There is no denying the existence of a higher power within professional wrestling (or sports entertainment, for those completely corrupted by the Higher Power named Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr.). Whether it is the celebratory shout-outs by championship achievements, Joey Styles’ exuberance in play-by-play, or egos run amok with self-aggrandizement from the term, “Wrestling God” (thanks, JBL and Y2J), there will always be a place for Him in the ring. Or Her, if you believe in the boasts of one Alexa Bliss. Here are some of the famous (or infamous, depending on your faith) moments of religion in the ring.
Andre Snatches Hogan’s Chain
Alright, this technically didn’t happen inside of the ring, but the act of disrespect certainly had tremendous repercussions in their epic Wrestlemania III match. Amazingly, the forced removal of Hulk Hogan’s beloved cross necklace by Andre The Giant during an episode of Piper’s Pit was a complete accident. Andre, brainwashed by the maniacal Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, attempted to mock Hulkamania by tearing Hogan’s shirt off. But the act of ripping pre-torn terry cloth also yanked the golden crucifix off wrestling’s beloved hero. The sight of a bleeding Hulkster put fear into the hearts of Hulkamaniacs that he may possibly be vanquished in the Silverdome. My hopes for this were dashed, as Andre was bodyslammed and Hogan prevailed.
The Crucifixion Of The Sandman
Throughout his career, Raven has continually pushed the envelope. Whether it be his reckless appreciation for drop-toe holds into steel chairs (an admitted beauty to watch live), his promo ability, or his cult leader persona, Scott Levy has always been a magnet to controversy. Maybe not as Johnny Polo, but Raven is one of the darkest characters in wrestling history. His feud with ECW’s beloved Singapore cane-wielding Sandman involved brainwashing Lori and Tyler Fullington (Sandman’s ex-wife and son) into his Nest. The angle reached an all-time low in front of free-agent rookie wrestler Kurt Angle. As a practicing Catholic, Angle was sickened by the (allegedly) impromptu placement of Sandman onto a crude wooden cross and a crown of barbed wire was placed upon his head. As the cross was strung up along the ring ropes, Angle demanded that booker Paul Heyman remove his image from this broadcast and any future ECW product. The roster and reaction from the predominantly Catholics in attendance called for Raven to issue an apology, and Levy in turn rendered perhaps the most disingenuous words ever voiced in history.
The Sacrifice of Stephanie McMahon
As the Attitude Era began to rev into high gear, The Undertaker saw his persona change from a brooding casket maker to a demonic leader of the Ministry of Darkness. Wrist-slitting became as normal as an initiation process, and The Dead Man began threatening Mr.McMahon and his Corporation for control of WWE. He kidnapped Vince’s daughter Stephanie after dominating the Corporation in the ring. Instead of merely demanding ransom, ‘Taker began a sort of satanic marriage ritual to Stephanie, complete with the hanging of the future CBO of the company to the Titantron. Longtime Vince rival Stone Cold Steve Austin rescued Stephanie from the ceremony, and briefly aligned himself with the McMahon family. Soon after, it was revealed that Vince was actually the “Higher Power” that Undertaker received his calling from, reinforcing the classic Mr. McMahon heel character and birthing The Corporate Ministry.
Shawn Michaels Defends His Faith
This will not come as a shock to most readers, but Vince McMahon has a bit of a God-complex to his personality. Wrestlers were often mocked on television (and backstage) for any religious beliefs or gimmicks, and this is due to Vince’s demands for complete devotion to one entity: WWE. Vince seized an opportunity to cash in on Shawn Michaels’ newfound faith as a born-again Christian in more ways than just merchandise. Vince and son Shane would face off against Michaels in 2006 at Backlash in a tag-team match. Who was The Icon’s partner in the match? None other than God Himself, of course! While you would think Michaels could dominate two non-wrestlers on his own, surely the Father Of Creation would ensure victory for His follower, right? Right? Of course not, silly! The McMahons recruited the Spirit Squad, a team consisting of male cheerleaders, to emerge victorious over The Showstopper and… um, well… The Showstarter.