Professional wrestling comes with action and drama and larger than life characters. They do some evil things to each other during their matches, but we all know that this is totally staged. That is not to say what they do is easy. They have to be athletic and learn how to take those hits, choreographed or not.
They are generally categorized as good guys or bad guys, but sometimes they end up being bad guys for real. Sometimes they commit crimes outside the ring, and sometimes they are the victim. Check out these crimes committed by (or around) professional wrestlers. You might be surprised by what you see.
1. Bruiser Brody killed by Invader
Bruiser Brody (Frank Goodish) was in Bayamon for a show in Puerto Rico for the World Wrestling Council In 1988 when he was murdered by a fellow wrestler.
Both men, along with other wrestlers from America, such as Dutch Mantell and Tony Atlas were there for the show when Bruiser was approached by Jose Gonzalez.
Jose Gonzalez, or Invader, as he was known professionally, asked Brody if they could talk. Brody followed him into a shower so they could have some privacy, and was then stabbed to death by Gonzalez.
Witnesses say 40 minutes passed before an ambulance arrived, and Brody passed away during surgery from losing too much blood.
The case is very controversial in the professional wrestling circles, even 30 years later. It is filled with lies and cover ups. It is claimed that Gonzalez was not held responsible simply because he was a very big star and loved by the Puerto Rican public.
In court, Gonzalez, who was charged with murder, claims Brody became violent with him first and that he only stabbed him in self defense.
Mantell and Atlas were set to testify, but didn’t receive subpoenas in time. They were issued on January 3, 1989 but they weren’t sent out until 10 days later.
Men who were in the locker room during the incident say they didn’t hear any altercation or loud voices coming from the shower. One man, Chris Youngblood, told investigators that Invader has something wrapped in a towel as he headed to the showers.
Invader was acquitted of Bruiser’s murder.
H/T – Source
2. Aressted on live TV
Billy Joe Travis, whose real name is Gary Mize, was once arrested on live television in the middle of a wrestling show.
The United States Wrestling Alliance, ran by Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, was doing a show in Tennessee. Lawler is known for dramatic and over the top antics. He had a feud with Andy Kaufman, after all, so he was definitely all about shenanigans for ratings.
They were just going along with the show *wink wink* when Luther Biggs, Billy’s manager, storms in interrupting the announcers, and begins yelling about Travis being arrested.
Lawler knees this would be exciting fodder for his fans in Memphis and all over, so he used it for his production.
The arrest was for back child support, but the ‘story’ was that Brian Christopher was the culprit, as they were in a feud. Christopher is Lawler’s son.
This isn’t as dramatic as murder of course, but in true wrestling fashion, it was as dramatic as could be.
3. Harrison Norris held slaves
Hardbody Harrison, real name Harrison Norris Jr. was a wrestler with World Championship Wrestling in the late 90s and early 2000s. He was not a superstar by any means, but he was pretty successful at fulfilling the jobber role, which is one who loses matches so the stars look good.
The organization didn’t last long, so he perused training other up and comers by opening a training gym. He used his storefront for other means, though. He and his partners used the training facility as a front to abduct and make women prostitute themselves for him. He ended up luring eight different women to the gym with claims that he could train them and help them get jobs in the professional wrestling world. He then jacked up the prices and used their debts as a way to force them into his prostitution ring.
Sometimes they just kidnapped the ladies outright if they were homeless or drug addicts. Harrison and his friends monitored these women 24 hours a day. They were given chores alongside their sex work. There were fines for breaking rules.
This went on for 4 years. Finally, in 2005, they were able to get in touch with police and in 2007, Norris was convicted of 24 charges related to his activities and was sent to prison for life.
H/T – Source
4. Black Market Baby
Ric Flair, ‘The Nature Boy’ is one of the most popular wrestling personalities of all time. He was born Richard Morgan Fliehr in Memphis in 1949.
Georgia Tann was in Memphis as well and she was in the midst of running a huge child trafficking ring at that time.
She was seemingly legitimate as the head of an adoption agency/orphanage called Tennessee Children’s Home Society. She was actually selling babies to rich couples who lived out of state.
She would pay doctors and nurses to tell parents their babies had been stillborn. She would act as a social worker feigning neglect or abuse to remove children from ‘bad environments.’ A corrupt judge, Camille Kelly, helped her in her sinister endeavors.
This front went on for over a quarter of a century, selling more than 5,000 babies. More than 500 died in the care of this awful organization because they weren’t cared for properly.
Ric ended up being adopted in March of 1949. It’s is believed that his real name is Fred Phillips. The ‘company’ closed soon after, and most documentation was fake or destroyed, so he will probably never learn who his birth parent were.
Flair said that he had never even looked at the papers related to his adoption until he was writing his biography.
H/T – Source
5. Ken Patera McDonald’s debacle
Ken Patera was a weightlifter who was once on the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team.
In the early 80s he was wrestling as a part of The Heenan Family in the American Wrestling Association.
In 1984, he and a colleague, Masa Saito, wanted some food after finishing a show in Wisconsin. They drove to a McDonald’s in Waukesha and were turned away, as the store had closed already.
Patera was angered and threw a huge boulder through the window.
Police found Patera later at a hotel and he and Saito were not cooperative, instigating a brawl between themselves and the officers. The wrestlers overpowered the police until extra officers arrived and got the situation distinguished.
The two men were found guilty of damage to property, battery of police officers, and obstruction, and received two year prison sentences. They also got probation for six years.
H/T – Source
6. Horrible bank robber
Nicholas Wilson was a wrestler employed by CZW or Combat Zone Wrestling, located in Philadelphia.
In 2010, he went into a bank in Collingswood, New Jersey and demanded cash from the teller. He said he had a gun and would shoot her if she didn’t hand it over. He got $3,100. He also got caught.
Although he wasn’t a huge national star, he was known enough by locals that they identified him. He robbed the bank with no mask, so the surveillance photos were as clear as day.
He ended up turning himself in and was sent to prison for 5 years. He was once again a free man in 2015.
He admitted that he was battling an addiction to OxyContin at that time.
H/T – Source
7. Disco Inferno Gambling ring
Glenn Gilbertti was arrested in 2007 for his part in a huge gambling operation at a private residence in Roswell, Georgia. In the 90s, Gilbertti was with the WCW, and his character was inspired by the character portrayed by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. He was called Disco Inferno.
Roswell police say this was their largest gambling bust to date. It was high stakes poker. Dozens of players paid $10,000 just to play, and were treated to waitstaff and luxuries while they played. There were illicit drugs at the residence and a gun.
Some of the participants say the story was exaggerated in the media, claiming a friendly game of friends and acquaintances. They say the games were small sum games of Texas Hold’em while the men watched football and just hung out. They also claimed most players were only working with a few hundred dollars, not thousands.
As usual, there are 3 sides to every story and this one was likely somewhere between the law’s account and the players’ recollections. Cash in the sum of $46,000 was recovered and Gilbertti and his partner in the operation Dan Tyre, were charged with felonies, and 25 players got slapped with assorted misdemeanors.
H/T – Source
8. Tv Host Attack
While on a Middle East tour in 1997, some of the wrestlers from the WWF were slated for tv appearances to talk up the show.
The Undertaker and Big Van Vader were on a show called ‘Good Morning Kuwait’ when asked if wrestling was fake. The Undertaker answered in the way there are surely instructed to, but Vader grabbed host, Bassam Al Othman, by his tie and yelled and cursed in his face, making threats.
Othman filed charges against him and Vader was put on house arrest for 10 days in Kuwait. He also had to pay the equivalent of $150 in fines.
The show was in hot water for the cursing, and the country ended up banning all wrestling (unofficially) for over a decade.
Later, Leon White (Vader) said the incident was staged. He claims the producer forgot to tell the host about the setup ahead of time. Probably to ensure a genuine reaction.
Othman sued the WWF in 1999 because he says they used footage from that day to promote their company without his consent.
9. Johnny K-9
There have been a good number of Canadian wrestlers involved in some form of criminal activity.
In 1993, WWF wrestler Dino Bravo was apparently involved with the mob and was killed in retaliation for a shipment of cigarettes that was lost to law enforcement. Not reall big time stuff, but apparently enough to be killed over.
Another Canadian, Ion Croitoru, from Ontario, went by the name K-9 in the ring. He wrestled for many outfits, including the WWF. He dabbled I’m acting and worked as a celebrity bodyguard, as well.
He was known to be affiliated with several crime rings, such as Satan’s Chioce, the United Nations Hang, and the Gravelle family. In the beginning, he was one of Satan’s Choice’s bikers, committing assaults, extortion and even bombing a law enforcement office.
Later, in 1998, he killed a lawyer, Lynn Gilbank, and her husband in their home because of a case involving the Gravelle’s. Although he was arrested and charged with their murder in 2005, there wasn’t enough evidence to continue and the charges were dropped.
In 2009, he was charged with conspiracy to murder for a plan involving the execution of rival gang members, the Bacon Brothers and others in The Red Scorpians. After yet another murder arrest in 2011, he was sent to prison, but reached a deal that got him paroled in 2016. In 2017, he passed away at a halfway house.
H/T – Source
10. The tragic story of Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit was a popular professional wrestler. He was beloved my many in the wresting world fandom.
On June 25, 2007, Chris, his wife Nancy and their seven year old son, Daniel were all found passed away in their Georgia home after few appointments were missed.
Nancy’s bound body was strangled and Daniel had also been strangled after being drugged. They each had a bible placed in the vicinity of their bodies. Chris was hanged from a pice of exercise equipment used for lifting weights.
The determination was that Benoit murdered his family before killing himself. The timeline of deaths suggested that the killings were executed over a couple of days.
Chris’s father claimed that he always wanted to become a wrestler, even from a very young age. He was always focused, and lifted weights each and every day, and became a bodybuilder competitor and amateur wrestler. When he was 18, he entered the world of professional wrestling.
Chris became successful almost immediately, winning a number of titles. He was wildly popular when the murders of his family and subsequent suicide took place. That was very hard to accept for his friends, family and fans.
Scientists felt the need to study his brain, as this wan not the first puzzling crime like this committed by a professional athlete. Many of them suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, so they wanted to see if this was the case with Chris as well.
After some trepidation, his father agreed to it. He wanted to see if there was an explanation after so many people were saying such horrible things in regards to his son.
There was an exorbitant amount of damage to Chris’s brain, due to the hard blows to the head during matches with tables, ladders, and chairs all throughout his wrestling journey.
Doctors suspected that he suffered many concussions that were not treated. There was also steroids found in his blood during the autopsy. There is no way to know for sure if it was caused by road rage or the CTE, or a combination of the two, for sure, that caused him to commit such horrific acts.
H/T – Source