As the old saying goes, it can be lonely at the top. While most WWE superstars manage to form a few friendships on their way to wrestling history, at least a handful of wrestlers have held true to this mantra and found themselves virtually friendless when it came to their immediate co-workers. It probably isn’t too surprising that not all wrestlers are the friendliest people around, considering the fact that their main job is pretending to beat people up, a task some of the people on this list occasionally took a bit too far. This train of thought also brings up the fact that friendship is a two-way street, and in many cases, the reason a person has no friends has little to do with their willingness to befriend others, and everything to do with the willingness of others to befriend them.
It would probably be unreasonable to assume that the reason that these wrestlers were so lonely in the wrestling business would be the same for everybody. The one thing they have in common is that they allowed their reputation as a loner to grow, either through silent acceptance or loud agreement that they wanted to be left to themselves. Indeed, quite a few of these superstars were only friendless by choice, or at least because they stuck with the notion of not going to work to make friends. Whether by choice or by force, these wrestlers kept to themselves and never looked back on their time in wrestling if they happened to escape the industry. While there were those that knew how to create and maintain friendships in and out of the ring, check out our list of the 15 WWE superstars who had moments in their careers without having virtually any friends backstage.
15. Brock Lesnar
Part of what makes Brock Lesnar a special performer amongst the WWE roster is the feeling of verisimilitude he exudes about all aspects of his character. He’s tough and destructive, as confirmed by his actual MMA record. He’s also standoffish and reclusive, as confirmed by the fact that he lives a quiet life in the deepest woods of Canada. Lesnar made a handful of friends while he was training to be a wrestler, including surprising names like Brad Rheingans, Wayne Bloom, and WWE Hall of Famer, Verne Gagne. Yet, all of these men had long retired by the time Lesnar hit the scene. In terms of more recent WWE history, the only people who Lesnar seems to have any interest in are his manager, Paul Heyman, and his wife, Sable. Outside of these two, his relationship with WWE superstars is purely professional, and almost entirely based on his desire to keep earning his paychecks. Heyman has explained that this is almost entirely by Lesnar’s choice. He has released a number of statements saying that Lesnar dislikes the idea of fraternizing with his coworkers, as well as, “Brock Lesnar hates human beings.”
Considering the most infamous stories surrounding Kevin Wacholz, it really shouldn’t be any surprise that he had trouble making friends in the wrestling business. Wacholz portrayed Nailz, a wrestling ex-con with a weird robotic voice who joined WWE in 1992 to feud with the Big Bossman. The feud quickly fizzled out, and Nailz found himself in Vince McMahon’s office arguing over a pay dispute. According to WWE Hall of Famers, Bret Hart and Tito Santana, the meeting descended into chaos when Nailz violently attacked and choked McMahon for unknown reasons. Nailz tried to argue that McMahon physically provoked him, but the wrestlers largely took McMahon’s side and stayed away from Wacholz as a result. Bizarrely, Wacholz still managed to get hired by WCW during the Monday Night Wars, although he would never appear on television. Nailz did actually have one friend in WWE, John Nord (also known as The Berzerker), who allegedly watched the door during Nailz and McMahon’s “meeting.” Predictably, Berzerker has been treated like Nailz since the incident, and is likewise practically friendless in wrestling today.
13. “Classy” Freddie Blassie
Sometimes being too innovative can make it hard for a wrestler to make friends, as was the case with “Classy” Freddie Blassie. Blassie eventually made his way into the WWE Hall of Fame, and had dozens of protégés who looked up to him and respected his legacy in the business. At the time he was wrestling, though, Blassie was such a consummate heel that he didn’t see any need to befriend his coworkers and opponents. Most of his contemporaries didn’t see the need to hang out with Blassie, either, considering angry mobs were sure to follow wherever he went. Blassie was also one of the first wrestlers to regularly incorporate blood into his matches, something more conservative grapplers of the time didn’t want to associate with in any way. Blassie was content with this reputation to the very end, explaining in an interview only a few weeks before his death, “I didn’t care for anyone else, because as I was concerned, there was only one wrestler, and that was Classy Freddie Blassie.” The unexpected exception to the rule wouldn’t surface until the early 1980s when Blassie encountered Andy Kaufman and opened up for the first time.
12. Muhammad Hassan
Thanks to the benefit of rampant xenophobia, Muhammad Hassan turned into the biggest heel of his era only mere weeks after he made his late 2004 debut. The original idea was for Hassan to complain about anti-Arab prejudice having become commonplace in America post-9/11, only to fast turn into a run-of-the-mill evil foreigner gimmick buying into the very stereotypes he was upset about. As reductive as it was, Hassan was getting over extremely fast, and apparently wasn’t reacting well to his increased fame. Part of Hassan’s rise saw him face a series of legends, including Sgt. Slaughter, Shawn Michaels, and Hulk Hogan, all of whom would claim he acted disrespectfully to him in one way or another. The result was an entire locker room full of people who hated Hassan even more than the fans did, to such a degree that there was nothing Hassan could do to make things right. Explaining just how bad things were, Shane Helms has told a story about Hassan buying drinks for every WWE superstar at a hotel bar, only for the whole roster to pour the drinks out in front of him to make it clear how hated he was. Hassan left the business after one of the most controversial moments in SmackDown history and has never looked back.
11. Paul Roma
How a wrestler reacts to receiving a great opportunity speaks volumes about who they are, and will likely dictate how the rest of the world views them as human beings from then on. Paul Roma received the greatest opportunity wrestling had to offer in 1993, when he was introduced to WCW as the newest member of The Four Horsemen. Most people felt Roma didn’t deserve the opportunity in the first place, including his fellow Horsemen, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, and Roma went on to make things much worse for himself by claiming during interviews that he viewed himself as the real star of the group. Roma had a history of acting out in this manner, with his previous WWE tag teams, The Young Stallions and Power & Glory. Both fizzled out after his partners, Jim Powers and Hercules, decided they genuinely couldn’t get along with Roma any longer. Roma was fired from WCW shortly after a very unprofessional showing at SuperBrawl 1995, and has since only popped up in the wrestling business to give interviews blasting Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and other people he never met, clearly bitter about his position in history.
10. “Dr. D” David Schultz
Nailz already proved slapping the boss can be a one-way ticket to loneliness, although if he had been paying attention to David Schultz, he might have received the message a little sooner. Dr. D didn’t slap Vince McMahon, but rather 20/20 reporter, John Stossel. The incident occurred during a segment being recorded for Stossel’s news program. Making matters worse, Schultz also allegedly challenged celebrity WWE Hall of Famer, Mr. T, to a fight after Mr. T made one of his earliest wrestling appearances. Prior to his public meltdown, Schultz was working with future legends like Randy Savage and Roddy Piper, although he would later go on to say that they were siphoning his fame and that he was the only real star of his era. Clearly, Schultz was a combative and hostile personality, and people with countenances such as this generally have trouble making close friends, to say the least. Schultz was so disliked amongst his fellow wrestlers that he had to retire completely only a few years after the Stossel incident, and was not even able to find work on the independent scene like so many others of his era had been doing for decades.
There’s no denying that having a famous family can help a wrestler get their foot in the door at WWE. However, if that same wrestler acts as though their famous family lets them get away with doing whatever they feel like, they might find themselves getting thrown out just as fast as when they were welcomed in. This is what happened to Manu, also known as Afa Anoaʻi Jr., son of the WWE Hall of Famer and member of The Wild Samoans. This distinction also makes him a blood relative of Hall of Famers, Rikishi and Yokozuna, plus more recent stars like Roman Reigns and The Usos. Yet, Manu never came near the success enjoyed by the rest of his family. Manu’s twofold issues involved his attitude and behavior, treating his employment as though it were something he inherently deserved while also doing drugs and getting popped with a violation of the Wellness Policy very early into his run. Manu returned from his wellness suspension and received an even bigger push, only for his attitude problems to get worse, resulting in his release from WWE in 2009. Considering that none of Manu’s family members have publicly spoken out against him, he must still have a few friends in the wrestling industry. Notwithstanding his immediate family, though, there obviously aren’t many wrestlers willing to come to his defense.
8. The Dynamite Kid
There’s a difference between respect and friendship, something a wrestler like The Dynamite Kid knows all too well. The Dynamite Kid will forever be remembered as one of the greatest and most innovative wrestlers ever to live, with his in-ring style inspiring generations of grapplers to keep pushing the limits of aerial and technical wrestling techniques decades after he was forced into retirement. Unfortunately, he’ll also be remembered for his epicly atrocious personal behavior, which includes pointing a gun to his ex-wife’s head and threatening to kill her in an incident he refers to as “a joke.” With a sense of humor like that, Dynamite doesn’t have many close friends wrestling or otherwise, although he does have countless admirers who hope to follow in his footsteps (hopefully just inside the ring). Many of Dynamite’s issues in the wrestling industry stem from his public and bombastic breakup with former partner, Davey Boy Smith, who stole The British Bulldog group name and used it for his solo act, forever leaving Dynamite bitter. Dynamite may have a legitimate argument on that one, but it probably wasn’t worth losing friends and family over.
Considering that she made her WWE debut while married to a wrestler, perhaps it isn’t fair to say that Sable has no friends in the industry. Obviously, she was pretty close with Marc Mero when they were married, and these days she’s extremely close with her new husband, Brock Lesnar. Outside of her marriages, though, Sable had serious difficulty making friends in wrestling, due largely to the fact that her attitude made everyone instantly hate her. Sable probably wasn’t too bad from day one, but success apparently started going to her head at a rapid rate, causing her to allegedly claim that she was the reason WWE was successful during the Attitude Era. The entire WWE locker room knew statements like this were over-the-top and responded with severe and disgusting bullying. The worst of which involved X-Pac’s infamous incident involving defacation into a paper cup. Most of the locker room knew X-Pac was the culprit, and they all kept quiet anyway because they felt as though Sable deserved what she got. Quite frankly, nobody deserves that sort of treatment, although it says a lot about Sable that no one stood up for her when it happened.
6. The Rock
The most electrifying man in sports entertainment has millions and millions of fans, and we recently covered how that transfers to a decent number of friends within the wrestling industry. However, if one were to look into the specifics of who The Rock’s friends are in wrestling, they would notice The Great One hasn’t exactly been making new friends with each passing return to WWE. As it would turn out, The Rock tends to keep to himself in his most recent stops in the wrestling world, albeit this isn’t entirely by choice. With a TV show and dozens of blockbuster movies always around the corner, The Rock is perhaps even busier than Vince McMahon himself, and doesn’t really have the time to make friends when reminiscing about the glory days of what is by now his side job. It also doesn’t help that plenty of WWE superstars have been speaking out about how The Rock is stealing their spot, taking away air time and significant moments from wrestlers who work for WWE and only WWE year round.
5. Ole Anderson
When The Four Horsemen were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012, the four men acknowledged as members were Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham, and Tully Blanchard (plus manager J.J. Dillon). Noticeably left out is Ole Anderson, who was actually one of the original four, not to mention the fact that he had significantly longer mileage with the group than Windham did regardless of who came first. The reason Windham was chosen over Ole wasn’t a simple matter of favorites, as WWE easily could’ve inducted more than one iteration of the group. Ole’s snub was almost certainly an intentional move in response to the fact he’s one of the most disliked people in the wrestling business, if not the additional fact he responds to that reputation by in kind disliking virtually everyone he ever worked with. Ole’s career lasted decades, so he must have made a few allies along the way, including at least partners Gene and Arn Anderson who he admitted to liking more than most. These allies rarely became full-on friends, though, as Ole would admit despite years of teaming together he couldn’t ever remember inviting Gene to his house, let alone socializing outside of the ring.
4. Bob Holly
Fans of Tough Enough witnessed first hand the kind of person Bob Holly is when he beat up rookie, Matt Cappotelli, during an episode of that show in Season 2. Holly apparently took that attitude with him everywhere he went, rarely making any friends or close connections with the people he worked with. Rumor has it that WWE once wanted to invite Holly to participate in a reunion show, only to discover that no one in the company had his recent contact information, thus making it impossible for them to ask for his involvement. Holly has always been presented as a tough, no-nonsense personality, both onscreen and off, and it isn’t exactly unusual for people with a gruff demeanor such as his to find themselves relatively lonely. That said, Holly did allegedly have a few allies in wrestling, namely Chris Benoit and the APA, although these alliances apparently ended as soon as he left the arena. Holly also did his best to serve as a role model to his once tag team partner, Cody Rhodes, but once again, this relationship seemed entirely relegated to the ring, and Holly had no interest in making new friends with people he worked with.
3. Tom Zenk
The most unpleasant wrestlers on this list got here by exhibiting a strong sense of entitlement, and few wrestlers acted more entitled than Tom Zenk. Zenk was introduced to WWE by his then-friend, Rick Martel, and it was only a matter of months before that friendship dissolved, along with Zenk’s future prospects as a WWE superstar. Martel was a former AWA World Champion at the time, and thus was paid a bit more than the younger and less experienced rookie he brought along with him as his partner. Martel completely understood this arrangement, but Zenk thought it was somehow unfair and argued that he deserved the same amount of money as Martel. Zenk demanded Martel walk out of the company over the slight, which Martel refused, thus ending their friendship almost instantly. Zenk went on to make complaints about practically everyone in the wrestling industry, even years after he left the business. He even once gave an interview where he decried names like Hulk Hogan, “Diamond” Dallas Page, and Dusty Rhodes all as people he easily could have replaced. Most likely, those three don’t care about Zenk in the slightest, and anyone who actually met him can only roll their eyes at the outlandish claims he has made since leaving wrestling.
2. Ludvig Borga
Merely supporting a noble cause isn’t enough to make friends, as Ludvig Borga learned several times during his short foray in the WWE Universe. Borga was wrestling’s one and only evil environmentalist, doubling as a generic evil foreigner thanks to the fact that his environmental message was delivered through a thick Finnish accent. Borga also focused on how Americans contributed to the destruction of the environment through their careless and polluting ways, making him a strange but hated heel in his feud against Lex Luger. Borga was also strongly hated behind the scenes, with Jim Ross commenting after his death that Borga, “obviously had issues and was not a great guy to be around,” continuing, “he could be a bully if allowed…guys like [Borga] don’t mix well in any locker room, and need to be removed from the team sooner rather than later.” If there is any defense to Borga’s attitude issues, it would be the fact that he apparently suffered from mental illness, strongly exacerbated by his drug and alcohol abuse, although there is no clear indication of whether or not his health problems had started while he was still in the wrestling industry.
1. Bob Backlund
The biggest criticism Bob Backlund faced during his nearly six-year WWE World Championship reign was that he was boring. Heels referred to him as “Howdy Doody,” and his interview style presented him as a low energy country boy who didn’t have much to say. More than a decade later, Backlund would prove his critics all wrong by turning heel, but nonetheless it seemed his contemporary wrestlers felt the reputation was accurate enough about the real Backlund that they didn’t much like spending time with him. Unlike most of the people on this list who had bad attitudes, Backlund was simply such a quiet loner type that he rarely associated with his coworkers in a positive or negative manner, and none of them felt the need to pry into his bland personal life and get to know him. According to first-hand accounts, Backlund’s only real friend in WWE was Vince McMahon, Sr., which helps explain why Backlund was so completely phased out when McMahon’s son took over the company. On the bright side, by the time Backlund made his WWE return, enough time had passed that some of his fans were now his coworkers, and things gradually got easier for him socially.