In professional wrestling, sensationalized accounts of backstage stories come with the territory. As fans, we are now blessed to live in an age where kayfabe has outlived its welcome and this allows us the opportunity to peer behind the half-open curtain. However, there has always been a common perception that the WWE only allows us to see what it wants us to see. And they may have good reason for doing so. The professional wrestling industry has been tainted over the years with allegations of corruption, misogyny, bullying and a long list of wrestler deaths attributed to drug abuse, suicide and even murder.
Hidden within these murky waters are several stories that remain curiously unfinished. Storylines that mysteriously ended, unexplained wrestler deaths and WWE’s refusal to acknowledge certain stars of their past. The great treasure chest of secrets that is held by Vince McMahon and those closest to him would fill enough pages for several complete novels. The WWE is stranger than fiction in many ways and these secrets have led fans to hypothesise their own theories regarding some of the confusing happenings in the company.
The following article will highlight some of the most grandiose and seemingly ridiculous fan theories abound. These speculative ideas are so outrageous that in the spirit of wrestling being stranger than fiction, they could quite conceivably be true. Perhaps there are only small granules of truth contained within this list, but nonetheless it makes for jaw-dropping reading. Enjoy the weird and wonderful world of professional wrestling at its finest as you read on!
15 There Were Two Ultimate Warriors
One of the oldest rumours doing the rounds is that there were two Ultimate Warriors. The theory goes that Jim Hellwig, the original Warrior, had died after he left the company in 1991. He had been granted his release after demanding more money, but he returned to WrestleMania the following year. When he returned his appearance was notably different. Gone were the Adonis-esque physical features, he appeared to have lost his tan, his hairstyle was drastically different and perhaps most inexplicably, his wrestling skills had actually worsened!
This less physically impressive Warrior was thought to be the replacement for Hellwig (who actually died in 2014) and would remain with the company until his second departure. Did the man known as Jim Hellwig pull an incredible ruse by living with another man’s identity for the duration of his career? Or did his appearance change simply because he’d stopped using steroids? Probably the latter, but you never know.
14 The Shockmaster Set-Up
If you’ve never seen the debut of the infamous Shockmaster, do yourself a favour and jump on YouTube right now. Undoubtedly the most memorable WCW debut of all time for all the wrong reasons, the Shockmaster certainly lived up to his name. The gimmick had been assigned to former WWE wrestler Tugboat/Typhoon, and he was set to debut by bursting through a wall wearing a glitter-clad Stormtrooper helmet. Weird, right? Well, the story goes that David Crockett, a WCW executive at the time, thought so too.
It is rumoured that after rehearsals had gone well, Crockett decided to sabotage the performance by adding an extra plank of wood to the set, thus sending the Shockmaster flying through the air as he tripped over said plank. This theory definitely seems more plausible and regardless of its legitimacy, the incident itself will never be forgotten.
13 WWE Are Part Of The Illuminati
The internet is awash with videos and blog posts trying to link the WWE to the fictional (or not) group known as The Illuminati. This organisation is supposedly made up of the most powerful people in the world and control just about every world event that you can imagine. The group is also famous for its imagery, most notably an eye placed inside a triangle.
Several observers point to WWE’s use of Illuminati imagery including the reverse triangles created by the logo and more obviously, the explicit use of the logo on the Ascension’s ring gear. According to these conspiracy theorists, WrestleMania 31 was absolutely teeming with Illuminati imagery and was designed to put us all back in our place! Well if the Illuminati does exist, it wouldn’t be all that unbelievable if Vince McMahon was a part of it!
12 Vince Russo Infiltrated WCW
Vince Russo remains a highly controversial figure in professional wrestling history, now sitting on the periphery of the business clinging to any chance he has of relevance. At one time, though, he was more relevant than anyone else in the industry. Seen by many as the architect of the Attitude Era in WWE, he was sent packing after his ideas became too far-fetched, or after he found WWE's work schedule too demanding, depending on whom you ask. He found his way to the already sinking ship that was WCW and proceeded to run the company even further into the ground. Not only did he anoint himself as World Champion at one point, he even put the big gold belt on actor David Arquette.
With so many bad decisions under his belt while at the helm of WCW, many theorists believe that Russo was planted in the company by Vince McMahon. While there is every chance that this could have a grain of truth to it, the stronger likelihood is that Russo’s crazy imagination got the better of him and he had nobody telling him to stop before it was too late.
11 Vince Secretly Owned ECW
This particular theory has some legs to it. Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman have both confirmed that Vince aided ECW financially during its surge in popularity and in return, Heyman offered a steady stream of talent that WWE could pick from in order to boost their edgier roster. This has led many to speculate that Vince actually secretly owned ECW and helped to push the company in order to create even more substantial competition for WCW.
Further to this, it’s rumoured that ECW were never truly bankrupt and that Heyman simply relinquished his managerial duties of the organisation following WWE’s purchase of WCW in 2001. While there are several reasons to doubt this theory, it is certainly one of the more believable on this list.
10 Chyna Was Fired Because Of Stephanie McMahon
The sad story of the late Chyna is soon to be released in a documentary shot before her death. After her release from the company in 2001, she cut a sorry figure far removed from the Amazonian goddess she had portrayed on screen and in ring. Several poor decisions led her down a path of financial and personal ruin and many attribute this to the way she left the company in 2001.
Prior to her release, Chyna and Triple H were engaged to be married. Only Triple H had been having a secret affair with Stephanie McMahon for over a year. Upon finding out, Vince chose to release Chyna and approve the relationship of his daughter and Triple H. Hunter’s despicable actions only led to him now finding himself sitting as the heir to the company, while Chyna was consigned to a life filled with sadness and depression prior to her untimely passing.
9 Bret Hart Had An Affair With Sunny
They say never meet your heroes. And in the case of professional wrestlers that couldn’t be truer as a faithful pro wrestler is rarer than hen’s teeth. Bret Hart admitted in his book that he had repeatedly cheated on his now ex-wife while on the road, but he insists that one of his affairs hadn’t been with former WWE diva, Sunny. In fact, Sunny has corroborated this in her comments over the years too.
The theory is drawn from comments made by Shawn Michaels during his brutal verbal feud with The Hitman, when he alleged that Bret had been enjoying some “Sunny Days.” Of course, taking a promo at face value is usually a mistake, but there’s no doubt that this could have occurred given Bret’s history of infidelity.
8 The Montreal Screwjob Was A Work
The Montreal Screwjob is the most talked-about incident in professional wrestling history. In one fell swoop, it ushered in the death of kayfabe, the birth of the Attitude Era and the elevation of three men to become the biggest names in the industry. Of course, all good wrestling fans know the story of how Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels conspired to screw Bret Hart out of the WWE Championship prior to his departure to WCW. But what many may not know is that many observers believe that Hart was in on the plot too and it was an elaborate work.
There are convincing arguments for this being a work given how it positively affected the careers of all involved in the immediate aftermath. But the utter disgust and anger displayed by Hart makes this questionable. It’s a possibility that he was in on it, but even if he was, its likely he wasn’t best pleased about it.
7 Vince McMahon Had An Affair With HBK
One of the stranger rumours that has circulated the interwebs for many years is the theory that Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon were engaged in a homosexual affair for many years. Now Vince has openly commented on his infidelity over the years, but his affairs have always been rumoured to have taken place with young female company employees. Several conspiracy theorists, including former wrestlers such as the late Road Warrior Hawk, have commented that HBK and Vince had a “special” relationship.
This could, of course, be jealousy manifesting itself in an ugly rumour, as many failed to understand why HBK was allowed to get away with such bad behaviour during the late nineties and how he was pushed to the top of the card at a time when larger wrestlers were still preferred. While the rumour certainly isn’t impossible, it’s likely that this is just a story created by wrestlers jealous of the success achieved by HBK.
6 Scott Hall And Kevin Nash Were Sent To Destroy WCW
Similar to the story of Vince Russo being used as a plant to bring down the curtain on WCW, this theory claims that the whole process was started when Kevin Nash and Scott Hall left WWE for WCW. When the two joined their biggest competitors, many believed that they had simply jumped at the mega bucks on offer. However, there is a compelling theory that Nash and Hall were sent to WCW by Vince in order to destroy the company from within.
The formation of the nWo marked the first step in WCW’s eventual demise, and while the gimmick was initially the most successful in pro wrestling history, it eventually became a parody of itself. The extensive creative control handed to Hall and Nash during this time and their outrageous booking decisions have long been the basis for arguments suggesting that this was all a long-term plan used by Vince to topple his opposition.
5 HBK Fought Tommy Lee From Motley Crue
Shawn Michaels' attitude issues during his initial run at the top of the WWE card are well documented, but one particular incident involving HBK reveals that it wasn’t only his fellow wrestlers that he rubbed up the wrong way. At WrestleMania XI, Michaels was set to face Diesel, who was being escorted to the ring by Pamela Anderson.
At the time, Anderson was dating Motley Crue drummer, Tommy Lee, who was reportedly involved in a backstage altercation with Michaels. Apparently, HBK had been attempting to woo Anderson backstage using his wily charms and Lee took exception to this. He attacked HBK from behind and had to be restrained by Sycho Sid. Rumours persist that there was something going on between HBK and Anderson, but nothing has ever been confirmed.
4 William Regal Was Fired By WCW Because Of Goldberg
Bill Goldberg’s undefeated streak in WCW during 1998 was one of the biggest factors in keeping the company relevant at the time. All this was despite the fact that Goldberg was incredibly green in the ring and only partook in two-minute squash matches. This all changed on an episode of Nitro when he was faced with veteran wrestler, William Regal (then known as Steven Regal).
Despite the match initially being booked as a standard Goldberg squash match, Regal decided to teach the young upstart a lesson or two and engaged Bill in some very technical wrestling. This caused an awkward match that seemed too “real” for television. Following the match, Regal was fired by WCW and many speculated that it was due to him “un-squashing” himself against the company’s golden boy. While this probably didn’t help his cause, in reality he was fired due to his substance abuse issues.
3 Bruiser Brody's Murder Was Covered Up
Bruiser Brody was a much-loved wrestler in the eighties and despite being notoriously difficult to work with, he was regularly booked all over the world. In 1988, he was brutally murdered prior to a match in Puerto Rico when, he was stabbed to death by Jose Gonzalez in the locker room showers. The end of the incident was witnessed by American wrestlers Tony Atlas and Dutch Mantel, who both provided police statements following the murder.
Unbelievably, Gonzalez was acquitted of the murder despite having admitted his guilt in the years since the incident. None of the American wrestlers who witnessed the event were called to testify during the trial. Many believe that they were upholding the industry’s code of silence and this led to the non-acknowledgement of Bruiser’s murder.
2 Kevin Sullivan Murdered Chris Benoit And His Family
There is a long-standing theory among some wrestling fans that Chris Benoit is in fact innocent of the crimes committed in 2007. The darkest day in professional wrestling history remains fresh in the memory when the bodies of Benoit and his wife, Nancy and son, Daniel, were discovered. The police findings immediately pointed to Benoit having murdered his family prior to committing suicide.
Many fans still cling to some hope that this former icon was somehow set up and was part of an elaborately staged scene in which he was a victim, just like his family. The theory suggests that the whole family was murdered by Nancy’s ex-husband, Kevin Sullivan, who actually booked the angle in WCW that led to her leaving him for Benoit. Supporters of this theory point to Sullivan’s supposed Satanic beliefs and the fact that he could have organised hitmen to carry out the job for him. While this scenario seems highly unlikely, it's stirred up enough debate that the producers of the proposed biopic on Benoit were even considering this as an ending to their movie.
1 Macho Man Randy Savage And Stephanie McMahon's Alleged Affair
Our last conspiracy theory has hung around the wrestling dirt sheets and forums for many years. Firstly it was used to justify Vince McMahon’s blacklisting of Macho Man Randy Savage and latterly it was used to explain his non-induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Savage was, of course, posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015, four years after his death.
The theory is that Savage had an intimate relationship with Stephanie McMahon prior to her being of legal age. This is said to have lasted until Stephanie was 17 years old. Once Vince found out, Savage was unceremoniously thrown out of the company and famously blacklisted for many years by the company that made him famous. This rumour has persisted for so long that there has to at least be an element of truth to it, but as with so many baffling pro wrestling tales and Savage no longer with us, we will likely never know the full story.