Induction: The Terri Runnels Pregnancy – Spoiler: Attitude Era angles never lasted 9 months

31 Submitted by on Thu, 05 October 2017, 20:00

WWF 1998-1999

WWE is currently experiencing a baby boom, with both Maryse Mizanin and Maria Kanellis expecting little ones next year. Over the years, WWE has earned a reputation as a supportive environment for new families. In fact, when one female on-screen talent wanted to return to TV after her pregnancy but was self-conscious about her weight, Chief Brand Officer and former head of Creative Stephanie McMahon tastefully instructed the camera crew to shoot only from the neck up.

Sure, the woman in question was Stephanie herself, but I’m sure Maryse and Maria will be afforded the same support and courtesy a year from now.

But as for storyline pregnancies? WWE, and wrestling in general, do not have the best track record with those. Whether it be the difficulty of committing to a story arc for an entire nine months, or the fact that they can’t draw money in and of themselves, kayfabe pregnancies always end up in one of three ways:

1. The woman was lying.

2. The woman miscarries.

3. The woman gives birth to a rubber hand.

In truth, today’s angle featured two of the above outcomes. Go ahead and guess which ones.

This induction starts where a previous induction left off: Goldust had just returned to fulfill his master plan of getting Val Venis to cuckold him and then kicking Val in the groin.

With Goldust continuing to cause trouble for Val, Terri Runnels had some apparently good news for the man with whom she was committing adultery.

On Heat the following Sunday, Terri, speaking for Val, announced that “we’re pregnant”, which Venis, six days after first hearing the news, suddenly took umbrage with. “We are not pregnant,” said Val. “You are pregnant.” While this was of course literally true, the implication was that Venis had no intention of taking responsibility for his pregnant lover’s child.

This started Val on his way back to being a full-fledged babyface again.

It turns out that Val was right to deny paternity, as the adult film star had gotten a vasectomy years earlier. Val Venis was thus nixed as a possible father, but there was a difference between him and Goldust, the other man in Terri Runnels’s life. A vas deferens, in fact.

Terri tried to get back in her estranged (but fertile) husband’s good graces, even dressing up in her old Marlena outfit and, like any responsible mom-to-be, sporting a big ol’ cigar.

Goldust wasn’t buying that he was the father of Terri’s kid, though, thanks to the widely accepted view that pregnancy was caused by sex, which he and Terri hadn’t had for months.

Spurned by two men just because they didn’t want to provide for a child who wasn’t theirs, Terri formed an alliance with Jacqueline.

Their first act was for each woman took revenge on the men who had wronged the other.

Think Strangers on a Train, but with crotch strikes.

They eventually dubbed their faction, “Pretty Mean Sisters”, or PMS, although, ironically, one of their founding members would not experience PMS for the foreseeable future.

Terri’s pregnancy didn’t slow down her sexual escapades (or “sexcapades” for short), as she and Jacqueline soon rendezvoused backstage with “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry.

As Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole discussed whether pregnant ladies could be sexy (Unanimous verdict: yes), PMS got hot and heavy with Mark.

What started out as kinky fun soon devolved into abuse as Terri and Jacqueline punished a helpless Mark Henry non-consensually.

To make matters worse, this caused Henry to miss his tag match with D’Lo Brown, who had to take on the Headbangers alone.

D’Lo had had just about enough of Terri and Jacqueline and told them what-for.

The tensions continued into the famous January 4th, 1999 episode of Raw, which, according to WWE lore, single-handedly won the Monday Night Wars when, upon hearing that Mick Foley would win the title that night, hundreds of thousands of people watching WCW Nitro immediately switched over to Raw.

All I can say is, if Nitro viewers really did switch over to Raw en masse as soon as Schiavone made his “butts in seats” comments, they would have been met with the agonized screams of Terri Runnels suffering a miscarriage.

Who says wrestling can’t be relatable to women!?

See, as Terri Runnels stood on the ring apron to argue with D’Lo Brown during a match, an indignant Brown approached her aggressively, causing her to lose her balance and fall to the arena floor.

A distraught Terri was stretchered out as she wailed, “My baby, my baby!”

D’Lo felt bad. Not nearly as bad as anyone watching who had suffered a miscarriage in real life, but bad nonetheless.

Note that the accident was accompanied by a butt shot because, if the WWF was going to do a miscarriage angle in 1999, it might as well be a sexy miscarriage.

The grief continued backstage as she was joined by a remorseful D’Lo Brown, teammate Jacqueline, and the WWF doctor, Francois Petit, whom she repeatedly asked whether her baby was alright.

It wasn’t, as we would find out later, and suddenly the Fingerpoke of Doom that closed out WCW Nitro that night didn’t look like such a bad angle.

Terri placed the blame for the loss of her child squarely on D’Lo, who, out of guilt, now agreed to do whatever she told him.

Unfortunately, Terri’s first order was for Brown to wrestle his best friend Mark Henry, which Brown refused. He would do anything for forgiveness for causing a miscarriage, but he wouldn’t do that.

Regardless, Jacqueline pushed D’Lo into Mark, sparking a fight between the two that ended abruptly when Terri punched Henry in the crotch.

Fortunately, Chyna was on the scene to push Jacqueline out of the ring and her top.

Later, Terri had D’Lo wrestle the Big Bossman after the former corrections officer insulted her, only for her to intentionally cost Brown the match.

And whenever D’Lo wrestled, he would enter to this graphic:

As if all that weren’t bad enough, Terri even sent Brown on embarrassing non-sexual sexcapades (or “escapades” for short), such as taking a trip to the drug store to buy her tampons.

D’Lo finally found a way out of his bind when, by chance, Mark Henry brought up his Terri-related woes in front of the doc.

A bewildered Francois didn’t know what in the world Mark Henry was talking about when it came to Terri Runnels being pregnant, as if this were the first time the Frenchman had heard of such a thing. For a guy who was at every WWF event, he really was out of the loop…

…especially since he had helped stretcher Terri out after her miscarriage and listened to her scream incessantly about losing her baby. I guess it had just slipped the good doctor’s mind.

But no, Terri was not and had never been pregnant, he claimed. Of course, as revealed back in ’97, she and Goldust had a daughter named Dakota, so if the doc was telling the truth…

…who was Dakota’s real mother? Did Dustin cheat on her? And did she even know the kid wasn’t hers?

Whatever the case, Francois said he had examined Terri Runnels and she wasn’t pregnant, which meant two things:

1. He was in serious breach of doctor-patient confidentiality.

2. Terri was faking it.

D’Lo didn’t care why Terri had lied about being pregnant in the first place, and neither did Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara. All he cared about was finally being free after such an emotional ordeal.

After the reveal, the angle quickly fizzled, as D’Lo obviously couldn’t wrestle Terri, and Terri obviously couldn’t wrestle, period, even with the introduction of D’Lo and Mark’s female valet, Ivory as a potential opponent.

The story arc may not have elevated any wrestlers, led to any notable matches, or (as Tony Schiavone might say) put butts in the seats, but it at least shook a lot of viewers out of their comfort zone.

You know, the comfort zone where wrestling shows had wrestling matches instead of on-screen miscarriages.

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 also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
31 Responses to "Induction: The Terri Runnels Pregnancy – Spoiler: Attitude Era angles never lasted 9 months"
  1. Lycanthrokeith says:

    Two things as I read that article:

    1) I remembered being more interested in the angle about D’Lo’s Chest Protector.

    2) Sing that “He would do anything for forgiveness for causing a miscarriage, but he wouldn’t do that” line in the style of Meat Loaf.

  2. DarthPitch says:

    Forgot one:

    4) The woman has her baby kicked into the crowd by Gene Snitzky.

    That one was already inducted, wasn’t it?

    • Tempest Fennac says:

      It was. To be fair, Lita did supposedly miscarriage before Snitsky punted the doll.

    • Si says:

      Wasn’t that after an in-ring miscarriage?

      • Tempest Fennac says:

        Kind of. Lita had used the contract for any match Bischoff had given Kane as a wedding present to book Kane in a match against Shawn Michaels, who was returning after Kane injured him. Kane threw a hissy fit about this and demanded a “sacrifice” from Bischoff, who booked Kane in a no DQ match against a debuting Snitsky. Lita ends up getting into the ring to beg Kane not to injure Snitsky, they argue and Snitsky hits Kane in the back with a chair, resulting in him falling onto Lita. The miscarriage conveniently happened the following week when a camera crew was in Lita’s hospital room. Kane threatens to kill Snitsky, who responds by being as obnoxious as possible (presumably to show that he was the bad guy despite this mess happening thanks to Kane’s hubris).

  3. Unknown says:

    I remember Jim Cornette discussing this as part of the reason why he hated Vince Russo in one of his (many) shoot interviews on Russo; he had every right to be pissed.

    The reason the WWF won the ratings war at this point was…well…look at the shit WCW was shoveling down viewers’ throats at this point…

    • Chris V says:

      I wouldn’t say it was just that though. The top of the card was really strong. There were good story-lines involving wrestlers like Austin, Undertaker, Rock, Mick Foley, Triple H….
      It was just that the lower-card really had nothing to do, and instead of just using them as jobbers or putting them in random matches where their career spins its wheels, they gave them “shock TV” crappy angles that caught the viewers’ attention (even if it was in the negative).

      Yeah, this stuff was a chore to get through on a wrestling program, where you wanted to see what Undertaker was going to do next.
      It’s even more embarrassing looking back at this stuff now.
      However, while WCW was doing a good job putting itself under, the WWF was doing interesting things with the top part of the cards.

      WWF was basically the opposite of WCW during its peak. WCW had amazing wrestlers putting on great matches on the undercard, while their main event scene was boring.
      WWF had nothing worth watching in the undercard, while their main event scene was carrying the show.

  4. Jason says:

    “The story arc may not have elevated any wrestlers, led to any notable matches, or (as Tony Schiavone might say) put butts in the seats, but it at least shook a lot of viewers out of their comfort zone.”

    I’ve heard Jim Cornette (who confronted Ferrara on this very storyline whilst in the company) comment on this several times. Ferrara and Russo went on to repeat this “angle” in WCW with Stacy Keibler.

  5. CF says:

    “The ’90s sucked.”
    [Randy “The Ram” Robinson]

    “And we all know the reasons why — Vince Russo, and Ed Ferrara.”
    [CF]

  6. Chunkylover53 says:

    I love how D’lo went to the doctor “Don’t kayfabe me, be shooting on me.” You could tell who wrote this. At least it was subtle and not WCW 2000 shit.

  7. Michael says:

    I look at stuff like this and I laugh when people say they want the Attitude Era back. I cringe at this first but I also laugh.

  8. Al Lobama says:

    And don’t forget the best Russo sexual innuendo of the entire angle. Once D-Lo was forced to have Terri and Jacqueline be in his corner, whenever he would come out for a match the graphic would read…

    D-Lo Brown
    w/ PMS

    To this day, I’m convinced that this whole abortion of an abortion angle was done solely to get that rib in.

  9. CenturionStrike says:

    Fun fact: Francois Petit played Sub-Zero in the first Mortal Kombat movie.

  10. Gerard says:

    wasn’t there a part where terri jackie and ryan shamrock had a slave named meat who once showed up to a wrestling match with a very noticeable erection??

    • Tempest Fennac says:

      Shawn Stasiak had the misfortune of playing that character. From what I’ve heard, he had the erection due to the rest of PMS spiking his drink with viagra before he went out to wrestle.

  11. Christopher Haydu says:

    I wish Goldust and Marlena reunited. It would’ve been better for both of them…. and their careers at that time. I think it would’ve been funny if they actually went through with the angle, have Dustin be the father, and then have the child. It would’ve been funny to see Goldust raising a child. I don’t know who this would lead either of them to feud with, but the comedic value of it would’ve been well worth doing the angle.

  12. Adam says:

    No Kai En Tai joke, for Val’s vasectomy? You’re a classier man than I.

  13. El Atomico says:

    I was at the RAW taping where D. Lo was left to fend off the Headbangers by himself, and Henry came out at the end in his boxers. They didn’t show any of the stuff on the big screen, we had to wait til next Monday to know why he wasn’t out there!

  14. John C says:

    Damn, now when I watch an old show I’ll hear Gorilla saying something is a miscarriage of justice but I’ll be thinking what if it’s a sexy miscarriage of justice.

    I remember this being so over the top and campy that it was to stupid to be offensive but wow this junk does not age well at all. It was funny hearing Corny trash it since in the NWA in the 80’s he had the Baby Doll angle of him hitting her in the stomach with his tennis racket and being more subtle about what damage it did to her. Of course a sugared up 10 year old boy on roller skates in a China Shop is more subtle than Vinny Ru (Bro, I’m from New York, bro.)

  15. Alexandru says:

    Like Cornette has said miscarriage angles are just trash. They get no one over, make fans uncomfortable,and don’t draw a dime. This angle was trash whereas the Lita/Kane angle with a miscarriage was so over the top dumb/goofy that you could laugh a little at the absurdity of it all

  16. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    EstrangedButFertile.com! I bet that URL’s not taken! On second thought it probably is…

  17. Guest says:

    I honestly had forgotten about this angle up until this induction reminded me it happened. And yet I haven’t forgotten the debacle with Mae Young. How people swear attitude era WWE was fire consistently despite a good portion of the booking leading to garbage like this I don’t know.

    Also didn’t remember Jacqueline exposing her breasts again.

  18. E-Squared says:

    This angle is proof that the Attitude Era was not all that great looking back. I know that some people still get nostalgic over it, but looking back at an angle that happened nearly 20 years ago, it really does not hold up.

  19. Andy PG says:

    “We are not pregnant,” said Val. “You are pregnant.” While this was of course literally true, the implication was that Venis had no intention of taking responsibility for his pregnant lover’s child.

    This started Val on his way back to being a full-fledged babyface again.

    …you know, the fact that a statement like this is just mentioned IN PASSING shows how misogynistically horrible the Attitude Era was.

  20. Grim says:

    Oh please spare me the “attitude era objectified women” bullshit, may as well change your name to Amy and protest strip clubs. Always makes me laugh, so many wrestlng fans who hated bra and panties matches and swimsuit contests. Yet they love seeing big muscular men wearing next to nothing, what does that tell you? The attitude era WAS great, politically incorrect, sure, but who cares? It had junk like this angle but even the really stupid storylines could be laughed off. Well..maybe not to the super serious wrestling fans who think they are experts on the wrestling business. The same kind of losers who threw a hissy fit when Daniel Bryan was eliminated from the rumble. Because Daniel Bryan a main eventer was believable…Daniel Bryan defeating Brock lesnar, the undertaker ,hhh etc. yes very believable *chuckle*

    I think WWE should stop caring so much about what people think, if someone gets offended? Deal with it, it’s a storyline, not real life. People need to stop with the hurt feelings, ie the heels who supposedly “go too far”. Heels are supposed to be the bad guys. They’re supposed to be hated, yet something happens, people cry and the wrestlers get on their twitter with an (obviously forced) apology.
    I say let the people whine, someone gets offended? They should be offended by the atrocities in the REAL WORLD not a tv show.

    • Tempest Fennac says:

      I agree with the point about real atrocities being worth getting offended (and I agree completely with the point about how heels are supposed to do bad things). The problem is that sponsors often don’t seem to see things that way if the “Justin Roberts gets choked by his tie” thing was anything to go by. Regarding Danielson’s believability as a main eventer, I’d say a lot of that would boil down to how his matches against larger opponents were layed out (as a straight up brawl it would be ridiculous but if he was relying on technical skill and speed it shouldn’t be that much of an issue compared to how implausible a lot of moves which are commonly used within pro wrestling matches are). I will say that it would have been better just not to have him in the ’15 Royal Rumble altogether (while, in kayfabe, not being cleared to come back after it) would have made more sense considering how the hostile reaction to Reigns being booked to win it in the way that he did was predictable.

      As for the point about a lot of male wrestlers not wearing much, that is a good point. On the other hand, things like posedowns and tuxedo matches seem to be much less common with them so they seem to be objectified a lot less than female wrestlers (I’ve not noticed that sort of thing happening anyway). I’ll admit I always found it odd that the WWE named women roster members Divas due to the incinuation being that they’re all spoilt prima donnas. To be fair, I have recently replayed Smackdown! vs. RAW 2008’s awful 24/7 mode and most of the storylines in that seem to revolve around fighting over random Divas so that may be affecting how I remember things from the era that game was released in.

  21. Yarrr says:

    #sexy miscarriage.

    Every time I think I heard the most bizarre part of wrestling…

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