Date: October 27, 1993
Location: Moat House Hotel in Blackburn, Lancashire, England
Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Highspots.tv, RF Video
The hotel brawl between Sid Vicious and Arn Anderson is probably the most famous, brutal backstage fight in wrestling history that didn’t end in the death of someone. But if it hadn’t been stopped, Arn would’ve almost surely been killed. That’s how out of control this brawl was, and it became a monumental example of everything that was wrong with WCW at the time.
To set the background, WCW had just left for a tour of Europe, where they were doing strong television ratings. The WWF was making millions in Europe at the time, almost saving the company from bankruptcy. WCW actually had more viewership than WWF, but because they were still seen as the #2 promotion, they didn’t draw as well when they toured there. But it was still better than what they were drawing at home, which was nothing. 1993 was the worst year for business in the long history of WCW/NWA.
The first show of the tour took place on October 26 in Cardiff, Wales. The crew took a very long flight to England, worked the house show, and then spent another 3-plus hours on the bus ride to the hotel in Blackburn.
As what always seems to happen, trouble started at the hotel bar. All that travel time, plus all that alcohol, fueled by a general frustration with business not drawing, led to tempers flaring among everyone.
Most versions of the story leading up to the brawl are similar. Some of the guys were sitting at a table waiting for food to arrive, and drinking heavily. According to Sid, it was Arn who was saying things like, “Why aren’t we drawing?” Sid then began bragging about how he had just received a raise ($2.4 million for four years, or $600,000 per year) after holding up the company before agreeing to lose to Sting at the Halloween Havoc PPV just days earlier. He said this knowing that Arn had just taken a $100,000 per year pay cut (Arn had a contract for $250,000, but it was cut down to $750 per night when Bill Watts came in 1992 and restructured everyone’s deals). He ribbed Arn about this, and also said he and the other “old man” (Arn’s best friend Ric Flair) needed to step aside.
Sid further boasted how WCW was going to build the company around him, which was definitely the plan that was in the works. Sid was scheduled to beat Vader for the WCW title at Starrcade ’93, and then beat Rick Rude for the NWA title in early ’94 to unify both championships and become the face of the company. He further added that Flair was repetitive and needed to retire for the good of WCW. Arn defended his friend, saying Sid couldn’t work and hadn’t drawn any money. He got in Sid’s face, egged on by some of the guys there who didn’t like Sid and knew Arn would likely get the better of things if they got physical. Arn asked him to step outside, but Sid declined, and at that point Doug Dillinger (WCW head of security) separated them and demanded they go back to their rooms.
There was a lot of resentment towards Sid at the time, because he had a history of holding the company up for money (1991 and 1993 Halloween Havoc), and rather than being reprimanded, he was rewarded with a raise and bigger push. He also no-showed some house shows in 1990, believed to be because he was home playing softball (his nickname was Softball Sid because every year he’d play in a local home league). He wasn’t even supposed to wrestle on those house shows, as he was still recovering from a collapsed lung and the company just wanted him to be in the corner of the heel in the match and potentially earn at least some of the $5,000 a week he was making while sitting out the injury at home. He then left WCW in 1991 despite having a valid contract, which Jim Herd allowed, and went to the WWF.
He returned to WCW in 1993, having walked out of the WWF in 1992 as they were seriously cracking down on steroid use in light of the federal investigation Vince McMahon was under. He sat home, waited for his contract to expire (Vince was not quite as generous as Herd when it came to releasing guys from contracts), and signed a big money deal with WCW even before his raise at Halloween Havoc, where was once again rewarded for holding the company up. This was all happening at a time WCW wrestlers were being brought in by the feds for interviews as evidence against Vince, and here they were pushing Sid Vicious, a guy who had perhaps the most freakish physique of anyone in the company. There were also rumors Sid was never tested in WCW’s new steroid testing policy (he failed a steroid test in the WWF just a week before WrestleMania VIII, not because of a positive test result, but because he was caught using someone else’s (believed to be Harvey Whippleman’s) urine).
Arn, on the other hand, was a popular wrestler among the boys who had worked his ass for the company dating back to 1985. The fact he took a pay cut, while the untalented and unpopular Sid Vicious got a raise making four times as much as Arn, led to the natural resentment and explains why those in the bar may have been egging Arn on.
Sid claimed that Arn threw a beer mug at him at the bar, across the table. Too Cold Scorpio was there and does remember beer being thrown, but it’s not confirmed who did it first. With everyone drinking so heavily, their memories are jaded and their recollections are not always accurate. Scorpio did say Sid threw a beer, but didn’t say if he threw it first or if he did it as a retaliation. After Sid threw the beer, that’s when Dillinger stepped in.
Dillinger escorted Arn to his hotel room, while Sid went to his. Before Arn closed the door, more words were exchanged as Dillinger shoved Arn in the room and locked the door. In Sid’s version of the story, as he walked back to his room, Arn broke a beer bottle in half and threatened Sid with it. Whatever the case, each man was now in his hotel room.
Sid ate the rest of his sandwich and then became more and more agitated about the argument. He was furious that Arn threw a beer at him and then threatened to cut him with the beer bottle (other versions of the story never mentioned the broken beer bottle), and felt he crossed a line and he had to get back at him. He broke the leg off of a chair that was in his room and walked over to Arn’s room a few doors down.
They were staying on the first floor. Ric Flair and Rick Steamboat were also staying on the first floor, but neither man heard any of this going on, apparently. Scorpio by this point was in his room on the second floor “smoking big hash.”
At this point there were no witnesses, and naturally this is where there are two different versions of the story.
Arn’s version is that he heard someone kicking down his door, but when he looked through the peep hole, didn’t see anyone. When he opened the door and stuck his head out, he was struck by the chair leg and knocked unconscious for a few minutes.
Sid’s version is that he had every intention of whacking Arn in the head with the chair leg, and indeed carried it with him to Arn’s door. He knocked on the door and shouted, “Come out here, mother*cker! Bring your beer bottle!” They exchanged words, and eventually Sid calmed down and said they should talk things out because they have a long tour ahead of them. Sid heard Arn stumbling around and thought he was too drunk to fight or talk, so he threw the chair leg several yards away and walked back to his room. As he walked back, Arn came out with a pair of scissors in his hands. Sid said, “Hey man, this has gone too far,” but Arn came after him and backed him into a corridor where there were two doors. He said he knocked Arn down, after which Sid saw scissors fall out of his own abdomen, and that Arn had stabbed him in the stomach. He stepped on the scissors before Arn got to them, and that’s when the fight really escalated.
Sid may have told another story at the time that said he defended himself against the scissors with the chair leg. His most recent version is that the chair leg was never used, and that police reports will confirm the leg had no dent or blood on it.
What is known for sure is that the scissors were absolutely used by both guys, and fortunately they were the blunt scissors and not the really sharp kind.
In Arn’s version, after he was knocked out for a few minutes, he woke up and Sid was on top of him, pounding his face. He somehow broke free, grabbed a pair of scissors nearby, and stabbed Sid in the stomach with them.
So this first phase of the fight either happened in the hallway corridor (Sid’s story) or in Arn’s hotel room (Arn’s story). We do know there was a shattered glass window at some point, but we don’t know where that window was.
Whatever the case, they both ended up in the hallway. If Arn is to be believed, Sid retreated after the initial stab to the stomach, and Arn charged after him and jumped on him again. Sid was stabbed a few more times, with some reports saying the wounds were in the face and hand. Blood was obviously spilling at this point.
Sid somehow got control of the scissors (either Arn dropped them or Sid punched him in the eye and got them), and that’s when things took a turn for the worse. He repeatedly stabbed Arn over and over, resulting in upwards of 20 stab wounds on Arn’s body. Most were on the upper body (shoulders and back) but at least one was an inch below the eye. The worst was a near 5-inch slit on the throat, causing Arn to be covered entirely in blood (he lost about a pint and a half).
Sid remembers Arn shouting “You’re f*cking killing me!” He was likely in a rage from all the alcohol and whatever other substances were in his system, and it got to the point where, had he continued, Arn would’ve bled to death.
Scorpio heard all the noise downstairs, and at first thought it was Vader messing with someone again. But when he went to Vader’s room, all he heard was snoring. When he went downstairs, he saw blood everywhere. On the walls, on the floor, everywhere. He saw Sid kicking Arn in the face, re-arranging his nose and stabbing him. He stepped in between the two, saving Arn’s life. Arn was weak from the blood loss and stumbled into the wall. Sid stopped and had this bug-eyed look on his face, freaked out over seeing blood pouring from his stomach, and fled the scene.
Vader woke up at this point, and when he stepped out of his room in his underwear, he saw Sid walking down the hallway with blood gushing out of his stomach. He tackled Sid and stuck his thumb in the wound to slow down the bleeding. He also asked for towels to soak up the blood and also further slow down the bleeding until the ambulance arrived.
Sid’s eye was swollen to the size of a tennis ball. Arn’s eye was completely swollen shut. Both men were taken to the Blackburn Royal Infirmary hospital nearby. Sid had exploratory surgery done that Wednesday and was released by the end of the week. Arn was also released at the same time as Sid, but was still weak from the blood loss and went home. Doctors told Arn that if he had lost more blood, he’d have likely lost his life. Also, if the stab wound near his eye was just an inch or so off, he likely would’ve lost the eye. Without question, he wouldn’t have survived the attack if the scissors weren’t blunt.
Sid claimed the hospital staff initially told him that Arn didn’t have a scratch on him, and Sid had blacked out so badly that he almost believed it to the point he was going to press charges. Once he found out what bad shape Arn was in, he decided not to. Regardless, filing a complaint would’ve required both men to stay in England for 90 days, so neither man went through with it. Police didn’t file charges because both were leaving for the U.S. anyway. WCW did have to pay a lot of money to the hotel for the damages.
The fight was a headline news story in London and Lancashire, but reports are that most fans in England thought it was an angle to generate interest in the tour. Reuters ran the story internationally, but it got very little coverage in the U.S. Those who did report the story had some facts wrong, such as saying the men were WWF wrestlers and that the wounds were from a third party attacker. Mike Weber, who ran WCW’s public relations, tried to use the story as proof that wrestling was real.
Sid reached out to Arn the following Monday to apologize, but it’s not clear if he reached him. While they were not friends before this incident, there was never any heat between the two and Sid always said Arn was professional and helpful towards him. WCW tried to pretend it never happened, with the only person to mention it being Missy Hyatt on her hotline. Hyatt said Sid was to blame and would be fired, which he eventually was, but the decision hadn’t been made at the time she made that statement.
The WCW production team was led to believe both would be fired, as they were told to edit them out of the show opens. A lot of television was already taped with both guys prominently featured. Arn was out 1-2 months recovering, and the booking plans changed entirely. WCW removed Sid from the planned match with Vader at Starrcade, at first attempting to replace him with an outside name, but when that fell apart, they went with Flair. The Flair-Vader match was one of the most memorable moments in that time period, while Sid was later fired and returned to WWE as “Psycho Sid.” Sid came back to WCW years later, at which time Arn was there and there were never any further problems between the two.
At the next house show, everyone was still exhausted and shocked over what happened. Vader said there was a meeting at the venue, and word was “Turner” (meaning upper management at TBS, likely not Ted Turner himself) was thinking of shutting down the tour and bringing everyone home. Vader suspected some of that was a work to scare the boys, and Dusty asked him to speak to everyone at the meeting, which he did. Vader was world champion at the time and something of a locker room leader.
The whole incident was a black eye to the wrestling industry, which was in the doldrums at the time, even worse than it is now. Both men were clearly in the wrong, and it was an example of how out of hand things can get when guys get intoxicated and no one is there to break it up. Arn is a very tough man, but Sid is enormous, and weapons were involved. The unsung hero in all this is Too Cold Scorpio, who broke up the fight and saved Arn Anderson’s life. Had it not been for Scorpio, it’s scary to think what may have happened. Arn could be dead, Sid could be in jail, and WCW would’ve likely been shut down by Turner in light of the negative publicity it would’ve surely received.