As wrestling fans, knowing what goes on behind the scenes is our addiction. Many of us use YouTube and various social media outlets to find out what goes on behind the scenes today, and what went on back in the day. The stories truly seem to be unlimited.
Today, the backstage scene is much calmer but during the 90s, it truly was a war zone. Even the early to mid 2000s carried some serious baggage behind the scenes which even caused a respected WWE employee to walk out of the company. We shall discuss that altercation further in this piece.
The incidents in this article range from all over the place; you have incidents of wrestlers partying, altercations between Superstars and executives and even some of the greatest wrestlers of all time potentially being squandered because of poor booking decisions made behind the scenes. Can you imagine Brock playing the role of a stiff Russian and not utilizing his insane agility? Man, would things be different. We’ll have more on that situation in the number one entry.
For now let us begin; here are 15 crazy WWE behind the scenes real-life incidents you never knew about. Enjoy!
15. Paul Bearer The Master Ribber
On-screen he played the role of the Undertaker’s creepy manager but behind the scenes Paul Bearer was quite different and a joy to be around.
The late great Bearer was actually quite the prankster believe it or not, and his targets during certain situations were quite bold to say the least. In one instance, Paul decided to rib Mark Henry, who was one of the meanest and most intimidating WWE performers during the 90s. Henry was sustaining an injury at the time so Paul decided to make things even worse for the big man by hiding his crutches.
In another instance, Bearer took things a step further and decided to rib his partner, The Undertaker, which seems like an absolute “No-No”. Taker for some reason hated cucumbers so Paul decided to chop them up and hide them all over his gear, including inside of his boots. We can only imagine Taker’s reaction to the incident!
14. MMA Hunter
During the Stone Cold Podcast, Austin and X-Pac were reliving some tales from back in the day and man, were the times ever different. It was seriously pure chaos in and out of the ring during the 90s.
Austin recalls a particular situation where he saw a side of Triple H he’d never seen before. During a show in Germany, Austin was working with both Chyna and Hunter. He hit the Stunner on both of them leading to the victory. Following the bout things got pretty interesting. A German fan basically rushed the ring only to get destroyed by Triple H who proceeded to mount the large fan. Austin was in shock seeing how Triple H was always such a straight and proper shooter throughout his career with no fighting background whatsoever.
13. The Failed Miz Pitch
The IWC (Internet Wrestling Community) loves to bash The Miz, little do fans know that the guy actually really cares about the business behind the scenes.
Miz is known to throw several ideas the way of WWE’s creative team. Even when he was IC Champ before his current run, Miz attempted to do something unique and special with the title. Although his requests were constantly turned down, he finally managed to get his way with his current IC Title run which is one of the most impactful in years.
As we indicated however, he didn’t always get his way. His initial pitch was to have a stunt double so the double would work for him while Miz would take matches off cause he was “too good” to compete. In an ironic twist, Miz ended wrestling even more while Sandow was given all the credit for just copying his every move outside of the ring.
12. The Story Behind Mick Foley’s Mankind Mask
Pretty crazy to think that Mick Foley found out about this only recently from Bruce Prichard decades after it all went down. Foley admitted, he was very happy he hadn’t heard of this at the time cause it would have certainly rattled his confidence.
During the mid-90s, Vince was all about image, if you didn’t look good, your chances of making it were pretty slim (or like Vince says, “no chance in hell”). Foley was exactly that; he oozed with talent and had great potential, which several employees saw including Jim Ross who loved Foley’s work with Sting from WCW, and believed strongly that he could have rebuilt a similar feud with The Undertaker, who was looking for something new as well at the time.
After years of trying to push Mick, Vince finally had enough of JR’s constant requests and agreed to do so. But, the catch was it would only go down by covering his face. As sad as it may sound, that is how ‘The Mankind’ persona was born and thankfully Mick was only made aware of this just a couple of years ago.
11. X-Pac Discusses Party Incidents With Both Outsiders & New Age Outlaws
The life of a WWE Superstar is far more different today than it was in 90s. The climate in today’s WWE sees Superstars headed back to the hotel following a show to get some rest, while waking up early and hitting the gym. Back in the day, they would also hit the gym the next morning, but that was after a night of extreme boozing and other activity.
Sean Waltman, aka X-Pac, remembers those days quite vividly. His outings with The Outsiders and New Age Outlaws were pretty much the same; they consisted of grabbing a bite and hitting the clubs till the early mornings. X-Pac recalls Scott Hall always getting into trouble while intoxicated and Road Dogg would be the exact same way when Waltman would hang around with the Outlaws. When it came to trouble, the two were constantly at the forefront of every situation.
10. Woods Went All In With The New Day Angle
Although it turned out to be a fantastic money-making machine, the New Day concept started off extremely rocky and could have ended the career of Xavier Woods, who put his neck on the line for the group.
Before entering the WWE, Woods had a stint with TNA which had some bright spots but ultimately went nowhere which caused his release.
The WWE would eventually pick him up and he would spend several years down in development. Once he got called up, Xavier failed to make an impact enduring a lackluster run along R-Truth.
With his career on the rocks, Xavier knew the three stars shared a unique bond which could have drawn tremendous numbers on-screen. He desperately needed something and that truly seemed to be it. Career-wise, it would make or break his WWE journey. The WWE finally met their requests and the duo absolutely blossomed. The greatest part of it all; they’re basically playing themselves every week.
9. The Sable Effect
After leaving WCW, the WWE happily signed Johnny B. Badd. WCW had the rights to his name, so the WWE would change his name to Marc Mero. That simple change actually confused Mero who trained to be a character and not a wrestler. After the change was finally established, Mero was finally gaining momentum, that is till Sable came along.
Cornette was critical of Sable since day one. In his view, without even knowing Sable, he felt like the move would hurt Marc and only put attention on her which is exactly what happened. Mero was pretty much buried and to make matters worse, Cornette was critical of her passion claiming she was only there for television exposure as she failed to improve her in-ring and promo skills during her time.
Mero sunk to the lowest of lows after Sable power bombed him. After that went down, Austin refused to take on Mero claiming it was too much of a step down for him to compete against a guy that got destroyed by a woman. Ouch.
8. The Heated Heyman/McMahon Incident
Over the years, Vince and Paul have had a very “love-hate” type of relationship. This is certainly not uncommon for McMahon who shared this type of bond with several other employees, including Steve Austin.
With Paul and Vince, things got heated several times, so much so that two stories pertaining to their encounters made the list. This one involved Paul Heyman ultimately getting fired from his job as SmackDown’s creative head.
What basically happened was that the WWE held conference calls during the weekend; to make a long story short, Heyman’s time in the conference was up but he chose to stay on the line secretly. Paul, to this day, claims it was all a misunderstanding cause of his phone but McMahon wasn’t buying it. Paul picked the worst time to do so, as the creative team, along with Vince, were booking the entire road to WrestleMania for Raw. Once Heyman heard the seriousness of the situation he hung up but not before the conference call addressed that Heyman had left. An enraged Vince met with Heyman and he was later released for a short period of time.
7. Henry Goes To The Wrong Airport
After having an established career as a weight lifter, the WWE threw a lot of money to obtain Henry’s services. He would agree signing a crazy ten year deal with the company.
His early beginnings weren’t the greatest. Henry constantly had a chip on his shoulder and was generally an outcast behind the scenes. It finally a took a talk from the WWE’s backstage godfather The Undertaker, to finally settle the big man down.
Before that happened, things were tough for Mark especially the travel aspect which plays a pivotal role on lots of new WWE Superstars. In one instance, Henry showed up to the wrong Springfield during a time where cell phones basically didn’t exist. After he finally contacted D’Lo Brown and realized he was at the wrong airport, Henry began to a panic. When he realized there were no other flights he called the WWE agents and told them about the blunder in a panic. Ultimately, everyone had a big laugh about it and Henry was off the hook with a small fine.
6. Big Show Lights Up
They say first impressions are everything but that couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to the WWE career of Big Show. McMahon brought the big man in, signing him to an insane ten year deal similar to the one Mark Henry agreed to. For Show however, things immediately got off to an awful start behind the scenes when he first met Vince McMahon.
Long story short, Big Show was pretty much set up by Pat Patterson. Both men smoked at the time so Patterson told Big Show that he was allowed to light one up in Vince’s office. Patterson and the others finished smoking, while Show continued, when Vince entered and saw a huge cloud of smoke in his office he was immediately irate at Big Show, seeing as he was the only one smoking. To make matters worse, Show didn’t even blame Patterson for it as he didn’t want to be labelled as a “rat”. He instead took all the heat and looked rather silly in his first confrontation with the boss.
5. Big Show Snaps On Austin
Sticking with Big Show, his debut in the ring was just as bad as his behind the scenes incident with Vince. In his first cameo at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Austin ripped Show during the cameo for giving him a wedgie and throwing too hard into the cage. Not only was Show already an outcast behind the scenes but now the biggest star in the business was critical of his work.
Show continued on and his wrestling abilities weren’t up to par. Things only got worse when wrestlers began to take liberties with the big man in the ring if you can believe. Specifically Austin would rip Show during matches and get really stiff with him.
In a tour overseas, Show finally had enough. After he took one too many stiff shots from Steve he finally started throwing them back with a vengeance. Austin actually praised Show for finally showing some character and that ultimately changed his entire career. Show thanked Austin for that during the Steve Austin Podcast.
4. Heyman Walks Out On Vince
We promised another Paul Heyman story, and here it is.
During the WWE’s ECW brand run, things were as brutal on-screen that they were off of it. Heyman was given the driver seat but McMahon held the keys, and this lead to several on-going battles between the two.
In one instance, Heyman finally snapped and walked out of the company during the December to Dismember PPV. The main event was an elimination chamber match. Booking-wise, Paul wanted CM Punk to win while Vince disagreed and opted for Lashley instead. After on-going battles Heyman came up with a resolution that had Bobby victorious while Punk still came out of the match looking great. That was also shot down and ultimately Punk was eliminated first while Bobby won the match.
A frustrated and burnt out Heyman left the show and walked out of the company that night. Not only was he enraged but he lost his passion for the business. He went back home to New York and ran his agency for a couple of years following that incident.
3. Foley’s Post HIAC Comments
Who can forget this match which is still talked about and glorified by the WWE Network till this day. The barbaric nature of The Undertaker-Mankind match was truly something to behold, not only was Mankind shot off the cell onto the commentary booth but he also accidentally broke the top of the cell and landed in the ring which caused his tooth to go up his nose. The scene of destruction in the ring was all so surreal.
Backstage, the doctors brought Foley to a quiet room where Vince Russo went to check on his good buddy. Russo will never forget Foley’s comments after the match which were: “was it better than Shawn’s”, referring to HBK’s HIAC match against The Undertaker which was regarded as the best cell match at the time. Russo marvelled in awe at how much passion for the business the guy had. It was really special and one that is hard to match.
2. The Smiling Babyface Rocky
While wrestling his first dark match with the WWE, the word backstage was that The Rock was going to be a star; the way he moved in the ring and his instincts were just so ahead of his time. Backstage the creative crew and agents marvelled at how ahead of the game he truly was at such a young age.
Jim Cornette specifically knew right off the bat and told Vince to give Rock a “cool” gimmick because he would be the champion in five years (and he did it in three). Instead, McMahon listened to Patterson’s advice and put him in a loveable, smiling babyface gimmick which did not connect with the crowd at any point.
Rocky’s gimmick wasn’t going anywhere and he proceeded to asked for a change. It was surprisingly Vince Russo that suggested the company change him into an “anti-social” wrestler. McMahon obliged and Rock took his performance to another level with his new persona. And like they say, the rest is history.
1. Brock The Russian
Although Brock is arguably the biggest star in the WWE today, that wasn’t always the case and things could have been much different if not for Paul Heyman.
After Lesnar completed his training, he began to get impatient as the WWE was paying him but not using the mammoth monster. Finally, they started booking Lesnar in dark matches and he was showing up to both Raw and SmackDown. Behind the scenes, veterans were giving Lesnar some terrible advice telling him to act stiff in the ring like a Russian and stand there like a monster. Heyman was furious seeing as Lesnar was a once and lifetime athlete with tremendous agility.
It was actually Tazz who told Heyman to approach Lesnar before they would completely ruin him. Brock would take all of Heyman’s notes and manifest them a step further. Paul called Brock the most underrated genius in the wrestling business. Finally Vince liked Brock’s development and the two were put side by side.