Induction: HLA – 2 Girls, 1 Cup… of Crap! Uh, Wrestlecrap.

67 Submitted by on Thu, 07 November 2013, 20:00

WWE, 2002

hla00

WWE is no stranger to publicity stunts. Whether it be the “sale” of Raw to Donald Trump, the “Battle of the Billionaires,” or basically any angle involving Donald Trump, Vince McMahon has been known to make desperate grabs for mainstream media attention, typically at the expense of regular viewers who watch his programming in spite of (and not because of) the presence of, say, John Wayne Bobbitt.

hla01

In September of 2002, amidst free-falling ratings, a “gay wedding” between Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo grabbed the attention of media outlets around the country. Therefore, Raw GM Eric Bischoff sought, in storyline, to top the rival show with something he enigmatically called, “HLA.” hla02
 hla03 What was HLA? Was it a new gimmick match, like the TLC match? Was it a new faction, like the recently defunct nWo? No sirree! Although, like the WWE’s nWo, HLA would have been made even worse by Big Show and X-Pac joining in.
See, “HLA” stood for “Hot Lesbian Action,” which Bischoff promised to deliver on that night’s episode without so much as an explanation of who would be involved or how the night’s festivities related to wrestling in the slightest way. Not coincidentally, that night’s Raw went head-to-head with the season premiere of Monday Night Football, so the most transparent ratings grab in wrestling history was at least well-timed. Really, it was either host “HLA” or start a football league of their own, and not even Vince McMahon was delusional enough to do that (again).
hla04 
hla05  As strange as it seems now, there was a time when the internet was little known, and the masses did not have 24/7 access to all varieties of sexually explicit material on demand. Of course, 2002 was long past that time, as by then most anyone who could afford cable TV could also access pornography on their computers as easily as running water. In fact, more easily than running water (which could not be accessed on their computers at all).
Therein lay the flaw in WWE’s plan for huge ratings. Well, one of the flaws, anyway: anybody who wanted to see “hot lesbian action” could merely look up the real thing on the internet rather than waiting until 10:30 Eastern Time on TNN. Meanwhile, anybody more interested in other things (like, say, wrestling) wouldn’t want to endure two hours of non-stop, intelligence-insulting shilling for the softcore spectacle. hla06 
hla07  Sure, Raw had played host to countless bra-and-panties matches in the past, but those were the sort of segments you could just ignore if you changed the channel for five minutes. The same could not be said for “HLA,” since Jerry Lawler would simply not shut up about it all night.
Throughout the entire broadcast, King sounded like he was about to cream his pants right there at the announcers’ table (not to be confused with the time he sat on a pie that Dink planted on WWF Superstars). hla08 
hla09  And can you blame him? There was going to a woman kissing another person on television! And that other person was also a woman! It was such a riveting concept that Jerry made sure to remind everyone about HLA during practically every minute of the broadcast. 
At the top, the bottom, and sometimes the middle of each segment, Jerry would giggle and squeal hysterically about the upcoming “hot lesbian action,” regardless of what was going on in the broadcast. The message was clear: the only thing worthwhile on that night’s show was going to be that two women were going to have sex (but not really, because the show was only rated TV-14). hla10 
hla11  Just to hammer the point home, the lesbians were given their own lesbian locker room with a lesbian sign reading, “The Lesbians,” just in case you didn’t realize that the lesbians performing hot lesbian action were lesbians.
Good old J.R. did his best to calm the King down, changing the subject or playing dumb. For instance, when Lawler asked Jim whether he liked lesbians, J.R. expressed his appreciation for Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show. Ross wanted to let the audience (and his wife) know that he was no pervert (at least not while on air). hla12 
hla13  Believe it or not (given how giddy and foaming-at-the-mouth Lawler was about the girl-on-girl action), hyping up HLA was the one thing Lawler wouldn’t be doing single-handedly on this night. It seemed that the entire roster just could not get over the fact that two people with four X-chromosomes between them were going to partake in adult situations. No matter what other pressing issues the superstars had going on that night, they all took time to express their awe over the fact that two strangers were going to grope each other, and they would get to watch it (if only on one of those tiny backstage monitors).
Spike Dudley, for instance, had a match against World Champion Triple H, but still let his concentration lapse when confronted by two girls kissing. hla14
hla15 The long-forgotten All-American contingent of Bradshaw, Kane, Booker T, and Goldust all took a moment away from their patriotic duties to gush over HLA
William Regal, ever the voice of reason, gave Chris Nowinsky a slap in the face when all the Harvard grad could think about was “a couple of scrubber lesbians rogering Molly Holly” (Regal’s words, not Nowinsky’s). hla16 
hla17  At last, after all the embarrassing build-up, the time for HLA had come (and so had Lawler at least twice on live TV). The King, armed with a pair of binoculars, squealed at the very sight of the two unknown homosexual women.
He even howled when, I kid you not, the brunette lifted her arm into the air, as if a lesbian armpit were the naughtiest thing he had ever seen. hla18
hla19

Who doesn’t love lesbian puppies? You don’t have to bother getting them spayed.

Still, at least he didn’t actually use the phrase “lesbian armpit,” which is more than can be said about the “lesbian puppies” and “lesbian panties” he would scream about during the segment.
This wouldn’t be like Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres, assured the King. No, said, Lawler, this would be like Madonna and Sandra Bernhard, which was not something most people would like to be reminded of in 2002, and definitely not today. hla20.1 hla20
hla21 Eric Bischoff, naturally, played the role of sleazeball like a pro, sounding like a seedy porn director. It’s a wonder he didn’t get to direct See No Evil.
And the “lesbians”… Well, they looked about as comfortable as a parent who had been foolish enough to bring their kids to that night’s Raw. hla22
hla23 Bischoff asked each of the ladies if they wanted the other one sexually, just to prove their lesbianity.
Next, Eric suggested ever-so-subtly that the two women take off their shirts. “You know, you’ve got some real nice pecs, but it’s hard to tell under that t-shirt. hla24
hla25 The GM then convinced “Jenny” to take off “Tanya’s” skirt so she could “get a handful of that nice, tight, firm, round buttocks.” This was truly repulsive to hear; it should have been “get a handful of those nice, tight, firm, round buttocks,” Eric! Everyone knows that “buttocks” is plural!
Next, it was time to get down and dirty, starting with… a hug. Sound exciting? Jerry certainly thought so, but then again, he was excited by Jenny’s armpit. hla26
hla27 Finally, the two women were told to kiss, which they did with as much gusto as is possible to display without actually kissing the other person. The camera didn’t get a good shot of it, and their long hair got in the way, but it appeared that Tanya and Jenny weren’t too keen on actually touching lips and just sort of faked it.
They were hired to do one thing (“be lesbians”), and they couldn’t even do it right. Sable dove right in with Torrie Wilson on her return to WWE, and a “lesbian storyline” had been one of the complaints in her lawsuit against the company. hla28
hla29 Hell, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle made a more convincing gay couple than Jenny and Tanya.
Just when it looked like Tanya was going to take off Jenny’s bra (not her lesbian bra, mind you. Lesbian Victoria’s Secret was sold out of those the day they bought their lesbian panties), Bischoff put the “entertainment” to an abrupt halt, telling the girls that the segment had gone on about “3 minutes” too long. Well, more like six minutes, given that that was the approximate length of the segment up to then, but the point was that it was time for the dreaded 3 Minute Warning to jump in the ring and queer-bash. hla30
hla31 Future Super Hero In Training Rosey and future Samoan Bulldozer Jamal savaged the two participants, first with a stiff kick to Jenny…
…then a Samoan Drop to Tanya… hla32
hla33 …topped off with a Superfly splash to the stack of lesbians. See? This crap sort of had to do with wrestling, after all.
And guess who came to put a stop to this disgusting spectacle and rescue the brutalized women? Nobody, actually, even though Bradshaw, Kane, Booker T, and Goldust were all supposedly watching backstage and could easily have taken down the two Samoans. The two women were carted out on stretchers, never to be seen again. hla34
hla35 Thus ended a segment whose sheer tastelessness would go unsurpassed on Raw for literally weeks.

So why does this stunt, above all other “Divas” segments, stand out so much in the memories of wrestling fans recalling the bad old days? Well, although Divas matches had often been glorified excuses to showcase as much bare flesh as possible, they always had the pretense of competition, as if the T&A were merely incidental (and, in the grand scheme of things, they were. Do you see either of those two guys following Trish into the Hall of Fame?).

hla34

It’s sort of like how hardcore matches were pretty much excuses to see people get hit with things and fall through tables. But take away the trained athletes, the fans’ emotional investment in the characters, and the illusion of athletic competition, and what would you have left? A couple guys breaking things and blading for its own sake (backyard wrestling, basically). HLA was like that, only instead of heavy-handedly promoting the prospect of Mike Stab and The Lizard standing around taking turns hitting each other with light bulbs, stapling each others’ foreheads, and bleeding buckets for no good reason, WWE expected fans to stick around for a whole show just to see two nobodies with boobs pretend to want to have sex.

mikestab

It appears that on that fateful night, Vince borrowed Eric Bischoff’s philosophy of “controversy creates cash.” Yet somehow, it backfired, with Raw scoring its lowest ratings since back when it was losing to Nitro every week. Believe it or not, their previous 3.4 rating was before the WWF put the belt on Austin, whom Bischoff didn’t feel could “create cash.”

hla35

I’m no wrestling historian, but my guess is that it took a lot of lesbian stripper beatings to turn Raw’s ratings around back in ’98.

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He currently runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws and Hasbro WWF figures.
67 Responses to "Induction: HLA – 2 Girls, 1 Cup… of Crap! Uh, Wrestlecrap."
  1. Peter says:

    I think that induction title is one of the best I’ve ever seen, well done Art, HLA was long overdue to be put on this site.

  2. JyriErik says:

    Not sure about “Tanya” but “Jenny” was Jenny “looney” Lane from UPW, which is where the wrestler “The Prototype” started. His career went a little bit better than hers once he switched to his real name of John Cena.

  3. GoodGriefComics says:

    That was a five star induction. But I guarantee that one of the first comments is “When are you going to induct the No Limit soldiers?” Your inductions are always spot on, Art. And we hope everybody else reads the How Much Does This Guy Weigh? blog, because that’s awesome too. Thanks for the laughs!

  4. Ali (Don't call me Iron) Sheikh says:

    I remember feeling incredibly embarrassed the night this horrible episode aired. This show was so bad, it made the TNA Lockbox Challenge seem tolerable by comparison.

  5. RD Reynolds says:

    Is it sad that I thought the hottest image in this induction was that computer with the giant speakers on the monitor?

  6. The Doctor of Style says:

    I would’ve marked out if that door marked “Lesbians” had swung open only to reveal Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas reading poetry.

    Also, with all those high squeals, was Lawler auditioning to be the Undertaker’s manager?

  7. Jordan Mishkin says:

    “Was this a good angle?”

    *Looks at the two women*

    “Neigh.”

  8. George from Dudleyville,NY says:

    Awful Raw, cool induction. It amazes me when something so crappy escapes induction for so long. HLA had to be one of the most Vince Russo-like ideas that wasn’t concocted by Russo. This begins the decline in WWE programming for quite a while. We fans did what Hunter S Thompson wrote” We bought the ticket, we took the ride”.

  9. I'm Not Using My Real Name says:

    I’m a straight guy, a straight guy who enjoys the sight of a beautiful half-naked woman. So it’s really amazing to me that WWE, so consistently over the years, has been able to make gorgeous women so boring. Occasionally there’s a women’s feud, or a particular diva (at the moment AJ) that captures people’s attention but for most of the past decade the divas match is a bathroom break match and gets little crowd reaction. Remember the Diva Search? How could that many hot women on one stage be boring? I don’t know, but WWE did it.

  10. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    Did they purposely decide to pick the two homeliest women in the world for this bit?

    • theOneManChainGang says:

      I’m with you Paul. I was13 or 14 years old when this happened. Of course at the time I thought it was going to be awesome seeing to girls getting down with each other. I felt completely let down when I saw the girls and the “makeout session”.

      • "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

        Yeah, I can understand why you were disappointed. I would’ve been too if I was 13! The entire segment is a complete tease- especially if you’re at that age where you don’t know they really aren’t going to show anything too erotic.

  11. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    This angle had me questioning whether I should be watching on a regular basis. The Katie Vick saga answered that. It would be four years before I watched another WWE TV show [I got a few PPVs as presents].

  12. bobbyknightmare says:

    Finally!

  13. THE Jeffry Mason says:

    It could have been worse. This was during the period where WWE was Mae Young and Moolah in all this type of thing. Sadly i would take these two any day.

    Great job with the backyard reference

  14. RingOtaku says:

    Curse You Regal! Now I will spend the rest of my life wondering how scrubber lesbians roger let alone with Molly Holly who is my favorite Diva of all time.

  15. jt combo says:

    wow i cant believe in 2002 a 3.4 was a bad rating for monday night raw. and back then they were on spike! Vince wishes they could get that kind of rating once in a year now. They never go over a 3.0 anymore.

    • Greg says:

      The average is actually about 3.2. Not sure how many millions of fans that represents giving up on wrestling after WCW folded but it must be well over half the total audience.

  16. Time Lord Soundwave says:

    The next time someone on the forum bitches about Lawler’s commentary on Raw these days, I’m going to point them to this article. That should shut them up.

    Also, that was the first time I ever saw the attack on the “Lesbians”, since TSN (who used to air Raw here in Canada) refused to show any male-on-female violence.

  17. Mike W says:

    2002 -2003 was a strange time for wrestling.

  18. Alan says:

    Let’s not forget King was also wearing another stupid T-Shirt, the “Diva Talent Scout” shirt. I’m sure he’s also the only one that bought an HLA T-Shirt also. This was a weird time in WWE, and also I’m glad they never sold those tasteless Unamericans T-Shirts. The gay wedding, hot lesbian action, and Katie Vick. Wow, the Fall of 2002 was quite hideous, and this crap was just the tip of the iceberg. Great, long overdue induction Art! The No Limit Soldiers induction has to be coming soon.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This was arguably the most awkward, and by extension the worst, segment in wrestling history. And it was for sure the most pathetic.

    Also, is it just me or does Bischoff just believe the opposite of whatever’s true just to be a contrarian asshole who thinks he knows more about wrestling than everyone else and because he can’t stand not being the one who came up with every idea ever?

  20. Ra's al Diesel says:

    If the John Wayne Bobbitt press conference is not an induction yet, it should be. And it should be called “The Bobbitt, or Cut and Reattached Again: A Penis’ Holiday.”

  21. Fred says:

    Wasn’t this whole horrible bit a rib on Bischoff? He had gotten into some “trouble” in real life with his wife and some other woman down in Atlanta. I always though VKM did this awful angle to stick it to his buddy Eric.

  22. patricko says:

    Sadly, I watched this as well. Or at least started to do so. I’ve been a big fan of channel surfing during portions of raw for at least a decade now.

    I’m delighted that Lawler’s calmed down a bit in his dotage.
    I was not only NOT excited about HLA, but was a huge NON fan of Three Minute Warning and how
    they were being utilised. We’ll just have them come out and sh*t on whatever segment’s been built up… like the aforementioned gay wedding.
    Please waste more of our time.

    And Bischoff’s always had Xpac heat with me. I can’t stand seeign him on my TV, so… I turn the channel…

    I believe the only other time I recall hearing Bischoff utter the letters “HLA” was the RAW where he was
    trying to impress Vince, in hopes of keeping his job. Basically THAT segment was him, in front of an arena full of people, and a live TV audience, trying to keep his job by offering his boss prostitutes….

  23. Vealster says:

    Wasn’t this whole angle intended to humiliate Eric Bischoff and the fact he apparently used to watch his wife having lesbian sex with strippers?

    Vince could be really vindictive when he wanted to.

  24. King Of Kings says:

    I just laughed and shook my head at this segment. It still amazes me that WWE still thinks it could convince viewers that they could see some potential nudity by arranging stupid little segments like this. I remember when WWECW had that god awful strip poker segment with Balls Mahoney (wonder where he is these days) and the idea that two divas would get naked on ECW since it was supposed to be “Extreme”. Riight I don’t know what is worse, the fact that WWE loves to bore us to tears with this crap or the idea that they think we’re stupid enough to buy into this.

    In my opinion however this isn’t the worst offense of wrestling and porn coming together. That dishonor goes to when WWE thought it would be a great idea to do this weird cross promotion deal with Girls Gone Wild. The set up involved a few of WWE’s women appearing on this pay per view along with Test (May he RIP) with the idea that one of these women would actually “go wild” or show some bare breasts which never happened by the way. Still they were promoting the hell out of this ppv for weeks and this to this day has gone down as the biggest smelliest piece of crap idea WWE has had next to Katie Vick, and that covers a lot of ground. Not to mention the fact that this was clearly blantant false advertising.

    Art buddy, you seriously need to induct this soon it’s wayyyy overdue.

  25. Mark Cardoso says:

    I hated this angle. I hated the male on female violence (unless it is harmless like giving the evil female manager a spanmking over the knee which is funny). I heard one of the girls actually injured her ribs from tghis. Thyemay have been indy wrestlers but that kick still bothers me…

    • Greg says:

      I don’t have any problem with women being the victims of physical violence in a context where physical violence is commonplace. I find it insulting and patronisng that today’s product refuses to even hint at a woman, no matter how bitchy or abusive, may get her comeuppance. However, it needs justification. When Bubba Dudley was putting women through tables, many of whom had been total bitches (e.g. Tori and Trish), it got him over because of how taboo it was. Not to mention the move itself was way less harmful than it looks, even off a turnbuckle and through a table, and they were on trained wrestlers used to taking physical punishment. In the case of HLA, the entire thing was exploitative.

  26. Jeremy says:

    This induction reminds me of more wrestlecrap: In these shots, Lawler is wearing sunglasses or using binoculars all of the time because he got one billion pounds of botox injected into his eyes

  27. Raven7309 says:

    What I remember most about this bit was the footage of the two lesbians “making out” being used in the intro video to Raw for the next couple of years afterward.

  28. patricko says:

    I, too, hated the violence toward the women.
    would have hated it regardless, but when you have two monstrously large guys, being sold as monsters, perpetrating the violence, it made it just that much MORE objectionable.

  29. Thomas Moffatt says:

    Have you inducted the part where Nips had to do some HLA with Rikishi in drag???

  30. WC Fan says:

    Another great induction, Art.

  31. drunkenmaster says:

    I found the beating that these women took from Three Minute Warning to be homofobic. I mean, WWE is not exactly sympathetic towards gays, I don’t know if anyone agrees with me…

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s a HUGE stretch. You seem like you’re TRYING to be offended.

      Also, Pat Patterson. I mean c’mon.

      • drunkenmaster says:

        I’m sorry, it’s just that I really feel uncomfortable to see things like this. Sure, you may say that in Goldust vs Razor Ramon in RR ’96, Goldust won the IC title and stayed champion for quite some time even after acting gay all over Razor Ramon, but I still feel that there are indeed anti-gay people in the WWE.

  32. James says:

    And this is what I point to whenever someone says “Oh WWE needs to go back to the Attitude days! PG is killing WWE!” Look at what happened when they try to cling onto Attitude. And this isn’t even bringing Katie Vick into the discussion!

  33. Eric Hinkle says:

    Looking at those pics of Good Ol’ JR next to the King, am I alone in wondering just what thoughts must have been going through his head during this segment as it ran? Maybe something like, “Wait, didn’t this stuff stop when we let Russo go?”

  34. CLS says:

    Ah yes, this segment reminded me why I never took WWE seriously EVER AGAIN.

    And then WWE wonders why wrestling is not treated as a legit sport…hey, they’ve got Katie Vick, that’s why!

  35. George from Dudleyville,NY says:

    No matter what has transpired over the years, wrestling will always be something that was viewed at carnivals right next to the bearded lady and lobster boy. Granted wrestling has not helped its cause through the years, at least the main stream media is somewhat now “in on it”. For all the deaths, drugs and lawsuits, I’m happy where the buisiness is at. I would prefer less BS, but nothing stays the same forever. Comparing being a fan 20-25 years ago to now, could be a whole lot worse. WCW could have won.

  36. Down With OPC says:

    Wasn’t there more HLA promised on some other Raws too?

  37. 14thListener says:

    This induction would only be made better by including pictures of the proposed “HLA” shirts! I don’t think they were ever made for sale, but it would have been the Greatest Someone Bought This in the history or our sport.

  38. Mr Maddog says:

    Is this the angle that made Vince McMahon declare that Shock TV is Dead?

  39. Caveman says:

    Since that happened to this day whenever I see Eric Bischoff with a microphone in his hand, I expect him blurt out the words “Hot Lesbian Action”. It’s become his catchprase in my mind, and I think he should have kept using it forever (and completely out of context, too). Perhaps that phrase should be the only thing he ever says again as universal answer to all questions.

  40. The Kid from Iowa says:

    By the way I am wondering if the Un-Americans were ever inducted. I’ve been a reader for half dozen years now and don’t recall it ever being done. A gimmick that involves getting cheap heat by making insults alluding to the DC sniper shootings is certainly deserving of an induction. I recall Regal making remarks about Americans being afraid to even leave their homes or something like that..

  41. big says:

    The one thing that I remember from the “Here comes the Pain” video game was they had the crowd chant “HLA” in some of the (I think) bra & panties matches which might indicate that they thought it might take off and let it be part of the game. I doubt it was there the next year, but I could be wrong.

  42. James Clancy says:

    Great induction but I have to disagree with you about one thing. I think it was the other way round with Trish Stratus. WWE hired her because of her T and A, the fact that she was also a good in-ring worker was the incidental part. The fact that Trish is now in the hall of fame is a testament to how far blonde hair and fake boobs can take you in the WWE. Do people really think the WWE would hire Trish if she didn’t look the way she did? I don’t understand how people can constantly complain about how woman in wrestling are hired because of they’re looks instead of their abilities then say that Trish was part of the solution.

  43. Chris says:

    This was an awesome induction. I could laugh at King’s commentary from the attitude era all day long. Especially when he’s blowing his load over the least sexual shit possible.

  44. Ollie By Golly says:

    I don’t care what anyone says… the one who took the overhead toss into a Samoan drop was awesome!

  45. KJecklin says:

    I was actually at this RAW. At Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. May have been the worst RAW taping I’ve ever been to. I was also at one in Moline, IL where they showed Goldberg coming out of his “dressing room” that was clearly a janitorial closet.

leave a comment