Wrestling is a culture all to itself, and as such social norms and customs that the rest of us are forced to adhere to don’t seem to apply to those in the sports entertainment field. It is a bizarre form of entertainment and pro-wrestlers are an eccentric group of people. Putting a group of eccentric people in situations where they all have to get along without incident is pretty much an impossible task.
Wrestlers are always playing pranks on each other or getting so inebriated that funny stories occur organically throughout their travels and time spent backstage.
As such the stories that we hear about which occur behind the curtain, away from wrestling ring, are sometimes far more entertaining than the stories we see take place in the ring.
A few names will occur on numerous occasions throughout this list, most notably Owen Hart, X-Pac, the British Bulldog and Curt Hennig. Those four wrestlers really rose to the top of the ranks in terms of backstage troublemaking during their time in WWE, and that is saying something. When reading over this list, you have to sympathize with Jim Ross, who had the unenviably role of presiding over talent relations during the Attitude Era, which seemed to be the peak of backstage shenanigans in wrestling.
Here are some of the most ridiculous, funny, and absurd stories to take place behind wrestling’s curtain.
15. X-Pac Shaves Off Michael Hayes’ Mullet
The Freebirds had a few incarnations over the years, but the one constant in the team was Michael Hayes.
Hayes was the most recognizable of the bunch as well, sporting a wild southern rock n’ roll longhaired look. As many unlucky college kids can tell you, if you want to keep your long hair, don’t pass out drunk in front of a bunch of people who might have it in for you.
That’s what Hayes learned on the infamous “Plane Ride From Hell” when he passed out after drunkenly getting into an altercation with JBL. Sean Waltman (X-Pac), evidently feeling that Hayes was owed some karma after the incident, cut off Hayes’ signature mullet when the Freebird passed out.
14. Waltman Gets His Eyebrows Shaved
Sean Waltman would do plenty of pranking in his career, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he was the victim of a backstage prank early on in his WWE tenure.
When Waltman, then known as 1-2-3 Kid celebrated his birthday, he went out partying with his friends. In this case the friends in question were the Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart Gunn) and “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig.
When Waltman (who had turned 21) passed out, his “friends” shaved off one eyebrow.
The next day, WWF had a TV taping, and 1-2-3 Kid decided that having no eyebrows at all is better than having just one – so he shaved off the other one. In addition to the TV tapings that WWF had scheduled for the day, they also did photo-shoots for everyone’s 8x10s. So Waltman had no eyebrows for those photos in addition to appearing on TV like that.
13. Rob Van Dam Lives His Gimmick, Arrested For Pot
It was the highest point of Rob Van Dam’s in-ring career.
WWE had just relaunched ECW at the second One Night Stand PPV, where RVD defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship. Additionally, Paul Heyman also awarded RVD with the ECW Heavyweight Championship for the resurrected brand. Ironically, it would be RVD’s penchant for pot that would bring him down from this career high.
Marijuana had always been either a pivotal part of RVD’s gimmick (ECW) or an alluded-to part of his character (WWE), but it was also something he enjoyed outside of work. After a tough day at the office, RVD was driving down the highway with his friend and old tag team partner Sabu in the passenger seat when he was pulled over for speeding. The police officer noticed that the car reeked of marijuana, and also probably noticed that a shirtless Rob Van Dam appeared as though he might have indulged a little into his favorite hobby.
In all, the cops seized 18 grams of marijuana from the car – a sizeable amount considering the two were about to get on a plane.
RVD was suspended and had to drop both of his titles, all just for living his gimmick.
12. Jim Cornette Takes The Boogeyman Gimmick Super-Serious
Jim Cornette takes wrestling very seriously, and he expects others to do the same.
The ex-manager Cornette was the booker at Ohio Valley Wrestling, WWE’s developmental territory before NXT came around. Evidently, he really took the task of getting The Boogeyman character over very seriously.
The Boogeyman was portrayed by Marty Wright, who was already in his 40s at the time he landed in developmental, and the WWE wanted to fast track the character to the main roster.
When the Boogeyman made his debut in OVW, another developmental wrestler, Santino Marella, was in the audience with his daughter. The Boogeyman was doing his normal creepy dance around the audience when he came upon Marella (who was with his daughter) and Santino couldn’t help but laugh at the experience. Laughter was not the reaction Jim Cornette was hoping for apparently, and he laid into Marella backstage for not acting frightened of Marty Wright’s character.
In order to really stress how super-serious Cornette was taking the Boogeyman gimmick, he slapped Marella right across the face. Cornette was fired for slapping Marella, but even if they hadn’t fired him for that, one could make the case that he should have been sacked for taking a wrestling gimmick way too seriously.
11. Ric Flair With Nothing On But A Robe
We go back to the infamous 2002 Plane Ride From Hell for this one. If it had happened on any other night, this incident would probably be something that Ric Flair would have a hard time playing down, but since it happened on the same night as numerous other “incidents,” you hardly hear anything about it.
Flair was in his 50s at the time, and quite possibly too old to be engaging in the type of behavior that went on during the flight. But Flair was not going to be outdone by any of his co-workers on this night. Flair paraded up and down the aisle of the plane wearing absolutely nothing but one of his signature robes.
According to reports, he would “spin his penis” in the direction of some flight attendants. While no clear definition was ever explained regarding what entails spinning of one’s penis, assumptions can be made.
Some of the flight attendants would file a lawsuit against the WWE and Flair for sexual harassment, though Ric has always denied any wrongdoing. The lawsuits were quietly settled out of court. Wooo!!
10. X-Pac Let’s Sable Know What He Thinks Of Her
X-Pac, who makes several appearances on this list, did not think very highly of Sable, and on her last night with the company, he found away to show her.
The crew was in Europe at the time, with Sable’s last show being at Wembley Stadium. Just before X-Pac went out for his match with Shane O’Mac that night, he deposited a cup full of excrement into Sable’s bag. Pac claims the excrement in question was not his, but that someone else had left the cup-of-poop available just in case someone wished to place said cup in someone else’s bag.
Jim Ross vowed to get to the bottom of the prank; even suggesting the company would have the poo’s DNA tested to determine the perpetrator. It is not clear if such a test is available for purchase to the general public or not.
Sable is now married to Brock Lesnar, so you can bet nobody will ever try to do anything like that ever again.
9. Oh My God! Joey Styles KO’s JBL
What makes this particular story so funny is the personalities of the two people involved. JBL, during his in-ring career, was considered a bully. Joey Styles, on the other hand, was a mild-mannered and small-in-stature wrestling announcer. On paper, this was quite the mismatch.
During the WWE’s tour of Iraq (as part of their Tribute to the Troops 2008 event), JBL had set his bullying sites on Styles. The bullying had been going on for a few days when JBL finally crossed a threshold with Styles and the former voice of ECW cracked JBL with a firm shot that knocked Bradshaw out clean.
While some claim it was Styles’ wedding ring that caused the knock out, it will still go in the annals of wrestling history that Joey Styles stood up to and defeated the big bully John Bradshaw Layfield.
8. Cody Rhodes Really Likes Tanning
Wrestlers often use tanning beds to keep from looking pasty white, though I imagine neither Sheamus nor Paige actively engage in this practice.
A common prank wrestlers play on each other is stealing the clothes of a wrestler who was too busy tanning to notice. Randy Orton and a few accomplices decided to pull this prank on Cody Rhodes, only when they wandered into the room his tanning bed was in they noticed that Cody – who was naked aside from a towel draped over his face – was fully erect and exposed. Naturally, the mature group of wrestlers decided to take a picture and taunted Cody with it until they finally deleted the evidence.
One reason that Cody might now prefer dressing up in his Stardust ring attire is that he no longer has to keep a tanned physique or worry about being caught “enjoying” his tanning experience ever again.
7. Owen Pranks Ahmed Johnson
When Ahmed Johnson debuted in the WWE, he was pushed to the moon. Johnson had the physique that Vince McMahon liked and looked like a man who could destroy anybody he wanted to in the ring. He was also the victim of one of the more famous Owen Hart “ribs.”
It was the night before his first WrestleMania when Johnson received a phone call from someone claiming to represent Jay Leno, requesting that Ahmed Johnson make a last-minute appearance on his talk show. Johnson went out and bought himself an all-new expensive suit, and waited patiently for the limousine Jay Leno’s people were sending for him.
The only problem is the person on the phone was Owen Hart and the whole thing had been a prank on Johnson.
6. Bulldog Pranks Luger
Lex Luger was supposed to be the next Hulk Hogan when he switched from his “Narcissist” gimmick to the All-American who travelled the country in his “Lex Express.” Unfortunately, for both Lex and Vince, the All-American gimmick never really hit the heights the WWE was hoping it would.
Also unfortunate for Luger was that he would fall victim to another infamous prank by the team of the British Bulldog and Owen Hart. Unbeknownst to Luger, Owen had enlisted the help of some plain-clothes police officers to contribute to this one.
Luger had a reputation for reckless driving, so Owen convinced the cops to pull Luger over. Once the cops had Luger pulled over they told him to get out of the car and patted him down (to Luger’s surprise), Davey Boy had put a pistol in Luger’s sweatpants without him knowing it. The All-American must have thought he was about to be arrested when it was revealed the whole thing was another elaborate Bulldog and Owen prank.
5. Michael Cole’s First WWE Interview
Before joining the WWE, Michael Cole had been a serious journalist, having covered the Waco tragedy of 1993, the Oklahoma City bombing, and numerous political campaigns. Then he came to the WWE, and Owen Hart and the British Bulldog were only too happy to show him what life in professional wrestling is all about.
Just seconds before Michael Cole was to conduct his first backstage interview as a member of the WWE announcing team, Bulldog and Owen dumped a bottle of soda down his pants and Cole would be forced to conduct the interview as if everything was normal.
As of this writing, Michael Cole has continued to not be fun in the WWE for close to 10 years.
4. Owen Hart On Cocaine?
Owen Hart, for all his mischievousness, was a pretty straight-laced guy. That’s why it must have surprised Jim Ross to see Hart acting “under the influence” one night with white powder caking the underneath of his nose.
Owen was not high on cocaine however, but had taken white powder from a doughnut at catering and smeared it under his nose to prank Ross. Even the former WWE announcer didn’t believe the legendary prankster.
3. Dynamite Kid Injects Davey Boy Smith With Milk
It is hardly accusatory to state that the British Bulldogs liked to do steroids, because let me tell you the British Bulldogs liked to do steroids.
When Davey Boy Smith first started out in the business, he asked his older cousin Dynamite for some tips on how to get bigger and build a better physique. Dynamite told his future tag team partner Smith that steroids were the way to go, and offered to inject him personally with the stuff.
Instead of steroids, however, Dynamite injected Davey Boy with milk, which while nutritious, is not the performance-enhancing drug that steroids are.
Other wrestlers that Dynamite had let in on the joke made “mooing” sounds at Davey Boy until it was finally revealed to him what his cousin had done.
2. Undertaker Fears Cucumbers
The Undertaker has been the face of fear in the WWE since his debut at the Survivor Series 1990.
Taker has defeated the biggest names in the wrestling industry, and done so on the biggest stage. There is one opponent that the Undertaker simply fears above all us, however: Cucumbers.
According to Paul Bearer, the Undertaker developed a bizarre phobia for the vegetables in childhood, possibly due to his mother forcing him to eat them.
One day, Paul Bearer decided he needed to get even with Taker for telling an embarrassing story about him, so he filled Taker’s hat with the very vegetable that had such a bizarre hold on him. Taker reportedly freaked out and vomited just at the sight.
For many years, Kane had used fire against his brother, when all he really needed was cucumbers.
1. Vince Pranks Coach
Shockingly, the most elaborate prank in WWE’s history was not engineered by Owen Hart; rather, it was done by Vince McMahon himself. The poor victim of this prank was then 26 year-old Jonathan Coachman, who was just getting started as an announcer for the company.
Another employee asked Coachman to start a football pool for his co-workers and Coachman went around, collecting money from people in the back. That same night, two cops (who were in on the prank) show up and arrested Coachman for running an illegal gambling operation. As they are walking Coachman out of the building, they stopped into Vince’s office so Coachman can let Vince know he won’t be around for a while. Vince, with other office employees watching, went nuts on Coachman and refused to pay his fine.
The cops took Coachman away in their car before turning back, claiming to have forgotten something. When the car arrived back at the arena, Vince and everyone were there laughing at Coachman’s expense. The entire scenario had been an elaborate prank Vince pulled on Coachman, just for the heck of it apparently.