O.J. Simpson is back in the headlines after being granted parole by the Nevada parole board on Thursday. In light of such renewed interest in "the Juice," several bizarre accounts of his proposed involvement with pro-wrestling have surfaced in the past week.
Former WWE creative team writer Kevin Eck recently posted an article for Sporting News, looking at how both WWE and WCW wanted to utilize Simpson after he was acquitted of the double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman in the 1995 media sensation dubbed "the trial of the century."
Another former WWE producer, and current GFW Executive, Bruce Prichard recently revealed on his “Something to Wrestle With Bruce Prichard” podcast that at one time a match between Simpson and WWE Hall of Famer "Rowdy" Roddy Piper was planned for WrestleMania XII in 1996 in Anaheim, California, less than six months after the jury delivered the not guilty verdict in his trial.
Piper was reportedly on board with the match idea, and preliminary discussions were held between WWE and Simpson’s people, "who at that point were looking for anything that had a paycheck attached to it," says Prichard.
Supposedly, the plan was to have Piper to take out Simpson in the middle of the ring, with the idea being that viewers would fervently want to see the former NFL Star lose in a crushing defeat, live on pay-per-view.
However, the match was ultimately nixed due to negative backlash once word about the plans started getting out, according to Prichard.
"The backlash was deafening," he said. "The people were like, 'If you do this, you'll never have another sponsor.'... So we punted."
Roddy Piper instead went on to face Goldust at that year's WrestleMania in a "Hollywood Backlot Brawl"– a spectacle that included a white Ford Bronco similar to the one Simpson used to run from police, as well as footage of the infamous freeway chase.
In his story, Eck also comments on another notorious former WWE creative who had a similar plan of involving O.J. Simpson to draw in ratings several years later for competing promotion WCW.
"Vince Russo was a member of the WWE creative team in 1996, and while I don't know if he had anything to do with the proposed Piper-Simpson match, it certainly wouldn't surprise me."
According to Eck, Russo pushed for WCW to pay Simpson millions of dollars to take a lie detector test live on a WCW pay-per-view in 2000.
Simpson himself had stated he would take a polygraph test on pay-per-view for $3 million, which would go toward a reward to catch the “real” killer. However, Simpson later said he would keep the money for himself.
Russo justified the angle by claiming WCW needed a ‘publicity stunt’ to help boost poor ratings in its waning final years. But expensive ratings grabs and publicity stunts have since become well-known as Russo's M.O., and partially reason for WCW's demise.0comments
"Paying millions to a guy many believed was a murderer was on a whole other level," writes Eck. "'Tasteless' and 'desperate' were the two words that immediately came to mind when he suggested it"
Thankfully, the higher ups at WCW didn't go for Russo's strong pitch, which Eck describes as "a horrible idea even by his standards."