There was a point in time where professional wrestling in and of itself was one giant conspiracy, with promoters and athletes alike doing their best to convince the audience what happened in the ring was entirely legit. Nowadays, fans are mostly aware of the truth about pro wrestling, and no one in the industry bothers trying to hide it. This hasn’t stopped people from assuming those conspiracies still existed, and some of them have been rather popular, which is why we covered the subject already only a few weeks back.
As it would turn out, wrestling conspiracy theories have proven so popular and varied that we’re revisiting the subject with some slightly lesser known theories. Like with the more popular ones, these theories stem mostly from the Internet and wrestling journalists, though this time around we’re going pretty old school with some examples, so sometimes the wrestlers were even complicit in these rumor-based fantasies starting to spread.
The same general subjects keep coming up, those being death, secret partnerships and betrayals, and the strange wrestling-specific idea that an athlete could be replaced and nobody would notice—or would they? Chances are, yeah, they would, the same way one legitimate news source or another would have to confirm any of these theories for the general public to start taking them seriously. Conspiracy theorists aren’t a subculture known for a reliance on facts, though, which is how these ideas keep spreading and finding new proponents even in an era where the truth is both already out there and readily available. If that’s not enough for you, though, keep reading to learn about 15 more pro wrestling conspiracy theories you’ll be shocked to discover people actually believe.
15. Triple H And The Quest For Power
Pretty much since the day he first asked Stephanie McMahon out on a date, Triple H has been presumed to be the heir apparent of WWE. It used to be Shane McMahon, until he took a near seven-year sabbatical from the company starting in 2009, and there’s still a chance Stephanie could wind up with more power than her husband. However, especially with the success of NXT, it looks more and more each passing year like Triple H could be the one to take over the McMahon family dynasty. Given Triple H’s track record with things like ego and his own thirst for fame, some people have started to wonder if this has been his end game all along, sometimes questioning whether or not he ever loved Stephanie in the first place. Not even three children have put this thought to rest, especially since Triple H’s power and position in the McMahon family increases each time he and Stephanie welcome a new bundle of joy into the fold. In addition to mere fan assumptions, former WWE writer Dan Madigan added fuel to the fire by supporting the theory, though he remained entirely speculative and offered little actual proof in doing so.
14. The Black Eye On WrestleMania IX
WrestleMania IX is infamous for a number of reasons, the worst of which revolve around Hulk Hogan. The advertised main event of the show was Bret Hart defending the WWE Championship against Yokozuna, and yet somehow Hogan walked out of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas with the belt, just one of the many pitfalls leading to a reputation as probably the worst WrestleMania in history. This conspiracy has nothing to do with Bret Hart and Yokozuna, though, but rather the noticeable black eye sported by Hogan throughout the evening. Hogan definitely didn’t suffer the injury that night, with it visible from the moment he walked down the aisle for his scheduled match with Brutus Beefcake against Money Inc. On TV, they claimed Ted DiBiase used his millions to hire some goons who attacked the Hulkster and caused the injury, while the real story behind Hogan’s black eye was a jet-ski accident that occurred earlier that week. Jet-ski accidents are too coincidental for some people, though, and the skeptics amongst us have invented an alternative theory: that Hogan got his black eye in a backstage brawl with Randy Savage, who was furious at the discovery Hogan was sleeping with his ex-wife, Elizabeth. Rumors about Hogan and Elizabeth persisted for years, and Savage wasn’t happy about it, but to put it simply, sometimes a jet-ski is a jet-ski.
13. Who Shocked The Shockmaster?
The debut of The Shockmaster was so rife with misfortunate and poor planning that it more or less defined the concept of an “epic fail,” making the moment part of Internet meme history even amongst people who never watched a single wrestling match. The former Tugboat/Typhoon jumped to WCW in 1993 when he debuted as The Shockmaster at Clash of the Champions XXIV. After an introduction involving legends like Ric Flair, Sting, and Booker T, what was supposed to be a big deal turned into a bigger joke. Instead bombastically bursting through a wall, The Shockmaster tripped on a piece of wood and pathetically stumbled his way onto the ground, his helmet falling off in the process. There’s no overstating how embarrassing the ordeal was, and yet some fans have posited the thought it may have all been on purpose. Not entirely so, obviously, but given the way Shockmaster tripped, the idea it could have been a rib or even a sabotage doesn’t seem entirely impossible. The question is who would have done that, though, and the only answer people can come up with is David Crockett. Crockett was a longtime WCW producer who more importantly was the brother of Jim Crockett, the NWA promoter who sold his company to Ted Turner thus creating WCW in the first place. Either Crockett brother could’ve realized The Shockmaster was a dumb idea, as could a plethora of others, but this hardly means the segment was therefore sabotaged.
12. Vince McMahon, Brock Lesnar, and UFC
Despite Brock Lesnar’s incredible success in UFC, there are still wrestling fans who don’t particularly care about MMA, and therefore feel The Beast Incarnate was actually wasting the best years of his life with a side venture that prevented him from being one of the greatest WWE superstars in history. The flipside to that argument is that once Lesnar returned from UFC, he was an even bigger star than ever before, and he was able to instantly resume his position at the top of WWE and excel to heights he never would have reached without the legitimacy his real fighting career gave him. Because of this, the question has to be posed how Vince McMahon feels about the whole thing. In answering that, some people go so far as to think McMahon planned the whole thing from the start, sending Lesnar to compete in UFC as proof his wrestlers were as tough as the so-called real fighters in MMA. WWE obviously appreciates the publicity Lesnar’s time in UFC gave them, but they also hated to see him go in 2004, and it’s doubtful they would have willingly gave up their potential top star for more than eight years on a limb things might work out well for them.
11. CM Punk Walked Out With A Pipe Bomb
In June of 2011, CM Punk dropped a “pipe bomb” on Monday Night Raw, delivering a scathing rundown of the hypocrisies and outright lies presented by WWE and Vince McMahon, quickly turning him into the most talked about person in pro wrestling. Punk was already well on the rise, and his worked shoot voiced what enough fans were thinking that he became their hero, riding on a wave of success over the next two and a half years that would include the longest WWE Championship reign of the modern era. Then, in January of 2014, he walked out of WWE in bombastic fashion, seemingly never to return. At least, that’s if you listen to Punk, his friends, or anyone in WWE. Theorists think they know the real story, which is that it was all a ruse, starting way back at the pipe bomb, ultimately setting up what will no doubt be the most unexpected return in history. Granted, that return was supposed to happen at WrestleMania. And then the 2015 Royal Rumble. And then the 2016 Royal Rumble. And then whenever Punk’s UFC dream finally fades…you get the idea. The point is, Punk’s walkout happened so long ago at this point it couldn’t possibly be a work anymore. Still, some fans will always keep their fingers crossed.
10. The Mistimed Death Of Rick McGraw
The most interesting moment of Rick McGraw’s career unfortunately coincided with his death, which occurred the day before an appearance on Championship Wrestling, where “Rowdy” Roddy Piper gave McGraw a beating for the ages. Obviously, the match was taped a full week before it aired, as was the custom at the time. News didn’t travel as fast in the early ‘80s as it does today, especially not about no-name jobbers, so many fans didn’t know about McGraw’s death until after the episode aired, let alone that the show was pre-taped. Also, McGraw was a small enough name that WWE never bothered giving him a tribute or acknowledging his death, adding a slight air of mystery to the ordeal. Due to no one caring enough to report the truth, some fans came to the conclusion Piper must have killed McGraw in the ring, and WWE didn’t want to mention it lest they receive bad publicity. They wouldn’t necessarily care to disprove it, either, because if it’s true, Roddy Piper looks like a literal killer. However, with the full story now more or less public knowledge, this particular theory has essentially been put to rest.
9. Risqué Rumors Ridicule Rick Rude
Fair warning, folks: there’s no way to tell this one without it getting pretty graphic. Even the beginning of this story is on the ribald side, as are most matters relating to legendary WWE superstar “Ravishing” Rick Rude. A standout both in the ring and on the microphone, Rude was one of the best wrestlers of his era, and more importantly, he had one of the greatest physiques in the history of the business. In his wrestling persona and allegedly in his real life, Rude used his good looks to attract an equally legendary amount of women, a fact some believe lead to his death. Although the accepted cause was heart failure brought on by years of steroid abuse, former co-workers of his including The Honky Tonk Man and Jake Roberts have offered a different version of events conspiracy theorists instantly latched onto as the truth. According to Honky, Rude’s genitals had to be amputated after a Viagra incident gone horrifically wrong, and so embarrassed was he by the loss of his manhood that he instantly committed suicide when he got home from the hospital. To be fair to Rude’s legacy, while HTM was very specific about his claims, Jake Roberts merely agreed to having “heard something like that.” Truthfully, though, even if Roberts made identical comments to Honky, that’s still two people arguing against an entire industry, not to mention the story simply seems too ridiculous to be true.
8. The Inside Scoop On Dino Bravo
Though a decent star in his native Canada due to spending time in Lutte Internationale, Dino Bravo never became anything of note in the United States. He spent seven years working on and off for WWE and performing a number of impressive feats of strength, but they never translated to any particular crowd or critical interest. In 1978, he briefly held the WWE Tag Team Championships with Dominic DeNucci, later becoming a mainstay of the midcard throughout the late 80s and early 90s, quietly retiring home to Canada in 1992. The next year, he was found murdered in his home, with enough bullets in his body a conspiracy theory was bound to present itself soon. The case remains officially unsolved to this day, but the prevailing belief is that Bravo upset someone in the mafia due to his side job as an illegal cigarette smuggler, eventually finding his way onto someone’s hit list. According to Rick Martel, Bravo was fairly open about his smuggling, using his wrestling fame to attract customers, and eventually, the attention of people who wanted him dead. The unsolved nature of the crime means this is still firmly in conspiracy theory territory, but there’s just enough evidence and a lack of any other leads that there might be more to this one than mere speculation.
7. Eddie Guerrero: Cheating Death?
Practically every major celebrity ever to die has someone out there thinking it was all a hoax. The first stage of grief is denial, after all, and plenty of conspiracy theories come out of a simple refusal to accept the truth. WWE never quite suffered a loss like the one they did in November of 2005 when Eddie Guerrero suddenly passed away due to a massive heart attack, and hopefully they never will again. Eddie was one of the most popular stars in the company when he died, and arguably their top in-ring performer, seemingly having turned his life around from a past of drug and alcohol abuse and prepared for a long and prosperous future. His death took everyone in the wrestling community by shock, and some were so shocked they knew it had to be a lie. WWE has done just about everything else to pop a rating, and it didn’t take them too long to start egregiously exploiting Eddie’s death, and therefore it all must have been a plot to give Eddie some time off and come back in epic fashion—lying about death, cheating the grim reaper, and stealing everyone’s emotions. The unfortunate reality is, the continued exploitations actually should have served as proof he was really gone.
6. The Bruiser Brody Murder Coverup
So ahead of his time that history barely understood what to do with him, Frank “Bruiser Brody” Goodish was the first superstar to define what “brawling” meant in professional wrestling. It isn’t just “a noisy fight or quarrel,” a wrestling brawl is loud, fast, and out of control—characteristics Brody constantly exuded through his every pore. Though he only wrestled a handful of matches in WWE, they were all high profile affairs, often with WWE Hall of Famers like Bruno Sammartino, Gorilla Monsoon, and Stan Hansen. Brody was a much bigger star in Japan and smaller territories throughout America, especially in Texas and Puerto Rico. It was in Puerto Rico that Jose González murdered Bruiser Brody in cold blood. González is also a wrestler, better known as Invader #1. He plead self-defense to his crimes and was acquitted, though a number of wrestlers have since come forward and claimed the local police cooperated with González in covering up the true story. According to Dutch Mantell, the Puerto Rican promoters actively did their best to make sure no American wrestlers were around to testify when the case went to trial . This is one conspiracy that might be almost entirely true, with the one factor being that the world will never know exactly what happened when González killed Brody, even if we have a good idea that the accepted story isn’t completely true.
5. Atsushi Onita’s Revenge Plot
Only the world of professional wrestling would acknowledge a conspiracy theory exists and do something even crazier in response, thus creating a whole new and crazier still conspiracy theory in it’s wake. Just over two years after Jose González murdered Bruiser Brody, Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling decided to run an angle where González pretended to murder Atsushi Onita. Onita had a reputation for being one of the craziest and most hardcore athletes around, so seeing him covered in blood was nothing new, but the fact he profusely bled out the gut due to a stab wound from an actual murderer was taking things a step too far for many members of the Japanese press. Keep in mind, that’s the part that actually happened, so whatever conspiracy theory people have about it needs to be pretty insane to keep up. The point of the González-Onita stabbing was at least to cause a match between them, though it eventually fell apart due to the atrocious controversy the angle caused. That may have been for the best as far as González was concerned, as some have theorized the whole thing was a ploy to get him in Japan, where Onita allegedly had Yakuza hit men lying in wait to get payback over Brody’s murder. It seems too out there to be true, but given the rest of the story, that doesn’t feel like a good enough reason not to believe it.
4. Jerry Lawler And The Death Of Andy Kaufman
It would be impossible to count the number of classic feuds fans have seen in pro wrestling, though it might be a bit easier to think about how many of them were documented in Hollywood films. On that much more specific subject, there’s no better place to start than Andy Kaufman versus Jerry Lawler, a feud based mostly on the fact the former was a pretentious Hollywood actor mocking the Southern rasslin’ fans for their perceived lack of class. Kaufman had been interested in wrestling since he was a young child, getting his first taste of the business in 1979 when interviewed by Vince McMahon on WWE television. However, Kaufman only did the one interview for WWE, achieving much greater fame for his heel act in Memphis, Tennessee, where Lawler was highly respected as The King of Wrestling. Outraged by the Hollywood snob, Lawler delivered a devastating piledriver that “broke Kaufman’s neck,” and the two later appeared on Late Night with David Letterman to discuss the incident. The benefit of hindsight makes it pretty obvious this was all a work, but Kaufman’s persona still made fans wonder, as did the fact he died of lung cancer not two years later. Some fans even believed Kaufman died due to complications from the neck injury, though this remains another theory that has mostly gone by the wayside with spread of Kaufman’s full life story.
3. Why Andy Kaufman Isn’t In The Hall Of Fame
Popular culture will probably never have another Andy Kaufman, the only Golden Globe nominated Intergender Wrestling Champion the world has ever known. More than a brilliant heel with a mind for hysterical comedy, Kaufman was also genius when it came to pranking his audience, which is why more than 30 years after his death, some fans are still waiting for the big reveal. Kaufman was open about how fun he thought faking his own death could be, his performance art poked fun at the idea of illness and destitution to great effect multiple times, and he had claimed he was treating his cancer only through natural medicines and eating lots of vegetables, so it makes sense some people might think the whole thing was a morbid joke. It wasn’t, though, and Kaufman died in May of 1984. This relates to wrestling when it comes to the longstanding question of why Kaufman has never been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The company loves celebrities, and Kaufman is often regarded the best celebrity wrestling in history, and therefore some people think there must be something fishy going on to explain why he hasn’t been inducted yet. The theory: WWE doesn’t want to induct him, because someone in the company knows he’s alive, and they’re making everyone wait for the big reveal before they give him the honor. Problem is, the only person who makes any sort of sense in the role is Lawler, who has repeatedly explained Kaufman is really dead, and should’ve been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago.
2. Paul Bearer: Too Ghostly To Die
With all the other accusations of fake deaths running rampant throughout this list and conspiracy theories in general, it only seems appropriate that a wrestler who’s character is intrinsically linked with all things morbid would suffer the same speculation. The ghostly and histrionic Paul Bearer passed away in 2013, slightly under a year after his final appearance in WWE. Whether managing The Undertaker or hosting The Funeral Parlor, virtually everything Bearer did had some touch of death to it, so when the grim reaper actually came calling, fans naturally assumed this, too, was part of the story. The theory was bolstered by the fact Bearer’s death came only a few weeks before WrestleMania 29, where his former client The Undertaker was set to face CM Punk. Rather than treat the situation with any form of respect, WWE had Punk’s manager Paul Heyman dress up like Paul Bearer while Punk defiled Bearer’s ashes. After having done that, fans and theorists alike might have wished Bearer was still alive somewhere, ready to seek his revenge on the bad guys at Mania or even sooner. Alas, however, he was really gone, and it was up to the Dead Man to achieve revenge on his own.
1. WWE Has An Endless Supply Of Underfakers
Speaking of Paul Bearer and The Dead Man, much like the conspiracy theory surrounding The Ultimate Warrior having died in the early ‘90s, the idea has been floated that WWE has seen it’s fair share of Undertakers since the character debuted in 1990. The Phenom we see today looks almost nothing like the svelte, pale, long-haired zombie he was 26 years ago, so much so that some people even believe today’s Undertaker and the Undertaker of yesteryear were different people. In reality, Mark Calaway has portrayed the role from day one, aside from a few questionable months in 1994 when there were two Undertakers (the other one was Brian Lee). The thing is, unlike the supernatural implications of The Undertaker, Mark Calaway is a normal human being who has aged, changed, and grown in various ways between the ages of 25 and 51. Now that The Undertaker’s career in the ring has significantly wound down, Vince McMahon probably wishes he had another Phenom lying around somewhere, and the fact he hasn’t revealed one yet should be proof positive this theory was nothing more than a bad idea that got ridiculously exaggerated when the wrong people started speculating about it.