The golden era of wrestling has earned that name not because it’s the oldest era of wrestling, but because it was a truly magical time that some consider to be the best ever. The exact timeframe for the golden era varies slightly based on who you ask, but it’s generally agreed that the period between the late ‘70s and ‘80s constitute the fabled time period. This was an era of legendary stars putting on legendary matches in front of thousands of fans every night. The business was booming and there were no signs of anything slowing down anytime soon. It was a magical time.
Just because the golden era was magical, though, doesn’t mean that harsh realities didn’t diminish its brilliance slightly. At this time, it was generally accepted that the wrestling business was a wild place filled with sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. While promoters did what they could to hide the worst stuff from the general public, the backstage of a wrestling show wasn’t big enough to contain the insanity that sometimes occurred in it. Years later, we found out that the backstage area not only played host to some of the most incredible wrestling stories you’ll ever hear, but also some rather disturbing ones that the people involved probably prefer you didn’t. These are the 15 disturbing stories from wrestling’s golden era.
15. Hulk Hogan Screws Over Bret Hart So He Can Promote Mr. Nanny
Going into WrestleMania IX, Vince McMahon was worried about WWE’s future. Following the steroid trial, WWE had to part ways with many of their former stars and was relying on a new generation of smaller wrestlers. Fans were trying to get used to the changes. Still, Vince was committed having Bret Hart beat the monster heel Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX in order to establish him as a fighting champion. That is until Hulk Hogan stepped in. Hogan had no intentions of staying with WWE for long, but he convinced Vince that he could captivate fans by letting Yokozuna beat Bret so that Hogan could beat Yokozuna for the title. In reality, Hogan just wanted to win the title in order to get some free publicity for his upcoming film, Mr. Nanny. Bret’s career was the only thing standing in his way.
14. Mary Jannetty Ruins Two WrestleMania Matches Because Of His Behavior Problems
Speaking of ruining WrestleManias, let’s talk about Marty Jannetty. Some of you will no doubt remember when Shawn Michaels threw Jannetty through a window and turned heel right before Royal Rumble 1992. Have you ever wondered why WWE never let those two settle their rivalry at WrestleMania VIII? Well, it’s because Jannetty attacked a police officer, was sentenced to six months of house arrest, and had to miss WrestleMania VIII. Vince then got the idea to have them settle the score at WrestleMania IX in a match for the Intercontinental Championship. However, when Jannetty returned in early 1993 in order to wrestle a preliminary match against Michaels at the 1993 Royal Rumble, he was reportedly so intoxicated that WWE had to suspend him. The two would finally settle their rivalry on Monday Night Raw.
13. Shane McMahon Drunkenly Hit On Bret Hart’s Wife
By all accounts, Shane McMahon is a good guy. Those who worked in the ring with him have always spoken highly of him, and he seems to have a lot of friends in the wrestling business in general. Of course, Shane has been working in the wrestling business for most of his life. Shane worked in WWE as an administrator and referee when he was very young meaning that he often travelled with the boys. One night, Shane went to a bar some wrestlers liked to go to when they were in town. Shane has a few too many and started to hit on a woman that was clearly having none of it. However, the woman approached him later in the night. This time, though, she was accompanied by her husband, Bret Hart. Bret and Shane ended up in a small fight shortly thereafter.
12. Rick Rude And Andre The Giant Beat Up The Ultimate Warrior For Working Too Stiff
The Ultimate Warrior had a bit of an attitude problem when he was younger. Along with refusing to put other wrestlers over, Warrior would sometimes refuse to work with people he was booked to beat. This led to him getting beat up pretty bad on a couple of occasions. While working with Rick Rude, Rude informed Warrior that if he didn’t stop actually hitting him, he was going to knock Warrior out. Warrior didn’t stop hitting Rude, and Rude slapped Warrior to the ground backstage. Another time, Bobby Heenan warned Warrior backstage that he needed to stop hitting Andre the Giant so hard with his running clotheslines. Because Warrior refused to do so, Andre decided to stick his fist out one night during a house show and let Warrior run right into it. Warrior learned his lesson shortly thereafter.
11. Dynamite Kid Swapped Davey Boy Smith’s Steroids With Milk
Steroids and ‘80s wrestling locker rooms go together like Shawn Michaels matches and nearfalls. You can’t fairly say that everyone was on steroids in the old days, but it is safe to say that many wrestlers who looked like they were on steroids really were. Well, one of the biggest steroid abusers was “Dynamite Kid” Tom Billington. Billington not only loved to do steroids, he loved to get other wrestlers started on them as well. As bad as that is, Billington’s sense of humor about steroid usage is somehow even worse.
On at least one occasion, Billington replaced Davey Boy Smith’s steroid syringe with milk. This prank was not only cruel, but it could have easily turned deadly. Then again, what did you expect from a guy who supposedly would repeatedly break steroid needles against his own, toughened skin.
10. Jacques Rougeau Allegedly Put A Mafia Hit Out On Dynamite Kid
Speaking of Tom Billington, it’s really worth emphasizing that very few people actually liked the guy. However, some wrestlers hated him more than others. This was especially true of wrestlers who didn’t have any patience for his antics. That includes Jacques Rougeau. If you’re not familiar with Jacques, he was a member of the Rougeau brothers tag-team and a well known legitimate tough guy. Even though Rougeau legitimately knocked out Billington with a roll of quarters one night, Billington persisted and kept on being himself.
Eventually, Rougeau decided he couldn’t take any more and allegedly decided to call in a favor with the Montreal Mafia. Yes, Rougeau apparently had ties with organized crime and threatened to put a hit out on Billington if he didn’t immediately leave the WWE. Billington left the WWE shortly thereafter.
9. Jake Roberts And Kevin Sullivan Almost Kill Themselves With Flour And Eggs
This isn’t necessarily the most disturbing story on this list, but it will give you a good idea of how wrestlers liked to kill time on the road. While working the territories, Jake Roberts liked to travel with Kevin Sullivan and Jimmy Garvin due to their shared sense of humor. One time, Jimmy Garvin was the most sober of the trio so he drove while Roberts and Sullivan rode in the car. For reasons unknown, Sullivan and Roberts had access to a large amount of flour and eggs. They decided to start throwing them at Garvin while he drove. At some point, the concoction actually started to form dough which filled up the car and got stuck under the pedals. Remarkably, the trio survived their practical joke.
8. Macho Man Would Lock Elizabeth Away
This is a pretty well-known story, but it is disturbing nonetheless. As many of you may know, Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth were a real-life married couple for years. As you no doubt also know, touring the world with professional wrestlers can sometimes lead to all manners of unfortunate incidents. To help ensure that none of these incidents happened to his wife, Randy apparently put Elizabeth under lock and key. That’s not an expression; he would literally lock her up in the back whenever she wasn’t accompanying him. The degree of Randy’s obsession with protecting Elizabeth varies based on who is telling the story, but some go so far as to say that Randy would never let Elizabeth out of his sight so long as he could help it and that he was prone to violent outbursts over people talking to her.
7. Art Barr’s Disturbing Sexual Assault Allegation Derails His Career
If the name Art Barr sounds familiar, that’s probably because you’re an Eddie Guerrero fan. Guerrero and Barr used to team together in the early ‘90s, but before then, Barr was a huge singles star. In fact, some believed that WWE and WCW were in a bidding war over who was going to bring Barr in. So why isn’t Barr remembered more as a singles star? Well, it has something to do with the allegation that he raped a 19-year-old girl in 1989. Barr always stated that he was innocent, but he did take a plea deal instead of going to trial. Apparently, Barr was told that a losing trial would hurt him and the promotions he worked for more than a plea deal would have. Regardless, Barr’s career was forever affected.
6. José González Stabs Bruiser Brody To Death
This is one of the most well-known and most disturbing backstage wrestling stories of this particular era. It began in the mid-80s when young Bruiser Brody was touring the wrestling world. Many referred to Brody as one of the best big men of his ear and a bonafide future star. Brody was so popular, in fact, that he was asked to work the notoriously difficult Puerto Rico territories. During an event in Puerto Rico, booker José González asked to see Brody in the back. Nearby wrestlers heard screaming shortly thereafter and rushed in to find that Brody had been stabbed several times. Tony Atlas claims to have seen González holding a knife. Paramedics were unable to save Brody and he died shortly thereafter. González was never formally convicted of the crime due partially to severe mismanagement by Puerto Rican courts.
5. The Ultimate Warrior Snubs A Make-A-Wish Kid
We’re really not trying to throw dirt on The Ultimate Warrior’s grave, but you have to understand that the guy was one of the most disliked wrestlers in WWE history. The Ultimate Warrior didn’t care about the politics of wrestling or making connections. Honestly, he really didn’t care who he upset. According to some shocking stories, that includes Make-A-Wish children. In his book, Bret Hart recalls a time when a Make-A-Wish child was brought backstage to meet his hero, The Ultimate Warrior. While the kid got to meet just about every other wrestler, Warrior refused to come out of his private dressing room to meet him. Bret then states that someone apparently asked the kid to move out of the way so that The Warrior could make his way to the ring that night.
4. Andre The Giant’s Rampant Racism
Depending on who you ask, racism in wrestling was apparently quite common in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Some will go so far as to say that racism prevented certain wrestlers from ever getting the opportunities they deserved. Others just claim that there was a casual air of racism that hung over the locker room. One of the most notorious supposed racists in the wrestling world was Andre the Giant. Apparently, Giant wasn’t violently racist but racism was one of his favorite forms of humor. Two of Andre’s favorite targets were Bad News Brown and Kamala. He reportedly tore into Bad News Brown so bad one night on a bus ride that Brown demanded the bus be pulled over so he could fight Andre. Andre backed down. As for Kamala, The Ugandan Giant apparently pulled a gun on Andre one night when he finally got fed up with his rampant racism.
3. Scott Hall Killed A Man Outside A Nightclub
This actually happened shortly before Scott Hall really began his wrestling career in earnest, but for years, this was one of wrestling’s most notorious urban legends. That is until Scott Hall told the story himself during an ESPN interview. According to Hall, he was at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida in 1983 where he and another man got into an altercation. The man met Hall outside of the nightclub and pulled a gun on him. Hall was always a pretty tough and very athletic guy, so he was able to wrestle the gun away from his assailant. However, during the struggle, Hall shot the man dead. Police investigated the incident, but ended up having to drop the charges due to a lack of evidence. Hall cites this as one of his darkest moments.
2. Jim Cornette’s Infamous Banana Tape
Here’s another famous wrestling urban legend, but this one has never technically been proven. The story goes that Jim Cornette apparently enjoyed visiting dominatrixes while he travelled the country. During one of these visits, he apparently decided to film his session. This particular dominatrix decided to use a banana to…we’ll let you use your imagination on that one. Apparently, someone else got ahold of this tape and decided to show it to everyone they could find. Vince McMahon supposedly caught wind of the story and thought that it was the funniest thing he had ever heard. As the story goes, Vince demanded that the WWE production team sneak bananas onto any set that Jim Cornette was shooting on or to otherwise wave bananas at him from behind the scenes.
1. The Legend Of Dusty Rhodes’ Dirty Muffler
For millions of wrestling fans, Dusty Rhodes is a bonafide legend. He was the ultimate blue collar wrestler and one of the best examples of how personality overcomes all in terms of wrestling stardom. Some of the Rhodes worked with, however, remember the man in different ways. To them, he was a friend, a mentor, and an inspiration. Of course, some simply remember Dusty as one of the nastiest men to ever step into a wrestling ring. Yes, popular wrestling folklore states that Dusty was not a very hygienic person and that he wasn’t fond of showering as regularly as he should have. So what did Dusty do instead? Well, according to wrestler John Nord, he would apparently stuff a towel-like item known as a muffler into his pants to soak up the worst of the mess. Apparently, Rhodes’ “muffler” fell into the ring one night during a house show. Nord describes it as the most disgusting thing he had ever seen.
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