Top 10: Episodes for Dark Side of the Ring Season 3 by Jerry Whitworth
Vice’s hit documentary series Dark Side of the Ring is well into production of its expanded third season with eight of its fourteen episodes allegedly revealed. Wrestler Mance Warner shared an image via Twitter claiming season three will include among its topics Brian Pillman, Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW), Xtreme Pro Wrestling (XPW), Nick Gage, WCW/NJPW Collision in Korea 1995, Smith Family (including Jake “The Snake” Roberts), and Ion Croitoru. Mike Johnson of PWInsider also claims an episode on Chris Kanyon is in development. With over half the season revealed, the only question that remains is what will fill out the rest of the series’ third installment. We already know what will not be included in Chyna/Joanie Laurer. Following the announcement of the third season, it was revealed plans included featuring the deceased performer but were scrapped when it was learned her family was already well into producing a documentary film on her life and untimely passing. Lets then take a look at what could still emerge in the series this year.
One half of the Rockers with future megastar Shawn Michaels, Marty Jannetty largely saw his career drift into obscurity when the tag team split. Likely part of this split came from Jannetty’s alleged addiction to substance abuse which hampered his career moving forward. By 2004, Jannetty began threatening to take his own life to family and friends but it was Michaels who reached out and offered aid to get him some help with his demons. However, Jannetty’s demons continued to haunt him and in recent years he has entered the news cycle from remarks about wanting to have sexual relations with his daughter to claiming to have killed someone that tried to rape him when he was younger (which he has since recanted).
Son of the legendary Jerry “The King” Lawler, Brian Christopher made a name for himself in the wrestling world as a performer in the WWF primarily as Grand Master Sexay of the tag team Too Cool. During this time, it is alleged fellow wrestler JBL tied him up in the shower and indicated he was going to sodomize him as a form of hazing rookies (JBL having a rumored history of such things, another alleged incident in the shower involving Edge and soaping his rear end). Christopher’s run with in the WWF came to an end when he was discovered transporting drugs over the Canada/USA border. For years, Christopher suffered with sobriety that saw him make several run-ins with the law. In 2018, while being imprisoned for DUI and evading police, Christopher was found dead in his cell. His death ruled a suicide, Jerry Lawler has consistently cast doubt on that finding.
Wrestling since age fourteen, Michael Verdi performed as Trent Acid on the independent scene for fifteen years until his sudden death at the age of 29. Viewed as one of the best talents never to make it to WWE (outside a squash match), Acid was a known drug abuser and was arrested for heroin possession two months before dying from drug overdose in 2010. The tragedy of Acid’s death is compounded by his youth, a death due to a treatable disease, his notable talent despite his age and experience, and how beloved he was by other performers in the industry.
A performer that made a name for himself in companies like All Japan, ECW, WCW, WWE, and TNA, Mike Awesome had the tools, talent, and physicality to be a massive superstar. Born Michael Lee Alfonso, Awesome saw his career teeter after abandoning ECW for WCW where he was given laughable gimmick after laughable gimmick. A move to WWE initially saw the promise of recovery but ultimately had him slide again until he eventually retired from the sport. One of the best to never reach the top of the industry, Awesome’s home life deteriorated where he was charged with domestic abuse against his high school sweetheart and wife of fifteen years. Soon after she told him she was filing for divorce, Awesome took his own life.
Known as Sid Vicious, Sid Justice, and Sycho Sid, Sid Eudy is a legendary monster heel that has been described in his private life as being rather eccentric. In fact, he maybe best known today as taking money to perform at any number of events and more often than not no showing. Whole articles and shoot interviews appear across the internet about Sid, a more comical story being his pet squirrel he kept on the road that tore into his genitals on one occasion when he was dared to put it down his pants. But perhaps the craziest story involving the wrestler was a shoot fight he had with fellow performer Arn Anderson. During a stint with WCW while on tour in the United Kingdom, the pair came to blows in their hotel where they stabbed each other with a pair of scissors. Anderson was stabbed twenty times in the chest and gut where, story goes, Anderson managed to get a hold of the weapon and deliver four stabs to Sid which helped end the brawl. The conflict led to Sid being released from the company (until he was rehired six years later). During a match as part of his WCW return saw his leg break gruesomely prompting a quick finish.
Daughter of wrestler Kyoko Kimura and one of the biggest stars of the Japanese wrestling promotion Stardom, Hana Kimura was set to be one of the next breakout talents to emerge from the East on to the world stage. In 2019, Hana joined the cast of the reality television series Terrace House: Tokyo 2019–2020 where she was treated horribly by a housemate on the show. However, the incident led to Hana receiving harsh online criticism. Growing up a victim of bullying over her mixed heritage, Hana sank into a deep depression leading to her taking her own life at age 22.
Best known for her work in the WWF as Sunny (of the Bodydonnas with Skip, her future husband Chris Candido), Tammy Lynn Sytch became a sex icon as the WWF transitioned to cater to an older audience. However, Sytch’s time in the WWF saw a series of problems emerge behind the scenes between allegedly having multiple affairs, abusing drugs, and no showing events. This eventually lead to her release from the promotion where Sytch and Candido found second life in ECW. Only, Sytch’s issues just continued which saw her release from ECW, as well. By 2001, Sytch began posing nude for Missy Hyatt’s Wrestling Vixxxens. Candido passed away in 2005 from pneumonia and by 2012 Sytch had multiple run-ins with the law including charges of burglary, DUI, and violating protective/restraining orders.
In 2017, the Me Too Movement saw sexual predators across the entertainment industry exposed. By 2020, a similar movement emerged known as Speaking Out. This time around, the wrestling industry was hit hard. In America, the Chikara promotion was shut down over allegations of conditioning women in its Wrestle Factory school and audience for sexual abuse. Previous allegations against Michael Elgin covering up a sexual assault in his promotion Glory Pro gained renewed attention seeing his release from Impact Wrestling along with Joey Ryan and Dave Crist who suffered direct allegations of assault. Likely the biggest impact was on the British wrestling scene as performers like Marty Scurll, Jimmy Havoc, Jack Gallagher, Ligero, Jordan Devlin, and Joe Coffey were accused of various crimes. WWE talents such as Matt Riddle and Velveteen Dream also had allegations made against them.
In the early 1990s, while the WWF was in the midst of a steroids scandal, a more serious one arose. Following allegations of sexual assault committed by Terry Garvin (Terry Joyal, kayfabe brother of Ron Garvin) on Barry Orton (brother of Bob Orton Jr and uncle of Randy Orton), victims from the ring boys (youths who ran errands for performers) began to emerge claiming assault by Garvin as well. Allegedly, Terry Garvin, Pat Patterson, and ring announcer Mel Phillips referred to the ring boys as the “cream team” because they were an ample source for sexual favors, offering money and drugs for sex. With boys reportedly as young as ten and thirteen, the allegations lead to the three men exiting the company. However, given Vince McMahon’s close relationship with Patterson and an internal investigation seemingly unable to gain concrete evidence on his part in the abuse, Patterson was hired back to the company where he had a prominent role for years. Other rumors also exist regarding Patterson using his position in the company to force talent to perform sex acts but Patterson has always claimed it was discriminatory slander made against him for being homosexual.
One of the most innovative high flyers of his time, the Dynamite Kid Thomas Billington of the British Bulldogs was an inspiration to future stars the world over. However, behind the scenes, stories persist of him being a veritable monster. Harmful, dangerous ribs (jokes) on fellow wrestlers and a history of fighting his colleagues outside of the ring aside, Kid’s alleged abuse on his wife Michelle Smadu (Bret Hart’s former sister-in-law) is widely told. Reportedly, he would drug and anally rape her and regularly threatened to kill her, waking her from sleep with a gun pointed in her face. Stories persist Michelle considered taking her own life and that of her children to escape the abuse. She left him many times but finally stayed away with help from brother-in-law Bret Hart. Another tale alleged Kid broke his former manager JR Foley’s daughter’s kneecaps to collect insurance money for a car accident she was involved in that she escaped relatively unscathed (reportedly, the break so bad she never fully recovered and continues to walk with a limp).
Honorable mentions: Chasyn Rance, Ultimate Warrior, JBL, Yokozuna, Eddie and Mike Graham, Missy Hyatt, Ludvig Borga, and Larry Sweeney.