Bill Watts was never known for his etiquette, as evidenced by the night he called Paul Heyman and Madusa a “Jew and a c*nt,” respectively.
Date: November 2, 1992
Location: Center Stage Theater in Atlanta, GA
Source: Madusa’s Full Throttle Podcast
The year was 1992, and in WCW, legendary wrestler and promoter Bill Watts had taken over as VP of Wrestling Operations. As most people know, his tenure atop WCW was largely considered a disaster, as he was brought in to cut costs and make some absurd changes (like banning moves off the top rope). I was paying very close attention to the wrestling scene at this time, reading all the newsletters, and remember this time period very vividly.
About six months or so after Watts took over, he built to WCW’s annual Halloween Havoc PPV. Despite how horrible business was at the time, there was renewed interest in this show thanks to the debut of Jake “The Snake” Roberts debuting in WCW, as well as the WCW title win of Ron Simmons over Vader, which came across as electric on television. In addition, the company had done an excellent job hyping the “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal” gimmick for the Sting vs Jake Roberts match in the main event.
While Halloween Havoc ’92 did very strong business (relatively speaking for WCW), it was among the worst PPVs in the history of pro wrestling. It wasn’t the talent’s fault, as this show was loaded with past, present, and future superstars like Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Rick Rude, Sting, Masa Chono, Rick Steamboat, Brian Pillman, Vader, Jake Roberts, Michael Hayes, Dustin Rhodes, Steve Williams, Barry Windham, and others. It was the awful booking, the dismal atmosphere, and a very harsh Philadelphia crowd full of disgruntled fans who were ready and willing to crap on anything they didn’t like.
One of the few highlights was an interview segment Paul Heyman (as Paul E. Dangerously) did with Madusa. Heyman began to denigrate her with vicious misogynistic comments that would never be able to make the air today, and then fired her. Because the comments were so vile and his delivery was so awesome, the crowd exploded when she kicked him and put the boots to him. It took several security guys to break them up, and it got the biggest reaction of anything on the show. Mind you, this was over a year before Paul Heyman took over ECW, so he was still not yet a babyface to the local crowd. He was just that damn good on the mic.
As noted, it was among the worst received shows in wrestling history. It was universally panned, and in those days, there were so few PPVs every year that they meant far more than they do today. Halloween Havoc’s poor performance sent shockwaves within the company, and meetings were held at the offices by executives to address the declining ratings and awful show.
Eight days later, WCW had their usual TV tapings at Center Stage in Atlanta. At some point during the taping, Bill Watts held a meeting in front of all the wrestlers, although apparently Madusa wasn’t there (she wrestled at the tapings, but was not there for this meeting). He explained to everyone how the Halloween Havoc show sucked, and that he was embarrassed to be in this business. He said back in his day in the territories, he’d have taken them all out back and whipped their asses with his belt the way their fathers should’ve whipped their asses for being the kind of men that they are. He called them lame-ass performers with guaranteed contracts, and continued going on and on, berating the locker room for the show even though he booked it and the blame lay with him.
The line that made the most impact was when Watts said (we’re paraphrasing here), “What kind of self-respecting man can look at himself in the mirror and say ‘I performed as a wrestler on a show that got stolen by a Jew and a c*nt!”
The line was in reference to Paul E. Dangerously and Madusa, of course, who really did steal the show.
Paul Heyman, who was sitting in the far back because he hated Watts and didn’t want to be anywhere near him, was taken aback. He looked at Brian Pillman and whispered, “Is he talking about me??”
Pillman nodded, “I think so.”
Heyman at that point raised his hand. “What do YOU have to say?” shouted Watts.
Heyman said something to the effect of, “I don’t understand why you think we stole the show considering how crappy you made the show out to be, and I just consider it petty theft.”
Heyman said at that point he was waiting for Grizzly Smith (one of WCW’s security guys and the father of Jake Roberts) to come grab his arm and for Watts to punch him out, because Heyman said he only hit people when Smith held them for him first. Heyman didn’t say what happened next, but Watts couldn’t have been happy with what he said (they hated each other anyway).
Madusa didn’t remember this meeting, and said if she was there she would’ve definitely said something. Heyman said that Watts would not have used the word “c*nt” if Madusa was there, so for whatever reason, she wasn’t in attendance.
It should be noted that Heyman told the same story about eight years prior to this, and in that version, it wasn’t Halloween Havoc, but a TV show in which Heyman and Madusa had the highest rating on the show. And in that version of the story, Watts said what he did except it was embarrassing about how a ‘Jew and a c*nt’ had the highest rating. Given the details Heyman said this time around, it sounds like the Halloween Havoc version is the accurate one.
Heyman left WCW not long after this, and sued them. He was going to start a radio show in New York in direct competition with Howard Stern, but ended up being convinced to come back to the business. He first produced a show for Jim Crockett, who was starting something called the WWN (World Wrestling Network). But of course he ended up taking over as booker for ECW, forever changing history and the wrestling world as we know it.
Heyman’s ECW product knocked WCW several times on television, and it was incidents like this that made Heyman so vengeful and hateful towards the company.