Professional wrestling is an interesting work environment, to say the least. There are some things many of us can relate to. In any company – store, restaurant, office, etc. – there is going to be a collection of males and females who come from different backgrounds and cultures. This can sometimes lead to tensions that range from “could have been easily avoided” to “well, that got weird pretty quickly.”
Wrestling events have similar stories. However, WWE and other promotions are not typical work environments that have the same problems that the Average Joe or Janet has to deal with. In fact, there are some times when a story from a backstage incident can become cringe-worthy. Wrestlers sometimes get a little too violent when confronting another wrestler about a disagreement.
There are also a number of stories about hazing and bullying that many would question should not be tolerated today. And yet, we are often reminded how disturbing the world of professional wrestling can be. Some wrestlers feel they can get away with doing certain things depending on their position in the company. This can lead to someone feeling it’s okay to use a racial slur or touch another wrestler or staff member in a sexually harassing manner.
Aside from all of that, there are tragic stories with disturbing twists that can come out of nowhere. Someone’s depression finally leads to having a emotional and mental breakdown, leading to a murder-suicide that causes shock waves still felt today. The following list highlights several of these kinds of stories revolving disturbing backstage incidents in professional wrestling history.
20 The Miz Forced to Dress in Public Restrooms
Mike “The Miz” Mizanin had to pay a lot of dues when he first came into the WWE. Not the typical stuff that every wrestler has to cover. Miz came into the WWE with a lot of attention after being a star on a reality television show on MTV. That actually made him a target as he claimed in interviews that several of his peers wanted to get him fired. He was bullied early on and wasn’t even able to use the locker rooms for several months.
The Miz recalls having to go to one of the public restrooms in the arenas the WWE was running in. He said it was certainly a humiliating experience. He also notes that it was part of what drove him to overcome anything that others would dish out to him. The thing that disturbs some people is that the WWE locker room maintained a “bully” mentality around new wrestlers.
19 John Cena’s Relationship With Mickie James
John Cena has long been known as one of the biggest role models for young WWE fans for more than a decade. But the 16-time world champion who recently tied Ric Flair’s record does not have a perfectly clean history. In fact, he actually had relations with multiple women. Not only that, it was with a female WWE superstar who was in a relationship with another wrestler at that time.
Mickie James was dating Ken Doane, formerly of the Spirit Squad, when she had an affair with Cena. When the word got out, Doane broke up with James. Doane claimed that Cena had some influence in his 2008 release from the company. Cena and James remained close until he married his high school sweetheart – which led to James struggling to work with Cena after that.
18 Michael Hayes’ Use of Racial Slurs
There are certain things one can say that would automatically lead to someone getting the pink slip. However, the WWE is not what you would considered a “traditional workplace environment.” In 2008, WWE agent and producer Michael Hayes was at a post-WrestleMania party with a number of wrestlers. As one would imagine, alcohol was served and Hayes had a little too much to drink as a discussion with MVP and Mark Henry took place.
In short, Hayes said he was more of a [N-word] than Henry was. No one would have blamed Henry for slamming Hayes to the floor. Instead, he went to WWE management, who in turn suspended Hayes for 60 days. According to reports posted by the Baltimore Sun, Hayes had been guilty of similar incidents. That should be disturbing to see someone with a powerful role in the company have multiple offenses surrounding racial, offensive slurs.
17 Sid Vicious And His Squirrel
This might be one of those urban myths in the history of wrestling. But it’s been told and shared many times over the internet and it’s certainly worthy of being on this list. First off, Sid Vicious (a.k.a. Sycho Sid) was known for having a pet squirrel that he brought with him on the road. That alone is somewhat disturbing in a small sense. People have them as pets, but it was certainly weird to take one on the road.
A few wrestlers decided to dare Sid to have the squirrel in his pants for at least one minute. Sid agreed, which was also disturbing. About halfway through the challenge, the squirrel bit in an area that most people would fear. Sid fell in pain, which reportedly killed the squirrel. The big man also needed to have surgery to take care of that sensitive area.
16 Plane Ride From Hell
One of the most infamous incidents behind the scene incidents in WWE history was during an overseas flight from the United Kingdom in 2002. Now there have been a number of chaotic backstage moments in wrestling, but it felt like this one plane ride had several of those moments rolled up into a fiery ball set for a collision course. First, Curt Hennig and Brock Lesnar had a shoot wrestling match on the plane while it was in the air.
Goldust was drunk while having a verbal war with his ex-wife. Michael Hayes also drank too much and got physical with John “Bradshaw” Layfield before his mullet was chopped off by X-Pac – a repeat offender on this list. Jim Ross said it best in a column on WWE.com after the trip: Imagine children getting into the unlocked liquor cabinet when the parents were away.
15 JBL’s Shower Hazings
Several wrestling forums have stories about how John “Bradshaw” Layfield would make a number of wrestlers uncomfortable in the locker room; specifically in the shower. This doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch for JBL, who has built up a reputation of being a bully to younger wrestlers throughout his career. One incident that was pretty disturbing involved Edge when he was starting to build his status in the WWE.
Edge points out the event in his autobiography that JBL applied soap on Edge’s backside. Edge said it was nothing severe and was more of a joke that was meant for “weeding out the prima donnas and to see who is going to be a cool kid.” While it’s good there was no violent incident or sexual assault in the showers, it’s still disturbing.
14 Raven and an Underage Girl
Raven has had an interesting career in the world of professional wrestling. It was early in his career with Extreme Championship Wrestling when he was known for having regular sessions with “ring rats.” There was one incident he admitted in a shoot interview that he went into a hotel room with three women. One of them was the wife of Joel Gertner. Another was a separate woman and the third was a very young, 15-year-old Becky Bayless.
Gertner apparently knew Bayless was in Raven’s hotel room and called the police. The officers walked into Raven’s hotel room to find her in the room and him naked. Raven would be interrogated. However, he was let go because there was no actual evidence of any sexual relations between the two. It was still a disturbing situation for Raven to put himself into in the first place.
13 Jerry Lawler’s Crown Used as a Throne
Jerry “The King” Lawler was considered guilty of having an ego. He was considered the King of Memphis before first joining the WWE in 1992. This may have had something to do with multiple WWE Superstars deciding to use Lawler’s crown as a throne, in a not so regal way. During a shoot interview with Jim Cornette for Ring of Honor Wrestling, Percy Pringle said the first to poop in the crown was Steve Kerr.
Pringle also made a comment that other wrestlers also had their chance to do the same thing to Lawler’s crown. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan once wrote in his book “Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All” that The Undertaker was one of the culprits. It became such a problem that wrestlers like the Honky Tonk Man recalled a memo sent to the roster asking them to stop taking dumps in his crown.
12 Harlem Heat’s Initial Racist Gimmick in WCW
Hints of racism can be found throughout the history of professional wrestling. Many people viewed Virgil’s character as a slave to Ted DiBiase in the 1990s. But very few things could rival how World Championship Wrestling had a plan for booking the team of Booker T and Stevie Ray. Before they became Harlem Heat, they were first called the Ebony Experience before being signed to WCW in 1993.
However, the WCW creative team started to go with the idea of having the African-American wrestlers dressed in leg shackles and jumpsuits. They were planned to be paired with Col. Robert Parker – who looked like the colonel from the KFC commercials. The story was that Parker won the two in a game of cards. After testing it out at a few house shows, the idea was quickly nixed for “possibly” being offensive.
11 Dennis Condrey, Phil Hickerson’s Prank Goes Another Direction
In the late 1970s, Tojo Yamamoto was considered a good man in the wrestling business; at least by Jim Cornette’s account. But he was very judgmental of fellow wrestlers Dennis Condrey and Phil Hickerson. Yamamoto was homophobic at the time and had opinions of the two who had gimmicks to draw a lot of heat in the very conservative state of Tennessee. Condrey had an interesting way to prank Yamamoto.
Yamamoto walked in on a scene where Hickerson was on his knees and Condrey had his trunks down. Additionally, Condrey also decided to grab the back of Hickerson’s head and make it more of a “shoot” than a “work.” While it was meant to be a joke on Yamamoto, Hickerson would actually chase Condrey out of the building and down the street.
10 The Not-So-Healthy Relationship Between Chris Candido and Sunny
Very few relationships that form in high school work out for the long-run. Chris Candido and Tammy Lynn Sytch, better known as Sunny, were a couple who entered the world of professional wrestling at Smoky Mountain Wrestling and eventually to the WWE. But Sunny was known for having relations with other WWE wrestlers, including Shawn Michaels. Candido was viewed as loyal “puppy dog” who would follow Sunny.
Percy Pringle recalled a story where he asked Candido about how Sunny was acting. His response: “But Percy, I love her.” The heat got to a point where Sunny’s reputation and ego got her so much hate in the back. This led to the earlier mentioned pooping incident involving Sean “X-Pac” Waltman. Sunny’s reputation continued to be damanged more and more through other promotions.
9 Sunny Doing Favors for Drugs
This is almost like a “Part II” for the last section about the relationship between Sunny and Chris Candido. When Tammy Lynn Sytch made the switch to ECW, she was still in a relationship with Candido – for whatever reason. A number of ECW wrestlers had stories about how Sytch was willing to sleep around with other wrestlers in exchange for drugs. Sandman claims she gave blowjobs to multiple wrestlers for pills.
While Sabu denied receiving one from her, he did offer her pills in exchange for seeing her chest. There was one incident a lot of ECW talents were at a bar and Sunny was in a bathroom stall completing an “exchange” while Candido was trying to find her at the bar. It was disturbing both for how Sytch continued to be disrespectful and also for how much Candido was willing to put up with.
8 X-Pac Had a S****y Demeanor
Sean “X-Pac” Waltman has had his share of backstage incidents. However, he has crossed the line a few times in a disturbing way that should have gotten him fired on the spot. For example, X-Pac would decide to do something about Sunny’s ego rubbing many of the WWE superstars the wrong way. It was a prank that many people on the roster knew Waltman would be up for doing – pooping in Sunny’s food.
Waltman was also known for pooping in Sable’s bag for similar heat against her. In a YouShoot interview, Waltman wasn’t able to recall exactly how many people he pulled a defecation prank on. He did say it was well under 10. Regardless, it’s disturbing to know he’s done it so many times to different people in the WWE locker room.
7 Nailz Attacks Vince McMahon
The WWE has often shown the boss, Vince McMahon, get beaten up by the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and other popular superstars. Many fans who wished they could physically respond to their boss at work lived through the Texas Rattlesnake and others. However, it’s hard to believe that someone would actually want to attack Mr. McMahon in retaliation for not getting the pay he thought he deserved.
In 1992, Kevin Walcholz was a lower-tier wrestler who was in a closed door meeting with McMahon. The man who was best known as Nailz apparently wasn’t happy and choked the boss to the point he was unconscious and blue. In a completely, and sarcastically, shocking fashion, Nailz was terminated from his WWE contract. Ironically, he was scheduled for a feud with The Ultimate Warrior.
6 New Jack, Balls Mahoney Incident Gets Ugly
ECW originals New Jack and Balls Mahoney had a bit of an altercation behind the scenes of an “Extreme Rising” event in 2012 that has roots going back to 2011. Apparently, Mahoney was accused of taking a girl to a hotel room paid for by a promoter where both used blood as part of their “relations.” This left was part of a large mess Mahoney left behind that cost the promoter about $300 in clean-up costs. New Jack took offense and made public comments on YouTube about the incident.
Obviously, this would lead to bad blood where Mahoney made comments to other talents when both he and New Jack were booked for an event. Mahoney claimed he was prepared if there was trouble, once with a knife and another time with a gun. The final straw was Mahoney using the N-word during a recorded shoot interview. New Jack saw Mahoney and then attacked him and was about to use a machete to kill Mahoney. Thankfully, security came in and handled the situation.
5 Bill DeMott As WWE Developmental Trainer
In 2015, former WWE developmental wrestler Austin Matelson, who has wrestled as Judas Devlin, would release a letter that he wrote to WWE Talent Relations in 2013 about allegations against WWE NXT head trainer Bill DeMott. One was a case of being harsh on Matelson about a back injury that he insinuated needed to be covered up. Matelson also wrote that DeMott would slap Enzo Amore on multiple occasions.
Matelson also wrote that DeMott showed Amore the effects of a bad body slam by dropping Amore on his head and neck. DeMott was also accused of telling an entire class to “kill themselves” shortly after a developmental wrestler committed suicide. Former TNA wrestler Rhaka Khan was also critical of DeMott; who would eventually resign from his position.
4 Fabulous Moolah’s ‘Wrestling School’
Fabulous Moolah has been viewed as one of the pioneer female wrestlers through the 1940s in the territory days of professional wrestling and all the way up to her time in the WWE until she went into semi-retirement in the 1980s. While viewed as one of the best women’s wrestlers in history, details have since come out about her running a shady wrestling school operation initially out of her house.
For example, she has since been accused of “pimping” out her students to a number of promoters. This was also one way of her guaranteeing that she was going to find favorable bookings throughout. Additionally, Moolah was also believed to have enabled many students’ drug addictions. The WWE Hall of Famer who passed away in 2007 now has a black mark on what was one of the best runs in female wrestling history.
3 1992 Sex Scandal in WWE
The WWE certainly has been in the spotlight for things beyond the action in the ring. In 1992, they had a scandal involving sexual harassment and abuse of a young Tom Cole. Cole was working as part of the company’s ring crew. During the early 1990s, Cole claimed that Terry Garvin, the director of wrestling operations for WWE, harassed him sexually. He also noted that ring announcer Mel Phillips was a little too interested in Cole’s feet.
Additionally, he claimed Pat Patterson, the head of talent relations, “grabbed (his) ass.” The scandal put a lot of pressure on the WWE. Garvin and Phillips were fired, while Patterson resigned, but was hired back after an investigation cleared him. Cole mentioned later that he didn’t mind working with Patterson again after the initial incident. Cole would later tell Politico magazine that Vince McMahon’s wife Linda was very supportive through the whole situation and was actually writing a check to her campaign to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010.
2 Chris Benoit Murder-Suicide
While it’s not technically something that happened specifically in the backstage area of WWE events, a lot happened behind the scenes that led to the WWE taking a lot of criticism. The initial story in June 2007 on a Monday revealed that Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy and his 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead in their home in Atlanta, Ga. There was still an investigation as the WWE spent the entire episode of RAW to honor the three; which was supposed to originally be revolving around Vince McMahon’s storyline death.
But more details came out 24 hours later about Benoit’s depression from the deaths of Eddie Guerrero – along with a number of other factors like steroids and brain injuries – that drove him to snap. This led to killing his wife and son before committing suicide. The WWE quickly distanced themselves by putting Benoit on their blacklist. The incident also brought more attention to the effects of head injuries suffered in pro wrestling.
1 Bruiser Brody’s Death in Puerto Rico
Deaths in wrestling have taken place throughout the years. But none have been covered up as much as that of Frank Goodish – also known as Bruiser Brody. Multiple wrestlers have come forward about what has happened during a show in July 1988 in Puerto Rico. There was an apparent confrontation between fellow wrestler Jose Gonzalez and Brody. It ended with an alleged stabbing by Gonzalez that killed Brody.
Gonzalez claimed it was an act of self-defense. A number of wrestlers refused to testify while others like Dutch Martel were more than willing. Martel said his subpoena was issued Jan. 3, 1989, but wasn’t mailed until 10 days later. He would receive it the day after the trial and Gonzalez was acquitted of the murder charges. The disturbing part is how things were covered up by locals in Puerto Rico to prevent a wrestling “hero” from being charged.