VICELAND's new TV series Dark Side of the Ring dives deep into an era of professional wrestling, where the lines between stage and reality were blurred. Each episode investigates the stories and rumors that surrounded some of wrestling's greats, including locker room brawls, major injuries, and at least one snake bite. The series is chock-full of shocking moments that give us a look behind the curtain into this wild and often chaotic world. We rounded up some of the strangest and most heart-wrenching moments ahead of the show's series finale on May 15.
Jake Roberts Gets Bitten By a King Cobra in the Locker Room
In the first episode, we learn the story of SummerSlam 1991, where "Macho Man" Randy Savage was set to marry his wrestling partner Miss Elizabeth in the ring for a "Match Made in Heaven." But when The Undertaker and Jake "The Snake" Roberts showed up (Roberts packing a king cobra in hand to scare Miss Elizabeth) and then later crashed the reception, it set off a deep personal feud. The snake would come back later during an episode of WWF Superstars, where Roberts was supposed to bring out a king cobra (a different one, presumably) to bite Savage in the ring. But Savage didn't trust that the snake had actually been stripped of its deadly venom, so he asked Roberts to let the snake bite him first. Roberts agreed, and after he got bit and no one died, the two went on to perform the snake bite in the ring. But Savage's brother later claimed Randy nonetheless got a 103-degree fever after the de-venomed snakebite, so really, who knows what took place there.
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels' Stage Feud Boils Over Into a Real Life Hair-Pulling Brawl
The second episode, "The Montreal Screwjob," features a story that showcases just how easily violence used to escalate backstage. Wrestler Bret Hart was getting ready in his dressing room at Connecticut's Hartford Civic Center one night when his former stage rival Sean Michaels passed by. Hart, who didn't think the two actually had animosity toward each other, tried to greet Michaels, but Michaels allegedly replied, "You think I'm going to fucking talk to you?" Which was apparently enough to kick off a serious brawl where Michaels somehow was left holding a handful of his own hair. Michaels then allegedly stormed into another room where other wrestlers were gathered, threw the hair down on a table and says, "this is an unsafe work environment!"
The Backstory to Bruiser Brody's Murder
The show's third episode, "The Killing of Bruiser Brody," dives into the mysterious locker room stabbing of Frank Donald Goodish, who played Bruiser Brody, a notorious villain character, in the 70s. People confused him with his intensely mean-spirited character, who was known for charging into the audience swinging a metal chain to hit fans. This may well be why no one was ever jailed for his murder, explains director Jason Eisner. In reality, he was a former sports journalist who liked to direct wrestling shots in his spare time. In this clip, his peers talk about his final moments before opponent Jose Gonzalez called him over for a private conversation that would turn deadly.
Kerry Von Erich Continues to Wrestle After Having a Foot Amputated
The show's fourth episode, "The Last of the Von Erichs," grapples with the lessons in wrestler Kerry Von Erich's tragic story. He was part of the picture-perfect Superman-esque Von Erich wrestling family. But when he lost a foot to a motorcycle accident, he continued to wrestle professionally, hiding the extent of his injury from most fans while becoming addicted to painkillers. In 1993, he killed himself. But in this clip, his friends and family talk about noticing his drug habit, hearing him claim he wants to kill himself, and trying to coax him away from drug dealers to a vacation escape in Alaska.
Gino Hernandez Swears He Saw a Man In the Back of His Car
The fifth episode follows wrestler Gino Hernandez, who struggled with cocaine use and paranoia up until he died mysteriously in 1986, at the age of 29. In one of his hallucinations, he thought a man was sitting in the back of his car ready to kill him, which got him so freaked out that he tried to get his hands on a gun to protect himself.
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