This Monday on Raw, WWE was briefly transformed into a cheesy direct-to-Netflix slasher movie when The New Day took on The Wyatts at their sinister backwoods car lot/compound. It wasn’t great, but it was far from the first time WWE has doled out a dubious horror movie moment. From Undertaker, to Kane, to The Wyatts, the company has a long (mostly embarrassing) history of trying to scare its audience.
So, slide your butt to the edge of your seat, because here are some of WWE’s lamest, strangest, least-shocking “scary” moments of all time, ranked from bad to worst …
Dishonorable Mention: The Boogeyman
No individual Boogeyman segment was memorable enough to make this list, but looking at his career in aggregate, he certainly deserves a mention. Boogeyman was based on a particularly odd, PG idea of what might make somebody creepy — he was a guy who painted his face like a ladybug? And carried around a rubber heart and an alarm clock? It seemed like the dude playing him was legitimately a little insane, so it sort of worked, but I’d mostly describe Boogeyman as weird and kinda dumb, rather than scary.
10) The Undertaker Locks Warrior In An Airtight Casket
During the summer of ’91, WWF kicked off some grade-A crazy by having Ultimate Warrior put in an appearance on Paul Bearer’s Funeral Parlor. Never one to bother scouting for danger, Warrior struts right by a conspicuous Undertaker-sized coffin and starts spouting his usual Warrior nonsense in Bearer’s face. As they jaw-jack, Undertaker emerges from the Undertaker-sized coffin (shock!), attacks Warrior and locks him in another casket, which we’re assured is both inescapable and airtight.
It’s actually a fairly unnerving scenario, and WWF plays it up for all it’s worth, but the whole thing passes into the realm of the absurd as a parade of schmoes impotently try to open the casket with every kind of tool you can imagine. After a while, you half expect somebody to start beating on the coffin with a Wiffle bat. Eventually, they get the coffin open. But Warrior wasn’t done with getting ambushed just yet.
9) Warrior Falls For Jake Roberts’ Very Obvious Trap
After being locked in the casket, WWF’s preeminent cartoon muscleman discovers he’s afraid to get in the ring with The Undertaker, so he enlists his DEFINITELY GOOD BUDDY Jake Roberts to teach him the secrets of the dark side. Oh, sure, this is going to work out great.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Jake The Snake is one of the best actors in wrestling history, and he’s great in this segment, but everything else about it is ultra dumb. Where did Jake get this MIND GAMES DUNGEON? I always imagined Damien and a couple changes of underwear and socks were the extent of Jake’s possessions. Also, Warrior shows up to this test of his very mortal soul wearing bright white board shorts, neon yellow cowboy boots and his biceps tassels.
Anyways, Jake tells Warrior the answer to all his questions lies in a coffin in the middle of a room full of snakes. So, Warrior opens up the snake room coffin and discovers it contains … another snake! The snake bites him on the face and the camera magically switches to Warrior Vision as Jake, Undertaker and Paul Bearer surround him and everything fades to black. Did the Ultimate Warrior character die onscreen in 1991? I suppose it would explain him being able to show up in Hulk Hogan’s mirror in WCW.
8) Undertaker Kidnaps Teddy Long
Now, at first glance, this is pure, grade-A cheese that probably should be rated higher, but it’s actually a semi-clever callback to the time Ministry of Darkness-era Undertaker kidnapped Stephanie. Aside from the bit where Steph gives her dad a weirdly tender on-the-mouth kiss, that was a pretty classic segment …
Unfortunately, remakes are never as good as the original, and the second time around, they decided to add wacky sound effects, purple lighting and a smoke machine. Oh, and they replaced Stephanie McMahon with f*cking Teddy Long. Don’t ask me.
7) Undertaker Attempts To Embalm Steve Austin
I have to say, this segment from the height of the Attitude Era may be the most disturbing thing WWE has ever put on TV. The sight of Paul Bearer putting on his clear plastic mortician’s apron and gloves and gleefully getting ready to cut open an unconscious Stone Cold is genuinely off-putting. Paul Bearer was the best, wasn’t he? That said, it’s still a segment where somebody tries to embalm a living person on live TV. Sometimes there’s a fine line between horror and comedy, and this segment stumbles all over it.
6) Jon Heidenreich And Michael Cole’s Poetry Slam
Most of WWE’s “scary” moments are lifted from goofy old-school horror or slasher movies, but in this case, they decided to go for something darker. Shortly after his debut, Heidenreich randomly kidnapped Michael Cole, and when we next see them backstage, things have become disturbingly sexual. When I first saw this back in 2004, I assumed the weird vibe was mostly unintentional, but no, upon reviewing the tape, WWE really did have Heidenreich hump Michael Cole on their PG wrasslin’ show.
Later, Heidenreich insists on reading Cole a poem — er, I mean, a POME — about his inner pain, before (thankfully) letting him go. I’m not sure what WWE was trying to achieve with these segments, but they definitely did not succeed. It doesn’t matter what terrible thing you do to Michael Cole, nobody’s really going to care, and soon enough Heidenreich was a pure comedy figure gnawing on giant chocolate bars and engaging in epic grunt-offs with Gene Snitsky.
5) Chainsaw Charlie Can’t Fight His Way Out Of A Plywood Box
WWE loves to make fun of The Shockmaster, because, well, it was a WCW thing, but the forgotten debut of Chainsaw Charlie was nearly as embarrassing. Charlie, played by the legendary Terry Funk, was supposed to dramatically chainsaw his way out of a plywood box, but it turns out that’s actually kind of hard to do. Funk cuts a couple failed guide holes, then rather slowly cuts a partial door that doesn’t go all the way around. We hear some struggling from inside the box, then Funk awkwardly pushes open the “door” and stumbles out as his saw shoots off cheesy sparks.
Remember when Terry Funk recently returned to WWE and gave Dean Ambrose his chainsaw? Remember how carefully Ambrose handled it? None of that here! Funk staggers down the aisle swinging the running chainsaw mere feet from fans’ faces, a la Leatherface. The fact that nobody lost an important body part here is frankly amazing.
4) Undertaker Threatens Bray Wyatt Via Antiques
Oh boy, we’ve gotten to the Bray Wyatt crap! Say, do you recall when Bray Wyatt used to have a rocking chair? I guess it was supposed to be creepy for reasons that escape me. Anyway, leading up to WrestleMania 31, Bray kept challenging Undertaker, but the Dead Man couldn’t actually be assed to show up to respond. Finally, Taker accepted by making spooky smoke come out of his urn (which Bray had for some reason), then lighting Bray’s chair on fire with fake lightning. Bray looked awed and terrified by all this, because he’s a big bearded baby.
3) Papa Shango Curses Ultimate Warrior
Back in 1992, WWF seemed to think Papa Shango, played by the future Godfather, Charles Wright, was going to be their next big supernatural success story (remember, they were just coming off The Undertaker). Unfortunately, the character was both an outmoded stereotype, and simply kinda lame. The Shango character’s height came when he laid a hex on Warrior (that guy was having no luck at all in the early ’90s), causing him to fall off the apron, convulse and vomit all over the place. Admittedly, it was memorably gross for the period.
The weirdness didn’t end there. Later, during an interview with Mean Gene, Warrior began to … ooze black stuff from his hair? I guess he was supposed to be bleeding black blood or something, but it just looked like an octopus had taken a dump on his head. Thankfully, Shango stopped doing his voodoo fairly soon after.
2) A Nightmare On “No” Street
Whenever I get a little sad Daniel Bryan has retired, I think about this angle and realize he’s probably better off protecting his neck and growing beets. After Bryan’s big win at WrestleMania 30, he was thrust into a feud with Kane, because that’s what happens to all champions WWE isn’t really behind. Even though Bryan and Kane had plenty of history to draw on, WWE decided to do the stupid horror thing with the rivalry.
This reached its nadir on the Raw after Extreme Rules 2014, with Kane stalking Bryan and Brie Bella backstage. This leads to the requisite scene where the goddamn car won’t start, and when Bryan is fixing it, Kane materializes in the back seat. This means Brie Bella has to act scared, which she does poorly. Basically, she just calls out DAN-YHULL repeatedly in a tone that’s more “I really need to get into the washroom” than “a masked demon is about to dismember me.” Worst of all, this was basically Bryan’s last angle as a main eventer. Sigh.
1) Bray Wyatt’s Evil Lip-Syncing Kid
And here we are, the least-scary WWE moment ever. Maybe the least-scary moment of any kind ever. The creepy kid trope is lame to begin with, but in WWE’s hands, it’s truly painful. I nearly threw my back out I cringed so hard at this nonsense.
So, at Extreme Rules 2014, John Cena was easily trouncing all three Wyatt Family members in a steel cage, because John Cena, but just as he’s about to secure the victory, the lights go out and an evil voice starts singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” When lights come back on, it turns out the song is being sung by a not-even-vaguely-intimidating moppet. The sheer terror of this physically bars John Cena from leaving the cage, and Wyatt manages to win the match via precocious child actor. WooOOOoooOOoo!
Okay, you can come out from under the blankets, that’s all the horror we have for you today. Any WWE thrills and chills I missed? Did any of these moments actually scare you as a kid? Tell your terrifying tale, below.