A highlight of the 1998 Steve Austin/Vince McMahon feud was when McMahon had his guys beat up on Austin and the next week came out with police protection to boast on having “assaulted” the Rattlesnake. Stone Cold came out and, using Vince’s own words, had the cops arrest McMahon for assault. When Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco tried to interfere, the cops arrested them too. Austin had them sit in a patrol car for an hour before dropping charges just to humiliate Vince again. It was a great bit but also showcased one of the rare times wrestling acknowledges how a criminal act has legal consequences.
It goes back to the Golden Age of wrestling and even as late as the 1970s, guys had to be a bit careful going too far with their heel ways as fans believed the act to be real. Thus, more than a few times, local police stations had to put up with fans calling to rant about a criminal act shown in the ring. That attitude has faded a bit but it’s still pushed as being real so you have lines blurred. This is the only “sport” where you can commit assault, arson, kidnapping and even attempted murder and the only punishment is a suspension before facing your victim in the ring. Every now and then, they can acknowledge that (an angle in 2005 TNA where Jeff Jarrett was arrested for attacking a “fan”) but for the most part, the actual criminal stuff is ignored as cops appear to be useless. A lot of stuff has been wild and over the top but others tried to sell as being real which just makes the of legal repercussions more notable. Here are 15 times wrestlers should have been arrested for what they pulled on camera and how nutty this business is.
16 Much of Japanese Wrestling
15 Terry Funk and Ric Flair
The 1989 feud between Flair and Funk is acclaimed as one of the greatest ever, so much so that you can easily ignore the criminal aspects of it. It began when Flair regained the NWA title at WrestleWar and Funk challenged him for a match. When Flair refused, Funk attacked him, hitting a piledriver on a table outside. As Funk wasn’t a contracted wrestler at the time, this makes him guilty of open assault with Flair out for months. Their feud continued in various bloody matches and highlighted by Funk trying to suffocate Flair with a plastic bag. He was suspended and fined but Flair paid the fine himself to get Funk in the ring for more wild matches.
14 Vehicular Assault
13 Home attacks
It’s an old trick, one that gets some instant fan heat and gets some major attention. A fireball can be tricky to pull off right (see Hulk Hogan’s failed attempt at Warrior at Halloween Havoc 98) but it’s a good way to get a heel off in a brutal attack. Jerry Lawler was a master of it (even as a face) with Eddie Gilbert not far behind, Skandor Akbar pulled it off on Iceman King Parsons and Sgt. Slaughter used it on Hulk Hogan in 1991.
11 Road Warriors stabbing Dusty
Never known for playing well with others, Dusty Rhodes didn’t take it well when, as booker of JCP in 1988, the place was sold to Crockett who wanted to cut down on the blood. Dusty responded by having the Road Warriors turn heel and attack him with a metal spike, plowing it at Dusty’s eye socket to cause him to gush out blood, all on a Saturday afternoon broadcast.
10 Big Bossman - Funeral Crashing
9 Fingerpoke of Doom
Well, the fingerpoke itself may be seen as a crime to wrestling fans, that's not the kind of crime we're talking about here. The moment that led to the downfall of WCW is known for so much bad but folks overlook how you can add criminal charges to things. The kickoff was Elizabeth accusing Goldberg of stalking her (it was to be attempted rape but wisely Goldberg got that shot down) so the cops held Goldberg long enough for Nash and Hogan to do the “match.”
8 Austin vs. McMahon
Aside from the entry listed in the introduction, slews of the stuff Austin pulled on McMahon would have constituted criminal acts. Filling his car with cement, numerous beatings with various objects, stalking McMahon with a (toy) gun and threatening him, are all criminal acts. McMahon was just as bad with assaults and arranging for Austin to be kidnapped, plus the bit of Taker and Kane uniting to break McMahon’s leg after an encounter with Austin. The bit of Austin driving a beer truck to the ring? Even if he rented the truck, that’s still driving inside an arena and you can argue his spraying the beer around a young crowd could fall under distributing alcohol to minors.
7 Pillman's Got a Gun
It’s one of the most infamous moments in WWE history and, to many, the true kick-off of the “Attitude Era.” After suddenly turning on friend Brian Pillman and breaking his leg, Steve Austin started going after Pillman more, threatening him in his home. Pillman was shown brandishing a gun and saying he was willing to fight back if Austin did this. Sure enough, Austin was shown breaking in, Pillman aiming and a gunshot going off before the screen cut to black.
The Brothers of Destruction have probably committed the most brutal crimes of any wrestler in kayfabe. Kane made his debut in 1997 and from the moment he arrived he wrecked havoc on his brother. Kane was event thought to be the one who had killed The Undertaker's parents (though it was later revealed to be Taker). Kane would lock Undertaker in a casket at the 1998 Royal Rumble and burned it, which would constitute as attempted murder. Kane would turn face and would stay that way up to 2003, where his character became more evil than ever before. In his big heel run following his unmasking, Kane did the following:
- Set Jim Ross on fire
- Burned down William Regal's office
- Electrocuted Shane McMahon's testicles
- Assaulting Linda McMahon
- Forcefully impregnating Lita
Where were you, police? Throw this man in jail, he's a menace to society!
5 Outsiders Run Steiners Off the road
Much is made of how the New World Order were dominating WCW, not just on screen but behind the scenes as Hall, Nash and Hogan threw their weight around massively to get their way. In early 1997, the Outsiders were tag team champions with the Steiner brothers feuding and leading to a big match as SuperBrawl. Video was soon shown of Hall and Nash following the Steiners on the road, soon chasing them and then running their car off into a ditch.
4 Triple H's Marriage to Stephanie
This one is a bit interesting as it’s fascinating to look back at Stephanie McMahon when she was being presented as this innocent gal. A long-time relationship with Test was to end with an in-ring wedding but HHH then came out to say it couldn’t take place. He then showed video of him taking an unconscious Stephanie through a drive-thru wedding chapel to get married.
Now, it’s true Vegas is a wild town but okaying a drive-thru wedding when the bride is quite clearly unable to respond is pushing it even for them. Not to mention that’s kidnapping and more than hinted by HHH’s talk of “consummation,” rape as well. It would be subverted a bit by the revelation HHH and Stephanie were really together but still one of those bits that pushed the “Attitude” era a bit too much.
2 The Undertaker
The Undertaker may be the biggest on-screen criminal in wrestling history. Law enforcement would have to throw the book at this man. Among his crimes, on top of putting Warrior in a coffin, early in his career include:
- Kidnapping and forcing Stephanie McMahon into marriage
- Hanging the Big Bossman
- Attempting to crucify Stone Cold
- Setting Kane on fire
- Burying Paul Bearer in cement
- Admitting to burning down funeral home, killing his parents
That's a pretty strong rapsheet, which would make the most sadistic criminals a little uneasy. Through all this, The Undertaker is adored by fans! With Undertaker's record here, he should be one of the most wanted men in the world! Ah, kayfabe.
1 James Storm on Mickie James
The latest entry on this list which makes its place on top so notable. Storm and James were two of TNA’s best performers, both great and thus undeserving of this idiotic idea. As part of his bizarre “cult leader” bit, Storm started stalking Mickie as a way to get at Magnus and following her to a Nashville train station. “Security cameras” caught them on tape arguing and then Storm throwing Mickie in front of a train. Of course, the police were never called and TNA waited a few days to show the “tape” of the event before bothering to explain Mickie was just “emotionally disturbed.” Fans put up with a lot but such a flagrant act sold as being real was truly pushing it even by TNA’s standards.
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