Wrestling is an intense sport that features athletes who regularly beat the crap out of one another in the ring. Sure, there is a lot of choreography that goes into professional wrestling, but we do know serious injuries happen. With big massive bodies flying all over the ring and around hard surfaces, it is normal for bones to be broken and bodies to be bruised. The best of the best have also reached celebrity status, transcending far beyond the ring and garnering endorsement deals, television and movie appearances, and big money. This raises the stakes of wrestling and also raises the profile of those who compete. That is where scandalous behavior comes into play.
What’s wrestling without scandals? Well, it wouldn’t be wresting, that’s for sure. Over the years, there have been many rumors of varying degrees of extremes concerning professional wrestling and issues that have arisen. Avid fans may have heard of some of these crazy accusations, some of which have been proven and others still linger in stale air with questions that have been met by deafening silence.
What is clear is these men have been regularly accused of taking steroids (many of which have admitted as such). In addition to drug use, extreme behavior has accompanied the hefty travel schedule these athletes endure, and the stresses demanding of their wrestling status. Some of the scandals are personal in nature, whereas others feature chaotic behavior indicative of a world out of control behind the closed curtains. These are 10 Of The Craziest Wrestling Scandals.
10. The Vince McMahon And Shawn Michaels’ Affair
Well, this clearly is the sort of “out of left-field” rumor that makes you shake your head. Normally, McMahon is the ringleader of rumors and story-lines, directing things from behind the scenes. Sure, he appears on camera and made himself a household name, but this kind of story which has endured for numerous years and more recently confirmed by Bret Hart (who was tossing a grenade in bitterness), shows that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than we know. Before Hart made his claims, Road Warrior Hawk called McMahon and Michaels out. Now understand where this all came from. Michaels posed for Playgirl back in the day and numerous rumors of his sexual preference have persisted. Claims have been repeatedly made that the two men are bi-sexual and have carried on a past relationship. In addition, further weak evidence supporting the claims arrives when McMahon paid Michaels for 4 years from 1998-2002 despite him not wrestling. And McMahon’s emotional break down when Michaels gave his Hall of Fame speech and tight clasped hug in 2011 were also very uncharacteristic of McMahon. It’s smoke. But where there’s smoke…
9. Sex, Drugs, And WrestleMania On A Flight?
Traveling around the world can get old. A lot of times, guys need to blow off steam and switch things up a bit. And when you have money and a lot of time on your hands, you tend to get yourself into trouble. Such was the case on the May 5, 2002 WWE flight from England to America. As the plane hovered above the Atlantic Ocean, WWE elites Ric Flair, Brock Lesnar and Scott Hall made fools of themselves and created a scandal all at the same time. Known as the “Flight From Hell,” the A-list wrestling stars, joined by numerous other named WWE participants, displayed a rock star style breakdown with drugs, alcohol and an impromptu wrestling match on board an international flight. Some of the highlights included a Brock Lesnar and Curt Henning wrestling match that got the men hurling one another into sides of the plane, scaring the flight crew half to death. The flight attendants went on to say, “I thought they were going to bust through the sides of the plane!” Rick Flair whipped out his own Flair, demanding a flight attendant grab his junk. Dustin “Goldust” Runnels grabbed a flight attendant and was insistent they were going to have sex. Scott Hall was sexually aggressive until he passed out, flat drunk. The wrestlers were shooting up on the plane and giving the used needles to the flight attendants to dispose of. A lawsuit was filed as a result of all the insanity. The most exciting thing that happens to me on a plane is a little turbulence.
8. Sleeping With The Boss’s Daughter
If you’re Randy Savage and you are on top of your game, you enjoy some of the spoils of your successes. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Randy “Macho Man” Savage was a WWF icon. Then, in late 1993, the 40-year-old Savage supposedly had a relationship with the 17-year-old daughter of his boss, Vince McMahon. McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon, was having an affair with the much older Savage right under her father’s nose. But when Vince McMahon got wind of the affair in 1996, he was furious and banned Randy Savage from the WWE. The mere mention of Savage’s name in the halls could get you fired. He is a pariah to Vince McMahon and has actively been kept out of the Hall of Fame for this very reason. His quiet lifetime ban continues even though Savage passed away. But even in death, Vince McMahon has showed little interest in honoring a man who carried on an affair with his underage daughter.
7. Court’s In Session
A lot of locker rooms have their own justice. In professional sports, it is the job of the elite players and the “elders” to oversee the younger, new up-and-coming stars. They often will have their own way of justice. In addition to distributing advice and overseeing the newbies, these veterans also have a tendency to haze other wrestlers. In the case of the WWE, the top talent operated what they termed to be “wrestlers court,” behind the scenes. Here, the older stars kept order over the younger ones which included strange hazing rituals. It was rumored that The Undertaker was the judge over all of these shenanigans. One such story featured a new talent being stripped down naked, doused in baby oil and tied up. If that wasn’t enough, the tied-up new talent was being threatened with rape. All of this was his initiation into the big show. I like football more where they only make you wear dresses and shave your head into weird pictures.
6. Drug Dealing McMahon
Vince McMahon has run his wrestling empire like a ringleader runs a circus. He has conducted every move for the benefit of entertainment and to line his own pockets. So in 1993, when steroids were exploding all over professional sports (and actively being ignored), Vince McMahon had the fight of his life. He was indicted by authorities as if he were a drug dealer. His drug of choice: steroids. McMahon had to fess up about his own steroid use throughout the 1980s and despite a great deal of evidence that McMahon aided and helped facilitate over-“roide” wrestlers from the 80s and early 90s, he was cleared with the help of some star witnesses – his employees. With Hulk Hogan helping to clear McMahon, the ringleader survived to promote another day.
5. Sexual Appetite
The appeal of beautiful women in and around the wrestling ring only added to the show. Football and basketball feature a hoard of beautiful dancers for the male-dominated audience to stare at. So, why not bring out scantily-dressed beautiful women into the wrestling show? Some were made to be wrestlers while some were made to be supportive girlfriends looking on. But when you combine these beauties with jacked up wrestlers, you can imagine the issues back stage. Brock Lesnar’s wife, Rena Mero (Sable to wrestling fame), filed a sexual harassment case against the WWF. She, like many others, was tired of getting groped and disrespected in the male-dominated club. In an odd interview, McMahon himself admitted he cheated on his wife and had a tremendous sexual appetite. “I’m a giver. Whether it’s performing in the ring or sexually, that’s how I get off. I give. I get off on the number of orgasms a woman has, when I’m the reason she’s having them.” All righty then.
4. From The Far East
In Japan, wrestling is a very serious sport. The top stars, like in the US, achieve celebrity status and carry a great deal of attention. The saga of Mitsuhiro Momota is nothing less than a tragic tale straight out of the movies. The former sumo wrestler-turned-wrestling performer was known in Japan as Rikidozan. He rose to national fame in the late 1950s and early 1960s, becoming the nation’s most well-known wrestler. He was on top of his game. In 1963, while enjoying himself at a nightclub, Rikidozan was attacked and stabbed with a urine soaked knife. He died a week later of an infection. The attacker was a Japanese gangster who was rumored to be paid off by Rikidozan’s long-time rival in the ring, Masahiko Kimura. Jealous much?
3. Snuka The Murderer?
Energetic former wrestling fan favorite, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka always had a way of exciting his fans inside the ring. He was a famous wrestler from the 1980s whose signature move was to fly off the top rope, soaring through the air. But in 1983, before his legend grew, he was a key figure in the murder of his then girlfriend, Nancy Argentino. Argentino was discovered unresponsive in Snuka’s motel room and the case went cold without any evidence that Snuka was responsible. That is, until now. Just recently, Snuka was charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Argentino. Snuka stated that he discovered her after he returned from a match. An autopsy found that Argentino died of traumatic brain injuries and had more than three dozen cuts and bruises. Essentially, she was beaten to death. In attempting to prove his own innocence, Snuka first told paramedics on the scene that he hit her during an argument outside their hotel room and that she struck her head on concrete. He then told police she slipped and fell in their bathroom. Snuka is currently awaiting trial. Either way, this story will end bad.
2. Death Drop
Certainly, there are inherent risks when it comes to wrestling. These athletes fight for the newest and most entertaining moves, pushing themselves and their performances to the ultimate limits. They test their physical strengths and often times, come away injured. It is part of the game. But when you go to such extremes like risking your life, things get real serious, real fast. That was the tragic case of fan favorite Owen Hart. Part of the legendary “Hart Family,” with his brother, Bret Hart, Owen was pushing the envelope at WWE’s Over The Edge pay-per-view performance. In May of 1999, Hart was asked to rappel down to the ring from the rafters above on a harness line. The line malfunctioned and Hart was tragically dropped 78 feet into the ring, landing awfully on the top rope. Hart died of massive internal trauma and like any performance, the show went on.
1. The Awkward Tribute
Well, this is when scripted television and real life converge into one messy disaster. Chris Benoit was hand-picked as the new face of the WWE for their Wrestlemania 20-year anniversary event. He won the championship and the show ended with the image of Benoit with his wife and kids. Two years later, Benoit was dead and was found to have killed his own son, Daniel and wife, Nancy. The tragedy was a disaster and when WWE learned that Benoit died shortly before their Monday Night Raw broadcast, they scrapped the live show plans. Vince McMahon came on television to break script and let the audience know that Benoit was dead in real life, when in fact, McMahon was supposed to be killed just as the storyline on the show had been written. WWE went a step further and aired a “tribute” to Benoit, showing his career highlights in an epic tear-jerking event. Wrestlers were interviewed and spoke about how great a guy Benoit was. Just as this was airing, new channels broadcasted the truth that Benoit had, in fact, murdered his wife and son. WWE had to quickly release a statement condemning Benoit and the embarrassing moment is yet another epic moral fail for Vince McMahon and company.