The Sad Truth Of Wrestler Marty Jannetty

During the late '80 into the early '90s, there was no more colorful (and popular) wrestling tag team than The Rockers. Comprised of up-and-comers Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, the Rockers were fan-favorites in the then WWF (predecessor to the WWE) for years. According to Bleacher Report, the two made their debut as the Midnight Rockers in 1986 and were an instant success, blazing their way through wrestling's lower-level regions, until they were finally signed by the WWF in May of 1988. Dropping the "Midnight" from their moniker, the Rockers made their WWF television debut in 1988 (via The History of WWE).                                                                                                             

Jannetty and Michaels quickly found success within the WWF. Rising up the ranks between the stars and the "jobbers" of the WWF, the Rockers became über-popular with the fans. That popularity, however, would prove to be too much for Jannetty. According to Bleacher Report, Jannetty's backstage partying was taking its toll not only on the wrestler but his partner, as well. In an incident that occurred in the ring in December of 1990, Jannetty performed his "finishing move" on fellow wrestler, Charles Austin. Austin, landing on the mat improperly, breaking his neck. He would go on to sue the WWF and Jannetty in 1994. Found guilty, Jannetty was forced to pay a million dollars out of his own pocket to Austin.

The Rockers no more

Seeing the writing on the wall, the WWF made plans to release Jannetty. A "kayfabe" breakup between the pair occurred early in '92 with Shawn Michaels drop-kicking his partner on-air and adopting the "Heartbreak Kid" persona. Michaels would keep the character up through his retirement in 2010. Jannetty, meanwhile, was dropped from the WWF shortly after the incident.

A few months later, Jannetty was picked up by the WWF again. This time around, things appeared on the up-and-up for the troubled wrestler. Jannetty would go on to win the Intercontinental Championship by beating his former tag team partner, Shawn Michaels in May of 1993 (via WWE) and winning the Tag Team Championship in 1994 along with new partner, the 1-2-3 Kid. But real-life backstage problems began affecting Jannetty's onscreen performances. Clashes with boss Vince McMahon and fellow wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper due to an overzealous need to party began bringing down Jannetty's stock. According to Pro Wrestling Stories, Jannetty was arrested on January 25, 1992, at a Tampa Bay club for possession of cocaine and resisting arrest. The incident earned Jannetty a brief suspension from wrestling, just as his career seemed to have been turning around.

The new Rockers, not the same as the old Rockers

In 1995, the WWF paired Jannetty with wrestler Al Snow to reform the Rockers, this time around calling themselves The New Rockers. While initially the pair was set up as a serious tag team, it became clear that the version was a parody of the original and the New Rockers were DOA by the end of '95 (via Ring the Damn Bell) with Jannetty being released by the company shortly afterward.

Since then, Jannetty has been in and out of the wrestling circuit, mostly wrestling in the sport's smaller territories. After runs in the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the late '90s and a return to the WWE in 2005, troubles continued to follow Jannetty. In 2016, the wrestler was a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the WWE alleging the organization covered up the potential for neurological injuries (via Fox Sports). More disturbingly, Jannetty also claimed on social media that he murdered someone when he was 13. In early 2020, Jannetty admitted in a now-deleted post, that "was the very first time I made a man disappear. (via TMZ). 

A change of story

Writing in the post that "they shoulda looked in the [Chattahoochee] River" for the body, Marty Jannetty quickly backpedaled as investigators began digging into his story. Calling into a local radio show in August 2020, Jannetty claimed his actions were self-defense against rape. Recounting the story during the interview, the wrestler also claimed the man in question grabbed the 13-year-old Jannetty and dragged him behind a bowling alley. Stating during the interview: "I can't say he deserved to die, but he deserved to get his a** beat. And when I was beating him in the head with a brick, I was only trying to beat his a**, I wasn't trying to kill him" (via Daily News). Reportedly, officials have been investigating Jannetty's claims for some time now, but do not have any kind of identifying information about the wrestler's victim. Since the call into the radio show, Jannetty has been silent on the matter entirely.