The wrestling world is no stranger to controversy, but not all scandals are created equally. In fact, it may shock many current day fans of the industry that at one time the fact that the match winners and losers are predetermined (calling it fake doesn’t give it the credit it deserves), was Earth-shattering for many.
When we sat down to consider what the cream of the crop of wrestling scandals was, a lot of crazy events fell by the wayside. Sid Vicious stabbing veteran wrestler, Arn Anderson, with a pair of scissors just wasn’t crazy enough. Jeff Hardy’s clearly intoxicated “match” at TNA Victory Road didn’t make the cut. Lita cheating on Matt Hardy with Edge, that could happen in anywhere. Hell, even the long-rumoured reason for the strained relationship between Randy Savage and Vince McMahon wasn’t awarded a spot. So, let’s find out what stories we deemed the most shocking in the history of Wrestling.
10 The Montreal Screwjob
If you’re a wrestling fan you knew this had to make the list. When Vince McMahon encouraged Bret Hart, a wrestling megastar, to negotiate with their competitor WCW, all that was left to do was figure out how Bret would lose the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Seems easy enough, right? Well no. Unfortunately, Bret had a real-life long standing feud with Shawn Michaels and refused to lose the title in his home country of Canada to him. The resulting events boil down to a conflict between wrestling tradition and contractual obligation.
9 Signature Pharmacy Scandal
After Eddie Guerrero died in 2006, the WWE created the Wellness Policy, to protect themselves and their talent from poor health, drugs and controversy. The following year another major star died, under horrific circumstances, and everyone jumped to blame steroids. The second wrestler (more on the Canadian Crippler later) was being drug-tested, so that can’t be a problem, right? Unfortunately, he was included in a list of twenty WWE wrestlers who’d purchased various drugs banned under the policy, from Signature Pharmacy, as recently as four months before his death.
8 The Cursed Von Erich Family
McMahon, Hart, Guerrero. Few families mean more to the history of wrestling than The Von Erichs. Fritz Von Erich had to be a proud father when his five sons followed him into the wrestling industry and spent years working for him. Forever enshrined in the minds of their fans for a fantastic feud with The Fabulous Freebirds, they are unfortunately almost entirely gone.
7 Jimmy Snuka Charged with Murder
One thing happened for sure, in May of 1983, Nancy Argentino, the girlfriend of famed wrestler Jimmy Snuka, suffered “undetermined craniocerebral injuries”, which resulted in her untimely demise. What led up to her death, however, has been a long-whispered about scandal bubbling under the surface of a WWE Hall of Famer’s life.
6 Hulk Hogan’s Racist Tirade
For people that grew up believing that Hulk Hogan was a symbol of what was right and good in the world, recent events are likely to have been more than a little shocking. A massive star during the eighties and nineties, Hulk was embarrassed when a short segment of a sex tape, reportedly recorded without his knowledge, was released online by Gawker. Angered by their decision to release the clip without his permission, Hulk sued the site.
5 Bruiser Brody’s Untimely End
Bruiser Brody is infamous in wrestling circles for his Wildman persona, which according to many was pretty close to the true demeanour of the man. Practicing his craft all over the world and for many promoters, Brody’s unpredictable behaviour put butts in seats wherever he went. If only he was anywhere else on that fateful night in July of 1988.
4 The Steroid Trial
It is an agreed upon fact, amongst those in the know, that Vince McMahon puts a huge premium on the size and muscles of his performers. Many of the men who have worked for him over the years have had impossible physiques and have admitted that they abused steroids, years afterwards. According to prosecutors, Vince McMahon deserved to serve up to eight years in prison, for his role in a culture that made that necessary.
3 Owen Hart Falls
One of the WWE’s greatest strengths in the late nineties was how much attention went into even their relatively minor storylines. When Owen Hart reverted into The Blue Blazer persona he’d portrayed years earlier, to comedic effect, the decision was made to have him descend from the rafters like a superhero. Intended to slip and fall after he hit the ring, it was all designed to illicit a chuckle, which we have to admit could have been pretty great.
2 Mel Phillips, Terry Garvin & Pat Patterson Scandal
If you’ve never heard of Mel Phillips, that makes perfect sense, as like other controversial people who’ve worked for the WWE at some point, they’ve attempted to erase him from history. A former ring announcer, Mel was the subject of headlines for the first time in his life when in 1992, Mel and former WWE employee Terry Garvin made advances to minors. Terry resigned and Mel was fired but WWE hall of Famer and revered creative mind Pat Patterson also resigned due to the controversy.
1 The Benoit Tragedy
Chris Benoit was a fierce wrestler, who over a twenty-two-year career had earned fans and respect wherever he went. Tapped to main event WrestleMania XX, in a match where he won the World Heavyweight Championship, for that moment he stood on top of the wrestling world. For many people, including his former WWE bosses, none of that matter after how he died, however.
Over three days in June of 2007, Chris murdered his wife and son and then committed suicide by hanging himself with a weight machine cord. Nobody who was present during the awful events that weekend unfolded survived the ordeal, so we can’t be sure what caused his evil deeds, but no matter the inciting incident what he did was horrific. Placing the industry he’d loved in the crosshairs of the media, the wrestling world was embroiled in more controversy than it had ever seen before in the immediate aftermath of his death. In fact, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigated the WWE and even TNA in the months that followed.
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