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Insane Insights From Dark Side Of The Ring: The Sandman

Dark Side of the Ring Season 5 Episode 9 focused on ECW pro wrestler The Sandman. I was never watching Sandman in his prime, rather, I started watching him when ECW was bought by WWE. Watching ECW episodes and old clips, he was one of ECW's more over-acts.


I wasn't the biggest fan of his in-ring work as he was a horrendous wrestler, but it was the promos and his character that got me to like him. That and him coming out to Metalica is so cool.


What was not cool was the insane stories that I have heard about this man and the controversy that followed him throughout his life.


The Talking heads in this episode are Rob Van Damn, Sabu, Raven, Bill Alfonzo (ECW Ref/Manager), Tod Gorton (Founder of ECW), Lori Strzelecki aka Miss Peaches (Sandman's ex Wife), Kelly Fullington (Sandman's Daughter), Tyler Fullington (Sandman's Son) and the man himself, The Sandman aka James Fullington.


Sandman has had a crazy life and watching this documentary enlightened me more about him. There are 10 things that I learned from watching this documentary.


10. Sandman was a Chippendale Stripper



I didn't even want to believe this to be true when I first heard of it, but it turns out it is. Sandman was once a Chippendale's Stripper and can't imagine what he would even look like as one. How this came to be interesting.


Sandman was recently released from prison after serving time breaking into a house all coked up. BTW Sandman claims that this was the only "Crime, Crime" that he committed, which is 100% not true.


He gets out after being in the "hole" for 6 months and immediately goes into a club that holds multiple people. He dances at this club and all of a sudden, this blond-haired woman pulls him off the dance floor. Immediately Sandman starts to think where he is going to do the "Horizontal Mombo" with this woman and he immediately takes his shirt off.


Well, this woman was a scout and looking for a Chippendale Stripper. She thought that the Sandman would be perfect for it, and he accepted the job. He would stay up at 2 AM doing cocaine and did this for like a year.


He did not do this forever as he became a pro wrestler. He got fired because he was soliciting. A few other guys were trying to make more money and Sandman was one of them. The cops figured it out and Sandman was arrested. The cops wanted the Sandman to turn on his group, but he didn't do it. He was told to quit which he did.


Remember when Sandman said that the break-in he did earlier in his life was the only "crime, crime" that he did? Yeah, soliciting is a crime pal, you're lucky that you were not arrested for doing that.


9. He had a Surfer Gimmick before Joining ECW



I did not know much of The Sandman in the early days of his career and ECW Days. But before he was in the gimmick, we all know in love, his original gimmick was that he was a Surfer. It felt like an idea Vince McMahon created in 1995, it was that bad.


He looks ridiculous in this gimmick and even his daughter called it dumb. Tod Gordon himself called the gimmick dumb, but The Sandman was good in the ring. Umm no he is not. Watch Sandman's matches, he was terrible in the ring as a wrestler.


Luckily Sandman got this dumb gimmick changed if he didn't, I believe he would have gotten cut. Once Tod Gordon sold to ECW, Heyman helped change Sandman into the gimmick we all know and love.


8. Where the idea of the Singapore Cane Originated



Every time I think of The Sandman, I always think of the Singapore Cane that he always used in matches and even walked out with during his entrances. I did not know about where it came from and why it was used.


Well, it was around the time of the Michael Fay incident. This was not mentioned in the documentary, but I will give you some background on Michael Fay.


Michael Fay was an American teenager who went to Singapore and made the bright decision to commit vandalism. In Singapore, Fay spray-painted multiple properties, stole road signs, and even vandalized 67 cars. As a result of this punishment, he was caned 4 times by the Singapore government, and this caused great controversy.


At this time, Heyman wanted to capitalize on it and have Sandman use the Cane in ECW. To help him sand out he wanted him to bring the weapon every match he had. Which was a brilliant idea. Heyman even pulled a branch off of a tree and told Sandman to wrap the tape around it and to start cutting a promo with it. It worked as it gave him an identity in ECW.


7. Apparently, Paul Heyman wanted Macaulay Culkin to play Sandman's Son



ECW was about to start a big storyline between Raven and The Sandman, and they wanted to have a child to be used in it as Sandman's Kid. An idea was put out there that Paul Hayman wanted to have Macaulay Culkin play Sandman's Son. Well, Sandman said no to that and said to use his son instead.


Yeah, I call nonsense on this one. I want to believe that this is true, but Paul Heyman is a known hustler and would tell lies like this often to the people in the locker room. Even Tod Gordon calls this a load of nonsense and even says Heyman is the type of guy to sell snowballs in the winter.


Honestly when I first heard this, sounded like a Hulk Hogan-style lie. Then again, I would trust these people more than the same man who once claimed he auditioned to be the lead bassist to Metalica. Yeah, and Michael Jackson once did a private performance for me on my 5th birthday.


6. Tyler Hennigan Was a Natural Promo Cutter



Of course, the documentary brings Sandman's son Tyler to speak. They pretty much had to if you see the feud The Sandman had with Raven, his son had a big part. It was great to get the backstage insight into it. What I did not know was that Tyler was a natural promo cutter.


When Raven got Sandman's wife and Son to follow him, Tyler said "Daddy, you’re a drunk, and now I worship Raven.” I did not know that was unscripted. It's not just that, Raven who was heavily drunk when cutting promos and probably high knowing the drugs he took at this time, would often mess up his promos and forget lines. Tyler covered for him


While he did have to get taught and told never to smile and dress up like Raven, he got the hard part nailed down. Tyler is a phenomenal actor, and he did that as a kid too which man kudos to him.


5. Sandman Feels They Did Nothing Wrong with Him Being Crucified.



Ahh the ECW High Incident. I knew that this was going to be covered as it is one of the most disgraceful things that ECW has ever done in its existence. It's either this or the Mass Transit Incident.


What happened was on an ECW episode, Raven and Sandman were going to take their feud to the next level. Raven wanted to have Sandman feel his pain. So, what do they do? They have an angle where Sandman gets Crucified. Yes, because it's such a great idea to input religion in a pro wrestling storyline including the inclusion of a Crucifix.


Sandman was the one who built the Cross himself, which I honestly did not know about. When the angle hit, Sandman also had a barb-wired crown on his head and Raven tied him up in a cross. It was so uncomfortable and even his wife was not comfortable with it either.


I already knew that not a lot of people were a fan of this including religious people. One notable name was Kurt Angle. He was about to sign with ECW, but when this incident happened, he backed out and told Heyman never to show his face on his show ever again. Heyman tried the pull the I didn't know it would happen, but Angle wasn't stupid in believing him.


It's not just Angle that was upset but even Steve Richards backstage was not happy. he straight up went to Raven and Sandman yelling that it was messed up. Here is the crazy part, Sandman believes that they did nothing wrong.

Did Nothing Wrong? Come On bro you can't be that delusional. Doing that and using a religious symbol/event like a crucifixion in a pro wrestling angle was too far. The fact he can't see what they did was wrong is just a bad look.


Raven had to go out and apologize for this incident as a result and broke kayfabe as a result. Sandman was also not happy with this apology that Raven had to do, but again it had to be done with the outrage the fanbase had. Plus, Paul wanted to try and make a last-ditch effort to get Kurt Angle to come back and sign with the company, but it did not work.


4. Sandman Throughout His ECW Career Broke 27 Bones



ECW is one of the first companies to capitalize and start Hardcore wrestling. They were not the first that go to Atsushi Onita and FMW, but ECW started to expand it. Of course, doing this type of wrestling is going to result in a growing number of injuries.


I knew about the broken neck, shoulder, and knee issues that Sandman had with ECW. I did not know that he suffered even more injuries than that. Sandman reveals that throughout his ECW career, he broke a total of 27 Bones. That is an insane number of bones that you can break in such a tenure with a company.


That is not counting the many concussions that Sandman had. It's no wonder this guy heavily abused drugs throughout his time with the company. It was the culture in ECW to do drugs and Sandman, even stated if you pass a piss test, you couldn't work in ECW. Think about that, think about how scary that is to be in that culture full of drug use. Speaking of drugs...


3. How Sandman Acquired His Drugs



Almost everybody knew that Sandman was on so many drugs. He expanded on it in ECW as the pain got too much and it kept growing and growing. He even carried around a fanny pack full of his drugs in front of his kids.


ECW and a lot of the wrestlers had 3 doctors that they would see in Philadelphia. Each month, he would get 270 OxyContin's, 300 somas, and 300 Percocet's. That is an insane number of drugs to be giving out and accepting. I am shocked that this went on for so long, without getting caught.


His kids even noticed how bad his dad's drug issues were. The Sandman did these drugs in front of his kids to the point that they knew what the pills were and what a bag of cocaine would look like. That is just sad.


2. He Hid His Overdose from his Wife



That is not all as eventually with all these drugs around and Sandman being a full-blown addict, he overdosed. How he overdosed is that Raven was on the road and in the bathroom shooting drugs. Sandman sees it and wants to try it for the first time. Sandman takes it and while on the road, he has trouble breathing and his lips are turning blue.


In the documentary, you can see Raven smiling and about to laugh about it when talking about this story. Oh yeah, it's so funny that this man is overdosing, and his lips are turning blue. So funny that this man is close to death while on the road with you in the car. Give me a break.


Luckily, he did not die. He was given a shot of adrenaline, but he had to stay in the hospital. When he woke up at 4 AM he ripped all of the stuff out of his arms and immediately went to another hotel. He planned to never tell his wife, but she eventually found out after the hospital bill arrived at his house.


She only found out because of the Hospital Bill that she got in the mail. Which is a very awful way of finding out about a family member overdosing. Not only because you worry about them, but this bill must have been super high to pay for economically.


This should have immediately been the wake-up call to stop with all the drug use, right? Nope. Sandman then gets into steroids when he leaves ECW for WCW. Sandman never went to the gym, and it was clear that he was on Steroids. With Steroids came more rages at his house.


Sandman would start to abuse his wife and it got ugly. Pouring beer on her head, her hair getting pulled, having a pillow constantly on her head, and all of the mental abuse she had to go through. It got so bad that Lori decided to take the steroids he paid 10,000 dollars for and dump them on the lawn. Who pays 10,000 dollars for Steroids? Like seriously that is a waste of money.


Sandman admits that he messed up treating her that way and if he had everything together mentally, they would all be together today. Lori stayed way too long and decided to leave Sandman, which he understood. He called Lori an Angel and wished he never treated her that way.


1. His Kids Bailed Him Out When He Got Arrested in 2008



Now we get to his arrest in 2008. This was crazy and I am glad they talked about this. What happened was Sandman was in a bar and he was heavily intoxicated. He had 30 Long Island Iced Tea drinks. Being heavily intoxicated he got into a fight with the owner of the bar and hit him in the head with a glass bottle.


What was not mentioned was that this occurred during a party held for Captain Lou Albano. I think it was his birthday around the time he got arrested, but yeah Captain Lou Albano was there too.


With Sandman arrested, he had to rely on his kids to bail him out. Keep in mind this is in New York, so Kelly and Tyler had to drive there to bail their dad out. The kids had to run all around New York to get 10,000 dollars. Oh, and this was around 3 AM too, so they had to go to ATMs all over the place to get him out.


Sandman got bailed out but had to deal with a fire-red engine-pissed daughter who went after her father. Can you blame her here, because I don't? Sandman himself knew he messed up because no kid should have to do what they did to get their dad out of jail. You can even see Sandman break down too and regret what happened.


Final Thoughts on Documentary


The one thing that I have to say after thinking all of this through and re-watching this episode is that The Sandman is a living miracle. The fact this man is still alive to tell these stories alone is the pure definition of it. Just look at how he looks, you can tell that this man has been through a lot.


While The Sandman has taken accountability for his actions, he still does not come off that great in this episode. Raven also does not come off that great in this episode, especially with him laughing when talking about Sandman's overdose.


Besides that, A lot of the talking heads were good, including Sandman's family. Tyler and Miss Peaches were the stars of the documentary and I have to go with Tyler being the bigger star of the documentary.


The one person I am shocked wasn't interviewed in this was Missy Hyatt. She was involved in a few of the episodes in season 5 and with her involvement with ECW, she would have been a great talking head. Even though she is a complete piece of work, I would have loved to hear her talk about The Sandman.


The Season 5 Finale is going to focus on Black Saturday, and it was the episode I was looking forward to the least, but Dark Side of the Ring never disappoints.


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