Like anything, the WWE is not without its secrets. A huge company, making millions of dollars annually and putting on show after show with traveling talent and hundreds of staff, means there are going to be times where not everything is perfect. However, often things are less than imperfect. They're downright troubling.
From disputing wrestlers to bullying, abuse, lying, hatred, racism and mistreatment, there isn't a rule or ethical position people and executives haven't crossed. In some cases, murder isn't even off the table. But, how much do we really know about these incidences?
It's easy to take one side when you don't have all the facts. It's also easy to assume what goes on when you don't know the whole truth. That's why, when former talent who were there and present for incidences that shock the wrestling industry decide to speak, everyone listens. The fans want to know what really happened and they count on these behind-the-curtain accounts to keep them in the loop.
Below are 15 people who have told their versions of 15 different shocking moments in wrestling history. They've spilled the beans through post-WWE interviews, in books or on radio shows. Whether you decide to take what they say at face value, or you choose to form your own opinion, these former wrestlers and talents had a reason for adding to the conversation. They want you, the fans, to know what really went down.
Some of these 15 entries will make re-visiting the incidence an interesting exercise when you have a different perspective. Oh, what might have been... Others are sad and troubling when you look at how these incidences could have been avoided.
15 Dino Bravo Admits He Was Worried About The Mafia
Dino Bravo was a former French-Canadian wrestler who was popular back in the 80's and '90s. When his character grew stale, the WWE decided they were planning to move on, but he didn't want to leave the WWE because he knew he'd go work for the family business, which was heavily tied up in the mob. Bravo had confided in former wrestler Rick Martel that Bravo's uncle was the head of the mafia in Montreal and that Bravo had too many vices and no other life or business skills to fall back on. It was wrestling or the mafia and he was concerned the mafia would win.
As Martel tells the story, Bravo tried not to get mixed up in the business, but after having to borrow from his own mother, it was too much to take. Dino started working in an illegal cigarette trafficking circuit and eventually got tied up with a cocaine dealer who wanted a piece of the cigarette business. After a shipment was botched and police called to the scene, Bravo ended up being blamed and was shot in the head 10 times in his home. It wasn't exactly the WWE's responsibility to save him, but it's troubling there wasn't more help available to him.
14 Batista Calls Out The WWE On Politics and Favoritism
If there was ever a concern that Triple H was too involved in his own character or that there is favoritism and backstage drama in the WWE, perhaps the latest revelation from Batista will shed some light on the subject.
One of the main knocks on Triple H is that he reserves his own involvement in matches for WrestleMania time and places himself in some of the biggest angles only once a year. That he doesn't want to work with Batista proves this theory might be true.
Batista was once a WWE star and he's now a full-fledged movie star. While his latest return to the WWE didn't go quite as planned, there is no denying that he's a draw for the WWE and that his return, if timed correctly with his movies, could bring new eyeballs. Batista has gone on record that he wants to return, but only in a program with Triple H where Batista could say goodbye. Triple H has flat out said no and on more than one occasion.
In fact, he's denied Batista so many times, Batista has stopped asking and instead feels compelled to share some of the many opinions he has on the WWE as a company. Those opinions are not always very kind. He's cited backstage bull$^&* and favoritism as real issues and why if he doesn't come back, he's cool with it. According to Batista, politics are still a major issue in the WWE.
13 Dutch Mantel Details Bruiser Brody's Murder
Dutch Mantel (better known to some fans as Zeb Colter) was on the scene in Peurto Rico when Bruiser Brody was stabbed and killed by Jose Gonzalez. Gonzalez pleaded self-defense and was acquitted due to a weak Peurto Rican justice system and a lack of witnesses for Brody.
Mantel said he could feel the tension in the air at the arena that night. After he left the dressing room to check out the crowd, Chris Youngblood ran up to yell that someone had stabbed Brody. Mantel went back into the room to see Brody lying on the floor. He says he witnessed the Invader (Gonzalez) and Victor Jovica screaming at each other in the shower room which appeared an effort by Jovica to stop Gonzalez from leaving. It didn't work and it was at least 40 minutes before an ambulance was able to take Brody away.
Gonzalez went home, got dressed in a different shirt and came back to the arena as if nothing had happened. Tony Atlas (who was also there) tried to get the police to take the situation seriously, but because Gonzalez was a star in their country, nobody cared. Mantel couldn't testify because he wasn't subpoenaed on the trial until one day after the verdict was in. Mantel thinks Brody could have lived if he had just gotten the medical attention he'd needed.
12 Road Dogg Talks CM Punk Wedding And Departure
The fact that CM Punk is still gone from the WWE stings for a lot of fans. That CM Punk went on a public tirade after his departure also got a few people hot under the collar. WWE producer and sometimes talent Road Dogg brings a different perspective. Road Dogg confesses that the situation was messed up, but that fans need to be aware, they'll only ever likely hear one side of the story.
Road Dogg got involved in a civilized Twitter exchange with fans where he admitted that he understood their frustration, but asked that they consider that only hearing what Punk has to say means they'll never know the whole truth, just one side of it. He even went as far as to suggest that there's more to Punk receiving his termination papers on his wedding than one might first think — especially since the wedding was supposed to be a secret! It's hard to say if this speaks more to the WWE keeping quiet or CM Punk refusing to.
11 Justin Roberts Admits JBL Stole His Passport
Ex-WWE announcer Justin Roberts has shed light on the bullying problem in the WWE. He's publicly gone out to suggest that it's not only not punished but often encouraged by Vince McMahon and others within the company.
In Roberts' book Best Seat in the House, he details situations where he witnessed bullying, including one instance where he became a target. JBL (who is most widely known for being the worst of the WWE bullies) took Roberts' passport and hid it. Roberts got to the airport in Manchester, couldn’t get on the plane to go home and had to fly to London and go to the U.S. embassy to get a new one. He then took the train to the airport, got a flight back and had to travel from London to Boston, Boston to Phoenix, then drove to Phoenix to Tuscon for TV for SmackDown. All of this got a good healthy laugh by the company and a razzing by Vince McMahon who joked to Roberts that he'd better keep his eye on his passport. This was in the middle of a production meeting. JBL wasn't reprimanded.
10 Shawn Michaels Knew About Montreal Screwjob
It's a story that's been told time and time again. The Montreal Screwjob will go down as one of the most infamous wrestling meets real life situations of all time and for years, Shawn Michaels said he knew nothing about what was going to happen to Bret Hart when Vince McMahon called for the bell and stole the title off Bret before he left for WCW. It wasn't until years later and Michaels repeated claims to be an innocent party to everything that he finally coughed up to the fact that he knew what was going to happen. In fact, not only did he know, he agreed to let McMahon take the heat for it.
Years later the whole incident appears to be a bunch of people just making a ton of wrong decisions one after another. It went to show that the owner and the superstars just couldn't settle their differences and in the end, the fans got the shaft — even though it did become one of the biggest storylines of a generation.
9 Paul Heyman Stole Copywritten Music
Paul Heyman was often times unethical and often times not truthful, but not many people admit to being a criminal. Heyman did just that in an interview with Corey Graves where Graves had asked where he got permission to use music like Metalica's "Enter Sandman". That song became iconic with The Sandman character.
Heyman didn't deny that he never actually had permission and just stole the rights to play it. He described his situation as trying to work around the obstacle of feeding the music directly into the cameras for a PPV or television, but it didn't change the fact that he was playing the songs illegally which is an offense that can be slapped with some pretty serious fines and jail time if pursued by the artists or record labels. It's one of those things people look back on now and say no big deal, but it just shows that Heyman was willing to do whatever it took, including breaking the law.
8 Steve Austin Got Too Big For His Britches
Stone Cold Steve Austin is arguably the most popular professional wrestler of all time. Unfortunately, there are stories about that fame going to Austin's head. Former wrestler Ahmed Johson claims fans told him Austin put a racist note on his car one time after a show and that while he didn't actually see Austin do it, he'd known of Austin being racist in the locker room. Bob Holly talks about Austin ditching him and Billy Gun once he was upper-end talent and no longer felt like riding with them on the road. Even Austin admits he should have handled his disagreement over angles and storylines better than just walking out of the company and not showing up for work. It's a lot of their word against his when it comes to some of these others allegations, but it's a telling sign that Austin wasn't exactly a nice guy.
7 Bill DeMott Was Always Unfair
As a trainer for the WWE, in 2015, Bill DeMott resigned from active employment after allegations of abuse and mistreatment of wrestlers hit the mainstream. It was big news and it was a bad look for the company. Unfortunately, it looks like the WWE was well aware of the issues prior to the specific incidents that saw DeMott leave. In fact, way back in 2004, when DeMott helped run Deep South Wrestling, wrestlers were not happy with his tactics and he was relieved of his job duties in 2007.
Fast forward to 2011 when DeMott was rehired much to the surprise of many, including former-WWE talent Simon Dean, who said he was shocked the WWE would bring DeMott back after the types of things he'd done. DeMott's actions were one of the reasons indie-superstar Kenny Omega left the WWE and it turns out that those who were surprised DeMott got a second chance were right. We all know how the Demott situation turned out years later. It just troubling to hear Simon Dean reference how far back the abuse went.
6 Jim Cornette On The Curtain Call
Sometimes you don't have to say anything to confess to something. That's really what the infamous "Curtain Call" was when Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash broke character and came out in front of a live audience at Madison Square Garden in 1996 and gave a big middle finger to the company, showing the world they were close friends.
The incident broke almost every unwritten rule in wrestling and changed the industry forever. Management and other wrestlers were upset, but it didn't matter. No longer was it heel versus babyface in the WWE. It was a true admission that wrestlers really do like each other, even though they play characters who act like they hate each other. Fans now got to see what was behind the curtain. It was a confession that things aren't always as they appear and leave it to Jim Cornette to add his two cents. He spilled the beans that the incident also led to Triple H being jobbed out of winning the King of the Ring in 1996, which then went to Steve Austin, and changed wrestling forever.
5 McMahon Admits He Should Have Hired AJ Styles Years Ago
If there's one thing Vince McMahon is often known for, it's downplaying the success of another organization. McMahon hates to acknowledge the success of other wrestling companies until after he's done something to them (like wiped them out). Yes, WCW became an exception to the rule thanks to just how much they grew, but there were times that Vince's unwillingness to acknowledge competition carried over to the talent. He often refused to hire other wrestlers who'd made their names elsewhere.
Finally, Vince acknowledged that fact in a sideways sort of way when he spoke of AJ Styles. Styles was not a part of the WWE for years. He made his name on the independent scene and in TNA and McMahon has now realized with AJ's success in the WWE that he should have brought him into the WWE fold years earlier. The quality of matches the WWE missed out on is a hard pill for fans to swallow. From Shawn Michaels to Kurt Angle to Bret Hart. It's amazing what these competitors could have done in a ring together.
4 Sean Waltman and Justin Credible's "Plane Ride From Hell"
Many wrestling fans know about the "Plane Ride From Hell." That is, the chartered plane ride from London that saw Curt Hennig fired, Brock Lesnar fighting, airline staff being abused and wrestlers doing all sorts of unsavory things. Former wrestlers Justin Credible and Sean Waltman have told their sides and it's even worse than you might think.
The two document the Brock Lesar and Curt Hennig matched as a playful tussle between two friends until their competitive temperaments kicked in. At one point, Lesnar shot so hard into Henning that they almost popped open the emergency exit at 30,000 feet above the ground. Of course, if almost killing everyone on the plane wasn't enough, Ric Flair decided to flash and began sexually assaulting two of the stewardesses which led to a couple of lawsuits for the WWE. X-Pac chopped off Michael Hayes' mullet after Hayes hit JBL and reopened a deep cut on his forehead and Dustin Runnels was let go after using the PA system to serenade his ex-wife.
The whole story goes to show that for fans who look up to these wrestlers as idols and role models, in many cases, they shouldn't be. These guys can be extremely dysfunctional and management does little or nothing to stop it.
3 Hall Says The Third Member of nWo Wasn't Going To Be Hogan
The NWO was one of the most talked about angles in wrestling history. Almost everyone has had their take on it, including former wrestler Scott Hall who laid down the nugget that Hulk Hogan was not supposed to be the third member.
At first, Hall, Kevin Nash and Eric Bischoff wanted Hogan, but Hulk didn't want to turn heel and played his creative control card to shoot down the idea. Then they wanted Bret Hart. Hart would have made more sense from a storyline (WWE invaders) perspective, but he didn't want to leave the WWE. The night the NWO was born, Hall and Nash went to the ring and did the match not knowing who the third member was going to be. They weren't sure if Hogan was going to go through with it. Had Hulk not showed up, it was set to be Sting. What a disaster that could have been.
2 Wrestlers Afraid To Approach The Chairman
Sasha Banks has gone on record that she's afraid to say more than a polite greeting to Vince McMahon. Maybe that's just someone who so often works with Triple H that she's a bit intimidated and shy. That's understandable. But she's not wrong to feel intimidated. If you talk to former WWE personality Ricardo Rodriquez, he'll tell you that Vince wants the confrontation.
Rodriquez describes an instance in promo class where Vince was continually walking past Curtis Axel who had his foot exposed. Vince would pace back and forth and step on Curtis' foot each and every time. Finally, after several foot stomps, and after Axel said nothing, Vince reprimanded him for not standing up for himself. Perhaps it's unrelated, but Axel's career hasn't exactly skyrocketed.
This confrontation, of course, is only if and when it's something Vince wants you to stand up for. If it comes to money or success outside of the WWE that didn't come from Vince, he's not so eager to discuss it with talent. Chris Jericho confessed as much when he told the story about his landing a job as the host of a tv series called Downfall. A series Vince wanted Jericho to have no part of. Eventually, the two worked things out but not until after threatening each other and a huge screaming match.
1 Daniel Bryan Admits To Having Seizures
Daniel Bryan doesn't want to be sitting on the sidelines. This we know since comments similar have come straight from the horse's mouth. Bryan fought his retirement for months until the WWE refused to medically clear him for action so many times that he finally had to get second and third opinions from doctors. Bryan was working on the assumption that because his own contacts had cleared him, the WWE should clear him. They didn't.
It wasn't until finally deciding that he was never going to convince the WWE otherwise that Bryan admitted to having seizures which stemmed from having to deal with concussion symptoms. He had at least 10 documented concussions. The scary part about this is that recently rumors have surfaced that when Bryan's contract ends with the WWE, he's planning on leaving and wrestling the independents or in Japan. It is his right to do so, but it doesn't make it right to do so. He could seriously injure himself since concussions are way more prone to happen to people who've already suffered them. Bryan has suffered at least 10... that he knows about.