Far too many wrestling fans are well aware that the industry is housing some seriously dark secrets about major industry players. Despite WWE refusing to address these situations directly, just about everyone knows Hulk Hogan is almost proudly a racist, Steve Austin abused his ex-wife, and Chris Benoit murdered his family before committing suicide. Each of these scenarios was worse than the last to fans of the performers, yet the sad truth is that they weren’t all that surprising given pro wrestling’s trend towards shady behavior.
All that said, the main event level wrestlers who have also coincidentally been involved in some pretty awful stuff during their personal lives are merely the tip of the iceberg. Smaller wrestlers have been able to get away with comparably horrible if not worse crimes while slipping under the radar, sometimes even to the extent it barely effects their bookings.
Some of these wrestlers terrorized dozens or more people, and you might not even know their names. Keep reading to learn about the 15 most messed up wrestlers you’ve never heard of.
15. Terry Garvin – Abusing Teenage Ring boys
There isn’t much to write about Terry Garvin’s time in the ring that most modern fans would be able to understand, as he mainly competed during the territorial era of the NWA. At that time, Garvin traveled throughout the American south teaming with another wrestler named Ron Garvin (his kayfabe brother), winning a number of regional Tag Team Championships together prior to Ron going solo and becoming a much bigger star on his own. Not that Terry was left in the wind, as he also happened to be friends with Pat Patterson, a connection that got him a cushy backstage job in WWE during the late ‘80s. Unfortunately, Garvin used this job to harass and attempt sexually abusing teenage ring boys, causing a massive scandal when several of them came forward. Though the media focused on allegations against Patterson that turned out false, all accusations levied against Garvin were true, leading to his dismissal from WWE and getting written out of history.
14. Jimmy Savile – Serial Child Abuser
Most wrestling fans reading this article in the United Kingdom should certainly be aware of Jimmy Savile, once lauded as the most generous and child-loving television presenter in British TV history. Unfortunately, after Savile’s death in 2011, it was revealed the “child-loving” element of his personality took things way too far, and based on accusations, he was in fact the most prolific and notorious pedophile in the country’s history. Naturally, the truth caused a huge scandal when it came out despite the fact Savile was dead, causing many institutions that once praised the man to posthumously revoke his honor. What even people across the pond may not realize is that Savile also once competed inside the wrestling rings for a variety of British promoters. Although Savile was far less successful as a grappler than a TV host, he nonetheless experienced a lengthy career he once claimed included losing 35 matches in a row.
13. Grizzly Smith – Child Abuser
To most wrestling fans, Grizzly Smith’s own career in the ring is forgotten, yet many people nonetheless recognize him as the father of Sam Houston, former WWE Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin, and WWE Hall of Famer Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Smith was also an executive with WCW for many years, long after the story came out that he had been sexually abusing poor Robin from a terrifyingly young age. Jake’s relationship with the old man is also heavily strained, with implications of physical and possibly sexual abuse being suffered on his end, as well. If Jake didn’t suffer himself, there was definitely longstanding emotional trauma caused by the fact he was knowingly the product of his father sexually assaulting a preteen girl. That in mind, there’s really no question about the torment endured by Robin, with many people in the wrestling business apparently aware of it and doing nothing to stop Smith due to his standing in the industry.
12. La Dama Del Silencio – Serial Killer
Of all the pro wrestlers on this list, the career of La Dama Del Silencio is definitely the most obscure in a literal sense. No records exist indicating she wrestled any matches in particular, and reports are even vague on which companies she may have worked for in any capacity. However, there’s also a well known photo of her wearing full luchadora gear and holding a championship belt, and there’s no reason not to believe her when she says it was part of her pre-fame career. Unfortunately, this story takes a horrifically dark turn when you learn Juana Barraza, the woman behind the gimmick, didn’t later become a kindly old woman, but rather a vicious and bitter middle aged mass murderer who preyed exclusively on elderly victims. The “Lady of Silence” no more, police now called Barraza the “Little Old Lady Killer,” a fitting moniker for a human who callously took 40+ lives in less than a decade.
11. Invader #1 – Murderer
One of the strangest elements of the pro wrestling industry is that the crimes half the wrestlers on this list committed barely ever affected their careers. Sure, people knew they had a shady past, but not even serial child abuse stopped wrestling promoters from giving talent third or fourth chances. In fairness to Invader #1, he never abused any children, yet he did murder a fellow wrestler in broad daylight, which one might expect would make other people within the industry a little wary to keep working with him. Instead, killing Bruiser Brody brought Invader #1 international acclaim for having slain a wrestling beast, at least in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling anyway, where he participated in an angle mimicking the circumstances of the actual crime. In contrast to what this list suggests, part of how Invader #1 got away with it relates to his fame and influence in Puerto Rico where the crime took place, allegedly getting others to keep quiet so he could walk free on a self-defense plea.
10. Art Barr – Abusing Teenage Girl
Depending on who one is to ask, “Love Machine” Art Barr might be the most underrated talent of the early 1990s. According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s journalist Dave Meltzer, Barr was one of the best heels in history, his facial expressions alone able to inspire rage in audiences of thousands. Additionally, Barr’s tag team with Eddie Guerrero, Los Gringos Locos, was responsible for one of the best matches ever to take place in Mexico, when they challenged Octagón and El Hijo Del Santo to a hair vs. mask match. Prior to all that, however, Barr sexually assaulted a teenage girl in Portland and fled the area to evade capture. He briefly worked for WCW until executives found out about his past abuse, soon firing him for what went down. Rumor has it Barr’s performances in Mexico were making Paul Heyman consider looking the other way on his past, but Barr died due to an overdose before a comeback could happen.
9. Terrance Jean-Jacques – Assaulted His Pregnant Girlfriend
There’s a good chance Terrance Jean-Jacques is the absolute most obscure name on this list, and given his behavior, it’s almost a certainty things will forever stay that way. In early 2016, Jean-Jacques was one of several new trainees working at the WWE Performance Center, where he was lauded for his impressively large frame and impeccable record in amateur athletics. Rather than use this potential to mold into a future superstar, Jean-Jacques threw it all away a mere six months after getting fired by way of a horrific domestic abuse incident. It’s always horrible when a man beats his spouse, and its even worse when the victim is six months pregnant at the time, as her child’s life is highly put at risk in such a scenario. Initially, Jean-Jacques was also charged with kidnapping, witness intimidation, and destruction of property, though it seems only the abuse accusations stuck. Not like he needed do anything else to get labeled a monster, let alone lose his job.
8. DT Porter – Murderer
Barely one step ahead of Terrance Jean-Jacques was Brian McGhee, aka DT Porter, or “The Future” as he preferred to be known inside the ring. Similar to Jean-Jacques, Porter was a relative unknown on the cusp of making his big break when he committed his heinous acts. As stated, however, he was slightly ahead of Jean-Jacques in that he graduated from the WWE Performance Center to Florida Championship Wrestling, a developmental training ground and spiritual precursor to NXT. For whatever reason, WWE decided Porter wasn’t ready for the mainstream in 2012 by cutting him from the roster where he worked for two years, but instead of trying his best to improve and one day return, he went crazy and murdered his girlfriend. All right, so it probably wasn’t an entirely linear path, but the fact remains that mere months after being dismissed by WWE, Porter was caught having stabbed his girlfriend to death.
7. Steve Gatorwolf – Child Abuser
Never underestimate the power of a good victory pose in sports entertainment. Should a wrestler manage to come up with that winning formula of raised fingers and jutted elbows and get the crowd to copy them, it could sell millions of T shirts and various other memorabilia. Back in the 1970s, all vaguely Native American looking wrestlers had a readymade celebration for them in the traditional albeit slightly racist “Indian war dance,” a favorite of legends like “Chief” Jay Strongbow and Wahoo McDaniel. Next in line was supposed to be Steve Gatorwolf, until he forget to do his dance after a big match at Madison Square Garden, causing McMahon to lose all hope in the then rising star. It’s probably a good thing that happened, because if it didn’t, Vince would later have been stuck with the PR nightmare that was Gatorwolf going to jail for repeatedly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl for over a year-long span.
6. “Handsome” Bill Armstrong – Child Abuser
In comparison to the rest of wrestling’s famous Armstrong family, “Handsome” Bill is a complete unknown. That’s probably fair, as he has no actual relation to the legendary “Bullet” Bob or his offspring, and may well have simply been using the name hoping for that very confusion to sell a few tickets. This sort of shady behavior would hardly be out of character for a man like the real Gary Mabe, whose greatest claim to fame has nothing to do with wrestling itself, but how the sport tied into the horrible crime he committed. After North Carolina police were informed what Mabe had done, a warrant was naturally issued for his arrest, but somehow the wrestler was tipped off before his apprehension. Attempting to evade capture, Mabe took a van owned by New Dimension Wrestling and tried to flee, but the company apparently showed no loyalty in helping him getting away, instead reporting the vehicle as stolen and helping police catch the freak.
5. “Nightmare” Ken Wayne – Child Abuser
Plenty of wrestlers might think “Nightmare” is a chillingly cool name to use as they enter the ring, until they learn about one of the last guys to use the moniker and how he took it all too literally for his many nameless victims. Throughout the 1980s, Ken Wayne was called a “Nightmare” due to his tag team with “Nightmare” Danny Davis, the two of them winning a number of regional Tag Team Championships together and earning modest fame. The connection with Danny Davis, who later served as a trainer for WWE, also earned Wayne a few gigs with that company, plus some jobs in WCW when they were on the rise, as well. The downside is that whatever money Ken Wayne made while working for these giants of pro wrestling was later spent on literally the worst thing imaginable: child pornography. Police found tons of it at Wayne’s home in a 2015 raid, leading to a sentence of 20 years in prison.
4. Buck Zumhofe – Child Abuser
Hardly rocking and rolling his way into history, Buck Zumhofe nonetheless made his way into the record books for being the first opponent a young grappler named Hunter Hearst Helmsley would face in the WWE Universe. At that time, Zumhofe was horribly out of shape, overweight and pasty white, looking like a true embarrassment in comparison to the energetic minor star he once was when competing for the AWA Light Heavyweight Championship. Far more embarrassing than mere looks, though, was the fact Zumhofe had already been in prison twice before wrestling Triple H, both times for sexually abusing teenage girls. His first arrest came in 1986, and then he wound up right back in jail in 1989. The Triple H match was in 1995, right after Zumhofe got out of jail again, and before he would get sent back there for a third and hopefully final time. In 2014, Zumhofe received 25 years in prison for sexually abusing his daughter over a 12-year span, and we really hope this gets promoters to stop hiring him.
3. Sam Sheppard – Accused Murderer
There’s a way to look at some of the awful people on this list and almost see how their life story could work as a wrestling villain, yet at the same time, few promoters would dare try to turn such realistic monsters into dollars signs. Well, in the modern era, anyway. Back in the late 1960s, an actual accused murderer was exactly the sort of celebrity pro wrestling was looking for, or at least that was the case with “Killer” Sam Sheppard, a man who spent some 15 years behind bars after having been convicted of slaying his wife. Granted, a retrial would later suggest Sheppard was innocent all along, but his wrestling character ignored this fact and dove headfirst into the idea he was a ruthless killer. Ultimately, both Sheppard and whatever promoters let him wrestle deserve some of the blame for exploiting his alleged crimes, even if he didn’t do them like he claimed.
2. Hardbody Harrison – Kidnapper and Human Trafficker
If anything, WCW fans may remember the brash and arrogant Hardbody Harrison for having been the first wrestler thrown into a pool during one of the company’s famous Spring Break Out episodes of Monday Nitro. Barring that, Harrison really didn’t do anything noteworthy in the sports entertainment business, making it quite suspicious that he would parlay his career into a second life as a wrestler trainer focusing on female students. Of course, that was merely a ruse, as his true intention was to lure those women into his barn, where he would them hold them hostage. After dehumanizing them into being his slaves, Harrison then sold his victims out to others as unwilling prostitutes. Ultimately, Harrison’s eight victims somehow fought back and broke free, alerting authorities to what he had done and leading to a life sentence in prison for his crimes.
1. Bruiser Bedlam – Contract Murderer and Gang Affiliate
Truth be told, there’s nowhere near enough space left in this article for us to discuss the various criminal activities of one Ion Croitoru, aka Bruiser Bedlam, and also known as Taras Bulba and perhaps most famously Johnny K-9 (said notoriety found simply on the merit it’s the name he used in WWE). In the big leagues, K-9 was little more than one of many ‘80s jobbers completely forgotten to time. On a smaller scale, he found some success in Smokey Mountain Wrestling, winning that promotion’s Television Championship and once defeating “Macho Man” Randy Savage in singles combat. Behind the scenes, however, Bedlam was gradually escalating a life of crime that started out in gangs committing minor drug offenses. Soon, Bedlam was blowing up police stations and churches for fun, followed by a few hits made as a contract killer that got him sent to jail more than once.
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