Professional wrestling is a seedy business. We’re not talking about the promoters this time—as with virtually any industry, especially one with a propensity towards drug problems, there have been a lot of people in the wrestling industry who incidentally were extremely terrible people.
This isn’t an article about big mouths with mean body slams or controversial moments in the ring. This is an article about murderers and sex offenders. These are truly the most vile and despicable people ever to enter a wrestling ring. The actions of these individuals do not reflect professional wrestling as a whole. While drugs influenced some of their actions, it’s worth noting that drug was never steroids.
20. Fritz Von Erich
Vince McMahon beat the hell out of his daughter with a lead pipe on national television the week before her wedding day, but he’s still Father of the Century compared to Fritz Von Erich. Fritz didn’t commit any physical acts on par with the others on this list, but you’d be hard pressed to find a person in the wrestling universe who both knows the whole story and would disagree with the sentiment Fritz Von Erich killed four of his six sons. Fritz himself was a successful wrestler and promoter in Texas, building World Class Championship Wrestling on the strength and hard work of his own children.
Only one of Fritz Von Erich’s sons actually wanted to be a wrestler, and thus the rest all dealt with the stress of performance and their father’s demands by abusing hard drugs. A toddler named Jack, Jr. died from electric shock before any of the other kids were old enough to remember it, and the tragedies continue as the children reached their 20s. David died first in 1984, overdosing on undisclosed drugs while touring Japan. Mike, Chris and Kerry Von Erich would all commit suicide over the next nine years, at least in part because of the stress their father placed on them. In addition to working them to death, Fritz barely paid his sons for their work.
Only Kevin Von Erich survives, and in 2009 he accepted a WWE Hall of Fame induction on his family’s behalf. Fritz died of lung and brain cancer in 1997.
19. Abdullah the Butcher
Abdullah the Butcher is a WWE Hall of Famer known for being one of the most hardcore wrestlers of all time. Hardcore wrestling is associated with blood, and as such, Abdullah has bled all over the world. Abdullah also has Hepatitis C, a deadly disease that is transmitted when people do things like bleed all over the world. Although Abdullah knew he was putting others at the risk of contracting the deadly disease, he continued wrestling and bleeding on his opponents for years.
Abdullah was finally proven to have caused at least one other case of the disease, infecting independent wrestler Devon Nicholson in 2007. ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham has requested his name be removed from the WWE Hall of Fame until Abdullah has been removed, and though it isn’t as bad as some of the stuff on this list, the end result is the potential deaths of dozens of complete innocents.
18. Sam Sheppard
While Sam Sheppard himself was a horrible person, the fact he managed to get famous anyway is a testament to the generally disgusting nature of the professional wrestling business. Everyone else on this list acted horrifically, but Sheppard is the only one who was paid to brag about it in the ring. In 1954, Sheppard was a successful young doctor, whose wife was pregnant with their second child. For unknown reasons, Sheppard violently murdered her in their home. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In 1966, the decision was overturned and he was retried and acquitted on the argument Sheppard’s first trial was unfair and manipulated by the press. Shortly after being released from prison, he lost his medical license due to malpractice, and decided to become a wrestler.
Competing as “Killer” Sam Sheppard, he became one of the most hated heels in his area on the strength of fans believing he actually killed his wife. Despite what the second court said, it seems like he did it, too, making the whole thing even viler. During his short career, Sheppard is alleged with inventing the Mandible Claw. Sheppard died of liver failure in 1970, cutting his wrestling career mercifully short.
17. Rob Black
We said we weren’t talking about promoters, but when a promoter’s side job is as a adult film producer, you can be pretty sure that person has conducted some dark, terrible business in his day. Rob Black owned the wrestling company Xtreme Pro Wrestling and the company Extreme Associates. Extreme Associates has been made a pariah even within the adult film industry, as their videos feature implied pedophilia and simulated rape, both of which border on illegal to even simulate, in addition to it just being generally hideous to present such crimes with erotic intentions. The company was also accused of animal cruelty.
Due to the videos, Black and his wife, wrestling valet Lizzy Borden, were arrested and charged with distribution of obscenity. The duo attempted to present as a free speech issue, despite the fact even Larry Flynt, the owner of Hustler who went through a similar trial in the 1980’s, told them what they were doing was disgusting and he couldn’t support it. Black and Borden ultimately both plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute obscene materials in 2009 and each served one-year prison sentences. Just pertaining to the wrestling industry, there were also rumors that Black hired hitmen to cut off the thumb of indy wrestler the Messiah (pictured above) after learning the wrestler may have slept with his adult star wife.
16. The Dynamite Kid
Plenty of wrestlers treat their wives and families poorly, almost as a consequence of the job. Even with certain wrestlers having been arrested for spousal abuse, the Dynamite Kid really takes the cake in terms of treating his wife with the least amount of respect humanly possible. The most violent and terrifying story purports he regularly woke up his sleeping wife Michelle by pointing a loaded shotgun to her head and telling her, “next time it’s going to be loaded.” He admitted to the act in 2006, claiming it was a joke. When Michelle finally left him for the first time, he dislocated her jaw before telling her she had 15 minutes to take their children and leave before he shot her.
Dynamite is generally remembered for being one of the greatest and most innovative wrestlers of all time. His high-flying style influenced Chris Benoit to continue revolutionizing wrestling in America throughout the ‘90’s. Many gloss over his absolutely abhorrent treatment of his family when discussing his legacy.
15. Rob Feinstein
Rob Feinstein is mostly known for being the producer and host of RF Video and the founder of Ring of Honor. He is also a registered sex offender, having been caught attempting to solicit a minor for sex in 2004. Feinstein made his first appearance in professional wrestling for ECW in 1995. He gradually built a name for himself and his production company by selling official ECW bootlegs and hosting shoot interviews with wrestlers.
In 2004, in To Catch A Predator fashion, Feinstein met a person claiming to be a 14-year-old boy in an online chat room. When he showed up at that boy’s house to have sex with him, he found NBC cameras and a reporter instead. Feinstein fled the scene, but NBC was able to identify him based on his license plate. Unfortunately, due to the means by which Feinstein was caught, he can’t be tried unless he attempts to break the law again, as the network’s methods were tantamount to entrapment. Feinstein was immediately removed from power and fired by Ring of Honor following the incident, but still runs RF Video and produces countless shoot interviews to this day. He somehow maintains his innocence despite staggering evidence against him.
14. Jimmy Snuka
For many years WWE boldly ignored the fact Jimmy Snuka allegedly murdered his girlfriend Nancy Argentino in 1983. For years, authorities had been suspicious of Snuka, who was clearly high on cocaine when initially questioned. Snuka was one of the top stars in WWE at the time, and claimed he was messing around with Argentino when she accidentally slipped, hitting her head and dying. Cops at the time brushed the story aside due to Snuka’s fame, but the family won a wrongful death suit in 1985, a clear sign he wasn’t completely innocent.
Snuka continued wrestling for WWE and was viewed as a legend for many years. He is a WWE Hall of Famer and was one of the first ECW World Heavyweight Champions. After decades of appearances presenting him in a heroic light, he was finally charged with his crimes in 2015. He was removed from the Hall of Fame web site and is currently awaiting trial.
13. Invader #1
Prior to Chris Benoit, arguably the highest profile murder in professional wrestling occurred in 1988, when Invader #1 fatally stabbed Bruiser Brody to death in the shower during an IWA-Puerto Rico event. Various wrestlers including Tony Atlas, Dutch Mantell and Savio Vega were at the arena that night, and while stories slightly differ on specifics, all are in agreement Invader murdered Brody in cold blood.
Invader #1, real name José González, went to trial and was eventually acquitted on the grounds of self defense, but most wrestlers paint a different story. Mantell has claimed American wrestlers were manipulated to prevent them from testifying in the trial, and others have agreed the official story doesn’t sound plausible. It’s believed Invader didn’t necessarily intend to murder Brody, and just wanted to “teach him a lesson,” but stabbing a person is a lesson only a truly terrible person would teach.
12. Art Barr
“Love Machine” Art Barr was never a huge name in his native United States, but he was a member of one of the most hated tag teams in the history of Mexico as Los Gringos Locos with WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero. In the States, he built a reputation for himself as “Beetlejuice,” a gimmick based on the film. For legal reasons, the name was changed to The Juicer when he was hired by WCW in 1990, but it ultimately didn’t matter, because WCW learned about his past and fired him almost immediately after he debuted. One year prior to being hired, Barr wrestled in the greater Portland, Ohio area, where he was charged with raping a 19-year-old woman. Art Barr confessed to the crime.
Barr seems to believe he could have beaten the charges, arguing although the woman didn’t consent, he believed she would elsewhere. Another way to put that is, woman didn’t consent, so Art Barr raped her and never accepted responsibility for that.
11. DT Porter
Brian McGhee may not be a familiar name amongst most WWE fans, but he did briefly compete for their developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, as DT Porter from 2010 to 2012. Known as “The Future,” Porter didn’t have a particularly noteworthy career. He used his military training in his gimmick, celebrating a “Never Say Die” attitude not unlike John Cena. Very much unlike John Cena, Porter later became famous when he murdered his girlfriend in 2013.
After allegedly posting a series of “cries for help” online, McGhee confirmed the worst of his crimes by posting bloody pictures from his crime scene to Facebook. Authorities were contacted and he was arrested shortly thereafter.
10. Chris Benoit
The shocking crimes of Chris Benoit still rock the wrestling industry to this day. Benoit was a former WWE World Champion and held countless other titles in WWE and other companies throughout his over 20-year career. He was one of the most respected wrestlers in history until over the last few days of his life he murdered his wife, Nancy Benoit, and 7-year-old son, and then hanged himself.
While Benoit’s crimes are inexcusable, it is worth noting that he had suffered such significant brain damage by the time of his crimes he was in no way thinking clearly, unlike the next few people on this list. The day of his death, the extent of his crimes still weren’t known, and WWE aired a glowing 3-hour tribute to Benoit on Monday Night Raw. The next night on ECW they apologized for the tribute and announced they would never mention Benoit on television again. The promise has mostly been kept.
9. Johnny K-9
Ian Croitoru wrestled for WWE in the mid ‘80’s as Johnny K-9 before making a slightly bigger name for himself in Smoky Mountain Wrestling as Bruiser Bedlam. He also had a side career in politics, as the President of the Satan’s Choice Outlaw motorcycle gang. Not the worst idea for a wrestling gimmick, it was a fitting title for a guy who would get arrested for cocaine trafficking, get out of jail, and get arrested for assault immediately after. Protesting these arrests and various other troubles with the law, he and his gang bombed a police station in Ontario. After serving a few years in prison for that, he was later accused of the execution-style murders of Lynn and Fred Gilbank.
K-9 was accused of murder and conspiracy to commit murder along with suspected crime boss Andre Gravelle. Ontario’s Attorney General had the case stayed in 2006, admitting it wasn’t strong enough for trial yet. K-9 would go on to face another conspiracy charge in the attempted murder of the Bacon Brothers, and in 2011 would finally confess to conspiracy to commit the murder on yet another two individuals, and be sentenced with 13 years in prison.
8. “Nightmare” Ken Wayne
Ken Wayne debuted with the NWA in the mid 1970’s. He was never terribly successful until he formed a tag team with Danny Davis known as The Nightmares. The team won a variety of minor tag titles and eventually competed as jobbers in WCW as the masked “Galaxians.” Davis had a successful stint in the WWE as a corrupt referee before opening Ohio Valley Wrestling. Wayne continued wrestling for independent promotions and served on the OVW board until he retired in 2005. In early 2016, Wayne was found in possession of child x-rated entertainment .
Wayne was arrested via the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. He was found with both videos and images of child x-rated films. He was eventually convicted of child exploitation and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
7. La Dama del Silencio
As her name may imply, La Dama del Silencio was a masked Mexican luchadore. Born Juana Barazza, she later explained she chose her name because she “is quiet and keeps to [herself].” If that sounds like something a serial killer might say, that’s because La Dama del Silencio was also known to the police as Mataviejitas: the Little Old Lady Killer. From 2003 to 2006, Barazza was linked with up to 49 murders, all of elderly women, usually via strangulation.
Little is known about Silencio’s life or career outside of her terrible crimes, aside from the fact she wrestled as a strict rudo. She was eventually convicted of committing 16 of the murders and sentenced to 759 years in jail. She allegedly used a social worker’s ID to trick the elderly women into believing she worked for a government welfare program. Before she was caught, authorities believed they were looking for a man dressed as a woman for his disguise, but later came to believe it was her well-built wrestling physique that lead to the confusion. La Dama is one diva who Vince McMahon is probably glad he never crossed paths with.
6. The Fabulous Moolah
The Fabulous Moolah is mostly viewed as a legend, but she has also been accused of minor crimes such as stealing from her students, all the way up to running forced prostitution rings disguised as “training camps.” Luna Vachon alleged that Moolah once forced her to attend a “private photoshoot” for an older man, where she felt completely taken advantage of as a part of her “wrestling training” when she was only 16. Other stories get a lot worse than that. The family of wrestler Sweet Georgia Brown claims Moolah beat and intentionally drugged her, and allege Moolah sent Brown into situations where Moolah knew Brown would be raped, the implication being the men were paying Moolah for setting up the scenario. No charges were ever pressed, and both Brown and Moolah have since passed away. As it stands, Brown is virtually forgotten, and Moolah is in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Dozens of other female wrestlers have told stories of Moolah stealing half of their earnings their entire careers, on top of her alleged sex crimes. She has been directly accused of controlling women’s wrestling to such an extent some claim it was impossible for women to ever be equal in wrestling until her retirement. This isn’t as bad as her alleged human trafficking, but is damning nonetheless.
5. “Handsome” Bill Armstrong
“Handsome” Bill Armstrong was an independent wrestler in the 1990’s, mildly known for his work with New Frontier Wrestling. He wrestled as one of the promotions top heels, claiming he was the best looking man in town (despite the fact he had no teeth). Real name Gary Dean Mabe, he came to widespread attention in 1998 when police announced he was wanted for raping a 10-year old girl. He fled in a NFW promotional van after learning a warrant for his arrest had been made.
Armstrong was eventually caught and spent several years in prison. He was released in late 2013 and is a registered sex offender. “Handsome” Bill is of no relation to “Bullet” Bob Armstrong and his legendary wrestling family.
4. Buck Zumhofe
“Rock and Roll” Buck Zumhofe is remembered as Triple H’s first victim in WWE, but his real legacy in life would be far more embarrassing. He was a moderately successful lightweight performer in the AWA and World Class Championship Wrestling until he was convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor and sent to prison for the first time in 1986. After getting out of prison he returned to the AWA and did the exact same thing again, getting caught and jailed in 1989. Details on those cases aren’t well known, but more is known about his most recent crime, sexually abusing his daughter for a period of over 12 years.
Zumhofe forced a sexual relationship on his daughter after she moved in with him in 1999, when she was only 15-years old. It continued for nearly a dozen years, with his daughter eventually alleging he committed over 1,800 separate acts of abuse. Caught and convicted of his crimes, Zumhofe attempted to flee the court room. He was immediately tackled by security and his escape attempt added time to his sentence.
3. Grizzly Smith
Grizzly Smith is best known as the father of Jake “The Snake” Roberts. He is thus also the father of Jake’s half-siblings, Sam Houston and Rockin’ Robin (and at least one other non-wrestling daughter, JoLynn). Somehow Houston got off easy, but Jake and Robin have endless stories about how much of a monster their father was. Jake explains in Beyond The Mat that his birth was the result of his father raping a 13-year-old girl. Robin would claim in interviews that Smith’s abuse was serial, as she was also a repeated victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her father during her childhood.
Jake is well known for his variety of substance abuse problems, and Robin has dealt with alcoholism, too. Both feel their problems began due to their father’s mistreatment of them. In an interview with Steve Corino, Robin implied she believes their other sister had been abused, as well. Although he’s never spoken on abuse, Houston wasn’t spared the familial alcoholism. His ex-wife Baby Doll claims Houston, “averaged two DUI arrests per year,” which was the cause of their divorce. Grizzly Smith died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2010. He was never charged for any of his crimes.
2. Jimmy Savile
The only shocking thing about Jimmy Savile appearing on this list is the fact his career began in the 1950’s as a professional wrestler. He later rose to fame as a BBC presenter of the popular shows Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It. As most people now know, the once popular host used his fame to rape and otherwise sexually abuse hundreds of extremely young and disabled children until his death in 2011. While Savile was still alive, he used his status and fortune to have claims against him dismissed, but immediately after his death enough allegations were made that British authorities now believe him to be one of the most prolific sex offenders in known history.
Savile wrestled in England, using his fame as a DJ and television host to continue making celebrity wrestling appearances until the 70’s. One of his opponents during his time in the ring was noted tough guy “Exotic” Adrian Street. Street knew Savile was interested in “young girls,” and decided to legitimately beat the hell out of him in the ring one night as a punishment. After Savile’s death, Street claimed if he had known the full extent of Savile’s crimes, the beating wouldn’t have ended nearly as lightly as it did.
1. Hardbody Harrison
For a long time, Hardbody Harrison was completely unknown. If anything, he might be known as the black WCW jobber who sued the company for racial discrimination. The full facts on that case haven’t been made public, but it was reported he made over $one million in the settlement. He used the money he made in the most evil way humanly imaginable: to kidnap and imprison at least eight women in his barn. Harrison was finally caught, arrested, and eventually sentenced to life in prison in 2008.
Harrison kept the women in his home as forced prostitutes and slaves, using his background in the military and in professional wrestling to manipulate them into doing whatever he wanted. He would make promises about wrestling school only to instead abduct and sexually abuse the women for years. Most wrestlers who knew him claimed he was a huge jerk to everyone he met in person too, showing this particular scumbag has absolutely no positive qualities. Harrison has been sentenced to life in prison for his crimes.