Back in the nineties, in the days of land lines and answering machines, people used to call their own home phones, and enter a four digit code so that they could hear all of their messages. This was especially useful for wrestling talents, who would be out on the road for weeks and needed to know whether a promoter was calling to try to book them.
Paul Heyman developed a sneaky technique for stealing other people’s four digit codes. After they would use their cellphone to check their messages, Paul would ask to borrow their cellphone, ostensibly to check his own messages. He would then surreptitiously glance at their most recent outgoing call, and memorize the last four digits, just in case he might need that information at a later date.
During the days of the WCW and WWE raids of ECW talent, Heyman called a meeting with Tommy Dreamer, Taz and Bubba Ray Dudley, and put this skill for stealing voicemail codes to good use:
“I put the phone down in the middle of the table and I say “Who has Tod Gordon’s phone number?”
Tod Gordon was the founder and owner of ECW until he sold it to Heyman in 1995, but he remained heavily involved as the figurehead commissioner for several years.
“Put him on speaker and dial his phone number, but hit *67 so he doesn’t know that it’s you calling, so he won’t pick up. So they dial the number and I said ‘Hit Star,’ ‘Star,’ ‘Hit 0-8-1-6.’ First message, beep, it’s Bill Alfonso, ‘Can’t wait to go to WCW with you, Daddy.’ Second message, beep, ‘Hey Tod, listen, it’s Terry Taylor, we made the decision not to go to Kevin Sullivan with this because we know he and Paul are tight and Kevin will discuss this with Paul.’ And one by one, everyone on that list (of talents being poached), was on Tod’s voicemail.”
Many of ECW’s top talents jumped ship for greener pastures, including Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Raven, Shane Douglas, 2 Cold Scorpio, and Lita.
You can watch The Authentic Untold Story of ECW on the WWE Network.