As the Director of Corporate Research at Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS) and Director of Marketing Services for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), I grew close with many wrestlers. I also unwittingly found myself involved in quite a few legendary (and unusual!) moments behind the scenes and on the road. Incredibly, I somehow lived through it all!
An Insider’s Perspective of WCW
Through my series of stories here on Pro Wrestling Stories, I have been sharing an insider’s perspective of the wrestling business and the individuals involved. Some of these tales aren’t pretty, but it was the way it was!
Following my first installment of stories entitled "8 Tales from a Former WCW and Turner Corporate Employee," here are eight more tales that come to mind in no particular chronological order.
1. The Nasty Boys Prank a Sleeping Flyin’ Brian Pillman
I’ve experienced my fair share of interesting travel incidents while on the road with WCW. During one occurrence, we were heading to Europe to do some shows in the United Kingdom.
About halfway through our Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta to London, The Nasty Boys decided to pull a prank on Flyin’ Brian Pillman, who was fast asleep in his aisle seat.
Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags of The Nasty Boyz noticed Brian unconscious and went straight to work. They changed seats with some other wrestlers who were sitting in the row behind Pillman. Not long later, they took a razor out of their travel kit and began cutting Pillman’s hair while he slept.
Occasionally, Pillman would wake up or turn over, and the Nasties would stop and wait for him to become unconscious again.
In the end, they cut out a space of hair on the top of Pillman’s head, causing him to look like he had the haircut of a Franciscan Monk! You know, bald in the middle with hair around the sides.
They then got one of the cabin attendants to bring them whipped cream (for ice cream desserts), and they placed a substantial amount over the bald spot! They then topped off their creation with a cherry and headed back for their seats.
The rest of the guys were laughing their heads off!
Pillman eventually woke up when the whipped cream started dripping down his face.
Enraged at what had happened, there was nearly another wrestling brawl at 36,000 feet in the air!
Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed in the end. Unbelievable stuff.
2. Mixed Tag Team Steel Cage Match Debacle at the 1991 Great American Bash
I was working a WCW show in the Baltimore Arena for The Great American Bash in 1991. The main event had been promoted for weeks as a mixed men’s/woman’s tag team event.
After Ric Flair departed from WCW and Scott Steiner sustained an injury, Windham was moved to the title match. The final match of the evening was now Rick Steiner and Missy Hyatt against Arn Anderson and Paul E.
WCW spent thousands of dollars promoting this first-time "unique mixed sexes" event via on-air TV promotion, print promotion, and God knows what else. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of time, effort, and money that went into that promotion.
That evening, the Baltimore Arena was sold out for this first-ever type of show. As time rolled around for the main event (the mixed sexes tag team cage match), all participants worked their way down to the ring — and then everything came to a screeching halt.
As it turned out, nobody bothered to clear this event with the Maryland State Athletic Commission!
They had a long-standing rule that male and female competitors were not allowed into the ring at the same time.
To get around this, Dick Murdoch and Dick Slater forcibly took Hyatt backstage, and the match went on as a handicapped match with Rick Steiner defeating the tandem of Arn Anderson and Paul E. Dangerously.
It was just another one of WCW’s brilliantly executed shows that went down the drain. There were a lot of unhappy fans that night.
3. Flashy Abdullah the Butcher
At this same event in the Baltimore Arena, I went backstage just before the show’s end and came across Abdullah The Butcher.
Abby had just finished another one of his infamous "blade jobs," and the red was flowing everywhere. I sat with him as he bandaged himself up while he got out of his ring gear and into his street clothes.
The guy put on the most expensive, flashy suit I have ever seen. I don’t remember the price of it (which, of course, he told me at the time), but it was a pretty penny.
So, he puts on this immaculate three-piece suit with a vest and all and then takes out one of the most expensive straw hats I had ever seen.
To that outfit, he adds a glorious walking stick with a pearl handle. Of course, he shows me that there is a sword blade running down the inside shaft of the cane as well.
My lasting memory of the evening’s event was Abdullah The Butcher strutting out of the Baltimore Arena and onto the city streets to walk to our nearby Marriott hotel.
He was a heck of a lot more of a Fashion Plate than Freddie Blassie, that’s for sure!
Later that evening, I sat in the Marriott Hotel bar with the late Mike Graham (Gosset) and the late Billy Robinson listening to old wrestling war stories until 3:30 in the morning. I almost missed my 9 a.m. plane back to Atlanta!
4. Behind-The-Scenes Reaction to the Infamous Botched Fred Ottman Shockmaster Debut
WCW had signed Fred Ottman (formerly known as Tugboat and Typhoon, and brother in law of Dusty Rhodes) away from the WWF in 1993. He debuted at WCW Clash of the Champions XXIV as a stormtrooper-esque helmet-wearing wrestler named The Shockmaster.
As fans may recall, the original plan was that Ottman was supposed to crash through an artificial wall to make a grand appearance at a strategic point in time. However, clumsy Fred tripped over a piece of wood holding up the fake wall of the set and resoundingly fell flat on his face as his helmet also fell off, revealing his real personality!
I was sitting in the production truck at that moment with WCW director and producer Craig Leathers, and other production team members.
There was so much laughing going on in the production truck after this occurred. We were barely able to recover and produce the rest of the show! Everybody in the truck nearly peed their pants of laughter.
It was indeed one of the most memorable moments I had behind the scenes in WCW.
You can read Fred Ottman’s emotional take on his infamous botched debut as The Shockmaster and how his life changed due to his awkward debut here.
5. Hulk Hogan Comes to the Rescue After Ric Flair Promised WCW Wrestlers and Personnel a Good Time in London
I recall one time we played at the Royal Albert Hall and another time we played Wembley Arena. In any event, we had the day/evening off after arriving in London from Atlanta. We got off the plane and headed by bus (one for the heels and another for the babyfaces) to the hotel.
Upon arrival, Ric Flair told me that he had an appointment with his favorite hairdresser to get his blonde roots touched up. Before leaving for his appointment, he told the boys to meet him at "his club" in London at 8 p.m. for a big party.
After all these years, the club’s name slips my mind, but it was definitely a gentlemen’s club!
All the wrestlers and touring staff showed up at "the club" at the appointed time, but guess what? Flair forgot to tell the club that we were coming and to let us in!
To make matters more interesting, Flair was a no-show himself!
After about twenty minutes of waiting for Flair not to appear, the front door bouncer let us all in anyway.
As we meandered around the virtually empty club with drinks in hand, the boys were all angry that Flair wasn’t there as he promised them an evening of fun!
After about 45 minutes, everybody broke away and headed off in their own direction.
Lo and behold, I came to find out later that Hulk Hogan had reserved a big table at Planet Hollywood for dinner. Everyone was invited.
We walked up to the front door and passed hundreds of people in line waiting to get in the place. We received the royal treatment in a secure roped-off area away from the other guests.
All night long, the wait staff were saying, "Yes, Mr. Hogan" this and "Yes, Mr. Hogan" that.
A few hours later, nobody was feeling any pain, that’s for darn sure!
To this day, I can’t begin to tell you who paid that enormous dinner bill which included food and drinks out the wazoo (as we say)! I can assure you nothing came out of my pocket!
6. Troubles in Germany
We did several tours of Germany. As mentioned before, we traveled in two buses (with one for the bad guys and one for the good guys).
We had just finished a show in the east of Germany and were bussing hours away to spend the night in the next show’s town.
We arrived late, sometime after 2 a.m., and everybody was exhausted, irritable, and just wanted to get to bed.
I was on the babyface bus this night (I would regularly alternate between buses so as not to show favoritism to any one group of guys), and we pulled up first to the street in front of the hotel. I was gathering my luggage when the heel bus pulled up about ten minutes later.
The door of the heel bus opened, and a body fell out of the front door onto the pavement.
I looked carefully and couldn’t immediately recognize who it was. Suddenly, the WCW tour photographer was there shooting photos of the carcass in the road!
It turned out it was our German ring announcer, a guy named Ollie.
The story comes out that Ollie and The Nasty Boys were sitting in the back of the bus drinking beer for four solid hours.
During this time, Ollie began professing the greatness and superiority of the German Race. This went on for a good while until the Nasties couldn’t take it anymore. So, Knobbs and Sags dropped a Halcion tablet into Ollie’s beer and waited until he was utterly unconscious.
They then shaved the hair off one side of his head, used a magic marker to write anti-German slogans on the visible part of his body, and followed it up with the ultimate indignity of supergluing his male "piece" in an upward position on his body.
As I witnessed this human mess lying in the street, as the WCW official directly involved with this tour, I also had to attempt to confiscate the film from the tour photographer. I couldn’t have any evidence of this appearing in any wrestling rag sheets, could I?
Well, I left Ollie lying on the street and proceeded into the hotel. I got my room assignment and headed onto the elevator with Maxx Payne (Daryl Peterson). It turns out his room was next to mine.
He went into his room, and the bed was only about 1/2 the size of an average pro wrestler! It’s okay for my 5’10" frame but not for the boys!
It turns out the majority of the guys had to sleep on the floor because the beds were way too small!
Just another day in the WCW traveling circus!
7. "It’s Just Vitamins, Brother!"
WCW was on tour in Cologne, Germany twice. Our show played in what was then the Velodrome, a bicycle racing arena.
During the first half of one show, I suddenly realized that I was a bit chilled in the arena. So, I went back to the tour bus to retrieve my jacket to wear in the building.
As I entered the supposedly empty bus (all of the wrestlers were supposed to be in the arena building), I noticed a commotion going on at the very rear of the bus.
I looked down the aisle, and there was Brian Pillman with his pants dropped to the ground and his lily-white bottom sticking out at me!
On his left side was someone holding him upright and on his right side was someone else with a black medical bag, just like a typical medical doctor would carry, standing with a giant syringe injecting something into Pillman’s rear-end!
Pillman suddenly turned around and saw me entering the bus.
I didn’t say a word — not a single word. I grabbed my jacket and started to leave the tour bus.
I knew what was going on. He knew what was going on. And he knew that I now knew what was going on! It was steroid injection time!
At this moment, Pillman looked up, stared into my eyes, and said, "It’s just vitamins, brother!"
I then flashed Pillman the ‘V’ for Victory sign with my fingers and departed the tour bus to re-enter the arena!
Pillman was worried that I, one of the so-called "suits" (front office personnel), would rat on him with WCW management and get him fired. However, I never said a word to anyone. Not to one single person, ever. Not until now, anyway.
Pillman realized he could trust me from that moment on, and I am sure he told the rest of "the boys" that I saw what was going on but never opened my mouth.
After that, Pillman and every other wrestler on tour ensured that my remaining time on that tour was a great one.
8. Hulk Hogan and His Almost Failed First WCW Photoshoot
Before his arrival to WCW, Hulk Hogan was guaranteed that he would win the WCW World Championship as part of his deal.
Before officially appearing on WCW television, Hogan was in production on the Thunder In Paradise set in Tampa, Florida.
In anticipation of his World Championship win, WCW needed some professional photos of Hogan in his wrestling gear holding the WCW Belt (which he would ultimately win).
I also needed those photos to produce a wide variety of Hogan wrestling merchandise for sale in arenas and by mail order.
So, one day, WCW management told me to take the WCW World Championship belt and fly down to Tampa to meet with Hogan at the Don CeSar Hotel.
A room had been secured, and a professional photographer was hired to meet me at 10 a.m. at the hotel for the Hogan photo session.
Furthermore, they told me that "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart would pick me up from my flight at the Tampa Airport.
The photoshoot morning arrived, and I grabbed the absolute earliest flight from Atlanta to Tampa.
It was so much fun going through airport security with the belt. I had to take it out of my bag and run it through the x-ray machine, which let every possible TSA agent see what I was carrying.
Of course, they all wanted photos with the belt, which I politely declined least I missed my scheduled flight!
The flight went well, and I arrived to find Jimmy Hart waiting for me at the flight arrival gate.
I had never met Jimmy before, and I was very excited to finally have the opportunity to spend a bit of personal time with him.
As we drove off, Jimmy told me that we had to make a slight detour before we hooked up with Hogan at the Don CeSar.
The next thing I know, we were pulling up to the driveway at Jimmy Hart’s house!
Time was of the essence, and we were due at the photoshoot in 45 minutes, but here we were at Jimmy’s house (and I didn’t know why we were there)!
Jimmy invited me up to his master bedroom and told me to have a seat. Jimmy then plopped into his bathroom and proceeded to start trimming and then dying his hair and mustache jet black.
What the heck? I didn’t fly to Florida to watch Jimmy Hart’s grooming session!
The clock was ticking down the time, and it’s ONLY 5 minutes before the scheduled photoshoot, and Jimmy Hart is still waiting for his hair and mustache dye to set!
He finally got around to washing out the hair color, dried himself off, and we were again on our way. Mind you; we were only about one hour late!
Man, I was having a cow because I had a flight back to Atlanta that I wasn’t going to miss!
About a half-hour later, we arrived at the set for Thunder In Paradise. We picked up The Hulkster at his trailer but then we had to drive him to his house.
The three of us (and the belt) eventually ventured into the Don CeSar just about 90-minutes late.
The photographer had been waiting for us, and he was already in an irritable mood as he had another photoshoot lined up. He wanted to leave right then and there!
I needed this photoshoot to go well, so I promised the photographer time and a half to calm him down to complete the pictures, which appeased the photographer.
Hogan changed into his wrestling gear while Jimmy Hart put on one of his famous airbrushed tuxedo jackets and grabbed his painted megaphone, and away we go.
In the end, the photoshoot went exceedingly well. Hogan and Hart were amazingly cooperative, and I got every picture I could ever imagine and that WCW could ever want.
I barely made my flight back to Atlanta with just a single-digit amount of minutes to spare before they closed the door to the plane!
So goes another typical day at the WCW office!
These stories may also interest you:
- 8 Tales from a Former WCW and Turner Corporate Employee
- Hulk Hogan and Sting – The Mess at WCW Starrcade 1997
- Mr. Hughes and the WCW Traveling Circus in Europe
- WCW Monday Nitro | Behind the Curtain on Its Final Show