Ever since pro wrestling came into being, fans have always cheered the good guys (called baby faces) and booed the bad guys (called heels). A wrestling villain can easily be recognized with his sneak attacks, arrogant promos and cowardly tactics. Superstars like Roddy Piper, Triple H and Chris Jericho have mastered this craft and are able to invoke the fans’ hatred with relative ease.
But there have been numerous instances over the years when “reel life” cowards ended up being real life badasses, with acts of heroism on their part.
1. Perry Saturn
Saturn debuted in the World Wrestling Federation as a member of the group called The Radicalz, along with Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko. The group forged alliance with the biggest heel at the time, Triple H, attacking the fan favourite Stone Cold on multiple occasions in acts of cowardice.
In 2004, Saturn stumbled upon a scene where 2 men were about to rape a woman. He immediately sprang into action. Suddenly, one of the men took out a .25 caliber handgun and shot him in the back of his neck, which Saturn initially thought was a punch (as stated by him in a shoot interview). The woman was saved though, and it took Saturn years to recuperate, but is currently doing what he does best, kick ass in indie wrestling.
2. Shawn Daivari
Daivari and Muhammad Hassan were quite possibly the most hated heels in modern wrestling. Their gimmick was of two Arab Americans who were fed up of the stereotypes they were receiving after the events of 9/11. They were immediately put into high profile feuds against the likes of Undertaker and Hulk Hogan. Daivari was released in 2007.
In 2012, Daivari made headlines when he took down a drunk, frenzied passenger on a train. In addition to shouting racial slurs, the passenger threatened to kill everyone on board. This didn’t go well with Shawn and he proceeded to put him in a choke hold. Witnesses reported that Daivari applied so much pressure that the man peed his pants. As per several tweets after the incident, Daivari proved once and for all that wrestling IS real.
3. Chris Masters
Masters had two brief stints with the WWE, his gimmick being that of a muscular hulk bearing the physique of a Greek God. Despite his look, he remained a villain throughout his career.
Masters grabbed eyeballs in March 2013, when it was reported that he saved his mother from a burning house. A crazed neighbor had kept his mother hostage inside, and proceeded to set fire to the house. In an act of incredible heroism, which by the way, would certainly make any Greek God proud, Masters pulled out a 10 foot tree from the ground using his bare hands. He then threw the tree through a window, located his mother inside, and pulled her out to safety. The accused was charged with arson and thrown in jail, and Masters garnered some deserved media attention.
4. Chuck Palumbo
Best remembered for being a member of the F.B.I. (Full Blooded Italians) in WWE, Palumbo was the muscle of the notorious group. The FBI feuded with the biggest faces of the time like Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar.
In January 2016, Palumbo saved a woman’s life following a car wreck. Palumbo was heading for his home in El Cajon, when he noticed a car turned on its side. He stopped to help and climbed on top of the vehicle, noticing an unconscious woman whose arm was pinned under the car. A professional mechanic and former wrestler, he easily lifted the car enough to allow the woman to move her arm out. As a fire engine came to her aid, he got into his truck and left the scene to avoid answering questions. Altering Stone Cold’s words a little on this one- “Arrive. Save. Leave.”
5. Ian ‘Vampiro’ Hodgkinson
Hodgkinson was one of the few popular wrestlers who never worked for the industry giant, WWE. He wrestled for WCW in the late 90s, followed by short lived tenures in independent promotions. He’s currently working as a color commentator in Lucha Underground.