For whatever reason, when WWE.com screws something up, they do it spectacularly. They're usually pretty polished and professional, but when they mess something up, it's memorable.
Some of these things are simple oversights that happened to be really amusing. Some are inexcusable and should have gotten someone fired. Some were just judgment calls that were in really bad taste. Some are just plain mysterious.
Keep reading to see some of the more notable examples.
As you've probably noticed over the years, Shawn Michaels has been losing his hair. His formerly luxurious locks have been forming a skullet, with terrible hair transplants filling the gap. Sometimes, the terrible hair plugs have made him look like a wrestler doing a Mongolian gimmick in the '70s.
In May 2007, he was attacked on an episode of Raw and rescued by John Cena. As usual, photos promptly appeared on WWE.com. One was a good shot that happened to be unflattering to Michaels' hairline, so it was airbrushed in Photoshop or a similar program to give him a full head of hair. Simple enough, right?
For whatever reason, the original was uploaded to one part of the site while the Photoshopped version was on another. As you can see, some enterprising individuals grabbed both before WWE pulled the untouched version.
If I remember correctly, this is before Triple H started joking about Michaels' hair on TV, so it was a taboo subject like Hulk Hogan's hair was during his run as the top star in the company.
It could be worse. At least they Photoshopped the image correctly, unlike Ralph Lauren.
Tough Enough 3 co-winner Matt Cappotelli was doing great in then WWE developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling when tragedy struck. In December 2005, he suffered a concussion from a chairshot to the head by former tag team partner Johnny Jeter.
The concussion wasn't the tragedy. It was actually a blessing in disguise: Cappotelli's CT scan showed a malignant brain tumor that had not yet caused any symptoms.
WWE.com normally ignored OVW, but given the gravity of the situation, they made Cappotelli's diagnosis the feature story of the day and uploaded video of his speech at the OVW TV taping. It was a really nice gesture.
Clockwise from the main story on the left you have:
- A story about the top prospect in developmental being diagnosed with brain cancer and telling the fans about it while vacating the title he held.
- The latest in a bizarre series of skits where former referee Tim White attempted suicide due to depression over the injury that retired him.
- A sincere, out of character blog post by Mick Foley where he criticizes the exploitation of Eddy Guerrero's death (which occurred about a month earlier) in storylines involving Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio.
- An update on the storyline heart attack suffered by "Shelton Benjamin's Mama" (who reportedly wore a fat suit because Vince McMahon felt actress Thea Vidale wasn't portly enough to be the type of black stereotype he desired)
- A plain ol' WWE Diva (TM) DVD and magazine ad.
Oh, and while all of this was going on, they had forgotten to remove an Eddy Guerrero themed "Viva La Savings" banner for a Christmas sale after he died. This led to even more allegations of crass exploitation, but was likely an honest mistake.
Only in wrestling...
Last year, the hot angle of the Summer that inevitably took a wrong turn was the rise of The Nexus. The "Rookies" from Season 1 of WWE NXT united as The Nexus to ambush top WWE stars, announcers, etc. The angle where they ambushed John Cena, CM Punk, and the announcers before tearing apart the ring was one of the hottest in WWE in years.
During the course of the angle, Daniel Bryan attacked ring announcer Justin Roberts. He tore Roberts' suit off and choked him by yanking on him from behind with his tie. At one point, Heath Slater started to use a detached ring rope on Cena in a similar manner before Cena told him not to, as it went against PG-era guidelines (which the Nexus wrestlers were never told about).
A few days later, Bryan was fired.
Some powerful entity affiliated with the company (generally believed to be Mattel or Linda McMahon's campaign staff) had complained and he was fired as the fall guy. His departure was explained by Nexus leader Wade Barrett as being because he showed remorse.
It was well known that Bryan would be back sooner or later in essentially an abbreviated Jamie Noble firing. In the days before the big WWE vs Nexus ten man elimination match at Summerslam, it was speculated that he would replace The Miz (who was wavering) on Team WWE.
That was exactly what happened. Unfortunately, WWE.com spoiled it by posting a news item about the return of Daniel Bryan before the wrestlers came out for the main event.
When Jeff Hardy returned to WWE in 2006, many fans weren't sure it was a good idea. He had reportedly been fired three years earlier for refusing to go to rehab.
He subsequently went to TNA, where he was eventually fired after missing many shows, including PPV events. When WWE re-signed him, there was no proof he had cleaned up.
WWE.com quickly addressed these concerns with an article that is no longer on WWE.com but is archived elsewhere. It's what you'd expect about Jeff Hardy overcoming addiction and whatnot. When the article first went up, one passage noted that "He was plagued by an addiction to pain killers and methamphetamine (crystal meth), a highly addictive stimulant."
Either the writer wasn't supposed to say that or someone above him changed their mind about it, because the reference to crystal meth was removed within a few hours. If I had to guess, it would be because crystal meth addiction is considered so much more...I don't even know what word to use...severe?
Not that painkiller addiction isn't severe, but meth addiction is seemingly considered the absolute nadir of drug addiction nowadays. I would guess that he hadn't used crystal meth at least, in large part, due to the severe physical changes caused directly by meth abuse, none of which had visibly occurred to Jeff Hardy.
Sgt. Slaughter left the WWF in late 1984 over merchandising disputes. Since he was arguably the number two good guy in the company at the time behind Hulk Hogan, it was a pretty big deal.
Vince McMahon being Vince McMahon, he tried to replace Slaughter several months later. Enhancement wrestler (or jobber if you want to be less kind) R.T. Reynolds disappeared for a while before resurfacing as Corporal Kirchner, who was sort of a cross between Slaughter and Rambo.
Kirchner was decent, but he was far from a worthy replacement for Slaughter, who's an all-time great wrestler. He stuck around through 1987 and stuck around the business on and off for several years.
He hadn't been around in a while when WWE.com posted this on October 19, 2006:
"Former WWE Superstar Thomas Spear, professionally known as Corporal Kirchner, passed away of natural causes Sunday in his home in White Marsh, Md. He is survived by his two sons, daughter and step-daughter, as well as two grandchildren.
A Vietnam veteran, Kirchner is known for defending his country in the ring as well as out. He is not only revered as one of sports-entertainment's toughest competitors, but also one of its greatest patriots.
In the early 1980s, Kirchner was a close protégé of another patriot, former WWE Champion and Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter. Perhaps one of Kirchner's most celebrated victories took place at WrestleMania 2 where he defeated WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff in a Flag Match."
It was generally believed that his name was Mike Kirchner, but the discrepancy didn't strike anyone as odd since there have been plenty of wrestlers whose real names weren't well known. A few days later, it made a lot more sense when Mike Kirchner contacted Greg Oliver of Sun Media's Slam Wrestling to say that he was alive and had no idea who Thomas Spear was.
Nobody is aware of a Thomas Spear who was ever a pro wrestler. It looks like he was just one of those guys who conned his family into thinking he was a big-name wrestler.
As for WWE.com, the original post was quickly pulled (though the content was pasted at many message boards, including The Burning Hammer), but no retraction was ever issued. WWE has a huge database of formerly contracted wrestlers with their last known contact information, so the website staff (overseen by Michael Cole at the time) could've easily looked Kirchner up.
Now, let's fast-forward to June 29th of this year. WWE.com posted a "Where Are They Now?" article about Kirchner that contains the following passage:
"Living the full life he does, Kirchner has remained out of the public eye for much of the past decade — except for a regrettable incident in 2006 when false reports of his demise surfaced on the internet."
Yes, they "surfaced on the internet." It's not like WWE.com had anything to do with these terrible lies, right?
The chutzpah of these people...