Ric Flair, Sex & Steroids in Flight: 10 Years After WWE's Plane Ride from Hell
Today marks the 10-year anniversary of an unspeakable WWE incident that has been spoken upon to the point of biblical proportion.
Fan inquiry and subsequent storytelling of what has now come to be known as the plane ride from hell has elevated a dark day for the WWE into something of an urban myth.
But this was so much more.
On May 5th, 2002, everything that is wrong with the rock-star lifestyle of being a pro wrestler was furiously showcased during a delayed flight overseas following a WWE pay-per-view.
Throw in some drugs, alcohol and testosterone and a plane ride party turned into a legal and professional nightmare.
Authority was rendered helpless. Order was unraveled. Civility, nonexistent. Insanity ensued and the inmate passengers ran the aircraft asylum, seat belts be damned.
Events stemming from the plane ride from hell would receive so much notoriety on the Internet that they were publicly addressed by then-vice president of talent relations Jim Ross in his weekly Ross Report column:
The flight was about seven hours in length and at times was low-lighted by a handful of people who consumed too much alcohol and consequently acted like children whose parents were away and left the liquor cabinet unlocked.
The conduct of this inebriated minority was unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Procedures have been put in place to ensure such conduct does not occur in the future. The bottom line is this: yours truly is the person in charge of the talent roster and the buck stops with me. We will do all we humanly can to solve the problem.
What Ross conveniently failed to mention in his public acceptance of blame was that alcohol was far from the only weapon of choice when it came to wrestler inebriation.
In a long, sad expose of Ric Flair's struggles outside of the ring, Shane Ryan of Grantland.com described a scene where "wrestlers on the flight passed out syringes to the flight attendants with instructions to dispose of them."
During an interview with YouShoot, Sean Waltman went into explicit detail of liberal use of Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), which was a legal depressant at the time that was allegedly abused by numerous wrestlers.
The culprits of Flight 666 were a sizable laundry list of Hall of Famers, world champions and habitual trouble makers. Most offenders had a history of personal demons and/or backstage disputes that preceded them, and on this day their legends would only grow.
Each episode of the soap opera, that in many ways was too real, set forth shockingly new lows that the wrestlers in question were not afraid to stoop to.
Episode 1: Michael P.S. Hayes Gets Knocked out by JBL
Bullying and backstage trauma can be summed up in but three letters: JBL.
The longtime wrestler turned stock-market maven was far from a stranger to spats and scuffles with his colleagues. In fact, parts of his legacy are defined by them.
JBL became incensed with a drunken Michael Hayes, eventually knocking him out after Hayes allegedly punched an open wound on Layfield's head.
It will forever be unknown whether a stiff punch from Layfield or inebriation had more of an impact on Hayes' comatose state, but it's safe to say that a combination of the two played their part.
Hayes' woes didn't end there as Sean "X-Pac" Waltman took out rank-and-file frustrations on the influential road agent by chopping his hair off.
Website practitioner of the all-caps headline PWInsider described the incident:
Road Agent Michael Hayes was involved in an physical incident with Bradshaw after heavily drinking, allegedly punching him. Hayes' actions led to someone (later believed to be Sean Waltman) cutting off his mullet while he was sleeping.
These claims were verified by Waltman in a profanity-laced version of the infamous story seen above.
Waltman's version also reveals a previously unknown tidbit of Hayes almost urinating on Linda McMahon while in flight.
Episode 2: The Brock Lesnar-Curt Hennig Takedown Contest
If one incident can be isolated as the single biggest moment of hell, the Minnesota takedown contest between Brock Lesnar and Curt Hennig is a top contender.
Lesnar and Hennig shared a connection, as both talented athletes were from Minnesota. But while the two were good friends, their bond turned competitive as time dragged on during the flight.
Hennig, who would ultimately fall victim to his own personal demons in 2003, was under the influence and challenged Lesnar to an amateur wrestling contest.
The freestyle flight fight turned scary when Lesnar allegedly slammed Hennig into an emergency door. The incident lead to Hennig's abrupt release from the WWE.
Apparently, the in-flight takedown contest was something of a tradition in the WWE. According to Sean Waltman, Vince McMahon and Kurt Angle engaged in a similar battle on a previous flight, obviously with no repercussions.
Episode 3: Ric Flair Naitches Himself into a Lawsuit
Ric Flair was a legend in both pro wrestling and partying. So if a flight filled with pro wrestlers degenerated into a drug and alcohol-fueled carousal, there was no way his name would be left out of any ensuing headline.
The 16-time world champion allegedly disrobed during the the flight, and then re-robed with nothing on underneath.
Flair would go on to be named in a sexual harassment lawsuit from Sportjet Flight Attendants after accosting two female flight attendants while partially nude.
Two flight attendants, Taralyn Cappellano and Heidi Doyle, would compile their allegations into a 2004 lawsuit. Chief among the chronicled misdeeds was Fliehr's sexual aggression. He wore nothing but a jeweled cape, the flight attendants said, and "flashed his nakedness, spinning his penis around." He separately grabbed each woman's hand and placed it on his crotch, and then "forcibly detained and restrained" Doyle "from leaving the back of the galley of the airplane while he sexually assaulted her."
Grantland went on to report that Flair insisted there was no truth to these incidents, but the WWE settled out of court.
Episode 4: Dustin Rhodes Joins Sexual Harassment Parade, Sings the Blues
Dustin Rhodes, AKA Goldust, was yet another name implicated in the Sportjet sexual harassment lawsuit that ensued in the fallout form the plane ride from hell.
Rhodes' (Virgil Runnels III) actions were much tamer to that of Flair's by comparison, but they were still enough to legally implicate the product of wrestling royalty.
In describing Rhodes' actions, Grantland.com reported: "Runnels advised Cappellano that, 'You and me are gonna [expletive].'"
Rhodes took his high-elevation obnoxiousness to another, more awkward, level as he began publicly serenading his ex-wife and fellow WWE employee at the time, Terri Runnels.
The uncomfortable melodic session got so out of control that it was the only point during the entire ride where vice president of talent relations at the time Jim Ross intervened to temporarily restore order.
Episode 5: Scott Hall Completes the Trio of Alleged Sexual Predators
Ain't no party like a wrestler party because a wrestler party has Scott Hall.
Hall's wrestling career is Hall of Fame caliber despite the fact that his legacy is littered with what could have been. Present day, Hall has become more well known for countless troubles outside of the ring than his brilliance inside of it.
Hall's antics on the 2002 plane ride speak to how and why he has become such a tragic figure in the annals of pro wrestling.
Jim Ross went to bat for Scott Hall as it pertained to his role in the plane ride from hell, insisting Hall was not part of any wrongdoing.
The Sportjet flight attendants saw it differently.
Hall allegedly joined Curt Hennig in tagging wrestlers with shaving cream, and before passing out for the duration of the flight, he joined Dustin Rhodes and Ric Flair in displaying aggressive, sexual behavior towards two Sportjet flight attendants.
Grantland reported that "Hall licked Doyle's face, told her he wanted to 'lick her [expletive],' and asked Cappellano to '[expletive] his [expletive].'"
Despite conflicting reports of Hall's role, the WWE had seen enough to eventually release the veteran from his contract just days after the UK tour.