Public Relations disasters aren’t new to the WWE. Vince McMahon’s promotion has been at the top of the sports entertainment world for decades and have been rocked by a number of PR disasters over the years.
With WWE’s current squeaky clean family image far from what it was in the 90’s and 2000’s, there are certain incidents from WWE’s past that WWE just doesn’t want fans to remember. With all the work that WWE has done over the last few years from social causes to charity to clean up their sleazy image, WWE PR department definitely doesn’t want fans to remember some of these incidents.
6: Dawn Marie released after announcing pregnancy
WWE released Dawn Marie right after she announced her pregnancy in 2005 while she was on maternity leave. Do I need to explain any more as to why this was a PR disaster?
Dawn Marie was on the fringes before her maternity leave with no real storylines, so no one would have given it a second thought if she hadn’t been pregnant at the time of her release. The reason given to her for her release was "Creative had no ideas for you" and Dawn Marie sued WWE and filed a complaint in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
To think, WWE could have avoided all this by waiting six months before releasing her.
5: Cena’s raps catch the eye of gay rights organization
John Cena and The Rock were in the midst of pitched verbal duels on the road to their Wrestlemania match. During this period, some of Cena’s rap caught the eye of gay rights organization GLAAD.
The lines such as – ““I’m like a big purple pinwheel so go ahead and blow me,” “Rock didn't win, but it's OK, I'll give him a pearl necklace” and “Just don’t go racing to Witch Mountain, Rock, because your mountain is Brokeback” – were received well by the live audience but not by the people over at GLAAD and WWE were forced to issue a public apology and promised to work with GLAAD in the future so that such insensitive content could be avoided.
4: Stephanie compares Vince’s steroid trials to 9/11
The events of September the 11th, 2001 didn’t just shock the United States, it left the whole world watching with silent bated breath at a kind of terror the civilized world had never experienced before. Even though a lot of entertainment shows were at a standstill following the attacks, the WWE powered on and it led to Olympic hero Kurt Angle’s world title win at Unforgiven 2001 just weeks after the attacks.
One huge gaffe, however, was made on the live episode of SmackDown just two days after the attacks. Stephanie McMahon was in the ring and cut a passionate promo about the attacks. However, at one point she ludicrously compared the attacks to her father’s steroid trial in the early 90’s. Predictably, there was a huge public outcry.
Speaking of the steroid trials……
3: The steroid trials
The WWE have a rich history of drug scandals mostly in relation to steroids. The most famous of these is the 1994 trial of Vince McMahon where Vinnie Mac was charged with supplying steroids to his performers.
Even though Vince was cleared of all charges, the stigma of steroids has hovered over the WWE ever since. Even in today’s Wellness Policy era, this stigma is present amongst fans. Numerous wrestler deaths over the years due to side effects of steroid abuse haven’t helped either.
2: Accusations against Vince of sexual assault
With American presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments about women coming to light and accusations of sexual assault now being leveled against him, WWE will be hoping that that fans will forget the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump’s longtime friend, Vince McMahon.
Vince McMahon is the CEO of WWE and has far from a clean image. Former WWE Superstar Kamala said, “If you get along with Vince, do him sexual favors, you’ll get along good with him.” Former employees have accused Vince of trying to force them to perform oral sex on him and some and a tanning salon worker alleged that Vince forced her to look at nude photos of him.
While it’s impossible to tell whether these allegations – and all they are, are allegations, as there is no concrete proof – are true, where there’s smoke, there is fire.
1: Chris Benoit Tribute Show
If you don’t know about Chris Benoit’s last days and death, then you’ve either lived under a rock for the last 10 years or you started watching WWE yesterday.
The Chris Benoit murder-suicide is by far the worst PR disaster that WWE has ever faced. The incidents of that fateful night in June have been retold so many times over the years that even WWE wiping Benoit from the record books hasn’t helped.
The news of Benoit being found dead reached WWE officials before Raw on June 25th before the full details of the death were in and WWE hosted a Chris Benoit tribute that night only to find the full shocking details of Benoit’s death during the middle of Raw. Needless to say, the rest of the show was uncomfortable.
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