Pro wrestling legend Dutch Mantell knows what can happen when a beef between two professional wrestlers goes unchecked. He was there at Bayamón Loubriel Stadium in Bayamón, Puerto Rico in July 1988 when José invader González stabbed the legendary Bruiser Brody to death in the locker room over some private quarrel that remains a mystery a quarter of a century later.
Now a WWF and WWE institution for the best part of two decades, wrestlers' court was a tradition begun by Mantell better known to todays WWE audience as Zeb Colter, the crypto-racist mouthpiece for Jack Swaggers Real American character back in the days of the territories. He recognised that wrestlers travelling together needed ways to blow off steam and to resolve legitimate disputes without losing face, and to be able to do it in a fun, foolish way. The alternative was a succession of huge, dangerous men, away from their families and constantly in each others company, non-stop shooting on each other backstage before they ever got to work each other in the ring. After all, these were men who had to rely upon each other in the ring to do their jobs to the best of their ability, and also for their own physical safety.
Graduates of the same territorial system, and pretty much raised in the business by Mantell, future WWF and WWE superstars Mark Undertaker Calaway and John Bradshaw Layfield were frequently defendants in the Court Of Dutch, and the ones that brought in the concept of wrestlers' court to the locker room at the promotion that would make them famous.
In this kangaroo court, Undertaker would be the judge and invariably Layfield would be the prosecutor: the defence, if there even was one, would sometimes be conducted by Ron Simmons, sometimes by Mark Bubba Ray Dudley. The office were never involved personally, just the talent. It was supposed to be a silly, fun way for the locker room to police itself regarding real life issues between wrestlers, and on issues of respect and etiquette: the unwritten rules of wrestlers conduct. Of course, sometimes things would get out of hand
Wrestlers' court isnt so much of a thing these days Undertakers not backstage much anymore and JBLs behind the announcers desk. The last reference we heard to it was on the JBL And Cole Show, their backstage comedy YouTube skit, where wrestlers' court was recreated for comic effect with Zeb Colter presiding over the trial of Cody Rhodes on trumped up charges. This being the case, the majority of the best stories that are available to outsiders come from shoot interviews and the occasional backstage memoir. These are ten of the classics.
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