Throughout wrestling history, there have been backstage cliques. Not just “The” Kliq but numerous others, guys who hang out together, watch each other’s backs and have a lot of fun. They’re also home to some wild antics thanks to all the egos and issues about. While it didn’t get the press of others, one notable group was “The Canadian Mafia.” At one point or another, the group included Pat Patterson, Bret and Owen Hart, Bad News Brown, Jacques Rougeau, Dino Bravo, Rick Martel, Ron Garvin and the British Bulldogs. True, the latter two weren’t Canadian but they were related to the Harts and so they were brought in. The Mafia would hang together the most, doing their best to provide good matches and naturally had a lot of conflicts, some of which could be brutal.
The key culprits were the Bulldogs as Davey Boy and Dynamite Kid were infamous for their pranks and brutal antics in the ring. The egos abounded with some wild times as these guys got into some pretty crazy stuff out of the ring. Later on, Owen Hart formed a new take on the Mafia with Edge, Christian and Test, helping these Canadian guys stand out more. So many wild tales abound but some stand out better. Here are 15 of the craziest stories associated with the Canadian Mafia and how they were just as wild as any backstage group WWE has known.
15 Christian as Jericho’s Stalker
Christian and Chris Jericho got along great but that didn’t save Y2J from an epic prank. Christian had a dead telephone interpreter friend, someone whose job was to read word for word what a deaf person had written on a phone call. Christian had been talked through it by Daivari and decided it was a great idea. At the time, Jericho was taking a break from his band Fozzy and received a call from a female fan from England named Gertrude.
Jericho politely listened as the interpreter would matter of factly recite the messages. However, as the calls continued, the messages became more intense and soon stalkerish. Jericho had to listen as the interpreter kept talking in a calm voice to discuss how Gertrude was in love with Jericho and would do anything for him, even kill. Finally, Gertrude said she was going to meet Jericho to talk about their future. Christian began watching as Jericho would frantically search the lobby for her. When he found out, Jericho got a good laugh and was no doubt relieved to find out who his “stalker” was.
14 The Patterson/Garvin Mess
Here’s a situation that got majorly out of control to WWE’s detriment. In 1992, the company was hit by a massive wave of bad press thanks to scandals involving steroid use and sex. The latter was championed by preliminary worker Barry Orton who claimed Ronnie Garvin made sexual overtures to him. Orton soon pushed the idea that Garvin and Pat Patterson were lovers and that was a reason Garvin was hired to WWE. Both men denied it although more accusations came of Patterson harassing workers, although he would deny them. Patterson felt he was singled out as he was open about being gay while Garvin maintained he was straight.
It led to bad publicity and a lawsuit with Garvin and Patterson resigning from the company. Patterson would later return as the whole thing was quickly forgotten but this was an uglier story involving the group.
13 Owen’s Prank Calls
Forget Howard Stern. When it came to prank phone calls, few could top Owen Hart. Once, he was in the lobby of a hotel when Jim Duggan called down to ask about the nearest gym. Owen took the phone to tell Duggan to just stop being lazy and look for it himself, then handed it to the clerk in time for an angry Duggan to confront the poor clerk. Another time, he called up Ahmed Johnson posing as a producer for “The Tonight Show” wanting Johnson as a guest. Johnson actually got dressed up and headed to meet the limo before finding out the truth.
Even his own father wasn’t safe. Owen once called up Stu Hart, pretending to be long-time friend Reggie Parks, even carrying on a long conversation. They got heated with Owen snapping “you never had the balls to fight me” and Stu firing back “if you wanted to try me, why not try me?” As soon as he hung up the phone, Stu shook his head to Bret on how “the little bastard got me.” Wrestlers soon learned to double check any phone calls when Owen was around.
12 Threatening the Boss
In 1992, WWE was about to institute a strict drug and alcohol policy thanks to bad publicity. So the wrestlers threw one last party with Bret and Owen sharing a joint. Vince, who rarely hung out with the guys, showed up at their bar already drinking with Patterson following and telling him to not join the chaos. Soon, Vince was totally drunk when the Legion of Doom talked about doing their “Doomsday Device” finisher right in the bar. They teased it but backed down with Jim Neidhart saying “The Hart Foundation would do it!” Sure enough, he picked Vince up and Bret leapt off a stool to hit the boss. Vince’s reaction? “You owe me a drink, Hitman!”
The party soon spilled to Ric Flair’s hotel suite where Vince started fighting guys. When he went at Neidhart, the Anvil simply asked if Vince had ever seen Hans Gruber’s fall in “Die Hard.” It’s not often Vince gets as wild as the rest of his guys but here’s one time Bret got to nail Vince without reprisal.
11 Hair Pulling
It’s no secret that Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels didn’t get along well. They respected each other but were never friends, each pushed by their own ego and desire to be the best. That fueled their great matches but also led to conflicts behind the scenes. That included 1997 as their on-screen beef spilled to real life with Bret angered that Shawn, in an on-air promo, alleged that Bret had an affair with Sunny. Bret took issue with it as he and Shawn started to have an argument backstage. It finally escalated with Shawn yelling at Bret “what are you going to do about it?”
That was it as Bret attacked Shawn and the two were soon having a real brawl. During it, Bret managed to tear out a clump of Shawn’s hair and wave it in his face. They were soon broken apart, each still screaming at the other. It goes to show how insane this feud was, leading to Montreal later that year.
10 Pulling Over Luger
Lex Luger had a huge push in WWE as an All-American hero, set up for a title run although that would end up failing. Luger got along okay mostly but was slammed a lot for his bad attitude and ego behind the scenes. So it was natural that he’d be prey to one of Owen’s infamous pranks. In this case, Owen took advantage of how Luger was known as a reckless driver, while he and Davey Boy were with him on the way back from a show.
A cop car with some plain-clothed officers pulled them over, Luger figuring it was the usual traffic violation. When the cops patted him down, Luger was thrown they found a pistol suddenly slipped into his sweatpants. They had Luger up against the car and about to be in handcuffs when he saw the grins on the faces of Owen and Bulldog and realized what was up. It was another way you always had to be on your toes when Owen was around.
9 The Foreign Napkin
Even without his brother around, Owen Hart was able to cause some nutty stuff. He took Edge and Christian under his wing in WWE, helping push them well and both cited Owen as a major reason they made it. In his book “The Three Count,” referee Jimmy Korderas shared the story of a fantastic in-ring prank the trio pulled. Owen and Jeff Jarrett faced Edge and Christian in a good match with Owen pulling an object out of his trunks to hit Edge. Owen then did a splash off the bottom rope to cover Edge’s legs, then covered Edge’s face with his crotch. Owen did more blasting of Edge with this object wrapped in his hands, each time Edge selling it like he was being hit by a brick.
Korderas finally ordered Owen to drop the object which he did to show he had been hitting Edge with…a red napkin. All four guys immediately broke out laughing as did the crowd at how they managed to sell a napkin as a brutal weapon.
8 Dynamite Encounter
In the ring, the Bulldogs and the Rougeau Brothers had a fantastic feud. They got along well, each doing their best to push the others up and their tag team matches were great. But behind the scenes, the teams did not get along well, mostly because of Dynamite pulling cruel pranks from itching powder in shorts to drugged drinks. It got to where Jacques finally had enough and told Vince, who told Dynamite to lay off the gags. Dynamite responded by blasting Jacques in the mouth with a savage punch.
So a few weeks later, the Rougeaus got revenge as Jacques waited for Dynamite to come back from a match, waiting right by the corner, then stepping out to level him with a blow. Dynamite went down and claimed Jacques had a roll of quarters that busted him open but Jacques replied it was just his fist. It was a huge mess that would lead to the Bulldogs leaving WWE and one time Dynamite’s brutal methods got him in hot water.
7 Brown and the Warrior
Bad News Allen was well known for a really harsh attitude that made him a famous heel in Stampede. As Bad News Brown in WWE, he was doing well but hampered bit by bad booking. One would think Brown wouldn’t have gotten along with The Ultimate Warrior, a man infamous for his ego. However, they surprisingly got along well with a match where Davey Boy warned the Warrior Brown would blow him up. As it happened, Warrior got blown up in just two minutes and had to helped down the aisle by ushers. That actually warmed Bad News up to him and when Warrior was talking about the payday for WrestleMania VI, Brown said he should demand a million dollars.
To his shock, Warrior did so and Vince agreed. Brown then went to Vince to also ask for a million and Vince just laughed that Brown should ask Warrior for lunch. So in a wild way, Brown helped the Warrior get his biggest payday without even meaning to.
6 Owen Gets High
Owen Hart was famous for his backstage ribs as many a worker fell prey to his jokes. Sometimes, he was a bit too obvious but other times he could be surprisingly subtle. One of the biggest is a story Jim Ross loves to tell as he had to confront a worker (whose name he refuses to divulge) on the man’s cocaine use. Ross was troubled by the whole thing, a majorly stressful situation to be sure. On his way down the hall to confront the man, Ross bumped into Owen who had heard about the deal.
Owen had rubbed powdered sugar from a donut under his nose to make it look like he was sniffing cocaine and even went so far as to make his eyes water. It might have worked except Owen assumed being high was like being drunk so one could see through the act fast. Ross rolled his eye but had to admit to chuckling as Owen did lighten up his mood a bit, showing how the man could make anyone feel a bit more at ease.
5 Mistreating Damien
While the Mafia were known as pranksters, the Bulldogs took it to a rather dangerous level. They were infamous for drugging guy’s drinks before long drives and other major issues. A target of their rancor was Jake Roberts, not surprising given Jake’s own methods of rattling guys. So after a bad show and some drinking, the Bulldogs took their frustrations out on Jake’s pet python, Damien. While Jake was busy, the Bulldogs would fill the bag with the snake with burned-out cigarettes and even empty needles along with some bottles. Thus, when Jake opened up the bag, Damien reacted badly, almost jumping out and even strangling Jake hard.
He was naturally ticked but the Bulldogs just laughed it off, showing the harsh attitude that didn’t make them many friends backstage.
4 Outback Jack
When “Crocodile Dundee” became a huge hit in 1986, WWE was fast to jump on the bandwagon of Aussie love. Enter Outback Jack, a walking cliché of everything Australian. He was given some big intro videos and a push, complete with a whacky theme song but the love cooled when it was quickly shown how terrible he was in the ring. He didn’t make many friends backstage either and somehow, he got on the wrong side of the Bulldogs. So they did what they thought was logical: They drugged Jack’s drink and when he was asleep, shaved his head and then shoved him naked into a hotel elevator. It was a crazy thing and Jack left WWE not long afterward, showing some folks just didn’t have it in them to hang with the Mafia’s wild antics.
3 The Can-Am Disconnection
In 1987, Rick Martel was a fresh babyface off a run as AWA champion. He and Tom Zenk were paired together as the Can-Am Connection and instantly were gold with fans. Female fans in particular loved them as the two were a great team with a “slingshot” finisher and seemed on their way to the tag team titles. But behind the scenes, things were messy as Martel felt Zenk was getting too huge an ego and demanding more pay days. Martel tried to talk to him but there was no luck as Vince made it clear a pay raise wasn’t coming. Martel exited their hotel after a show, thinking he and Zenk could patch it up…only to find a goodbye note and the keys to their rental car waiting for him. Zenk was gone as Martel would be paired with Tito Santana as Strike Force to win the tag titles. It’s one of the rougher tag team breakups and this would give Zenk a bad name for a while.
2 Dino’s Death
Dino Bravo has had a rough legacy over the years. A decent worker, he was slammed a lot for his lack of promo work and having a bad attitude backstage. It led to him being fired from the company in 1991 and not many fans were that upset although Rick Martel tried to speak up for Bravo and offered to team with him. Bravo still loved the high life, so much that he was soon getting involved with the actual mafia thanks to his uncle being a member. Martel shared how Bravo made no secret of it, his fame as a wrestler helping him make deals with various underworld folks.
In the early 1990s, cigarette smuggling was taking off as a serious black market in Canada and Dino was soon working in it, making deals and getting into cocaine as well. This caught up to him as he appeared to fail to make the right delivery on time. On March 11, 1993, Bravo was found dead in his home, shot seven times in the head. Just goes to show what happens when you mess with the real Mafia.
1 Overfeeding Matilda
As noted, the Bulldogs could be downright cruel in their various pranks, often rubbing a lot of guys the wrong way. Jake Roberts in particular wasn’t happy with how they had treated Damien so decided to get some payback. He waited until the Bulldogs were busy then started feeding their mascot Matilda with hot dogs loaded with chili. As Jake had almost perfectly timed out, by a few hours, Matilda was letting loose, spraying dog droppings all over the hotel room with the Bulldogs. They had to clean it all up before management found out. They weren’t happy but it was hardly the only poor situation Matilda got into.
A famous story is how, in the middle of the night, she made the mistake of crawling into bed with Davey Boy who then rolled right on top of her and nearly crushed the poor dog to death.