Professional wrestling is an astonishingly profitable type of sports entertainment. Vince McMahon’s organization is a form of theatrical performance art with elaborate storylines, choreographed matches and predetermined outcomes. Hence, often given a gimmick, each scrappers’ future is largely crafted by WWE’s creative team. Famous rasslin’ personality Jim Cornette discussed the importance of a grappler embracing and owning their scripted personality.
“There's only one foolproof lie detector, and that's your face,” said Cornette.
“If YOU don't believe what you're saying on TV, it shows on your face, and nobody else will believe you either. In wrestling, it doesn't matter WHAT you say, the viewers just have to believe you mean it.”
WWE Hall of Famer Edge agreed with Cornette and cited Mark Calaway’s portrayal of The Undertaker as an example of an individual who perfected his character.
"On paper, does The Undertaker [gimmick] sound like something that will go on to be undefeated at WrestleMania for like 22 years, and be the tent pole holding up the company at certain times, and kind of the measuring stick within the [pro] wrestling industry, more or less, the new Andre The Giant?" Edge asked rhetorically.
"The thing is too, I honestly believe if it was on anybody but The Undertaker, it would not have worked. It would've had that shelf life, but because he personified it and he embraced it and he became The Undertaker. You just had to look at him. He had everything down, the movements, he had the entrance, and when he did his entrance, people still when they hear that gong, they stand up. It has become this revered character.”
Some gimmicks require a wrestler to behave like an unhinged lunatic. Obviously, for most wrestling professionals, such conduct is strictly a staged act. However, minus kayfabe, these 15 wrestlers are/were truly insane outside of the squared circle.
18 ‘MACHO MAN’ RANDY SAVAGE
The “Macho Man” Randy Savage was a superior performer in the ring. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Savage, a standout baseball player who was employed by the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox farm systems, brought unrivaled intensity to the promotion. Alarmingly, much of that unbridled intensity was genuine and his obsession for his real-life spouse, Miss Elizabeth, was worrisome.
“Honestly, Randy was the most jealous man I had ever met, and it created a real problem,” said George “The Animal” Steele.
“Every night it was something different. Randy’s jealousy was driving him crazy. There were times when he would lock her in the dressing room. Randy was always screaming at somebody.”
Savage, who got into a couple of fistfights with Road Warrior Hawk and allegedly bedded an underage Stephanie McMahon, died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 58 in May 2011.
The WWE said that Chyna left "a lasting legacy as the most dominant female competitor of all time.” Nicknamed “The Ninth Wonder of the World,” the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Chyna was an industry trailblazer and original member of D-Generation X. Sadly, despite her countless achievements, Chyna was an irreparably damaged person. Chyna battled severe mental illness and couldn’t conquer her addiction to drugs and alcohol. Chyna, a porn star who reportedly once stripped naked and dove into a fish tank in a New York nightclub, died from her dependencies at the age of 46 in April 2016.
“It’s one of the most disheartening illustrations I’ve ever seen of what mental illness and drug abuse can do to a person,” WWE Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Ross said. “The saddest part is that, at her core, Joanie Laurer was a very loving, sweet person—a gentle soul. She just couldn’t overcome her demons.”
16 ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER
Abdullah the Butcher, an April 2011 WWE Hall of Fame inductee, was a hardcore icon who infamously bladed to create bloodbaths in the squared circle. An unsightly, obese mess of a human being, the 6-foot, 330-pound Butcher allegedly contracted the Hepatitis C virus.
“For decades, Larry Shreve has played the blood-lusting Abdullah the Butcher, a maniac psychotic enough to qualify as a Canadian-born Hitler, another Fuehrer,” said Billy Graham.
“The Butcher, who is Hepatitis C positive, is currently facing allegations of negligence, assault and battery in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice stemming from an unsanitary blade assault in a 2007 professional wrestling match.”
Mick Foley claims that the scars on The Butcher’s forehead are so deep that he playfully hides gambling chips in them.
15 THE IRON SHEIK
The Iron Sheik was one of professional wrestling’s premier heels throughout the 1980s. The 6-foot, 258-pound Sheik elicited jeers as a proud Iranian who constantly decried the United States. A legitimate badass who oversaw security for Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his family, the one-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion is now an absolute loon. In fact, The Iron Sheik’s Twitter account provides keen insights into his shaky psyche.
“North Korea you are punk you are jabroni,” tweeted The Sheik, 75, who once ignited a riot at a wrestling show while tripping on mushrooms.
“I can beat the f*** out of you forever because you have a rice crispy d***. Have a good day.”
In addition to detesting Kim Jong-un and his murderous regime, The Sheik also has an intense dislike for Justin Bieber.
“GOODNIGHT @justinbieber F*** YOU TIMES 100000000000,” tweeted The Sheik. “F*** ALL THE #mybeliebers.”
Although The Sheik detests North Korea’s hierarchy and Bieber, he loves watching classic movies.
“Malibu's Most Wanted better movie than the f****** Notebook.”
The muscled Iranian frequently visits The Howard Stern Show to bizarrely rant about a variety of topics.
Sunny was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in April 2011 because she’s deemed the promotion’s first Diva. Sunny, who was trained by Kevin Sullivan, Jim Cornette and her late boyfriend, Chris Candido, also worked for ECW, WCW and Ring of Honor. Once an exceedingly ambitious woman who enrolled in a pre-medical program at the University of Tennessee, Sunny was undone by addictions to drugs and alcohol. Sunny’s dependency became scandalous and she had sexual encounters with dozens of wrestlers in exchange for narcotics.
“There’s so many stories I could tell you about how she disrespected Chris (Candido),” said The Sandman.
“We were on the roof of a club in Miami where she was b****** Raven [while] she just had her hand out for pills.”
Sunny has been charged with fraud, burglary, three DUIs, disorderly conduct, violating a protective order, a parole violation and a handful of other offenses since 2012. Sunny is a gloomy soul who can’t pin her problems.
12 BRUISER BRODY
Bruiser Brody was a fearless hardcore grappler who was mainly loathed for his rebellious and uncooperative attitude. An innovative brawler, the 6-foot-8, 285-pound Brody worked stiffly and constantly bickered with promoters and bookers. Brody’s style created dissension and he had a nasty exchange with fellow wrestler José Huertas González during a card in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 16, 1988. Following their disastrous match, González followed Brody into the locker room and proceeded to stab him twice in the stomach.
“When Brody was lying on the floor bleeding, the guys were just going over their matches like nothing had happened,” said Tony Atlas.
“Brody laid on the floor for about 45 minutes because it was the beginning of the show and the ambulance couldn’t get through the crowd of people. They couldn’t lift the gurney to get him on the ambulance, so they said, ‘Can any of you guys help?’ Every wrestler in that dressing room – including American wrestlers – turned their back. When [the police] asked what happened, everyone in the dressing room said they didn’t see nothing.”
A 42-yearold Brody succumbed to his wounds and, roughly a year later, González was acquitted of murder.
11 BUZZ SAWYER
Known as “Mad Dog,” Buzz Sawyer was fond of using his forehead to hammer nails into locker room doors. The 5-foot-11, 240-pound Sawyer was also a drug abuser who once tried to fight a fleet of police officers outside of a bar and stole money from The Undertaker. Despite being in the midst of a solid wrestling career, Sawyer allegedly moonlighted as a heroin dealer for extra income. Sawyer suffered an overdose and died at the age of 32 in February 1992. However, according to Billy Jack Haynes, Sawyer was actually murdered by rival drug cartel members in the Pacific Northwest.
"When Buzz was clean and sober, he was a great guy,'' said Sawyer’s brother, Brett Woyan.
"If you caught him when he was on drugs and stuff, he was a totally different person. I know he was dangerous. I was around him all the time. On the road and at home."
10 DYNAMITE KID
The Dynamite Kid, born Thomas Billington in Lancashire, England, is a pathetic and miserable person. The Dynamite Kid, who became an industry legend teaming with Davey Boy Smith as The British Bulldogs, is an unabashed racist and bully. Jake “The Snake” Roberts recounted one truly disturbing prank that was pulled by Dynamite.
“But the mean bull**** that some of those guys did, those two guys were the worst,” said Roberts.
“I remember that poor kid in Pennsylvania, man. They were shooting him with air guns and shooting him with steroids and stuff – a mentally retarded kid. The f****** bull***, man.”
Beyond cruel antics, the 5-foot-8, 230-pound Kid also physically assaulted a number of his peers. Most notably, the Dynamite Kid broke Bruce Hart’s jaw with a single punch. The Kid was especially brutish to Jacques Rougeau. Following a verbal spat before a show in Miami Beach, The Kid attacked the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Rougeau. According to Pro Wrestling Stories, “Jacques was minding his own business playing cards in the back. Next thing you know, Dynamite storms in, turns Jacques around and goes off on him. He really beat him up, busting Jacques’ nose wide open.”
8 DICK MURDOCH
Dick Murdoch was a legitimate tough guy and world-class in-ring competitor. On the flipside, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Murdoch was also a violent psychopath and prominent member of the Ku Klux Klan. Murdoch’s bigotry caused backstage heat with multiple wrestlers of various minority groups. The Rock's father, WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, recounted a particularly ugly moment that he experienced while tussling with Murdoch.
"Because he [Murdoch] was KKK and didn't like blacks, he kept kicking me hard and punching me," Johnson said.
"I said, 'you hit me one more time, I'm hitting you back.' He hit me, and I knocked him out."
Murdoch suffered a fatal heart attack and passed away at the age of 49 in June 1996.
7 BALLS MAHONEY
Balls Mahoney was probably clinically insane and he was even considered a misfit in the eccentric world of professional wrestling. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Balls, born Jonathan Rechner in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey, was a hardcore pioneer. Balls, a member of the Church of Satan, forged close friendships with the Insane Clown Posse and was almost universally respected by members of the extreme rasslin’ circuit. Still, Balls had an insatiable propensity for violence and he could snap on a whim. In one instance, Balls was facing “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. Balls and Duggan had practiced their bout and agreed on its details. However, when the bell rang, Duggan refused to let Balls spit an actual fireball at him.
After Duggan purposely botched their first two spots, an infuriated Balls flipped off his foe and vacated the squared circle for the locker room. Balls subsequently retrieved his trusty hunting knife and was prepared to gut Duggan. Concerned co-workers realized the situation’s seriousness and barricaded Balls in a closet until Duggan scurried away from the building. Many workers are convinced that Balls would have killed Duggan that evening if he had an opportunity. Balls suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 44 on April 12, 2016.
6 HARLEY RACE
Harley Race is a storied bruiser who beat polio and cancer and survived a horrific car crash. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Race reportedly possesses fists that resemble cinder blocks. A championship wrestler for multiple promotions, Race once flattened Hulk Hogan in the locker room at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. Unhappy that the WWR was hosting an event in NWA territory, the brief skirmish occurred when Race struck Hogan in the ribs with a blow.
“Harley, I thought the first time I saw you in Kansas City, you’d have a great, big gun,” said Hogan, who was sprawled on the ground and clearly trying to diffuse the situation.
In response to Hogan, Race said, “I don’t have a great, big one.” Race proceeded to brandish, and then aim, a .38-caliber revolver at Hogan. Hogan raced away from the dressing area and rarely discusses the incident.
5 SCOTT STEINER
Scott Steiner was an elite amateur wrestler at the University of Michigan. Shortly after leaving Ann Arbor, the 6-foot-1, 275-pound Steiner began training with Dr. Jerry Graham Jr. to become a professional wrestler. Steiner, a three-time champion who headlined a slew of pay-per-view specials, debuted in the squared circle in 1986. “The Big Bad Booty Daddy” initially seemed relatively “sane” when he teamed with his older brother, Rick, as The Steiner Brothers. However, fueled by enough synthetic testosterone to maim a stable of racehorses, Steiner’s behavior became increasingly erratic.
Steiner got into a backstage verbal altercation with the now ex-wife of Diamond Dallas Page, Kimberly Page. DDP tried to defend Kimberly’s honor and he confronted Steiner. Steiner proceeded to mercilessly pummel the 6-foot-5, 248-pound Page. Thankfully, other wrestlers intervened when Steiner tried to yank Page’s eye out of its socket. Unsurprisingly, Steiner has an extensive rap sheet that includes assault and death threat charges.
Haku, a native of the Kingdom of Tonga, was one of the most frightening and menacing men to ever perform as a professional wrestler. Among incidents, the 6-foot-1, 275-pound Haku decimated five men at an airport in Baltimore and he attempted to gouge out Jimmy Jack Funk’s eye in 1987. Kevin Sullivan was a longstanding grappler and booker in the WCW. Sullivan recalled when he and Meng ventured into a neighborhood bar while they were traveling. According to Sullivan, upon entering the establishment, a redneck called Meng an extremely derogatory word.
“The next thing I know is that Meng goozles the guy like Mr. Spock,” Sullivan said.
“It was fast and furious. He then grabbed another guy who tried to get involved and knocked him unconscious. Meng then bit through the guy’s shirt like a wolf, bit a chunk out of the guy’s back, then spit it on the floor.”
2 NEW JACK
New Jack deliberately tried to kill five adversaries in the squared circle. Still, of all the horrors, nothing compares to what the 6-foot, 225-pound New Jack did to a 17-year-old New Englander named Erick Kulas. Former ECW owner Paul Heyman was short a worker and he needed a replacement. Kulas successfully lied to Heyman about his age and wrestling background and found himself in the squared circle versus New Jack. Because Kulas had never bladed before, the teenager asked New Jack to cut him open. An utter psychopath, New Jack intentionally cut too deep and severed two arteries in Kulas' forehead. Kulas’ father was sitting ringside and he began screaming for the bout’s conclusion. New Jack then grabbed the microphone and mocked the critically injured youngster.
“I don't care if the motherf***** dies! He's white,” screamed New Jack.
“I don't like white people. I don't like people from Boston. I'm the wrong n**** to f*** with.”
New Jack wasn’t imprisoned for his barbaric actions and he’s still somehow at large.
1 CHRIS BENOIT
Chris Benoit is the darkest figure in the annals of sports entertainment. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Benoit, hailed as the “Canadian Crippler,” murdered his wife and 7-year-old son at their home in Fayetteville, Georgia, on June 22, 2007. Two days after the homicides, Benoit committed suicide. His unforgivable actions notwithstanding, many fans still want Benoit to get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. John Cena disagrees with this notion and applauds Vince McMahon’s for refusing to acknowledge Benoit’s existence.
“We get caught up in a person’s ability and their performance,” said Cena.
“This transcends WWE, it’s a problem with sport and it’s also a problem with entertainment. People will do bad things. But if they are good at what they do, sometimes those things are overlooked. I don’t believe in that. I believe you should take ownership for your actions — all of them. Not just ones that are performed in front of an audience. I think our company’s stance on the entire situation can set a precedent on athletics and a precedent for entertainment, for taking ownership of your actions.”