af." So I guess that settles that.

As for the Sandman crucifixion, it was a hotly-debated and widely panned segment, not just by the audience but also from the people backstage. Kurt Angle, who was being courted at the time to turn pro with ECW, left the building in disgust, warning all ECW employees within earshot that he would sue if he wasn't edited out of the broadcast. To this day, Sandman and Raven both insist that the incident was in no way religious in nature. Be that as it may, it was still poorly done in the eyes of many.

The WWE very much likely tried to avoid a similar backlash by trying to distance the crucifixions that Undertaker performed by referring to it as his symbol rather than a cross and making key design changes. When Stone Cold was hung up on the "symbol," Jim Ross originally mentioned it as him "being crucified." The commentary was later replaced with "Angle has been tied to Undertaker's symbol."


3. HERE COMES THE PREACH

The WWE and the pro wrestling business has never had a shortage of preacher gimmicks. It's easy enough to understand: you have this authority figure who tells you how you should live your life his way or be doomed to eternal damnation. Definitely sounds like someone you should listen to. They rant on about the evils of man and all their heathen acts, but in the end are guilty of the sins they so feverishly denounce.


(From top left- Mordecai, Brother Devon, Brother Love, Deacon Batista, and The Flying Nuns)
Collectively known as the Holy Spirit Squad

Sadly (or is it fortunately?), the PG era and increased pressure from TV networks have put a staying hand on such gimmicks. Even in 2016, religion and matters of the faith are still touchy subjects that very few people would choose. It's really not just worth the trouble anymore. And besides, the holier-than-thou gimmick has been played out way too much as it is.


4. BECAUSE STONE COLD SAID SO

There are few catchphrases more memorable, more infamous, or more crowd-thumping than Austin 3:16. When Stone Cold cut that historical promo after being declared the 4th King of The Ring, he proceeded to put every single wrestler in the roster on point. And the first man in his sights was none other than the man he just beat, Jake "The Snake" Roberts.




At the time, Roberts' character was that of a newly Born Again Christian face, and would go around to preach as a rare face in this kind of gimmick. However, Stone Cold would put an end to that with one of wrestling history's greatest promos that likewise launched the Attitude Era.

And that's the bottomline.


5. THE HEARTBREAK KID AND THE ALMIGHTY VS. THE MCMAHONS

In one of the WWE's most bizarre feuds, Vince McMahon decided to wage war on none other than the Alpha and the Omega, the Almighty, Jehovah Jireh, Yahweh. Yes, none other than God.

In what would become the storyline that you tried to hide as much as possible from your mother, McMahon declared a new religion to combat God: McMahonism, It had everything that would fill your local preacher's sermon resources for more than a year: promos in a church setting, McMahon family prayers, divine intervention, and countless acts of blasphemy. Really, if you had any sense of decency, you would at least have cringed at the idea of the feud.


I can't even write a witty caption without feeling sorry for what I've done.

The feud came to a finale at Backlash 2006 when Shawn Michaels and "God" were put into a tag team match against the father and son team of the McMahons. Watch the entirety of the match below while I pray for forgiveness.



The storyline was halted right after and eventually led to the reunion of Michaels and Triple H as D-Generation X. When interviewed regarding the feud, Michaels (who approved of the storyline, to the surprise of many) played it down as something that was simply over the top and shouldn't be indicative of one's personal faith. McMahon was quoted as to saying that it was a one of a kind match that was likely never ever to happen again.

Well, that was certainly some heavy and awkward stuff to end this week's #WTFWednesday article. Here you thought we were all just shits and giggles here, huh? Anyway, if you have any other questionable storylines you wanted to discuss, let us know in the comments section below!


*******

George Pastorwrites our weekly #WTFWednesday column. He got into judo because it was the closest sport available where it was perfectly fine to slam someone without getting expelled. His girlfriend is not amused.

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