Professional wrestling and incarceration go hand in hand. During the 1980s and 1990s, when drug and alcohol use were rampant within the sport, it was not uncommon for a performer to miss a show or an appearance because they were behind bars. Any autobiography from a professional wrestler will likely feature a number of stories about being arrested while partying after a show, as will podcasts and documentaries. For guys like Ric Flair, Jake Roberts, and a couple of dozen others, these tales are as much a part of their legacy as their achievements inside the ring.
While arrests of wrestlers are not as frequent as they once were, they still happen on occasion, often resulting in some unwanted publicity for the sport.
Many professional wrestling arrests are pretty run-of-the-mill, with superstars being arrested for drinking a little too much or being disruptive. However, from time to time, a wrestler is arrested for something that is so shocking, so absolutely unbelievable, that it would not be surprising if it came straight from a storyline.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at the fifteen of the craziest crimes committed by professional wrestlers over the past couple of decades. Let’s get started.
15 William Regal
Although he has frequently played the character of a distinguished English gentleman, NXT General Manager William Regal earned his place on this list by doing something pretty ungentlemanly.
During his time with WCW, Regal became extremely inebriated on a flight from Japan to the United States. At one point, he drunkenly stumbled to the toilet of the plane to make more room for alcohol. In his intoxicated state, Regal forgot to close the door to the toilet, meaning the nearby passengers had a perfect view of him urinating.
When a flight attendant asked Regal to shut the door, he turned to face her, penis in hand, and urinated all over her. Regal claims that he does not remember the incident as he was blackout drunk at the time, but does recall waking up several hours later in an Anchorage jail cell.
The Internet Wrestling Community went into uproar on June 30, 2014, when WWE superstar Emma was released from her contract after being arrested Hartford, Connecticut. Why was everybody so upset? Well, because the charges against Emma were completely unreasonable.
The upstart was arrested for shoplifting after she neglected to pay for an iPad case earlier in the day. Emma’s lawyers claimed that she had simply forgotten to pay for the case, which most fans believe because nobody on a WWE salary needs to shoplift.
Fans insisted Emma be rehired and forgiven her oversight. In the end, she was let off with a couple of hours of community service and was reinstated by WWE shortly after.
Vader is notorious for being exceedingly rough in the ring. He has been responsible for a plethora of injuries to other talents, with even Mick Foley complaining about his tendency to throw stiff punches. It is said that younger talents would show up to WCW tapings, see that they were scheduled to face Vader, and flee the building in fear. So, yeah, Vader is a little scary. He also has a bit of a short temper.
During a television appearance in the 1990s, Vader, who was accompanied by The Undertaker, was asked by the presenter if wrestling was fake. The Undertaker remained calm, but it sent the big man into a rage. Furious to be asked such a question, he began to destroy the set and attacked the host both physically and verbally.
Vader was subsequently arrested and fined $164, probably because nobody had the nerve to fine him more.
12 Nick Gage
Nick Gage was the first ever CZW Heavyweight Champion and at one point held the record for competing in the most CZW matches in history, which is really all you need to tell you that the guy is absolutely out of his mind.
A glutton for punishment, Gage put his body through hell in order to get to the top of the CZW mountain – which he likely then jumped off of, onto a flaming table.
It may surprise you, but Gage is not the smartest man in the world. In December 2010, he robbed a bank in New Jersey and made off with around $3,000. It was the perfect crime, or at least it would have been if he had covered his face. Because Gage had not worn a mask during the crime, authorities were able to name him as “that guy from CZW” and he was tracked down shortly after. Gage plead guilty to second degree robbery and was sentenced to five years behind bars.
11 Bo Dallas
This is the most recent entry on the list, and anybody who keeps up to date with wrestling news is likely familiar with the story.
Just a couple of weeks ago, an extremely intoxicated Bo Dallas was arrested at an airport for being disruptive on a flight during WWE’s tour of Mexico. According to those who saw Dallas, he had been drinking at the airport bar before boarding his flight. After taking his seat on the plane, he began to sing songs from The Lion King at the top of his lungs. He was then ejected from the plane before takeoff, calling Seth Rollins “a dick” while being escorted out.
Dallas was later arrested at the airport. Video evidence shows he was still intoxicated during the arrest, but had calmed down to a degree and was cooperative with the officer assigned to the case.
10 Scot Hall
Scott Hall’s issues with substance abuse have been well-documented, and he has been arrested on countless occasions.
One of Hall’s most infamous arrests – and possibly his first one - came in 1983, when he was involved in an altercation outside of a Florida nightclub. Hall’s opponent produced a gun and was about to pull the trigger when the WWE Hall of Famer managed to wrestle it away from him. Hall ended up shooting the man and was arrested and charged with second degree murder.
The charges were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence and Hall moved on with his life. However, in an interview a couple of years ago, he admitted to killing the man in self-defense and stated that the event haunts him to this day.
9 Billy Joe Travis
The crime for which Billy Joe Travis was arrested for – unpaid child support – really isn’t all that interesting. What is interesting, however, is the manner in which he was apprehended.
In 1996, while working for a Memphis-based promotion, Travis was arrested on live television for failure to pay child support. According to authorities, Travis owed quite a bit of money to the mother of his child, and his status as a Memphis television personality meant there was no reason for him to not be paying it.
When he was captured, the creative team decided to turn it into a storyline and filmed the police as they hauled Travis out of the building and placed him into a squad car. Rather than his lengthy career inside the ring, during which he won multiple titles, it is this event for which Billy Joe Travis is best remembered.
8 Ric Flair
It’s no secret that “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair loves to party. In fact, Flair’s affinity for getting drunk and causing trouble is so great that he has found himself behind bars on more than one occasion.
The most infamous of Flair’s legal issues came in 2002, when a plane journey from the United Kingdom to the Untied States became descended into drunken chaos.
During the infamous “Plane Ride From Hell,” Ric Flair became so inebriated that he stripped naked, donned his trademark rope, and proceed to strut around the plane while trying to dance with the flight attendants.
Some of the flight attendants would later file a sexual harassment lawsuit against Flair, claiming he had exposed himself to them and even grabbed their hands and placed them on his wrinkled member. Although Flair insisted that there was no truth to the accusations, WWE settled out of court.
7 The Big Show
Just before he signed with what was then the World Wrestling Federation, The Big Show got way too drunk and found himself in a spot of bother.
Unable to hold his liquor like another famous wrestling giant, an inebriated Big Show began to wreak havoc around a motel. He was arrested shortly after, when a female motel employee claimed that he had exposed himself to her. It likely took a great deal of effort for police officers to get the 500 pounder apprehended and booked, but they did it, giving the world the infamous Big Show mug shot in which he is unable to keep his eyes open.
The charges were eventually dropped and The Big Show went on to have a memorable career in Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment juggernaut.
If you asked anybody who is the toughest SOB in the history of the wrestling business, you’re going to get one of two answers: Harley Race or Meng. If you ask anybody who is the craziest, least stable SOB in the history of the wrestling business, you’re going to get one answer: Meng.
Tales of Meng’s toughness are as copious as they are unbelievable, with one story detailing how he bit off the nose of a man who called wrestling “fake.” Even the Steiner brothers, who aren’t exactly Freud-like themselves, consider Meng to be absolutely out of his mind.
On one occasion, authorities attempted to arrest Meng after a bar fight, but he refused to go. He proceeded to fight off eight – yes, eight – officers. He was pepper sprayed during the altercation, but simply shut his eyes and continued fighting.
On another occasion, Meng was arrested and placed in handcuffs, only to look the arresting officer dead in the eye and snap the cuffs in half.
5 Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner, of the aforementioned bonkers Steiner brothers, has had his fair share of legal issues. His short temper and ability to do Clinton-esque damage to those who anger him have landed him behind bars a number of times in the past.
In January 2001, Steiner was arrested for an incident which occurred during a WCW taping. The storyline of the night saw Steiner inflict beatings upon Christopher Daniels and Michael Modest. An EMT hit the ring to tend to the fallen performers and subsequently ate a blow from Steiner. It all looked pretty dramatic and served to get Steiner over as an unpredictable heel. There was just one problem: the EMT was an actual EMT, not an actor.
Steiner was unaware of this when he clocked the poor guy a second time, causing him legitimate pain. The following morning, Steiner was arrested and charged with assault, though the charges were ultimately dropped after it was determined Steiner thought the EMT was part of the show.
4 Andre Hart
Andre Davis made a name for himself on the independent circuit, wrestling as Andre Hart and frequently having the best match on the card. He was so popular, in fact, that WWE was interested in signing Hart to a contract, but pulled out after a medical evaluation revealed him to be HIV positive.
Fully aware of his HIV status, Hart returned to the independent scene and continued sleeping with women, having unprotected sex with a dozen partners.
Hart was arrested for failing to inform his sexual partners of his condition in 2011 and was sentenced to 32 years in prison. He apologized to his victims and vowed to dedicate his life to raising awareness about the dangers of sex addiction and HIV. Of course, he isn’t going to have a whole lot of life left to do that by the time his sentence is up.
3 Ken Patera
Ken Patera, a weightlifter turned pro wrestler, was never the most talented person in the ring. He lacked any sort of ability, charisma, or intensity. However, he had plenty of intensity on the night of April 6, 1984, when he was refused service after hours at a McDonald’s. Enraged by the disrespect, Patera hurled a rock through a window of the restaurant, though he later claimed the rock had been thrown by a former employee. When an officer arrived on the scene to arrest Patterson, the professional wrestler assaulted him.
A couple of months later, when Patera was working for the World Wrestling Federation, he was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to two years in prison.
Today, Ken Patera is on the other side of the legal system and is one of many wrestlers named in a concussion lawsuit against Vince McMahon and WWE.
2 New Jack
While working in Paul Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling, New Jack frequently went over the line, something which was nearly impossible to do in 1990s ECW. After the closure of the company, New Jack took the unpredictability which had made him a broken household name to the independent circuit, where he continued to get himself into trouble.
In 2004, New Jack was performing at a show for the Thunder Wrestling Federation, where he was due to take on William Lane. At some point during their match, New Jack became irate and produced a knife from his ring gear. Jack proceeded to stab Lane nine times, much to the horror of those in attendance.
New Jack was arrested and charged with aggravated assault to commit murder, but the victim dropped the charges after New Jack agreed to train him.
1 Hardbody Harrison
Hardbody Harrison spent some time working with WCW towards the end of the 1990s and had a career which was even less impressive than his in-ring abilities. His time in the wrestling business was not memorable, which is really a good thing because it meant WWE didn’t have to expel a whole lot of energy to make us forget he ever existed.
Harrison’s crimes were pretty damn despicable. In 2007, he was convicted of the false imprisonment of eight women, whom he used as sex slaves.
During his trial, Harrison chose to represent himself and claimed the women stayed in his home voluntarily and that he provided them with wrestling training. His defense was laughable, especially the part about somebody going to him to learn how to wrestle.
Unsurprisingly, the court didn’t buy Hardbody Harrison’s story and he was sentenced to life in prison.