Former Rewriting The Book author Jon Milne wanted to jump in and give his two cents on the very worst of all the Gooker winners…so without further adieu, Jon take it away!
Even despite the massive public health crisis that has massively impacted the world recently, there’s been a great sense of déjà vu about the kinds of stuff we’ve witnessed in the wrestling industry this year, particularly in the WWE. We’ve already seen a Saudi Arabian PPV and a Wrestlemania PPV of dubious quality and morality, as well as more of Bray Wyatt being booked in very questionable fashion! I am already getting visions of the future of me clicking a little tick-box next to any one of those options and then hitting a “VOTE” button. Weird, right?
Happily, we’re not here today to discuss any of those as potential inductions, but instead, we’re here to discuss the “prestigious” award they will almost certainly be contenders in. WrestleCrap awarded its very Gooker Award all the way back in the year 2000, so named of course after the hilariously awful “Gobbledy Gooker” turkey gimmick as portrayed by Hector Guerrero. In January, WrestleCrap.com officially concluded the 20th edition of its annual Gooker Awards. That’s 20 years of Gooker Awards, with, heh, 21 winners of the award.
Of course, this begs the question: What, out of all of these winners, represent the True “Very Worst Of Wrestling”, to quote WrestleCrap’s tagline? Well, today, we’re going to find out and explore beyond the bottom of the barrel. I’m Jon Milne, author of the four-part Rewriting The Book story: “What If CM Punk Didn’t Return So Soon After Money In The Bank 2011?” which you can read in full here: http://wrestlecrap.com/more/rewriting-the-book-what-if-cm-punk-didnt-return-so-soon-after-after-money-in-the-bank-2011-part-iv/ , and we’re counting down…
The Top 10 Worst Gooker Award Winning Inductions Of All Time!
#10: The New Monday Night Wars (2010): http://wrestlecrap.com/inductions/the-new-monday-night-wars-2010-gooker-award-winner/
You know, with All Elite Wrestling currently producing actually pretty good content and providing a very credible challenge to NXT on Wednesday nights, as well as the increased profile of New Japan Pro Wrestling nowadays as a credible alternative to the WWE, you almost forget when another company, the formerly named Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling (now known as Impact Wrestling), attempted to compete with Monday Night Raw for 10 weeks, and did so badly they scored TNA the first of 3 Gooker Awards over the space of 4 years. I don’t know about you guys, but if I was wanting to creatively revitalise a company, I wouldn’t turn to the guys mainly responsible for killing WCW; and yet that’s exactly what TNA did when they turned to Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan (as well as their continuous fraternising with Vince Russo over the years) and it resulted in deserved failures all around. RD Reynolds and Justin Henry will probably never write a book about the Death of TNA, although they did a pretty good job in the epilogue of The Death of WCW, which incidentally is still available for purchase here! https://www.amazon.com/Death-WCW-R-D-Reynolds/dp/1536627313 [Editor’s Note: Insert witty RD comment here]
#9: The Rusev/Lana/Dolph/Summer Love Trapezoid (2015): http://wrestlecrap.com/inductions/rusev-lana-dolph-summer-love-trapezoid-the-2015-gooker-award-winner/
This induction is so bad that its spiritual sequel – this time starring Bobby Lashley and Liv Morgan alongside our two Russian leads! – came within only a couple handfuls of votes from pipping the Seth Rollins/Fiend Hell in a Cell match to the 2019 Gooker. Unusually for sequels however, I would still say that the original was the worst one. It’s so dispiriting to see just how far Rusev, Lana, and Ziggler all fell throughout this feud, especially since in late 2014 they had been the beneficiaries of some fantastic booking (Dolph at Survivor Series 2014, and Rusev/Lana being truly fantastic villains the crowds were invested in hating), and then they got lumbered with this seemingly endless crap. This tedious angle is one of the very few cases where you can actually feel thankful for the existence of a celebrity gossip rag like TMZ, whose announcement of Rusev and Lana’s real life engagement forced the entire angle to be nixed.
#8: Hornswoggle vs. Chavo (2009): http://wrestlecrap.com/inductions/5353/
You know what, however? I’m glad Rusev and Lana didn’t win again for last year, because I don’t think they even remotely deserve to be in the same company as the guy who is, to date, one of only two “named” wrestling personalities to win repeat Gooker Awards. I’m talking, of course, about Hornswoggle, and especially about this humiliation-fest that Chavo Guerrero Jr. was subjected to. I feel no hesitation in saying that Hornswoggle is, flat-out, my least favourite wrestler of all time, especially for the black mark he left on the legacy of the Cruiserweight Title until its eventual revival, and especially for this feud. I mean, yeesh, Chavo may never been as talented as his uncle Eddie was in the ring, but at least his “other” uncle Hector only had to be the Gobbledy Gooker character for a few months. Chavo was subject to this horrendous crap for an ENTIRE YEAR.
#7: Wrestlemania 32 (2016): http://wrestlecrap.com/inductions/induction-wrestlemania32/
Is this the worst Wrestlemania of all time? Nah, Wrestlemanias 9 and 11 and 27 probably deserve that “honour” the most. And, I mean, there’s a fair amount of redeemable content on this show, like the Intercontinental Title Ladder Match, and most of the women’s title match. So why is this placed above Hornswoggle? Simple: because this goes beyond merely being a bad angle, rather it’s about what it represents, which is going to be a common theme throughout the rest of the picks on this list. Wrestlemania 32 was a SIX F*CKING HOURS LONG show full of mostly vacuous matches, a seemingly deliberate attempt to stick it to smarks by booking pretty much every fan favourite to lose their matches (like Sasha Banks, AJ Styles, the New Day, Dean Ambrose), one of the biggest examples of Brock Lesnar not caring and burying an opponent, the continuing over-reliance on part timers and retired guys (especially a McMahon seriously actually being given a Wrestlemania match against a well past-his-prime Undertaker), and the continued over-push of a guy in the main event that fans just weren’t invested in at all. The question is, what kind of attitudes go into creating a show like this?
#6: Vince McMahon And The Brass Rings (2014): http://wrestlecrap.com/inductions/induction-vince-mcmahon-and-the-brass-rings-2014-gooker-award-co-winner/
How about the one where wrestlers who are demonstrably talented in the ring and on the microphone consistently see their pushes derailed, and end up becoming the victims of stop=start booking, because quite clearly they just haven’t grabbed for that Brass Ring enough. In fact, arguably things are even WORSE now than they were in 2014. How many times have we, as fans, felt incredibly frustrated as someone who we rooted for in NXT/New Japan/ROH/Impact/any other promotion ends up hitting the WWE main roster only to end up being subject to exactly the same inconsistent booking? Look at the Revival, at Shinsuke Nakamura, at Sami Zayn, at Bayley, at Sasha Banks, at Bray Wyatt, at the former Dean Ambrose – all wrestlers who we know are capable of having exceptional matches, and yet are criminally underused on the main roster. And even if you do get a sustained push, you can almost guarantee that the WWE’s main-roster booking will ruin it and completely take away your momentum, like with Kofi Kingston and Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns and The Fiend, to use some recent examples. Meanwhile, if you’re a part-timer, or someone coming back from retirement, or a McMahon, well this seems enough to qualify you for having grabbed the Brass Ring, and therefore you’ll get the main spotlight by default. And this is all because, much like WCW in its later years, the WWE only seems to care about short term profit as opposed to long term sustainability of its product. And nowhere is there a more egregious example of this than…
#5: WWE Crown Jewel (2018): http://wrestlecrap.com/inductions/gooker-2018/
If this PPV consisted solely of its under-card, and took place in somewhere like the United States, or the UK, this would actually, in my view, be a better PPV than Wrestlemania 32. But of course, this card also includes the final three matches, which contain everything representing what I’ve been talking about in the past 2 entries: A McMahon hogging the spotlight by winning a tournament he didn’t even enter, a fan favourite (Braun) getting completely buried by a not caring performance by Lesnar, and finally, a bunch of an old guys in the main event embarrassing themselves with a truly terrible match absolutely on par with the kinds of crap matches you’d see featuring “old-timers” on episodes of Nitro. Of course, the worst part of this show is the fact the WWE even went through with it, even despite the extremely negative publicity for the event after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by the authorities of Saudi Arabia. Watching the way top WWE officials attempted to justify their “tough” decision to go on with the event is truly laughable. Again, all WWE seems to care about is short-term profit, especially when it’s 10s of millions of dollars in Saudi blood money. The only reason this doesn’t crack the Top 4 is because Crown Jewel doesn’t quite yet have the “iconic” factor of the later inductions in this list. Perhaps, given a few years of more WWE Saudi events and another list in the future, its position may rise.
So we’re onto the Mount Rushmore of Wrestlecrap Gookers. Who made it?
#4: The Invasion (2001): http://wrestlecrap.com/inductions/the-invasion-2001-gooker-award-winner/
Now there is a strong chance that I have, probably, rated this far too low. Thing is, I actually liked the Invasion PPV. I found the feuds and matches featuring Rock vs Booker T and Stone Cold vs Kurt Angle to be excellent, and I even like the climactic Survivor Series match that ended this angle, even despite the optics of it. But let’s make no mistake here: this angle was absolutely a petty, destructive, complete waste of what could have been a truly fantastic angle in wrestling. Instead, it mainly resembles a McMahon ego trip, one that was so happy that WCW was officially dead that it concentrated more on gloating over its corpse than trying to produce something special that would honour the good memories fans had of it. The refusal to sign the big names, the way particular WCW alumni were treated (like Diamond Dallas Page), and making the story all about the McMahons is completely indefensible. There are so many good examples of invasion angles throughout wrestling history, and the failure to learn from them is a massive indictment on this storyline and on the WWE.
#3: David Arquette, WCW Champion (2000): http://wrestlecrap.com/inductions/david-arquette-2000-gooker-award-winner/ (The Wrestlecrap 20th Anniversary Madness Tournament Runner Up!)
Regardless of anything the WWE might try and do in storylines with WCW alumni, NOTHING can be as bad as anything as what World Championship Wrestling did with them. To consider just how awful this Gooker winner is, think about the sheer mountain of crap WCW produced in the final year before its death: Judy Bagwell On A Pole, the San Francisco 49ers match, Viagra On A Pole, Sting On Fire, Spring Stampede 2000, Leather Jacket On A Pole, New Blood Rising, pretty much anything to do with Vince Russo… and yet, it is this burial of a once proud world championship, by putting it on a B-list actor as a reward for starring in a terrible WCW-produced movie, that ultimately won the first ever Gooker Award given by WrestleCrap. This angle is so bad, that even Arquette tried (unsuccessfully) to convince Russo to not book this angle, and he donated all money he made from his “career” in wrestling to the families of dead wrestlers. The Invasion may have been the final insult to WCW, but it can’t compare to the cancer that existed while WCW was still alive.
#2: Katie Vick (2002): http://wrestlecrap.com/inductions/katie-vick-2002-gooker-award-winner/ (The Wrestlecrap 20th Anniversary Madness Tournament Winner!)
Throughout the years, WWE have replicated numerous types of awful angles: failed “invasions”, feuds based on increasingly petty squabbles between “Divas”, commentators getting demeaned in some way, dwarf comedy, love triangles, terrible Wrestlemania events, racially insensitive storylines, characters that are meant to be scary but fall flat for whatever reason, and of course flirtations with oil-rich dictatorships. You know what they haven’t replicated in any storylines since this particular induction? NECROPHILIA. I mean, do I really need to say anything more about this? I don’t know what Glenn Jacobs, generally considered to be one of the friendliest people in the industry to interact with, did to deserve this huge black mark on his career. This angle was meant to boost ratings, but if anything, it actually contributed as a “final straw” for a good deal of people, including me, to make them quit watching wrestling. I, personally, would not get back into watching wrestling again until the second half of 2005, when a friend rekindled my love of wrestling with numerous DVDs of WWE from the Attitude Era and from the years I stopped watching, as well as also showing me stuff from other promotions, and where I become a massive mark for Edge and Shawn Michaels.
The only reason this is not in the #1 spot is because this repugnant angle only stretched to, like, a few weeks. And even though I didn’t quit watching because of my top pick, this was only because I was made of tougher stuff than I was 2002 and my friend intervened to persuade me, heavily reluctant though I was, to keep watching wrestling. So, what is the Worst Gooker Winning Induction Of All Time?
#1: Eddiesploitation (2006): http://wrestlecrap.com/inductions/eddiesplotation-2006-gooker-award-winner/
Whether it’s Michael Cole mocking Jerry Lawler for his dead mother, Paige mocking Charlotte Flair about Reid Flair, CM Punk and Paul Heyman mocking the Undertaker about Paul Bearer, or even Dean Ambrose mocking Roman Reign’s then-uncertain future after his leukemia diagnosis, easily the most repugnant type of angle any wrestling company can run is one where it exploits the deaths of others for cheap heel heat. And nowhere was this worse than with the WWE responding to the death of the legendary wrestler Eddie Guerrero on November 13th 2005, by running an over-a-year long storyline in which Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Chris Benoit, and even Eddie’s own FAMILY MEMBERS Chavo and Vickie, were all used to exploit Eddie’s death in order to generate heat. Who can forget such FUN lines as “Eddie ain’t in Heaven. Eddie’s down there – in hell!” and “I spit on the Guerrero name. I spit on you. And if your Uncle Eddie was alive, I’d spit on him too”? Apparently, this was an angle that everyone involved, as well as Hunter and Stephanie, hated, but Vince McMahon insisted on pushing forward. This, incidentally, was one of the last major angles Chris Benoit worked before his horrific death as a result of murder-suicide in 2007, with Benoit never being able to get over his grief from Eddie’s death, for which the WWE and it’s disrespecting of Eddie’s memory absolutely has to bear responsibility.
This induction is the only Gooker winner with a completely sombre tone on this site, with no wisecracks, no goofy pictures, no cringe-worthy soundbites, just a straightforward castigating of the WWE for such a disgusting angle. To me, there’s no doubt that nothing deserves to be named the Worst Gooker Winner Of All Time more than this. We still miss you, Eddie.
What do you think, those of you in the comments section? How would your lists look, and what would YOU say is the Worst Gooker Of All Time?