8 Biggest Wrestling Myths
Wrestling is all about telling stories, but sometimes, the stories that happen aren’t always about what happens in the ring. Over many years, wrestling has garnered its share of myths, urban legends, and conspiracy theories. And because wrestling is a shady business full of lies and deceit, some of these legends have even turned out to be true! Of course, a great deal more of them have been passed off as the deluded ramblings of crazy people, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still people who believe them. With that in mind, here are a few of the more popular wrestling myths, some which have been disproved, some of which are still presented as fact, even by WWE itself!
8. Montreal Was A Work
In the aftermath of the Montreal Screwjob, Vince McMahon was taking fire from all sides for betraying a loyal employee, while WCW was handed one of the biggest stars in wrestling and a hot angle to introduce him. However, from that point forward, it was the WWF that began to take off in terms of popularity, and WCW which began sinking, leading ultimately to its demise in 2001. It was probably inevitable that someone would present the theory that WWE sent Bret Hart into WCW’s arm as some sort of “poison pill” mission, to destroy the company from within, and therefore, Bret was in on the Screwjob from the beginning. Similar theories about other WWE people being sent to WCW as spies and/or saboteurs also exist (notably Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and former WWF head writer Vince Russo), but none involve such a high-profile and controversial angle that changed the face of wrestling forever. The fact that Shawn Michaels held out for years before admitting his role in the Screwjob only fueled the belief that the entire thing was an elaborate angle. While it seems incredibly unlikely that Bret Hart would agree to this angle and then spend thirteen years having absolutely nothing to do with WWE, maintaining the illusion nearly a decade after WCW’s death, there are those who maintain that Bret’s old-school sensibilities and dedication to preserving kayfabe kept the angle going for so long.
7. The Intercontinental Title Tournament in Rio de Janeiro
Every wrestling fan knows that the first holder of the prestigious WWE Intercontinental Championship was Hall of Famer Pat Patterson, who won the title during a massive tournament in 1979 in Rio de Janeiro. Which is entirely true, if you don’t count the fact that most of it is completely a lie. Pat Patterson was the first Intercontinental Champion, that much is accurate, but the rest of that statement was made up out of whole cloth to give the title more legitimacy. The fact is, Pat Patterson was named champion and given a belt by Vince McMahon and no tournament, in Rio or anywhere else, actually took place. You have to admit, the tournament story is the better one, right? Besides, you only have to look back to Eric Bischoff handing Triple H the inaugural World Heavyweight Championship in 2002 to see how terrible it looks when someone wins at title without actually winning it. They could have saved themselves so much hassle by just having a tournament! Or at least pretending that they did, anyway.
6. WWF Nearly Went Bankrupt in 1997
Things were not going well for WWF in 1997. WCW was basically kicking their butts in the Monday Night Wars, and were deep in the middle of an 83-week winning streak in the ratings, thanks to the revolutionary nWo angle that was set to peak at Starrcade. Meanwhile, WWE seemed to be losing talent left and right (although they were also bringing in younger, previously under-utilized wrestlers that would eventually form the future of the company, notably a pissed-off midcarder named Steve Austin), and in the fall of that year they revealed what seemed like a mortal blow: Bret Hart, who only a year prior had signed a 20-year contract to remain in WWF for life, was told by Vince McMahon that they couldn’t afford to pay him, therefore they were breaching his contract, and encouraging him to see what WCW would offer him. Years later, WWE maintains that they were close to going out of business in the late ’90s, and had the Attitude Era and Austin not saved them, they might not exist today. However, only months after claiming that they couldn’t afford to pay Hart, WWE reportedly paid 3 million dollars to bring in Mike Tyson for WrestleMania 14. In fact, while WWE was not in great shape in 1997, they were actually bringing in more money thanks to expanding to monthly Pay Per Views for the first time, and probably could have afforded to pay Hart’s contract without missing a beat. In retrospect, it’s more likely that McMahon saw Hart’s old-school attitude as a stumbling block in the path of the Attitude Era, and found a way to move him out of the picture.
5. The Undefeated Andre The Giant Couldn’t Be Bodyslammed
When discussing Andre The Giant, two things are always brought up: he was undefeated for fifteen years, and until Hulk Hogan did so at WrestleMania III, he was impossible to bodyslam. It made for a great story, and WrestleMania III is one of the biggest moments in pro wrestling history, as Hogan slayed the Giant and took Hulkamania to its peak. It’s also completely false. While Andre was never pinned or forced to submit while in the WWF up until that point (for which WWE gave him a trophy much smaller than the one Hogan received a week earlier, part of the impetus for the feud), he had been defeated several times over the years by way of count-out or disqualification. Sure, it’s splitting hairs, but it’s still a fact that Andre was not undefeated heading into WrestleMania III. The other half of Andre’s legend was completely made up also. While he was rarely knocked off his feet as part of his character, Andre had been bodyslammed multiple times in his career, including several times by Hulk Hogan, well before WrestleMania III ever happened. In fact, here’s a video with proof of nearly every time it happened.
4. Goldberg’s Undefeated Streak
Everyone knows about Goldberg’s record of 173-0, including winning both the WCW United States and World titles, before a taser and Kevin Nash laid him low and ended an unbelievable streak. Of course, the reason why Goldberg’s streak was unbelievable is that it didn’t actually happen. Oh, it is true that Goldberg won all of his matches during the streak, and he was undefeated in WCW right up until his massive (and poorly booked) loss at Starrcade 1998. However, once WCW started keeping track of his wins, they did what wrestling promoters have been doing for years: they inflated the number to make it more impressive, and lied about it. The problem was, because wrestling fans are crazy, there were people actually keeping track of the streak, and they started to make noise about its legitimacy. So while Goldberg was undeniably a force of nature, WCW somehow managed to screw up an undefeated streak that he actually had, and made themselves look bad in the process. In case you needed another reason why WCW isn’t around anymore.
3. The Second Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior was a force to be reckoned with almost as soon as he entered the WWF. In 1988, barely a year after his debut, he ended the Honky Tonk Mans’ unbelievably long reign as Intercontinental Champion, and soon after, set his sights on the WWF Championship. At WrestleMania VI, against the legendary Hulk Hogan, he accomplished that goal. A year later, shortly after defeating Randy Savage in a Career vs Career Match at WrestleMania VII, Warrior disappeared from the WWF as part of a contract dispute. He would make his return at WrestleMania VIII, saving Hulk Hogan from an assault at the hands of Sid and Papa Shango. However, the Warrior who returned seemed quite different in appearance, leading to rumors that someone else was in the role. It went so far as to create stories about how Warrior had died during his absence and had been replaced. While WWF has always dismissed these rumor and maintained that the same man has always been the Ultimate Warrior, there are still people who claim that at some point, there were two Warriors.
2. Kaufman-Lawler Was Real
The feud between World Inter-Gender Champion Andy Kaufman and Jerry “The King” Lawler is one of the most storied in wrestling history. Kaufman spent months playing a heel wrestler, challenging women to beat him in a wrestling match for a chance to win $1000. Eventually, Kaufman agreed to fight Lawler in a real match, which resulted in a neck injury for Kaufman and an infamous fight on Late Night with David Letterman, highlighted by Kaufman throwing coffee on Lawler, who responded by slapping Kaufman hard enough to knock him out of his chair. Kaufman and Lawler always maintained that everything about the entire thing was completely real, for years afterwards. It was only a decade after Kaufman’s death that the truth was revealed, and Jerry Lawler admitted during interviews for the Kaufman bio-pic Man on the Moon that the entire thing was a wrestling angle. While Kaufman did suffer a neck injury, they pretended it was far worse than it had been, and the entire Late Night fight, although improvised, was staged. Of course, when dealing with Andy Kaufman, nothing’s for sure.
1. 93,173? Not quite.
Everyone knows that WrestleMania III, held at the Silverdome in Detroit, Michigan, had the highest attendance mark in WWE history, that being 93,173. It’s a number that WWE mentions every time WrestleMania is brought up, and it held the record for largest indoor attendance for a sporting event until 2010. However, over the years, there have been people who have stepped forward to suggest that the actual attendance was much lower, and WWE inflated the numbers in order to secure the record. Which, this being pro wrestling, probably wouldn’t be a huge shock. The argument seems to center around the fact that the Silverdome doesn’t actually have over 93,000 seats, but others have pointed out that it was possible to add enough seats, and pointed to a visit by the Pope to the same stadium that also claimed over 93,000 people attended. It’s an argument that hasn’t been settled in nearly thirty years, and likely never will be, since WWE’s certainly not going to admit to a smaller number. After WrestleMania 32, however, whether the myth is true or not likely won’t matter anymore, as Cowboys Stadium, the host for the event, is set up to hold over 100,000 (it’s also the place which took the attendance record away from WrestleMania III), and you know WWE is going to do everything possible to fill every seat.