Former WWE Ref Nick Patrick Says Sleight Of Hand Is Needed To Hide People Under Ring

Wrestling is magic. Smoke, mirrors, sleight of hand, it's all employed to keep the audience guessing and make the spectacle feel bigger than life. On the latest "Monday Mailbag" with former referee Nick Patrick, one fan asked him to pull back the curtain on one specific trick: how wrestlers get under the ring for surprise appearances and how the trapdoors worked for more theatrical wrestlers like Ultimate Warrior.


"Not sure how the trapdoor thing worked," Patrick began, "but a lot of times getting people into the ring was a sleight of hand thing. They'd roll a box out to ringside...or they'd turn the lights down and the guy was dressed like one of the security guys...different ways that they did it. As far as a trapdoor goes, that's a secret that they have. It takes somebody that works in props. That's a Hollywood prop thing right there. You need somebody that knows what they're doing to make it safe."

Patrick says trapdoors can be tricky because they have to be landed on by the various wrestlers throughout the night without giving way. This is why companies need to use some kind of propmaker or stagehand to make the trapdoor as safe as possible. 


In the past, landing on trapdoors has caused permanent damage to some performers. Ultimate Warrior's trapdoor caused a tragic injury to "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, who hurt his back at WCW Fall Brawl 1998 because of it. Already someone with a predilection for substance abuse, the back injury is said to have furthered Smith's addiction to painkillers, which eventually ended his career and his life.

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit "Monday Mailbag" with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.