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The truth behind 8 WWE urban legends
An urban legend is a tale with obscure origins and little to no supporting evidence that spreads in various ways and is often accepted as fact. WWE history is not immune to such far-out stories and there have been a number that have persisted since they were first started.
WWEClassics.com investigated eight urban legends that have ignited debate amongst the WWE Universe and, in some cases, have come to be accepted as fact. Some of the stories are fringe conspiracy theories and others are genuine head-scratchers that have captivated the imagination for years. Either way, our research should settle a few debates.
The Rockers were fired in 1988
Debuting in 1988, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were a kinetic duo that helped pave the way for highfliers and smaller, more agile Superstars. However, their debut in 1988 was not the first time The Rockers were signed to WWE — a year earlier they joined WWE and were fired after an alleged incident at a bar.
The legend states that after Michaels and Jannetty joined WWE, they were encouraged to fraternize with their fellow Superstars and ultimately captured the attention of Jimmy Jack Funk. In his autobiographical DVD, “Heartbreak & Triumph,” HBK talked openly about the incident. After imbibing too much alcohol, Funk — who was eating glass at the time— encouraged The Rockers to prove they could party. After some trepidation, Michaels had enough and wanted Funk off his case.
“Finally, I grabbed a glass that was sitting on the table and I broke it on my head and said, ‘There! You satisfied?’ And I left,” Michaels recalled of the incident.
Following the wild night in the bar, Jimmy Jack Funk allegedly spread a rumor that Michaels and Jannetty trashed the bar. As a result of Funk’s story getting blown out of proportion, The Rockers were fired.
“They called me and said, ‘Marty, we’ve got to let you go,’” Jannetty said on “Heartbreak & Triumph.” “He said, ‘Evidently, the story got blown out of proportion and Mr. McMahon thinks it’s best to let you guys go.’”
Mr. McMahon sent The nWo to kill WCW
The speculation that Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were still under contract with WWE when they first appeared in WCW sparked an urban legend that grew with the addition of Hulk Hogan and the expansion of The New World Order. Were they agents of Mr. McMahon sent to spy on and eventually destroy WCW?
At first glance, it’s a preposterous notion. Hulk Hogan’s transition to “Hollywood” Hogan reinvigorated his career and The New World Order became the hottest commodity in sports-entertainment. For 88 consecutive weeks WCW dominated WWE in television ratings thanks mostly to The nWo and Goldberg. However, following the end of Goldberg’s undefeated streak and a failed attempt to recapture The nWo magic in the form of “The Fingerpoke of Doom,” WCW began a downhill slide and never recovered. Was it all an elaborate scheme to build up the organization and ultimately destroy it?
The simple answer is no. It’s well known that Hall and Nash were offered lucrative contracts to compete in WCW and The nWo ultimately bolstered the promotion’s popularity. The organization’s demise was ultimately a result of the AOL-Time Warner merger that ousted Ted Turner and the conglomerate shifting focus away from professional wrestling.
Andre the Giant drank 156 beers in one sitting
The late Mike Graham once stated that Andre the Giant drank 156 beers in one sitting. The claim was made during a segment on the WWE Classics on Demand series, “Legends of Wrestling,” and fellow panelists Dusty Rhodes and Michaels Hayes quickly backed it up. The thought of such a feat is impossible to fathom any normal human being even attempting, but the first-ever WWE Hall of Famer was anything but a normal human being.
Although it’s difficult to validate such an exact number of brews consumed, Andre's close friend Tim White confirmed that the giant was more than capable of putting down enough suds and grub to feed a frat house. Still, it wasn’t typical behavior for Andre.
“He could drink an airplane dry before it got to takeoff,” White told WWEClassics.com. “He’d go into a restaurant and eat 12 steaks and 15 lobsters. He didn’t do that often, but if he felt like putting on a show and having some laughs, he’d go ahead and do that.”
The Hardcore Title was the same WWE Title that Mr. Perfect smashed
When Mr. McMahon presented Mankind with the Hardcore Championship, the title was obviously a smashed version the classic “winged eagle” WWE Title with shattered plates held together by duct tape. Since the title’s inception, there has been an urban legend that the Hardcore Championship was made from a WWE Championship that once belonged to Hulk Hogan.
So what happened and why was the title smashed? On Saturday Night’s Main Event on Nov. 25, 1989, “Mean” Gene Okerlund conducted an interview with Mr. Perfect and The Genius. As the cap and gown clad goon pranced around the interview area, Mr. Perfect was down on one knee with a hammer in hand smashing the WWE Championship. The WWE Hall of Famer’s motive was to simply express his desire for a WWE Title opportunity.
The footage certainly makes it plausible that the Hardcore Title and the title Mr. Perfect smashed were one in the same. Unfortunately, no one really knows if they are — not even inaugural Hardcore Champion Mick Foley.
“I have no idea,” the WWE Hall of Famer told WWEClassics.com. “But it makes ‘perfect’ sense.”
WWE loaned money to ECW to keep them in business
In 1996, the Monday Night War had begun and WWE and WCW battled for sports-entertainment and television ratings supremacy. Competitors regularly transitioned not only between the two wrestling giants, but also Paul Heyman’s ECW. Making no apologies for ECW’s unique brand of competition, Heyman was loud, outspoken and often clashed directly with WWE.
At WWE In Your House: Mind Games, Sandman, Tommy Dreamer and Paul Heyman sat at ringside and were directly acknowledged by WWE Superstars and Mr. McMahon. In February 1997, ECW competitors invaded Monday Night Raw and engaged in a rivalry with WWE Superstars — specifically Jerry “The King” Lawler. The battle inevitably led to the birth of an urban legend — Mr. McMahon willfully promoted ECW and loaned Paul Heyman money to keep his organization in business.
The rivalry between the organizations occurred during the height of WCW's popularity. WWE was losing the Monday Night War and ECW was trying to prove themselves a major player in sports-entertainment.
"They needed a boost and we [ECW] needed a boost," Tommy Dreamer told WWEClassics.com. "WWE was getting their butt kicked by WCW and they needed something that said you have to tune in to Monday Night Raw because anything could happen."
"Paul [Heyman] said we were working on deal with WWE to get us national exposure, but not a lot of people know about it," Dreamer revealed. "I think it was Paul, Mr. McMahon and Bruce Prichard – the head of talent relations at the time. That was it."
Bret Hart knew about The Montreal Screwjob
There’s always been a theory that The Montreal Screwjob was one big set-up perpetrated by everyone involved. The incident has been examined from every angle — Mr. McMahon, Shawn Michaels and Triple H have all acknowledged their respective roles on a number of occasions. Yet, there is still a belief that persists that WWE Hall of Famer Bret “Hit Man” Hart was actually in on the entire thing.
There is some speculation that suggested it was part of a grander scheme to destroy WCW and that the entire affair was to reveal Mr. McMahon as the power behind WWE. There’s a small group of fans that have overanalyzed what transpired in Montreal a bit too much and have come up with a relatively insane urban legend and conspiracy theory.
This sort of nonsense is best left to inciting radio hosts like Alex Jones. Fact is, there was no grander scheme at play, nor was the Montreal Screwjob a way to make people hate Mr. McMahon, propel “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and establish Bret Hart as WCW’s biggest Superstar. The Screwjob was exactly as it appeared — a business decision.
That's not to say the situation wasn't tense.
“I had an idea that something like that could happen,” Hart told WWEClassics.com. “I just put too much faith into [former WWE referee] Earl Hebner. My ‘Spidey sense’ was certainly up, but you can’t know the unknown.”
There were two Ultimate Warriors
Perhaps the longest standing urban legend in WWE history, there has long been a theory that when Ultimate Warrior returned to WWE at WrestleMania VIII, it was not the same man under the face paint.
The reason for the belief that the original Warrior had not returned stemmed from the fact that the former WWE Champion returned with different hair, a much more defined physique and new singlet ring gear as opposed to trunks.
Nevertheless, the Superstar who rescued Hulk Hogan from Papa Shango and Sid Justice was the very same one that defeated The Hulkster for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania VI. The intense individual named Jim Hellwig (known simply as Warrior) had always been the one and only Ultimate Warrior.
WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel chimed in on the long-standing urban legend and offered a definitive answer on the unique competitor: “Often imitated, often duplicated, there was only one Ultimate Warrior.”
"Macho Man" caused Hulk Hogan's WrestleMania IX black eye
At WrestleMania IX, Hulk Hogan teamed up with Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake to battle the team of The Million Dollar Man & IRS for the World Tag Team Championships. Hogan had not competed for nearly a year, but his return was overshadowed by a very conspicuous black eye.
Although Money, Inc. escaped the battle with the titles due to disqualification, the WWE Universe couldn’t help but speculate on why Hogan’s eye was nearly swollen shut. Even after he defeated Yokozuna to win the WWE Championship that same evening, The Hulkster could not turn attention away from his shiner.
So how did it happen? Legend tells the story of a second Mega-Powers explosion. One source of speculation claims that upon his return for the WrestleMania festivities, The Hulkster was confronted — and punched — by “Macho Man” Randy Savage. At the time, Savage and Miss Elizabeth had just gone through a divorce and “Macho Man” blamed Hogan for the dissolution of his marriage.
However, Hogan claimed in his book that he suffered the black eye following a Jet Ski accident in the days before the event. Sure, the version that Savage clocked Hogan sounds more exciting, but after asking around, it’s a hard pill to swallow.
In his autobiography, Hogan described the frightening Jet Ski accident that occurred the day before WrestleMania and the possibility that he would be unable to compete. Nevertheless, The Hulkster was in action on The Grandest Stage of Them All after allegedly telling the doctor the black eye wasn't real in order to be cleared for competition.