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411’s Dark Side of The Ring Report: ‘The Plane Ride from Hell’

September 17, 2021 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Dark Side of the Ring Plane Ride From Hell

-Dark Side of The Ring resumes their 3rd season tonight with this episode about the infamous WWE Plane Ride from Hell! Let’s get to it!

-As a reminder, Chris Jericho is your narrator for this season.

-Opening talky bit as we meet some of the talking heads: Jim Ross, Tommy Dreamer, PJ Polaco (Justin Credible), Terri Runnels, Mike Chioda, RVD. After a sell out European Tour, WWE talent boarded a private 747 heading back to the US. Dreamer says when there is an open bar and you are sitting there for 7 hours things are going to happen. Terri knew the boys were being the boys and she was staying away from them. JR: “they acted like asses. Children!” PJ says it was a capsule of what pro-wrestling was like back then. Dreamer says it was normal, though crazy to anyone else watching this that aren’t wrestlers. JR never wants to talk about The Plane Ride from Hell ever again.

-This is The Plane Ride from Hell!

-We start just after ECW and WCW were purchased by Vince McMahon. “I, Vince McMahon, bought my competition.” Tommy Dreamer tells us that WWE was a monopoly and it was literally the only place to earn a full time living as a pro-wrestler.

-Next we meet Jim Ross, who was head of WWE Talent Relations. The WWE’s roster exploded with the addition of WCW and ECW guys plus also having legends return like Flair, Hogan, Hall and Nash. JR talks about Ric Flair and how him being on the roster was a positive. JR loved his job and loved building a roster. He loved putting together that team. He talks about the momentum in the US growing which lead to momentum over seas growing.

-May 2002 The WWE is heading to Europe for a four day tour which was being closed by a PPV in London. PJ Polaco talks about the boys always being jacked about the Euro tours because the crowd were so hot and the money was always good. He brings up that big stars like Austin, Hall, Nash, Taker Flair, and Brock Lesnar were on the flight.

-JR mentions it was a long flight so they had the idea to charter a customized jet to be friendly to the talent. That leads to us meeting Heidi Doyle, who unfortunately got stuck being one of the flight attendants on board the private jet. She worked for Sport Jet which flew teams from Phoenix Area: Suns, Coyotes, Jazz, Mariners. A normal jet that size would have 190 seats, but this jet had 50 leather first class seats with couches and plush carpeting. It costs a lot to do it privately, but you get whatever food you want and you won’t be with general public.

-Next is Terri Runnels who mentions it was nice to know they wouldn’t offend the general public as would sometimes happen on flights. She tells us she was in the first class section of the plane with JR, Vince and Linda McMahon. Heidi says the front had a little section that was basically first class of the first class. Usually coaches and managers set up there and in this case it was Vince and Linda plus a few others. Heidi’s job was to work in the back with the wrestlers and get the food and drinks. She mentions Ric Flair who was chatty and flirty. Ninety percent of their clients were men and they knew now to get too comfortable as people have a different way of interpreting comfort. She adds that on the flight to Europe there were no problems.

-The charter arrived in Cologne, Germany first and we see hand held footage of RVD vs. Eddie Guerrero. That brings RVD as a talking head and he talks about being in a different culture. Dreamer mentions the flight attendants would party with the boys and were with them basically the entire tour.

-Mike Chioda, WWE ref, says that in the 80s and 90s the attendants would party with the boys. Heidi says this was her first trip after having a baby and she attended the show in Germany, but spent most of her time in her hotel getting room service.

-WWE Insurrextion PPV closes the show in London. JR remembers the show being solid and the talent was happy with how things went. Now they were excited to head back home. Heid was excited to get back home to her daughter. Things then went downhill as the plane is ready for take off, but are told to hold as there is a weather delay in Connecticut. They were stuck on the Tarmac for 7 hours. Oh boy! That would suck!

-Heidi mentions the plane had a full bar and they went through 3 liquor carts (normal sized bottles) before the plane took off. The producers ask Heidi how common it is to go through a cart before take off and she says it has never happened to her before or since and yet, they went through 3 of them. Terri compares it to a varsity high school football team winning the big game and being stranded in the parking lot to tail gate. RVD says high school is giving them too much credit as it was really like 5th graders. Heidi says they were to serve the drinks, but the boys took over. PJ says they would have gotten to the booze if anyone tried to cut them off and Flair would have thrown thousands of dollars at them.

-Commercials!

-The plane is finally cleared for take off and immediately there were a bunch of drunk people. Chioda says the boys only needed an hour to get drunk and then add in all the pills. PJ mentions the doctors would write the boys scripts for anything. Chioda talks about Halcion and we learn about the rib of giving people H Bombs. Basically, they would drop a Halcion in someone’s drink to knock them out. RVD mentions it would happen to boys to prank them or to women so people could take advantage of them. “It was kind of normal in some of the places I’ve been.” JR mentions you should never leave your drink uncovered as the boys enjoyed seeing people foam at the mouth and stumble around.

-That leads to Michael Hayes getting H Bombed on the plane. JR goes over Hayes’ role with the WWE at the time. JR mentions Hayes was not himself and made bad decisions. At the PPV, JBL was busted open in a match with X-Pac. For some reason, Hayes took a shot at JBL and reopened the wound. JBL woke up and knocked Hayes out. Chioda laughs about it and then an X-Pac chant started. JR talks about Pac and says he was a sweet guy, but he always wanted to get over with the boys. We learn Chief Jay Strongbow called Pac, “trailer hitch” because he was always following the big load (Hall and Nash). Pac isn’t a talking head, but we hear his voice as he talks about cutting Hayes’ ponytail off his head. Chioda says Pac held it up as a trophy and it drew a massive pop.

-PJ tells us that you weren’t allowed to sleep on the plane as you would wake up with a shaved eyebrow or shaving cream on your head. Chioda says you could wear a hat or shades as it buy you time to wake up.

-That leads to a discussion of Curt Hennig as he is one of the greatest ribbers of all time. He liked to mess with Brock Lesnar and decided to put shaving cream on his head. He then slapped it and next thing you know Brock is chasing Curt through the aisle. They get into a wrestling match and Heidi says there is nothing she can do. She remembers one of the wrestlers getting hold of the phone and yelling “we are all going to die” over the loud speaker. Fantastic! One of the pilots tried to break it up as they were wrestling near the emergency door and that lead to someone calling for JR. He says that Brock and Curt were play fighting. Dreamer says Brock slammer Curt into the emergency door and that brought enough boys to break them up. Dreamer says it was physically impossible to open the door, which Heidi confirms, but they could break the wall of the plane which would mean an emergency landing was needed and where are you going to land flying the Atlantic.

-More on Brock as he was getting a big push at the time and Terri calls Brock a dick for exposing himself to her at the PPV the previous night. It seems Brock called for Terri and in the room was also Dustin (Terri’s ex husband) and Brock showed his dick to her. She no sold it and Dustin followed her and told her to no sell it as well. A graphic tells us they reached out to Brock for comment, but nothing was returned. No kidding! JR says he had complaints about Brock’s behavior on the plane, but nothing about an incident with Terri. He’s not saying it didn’t happen, but he can’t be babysitter to everyone. He did his job to the best of his ability and he can’t follow everyone around as that shouldn’t be his job.
-Commercials!

-With the brawl over, everyone tries to settle in as they have TV the following day. Terri says she was sleeping against the window and she hears Dustin singing “Pledging My Love” to her. Terri says she was mortified and everyone who had fallen asleep had woken up. Heyman told her not to sell it and the producers pick up on the no sell comment and Terri says that is the easiest thing to do in the business. JR jokes that if Dustin could sing it would have made things a little easier. Heidi felt bad for Dustin as she could sense his pain was real. She also notes that he should have given her the microphone back. JR told him to sit his ass down and go to sleep and eventually Dustin passed out.

-Hours into the flight the chaos continues as Heidi tells us that Ric Flair has an incident with her. Dreamer says that sometimes as a joke, Ric would wear the robe with no other clothes on. RVD says it is usually the high spot as that always makes the guys laugh. Dreamer talks about Flair being well endowed and how he would spin his penis like a helicopter. Yep! “He’s the Nature Boy for a reason. He has a hammer on him.” JR mentions Flair is the life of the party and he found himself in deep water.

-Heidi was in the kitchen area and Flair came back only wearing a cape (robe) looking for a Coke. The problem is that Flair won’t leave. “He was spinning around his penis and he wanted me to touch it. He took my hand and put it in him.” Dreamer says Flair would never force himself sexually on anyone. He just flaunts himself and everyone will laugh, but someone took offense to what he did. RVD remembers him crowding the flight attendant and trying to make her touch him. Heidi asked Flair to stop and he wouldn’t. Graphic at the bottom of the screen: “Ric Flair has previously stated there is no truth to these allegations.” She remembers Goldust being the only one to help as he pulled Flair away. You can tell she is still bothered by what happened!

-Commercials!

-Now to Scott Hall and JR says Scott’s issues are well documented. They were doing him no favors putting him back on the road, but they didn’t know how bad it was. Heidi says she offered Hall breakfast and he ripped her down by the shirt and told her “I am going to lick you” and he tried to do that. She calls it a moment of great violation and created a level of fear. Hall then passed out and she was able to get away from him. Hall (voice only) thinks Curt have him an H Bomb. After that ordeal, Heidi stayed in the kitchen area and didn’t leave until they landed.

-After 14 hours they finally land and people can get off and assess the damage. The plane was trashed and there was a fear that Hall was dead. PJ put him in a wheelchair and pushed him through customs. He had to lie that Hall had a condition to get him through the airport.

-Hayes woke up when they landed and he was rather pissed at having his ponytail cut. He was ready to fight the entire plane if needed.

-Heidi says when they started to clean the plane they found vomit, blood and syringes in seats. That’s when they decided to stop cleaning and get off the plane. Her superiors told her to clean the plane and she decided to walk off. JR says if that had happened on Delta or American the FBI would have been waiting on them. Heidi believes there should have been more repercussions. She learned later there were some repercussions. JR says for better or worse he is taking ownership. It was a black eye, “but the good thing about a black eye, is you’ll heal.”

-Commercials!

-After landing, Vince and JR meet to discuss penalties. Chioda wonders what Vince was doing the entire time. JR says it was his job to handle it and he is still bothered by it today. Dreamer says Vince lays out the plan, but it’s JR’s job to execute the plan as that was his job. JR says it wasn’t hard to cut people that needed cut. “The guy that writes the checks has the last say.” Curt gets fired and JR was troubled by that as he felt Curt just had a bad night with the boys. Curt then passed away about a year later. Hall was also fired within hours of landing back in the US. JR made the call and let him know he was fired until he was better able to handle his demons. Dustin was one of JR’s favorite people, and the options were to fine him or fire him. He felt firing him was extreme and he made the decision to fine him a large amount. The producer asks how Flair evaded any kind of suspension and JR is silent before saying “good question. For lack of a better term, he was a made man. You go to pass.” Damn!

-Back to Heidi and she talked with the other girls and they worked in the front and had no clue things got that bad. Heidi called Sports Jet and they told her what happened was unfortunate, but preferred she kept it to herself as they worked with athletes and things happen. They want to respect the privacy of their clients. WOW! She talks about going to her husband and how she questioned if she did something wrong to get the attention.

-Another flight attendant had similar issues and filed a lawsuit. Terri mentions if she filed a lawsuit every time something like that happened to her, she would be in court the rest of her life. JR got the sense the company wanted to do the right thing by those who had complaints and then move on. They offered a settlement and Heidi says her husband just wanted the story buried and was happy to take the settlement. Heidi says money can silence the victim. Dreamer says if that is how she felt, she should have decline the settlement and prosecuted to the full extent of the law to people this heinous person in jail. Heidi says she has to live with this pain and memory while people who weren’t there offer opinions or say that she is fine.

-Commercials!

-Next week it’s Chris Kanyon featuring DDP, The Young Bucks, James Mitchell and more!

-The next night was Monday Night RAW and Hayes’ ponytail was put in a baggie and taped to the wall in the back. JR was disgusted by it and threw it in the garbage.

-The aftermath coincided with the WWF being forced by The Panda to change it’s name to WWE. We see John Cena debut and shake Taker’s hand and JR things the next generation learned from the previous group’s mistakes. RVD talks about the cliché “never meet your heroes.” He doesn’t think everyone needs to see Ric Flair do the helicopter with his penis. Dreamer says it is a joke and gag and today it is 1000% inappropriate. He has never seen Flair force his will against anyone. Heidi doesn’t believe Flair was going to rape her, but what he did was wrong. He was able to go to sleep that night and she couldn’t. She has these memories had had to touch a man’s penis and get licked by another man. She was reluctant to do this show and just hopes her story will help someone. “In the end of the day, the truth makes us better.”

-This was a strong way to star the season and there will be differing opinions on what happened with Flair and Heidi. I can feel that Dreamer is going to get crushed by his defense of Flair and down playing what may have happened with Heidi. The rest (outside of Hall’s issues) was the normal stuff you would expect with a bunch of drunk and pilled alpha males. I can understand why JR is sick of talking about this as I am sure he does feel responsible considering his position in the company, but at the same time I am not sure what he was going to do to stop what was happening. Terri downplaying the law suit from the attendant seemed kind of wrong as well, but that may just be me. Definitely check this one out as it was quite the story and we got input from a good number of those on the flight. Obviously, nobody associated with WWE was going to say anything and I believe some stories weren’t even touched on as I believe Vince and Kurt got into a wrestling match that was broken up by Taker. Still, what we got was fascinating and will leave people out there watching with a lot of opinions.

-Thanks for reading!