JG's Columns JG's Ten False Wrestling Rumors That Everybody's Heard
By James Guttman
Feb 15, 2012 - 12:47 PM
Pro wrestling is about suspension of disbelief. The people behind the curtain are there to construct stories we can follow and enjoy. With that, though, come many side stories that are created, implied, or thought up by fans themselves. These false rumors and beliefs seep into the atmosphere and become a part of our collective knowledge. With that, I present to you Ten False Wrestling Rumors That Everybody's Heard along with the truth behind the fiction.
Two quick notes First, some of these rumors were cleared up through interviews right here on the World Wrestling Insanity through the years.
So it's not about pushing ClubWWI as much as citing the source. Also, I don't literally mean everybody. You might not know all of these. Then again, you might. Read on and relive the falsehoods of your youth…
Big Show is Andre The Giant's son.
On this site, D-Lo Brown used to say that "everything is a work". In life, anything that involves money changing hands is worked - sports, entertainment, music, all of it.
While a view like this can be written off as cynicism for some, it's hard to not put it in perspective given the way the industry, uh,
works. Case in point - giants.
Andre the Giant was huge. Although debatable, his height had always been agreed at as around seven feet. Of course, WWF said he was 7'4. I remember a few times they claimed he was 7'5. Following his death, Hulk Hogan told everyone he was 8 feet. Before all is said and done, the wrestling history books will say he was four miles high. We accept this.
Now, seven feet is pretty damn impressive. When you combine that with the sheer mass he had packed onto his frame and the ease in which he was able to move around the ring earlier in his career, it becomes apparent that Andre's height never had to be exaggerated. People would be in awe of him regardless of fuzzy math.
But that's wrestling. Even people who would instantly be met with "ooos" and "ahhhs" are given phony measurements and back stories. That's why no one was too shocked when the second coming of Andre was given the same treatment and turned into the literal second coming of Andre.
"The Giant" Paul Wight (later WWE's Big Show) debuted in WCW back in 1998. Although he too was gigantic and pushed to a World Title win in his debut match, World Championship Wrestling still decided to give him a fantasy family line.
It was said that Paul was the son of the late Andre The Giant. Add to that his outfit being nearly identical to that of Andre and his name, The Giant, simply being an abbreviation of Andre's, you had little to persuade you otherwise.
Oh and of course, they looked identical.
Oh wait. Did I say identical? I meant they looked nothing alike. In fact, outside of the size and outfit, they appeared completely different. If we believed that people who were similar heights and wore similar clothes were related than we'd all be convinced that Demolition, The Rockers, The Midnight Express, The Road Warriors, Doink the Clown and Jeff Jarrett, Rock-n-Roll Express, Headshrinkers, and other tag teams were all related.
The gimmick was met with a lot of unhappiness by fans who saw it as a disrespectful way for Andre's name to be used following his death by a company that wasn't considered his home base (although they featured his last television appearance). As Wight's WCW career played out, it even became fodder for jokes. During a memorable moment with his N.W.O. co-horts on Nitro, Scott Hall had turned to the big man and asked, "Are you really that guy's son?" Big Show grinned and shook his head.
Of course, we all know that Big Show's daddy wasn't Andre the Giant. His Daddy died, had his coffin corralled by Big Bossman, and Show rode it like a boogieboard across the cemetery. Actually, I need to correct myself. We're not even sure if that guy was Paul's dad because a short time later we found out that he was - storylinewise - "illegitimate."
So who's Big Show's real daddy? Yup. You guessed it.
Paul Orndorff died in 1988.
"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff was one of the first bad guys I supported. Following his vicious attack on Hulk Hogan, Orndorff became the villain to end all villains. I remember telling my dad before a Nassau Coliseum live event that if Orndorff didn't beat the champion, I was going to throw away my Hulk Hogan
He didn't. And I didn't.
Entrenched in the WWF World Title picture, Paul seemed poised to make a big splash. Nearly winning the belt at numerous house shows, Orndorff looked like he was about to go to the next level. From Hogan's music to movements, "Mr. Wonderful" was the evil version of Hulkamania. It seemed like a natural fit to keep him on top as the Yin to Hulkamania's Yang. But that didn't happen.
Following a turn back to the side of good, "Mr. Wonderful" soon became "Mr. Invisible". He was gone from the company and nowhere to be found for a long time.
How long, you ask? Long enough for the pre-Internet era of fans to start passing around the fake story that he was dead. Kids at school told me. My friend's mom told me. Kevin down the street told me. Everyone told me. Paul Orndorff had died. How? Not sure. Just died. Details like that weren't important back then. Without Google to make you smart, you just believed people on the street and went about watching your 30 TV channels by pressing buttons on a little box connected to a wire.
Of course, Paul Orndorff didn't die. His career continued years later in WCW alongside our good friend Paul Roma and others. I remember shortly following his return to the ring, Orndorff had joked about it and quoted Mark Twain for Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
Of course, fans today know him as a WWE Hall of Famer and it couldn't be better deserved. To show my support on the day of his induction, I threw away my Hulk Hogan LJN figure.
Hee hee - Hulkamania's Yang.
Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake are brothers.
Speaking of Hulkamania's Yang... For years, one rumor that has persisted about Ed "Brutus The Barber Beefcake" Leslie's relationship with Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea. The two, friends for years, have long been rumored to be brothers.
True? No. And, in a rare case, this one is easy to explain. Beefcake started his career off as Hogan's on-air brother and basically looked exactly like him. Whether he was playing Dizzy Hogan to Hulk's "Hulk Hogan" persona or Ed Boulder to Hulk's "Terry Boulder" gimmick, he was promoted as Bollea's sibling.
See for yourself. Take a look at this video featuring a young Dizzy Hogan attempting to bodyslam the One Man Gang.
Despite ending the brotherhood gimmick early in his career, Beefcake was still treated by Hulk as such during the WWF heyday. Hogan coined the name "Brother Brutai" for the Barber and came out of retirement to save him at an awful WrestleMania.
Of course recently, Hogan's ex-wife Linda made the insane claims that Hulk and Brutus were "more than just friends". Had they really been related, the allegations would have been even crazier.
OK. Maybe not so much.
Lex Luger was supposed to win the WWF Title at WrestleMania X but didn’t because he was telling people in a bar the night before.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, since many of these rumors had stuck with me through life, I was able to verify or squash them myself. In some cases, I even forgot that I did. Nothing beats the surprise at Googling a question you have about past wrestling events only to have your own name pop up in the results for it. That's what happened with this one.
In 1993, the entire world thought Lex Luger was going to win the WWE World Title. It was a foregone conclusion. The American Original was battling the treacherous Yokozuna and their SummerSlam bout seemed like a lock for Lex to walk away from as Champion.
But he didn't.
So when he "tied" Bret Hart in the weirdest Royal Rumble finish ever the following year, earning a tournament style World Title match at WrestleMania, many assumed he would again beat Yoko.
Again, he didn't.
When things like this happen, we as fans scramble for a reason. Given the storyline progression and Luger's push, it made no sense that he wouldn't have won the strap during at least one of those matches. So stories began to float around and the most repeated one was difficult for some to believe.
As the legend goes, The Total Package was out partying the night before WrestleMania and bragging about his upcoming
title win. Somehow Vince McMahon got wind of this and changed plans at the last minute - taking the championship reign from Luger's grasp.
Of course, this is ridiculous. First you have to consider that WWE is changing the finish to their biggest pay-per-view of the year based on a whim because maybe 50 people heard the plans early. Then you have to consider that such an act of betrayal by a top star would still keep him employed and spotlighted on television for the next six months.
Then, there's the fact that Luger himself gave the true story during his ClubWWI.com appearance. The plans had never been changed. As Lex told me in 2009…
"To be honest with you, I knew maybe a few months before WrestleMania because my family had never been to an event. So I asked (The WWF) for tickets to WrestleMania and Vince was upset. He called me into his office, this is months and months before WrestleMania, and he goes, "Lex, you know, you're not going to be winning the belt at WrestleMania." And my ex-wife Peggy had some really good friends out of New York. Their family had kids the same age as my kids, so I wanted them there no matter what. So I said, "Vince, I just want them to go to the event with their friends. It doesn't matter. That doesn't have anything to do with me wanting tickets." So he let me know months out that I was not going to be World Champion at WrestleMania because he was worried about me flying my whole family in to celebrate me winning the title and he was courteous enough to tell me that I wasn't winning the belt. So I knew months out."
Oh, and it gets better. Not only were plans never changed, but there was never any bar either.
"And I've heard these crazy rumors. Someone saw something on Wikipedia one time - which is not an encyclopedia. You can type in and change whatever you want that I was in a bar, messed up, telling everyone I was going to win so they didn't do it. But I was actually, the night before, not in a bar in New York saying I was going to win the World Title. I was actually staying two hours away from New York for the site of Wrestlemania at my wife's friend's house in Connecticut. So I wasn't anywhere near a bar telling people I was going to win the World Title."
There were two Ultimate Warriors.
Jim Hellwig is the Ultimate Warrior. That's it.
There was no "original" Ultimate Warrior. I know your friend Kevin swears to you that it's true. But your friend Kevin is a dope and smells like cheese. There was no original Ultimate Warrior. There was only one.
To be fair, though, the difference in Warrior's look changed a lot through the years. From the days of Dingo Warrior in WCCW to the shiny bleach blond Ultimate Warrior of 1991, there was a noticeable change.
But hair dying doesn't equal real dying and the Warrior remained the same despite people assuming otherwise.
Making matters worse was that when Jim returned to the WWF after a brief hiatus in 1992, he had lost considerable mass and, again, people began to whisper that he was being played by someone new.
Again, no. Same dude.
One interesting footnote to this gets lost to history. In the brief time between Warrior's WWF entrance in late 1987 and Kerry Von Erich's debut a few years later, there were some who thought Von Erich was the Warrior. That rumor floated around. But at the end of the day, it was all Jim Hellwig.
Now send this link to Kevin and tell him to shut up. Tell him that Paul Orndorff is still alive too. Friggin' Kevin.
Jerry Lawler hated ECW.
I've said it before. I'll say it again. Jerry Lawler is awesome.
Although younger fans may know him as the jovial announcer and Michael Cole puncher of Raw, Lawler's legacy is so much more. From outside projects to in-ring action, few - if any -can hold a candle to his talents and resume.
But Jerry's best work may have been his most evil. To paraphrase Roddy Piper - when he's good, he's good. When he's bad, he's better.
Lawler spent a good amount of the early 1990s terrorizing the Hart Family, forcing alcohol down the throat of "recovering alcoholic" Jake Roberts, and grooming mini versions of himself to fight clowns. He did it with a villainous joy that, while you booed him, you still got a chuckle.
The late 90s brought a different battle for the King, though. The foe was Extreme Championship Wrestling. A separate entity from the WWF, ECW shocked fans by being one of the rare non-WWF companies to be mentioned on Raw (NWA and Smoky Mountain being the others).
But unlike the other two, ECW wasn't portrayed in a good light.
Fed up with the signs for the Philadelphia Company, Lawler went buck. He tore into the "Extremely Crappy Wrestling" and mentioned their lack of fans, "untalented" stars, and meager budget. His comments seemed stingingly real and unlike other on-air feuds.
The things he was saying about ECW weren't designed to put them over. They were designed to attack.
Confused, fans held on for the ride and when Paul Heyman showed up to defend ECW's honor in a debate, we saw one of the most shocking moments of wrestling's most shocking era.
From alluding to Lawler's statutory rape allegation to Heyman still living with his mother at 35, the on-air argument had fans saying "this has to be real."
Of course, it wasn't. Once again, it was a ClubWWI interview that brought the truth to light and verify what we all knew had to be the case - but had never really thought about. As Jerry told me…
"The appearance that I didn't like ECW and everything is hopefully attributed to my ability to sell what we're trying to do on the air. A lot of people think I really, absolutely hated ECW, which couldn't have been further from the truth. If you look back, you'll see that I was the only one who went and worked with ECW from the WWF. I went and worked their pay-per-views. You don't work on someone's pay-per-view and wrestle on their show if there's genuine bad feelings between the two. I was always... I won't say a big fan, because I was down in Memphis and I didn't really get to see firsthand all they were doing. I heard about it. I knew. Because we were trying to keep the Memphis Territory afloat, I knew the struggles and hardships these guys were going through."
Although the days of ECW vs. The King are over, for many fans it defined a wrestling generation. Emotion like that doesn't work its way into wrestling storylines every day. It's how wrestling should be and shows that the fans want to believe what you put on TV…as long as it's believable.
Hulk Hogan's WrestleMania 9 black eye was because he was punched in the face.
WrestleMania 9 was the first WrestleMania I remember being really disappointed with. Up until that point, I wasn't a big fan of WM7, but nine left me surprised with how horrible it was when things ended.
Returning to the ring, Hulk Hogan formed The Mega Maniacs with his non-brother Brutus Beefcake to
square off against the evil Money Inc of Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Shyster. Despite being one part of a four person bout, Hulk was featured in ads as the focal point of the event. One famous commercial featured Hogan in silhouette spinning around on what I can only assume is one of those rotating plates you put cakes on.
Why was Hulkamania's Yang on such display for the show? Maybe because it ended like this...
Hogan's surprise WWE Title win was overshadowed in many ways by his surprise shiner. Sporting a black and blue eye, the red and yellow patriot forged on and battled his foes. No one, though, was sure what had happened.
Rumors began to swirl that a fight between the Hulkster and his frenemy "Macho Man" Randy Savage had lead to the bruise. Others thought that Bret Hart, upset with the booking change to put the title on Hogan, had socked him in the eye. As we learned four years later, Hart could sometimes do that.
In reality, it was a Jet Ski accident. Nothing more. Nothing less. I guess when you're Hulk Hogan, people assume that everyone wants to punch you in the face. Truth isn't as exciting as fiction and, in the end Hogan's Jet Ski caused his black eye.
And his title win caused WrestleMania 9's black eye.
Vince McMahon sent Vince Russo to secretly destroy WCW from the inside.
It's got to stink when you're career goes so astray that people have to imagine that you're tanking it on purpose. Enter Vince Russo.
You shouldn't know who Vince Russo is. Most of us shouldn't. As a wrestling writer, Russo's talents and flaws should only be imagined based on the product you see. But his high profile approach to his job in the last 90s and early 2000s made that an impossibility.
Russo had been credited as the man behind co-opting ECW's style in the WWF Attitude. Using his skills and Vince McMahon's resources, Vinny Ru was able to introduce a new style of wrestling to the masses and deserved all the credit in the world.
One problem - wrestling writers never got credit. Raw doesn't have closing credits and most people at home assume that Vince McMahon, Triple H, John Cena, and Hulk Hogan write the shows. That's just the way it works.
During his 2005 interview with me on the Club, Russo had explained that following a marathon writing day, he and co-writer Ed Ferrara had picked up a copy of Vince McMahon's "Cigar Aficionado" magazine interview. In it, they read how he credited his son Shane for all the work he and Ed had been doing.
This lead to Vince Russo's departure from the WWF, debut in WCW, and the biggest drop in wrestling quality a TV program has ever seen.
If WCW was heading downhill before Russo, it was sent straight to hell when he arrived. Worked shoots, swerves, and backstage turmoil were all on the agenda and, before long, the storylines and characters in World Championship Wrestling were in such a shambles that it was nearly unwatchable. To his credit, though, Vince did get one person over.
Yeah. He won the World Title, gave it up, and made his "character" the dominant name on TV. Playing the role of the "writer" on a show that he was writing, the logic holes were gigantic. One had to wonder why he didn't just have his opponents saying things like, "You're better than me". I mean, he's writing it, right?
Oh, is it because the people yelling at him in the ring aren't following the lines he wrote for them? It's a "shoot"? Well, if that's case, then why should he be someone who's important? Apparently following the script is optional around here.
Whatever. It was a mess. Of course, WCW died and Russo found himself in TNA years later.
As of this morning, TNA is still alive.
Now, fresh from Total Nonstop Action stint, Vince Russo is nearly fifteen years removed from his WWF departure. Still, though, people whisper that it was all a setup. Vince McMahon secretly sent Vicious Vincent to Turner to eat them from the inside. Once he succeeded, he was sent to TNA to do it again.
Let's forget that TNA didn't exist until more than a year after WCW died. Let's forget that for all this to a be a secret plan, Russo had to know that WCW would give him carte blanche to do what he wanted. I think many fans would never have believed that Vinny Ru's reign of terror would be allowed to go on unchecked for so long. I would imagine that the two Vinces wouldn't have either.
In fact, let's just forget it all. In a business full of ups and downs, some people just work better together. Russo and McMahon are two of those people. In the past two decades, the two saw their greatest success while working on a common show. Apart from each other, they both lost a little something. Russo, as people have noticed, seemed to lose a bit more. But ultimately, they made history when they were under the same banner.
But the conspiracy theories are just that. If destroying WCW was the endgame, then the game ended. The fact that we're eleven years down the road from it and these rumors are still just rumors tells you all you need to know.
Randy Savage was blackballed from WWF following his departure in 1993 until WWE All Stars came out last year.
Randy Savage is an icon. You can even argue that in professional wrestling, Randy Savage is THE icon.
So when an icon like the Macho Man disappears from WWE TV for 17 years, people talk. People imagine. People gossip.
I won't go into detail on some of the insane reasons that have been put forward for Randy's WWF "blackballing". To be honest, it's unfair to those involved because, frankly, it's simply not true. In order to believe all the crazy stories behind the Macho-less years, you have to first accept that from 1993-2010, Savage had nothing to do with WWE.
And that's just wrong.
Forget for a moment the action figures and DVD set that were made in his honor. Those can be written off as a marketing deal. Vince owns the name, Vince sells it. If Vince McMahon owned Charles Manson's likeness and thought it would turn a profit, he'd put his face on tote bag. Although these examples fly in the face of some who claim a Randy Washout, they can still be written off as profit based.
What can't be written off is the interview Smackdown Magazine did with Savage in their inaugural issue back in 2003. It was a full article on the former Champion and included images and quotes. How do I know? Because I have it. Here's a picture of it next to an Undertaker figure dressed like Snow White.
Inside the magazine, Randy talks about his time away from the house that McMahon built and speaks in a way that implies he's not all that upset with him.
"I wrestled for Vince for 10 years and found out the right way to run a company. Then I went to work for WCW for 5 years, and found out the wrong way to run a wrestling company. It was completely different under Vince McMahon. Vince is the leader, the one calling the shots. In WCW, they had all chiefs and no Indians. Just a real mess."
As for his reasons for staying away, the article addressed that too. According to the writer…
In recent years, Savage has been in semi-retirement, choosing not to compete on the independent circuit. Satisfied with the legacy he's left behind, he's chosen instead to pursue different ventures.
Now I know what you're thinking. While the interview wasn't technically marketing Savage, it still was using the interview to sell magazines. If that's true, then why does the cover not feature any mention of the Savage interview inside?
You'd think that reaching out to someone who dishonored your family and company would be done begrudgingly to turn a buck. Not pushing it at all as a selling point to pick up the magazine implies that maybe the hard feelings weren't as bad as many imagined.
In recent years, the Hall of Fame absence of Macho had sparked even more rumors of ill-will. But this too has always felt manufactured. Recognizing that the premise of wrestling is to build up anticipation, you have to think that Randy's delayed induction was done to play into public (mis)conceptions and make the eventual HOF day even more special.
Sadly, Randy Savage passed away on May 20, 2011 before ever having a chance to join the Hall. But for those of us who experienced the Macho Madness, no formal induction was ever needed.
Randy Orton pooped in a Diva's purse.
This never happened.
I know what you're thinking - "Sure it did!"
"But what about that time he…"
What happened here is a combination of two pieces of wrestling folklore. First, the big backstage rib has always involved feces in duffel bags. Chyna talked about it in her book. You read it, right? Oh. Well, she did.
What Orton was accused of doing was "vandalizing" the luggage of Rochelle Loewen, a diva you don't remember. According to Rochelle herself, Orton had poured self tanner and baby oil on it. Not a nice thing to do by any stretch, but still not human excrement.
You'd think you'd remember her, right?
We were all guilty of repeating this one and I myself even joked about it despite knowing the truth. There's just something funny about a guy who leaves his bowel movements in a someone's pocketbook. Right? Is it just me? Oh.
But, in recent years, I've stopped because it's really unfair to Orton. Granted, what he did was awful, but poop and tanner aren't the same thing.
If they were, could you imagine what John Cena would smell like?!