Professional wrestling is an unpredictable spectacle that provides thrills and spills in equal measure. The same applies during those rare moments wrestlers step outside of the squared circle and onto the set of a talk show! Here are seven times things went amiss in front of a live viewing audience!
The Times Wrestlers Got Physical on a Talk Show
While the larger-than-life personalities and personas of wrestlers lend themselves to talk shows, these great athletes don’t always get the respect they deserve once on them. And when those regrettable words “Show us a move!” or “Isn’t Wrestling Fake?” get muttered, things don’t typically end well for the host!
1. Giant Haystacks Bodyslams Jackie Fullerton
While the WWF’s boom period came in the 1980s, the UK wrestling scene was primarily influenced by the TV program World Of Sport.
In contrast to Hulk Hogan in the USA, in Britain, Giant Haystacks forged a massive legacy with an imposing figure at nearly 7-feet tall and weighing near 700-pounds.
Noted for his appearances with Big Daddy, he was not necessarily the most versatile in the ring, but his name value would later get him runs in Stampede Wrestling and even WCW.
In 1980, the mammoth Haystacks appeared on the Northern Irish TV show Good Morning Ulster hosted by Jackie Fullerton.
Fullerton, who has an MBE (Member Of The British Empire), is a journalist and presenter mostly on soccer. Haystacks towered over the 5’6, 175-pound reporter.
When asked to show him a move, Haystacks lifted and dropped him onto the hard floor with a sickening thud. Fullerton later recalled that the London-born heavyweight was only supposed to get him in the power slam position.
After the devastating throwdown, Jackie tried to continue but writhed on the floor in pain, having had numerous ribs broken from the impact. Despite being badly hurt, Jackie attempted to thank Haystacks, who replied with a deadpan, “my pleasure.”
2. John Stossel Gets Slapped By Dr. D David Schultz
Perhaps the most famous example of a wrestler getting physical in real life, this 1984 incident saw WWF heel “Dr” David Schultz twice smacking reporter John Stossel across the face.
John Stossel was a reporter for 20/20, an American TV news show. Just as the WWF was blowing up, Stossel was filing a report questioning the legitimacy of the wrestling industry.
Stossel interviewed the former Stampede Wrestling, AWA, and NWA star Schultz backstage at Madison Square Garden. The mustachioed reporter said he thought it was all fake.
In reaction, Schultz slapped Stossel twice, which knocked him to the ground, and Stossel recalls hearing ringing in his ears for eight weeks afterward.
Years later, Schultz would recall not only did he not regret it but that Vince McMahon had told him to do it.
“I did what I was told to do,” Schultz admitted in a 2018 interview on the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling Podcast.
“Vince McMahon told me to blast him and tear his a** up and to stay in character and be ‘Dr. D.’ When I went out that door, I did not know who John Stossel was.”
While the event did get publicity, it would end Schultz’s career more or less. Stossel successfully sued the WWF for $280,000 (around $715,000 in 2022), which led to his firing.
There are conflicting reports that he was fired for instigating a fight with Mr. T.
The incident likely cost him a top program against Hulk Hogan during the peak days of the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era.
3. Hulk Hogan Chokes Out Richard Belzer
The hype around the WWF in 1985 was immense, so days before the first-ever pay-per-view – WrestleMania – Hulk Hogan was booked on Richard Belzer’s cable TV show Hot Properties.
Belzer seemed to be going places in the 1980s. Although not necessarily a household name, he opened for musicians such as Kansas and Warren Zevon and appeared on Saturday Night Live and in Scarface.
His appearance with Hogan saw him ask multiple times for “The Hulkster” to show him a wrestling maneuver.
Hogan obliged, and Belzer was locked in a front face lock.
Belzer was constricted by Hogan’s muscular arms and quickly slipped into unconsciousness while an unknowing Hulk let go, causing Beltzer to collapse in a heap. This drop cracked Belzer’s head on the floor, causing a scalp laceration that needed nine stitches.
Belzer recovered to cut to commercial break with notable blood stemming from the back of his head.
Soon later, Belzer took Hogan to court, attempting to sue for $5 million. However, eventually, this would be settled out of court.
Seemingly pretty well off from his payment, Beltzer managed to buy a farmhouse in Nice, France, and would get to use the incident as stand-up material in his HBO special Another Lone Nut.
4. A Bodyslam Heard Around The Panel
On the UK program Would I Lie To You? comedian Jack Whitehall was a panelist on David Mitchell’s team. A round in the show is called “This Is My,” where three members of one team claim to have a connection to a guest. The other team has to guess who had a genuine relationship with the person. So, Jack Whitehall claimed that the man brought on was his wrestling teacher.
When questioned by the other team, the expected ridicule of wrestling took place.
Panelists questioned why it was now WWE and not the WWF, and the always-controversial Frankie Boyle asked why he would want to wrestle like “a big pretend American,” which drew the ire of guest Terry Frazier.
Furthermore, Whitehall was asked to name five wrestlers listing The Rock, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, and quite surprisingly Shelton Benjamin (which Lee Mack remarked “sounded more like a solicitor”).
The other team incorrectly guessed, and it was revealed he trained Whitehall. He then placed his protégé in a power slam position to the panel’s concern and slammed him onto the solid set!
This particular wrestler was Terry “Mean Machine” Fraizer, a known name in his native England. He worked for promotions such as IPW and WXW, and he has wrestled British independent scene staples such as Dave Mastiff, Johnny Moss, and Sha Samuels.
Somewhat oddly, comedian Jack Whitehall has a further connection to wrestling – appearing at AEW Double Or Nothing in 2019 as a symbol of their relationship with British TV channel ITV, with Jack introducing Bret Hart (who would unveil the AEW Championship).
Watch the slam take place at 5:33 below:
5. Triple H Puts Jimmy Fallon Through A Table
We now move onto one orchestrated and scripted wrestling spot, but it’s nonetheless noteworthy.
On an edition of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the show host wrote out a series of “Thank You Notes.” One of these was aimed at “The Game,” Triple H.
As Fallon commented, his name sounded less like a wrestler’s name and more like an “extra strength hemorrhoid cream.”
That is when the blaring sound of Triple H’s Motorhead theme erupted, and he came out from behind the curtain to cheers from the audience.
A stern, leather jacket-clad HHH grabbed Jimmy and power slammed him through his desk. He then sat and gave the viewers information about the upcoming pay-per-view.
There are a few things to note about this publicity stunt. First, it was undeniably a double used instead of Fallon. He successfully kept his face hidden once attacked and got precisely positioned. Moreover, the rigged table broke easily with a crunch.
It was a humorous way for the WWE to get more media attention for that year’s SummerSlam.
6. Drake On The Last Leg
Fans of British wrestling may be aware of Drake. In WhatCulture Pro Wrestling (later rebranded Defiant Wrestling), Drake was a fixture from the start – making a name as a member of Prospect and Anti-Fun Police and becoming the last Hardcore titleholder.
He made multiple appearances on the political show The Last Leg, a show hosted by Australian amputee Adam Hills (who was born without a right foot, hence the show’s name).
In one of these appearances, Hills used a proto-typical, unnamed wrestler – played by Drake – as an analogy for former President Trump’s trash-talking. Hills compared the 45th US President’s late 2018 political campaign to the sport. A Republican shirt-donning Drake delivered a power slam onto the Australian comic onto a crash mat before a pile-on ensued.
The following week, the show brought back Drake to re-enact what happened. During a comedic romantic dinner scene together, Hills explained what had transpired. However, Drake would not get physically involved this time around.
The show has used wrestlers before and after to illustrate political commentary.
7. Big Van Vader Goes Off in Kuwait
In April 1997, the WWF went on a Middle Eastern tour following WrestleMania 13. For this, the WWF had top stars Vader and then WWF Champion The Undertaker go onto Good Morning Kuwait.
Kuwaiti presenter Bassam Al Othman hosted the show. He immediately put both wrestlers on edge by asking about the legitimacy of professional wrestling.
My astute colleague – the Heavyweight Champion of the World – is a very diplomatic individual,” Vader would say during his interview on the show.
“I’m perhaps not so diplomatic. In fact, I find your question insulting to what I do.”
Shortly after, the masked mastodon would snap; he would shove over the table before grabbing Al Othman by the tie as the baffled presenter threw his hands up in surrender.
Vader then authoritatively asked, “Does that f***ing feel fake?”
During this melee, The Undertaker stood stoically throughout, keeping a blank expression with shades concealing his eyes.
Vader would be put under house arrest in Kuwait for two weeks, along with being fined a mere $164 as a result of the assault.
A wrestler on a TV program is a recipe for pandemonium. And whether their appearances are humorous or dangerous, they’ll inevitably be unforgettable.
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