If you watch wrestling today, especially in the WWE, it’d be easy to assume that it’s the fun, family friendly sport that the wrestling giant makes it out to be. Between their Be A Star campaign and their “huggable” child-targeted heroes like Bayley and John Cena, the WWE certainly seems like a fairy tale-like place where people go to live their dreams. However, as any actual professional wrestler could tell you, those dreams come with a price. While wrestling can be all those things and more, it also has a dark side. Wrestlers abuse their bodies on a daily basis. Some require substances to help them perform, others need them to get through the pain.
Go into any wrestling locker room and you’ll find a cramped room full of testosterone-pumping alpha males who probably go out too much. Throw them all together and you’re bound to get some stories but you’re also bound to get even darker secrets. It’s not like the sport is a stranger to scandal, having endured many steroid-related deaths, drug addictions, lawsuits and claims of sexual abuse over the years. However, those pale in comparison to some of the rumors that have circulated online.
The following list examines some of wrestling’s darkest rumors. Detailing stories so preposterous, so shocking and so disturbing, that they have to have been made up by some Internet troll in their parents basement and yet, a part of us can’t help but wonder, what if? Here are the 15 darkest wrestling rumors you might not have known.
15 Did ECW Employees Take Other Lives?
ECW is fondly remembered as one of the most extreme wrestling companies in the history of the sport. Their bread and butter was breaking taboos, pushing boundaries and committing unspeakable acts for the entertainment of others, be it falling through a flaming table, cutting themselves with barbed wire or jumping off of scaffolding. However, if rumors are to be believed, the renegade wrestling organization may be even more morally ambiguous than anyone realized. It’s long been speculated that at least four members of the ECW roster (from the 1990s and early 2000s) have legitimately killed people.
However, the circumstances surrounding these alleged murders are unknown. When it comes to who among the locker room could have committed these killings, that’s where things get murkier. You see, it seems like every version of the story names a different four wrestlers, making it hard to pin down whether there’s truth to any of this, never mind who’s responsible. New Jack’s name is usually tossed around but that could be because of his wild card persona with a dash of racial profiling thrown in for good measure. Either way, it’s clear we’ll likely never know the real story behind any of it.
14 Goldust Wanted To Get Surgical Implants
If you watched Goldust during his 1990s heyday, chances are you were deeply disturbed by him. The Prince of Perversion and real-life son of Dusty Rhodes, made his name by playing one of the most bizarre characters at a time when wrestling was at its most bizarre. A gold-painted, sexually ambiguous, walking enigma, Goldust would often skirt the line of good taste, getting uncomfortably close to his opponents (male and female alike) and trying his best to make their skin crawl, either by being overtly sexual or just downright creepy. However, if one story is to be believed, Goldust wanted to take things even further at the height of his Attitude Era popularity.
One idea the character’s portrayer Dustin Runnels reportedly pitched to Vince McMahon was to actually undergo breast enhancement surgery in order to make the character stand out even more. The idea reportedly wasn’t about gender identity or making light of trans issues but simply a way to make his character even more unpredictable. However, it seems the pitch was dead on arrival as he reportedly dropped the idea as soon as McMahon told him the company wouldn’t pay for the surgery.
13 Tommy Dreamer Wanted To Be Shot On Live TV
As stated above, ECW made a name for itself by doing things other wrestling companies wouldn’t dream of. Their matches were so wildly dangerous and gruesome, it really is amazing that no one died in the ring. However, one drawback to pushing boundaries is that you eventually have to push them even further and if this rumor is to be believed, Tommy Dreamer had just the idea, wanting to do something no wrestler has ever done before on television, get shot on live TV.
Dreamer’s reported bright idea was to hire a sniper to shoot him in the shoulder while he was standing in the middle of the ring during a match. While ECW owner Paul Heyman is said to have been dead-set against the idea due to the liabilities it would cause if it went wrong, Dreamer felt the national news coverage they would receive if they were able to pull it off was well worth the risk. It’s said he only let go of the idea when Terry Funk told him that his father, Dory Funk Sr. tried a similar stunt in the 1950s.
12 Cruel Prank On Bret Hart
If this is true, this really is a cruel, cruel prank. In 1998, Bret Hart was scheduled to participate in a tag match at the Great American Bash that would find him joining forces with Hulk Hogan to take on Rowdy Roddy Piper and Randy Savage. However, Hart almost missed the event entirely after a prank call set off an unfortunate chain of events. It all started when someone called WCW head offices, informing them that Hart’s father, legendary wrestler Stu Hart, had passed away.
While calling the company to inform them of this instead of the wrestler himself is pretty unorthodox, the head offices reportedly bought it, either because they lacked the technology to verify the claim or because of how disorganized things were behind the scenes at that time. The rumor says that Eric Bischoff was willing to do the right thing, informing Hart of the passing and giving him the night off to grieve rather than forcing him to perform. However, when Hart did what the WCW should have done all along and called home, verifying that his father was indeed alive and well, the Hitman agreed to go on with the show even though he was probably pretty shaken by the whole ordeal.
11 Brutus Beefcake Caused An Anthrax Scare
Perhaps one of the craziest stories on the list and it might not be a rumor after all. The story, which allegedly appeared in the Boston Herald in 2004, reports that Ed Leslie, who’s best known to WWE audiences as Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake, created mass panic on the Boston transit system after misplacing his narcotics at an inopportune time.
As the story goes, Leslie, who had been retired from wrestling at the time, had taken a part-time job as a fare collector at a Boston subway station. When he left a bag of cocaine in his booth during a shift, a passenger, likely affected by post-9/11 paranoia, mistook the substance for anthrax and reported it, causing the station to be evacuated. The incident is said to have motivated Leslie to check into rehab, so at least something good came from it if true.
10 Fabulous Moolah’s Prostitution Ring?
There was a time when the Fabulous Moolah was remembered as one of the greatest women’s wrestlers in history. A trailblazer and pioneer for grapplers everywhere with a double set of X chromosomes. However, rumors and revelations that have emerged about her since have done a lot to tarnish her legacy, turning the once celebrated legend into a Voldemort-like figure in the wrestling community whose name is rarely spoken in anything but a hushed tone. You see, while Moolah did dominate women’s wrestling for more than three decades, it’s how she stayed on top that’s done irreparable damage to her reputation. During her time in NWA and later, the WWE, Moolah would train many of the up-and-coming female talent hoping to follow in her footsteps. However, it’s been rumored that her mentorship came at a steep price.
Moolah is said to have kept much of her students earnings, giving them mere scraps of their paychecks while politicking her way to higher ups to ensure that none of these women were given opportunities that would outshine her. Some of the more dastardly accusations included that she would get her students addicted to drugs and serve as their dealer to make them even more indebted to her and perhaps the most heinous, that she would prostitute them out to male wrestlers, oftentimes against their will, to make extra money. With rumors like this, it’s not surprising that Moolah’s legacy has all but been erased from the WWE history books.
9 The JBL Shower Incident
There are few people in wrestling today more speculated about than John Bradshaw Layfield. The former WWE champion and SmackDown Live announcer has a long history of rumors accusing him of being a locker room bully, one urban legend in particular having followed him for much of his career. The story is said to have occurred in the WWE back in the 1990s when Layfield overheard another wrestler bragging about date raping an underage girl. As a form of payback, the former APA member allegedly tied the wrestler up in a shower and covered him in baby oil, threatening to perform a similar act on the terrified performer.
While rumors regarding the identity of the wrestler remain unconfirmed, several stories have accused Brian Christopher (who wrestled under the name Grand Master Sexay) of being the culprit, although there is obviously no evidence to verify such claims. Regardless, while Layfield has often been accused of his bullying tactics, it’s hard to feel too badly about those tactics being used on someone who would commit such an act.
8 The Rita Chatterton Scandal
One of the most talked about aspects of the WWE Network’s Mae Young Classic was the hiring of their first full-time female referee, Kennadi Brink. It’s a topic that caused a lot of people to wonder why it had taken the company so long to hire a female referee and this story just might shed some light on that. As it turns out, Rita Chatterton previously held the distinction, hired in the mid-1980s, however, she was fired just as quickly, the company saying it was because she was an “incompetent referee.” When Chatterton went to the press and said she was sexually assaulted by Vince McMahon, a conspiracy theory was born involving her, a bounty hunter and Geraldo Rivera.
After Chatterton went on Rivera’s now-defunct talk show Now It Can Be Told, alleging that she was fired only after she had been violated by McMahon, the WWE founder filed a lawsuit against her, accusing her, Rivera and wrestler/bounty hunter David Schultz of slander and conspiring to extort $5 million from the wrestling giant. The lawsuit would be dropped a year later but only so the company could focus on the infamous steroid trial that rocked the wrestling world in the early 1990s.
7 Whatever Happened To Brian Pillman’s Wife?
When Brian Pillman’s wife Melanie was interviewed in that unfortunate segment on Monday Night Raw just 24 hours after his passing, a lot was made over the fact that she’d now be responsible for taking care of their five children by herself. Melanie even mentioned that she had recently adopted Brian’s daughter from a previous marriage after her mother committed suicide and according to that daughter Brittany Pillman, being raised by Brian’s widow was a harrowing experience. In a 2016 interview, the orphaned daughter of the late wrestling great fired a number of accusations at her adoptive mother claiming that not only was she negligent but that she stole thousands from her and her siblings.
In the years after Brian’s passing, many superstars close to him held fundraisers for his family in order to help with the costs of raising five children, however, according to Brittany, the children never saw any of that money, accusing her step-mother of spending it all on her drug addiction. She also says that Melanie had already moved on to someone else when Brian passed away, the two in the midst of getting a divorce. “When my dad died I got stuck with Melanie. Pretty soon we were left with nothing because the money went right up her nose. We had lost everything by the time I was 11. We were wearing hand-me-down clothes and living with two addicts. Half the time we didn’t have food or the electric was shut off because Melanie didn’t pay the bills.”
6 Syco Sid Put A Squirrel Down His Pants
They don’t call him Syco Sid for nothing. This next story is crazy if true and also slightly horrifying. It’s rumored that back in the day, Sid had a pet squirrel that he’d take with him everywhere. One day, a wrestler backstage bet him that he couldn’t keep the squirrel down his pants for a full minute. Not one to pass up a challenge, Sid decided to take him up on it, stuffing the squirrel down his pants.
Now, some versions of the story end right here, however others go on to say that, that squirrel met a gruesome end. As the story goes, Sid never made it the full minute as the squirrel bit his nether regions causing him to double over in pain. The shock of the bite reportedly caused him to fall over, crushing and killing the poor pet rodent.
5 Randy Savage Locked Miss Elizabeth Away
Looking at Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth during their golden era heyday, you’d probably think they had it all. Their romance playing on WWE screens like a fairytale romance. However, if rumors are to be believed, behind the scenes, Savage was hardly Prince Charming. It’s been said that the WWE legend was enormously paranoid over his relationship with the beautiful valet, fearing that someone in the locker room would take her away from him.
It’s been said that his paranoia became so intense, he would lock her in her own private locker room just to keep her away from the rest of the male talent. Rumors don’t paint her home life to be any better either, portraying her as a real-life Rapunzel as Savage reportedly would lock her in their home as well, leaving her with enough TV dinners to survive a few days while he went on the road. For the sake of both of their memories, we hope that’s not true.
4 The Von Erichs Performed Animal Cruelty While Intoxicated
The Von Erichs appear to be one of those doomed wrestling families who are always going to remembered more for their tragedy than they are their accomplishments and if the following story proves to be false, it’s a shame it will be forever attached to their names. Back in the day, the Von Erichs were known for their partying lifestyle and affinity for drugs like cocaine. However, one night, as the urban legend goes, they took that partying too far.
While in Texas, allegedly high on some illegal substance, the Von Erichs stumbled across a stray cat. Not making the best decisions at the time with their mood altered and all, one of the brothers challenged another to throw a razor blade at said cat. The razor blade connected and the cat was reportedly killed, adding a body count to their night on the town. Two versions exist of this story, another saying the night out was actually in Japan and that instead of a razor it was their famous iron claw however, either way it’s a terrible thing to be associated with.
3 Harley Race Tased Owen Hart
If this story proves anything, it’s that you don’t mess with Harley Race. Owen Hart was known for being a bit of a prankster backstage, however, as any good prankster knows, you always make sure you know your audience. It all started when Hart was invited to dinner at Race’s home. Trying to keep things interesting, Hart decided to load up the chilli they were being served with a ton of hot sauce, making everyone at the dinner sick.
When Race noted that Hart was the only person not to touch the chilli, he deduced what the Hitman’s brother had done and decided to confront him about it the next night on Raw. Approaching Hart, Race extended his hand to shake it, congratulating him on a good prank. When Hart let his guard down and obliged, Race would pull out his taser and tase him for his troubles, the shock so powerful it reportedly knocked him unconscious. Like we said, don’t mess with Race.
2 The Rejected Vince McMahon/Stephanie McMahon Storyline
The Attitude Era was known for pushing the envelope with some of the most shocking and distasteful stories to come from professional wrestling, however, if this rumor turns out to be true, one story left on the table could have outdid anything the Attitude Era had to offer. As the story goes, while pregnant with her first child, Vince McMahon pitched to his daughter Stephanie a story in which her child turned out to be his. The result of an apparent incestual relationship.
Unsurprisingly, Stephanie refused, not wanting to be a part of such a distasteful and bizarre angle. Frankly, we can’t say that we blame her. McMahon would eventually get his illegitimate child storyline when he was revealed to be the father of Finlay’s sidekick, Hornswoggle, a story that went over about as well as his Stephanie McMahon incest storyline would have.
1 What Really Happened To The Benoit Family?
One of the greatest tragedies to ever befall the wrestling industry was the Chris Benoit murder-suicide. It’s an event that left such an impact, few are able to speak of it in anything but a whisper. In June of 2007, respected wrestler and former WWE Champion Chris Benoit ended the lives of both his wife and their young son by systematically murdering them over the course of a weekend before ending his own life. It’s a scandal that rocked the wrestling community and shocked fans worldwide who looked up to the Canadian grappler.
In fact, he was so highly regarded, some fans to this day refuse to believe Benoit could commit such an act, convinced that some nefarious third party is to blame. A popular theory is that wrestler Kevin Sullivan is actually the one who murdered the family, driven mad by jealousy after his former wife Nancy left him for Benoit. It’s an easy person to fall back on, after all, as Nancy famously cheated on her then-husband with Benoit, the affair causing a great deal of friction backstage. However, all scientific evidence points to Benoit being the culprit so it’s probably best to accept it and move on.