As reported recently, WWE’s newly released History of WWE DVD and Blu-ray features a peculiar edit as the historic WrestleMania III match pitting Hulk Hogan against Andre the Giant is strictly shown from a singular camera angle (there is also no commentary present in the match). According to WrestlingDVDNews.com, there is a “major reason” for this oddity.
The website, which receives firsthand and leaked news from sources within WWE concerning video releases, is claiming that according to a “reliable source,” the bout is being shown from the “hard cam” point of view due to the presence of former ring announcer and behind-the-scenes worker Mel Phillips in the background.
For those unaware, Phillips was exposed as a pedophile who frequently took advantage of underage males he supervised setting up rings at live events, who came from broken homes and troubled backgrounds. Tom Cole, who worked for WWE as a ring attendant in the 1980s and 1990s when he was underage through young adulthood, hurled charges against his former employer that resulted in the resignation of three longtime employees and helped fuel a sex scandal that plagued the company for years. He went public in 1992 with claims that wrestler-turned-front-office employee Terry Garvin attempted to seduce him two years earlier when he was nineteen and that he had been sexually harassed at the age of thirteen by Phillips. WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart claimed in his 2007 autobiography, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, that both Garvin and Phillips, as well as Pat Patterson, resigned in March of that year, “as a result of the allegations of sexual conduct.” Only Patterson was ever re-hired.
Stating the following as a rumor, the website is claiming that one alleged victim of Phillips continues to watch WWE programming today and says he suffers “flashbacks” when seeing his face again in old footage. It is said that this individual has threatened a lawsuit against WWE if Phillips isn’t removed from future presentations of old footage. Phillips, who appeared as a ring attendant at WrestleMania III, sat ringside during the Hogan vs. Andre match and can been seen on camera during the original airing. It was suggested to the website that WWE opted to feature the match from the “hard cam” so that Philips is not visible.
Cole addressed his past as recently as 2011 in an interview with Mike Mooneyham of The Post and Courier, where he recalled Phillips having an unhealthy fascination with his feet.
“When you’re twelve or thirteen-years-old and you think this guy is wrestling with you, and then he grabs your foot, maybe part of you doesn’t want to believe it or part of you wants to block it out,” Cole said. “I just didn’t have an answer for it. Who would have told you at that age that some guy wants to play with your feet?”
Cole also noted of Phillips in this interview with Wrestling Perspective, “When you started getting older, he started calling less. Once that happened, he started calling less, but I still went to the shows at [Madison Square Garden]. I’d just show up. But he was like trying to get rid of you. He liked the younger kids who couldn’t give him a problem about it or didn’t realize that there was something wrong with it.”
In the interview with Mooneyham, Cole also discussed declining Garvin’s sexual advances, as he recalled spending a night freezing in a van after doing so. “Listen Terry, I came from nothing and I can go back to having nothing,” Cole recalled telling Garvin. “If this is what this job entails, then I don’t necessarily need the job. And I didn’t have the job after that.”
Garvin died in 1998, while the whereabouts of Phillips are currently publicly unknown. Phillips was in the news as recently as 2008 as it was reported on some websites that Hulk Hogan’s former WWF Championship belt, which Mr. Perfect destroyed on a 1989 episode of Saturday’s Night Main Event, was being auctioned off on eBay due to a Phillips estate sale.