This is the 100th installment of the ‘Wrestling with Sin‘ series. A group of stories that delves into the darker, underbelly of pro wrestling. Many of the stories involve such subjects as sex, drugs, greed and in some cases even murder! As with every single story in the Sin series, I do not condone or condemn the alleged participants. We simply retell their stories by researching interviews, newspapers, magazines and various other sources of media.
In November of 2002, up and coming star of New Japan Pro Wrestling…Hiroshi Tanahashi faced a real life crisis. Tanahashi was at the apartment of his girlfriend Hitomi Hara a news reporter and production assistant at TV Asahi (The TV home to New Japan Pro Wrestling) The couple got into a heated argument where it was reported that Tanahashi broke up with the Hara.
Feeling jilted, Hitomi Hara threatened to kill Tanahashi and herself in a murder/suicide. As Tanahashi turned his back to Hara to leave…Hara took a kitchen knife and stabbed Tanahashi in the back twice. Tanahashi was able to fight off his girlfriend and escape. He was rushed to the hospital where he stayed for 10 days.
Thankfully he fully recovered from his injuries and became an even bigger star for NJPW as the story made national headlines. His ex-girlfriend was charged with attempted murder.
In February of 2016, Ring of Honor referee Kevin Keenan was fired by the company over allegations of sexual harassment with a female employee. The following day after the initial news reports came out, Keenan came out with a lengthy statement about what exactly happened. In it, Keenan admits to jokingly patting ROH wrestler Mandy Leon on the butt at a Nashville, Tennessee nightclub.
Keenan insisted that it was just playful and he had known and been close friends with Mandy Leon for years. He even says that Mandy joked back with Keenan after the slap and no confrontation ever took place between the two. The next day after the incident, Keenan was fired by booker/wrestler Hunter ‘Delirious’ Johnston.
Kevin Keenan alleges that the real reason he was fired by Ring of Honor was because Delirious saw the ass slap and got jealous. Keenan claimed that Delirious and Mandy Leon were secretly sleeping with one another.
While wrestling in the mid-west, Don Kalt and Larry McMullen went under the gimmick of bikers called ‘the Chain Gang’ of Jack and Frank Dillinger respectively. After a show in Milwaukee on September 13th, 1969, the Dillingers were invited to a bar in Rochester, Wisconsin.
They were picked up at the arena and driven to a bar where upon arrival were jumped by a real biker gang. The gang ripped off their gimmicked Hell’s Angels vests and punched and kicked. Both wrestlers were able to escape the bar with Don ‘Jack Dillinger’ Kalt jumping into a nearby river. Larry ‘Frank Dillinger’ McMullen wasn’t as fortunate as he was shot in the leg at least twice and then left for dead.
One of the bullets severed a major artery in McMullen’s leg and it had to be amputated, thus ending his wrestling career. The entire incident was an apparent set up by a so called fan who actually believed that Kalt and McMullen were real bikers.
Brandi Freeman was the ex-girlfriend of wrestler ‘Gentleman’ Chris Adams. Together, they had a daughter named Julia Adams. Brandi was also a wrestler/valet nicknamed “Miss Brandi.” She was trained by her boyfriend Adams and worked exclusively for wrestling shows that Adams booked. The two would split up after Chris was signed to a WCW contract.
Brandi would later meet another man and have another child. On January 13th, 2003…Brandi’s oldest and Chris’ daughter Julia tried to wake up her mother, but she wouldn’t respond. The 8-year-old would get dressed by herself and walked to school on her own. Around 11am that day, her current boyfriend found Brandi in their bedroom dead. It would later be revealed that Brandi had died of a drug overdose. She was just 29 years old and left behind two children, an 8-year-old and an 8-week old baby.
The Louisville Slugger
While owning and operating the Smoky Mountain Wrestling Promotion (SMW) back in 1994, Jim Cornette found himself on the wrong side of the law. An ex SMW employee had apparently stolen a video camera from the promotion and refused to return it until he was paid $300 in back pay, which he claimed he was owed while working for the company. Cornette drove to the man’s home in Tennessee and demanded his property back.
The ex-employee refused until he got his money, so Cornette went into his car and pulled out a baseball bat and proceeded to strike the ex-employee’s parked vehicle repeatedly. Cornette was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of vandalism.
In 2007, an independent wrestler nicknamed ‘The Mighty Axis’ wrapped himself in toilet paper, dowsed himself with gasoline and set himself on fire. It was not a wrestling stunt in any way, it was suicide. The Mighty Axis had been battling depression and would write deep thoughts on a myspace blog questioning life and its meaning. Here is a quote from one of his posts:
“Maybe I’m not worthy to live. Maybe I think about that every day…I think about all the wrongs I’ve done to people in this world and how much I’ve fucked up in my life and think to myself, “why am I alive?”; I don’t know why I’m alive. I try to do the best I can, and follow whatever it is that I believe in at the time. Because beliefs change every day….maybe I’ll believe in God one day, and not the next. All I know is that I am alive. I can either choose to end my life or keep progressing with it to maybe….just maybe, eventually find an answer to why it is that I am alive.”
The Mighty Axis was just 22 years old at the time of his death.
Louie in the Sky with Diamonds
Louie Spicolli wrestled for the WWF, ECW, WCW and AAA down in Mexico. As gifted as he was as a performer, Spicolli battled a painkiller addiction that cost him jobs almost everywhere he went. His last place of employment was World Championship Wrestling where he was in the middle of a program with Hall of Famer Larry Zbyszko. On the night of February 15th, 1998, Spicolli spent the evening watching videos drinking wine and popping Somas. (A muscle relaxer)
It was reported that Spicolli took about two dozen pills before heading to bed around 2AM. A friend who was sleeping over at Spicolli’s residence woke up around 5AM and smelled vomit. When he went into Spicolli’s bedroom, he saw an unconcious Spicolli pale and vomit all over him. EMT’s were called and when they arrived, Spicolli was pronounced dead at the scene.
Later on, the coroner determined that Spicolli had overdosed and choked to death on his own vomit. Louie Spicolli was just 27 years old, having turned 27 just 5 days prior to his death.
You can read all previous ‘Wrestling with Sin’ pieces here.