Dark Side of the Ring has done an incredible job of highlighting stories in the wrestling industry which historians would like us to forget. From nationwide murder cases such as the Chris Benoit tragedy to lesser-known incidents like the death of Gino Hernandez, the hit documentary series has helped some shed light onto wrestling’s darkest corners.
Since becoming Viceland’s most popular show in history, Dark Side of the Ring has recently been renewed for a third season. Now, having already covered the majority of wrestling’s most lurid, tragic and bizarre stories, one can only wonder what territory they may venture into next. So, we’ve put together a shortlist of famous and not-so-famous incidents for inspiration.
Here are 5 more of wrestling’s darkest tales which would make great DSotR episodes.
No promotion has ever come close to capturing what ECW had in the nineties, but that hasn’t stopped people trying.
XPW was one such attempt. Xtreme Pro Wrestling was founded in 1999 and gained a little exposure when six of its wrestlers legitimately interrupted the ECW Heat Wave PPV in 2000. This incident marked them as unprofessional and irresponsible, giving them an unsavoury reputation amongst indie workers and crowds. XPW also had ties with the adult industry, as the owner of XPW, Rob Black, was married to adult actress Lizzy Borden. Black also ran the company Extreme Associates, an adult production company.
One of XPW’s fastest rising stars was William Welch, who went by the ring name the Messiah. But after two years of being XPW’s top star, Welch suddenly departed the company under dubious circumstances. Rumours of Welch and Borden engaging in extra-marital activities were rife, although both Welch and Borden went on to deny such claims. However, everyone’s favourite psychopath, New Jack, stoked the fires by declaring that Welch and Borden were sleeping together during a heated promo which Jack delivered at Epic Wrestling.
After leaving XPW, Welch moved to the more well-regarded hardcore promotion Combat Zone Wrestling. While CZW fans generally despised workers associated with XPW, Welch managed to win over the CZW audience and fast became a big star in the deathmatch promotion.
But in August 2002, Messiah was ambushed in his apartment by two unknown assailants. Messiah’s thumb was severed with a pair of gardening shears, and the two attackers even attempted to castrate him but fortunately, Welch was able to fight them off. The attack became the focus of an episode of America’s Most Wanted, and concluded that all signs pointed to Rob Black being responsible.
Black was never charged due to a lack of evidence and remained quiet on the topic until 2014 when he borderline confessed to being the mastermind behind it during an interview with Vice UK.
“Wrestling is never what you believe,” he says. “We had people who bought into the story and got publicity out of it. You have to understand that my goal was to be the most hated man in the world. I was the ultimate heel. I needed to be more hated than [WWE boss] Vince McMahon.”
Quote from the Rob Black Vice interview
The case remains officially unsolved to this day. This crime is little-known, even within wrestling circles, so a Dark Side of the Ring episode could help expose Black’s alleged crimes to the masses.
Ring Boy Scandal
Pat Patterson is nothing short of a wrestling legend, not only boasting a decorated in-ring career but also having served as a match agent for some of the most memorable bouts in WWE history.
But back in 1992, things were a little different. Patterson, along with his assistant Terry Garvin and ring announcer Mel Phillips were involved in a sex scandal that saw them accused of exchanging sexual favours with young talent in return for lucrative career opportunities.
Barry Orton (uncle of Randy Orton), claimed that Garvin (pictured below) made advances towards him when Orton was a fresh-faced 20-year-old just starting out in the industry. Other people came forward with similar claims about the three men, and Phillips soon quit his position over the claims and was later exposed as a convicted paedophile.
Other rumours began to circulate. Some claimed that a few WWE higher-ups were aware of the sexual abuse but simply looked past it. Others stated that Garvin had an address book filled with names of young boys in every city who he would summon whenever the WWF toured in their town. Garvin was also seen to have been actively engaging in these acts backstage and on tour buses by several big names in the WWF at the time.
While no concrete evidence was discovered which incriminated Patterson, he and Garvin maintained a very close friendship throughout the whole ordeal. Patterson’s involvement may have been attributed to the fact that he and Garvin were the only openly-gay employees WWE had at the time.