Zachary Madsen is the man accused of tackling legendary wrestler Bret Hart during the in-ring WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, police say. The 61-year-old Hart was not injured. Video of the event showed Madsen blindsiding “The Hitman” as he gave his induction speech during the Hall of Fame ceremony.
Madsen, 26, of Lincoln, Nebraska, was charged with assault and criminal trespassing charges, CBS News reports. Madsen is an amateur MMA fighter and was previously accused of stalking a fighter he was training with at a Nebraska gym, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
The Hall of Fame ceremony was being held the day before Wrestlemania 35, which is being held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Hart was inducted as part of The Hart Foundation. In a statement, the WWE said, “An over-exuberant fan surpassed our security at ringside and made his way briefly into the ring. The individual has been turned over to the proper authorities.” Madsen was arrested by the NYPD after the incident.
Here’s what you need to know about Zachary Madsen:
1. Madsen Was Pulled Off of Bret Hart by Several People, Including Wrestlers, Shane McMahon & Former UFC Fighter Travis Browne, Who Is Married to WWE Star Ronda Rousey
While WWE cut off its stream of the event, several videos shared on social media captured the chaotic moments after Zachary Madsen broke past security, got into the ring and tackled Bret Hart. “The Hitman” was giving a speech with Natalya, a WWE wrestler and the daughter of Hart’s late partner in The Hart Foundation, Jim Neidhart, when the attack occurred. It is not clear how Madsen got past security.
The WWE livestream of the Hall of Fame ceremony showed Madsen, wearing a Rastafarian costume hat, rushing up to Hart and grabbing him. Hart lets out a groan and the camera goes black, before returning to show the fans and then the aftermath of the incident.
Other videos showed what happened when the stream went dark. After Madsen grabbed Hart, several people rushed in to pull him off of the wrestling legend, including other WWE executive, wrestler and owner Vince McMahon’s son, Shane McMahon, other WWE stars and Travis Browne, a former UFC fighter who is married to WWE Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey. Browne landed several blows on Madsen. Members of The New Day, a WWE stable made up of Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Wood, also quickly sprung into action.
Hart was not injured and completed his speech.
You can watch several fan videos of the incident below:
A fake mugshot was circulating claiming to show Madsen with serious injuries to his face, but that photo is not of Madsen. Police have not said what his condition is, but it is not believed that he was injured during the scuffle after rushing the stage. He was taken to jail by the NYPD.
“It’s a wrestling show, so you don’t ever really know what is going on when something like that happens, but it was obvious pretty quick someone was trying to join in the show,” fan Andrew Antillon told CBS New York.
Alan Fisher, another fan, told The Associated Press, “I couldn’t believe that the security had missed him in the first place and the next thing you know there was Shane McMahon and Travis Browne on top of him the crowd was going crazy booing. Everyone was cheering when one of the wrestlers punched him. “He should have never attacked Bret Hart especially at such a special moment in his life.”
Hart’s nephew, Davey Boy Smith Jr., tweeted, “That ‘fan’ was lucky I was being held back. As Rickson Gracie said, ‘If we fight for money, I’ll stop hitting you when you ask me to. If we fight for honor, I’ll stop hitting you when I feel like it.'”
Natalya, who was in the ring with Hart, tweeted her thanks for those who intervened, “Bret is a cancer survivor, a stroke survivor and one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. He didn’t deserve to be attacked or have his moment or my dad’s diminished. We got it back on track.”
2. On His Bizarre Twitter Account, Madsen Spent Days Ranting About His Outrage Over the WWE’s Decision to Have 3 Women in the Wrestlemania Main Event
A bizarre Twitter account belonging to Zachary Madsen features hundreds of tweets about the WWE and wrestling, with many directed at WWE owner Vince McMahon, McMahon’s son-in-law, Triple H, and McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon. Madsen appears to be in some sort of wrestling character attire, including the Rastafarian costume hat, in one tweet, in which he wrote about traveling to Wrestlemania.
He wrote, “ROAD TRIP!! I want to say THANK YOU to @VinceMcMahon for helping guide US to the Main evenT of #WrestleMania35 #WWE It’s been an honor to Bounce Off Brilliance. Look what WE started. We’re going to have to take the BATMOBILE though, seeing as my car has a … DENT.” The tweet, which you can see below, features a photo of Madsen hanging upside down:
In another tweet, posted Wednesday morning, Madsen wrote, “Please keep in mind that my check engine light is on, I’ve driven well over 5000 miles without an oil change and I don’t have a GPS. Additionally, the only bigger joke than my car, is my sense of direction. It might be easier to book me a flight @VinceMcMahon YOU have 24-30 hrs.”
He also said, “The Clown Prince of Rhyme will be headed to New Jersey on Friday with or without his two best friends, Batman and Harvey, unless other transportation is booked prior to then. Again. Thank you so much @VinceMcMahon You are my hero!”
Madsen’s tweets to the McMahon family appeared to be focused on his anger and outrage over the WWE’s decision to make the main event of Wrestlemania, the company’s biggest show of the year, a women’s match. The main event is scheduled to be a triple threat match between Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, with the winner taking home the Raw and Smackdown women’s titles. It is the first time a women’s match will headline Wrestlemania.
On April 1, he expressed dismay over the fact women were being allowed to fight in the main event of Wrestlemania, and also appeared to suggest he should be in the match instead.
He wrote, “I’m not sure what’s more baffling: the fact that this fight hasn’t been made official yet, or the fact that women are the main event of #WrestleMania35. Talk about a major setback for the human race. You’re a fool @VinceMcMahon #WWE @WWE.”
Madsen tweeted on April 2, “BREAKING NEWS! April fool day has been extended. And with no end date in site, I give to you all the literal april Fool himself! A-yo @VinceMcMahon Who in the blue hell taught you how to walk?! You will rue the day you decided to have three “females” main event #WrestleMania35.”
On April 3 he tweeted, “Good morning @TripleH You can do it. You’ve always been superior and will always be superior to @StephMcMahon It’s just a fact of life. Now get back what’s yours and put her and the current main event of #WrestleMania35 where they belong. Back stage. Remember #BestForBusiness.”
Madsen also appeared to be upset that Triple H and the other family members weren’t responding to him. He tweeted on April 3, “What’s goin on here @TripleH … do none of my messages transmit to you?!? Look, maybe I spoke out of turn and you’re not in charge. Great job with NXT. Now tell me who is in charge!! It’s DAMN NEAR SUNDAY AND ZACHZACH STILL HAS BILLS TO PAY!!!”
3. Madsen, a University of Nebraska Graduate, Has a 2-1 Record as an Amateur MMA Fighter & Last Fought in 2018
Zach Madsen is a Nebraska native and graduated from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, according to his Linkedin profile. Madsen graduated in 2015 with a degree in nutrition sciences. According to his Linkedin, Madsen has most recently worked as a contact center agent for AllState Financial Services. It is not clear if he is still employed there.
Madsen also worked as a staff assistant at the University of Nebraska in the intramural sports department and was a sales associate at a department store.
Since graduating from college, Madsen has also been pursuing an amateur mixed martial arts career. According to Tapology, Madsen has a 2-1 record in MMA fights. His most recent fight was at Dynasty Combat Sports 40: St. Patty Showdown on March 9, 2018, in Omaha, Nebraska. He lost the match, fought in the 170-pound welterweight division, to Brady Minner. A video of the fight shows Madsen being choked unconscious during the second round:
Madsen had previously won his first two amateur MMA fights. He won his debut at DCS 33 on April 1, 2017, by rear naked choke in the first round. He won his second fight by knockout in the second round at DCS 38 on December 9, 2017, defeating his opponent with punches that led to a referee’s stoppage.
4. He Was Arrested After Violating a Protection Order Sought by Another MMA Fighter He Trained With After the Fighter Said He Was Concerned About Madsen’s Mental Health
Madsen was previously arrested in his home state of Nebraska on a stalking charge, court records show. Madsen was accused of violating a protection order sought by another MMA fighter who had been training at the same gym as Madsen. The other fighter, Haris Talundzic, said in court filings that Madsen had been stalking him and trying to fight him. The 23-year-old Talundzic said he left the Lincoln gym where they had both been training because he was concerned about Madsen’s mental stability.
He was first arrested in September 2018 and charged with stalking, a class 1 misdemeanor, along with three counts of violating a harassment protection order, according to court documents obtained by Heavy. He was arrested by the Lincoln Police Department and released on 10 percent of $15,000 bail.
Madsen was charged with violation of a protection order, a class 2 misdemeanor, on December 28, 2018, according to court records obtained by Heavy. He posted 10 percent of $500 bond on January 3, 2019, and was released from jail. The two Nebraska cases were set to be disposed on April 17, but it is not clear if the new arrest could change the outcome of those cases.
Talundzic has an 8-1 amateur MMA record and is the top-ranked amateur welterweight in Nebraska, according to Tapology. Talundzic’s manager, Nick Goodwin, told The Associated Press, they hope Madsen “gets help before he hurts himself or anyone else any further.”
Goodwin added, “His harassment of Haris, publicly and online, seems to have been the beginning of an extremely self-destructive spiral. His threats toward Haris, along with Haris’ friends and family, were aggressive and violent in nature.”
5. Madsen Was Scheduled to Appear in Brooklyn Court in Connection to the Hart Charges on Sunday
Zachary Madsen was charged with two counts of third-degree assault, criminal trespass, and one other misdemeanor charge, the NYPD said. He was taken to jail after the incident and was scheduled to appear in court in Brooklyn on Sunday. It was not immediately clear if he was able to post bail after the court appearance.
It is not clear if Madsen has hired an attorney. According to the Omaha World-Herald, a message left by a reporter with Madsen’s family was not immediately returned. The district attorney’s office has not commented about the charges against Madsen.