Fans of professional wrestling are an interesting group, even the writers. We like to try and read between the lines of what is being shown on our televisions when two superstars don’t like each other. Sometimes, there is something there to keep an eye on. We’ve seen it happen throughout the history of professional wrestling.
The big difference is that we are now a more socially connected fan base that is able to read more about what is happening regarding our favorite wrestlers in our favorite promotions. We have become an even more studious and informed group than before. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is how there are always situations that happen behind the scenes – ones that the promoters and/or wrestlers don’t want the public to find out about.
The scandals discussed here will span over multiple decades of pro wrestling’s history. Some might be common knowledge by now, but there were times where the promoters and wrestlers attempted to keep things quiet. Some have been successful with their still being a shroud of mystery, while other cases have out in the open despite not being talked about publicly.
However, many pro wrestling fans and writers are a lot smarter than the people in charge would often like us to be. Why else would they try to have a fake Razor Ramon and Diesel when Scott Hall and Kevin Nash made the jump from the World Wrestling Fed--, I mean Entertainment, to World Championship Wrestling. It was just another example of promoters trying to sweep controversial facts under the rug; not the first, nor last time it will happen.
The following are the top 15 scandals in the world of pro wrestling where people involved tried to sweep them under the rug and away from public view.
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15 Dawn Marie's Wrongful Termination
During the WWE’s “Ruthless Aggression” era, Dawn Marie had some memorable moments involving Torrie Wilson. But she was released from the company in 2005 while she was away from WWE on maternity leave and pregnant with her first child. About a year later, she filed a complaint for wrongful termination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
She claimed that she had suffered from mental distraught after losing her job with the company and planned to sue WWE. The case was reportedly settled in 2007 and that was the end of that. While not necessarily one of the biggest scandals, it was large enough where the WWE did not want to go to court over the issue.
14 JBL's Backstage Issues
John “Bradshaw” Layfield has had his share of issues where he took being a backstage enforcer being a little too far. There were a number of stories that one can find online about his hazing of superstars, and it also branched out with public criticisms of matches involving John Morrison – embarrassing him in front of his peers.
He also badgered some announcers like Joey Styles, although that ended with JBL allegedly being knocked out by the much smaller Styles. There’s also the case of him harassing Lillian Garcia, including a plane ride where he dumped ice water on her head. The stories are starting to come out now through interviews outside the company.
13 Randy Orton's Problems With Women
When Orton was a younger superstar in the WWE, he was not one of the more mature men in the locker room. There were a number of stories about his attitude with women in the past, which included Rochelle Loewen’s claims that he had a problem with her because she didn’t know his name.
Among the hazing she received was finding her bag vandalized with a combination of tanning and baby oil being smeared all over the belongings she kept in the women’s locker room. She talked about how Orton seemed like a psychopath and seemed to have problems with other women in the locker room.
12 Martha Hart's Lawsuit Against WWE
Owen Hart was expected to repel from the rafters and to the ring during one of the early matches of the Over the Edge pay-per-view in 1999. Acting as the Blue Blazer, Hart had an issue that led to him falling into the ring. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was announced dead on live television.
There was a lot of controversy with the show continuing on. It’s believed that none of the stunt coordinators wanted to try the quick-release clip for Hart’s harness and his widow Martha blames the WWE for using what she called a “makeshift contraption.”
Martha Hart and WWE headed to court over the matter, but settled in November of 2000 for $18 million. There was no way WWE wanted this matter going on any longer, particularly during the company's strongest business period in their history.
11 Plane Ride From Hell
WWE had a long list of superstars getting into trouble on their airplane on a May 2002 trip to the United Kingdom, especially with alcohol playing a heavy factor. Stories came out that Curt Hennig and Brock Lesnar had a wrestling match in the aisle to settle a debate of who was the better amateur wrestler – which had to be separated by several other wrestlers.
There was also a fight between JBL and road agent Michael Hayes and Dustin Runnels, also known as Goldust, who tried to serenade his ex-wife Terri. Other wrestlers pointed out other silly antics on the seven-hour flight across the pond, including Scott Hall and Hennig tagging people with shaving cream.
10 Chyna's Departure
One of the more memorable women from professional wrestling’s height of popularity in the 1990s, was not really comfortable when her former boyfriend Triple H began dating Stephanie McMahon in real life. Apparently, there were a number of issues that led to her being sent home after a meeting with Vince McMahon – only to be faxed a letter of termination shortly thereafter.
In one interview with Vince Russo in 2015, she claimed she was released because of her issues with Triple H dating the boss’s daughter. But she denied that back in a 2002 interview. Shortly after her passing, Jim Ross said both parties agreed to a mutual separation. With so many different answers to the questions, fans aren’t sure what to believe.
9 Vince McMahon and Rita Chatterton
In 1992, Vince McMahon was accused of trying to cover up sexual crimes within the World Wrestling Federation throughout the year. Former female referee Rita Chatterton claimed she was making decent money, but felt that she had to appease his sexual desires to remain employed.
She was hoping to keep working with the company and even had a meeting with McMahon back in 1986. She claimed that when she tried to reject his advances inside a limousine, he raped her. Chatterton attempted to stay quiet for six years before she finally spoke up when other cases were popping up. This led to her speaking on camera on Geraldo Rivera’s “Now It Can Be Told.”
8 Abuse Of Ring Boys
The year 1992 was not a great year for Vince McMahon’s company as there were allegations made by former ring help Tom Cole that multiple men were sexually harassing him. One of them was Terry Garvin, who was the company’s director of wrestling operations, announcer Mel Phillips and Pat Patterson.
The three men quickly left the company with McMahon defending all three men and said that he was being attacked because of him providing employment to men who were gay. Other boys had similar allegations that led to the departure of all three men and there hasn’t been a lot of information to come out since then that provides any further details.
7 The Death of Brian Pillman
In 1997, Brian Pillman’s body was found in a Minneapolis hotel room while on tour with the World Wrestling Federation. The autopsy found small traces of cocaine in his system, but his cause of death was linked to heart problems.
Melanie King, his widow, said he was abusing steroids and painkillers in an attempt to return from a leg injury, but she didn’t file a lawsuit after the company provided money from the balance of his contact and to go towards a down payment on a home for her and their four children.
Years later, her comments about the WWE needing to reexamine their schedule has led to the company being under fire about former and current wrestlers dying before the age of 45.
6 Stabbing Incident Between Sid Vicious & Arn Anderson
It wasn’t until Leon White, better known as Vader, spoke in an interview about how Sid Vicious and Arn Anderson got into a crazy brawl that involved a pair of scissors while the two were on a tour in the United Kingdom in 1993. Both men were stabbed in the hotel room altercation, with Anderson taking a majority of the blows.
During the recollection, Vader claims he happened to be at that same hotel when he saw Sid Vicious looking in pretty rough shape with what was claimed to be a nickel-sized hole near the belly button. Vader claims he helped slow the bleeding enough to keep him from dying until an ambulance arrived at the scene.
5 Vince McMahon Harasses Tanning Salon Employee
It seems like there is a trend regarding the WWE and sexual assault. This time, Vince McMahon was accused of trying to kiss and inappropriately touch a woman who worked at a tanning salon in Boca Raton, Fla, in 2006. The woman also told police that he also showed her nude photos of himself on his cell phone.
There was another salon employee who made statements to police that Mr. McMahon seemed polite and didn’t seem to show any advances. There were no charges filed, but she did tell police she wanted to prosecute the WWE chairman. No arrests were made and it seems to have died down since then.
4 Steroid Trial
More than two decades ago, Vince McMahon stood trial involving drug trafficking charges. The charges were first announced in 1993 that claimed McMahon’s company was collecting steroids from an east coast doctor and were given out to wrestlers on the WWE roster. Wrestlers who were believed to have taken steroids gave testimony, which didn’t help the case against McMahon.
Despite possibly being sentenced to federal prison and McMahon's pro wrestling empire falling apart, he was acquitted and the case started to fade out of memory. There is still believed to be a cover-up conspiracy about the truth behind the use of steroids in the WWE.
3 Bruiser Brody's 1988 Murder
In 1988, Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death during an altercation with wrestler Jose Gonzalez in the locker room of a World Wrestling Council show in Puerto Rico. Gonzalez was arrested and charged with murder, but claimed that he was acting in self-defense. The jury in Puerto Rico found him not guilty and there are still a number of questions even nearly 30 years later.
Depending on who saw the knife, the size ranged from a kitchen knife to a hunting knife. It was never found and none of the wrestlers in the locker room provided testimony during the trial, leading to many to speculate that it was a cover up.
2 Jimmy Snuka's Murder Case
The 1983 death of Nancy Argentino, who was Jimmy Snuka’s mistress at the time, has come back into the light of the public eye with new charges being filed against the man once known as Superfly. Authorities arrived to a Pennsylvania hotel room where Argentino was found with a fractured skull.
For years, Snuka claimed he had no reason to hurt her. But with the recent case starting up, his defense attorney seems to be claiming he is not mentally fit to stand trial and has no recollection of the incident. Even 33 years after she was found dead, there are a number of questions still left unanswered.
1 Chris Benoit
It’s one thing when the WWE tries to lead fans to forget someone existed, which is usually done by pretending they don’t exist. However, the WWE virtually tried to remove Chris Benoit from their history after the graphic details came out regarding a 2007 murder suicide where not only he passed, but also his wife Nancy and his son Daniel, 7.
Before the investigation results were announced, the WWE spent an episode of Raw as a memorial to his career. But there was a cloud of negative publicity when the true cause of death was found, which led to Vince McMahon announcing no further mention of Benoit in WWE.
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