In some respects, being a little bit crazy may just be a prerequisite for considering a career in the pro-wrestling business. Granted, people have been saying this about the entertainment business in general for as long as Hollywood has existed. However, wrestlers take things a step further with the nonstop pain and punishment they put on their own bodies simply to get a reaction. As questionable as it is to willingly walk into a situation where you might get piledriven is, though, a select few wrestlers really take the idea to its furthest limits by being next-level bonkers crazy.
It should go without saying this isn’t in reference to the number of former WWE superstars who have dealt with legitimate mental illness, but rather the true weirdos of the business who have offered no chemical explanation for their bizarre eccentricities and idiosyncrasies. There’s no exact definition for the kind of “insanity” we’re talking about, but basically, the following wrestlers have a tendency toward making comments and performing actions that make absolutely no goddamn sense to any rational person who happened to witness them do so.
Strangely, outright irrational behavior hasn’t stopped a few of these sports entertainers from becoming some of the absolute biggest stars of the industry. In fact, this could well prove those theories about how being a little nuts at times only serves to the benefit of those looking for an audience. On the other hand, a few of them have wallowed in squalor since letting their freak flags fly, so it clearly isn’t always a good thing to be a whack job. For the good and the bad, keep reading to learn all about 15 wrestlers you never realized were totally insane outside of the ring.
15 Vince McMahon
It somehow feels wholly appropriate that The Big Kahuna of the wrestling business would in turn be the wackiest weirdo in his own WWE Universe. The strangest stories about Vince being a bit off-kilter to say the least typically relate to the fact that he’s been living in a bubble for the last thirty years, with very little understanding of the world outside of wrestling. For this reason, stories leak from his former staff alleging strange facts about how he doesn’t know what the word burrito means, despite having eaten burritos for lunch almost every day of his life. That’s what former WWE writer Dan Madigan said, anyway, and it’s only one of many examples showing Vince is out of touch to the extent of his madness. If that doesn’t justify his place on this list, Vince’s utterly illogical sense of humour should. Remember, this is the guy who thought Mae Young giving birth to a hand was a barrel of laughs, and that Katie Vick would put butts in the seat. Basically, the guy is absolutely mental and the entire history of his company proves it.
Kayfabe or not, it takes a complete whack job to proudly proclaim himself the homicidal, suicidal, genocidal, death-defying maniac — and that’s when the guy is in his early 30s and in reasonably good shape. Nowadays, Sabu is doing the same utterly insane stunts, throwing himself into ever diminishing crowds with reckless abandon without thinking twice about it even as he’s over the age of 50. Back when these antics were defining an era and putting ECW on the map, the extent of damage Sabu did on his body was almost justifiable. At this point, it’s closer to certifiable, as not even broken hips and increased chances of immobility have made Sabu realize he shouldn’t be wrapping himself in barbed wire and jumping on chairs anymore. Each additional no-holds-barred spotfest he agrees to participate in is another sign the guy isn’t just a wrestler willing to risk it all for a pop, he’s downright out of his mind in a very real way.
13 The Sandman
Everyone working for the original ECW put their lives in danger simply by showing up for work. Men like Sabu, New Jack, and other self-professed hardcore icons intentionally increased the danger by throwing caution to the wind in their every match, and yet none of them hold a candle to The Sandman in terms of sheer and utter insanity. How is this possible? Well, none of the others made a habit of getting blackout drunk before their matches, nor did any of them take hits of acid moments before a major ECW Pay-Per-View. This behaviour goes beyond extreme, and was easily the worst of all drug habits in wrestling history. But does The Sandman feel bad about any of this behaviour? Not at all, nor do his former ECW opponents necessarily hold it against him. To them, Sandman hallucinating through their matches was just one of his silly little quirks. We say it was goddamn insane, if not outright guaranteed to cause a hostile work environment.
12 New Jack
Even in a world where men were regularly whacking one another in the head with steel chairs after jumping from 15-feet-high ladders, was it really necessary to introduce staple guns to the mix? Only one wrestler has dared to answer this question in the affirmative, and his name is New Jack. A former ECW Tag Team Champion three times over, New Jack was more gleefully chaotic than even Sabu. Another key difference is that Jack put himself in danger far less than the Arabian Machine of Destruction, preferring to damage only his opponents. Of course, this was the reason he crossed the line over to insane, as there was clearly something masochistic about New Jack’s ring style that should have caused concern in his every opponent. He once admitted to genuinely trying to kill Vic Grimes in the ring as retribution to having injured him a few years earlier, and it felt like that wasn’t the only time Jack nearly lost control of himself in the ring. Throw in his unhinged rants in shoot interviews, and Jack’s violent insanity is obviously more than just a character.
11 Sid Vicious
When it comes to the wackiest behavior of former WWE and WCW World Champion Sid Vicious, “psycho” doesn’t even begin to cover it. No matter where he went, Vicious was able to quickly become popular by way of his propensity for destruction, earning huge applause despite companies constantly trying to push him as a heel. In real life, though, he managed to get plenty of people to hate him, including names like Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman, both of whom he had high-profile fights against. It just so happens these fights were also utterly ridiculous, or at least Sid’s behaviour during them was. With Double A, Sid made the highly questionable and borderline criminally insane choice to stab the Horsemen with scissors, a move that nearly cost him his career. The real kicker was the fight with Pillman, though, as Sid felt he needed a weapon despite his height advantage, settling on bringing a goddamn squeegee to the battle. On top of those incidents, Sid once asked to restart a live interview and walked away from the WWE main event to play in an independent softball league — two more signs the guy was genuinely a psycho, as advertised.
10 The Iron Sheik
Presented without context, because there is none, here is the latest tweet from The Iron Sheik at the time this article was written: “TAKE A MOMENT TO GO F--- YOURSELF #MondayMotivation.” It’s not like we stumbled upon a particularly special moment from Sheiky Baby — this is just how the man thinks, speaks, and hires people to tweet on his behalf, and it’s the way he’s been going through life for years now. Almost 80 years old, Sheik still proudly brags about having done every drug on the market, or as he puts it, having gone A to Z, and it’s clear this regular practice heavily affected his psyche. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, as Sheik’s brand of madness has somehow made him a cult figure for comedic purposes, as he’s fully aware that his angry outbursts bring great humour to a new generation of fans.
9 Scott Steiner
Every wrestling fan knows that Scott Steiner is an unhinged madman ready to violently snap at any moment when cameras are rolling, but you may not realize that there’s very little separating him from this character behind the scenes. Steiner’s irrational temper was at one point so bad, there was a rumour WCW executives were legitimately afraid to fire him in the late 1990s, when he was regularly scaring everyone backstage with his violent outbursts. Because firing Steiner was out of the question, and because WCW was ran by idiots, they decided to gradually promote him to World Champion instead. Approximately fifteen years later, Steiner’s stock as a wrestler had rapidly diminished, and WCW was no longer in business, so this sort of behaviour no longer flies. In 2015, he was actually banned from the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony when his temper resurfaced out of nowhere and he threatened to kill Hulk Hogan. While it’s a good thing Vince McMahon didn’t cave in like WCW and offer up Hogan’s head on a platter, the story nonetheless makes it clear Steiner is still bonkers to this day.
8 Brian Kendrick
Crazy or not, in the very least, these wrestlers aren’t making hats out of tin foil and hiding in their basements while ranting about lizard people. Well, except for Brian Kendrick, anyway, who genuinely believes 9/11 is a combination of gamma rays and government-manufactured tornados that wiped out the World Trade Center. Also, he thinks it was all a hologram. In addition to his status as a so-called 9/11 “truther,” Kendrick has also offered up some seriously offensive opinions on the subject of the Holocaust and the Sandy Hook tragedy, both popular topics amongst many conspiracy theorists just like him. Keep in mind, we aren’t trying to argue Kendrick is anti-Semitic or in any way trying to actively harm the memories of the victims in New York or Connecticut. With Kendrick, it’s much simpler than an issue of hatred — the guy is just crazy enough to believe literally anything people tell him at face value and spread it around like fact.
7 Hulk Hogan
Being the biggest icon in any given industry can easily cause one’s already voluminous ego to inflate unchecked, so it’s hard to blame Hulk Hogan for some of the brags, stakes, and claims he’s made over the years. That said, some of the lies Hogan has told go far beyond mere exaggerated bragging and step all the way over into insanity, like the time he claimed André the Giant died “a few days” after their WrestleMania III encounter (actually, it was almost six years later). There’s also the time he claimed Elvis was a huge Hulkamaniac (The King died two years before Hogan made his debut), or when he said he almost quit wrestling to play bass for Metallica (they never met him), or that he said his schedule once demanded he work 400 days a year (we won’t even touch that one). These aren’t just lies, these are statements one would have to be pathological to actually believe they could make up and get away with, and that’s exactly what Hogan’s been doing for decades now.
6 Billy Jack Haynes
Time for a bunch of “bombshells” to drop on this list, or at least that’s what Billy Jack Haynes calls the utterly insane statements he’s made over the years. Brian Kendrick may be a conspiracy theorist, but at least he stuck to the popular insane ideas already out there rather than inventing his own, relating them to pro wrestling specifically. For that reason, Haynes must think the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion is no more than an amateur, as he invented one of the wackiest conspiracies in history and presented them as facts in a number of shoot interviews. To summarize, Haynes believes Vince McMahon had Chris Benoit and his family murdered to cover up the fact Vince slept with Benoit’s wife some twenty years earlier — or something like that. Quite frankly, it’s too insane for any rational mind to understand, and most likely why a 60-year-old and very retired Haynes would challenge “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to shoot a fight on YouTube, another thing this nutcase actually did.
5 Outback Jack
Tom Zenk notwithstanding, it’s possible the most delusional individual in the entire wacky world of pro wrestling is none other than Outback Jack. Never heard of him? That’s no surprise, as poor Jack only competed in WWE for less than two years back in the 1980s before totally blinking out of the public spotlight. Don’t tell that to him, though, because the man firmly believed he was “one of the most asked about people in the business” as recently as 2009. Jack also claimed there were plans for him to win the WWE Tag Team Championships with Hillbilly Jim, a curious assertion considering the two never teamed up in a meaningful way on television. All right, so the guy has a pretty inflated opinion of himself and his past, but is that outright crazy? Well, throw in the fact that he’s simultaneously claiming to never think about WWE or Vince McMahon while also saying the guy could have done better to make him a star is confusingly bonkers enough for him to land on this list.
4 Bob Backlund
In the summer of 1994, former WWE Champion Bob Backlund lost a match against the new champ, Bret Hart, and violently “snapped” in the ring, attacking everyone in sight. From there, Backlund gave a number of ridiculously unhinged interviews where he could rarely hold a logical train of thought for more than a few seconds, ranting and raving about whatever ill of society popped into his mind. Little did fans know, this was the real Bob Backlund appearing on TV for the first time, as reports would later confirm he lived this character 24/7. The most highly publicized of Backlund’s many weird quirks in this era is that he genuinely demanded fans to recite the United States Presidential history in order before he would ever sign an autograph or take a picture. If the fans were unruly, he’d then lock them in a Crossface Chicken Wing—we assume a gimmicked version, because no one got hurt, but still, he actually applied his wrestling holds to strangers who just wanted to meet their hero. It pains one to think how he might react in the day of selfies.
3 The Ultimate Warrior
Not too long ago, no less a source than WWE itself released a DVD outlining the many ways former World Champion and future Hall of Famer The Ultimate Warrior was a textbook example of a person who had lost their damn mind. Called The Self-Destruction of Ultimate Warrior, the DVD not only reminded fans the dude legally changed his name to “Warrior,” but also of the many stream-of-consciousness interviews he gave that never once made a lick of sense. On top of that, Warrior’s propensity to sue WWE for no reason, always losing and looking petty in the process, painted a pretty succinct person of a nutcase with too much time on his hands. And then, out of nowhere, Warrior and Vince McMahon reconciled, and they decided to sweep the man’s insanity right back under the rug. Now, the WWE Hall of Fame has an award specifically named after the man who once claimed “queering don’t make the world work,” amongst other hateful, spiteful, and plain old bats--- crazy opinions. If only someone in the company watched their own DVD.
2 John Kronus
Everyone on this list has done a thing or two that suggested they were absolutely bonkers, yet only one seemed to genuinely believe Looney Tunes logic would work in real life. The most shocking part is that this belief may well have saved John Kronus’s life, along with that of his former ECW Tag Team Championship partner in The Eliminators, Perry Saturn. As Saturn later explained during a shoot interview, before the two were all that famous, they were living in an area described as “the ghetto of Memphis” when they were nearly robbed outside of a convenience store. An unknown assailant pulled a gun on the duo, only for Kronus to stick his finger down the barrel, in his own words mimicking Bugs Bunny, thinking it would cause the weapon to backfire and explode. Although that obviously wouldn’t happen, the thief freaked the hell out and ran away, and we don’t blame him. According to Saturn, this is just one of many examples his old partner was completely off his rocker.
1 Tom Zenk
If being crazy isn’t necessarily a requirement to become a successful entertainer, sports or otherwise, having at least a little of an ego most certainly is. Of course, a person simply believing they deserve fame doesn’t mean they actually do, and therefore an unchecked ego can be as damaging to a bad wrestler’s career as it can be helpful to a good one. For example, Tom Zenk, a middling athlete if there ever was one, who nonetheless was one of the biggest stars in wrestling — in his own mind that is. From the very beginning, Zenk thought he deserved more than he did, demanding equal pay to his tag-team partner Rick Martel, despite having significantly less experience. That was just business, though — the true insanity came years later in the late '90s, by which point Zenk was a bona fide nobody and gave multiple interviews to wrestling magazines, arguing he was a better choice to be the main event WCW Pay-Per-Views than Hulk Hogan or “Diamond” Dallas Page. There’s being delusional about one’s standing in the industry and there’s plain old craziness, and Zenk’s ego may just be big enough to push him into that latter category.