"Dr. D" David Schultz Is A Hero
By Alex Al-Kazzaz
Last year, I watched an episode of Dark Side of the Ring that blew me away. Well, many episodes have blown me away, but there's one that really got to me...personally and professionally. The episode is called "David Schultz & The Slap Heard Round The World" and it's about a pro wrestler that stood up for the pro wrestling business and doing so cost him his career.
Schultz was trained by Herb Welch. We learned in the episode that Welch was a wrestler who learned from the early pioneers of wrestling. Welch was a tough dude and his method of training was extremely brutal. I'd say Welch was in the same level as the likes of Stu Hart and Verne Gagne as far as teaching the ropes went. If you were to learn to wrestle from any of those three names, God knows what you're going to go through. But hey, you signed up for it!
Schultz began his career in 1974. Schultz had a unique and incredible skill of playing a villainous role. Schultz truly looked the part and played the part so well that fans truly believed he was an insane guy! During a promotional vignette, Schultz would be portrayed as abusive towards his wife and kids. In that same Dark Side of the Ring episode, Schultz said that a few days after filming the promo, the police came to his office demanding to know where Schultz lived as they had warrants for his arrest for child and spousal abuse! During that time, it was believed that pro wrestling was 100 percent real! Schultz further acknowledged that the lady playing his wife was not really his wife. Same thing with the child. The whole thing had been arranged by Vince McMahon.
Before arriving in the World Wrestling Federation(now the WWE), Schultz wrestled for the National Wrestling Alliance, Stampede Wrestling, and the American Wrestling Association. We learned in Dark Side of the Ring that Schultz and Hulk Hogan were roommates in Florida. Hogan and Schultz were adversaries at the AWA. When Hogan left the AWA for the WWE, Vince McMahon, at Hogan's request, brought in Schultz. Schultz truly had the potential of being of the WWE's biggest villain during his time.
On December 28th, 1984, Schultz had an encounter with 20/20 reporter John Stossel. Stossel was doing a story of professional wrestling and its legitimacy. Stossel would interview Schultz, who NEVER broke out of his character. Not surprisingly Stossel decided to act funny and told Schultz, "I'll ask you the standard question. I THINK THIS IS FAKE!" Then BOOM, Schultz slapped Stossel in the face, Stossel got up, and Schultz hit him again. That one moment, a pro wrestler stands up for the boys, the business, and it ultimately leads to the downfall of his career.
Schultz maintains that he hit Stossel on the orders of Vince McMahon. Before Schultz did the interview, McMahon said to Schultz that Stossel was making a joke out of the business, and allegedly ordered Schultz to "blast him, tear his ass up, stay in character, Dr. D".
In the immediate aftermath, McMahon informs Schultz that he'll pay the fine issued by the New York State Athletic Commission. Also, Schultz is sent to wrestle in Japan for a bit while the whole Stossel incident blows over. However, the incident only intensifies and Stossel sues McMahon. Things get so bad for McMahon that he tries to get Schultz to sign a paper stating that Schultz acted on his own and McMahon had nothing to do with the Stossel incident.
Soon after, Schultz is fired after another alleged incident at a WWE show in Los Angeles. During that time, the WWE was beginning to promote its first Wrestlemania and Mr. T was often attending the shows and hanging out backstage, which Schultz resented since he was not on the Wrestlemania card while Mr. T was in the main event with Hulk Hogan. Some sources say that Schultz was fired for allegedly slapped Mr. T while others it was because he allegedly challenged Mr. T to a fight. We all know Schultz never slapped Mr. T because if that had happened, it would have been all over the news. Mr. T was a huge and well-known celebrity.
After his firing, Schultz tries to find work at other promotions but no promotion was to use him. Schultz alleges that McMahon warned all promoters that if they use Schultz, he'd sever all working relationships. Schultz did work on the indies for a year or two before retiring and becoming a bounty hunter.
Schultz is a hero and here's why; he stood for the business after a journalist insulted it right in his face. Defending the business also means he stood up for all the pro wrestlers who have and are working very hard to support their families in this brutal industry. Pro wrestling is NOT for the weak of heart. Me personally, I've been made fun of and even criticized for loving pro wrestling and even for standing up for it. To people who think this business is a joke, I dare you to step in the ring and take several bumps, you'll see what it's like to work in the ring. And you won't like it, I promise you. The sad part is that Schultz sacrificed his career by standing up for the business.
As many know, I'm a Journalist. And what Stossel did was unethical, unprofessional, and disgraceful. For Stossel to say what he said to Schultz is a violation of the code of ethics of Journalism. I am very determined to meet and/or speak to Schultz personally about the whole story and I'm more determined to explain to him how Stossel's actions affect me from a Journalism standpoint. In my case, I've stood up for podcasters and sportswriters because many believe that our occupation is lazy and irrelevant. The world we live in today, huh? Unbelievable.
Not long after the Dark Side of the Ring episode came out, Schultz was interviewed by Jim Cornette. Schultz goes into full detail on everything and even gives information that we did NOT see on the episode. I strongly recommend checking it out! (Just click on the video on this page)
It's really sad how one man who had the balls and courage to stand up to the business ended up losing his spot. But you know what? He went on to become the world's greatest bounty hunter and that worked better for him in that than in wrestling.