The Nasty Boys are not often remembered as one of the greatest tag teams ever, but they do have their fans from over the years.
In the 1990s, they managed to leverage their friendship with Hulk Hogan to become a top tag team in both WWE and WCW.
Jerry Saggs and Brian Knobbs, as they went by, were a pair of tough brawlers who brought an air of realism to the ring – mainly because they were beating people up for real.
However, they were also known for their controversial nature backstage, which included practical jokes, fighting, and just generally being not very pleasant to be around.
One of the worst things they ever did was when The Nasty Boys almost killed Ken Shamrock, in a horrific series of events.
The Nasty Boys & Ken Shamrock
From Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs by James Dixon, Justin Henry, Benjamin Richardson, RD Reynolds, the story about The Nasty Boys reared it’s ugly head, much to the dismay of potential murder victim Ken Shamrock.
When they felt the numbers were in their favour, the Nasty Boys were not afraid of confronting anyone. They even tussled with future UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock, roughing him up in a violent motel brawl. The altercation took place in 1990 while both parties were working for small-time promotion South Atlantic Pro Wrestling, based in the Carolinas. Following the evening’s show, Shamrock – who worked under the ring name Vince Torelli – was sat at a local bar called Funk Crazies with a friend from the ring crew and his girlfriend. Brian Knobbs was sitting at the table next to them. “I started it,” admitted Knobbs, “We were drinking, and I was drinking a lot. Maybe a little bit too much. I was drunk.”
“Knobbs kept reaching over and grabbing my buddy’s girlfriend’s tits,” recalled Shamrock. “He did it three or four times and she kept slapping his hand away. My friend – who wasn’t a big guy – was saying, ‘Come on, brother. Please, man.’ Knobbs refused to listen, putting his hand in his face and yelling, ‘Shut up dude.’ I jumped up and said, ‘You know what? That’s it. Dude, next time you touch her, I’m breaking your hand.’”
Knobbs, who grew up as a barroom fighter, was eager to test the youngster’s mettle. “Oh, so you’re a tough guy, huh?” he sneered, before pressing his face aggressively into Shamrock’s. Seeing red, Shamrock threw his drink at Knobbs, only to be immediately grabbed by one of the club’s bouncers and hauled into the bathroom. “Calm down brother, they’re out of here. We kicked them out. Go back out there and be cool,” he was advised. When Shamrock returned to his table, as promised the Nasty Boys had been ejected from the venue.
Shamrock was so angry that he could not let the issue drop. As the SAPW performers were all staying in the same motel that evening, he decided to knock on every door until he found the pair. By the time he reached the door of Robert ‘Colonel Parker’ Fuller, Shamrock was so worked up that he screamed, “What room are the Nasty Boys in? I know you know where they are!” Fuller could do little but point in the direction of their door.
Shamrock had hardly been subtle in his quest to find the tandem, and they were waiting for him when he kicked down their motel room door. He was greeted with the sight of a wasted Knobbs apparently unconscious on his bed, and Sags waiting behind the door. There was a brief skirmish, in which Sags was knocked over the television set and Shamrock began pounding on Knobbs, leaving him sporting a black eye the next day. Then Sags caught Shamrock from behind and knocked him out cold.
“I saw Knobbs lying on the bed, passed out. That’s all I remember,” said Shamrock. “From the medical reports and the police report, from what I understand, Sags hit me in the back of the head with a steel phone. They started putting the boots to me, both of ‘em. Knobbs was pretending to be asleep, but it was some kind of set up. They broke my sternum, broke my eye socket, put me in a concussion. They almost killed me. I actually died in the ambulance going to the hospital. It took me almost a year to recover.”
“Ken was in bad shape. His head was swollen to the point that it almost didn’t look human,” remembered SAPW booker Frank Dusek. “His entire face was a mass of purples, greens, and shades of yellow.” For his part, Sags denied that Knobbs had any involvement, or that he assaulted Shamrock with a phone. “I never hit him with anything but my hands and feet,” claimed Sags. “I was on the phone when he burst into the room, and he knocked me over the television set then jumped on top of Knobbs. I punched him in the face and we went at it.” “Their version of the story turns them into superheroes,” dismissed Shamrock. “I walked into the room, I didn’t jump on him and start beating on him, that’s ridiculous. I looked over, I yelled at him, and that’s the last thing I remembered.”
After Shamrock had knocked on his door, Robert Fuller had a suspicion about what was going to transpire. He heard and saw the commotion from his room down the hall and realised he needed to intervene, for the sake of the Nasty Boys’ future as much as Shamrock’s health. With assistance from The Pitbulls, Gary ‘Spike’ Wolfe and Anthony ‘Rex’ Durante, Fuller was able to talk the Nasty Boys out of throwing the prone Shamrock off the hotel balcony and onto the concrete below, averting certain death.
Eight years later when the two parties encountered each another for the first time since the fracas in a chance airport meeting, Shamrock was a bona fide Ultimate Fighting legend and an active WWF performer, and the Nasty Boys had recently been fired from WCW. Despite the time that had elapsed, Shamrock had not forgiven the duo for what they did to him. He was stood in line with Billy Gunn waiting to check in, when he spotted Knobbs sidling up next to him. Shamrock saw red immediately and was determined to avenge the beating he had taken nearly a decade earlier.
The situation between Shamrock and the Nasty Boys was well known throughout the industry, with many of the WWF performers getting a kick out of playfully ribbing Shamrock about the incident. “World’s most dangerous man? Jerry Sags…” they mocked, which irritated the proud Shamrock no end. Billy Gunn realised there was a situation brewing immediately, warning through gritted teeth, “Don’t do it, dude.” Shamrock was shaking with rage and did not pay the advice any attention. Instead, he leaned in close to Knobbs and calmly whispered to him, “I’m gonna kill you.” Gunn stepped in and grabbed Shamrock to prevent him ruining his career, and potentially his life, while Knobbs realised he was in a precarious situation and high-tailed it out of the vicinity.
“Talk about the biggest wimp you have ever seen,” observed Shamrock, “He had been bragging for years about how they beat me up, and now he was running away from me.” Knobbs caught up with his tag partner, who was at the gate catching up with old friends from the duo’s time in the WWF. He told him the situation, and Sags loudly voiced, “Hey, what’s up with Shamrock? Man, someone needs to give that guy a chill pill. He had better watch himself.” Sags did not realise that Shamrock was stood right behind him. In a flash, Shamrock jumped over a chair and spun Sags around, yelling so all the boys could hear, “I’m standing right here, you little bitch. What are you gonna do now? I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna kill you, you son of a bitch.”
Sags realised an airport was not the smartest place to be fighting, and tried to calm the situation down. “Dude, chill out man, it was years ago. If you have such a problem with it, fly to my house and fight me there.” Shamrock was not interested in reasoning with him, and responded, “Yeah, for you it was. For me it feels like it just happened, and I haven’t forgotten about it.” Sags simply turned away from him and warned, “If you hit me, it is a federal offence.” Instantly, the situation calmed down. “At that point, all the anger left my body. He was totally sickening,” said Shamrock. “He pussed out in front of everyone, in front of all of the boys. He was like a little child shitting his pants. What do you do with a guy like that? I’m not a bully. When he did that I was like, ‘You know what? I’m good with that’. It was kind of satisfying. It was better than anything I could have done to him.”
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.