Controversy has been as much part and parcel of the WWE as the in-ring showmanship aspect of it and perhaps due to kayfabe, the WWE universe has always been explicitly interested in the real life goings-on of wrestlers. Over the years, scandalous and ridiculous incidents have littered the WWE landscape that sometimes threatened to destabilize the company even, and in such cases the WWE have done their best to hush up the incident and wait for the heat to cool off.
Thanks to the advent of internet and inherent human nature, some of these incidents eventually find the public gaze, albeit in hushed tones and amidst raised eyebrows. These are the scandals that the WWE are not prepared to address for fear of it offending sensibilities to a potentially damning extent. Here are 7 Scandals that the WWE did not want you to know about.
The Vince McMahon-HBK Relationship
As Road Warrior Hawk once alleged, Vince McMahon’s relationship with Shawn Michaels was not entirely one of that between employer and employee. While whispers of a homosexual relationship also made cautious rounds in the dirtsheets, the validity of the claims have never been proven as you may surmise.
And considering that Road Warrior Hawk was not on good terms with WWE when he came up with his ‘insightful’ opinion, one can be forgiven for brushing this rumour away. Besides, he was also a habitual trouble maker who had backstage beef with a good number of wrestlers over the years. Judging by the sheer number of shoot-fights that he has been involved in, Hawk had more than just a passing penchant for trouble mongering.
However, HBK did get away with many things that other superstars might not have. When he was out with a back injury, Vince ensured that Shawn was paid in full despite not wrestling for an elongated recovery period of 4 years.
Later on, HBK has termed the relationship between himself and Vince Mcmahon as akin to one between a son and a father, so I guess there isn’t much to read into this rumour. But while the two remain close beyond professional requirement, this particular rumour might not quite die out ever.
The Plane Ride from Hell
Now this one would be a PR nightmare for the WWE were it to transpire in the current internet era. As it is, a detailed account has nonetheless spilled forth from X-Pac, who was in the plane and involved himself heavily in proceedings.It was the 5th of may, 2002. A red letter day in WWE history, and a day where meltdown and anarchy occurred amongst WWE wrestlers – the whole kicker being that it occurred in the sky.
The entire RAW locker-room was, including the McMahons, on a flight back to American shores after doing a show at London, in the UK. A combination of drugs, booze and easily combustible men soon took over as pandemonium reigned.
Rather than hearing a third person recount of the ludicrous events that occurred on that fateful day, I think it offers more perspective as to the working environment of the WWE when heard straight from the horse’s mouth. This is a must-watch!
The Steroid Trial
In some senses, the duo of Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan were hand in glove responsible for the massive wheels of momentum that the WWE gained as a business. Their confluence can be dated back to the 80s where Hogan was the star attraction and Vince’s WWE provided the global stage and reach. In the old days of wrestling, the lines of legitimacy were blurred when considering wrestling as a mainstream industry unlike today. Things that happened in the locker-room to the wrestlers, was accepted as a way of life that they chose.
These wrestlers who lived out their lives generally expecting to put their bodies on the line each night in order to make a living though, found that they struck gold when WWE went global and mainstream. Suddenly, a quasi-taboo industry found its stock rise and its fan base multiply. A large part of this process involved portraying wrestlers as larger-than-life characters, and that made steroid use an acceptable facet of the wrestling landscape.
in 1993 though, Vince McMahon was charged on the count of distribution of steroids to wrestlers and the star witness who was called forth to give testimony was none other than Hulk Hogan.
Vince and Hogan both accepted that they used steroids in the past and it was revealed that around 75 to 80% of the wrestlers under the employ of the company also used steroids, but Vince never got convicted of distributing the substance. A close shave, not only for the WWE, but also for Vince McMahon personally.
The whole episode was too close for comfort – so much so that suddenly, the Hulk Hogans and the Ultimate Warriors were replaced by the likes of smaller built wrestlers like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. The WWE rolled on...
The Jimmy Snuka Murder Case
In 1983, Jimmy Snuka’s girlfriend Nancy Argentino, who was merely 23 years old then, was found dead in their motel room. In the consequent investigation, the police tagged Snuka as a ‘person of interest’. The Superfly was a big draw in the company then, what with him being responsible for some of the earliest high flying “Holy S*it!” moments in the WWE.
Luckily for WWE and Snuka, he was never convicted for the crime, despite regaling the police with contrasting explanations for Nancy’s death. One report claimed the Snuka admitted to having pushed her and thus causing her to hit her head while falling down. Another account that Snuka gave the police was pointedly different; He claimed that she had slipped and hit her head on the highway while they pulled their vehicle over in order to take a leak.
Upon autopsy of the body, it was concluded that her head injury was consistent with a stationary head being struck repeatedly with a blunt moving object. (oops!)
However no conclusive evidence was uncovered that could shed light on whether the death of Nancy Argentino was a homicide or an accident, and the case was eventually declared inactive. Jimmy Superfly Snuka was the only ‘person of interest’ tagged in the case till the investigations were called off.
Almost as an afterthought in 2014, 31 years later, the incident came under the scanner again as authorities debated opening the case up to a grand jury. Eerily similar to events in 1983 though, the trail’s gone cold again.
Pat Patterson’s Disgrace
It is conceivable that even many present day viewers know of Pat Patterson for he used to show up in WWE programming as a corporate stooge whose ass we all liked seeing get kicked. There is a bit of wrestling history attached to Patterson though, having been the first ever Intercontinental Champion, along with the ignominy of having a questionable reputation when it comes to conduct. Who am I kidding?
Pat Patterson, as the WWE Universe knew for years before the official announcement came out on WWE Legend’s House, is homosexual. Not only that, he has been alleged to have persuaded young and upcoming superstars into sexual favours under the pretext of giving them a ‘push’ in the company.
Roddy Piper’s admission as much that Patterson coaxed him into sexual favours and that the trying nature of the industry didn’t exactly leave him much option was something that took tremendous courage, as is evident in this interview. That Piper completely reverts his stance in the latter part of the video in a fire and brimstone post-commentary, pretty much smacks of damage control and ironically serves to highlight Patterson’s guilt further.
Pat Patterson happens to be Stephanie McMahon’s godfather, and in lieu with his creative role in WWE programming, its not hard to understand why these rumours have been quashed.
Disclaimer : Pat Patterson is also one of the greatest minds to ever grace the business. Many wrestlers owe the success of their gimmick to him and the WWE universe owes him thanks for the Royal Rumble, amongst other things.
Now the concept of having a non-official court run by senior wrestlers may sound like a corrupt worker’s union, but the Wrestler’s court was established in answer to necessity rather than as an attempt to assimilate clout or power. It’s origins can be traced to the early days in pro-wrestling and to one legend in particular, Dutch Mantell, or better known to the WWE universe now as Zeb Colter.
Mantell, in his early days, had witnessed how real heat between wrestlers often found unhealthy outlets and watched a wrestler, Bruiser Brody, lose his life over such an incident of unchecked backstage heat. Brody, lured into the shower area under the pretext of a conversation, was stabbed by a fellow wrestler named Jose Gonzales and 27 years on from the incident, no one has been convicted and Gonzales walked scott free.
This however did lead to Mantell understanding and realising the need to establish decorum and order amongst the wrestlers and hence came up with ingenius idea of the wrestler’s court. The idea was to talk about problems in front of a wrestler who would be assuming the mantle of the judge, with others playing the part of attorneys, witnesses and/or audience. Now while this added a slight comedic element to proceedings due to the enforced formality of it all, it also unofficially ensured that decorum and hierarchy was maintained within the ranks.
As Randy Savage informs, Vince McMahon did know of the existence of the court but allowed it to remain an open secret for it provided an avenue to nip the bad blood between wrestlers in the bud. Any guesses who served as the judge?The Phenom of course.The enforcer of the law was JBL.When the Phenom wasn’t around, Triple H stepped up.
Why was Randy Savage taboo?
Now this is the mother of all scandals as far as the WWE is concerned. It coincided with a hazy period in WWE history when Vince was embroiled in dealing with the steroid trials. Understandably, he was losing his sponsors and financial backing due to the negative publicity that the hearings bore upon the company. Had Terry Bolea(Hulk Hogan) not testified and cleared Vince of distributing steroids to his wrestlers, WWE as we know it today might not have existed.
It was at that time that Randy Savage left the WWE after promising Vince McMahon that he would not join WCW. He went back on his word and joined the rival promotion almost instantaneously, earning the wrath of Vince who felt betrayed. This is one of the reasons that is touted to explain the grudge Vince held against Randy Savage.
Another explanation could involve the popular food item, Slim Jim, whose tie up with Randy Savage left deep-lying implications for McMahon to deal with. When Savage went to WCW, Slim Jim followed suit, leaving Vince McMahon one sponsor short at a time when he needed all the financial backing that he could get.
Or, was it because he learnt of an entanglement between a soon-to-depart Randy Savage and a 17-year old Stephanie McMahon?
Of course the story has never been corroborated but Vince McMahon was noted to have a marked change in demeanour if someone so much as mentioned Randy Savage to him. He once was heard claiming in an uncharacteristic sombre tone, “ I will never do business with that man again.” Having been privy to Vince McMahon’s modus operandi over the years, it’s just a little difficult to accept on face value that Randy Savage after 1994, was never good enough for business to be called back into the WWE. Or at least not until it was too late.