Pro wrestling is full of grandiose claims shrouded in misinformation and tongue-in-cheek promos exclaiming certain ‘truths’. Everyone has heard the famous line that WrestleMania III drew over 93,000 fans, when the real number was closer to 78,000. Countless wrestlers have proclaimed themselves to be ‘the best ever’, only for someone from the past to come back and prove them otherwise. Even Michael Cole’s weekly line of RAW being ‘the longest weekly-running episodic program in television show history’ is a bold-faced lie.
This habit of deceiving, or at the very least ‘working’ the crowd is an integral part of the wrestling business, except when lies are told to the wrestlers themselves. Given the nature of the pro wrestling business, wrestlers have to trust one another with their lives, they have to ensure the referee in their matches gives them their time cues, and they have to be certain that those at the top are telling them the truth.
Unfortunately, wrestlers are often told things they don’t want to hear, either from fans, bookers or from their peers. It might be hard to believe, but people observing and involved in the wrestling business tend to say some very stupid things. Then, after they’ve made those claims, the wrestlers they’ve condemned end up proving them wrong in every single way, giving way to some of the biggest ironies ever seen.
The following statements prove just how dumb some people can be, especially when those wrestlers prove those statements wrong in every possible way.
10. CM Punk ‘Would Never Fit In WWE’
To Vince McMahon (and many people backstage), the wrestler you see above looks more like he’d steal your car than he looks like he belongs in a wrestling ring. That’s the stigma that Punk had to deal with during his first few years in WWE, and he was treated as if everyone at the top of the company was looking down at him with disgust. Punk was told that he didn’t fit in in WWE and that he didn’t belong there.
Yet Punk took those words of discouragement and rubbed them in the faces of his detractors when he kept gaining more popular support, culminating in the longest WWE Championship reign in 25 years. Punk was, for better or worse, the guy in WWE, and no matter how much WWE’s power-brokers tried to sweep him under the rug, fans kept chanting his name…even to this day, long after he’s retired from pro wrestling.
9. ‘I’d Take A Big Guy Over A Small Guy Anytime’ – JBL
JBL said that line on a recent episode of RAW as one of the Lucha Dragons was taking on a much bigger opponent. It’s likely that line was fed to him directly from Vince McMahon, who, despite so much evidence showing small guys are just as, if not better, at being draws as the big guys, still favours the bigger wrestlers in the ring.
Why else do you think Braun Strowman is getting all the protection in Wyatt Family segments? He’s freakishly huge, and Vince loves that…even if Strowman can barely move in the ring. Apparently Vince hasn’t learned his lesson from history, as he still intends on pushing the big chiseled guys because that’s what worked for him in the past.
This is despite the fact that the best and most exciting wrestlers in WWE and abroad for years now…have all been the smaller, faster guys.
8. Jushin Liger ‘Is Too Small For NJPW’
Much like his WCW brethren, Jushin Liger was once ignored by the NJPW power-brokers because he was considered far too small to be a top wrestler, since he stood at a mere 5’3”. But that didn’t deter him; he went to Mexico to train, and when those same NJPW officials saw him there, they found him ‘nearly starving’, and decided to give him a shot.
When they did, they must’ve realized just how stupid their earlier words were.
Not only could the man behind the mask, Keiichi Yamada, wrestle well, but he had an uncanny ability to connect with the audience. So when they gave him the Liger gimmick, he ran with it and never looked back, bringing in NJPW countless millions in revenue from his fantastic matches and rapidly-growing international appeal.
For over 30 years, Liger has been dazzling audiences with his unmatched innovation, amazing athleticism, and seemingly never-ending energy (he did, after all, come back to the ring after developing a brain tumor). Liger is living proof that even the smallest person can achieve big things.
7. Cesaro ‘Doesn’t Connect With The Audience’
During his interview with Steve Austin, Vince McMahon claimed that there was something about Cesaro that prevented him from connecting with the audience, leading to his infamous ‘brass rings’ comment. Not only was this a slap in the face of Cesaro, who has proven himself a highly-capable worker over the years, but it completely disregards the loud reactions he gets whenever he executes his Giant Swing or any other of his impressive maneuvers.
One doesn’t have to look too hard to see just how popular Cesaro actually is. He gets huge reactions whenever he does any of his signature moves. When he does the slightest taunt or gesture to the audience, they react in spades. There’s even a ‘Cesaro Section’ of the audience that gives a perfect example of how widespread his popularity is. For anyone to continue suggesting that Cesaro doesn’t connect with the audience is a prime demonstration of ignorance.
6. ‘As Long As They’re Getting A Reaction, That’s All That Matters’ – Vince McMahon
Vince said these words during a recent discussion with his staff and stockholders. The basic idea is that Vince doesn’t care if fans are either supporting a wrestler or booing them, as long as there’s a reaction in general, he’s happy. This is a terrible mentality to have because it speaks volumes of how disconnected Vince is with his audience. He’s basically telling his wrestlers and their fans that whatever they say and do doesn’t matter; Vince will do what Vince wants to do, even if fans reject his plans wholeheartedly.
We’ve seen this several times in recent years, most notably with the overwhelmingly negative reaction Roman Reigns has been getting. Yet no matter how much Reigns may be convinced that his current character isn’t connecting with the audience, Vince will still push him in the same way, effectively sending him into the lion’s den to be devoured by the angry fans who want nothing to do with him. If that doesn’t describe foolishness on Vince’s part, nothing does.
5. Daniel Bryan ‘Is A B+ Player’
Though that line was scripted for Stephanie McMahon, it was a veiled message from the powers-that-be in WWE to Daniel Bryan: no matter how skilled or popular he was as a wrestler, he’d never reach the top of the company because he lacked ‘something’. Whether that something was a bodybuilder’s physique, a larger-than-life aura about him, or the microphone skills of the Rock, it doesn’t matter.
Those at the top of WWE said these things to Bryan as a way of telling him (and his fans) that nothing he did would be enough for him to be considered a top guy in the company. Keep in mind that this was said just as the ‘Yes Movement’ was gaining serious momentum, and his signature gesture was transcending into popular culture. Bryan would prove everyone who thought that way about him wrong, as not only would Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, but he would go on to become one of the most popular wrestlers in the entire company.
4. John Cena ‘Can’t Wrestle’
It’s one of the most enduring claims wrestling fans (and some of his peers) have made over the past decade, and it’s one that should finally be put to rest. The reason people make this argument is because Cena’s often compared to wrestlers like Michaels, Angle, Benoit, Guerrero, and other proven technicians. But wrestling isn’t an exact science: you can’t have only one style of match or please everyone with technical, scientific wrestling.
Cena, though repetitive in his matches, can and has put on great matches over the course of his career. While he has had excellent matches with known technical masters like Angle, Benoit, Punk and Rollins, he has also managed to have highly-entertaining matches with Triple H, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, and even Kane and JBL. Think about that for a second: how many wrestlers can work so well with such varied opponents, including some whose in-ring abilities leave a lot to be desired?
3. Steve Austin ‘Won’t Be A Big Money Draw’
It’s actually really funny how dumb this statement is in hindsight. Eric Bischoff didn’t see ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin going any further than the mid-card, and insisted that he’d never become a top draw in the ultra-competitive world of pro wrestling. Bischoff was convinced that Austin would never rise beyond the mid-card in WCW, and that he wouldn’t ever be big enough to draw huge crowds. This eventually led to Austin’s release from WCW, which allowed him to spend some time in ECW before reaching WWE.
Wanting to prove Bischoff wrong in every way imaginable, Austin ditched the cheesy Ringmaster gimmick he was first saddled with, and proceeded to create a character based on his own personality: ‘Stone Cold’. That character, combined with the Stone Cold Stunner finisher and the masterfully-crafted rivalry between Austin and Mr. McMahon, became the single-most popular storyline in modern wrestling history, and turned Austin into the biggest wrestler of all time.
Bischoff, meanwhile, must’ve definitely been eating his words knowing he let such a popular wrestler go.
2. The Undertaker ‘Won’t Ever Make It In This Business’
WCW was making critical errors as far back as 1990, when they decided to let ‘Mean’ Mark Callous go, insisting that he would ‘never amount to anything in this business’. This was despite the fact that he was both agile and intimidating, and according to Paul Heyman, ‘he had this presence’ about him that drew fans to him. But WCW’s management didn’t see it that way, which allowed Vince McMahon to sign him in the latter half of 1990.
The rest, as they say, is history. Mark Calaway was given the single greatest wrestling gimmick of all time, and proceeded to make WWE countless millions (if not billions, by this point) in ticket sales, merchandise, and PPV purchases. He has gone on to become arguably the biggest legend in WWE history, has put on some of the best matches in WWE history, has been a part of some of the best feuds ever, and continues to wrestle even as he enters his 50s.
1. ‘Wrestling Is Fake’
It doesn’t get any dumber than this. It’s the biggest slap in the face imaginable for any pro wrestler to have an outsider or snooty critic tell them to their face that what they’re doing is fake and shouldn’t be taken seriously. David Schultz proved that the pain was real when he slapped John Stossel for insulting Schultz’s profession and the Undertaker’s reaction when a Kuwaiti reporter said the same thing was equally explanatory of how stupid a thing this is to say.
After all, the pain is real; you can’t fake being slammed onto a hard mat, and when you get hit with a chop or a weapon, the contact is still real. That’s why wrestling fans respect the wrestlers they’re watching: they know that WWE’s claims of wrestlers ‘putting their bodies and lives on the line’ is a very real statement and show their appreciation. So while wrestling is a lot of things, it absolutely isn’t fake; if it were, then so many injuries, and premature retirements and deaths wouldn’t have ever happened.