While many people often recall the WWE’s Attitude Era as one of their highest points in popularity, it was the Golden Era from 1982 until 1993 when the WWE would rise into the ranks with other pop culture staples. This was when stars like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and the Ultimate Warrior ruled the world of wrestling.
It also saw new stars form with the likes of The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and Jerry “The King” Lawler. It might not have been as controversial as the Attitude Era of the WWE. There might not have been a sex appeal like there was with Sable and Trish Stratus. But their backstage stories from what happens behind the curtain are just as interesting; especially when it led to incidents in the ring and out in the public eye.
The people behind the wrestling personas during the Golden Era of WWE sometimes had tension with other people. There were stories of people who had legitimate beef with each other and it spilt out into the ring. There are tales of wrestlers who also had egos that made them feel they didn’t need to do certain things that others would not mind doing – i.e. meeting a terminal child from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Then there are other tales that are weirdly entertaining. They include pranks that some would play on each other, weird rituals wrestlers had and times when they defended the honor of professional wrestling against verbal attacks that included the dreaded f-word – fake. The following are 15 of the more insane backstage stories from WWE’s Golden Era.
15 Andre the Giant’s Alcohol Intake Used in Anesthesiologist’s Assessment
The tales of Andre the Giant and his drinking habits are legendary, to say the least. The man was once known to drink 119 beers in one sitting, followed by more than 150 in another. Hulk Hogan once wrote in his autobiography that Andre drank an entire case of wine on a four-hour bus trip. It’s hard to imagine any normal human being having the ability to drink that much alcohol on a daily basis, but Andre wasn’t normal. He was a giant in the truest sense of the word, which meant alcohol didn’t affect him as easily.
In 1987, his back was hurting him before his WrestleMania III feud with Hulk Hogan. Vince McMahon paid for his surgery, but the anesthesiologist wasn’t sure how much anesthesia to give him before the procedure. The doctor asked about Andre’s drinking to help gauge what the dosage should be. He quickly learned that a “normal” dosage wouldn’t work.
14 The Ultimate Warrior and Desserts
A number of wrestlers, including Chris Jericho, have stories about seeing the Ultimate Warrior have a weird way of enjoying desserts. At backstage catering, Warrior would sometimes be seen picking up a cookie, crumbling it in his had before sniffing it and then throwing it away. His wife, Dana, would explain the bizarre reason during an interview on Talk is Jericho. It’s all about his disciplined diet.
It was a way to enjoy the cookie without having to eat it and have all of those unhealthy calories in his body. His wife added that she would bake him a cake for his birthday that he would have just a very small slice with a teaspoon of coffee ice cream. “That man is so disciplined, I don’t understand it,” she told Jericho. Everyone gets a cheat day and it seems the Warrior’s was on his birthday.
13 Owen Hart Pranks Mr. Fuji
During the 1990s, Owen Hart developed a reputation as a master of pranking his peers. His brother, Bret Hart, told funny stories about how Owen was able to do a variety of voices. One person he decided to prank call was Mr. Fuji when all of the wrestlers were on the road at a hotel. Owen called Mr. Fuji’s room and, with a child-like voice, called the manager several names and said he would beat him up.
Bret then recalled finding Mr. Fuji wandering around the lobby of the hotel in his kimono at about three o’clock in the morning and asking what was going on. Fuji responded that he got a call of someone who wanted to meet him in the lobby to kick his ass. Despite looking half-asleep, Mr. Fuji was worked up and looking for a fight that he never got.
12 Roddy Piper Goes Gator Hunting
Back in 1984, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper went on an interesting hunting trip along with other wrestlers like Kevin Sullivan and Bill Alfonso. Piper had his heart set on having a pair of alligator boots. And what better way to get them by going to hunt for a live gator. The story that Piper told in a SLAM! Wrestling conference interview in 2000 was that his shot caught a gator under one of his claws and he went into the water, motionless for about 10 minutes.
The group decided to throw rocks at it to make sure it was really dead. Piper was encouraged by Sullivan to take his pants off and jump into the water to get it. The gator, apparently not actually dead, dove instantly into the water. Piper would quickly find himself sitting on the hood of the car they all took there.
11 Paul Bearer Gifts Undertaker with Cucumbers
The man known for striking fear into the hearts of his opponents, The Undertaker has a fear of his own. So what would a man portraying as someone already dead be afraid of? Cucumbers might have been the last thing you would think The Undertaker, or anyone for that matter, would be afraid of that. Paul Bearer once told Jim Cornette during a shoot interview. The fear is so bad, according to his former manager, that it can make him sick.
Bearer once saw The Undertaker throw up at a restaurant because there would be a sliced cucumber sitting in his iced tea. Or how The Undertaker got extremely sick in the locker room when he found cucumbers placed in his hat. Bearer explained that it had something to do with a young Mark Calaway being forced to eat cucumbers by his parents and he’s feared them ever since.
10 Bret Hart Gets Legitimate Justice Against Jerry Lawler
Bret Hart had some of his best matches in the WWE during the early-1990s. One of those feuds involved Jerry “The King” Lawler. During a live Q&A session with wrestling fans back in 2014, Hart said that while he had respect for the King, he felt he was sloppy in their 1993 feud. During their King of the Ring brawl that year, Lawler apparently didn’t realize that the props he hit Hart with were very heavy wood; which injured Hart for several months.
He and his brother Owen also had concerns about a promo the King did when their parents were attending an episode of Monday Night Raw. When the two finally had their match, Hart said that every strike he gave Lawler was a full-fisted punch in the face. He also cranked Lawler’s back as far as he could in his signature Sharpshooter. Hart repeated that he was a fan of Lawler's personally, but pointed out that the King did have his enemies behind the scenes.
9 Roddy Piper’s Face Paint That Wouldn’t Come Off
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper was known for being a point of controversy during his career in the WWE. One of the more controversial moments was for WrestleMania VI as he faced Bad News Brown. In an effort to do a promo combining Nelson Mandela, the song “True Colors,” he pained his face half-black. The paint used was a special blend that was ordered by Vince McMahon so the paint wouldn’t come off during the match from sweat.
Unfortunately, the clear solution McMahon got to remove the face paint was replaced with water by Andre the Giant. Rather than confront a man twice his size, Piper took his losses and traveled home to Portland, Ore., half-white and half-black. Additionally, Piper had to buy a first-class ticket for a four-foot Mickey Mouse for his daughter. In the end, it took about a month to remove the infamous face paint.
8 Fabulous Moolah Legitimately Steals The WWE Women’s Championship
Long before the infamous Montreal Screwjob of 1997, the WWE also had a bit of a screwjob involving the WWE Women’s Championship in the 1980s. Wendi Richter was the reigning WWE Women’s Champion at a time when her contract was about to expire. She wanted more money and wouldn’t sign unless she felt she was properly compensated. Instead, the WWE booked Richter to face named “The Spider Lady.”
What Richter didn’t know was that her long-time rival, the Fabulous Moolah, was under the mask. The Spider Lady had Richter in small package pin and the referee made the three-count despite an obvious kick-out by Richter. After the incident, Richter left the arena with her gear, booked a flight home and was silent towards Vince McMahon and the company until she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.
7 Haku Bites Off Man’s Nose
One of the worst things anyone could ever say to a professional wrestler is making an insinuation about it being fake. Even though the secret of wrestling is well-known to the viewing audience, the word “fake” is considered an insult. As one poor person at a hotel bar in Baltimore, Md., learned one night. Haku once confirmed the long-running story during an interview with Crave back in 2014.
The poor soul was with friends at the bar near closing and approached Haku, with Siva Afi, and asked if they were the “fake wrestlers” on television. Haku said he would show them and, without thinking, grabbed one of them and bit his nose off. This led to a brawl that, by no surprise, was won by Haku and Siva Afi. So remember, saying the word “fake” around a wrestler is a bad idea.
6 Jerry Lawler’s Crown Was Used as a Throne
When Jerry “The King” Lawler first came into the WWE in the early 1990s, he may have rubbed some people the wrong way behind the scenes. On more than one occasion reportedly, there were a number of instances of different wrestlers and other talent backstage who used the crown as, well, a throne. In his earlier mentioned interview with Jim Cornette, Paul Bearer saw Steve Keirn do it.
Since then, there have been a number of tales told by other wrestlers who threw names of people who also left a deposit in the royal crown. Bobby Heenan wrote in his book that The Undertaker was one. Other names to have been rumored to also do the No. 2 included Shawn Michaels, Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig and Sean Waltman.
5 The Ultimate Warrior Blows Off a Make-A-Wish Child
The Ultimate Warrior was one of the most popular men in the WWE, especially during the Golden Era right before the Attitude Era was formed. He was viewed as a hero by many fans, but Bret Hart had a story that showed another side of Warrior. During a show in Omaha, Neb., there was a child from the Make-A-Wish foundation who was looking forward to meeting The Ultimate Warrior.
But Warrior walked right by the child claiming that he was busy. The family was then moved not to interfere with his entrance for the match that night. It really stuck with the Hitman considering that both heels and faces in the WWE never hesitated to meet with sick children who just had a wish to meet their favorite wrestler.
4 Harley Race Pulls Gun on Hulk Hogan
Through the years of his popularity in the WWE, Hulk Hogan certainly had his share of enemies. No one who rises to the top like he did is loved by everyone. During a tour in the mid-1980s, the WWE was going national with tours through cities that were still controlled by territory promotions. But it wasn’t until a show in Kansas City, Mo., when things got a little out of hand. Hogan was in the dressing room when Harley Race walked in.
Race threw a punch that knocked Hogan off a chair and to the floor. This was followed up with Race pointing a pistol into Hogan’s face. There were no shots fired, but it was known that the territories weren’t happy about the WWE’s rise as a national company. Especially when promoters like Race had lost a lot of money after WWE went national. Surprisingly, Race would later be hired by WWE a few years later.
3 1992 Sex Scandal
In 1992, the WWE faced a dark moment that had nothing to do with steroids or drug use. When Terry Garvin would become an employee in the WWE, it was in part to his friendship with fellow wrestler Pat Patterson. Both men were openly homosexual. But Garvin would use his influence in the company to find a way to have relations with young men who worked as part of the ring crew.
A 19-year-old Tom Cole would file a suit claiming that he was fired by the WWE by Garvin after refusing his sexual advances. The entire situation led to Vince McMahon having to answer questions about the incident and defend himself against the likes of CNN and other mainstream media outlets. Garvin and Patterson would resign from the company; although Patterson returned since the WWE felt he wasn’t in the wrong.
2 Vince McMahon Drunk Before New Drug Policy
During the early 1990s, the WWE was set to enforce a new drug-testing policy after the Federal Bureau of Investigations were looking more into the WWE after a steroid scandal. So as the wrestlers were in a Texas strip club, they were having one final time of enjoying marijuana. Bret Hart wrote in his autobiography “Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling” about the time Vince McMahon joined the party after having had a few too many alcoholic beverages.
Things got so crazy that Hawk and Animal playfully set up McMahon for a Doomsday Device with Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake catching the boss. Hart and Neidhart then followed it up with giving McMahon a legitimate Hart Attack (their finishing move). But McMahon was in good spirits and the two had a drink. The group moved to Ric Flair’s penthouse; which some of the wrestlers trashed by urinating on his bed.
1 The End of Randy Savage’s Marriage to Miss Elizabeth
Although they shared one of the most fairytale relationships on WWE television, there were apparently some issues where Miss Elizabeth apparently wasn’t happy in her marriage with “Macho Man” Randy Savage. It was believed that Savage was very protective and had lines drawn.
Hogan was going to Miami, Fla., with his family to shoot Mr. Nanny. Because Elizabeth was a friend of the family, she was invited to join.
Suddenly, Savage was told over the phone by Elizabeth that she wanted a divorce. Savage made his way to the hotel they were staying at and Hogan had just discovered that Elizabeth was with a boyfriend. When Hogan showed Savage which room was hers, he ran off as the police were called and things got nasty. This led to not only the end of the marriage, but the friendship between Hogan and Savage.