Every so often people have to be reminded that wrestlers are real people too. They have personal lives outside of the ring that are rarely shown on camera and some of the things that they have been through would really surprise you. Whenever you’re together with the same group of people on the road for nearly 300 days a year, some people do some absolutely crazy things just to be able to pass the time, and some of them resort to extremely dangerous things that no one recommends. Real life can certainly be far worse than their celebrity world, and it goes without saying that the wrestlers on this list have had some pretty challenging pasts, to say the least.
Murder, pranks, drugs, alcohol, family problems, acts of pure heroism, and even plane crashes are all featured throughout this list. Whether it’s every wrestler being the victim of yet another backstage rib by a legendary prankster or the various hotel room shenanigans that they seem to always find themselves doing, this list digs deep into the outside world of professional wrestling.
It was tough to narrow down an entire world’s worth of stories down to only fifteen great stories, but we felt that this list gives a good idea of the unbelievable events that have occurred throughout professional wrestling’s history. You really won’t believe some of the craziness that we discovered along the way! In the words of Marty DiBergi, “But hey, enough of my yackin’, what do ya say, let’s boogie!”
15. The King of Pranks – Owen Hart
A huge part of Owen Hart’s legacy in the world of professional wrestling, is that he was — hands down — the WWE’s most legendary prankster. We could have easily filled up this entire list with Owen ribs, but we’ll single out a particularly good one. Ahmed Johnson received a phone call from a producer for the Jay Leno Show asking if he would like to appear as a guest. Johnson excitedly accepted, so he decided to purchase a new suit and several pieces of jewelry that he says cost him upwards of $4,000. The producer told Johnson that a limo would be there to pick him up at 8 pm sharp, but when the limo failed to show up, Owen walked up to the upset superstar and asked, “Wasn’t the limo supposed to be here by now?” Ahmed had never told anyone about him being on the show, so he knew right away that it was Owen who set the whole thing up.
14. Harley Race Destroys a Biker
Tough wrestlers wish they were half as tough as Harley Race – who bowed down to absolutely no one, including members of motorcycle gangs. In a story told in Race’s autobiography, there was an incident where a group of bikers refused to leave the arena after Harley had challenged them all by saying, “If you think you can wrestle, let’s see you get in the ring.” After a few of them unsuccessfully tried their luck against another wrestler on the card, the “biggest and meanest looking one” of the group pointed to Harley and said, “Maybe you’d like to try.” Race warned the biker that it wouldn’t end well, but the biker ran toward him anyway and was immediately dropped by a crushing head-butt that instantly broke the biker’s nose. Harley scooped up the bloodied foe and quickly choked him unconscious in front of all his friends.
13. Daniel Bryan Detains House Thief
Daniel Bryan and his wife Brie Bella were returning from the airport to their newly purchased home in Phoenix when they noticed movement coming from inside. Bryan quickly entered and saw two burglars trying to make an escape, so he darted toward them while Brie went to look around the house for their dog Josie (she was hiding upstairs). After chasing them both for some time, Bryan was finally able to tackle one of the two to the ground where he then performed a textbook rear naked choke hold until police arrived. The burglars dropped everything they were attempting to steal before Bryan caught up to them, including a bracelet that his dad had given to him shortly before he passed away. Worth noting: a neighbor had already called the police about suspicious behavior prior to Brie and Bryan returning home, which helped immensely in the amount of time that Bryan had to keep the one burglar subdued.
12. Jake the Snake’s Mess of a Personal Life
It’s no secret that Jake the Snake Roberts has had a troubled life full of drug and alcohol abuse. According to the wrestling documentary Beyond the Mat, he has served a considerable amount of time in jail for failure to pay child support, was addicted to booze and crack cocaine, and had a very tense relationship with his father throughout his entire life (Jake was born out of an extremely awful circumstance that forced Jake’s mother and father into a sham wedding). But that’s not the worst part: his sister also suffered psychological issues due to the hostile household and at 18 married a man who was 35 years older than she was. She would end up getting kidnapped by her husband’s ex-wife and was ultimately murdered, but Jake’s family was never able to give a proper burial because they never recovered her body. Wow…
11. CM Punk Doesn’t Speak to His Brother
There’s an old saying: “You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends.” CM Punk is one of those people who understands that saying more than most, because when he chose to leave his family in south suburban Chicago when he was a teenager, he knew he wasn’t coming back. When he and a group of his friends started wrestling together they were just another low-level backyard show that they called the Lunatic Wrestling Federation, but they quickly developed a hardcore following (including myself) and became an overnight sensation. Despite their unforeseen success, Punk (Phil Brooks) had enough of his brother once he realized that thousands of dollars were routinely going missing after the shows, mostly into the pocket of one Mike Brooks. The “company” quickly folded once they could no longer support themselves and Punk has never spoken to his brother since.
10. New Jack Commits Four Justifiable Homicides
New Jack has always been known as one of the most dangerous individuals that wrestling has ever seen, and for good reason. Most of what he’s known for is his absolute disregard for everyone by use of extreme violence, including a scary altercation where he literally stabbed another wrestler nine times with a long blade. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that the man who made a living scaring every wrestler and wrestling fan alike also has four justifiable homicides to his credit, at least according to him. When New Jack was asked about those homicides, he said, “I wasn’t proud of it, but it happened. It was either me or them.”
9. Bruiser Brody Was Murdered in Puerto Rico
Bruiser Brody isn’t exactly a household name to many wrestling fans, but the story of his death may ring some bells. While working in Puerto Rico in 1988, Brody was asked to join Jose Gonzalez (Invader 1) in the showers to discuss business. What Brody didn’t know, however, was that Gonzalez was carrying a concealed knife and immediately stabbed Brody in the stomach. Brody had been known to refuse to job to anyone that he didn’t feel like jobbing to, so this was a means of payback by the promoter for refusing to do what they wanted. Brody laid bleeding for 45 minutes to an hour before paramedics were able to arrive, but by that time it was already too late. Several American wrestlers were on hand that night, but when the case went to trial in Puerto Rico, they never had a chance to testify because their summons appeared in the U.S. well after the verdict had already been declared. Gonzalez was found not guilty by majority (not unanimous, which is different than the American legal system), but most wrestlers consider the act as premeditated murder.
8. Bam Bam Bigelow Saved Kids From House Fire
It’s not very often that you hear real life stories of true heroism from anyone, let alone a 300 pound professional wrestler with a trademark flame outfit. But that’s the irony of this story: Bam Bam Bigelow — a man with flame tattoos covering his head — was the first one on the scene of a structure fire that involved three trapped children. Bigelow rushed inside of the building without hesitation and was able to save each of their lives, but not before getting severely burned on over 40% of his body. He would spend several weeks at the hospital and was able to make a full recovery, and the children ended up being perfectly fine. He stated that making the decision to risk his life was the “best decision I’ve ever made.” We agree.
7. Scott Hall Killed a Man in Florida
Before Scott Hall was ever Razor Ramon (or the Diamond Studd, however far back you want to go), Hall worked as a bartender in Orlando, Florida. On the night of January 15th, 1983, Hall and another gentleman got into an altercation (supposedly over a girl), causing the customer to go to the parking lot and smash out all of the windows to Hall’s car. The bar manager and the gentleman were having a discussion about the incident in the alley of the club when Hall approached the two of them and punched the man so hard that he fell to the ground. Hall noticed that the man was carrying a gun and was in the process of reaching for it when Hall decided to try to wrestle it away from him. He eventually gained control of the gun and shot the man in the head at point blank range, killing him in one shot. Hall was charged with 2nd degree murder, but the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence against him. Longtime friend Kevin Nash blames this incident fo Hall’s severe drug and alcohol dependency issues.
6. Jeff Hardy’s House Burned Down
2008 was a roller coaster of a year for Jeff Hardy. He started the year off strong by receiving a push and winning the WWE Intercontinental title, but after he failed his second drug test (real life, not kayfabe) the storyline changed to him dropping the championship to Chris Jericho on Monday Night Raw (he would have to serve a mandatory 60 day suspension starting March 11th, therefore he technically would have lost the championship belt either way). As if matters couldn’t get worse for Hardy, within a week of starting his suspension his house inexplicably burns down, with his brother Matt noticing the fire a little too late for him to be able to do anything besides watch. The investigation of the fire was inconclusive, and Hardy returned to wrestling later that year and won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
5. Ric Flair Survived a Plane Crash
It seems crazy to think of this event happening today, but here’s what almost changed wrestling forever: Ric Flair and a handful of other Mid-Atlantic/NWA stars were on a small plane for a 45 minute flight from Charlotte to Wilmington, North Carolina in October of 1975. Because it was full of heavy professional wrestlers, the small plane was well over the maximum capacity for weight by about 1,400 pounds. And since the flight was so short, the pilot decided that the best way to make up for the weight difference was to cut the amount of fuel he was going to need. He ended up making the worst possible choice and endangered the lives of everyone, unbeknownst to any of the wrestlers on board. The plane struggled in the air and lost an engine from running out of fuel, so the pilot had to do his best at performing a short landing at a very high speed. The plane clipped some trees and narrowly missed a water tower, crash landing short of the runway by about 100 yards. Flair broke his back in three places and the rest of the passengers all had fairly severe injuries as well, but only the pilot suffered the worst fate: he passed away two months after the crash.
4. Hulk Hogan Almost Committed Suicide
Hogan was on top of the world for over 20 years, but in 2007 as his show “Hogan Knows Best” was in turmoil and about to be cancelled due to tension within his family — on top of his son, Nick, crashing a car after drinking (which left a friend of Nick’s brain damaged) — Hogan emotionally hit rock bottom. His wife Linda had also served him divorce papers requesting: custody of Nick, alimony payments, and for Hogan to pay for Nick’s health insurance, so Hogan didn’t know of any way out. He was alone in his Florida home one night when he had some rum, Xanax, and his finger on the trigger of a gun when a coworker and friend of his, Laila Ali, happened to call him out of the blue, simply asking if he was feeling OK because she had noticed that he seemed depressed. Hogan credits still being alive today because of the random phone call from Ali.
3. Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious Stabbed Each Other
Sid Vicious better call Vader every time he wakes up in the morning alive, because there was a real possibility that Sid could have died by a puncture wound in his stomach caused by Arn Anderson. The story goes like this: The boys in WCW were drinking after a show one night at a hotel bar when Sid and Arn got into a bit of an altercation. Apparently words may have been exchanged and Sid threw his glass across the bar at Arn Anderson. The scuffle subsided and everyone decided to go to their respective rooms for the night. Then, a little later on, Sid came stumbling out into the hallway in a state of shock and was bleeding very badly from his stomach. Vader jumped into action (while in his underwear) and saw that Sid had been stabbed by a pair of scissors and was in risk of losing enough blood to potentially die, so he decided to do the only thing possible: he stuck his thumb into the wound and stopped the bleeding until the paramedics could arrive. Had Vader not acted so swiftly, Sid probably would have died and Arn Anderson probably would have gone to prison for murder.
2. “The Plane Ride From Hell”
Have you ever wanted to know what would happen if you charter an entire 747 full of pro wrestlers on the last day of a grueling tour for a long distance flight over the Atlantic Ocean on the way back from England? Oh, and also what would happen if you supplied them with an open bar for the entire duration of the flight? Let’s see: Ric Flair gets completely naked under his robe and starts flashing the flight attendants, Scott Hall gets obliterated drunk, Brock Lesnar and Mr.Perfect get into a shoot wrestling match that almost triggers the emergency exit, Michael Hayes becomes belligerent and reopens a head wound that JBL received during a match that he had just had that same night at the London PPV, only to have X-Pac wait until Hayes passes out so he could cut off his trademark mullet in retaliation for the JBL incident… you name it and it probably happened at least once on that flight. Hall was apparently so out of his mind that he had to be placed in a wheelchair and rolled through customs when they landed back in the States since he was unable to move on his own. Sounds like Vince McMahon learned an important lesson that night: if you find yourself trapped in the air 35,000 feet above ground and the only passengers all work in the professional wrestling industry, maybe it’s not the best idea in the world to throw free booze into the equation.
1. Perry Saturn Invents the Stripper Slip ‘N’ Slide
Perry Saturn and Raven are responsible for a lot of stories that are absolutely ridiculous, and this one certainly deserves its number 1 status. Saturn and Raven — no strangers to drugs and alcohol — figured that they could request the services of certain ladies of the night for some late partying, but I highly doubt that they had any idea of what kind of partying those two had in mind for this night. Let’s just say this: this party involved wrestling head gear, a hose, a makeshift Slip ‘N’ Slide, a fire extinguisher, and a rubber artificial penis. They put the rubber sexual-aid on the top of the head gear and strapped it to Saturn’s head, ran a hose from their hotel’s sink and lubricated the hallway’s slide, told the woman to sit at the other end of the hallway naked, while Raven grabbed Saturn’s legs and pushed him headfirst down the slide.
Where does the fire extinguisher come into play, you ask? Jet pack. Saturn thought that they needed more momentum after several failed attempts to make it down the hallway completely, so he figured that a fire extinguisher would do the trick. All he ended up doing was spraying its insides directly into Raven’s face, temporarily blinding him and choking him from the fog.
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