A lot has been written about World Championship Wrestling, the little southern territory that stood the test of time, grabbed national attention, and was ultimately purchased by Ted Turner. Turner offered the company the resources to compete with WWE through a mix of money to offer exorbitant salaries to top talent, plus the television resources to air hours of programming in primetime.
For all of the advantages WCW had, the company was also known to be chaotic. Having a non-wrestling person in an ownership role, opened up a revolving door of executives and bookers who had their hands in the WCW product. As if competing priorities and aesthetics weren’t enough, the locker room itself was nothing if not tumultuous, including colorful characters, politicians, and short fuses that meant any given night backstage might represent a powder keg waiting to explode.
There are those times when things turned especially nasty backstage in WCW. Sometimes it was a matter of pranks gone too far, and on a number of occasions poor communication led to someone seriously getting hurt. Some guys saw themselves get screwed out of money or screwed out of big victories, while others saw their long term legacies in the wrestling business tarnished through carelessness or even intentional career sabotage.
This article takes a look back at 15 particularly nasty developments that went down backstage in WCW, that would shock the average fan—even those who consistently watched the WCW product as all of this was happening behind the scenes.
15 Curt Hennig "Left A Deposit" Under A Ring
Curt Hennig has a bit of a reputation as a ribber who would frequently play pranks on his colleagues to lighten the mood or entertain himself. He did have a mean streak that included purportedly shaving Razor Ramon’s eyebrow in WWE. Another time when he took things over the top came in WCW when he infamously relieved himself under the ring.
Accounts vary as to exactly who was under the ring with him, waiting for a run in, and if Hennig went out of necessity or purely for ribbing purposes. Regardless, it’s agreed that The Ultimate Warrior was under the ring and had to deal with the stench for the longest, and that either Warrior or someone else made the situation even rougher by throwing up in response to the excrement.
14 Goldberg Got Badly Hurt On A Car Window
An episode of Thunder saw Goldberg in hot pursuit of enemies from the New World Order after they had screwed him out of a world title opportunity. The sequence was to see him attack their car, including busting windows. While exact details vary depending on accounts, the consensus is that the windows were supposed to be gimmicked so Goldberg could break them easily and with minimal risk. Instead, they were just regular car windows that he attacked with his bare hands.
The incident led to Goldberg badly cutting his arm on one of the windows. He lost a lot of blood and would wind up needing to miss several months of ring time on account of the accident that seems like it ought ot have been easily avoidable.
13 Eric Bischoff Disrespected Ric Flair
Over his time as executive vice president, Eric Bischoff developed a personal beef with Ric Flair. The issue boiled down to Flair seeing himself as one of, if not the single greatest wrestler and biggest wrestling star of his generation, while Bischoff wrote him off as secondary to talents like Hulk Hogan.
Bischoff and Flair went at each other with varying degrees of aggression and directness over the years, but one of the nastiest moments came about when Bischoff addressed the locker room, and suggested that no one there had ever drawn a dime except for Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper. The claim was a huge slap in the face to all of WCW’s loyal, home grown talent, and Flair in particular. While it’s arguable Hogan and Piper outdrew him, it’s laughable to say he’d never drawn at all.
12 Chris Jericho Saw His Royalties Get Stolen
In his first book A Lion’s Tale, Chris Jericho chronicled his life prior to arriving in WWE. Included in his account was a recollection of his dissatisfaction while working with WCW, including going largely overlooked, and not afforded opportunities to shine. Amidst his many frustrations and gearing up to leave the company behind, Jericho recalled a specific incident far away from the ring or even the locker room, buying an action figure of himself.
Jericho observed that the toy rung up as a Hulk Hogan action figure, meaning that he could only assume Hogan got royalty payments for this and thousands of other sales across the country. It was an additional strike against WCW and added to his sense of feeling disrespected in not just high profile instances, but also these small, petty ways.
11 Bret Hart Couldn’t Get Anyone To Believe He Was Really Hurt
Bret Hart is remembered fondly by fans as one of the top wrestlers of all time, but most of those positive memories came from his time with WWE. While, on paper, his WCW tenure was a success including world title reigns and a Starrcade main event, in reality, he was miserable there and largely felt misused.
Beyond creative and political differences, Hart got hurt during his time with WCW. In a match with Goldberg, Hart suffered a stiff kick to the head, worsened by his signature ring post figure four leglock going wrong, and hitting his head on the floor, too. These injuries would ultimately wind up to be career ending (aside from his brief, protected stints back with WWE a decade later). As Hart recounted in his book, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, he had an infuriatingly hard time getting anyone in WCW to believe he was really hurt when so many talents were playing hurt to get time off or avoid doing jobs. Worse yet, he had an incredibly hard time cashing in on his Lloyds of London insurance policy because they, too, were suspicious of pro wrestlers feigning injuries to make money.
10 Sid Vicious And Arn Anderson's Fight Almost Turns Lethal
In 1993, Sid Vicious was a featured player with WCW and its generally agreed that he was on a path to turn face and main event Starrcade opposite Vader. However, Sid got in a hotel bar argument with Arn Anderson. Sid claimed Flair was overrated and held down younger talents who should be making main event money, while Anderson stood up for his long-time friend.
Things took a nasty turn when the two got physical upstairs at the hotel. Exact details vary, but the fight included Anderson wielding a broken chair and Sid grabbing a pair of scissors that he used to stab Anderson multiple times and send him to the hospital. Not only did this erase the biggest push of Sid’s career to date, but it sent him packing from WCW for a period of years.
9 Rip Rogers Took Bathroom Humor To The Next Level
Speaking of Sid, some of his colleagues claim that he had a tendency to rib and bully the locker room. While Rip Rogers may not be nearly as memorable of a star—he was mostly a lower card job guy in WCW—he does have hold the unlikely accolade of getting Sid back on behalf of the locker room.
The story goes that Rogers mashed up chocolate candy bars, pretended they were human excrement and physically chased Sid out of the locker room with them. The idea that someone really might chase another person with feces in his hands speaks volumes about the culture of WCW backstage at the time. Regardless, the incident earned Rogers some respect from his peers. Today, he’s employed by WWE, working as a trainer at the Performance Center.
8 Nobody Told The British Bulldog About A Trapdoor
Davey Boy Smith bounced between WCW and WWE during the 1990s in pursuit of better money and a better spot on the card. His last run with WCW may well have ruined his career, however, as he worked the Fall Brawl 1998 pay per view and performed in a mid-card match before The Ultimate Warrior made a grand entrance later in the night during the main event.
There was a trap door in the ring, to facilitate Warrior mysteriously appearing later on. Purportedly, no one told Bulldog about the trap door and thus he took a big bump right on it and badly hurt his back. While he would eventually return to the ring, most agree that Smith was never the same after this nasty injury that resulted from poor communication.
7 Kevin Nash Decided Not To Job To The Giant
Starrcade 1997 is on the short list of most hotly anticipated PPVs in wrestling history. Yes, the showdown between Sting and Hulk Hogan sold the big event in and of itself. There was also a great deal of intrigue, however, attached to a big man clash between The Giant and Kevin Nash. This was a case of two seven footers with big star power and reasonable in ring talent, and felt like a more than worthy secondary featured match to help bolster the huge show.
The Giant was reportedly supposed to go over in the match, until Kevin Nash didn’t report for work. Nash’s defenders claimed he had a medical issue come up with his heart and legitimately couldn’t work. Cynics claimed that Big Sexy had made the unprofessional choice not to come to work because he didn’t want to work. In more recent shoot interviews, Nash has given more clarity on the situation—that he ate some pot brownies two days before the show, had a bad reaction, and had the doctor on duty misdiagnose him as having a heart problem. Thus, he places the blame now not on himself, nor on his health, but on an incompetent medical professional.
6 Trainers Got Rough With The Women
Before she was a featured Diva for WWE, Torrie Wilson was among the highest profile women of WCW. Given her work with both companies, and being one of a relatively small number of female performers to have been employed by both, she was situated to have some real insight as to differences between how the two promotions operated.
Chief among the differences Wilson spoke to in shoot interviews was that WWE personnel was much kinder. In contrast, she spoke of her experience with WCW and claimed that wrestling trainers would get quite rough with women they were preparing for the ring. While there is a tradition of mentors giving rookies a beating to toughen them up for the ring, male trainers doing so with young women in the context of a national wrestling promotion does not reflect well on WCW’s legacy.
5 Ric Flair Was Cast As Hulk Hogan And Vader’s Fall Guy
As referenced earlier, there were times in WCW history when Ric Flair was devalued. Before things reached a fever pitch between him and Eric Bischoff, the company took advantage of Flair’s willingness to do what was right for business.
Hulk Hogan was still in his first year with the company when he defended the world title against Vader. The old concept of Hogan fending off a monster heel had worked well enough in the past, and had some promise given that Vader was a well above average worker, particularly for someone who probably could have gotten a spot on the roster based on his size and strength alone. Hogan was committed to getting the better of The Mastodon time and again, while Vader allegedly put his foot down about not wanting to lose to the Hulkster in rematches after their initial one-on-one collision. The logic goes that one loss was doing business, but repeated losses could devalue Vader as a kayfabe character in the longer run.
In the end, neither man gave in, and when Hogan and Vader squared off in a strap match, Hogan would wind up pinning Flair to win the match. The outcome was preposterous because not only could strap matches not end by pin, but Flair was not even a participant in it. The moment demonstrated the lack of focused control in WCW, and a willingness to be nasty to Flair and his kayfabe record, just because he was willing to do what he was told.
4 Arn Anderson Got Blamed When Buff Bagwell Got Creative
Arn Anderson is well respected as an agent these days, and reportedly put in charge of plotting out a lot of major matches, including a lot of John Cena’s best outings. He got started in the agent role back in WCW, where he helped put together matches there as he phased out of his own wrestling career.
In the dying days of WCW, Anderson got into trouble in his backstage role. Details vary depending on who’s telling the story, but the jist of it is that Buff Bagwell and potentially others went into business for themselves by cutting unapproved promos before they wrestled. It wasn’t so much the content of the promos that caused a problem, but the time they ate up and the way they disrupted the flow of the show. Rather than punishing the wrestlers who purportedly went rogue, Anderson got heat for not laying down the law with talent and making it clear what they needed to do. This nasty little power play was widely regarded as misguided and hurtful to a well-liked legend of the business.
3 Dustin Rhodes And Barry Darsow Decided For Themselves To Get Color
For the first half of the 1990s, Dustin Rhodes was an upper mid-card face who many believed was getting groomed for an eventual main event role. Things changed when Hulk Hogan arrived, and called for the company to bring in his friends and former colleagues. Rhodes saw his stock fall, culminating in a rivalry with The Blacktop Bully, portrayed by Barry Darsow.
While Darsow was a very capable wrestler the feud demonstrated the degree to which Rhodes had stalled out in the mid-card since Hogan’s arrival. The program reached a nadir with their King of the Road Match at Uncensored 1995, that saw them fight in the back of moving truck in horribly filmed monstrosity of a pre-taped fight in which the degree of daylight fluctuated outside the truck, making it obvious the match was live. The match itself was pretty awful, too, given the two were working in an environment that made it all but impossible for them to put on a good match. Rhodes and Darsow made their own decision to get color during the match in an effort to add some drama. The blood wasn’t enough to save the match and, worse yet, the violent and unapproved choice reportedly led to both men’s employment being terminated.
2 Hulk Hogan Sabotaged The Starrcade 1997 Main Event
Starrcade 1997 featured the hotly anticipated Sting vs. Hulk Hogan showdown that WCW had done a nice job of building over the course of over a year of programming. The build included keeping Sting out of the ring and off the mic, but rather stalking shows from the rafters, only to occasionally drop down for electric moments of spooking or actually beating down the New World Order.
A lot went down for this match. Sting reportedly showed up out of shape. Moreover, the arrival of Bret Hart split WCW’s attention and led them to feel the need to build in a screw job finish to their own main event to build off of the much publicized Montreal Screwjob Hart had suffered through a month earlier in WWE. The finish would see referee Nick Patrick fast-count Sting on a pin so he’d be screwed into losing the big match.
The resulting match was a bad one, that Hogan purportedly made worse. Whether he was looking out for this own character, or legitimately frustrated by Sting’s physical shape, rumors abound that he talked to referee Nick Patrick to at least confuse, if not outright sabotage the match. The story goes that Hogan advised Patrick not to do the fast count, but rather a regular one so that it appeared he really had cleanly pinned Sting. Whether it were directly Hogan’s fault, or some combination of Patrick or Sting messed up, Hogan did pin Sting decisively, only for Hart to still call foul and get the rematch so Sting could win anything but decisive fashion, ruining what should have been a great moment.
1 Eric Bischoff Tried To Bully Mick Foley
Eric Bischoff never fully got Mick Foley. Shortly before Bischoff took control, Cactus Jack came in to run a program as one in a series of monsters challenging Sting. Under the regime, Foley briefly got some shine as a challenger to Vader but putting on some fun violent matches, he was relegated to the tag team ranks for the rest of his tenure with the company.
It was no surprise when WCW let Foley go. It was more of a surprise when Foley not only carried on with his career, but reached new heights, first as part of ECW, then as part of WWE as Mankind. Foley’s ascension culminated in him winning his first world title on a pre-taped episode of Raw.
Bischoff had gotten in the habit of feeding Raw results to his announce team to spoil the show and keep fans from switching off WCW Nitro to watch WWE’s product. This mean-spirited strategy was largely successful, until the night of Foley’s big win, when Bischoff reportedly directed Schiavone to make light of Foley winning the title to disparage the WWE product. It was a nasty move to belittle a former employee, but Bischoff got his just desserts as fans took up for Foley, reportedly turning the Raw en masse to watch the title change go down, hurting WCW’s ratings for the night and exposing a segement of additional fans to the more exciting product that WWE had to offer.
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