Professional wrestlers working for WWE and other major wrestling companies have the opportunity to perform in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans, so it’s easy for the fame and the attention to rapidly go to their heads. The first match of the show generates roughly the same crowd as the last match of the show, and it can be hard for the performer to separate themselves from that situation, imaging the adulation of the crowd must be for them, even if they walked to the ring without music while half the audience was still finding their seat.
Some of these superstars were actually extremely successful, but that doesn’t change the fact in their heads they were even bigger. Others were such minor blips on the wrestling landscape it’s amazing they even have the time to look back on their slight careers, let alone balloon them into so much more than they were. Regardless of how exactly it happened, each of these wrestlers allowed their egos to get the best of them, raising their status in the wrestling industry far above and beyond the heights their careers actually reached.
10. Outback Jack
You could be a lifelong WWE fan and have no idea who Outback Jack is, and the only person on Earth who would be even the slightest bit surprised by that is Outback Jack. Jack briefly wrestled for WWE in the 1980’s, primarily facing jobbers and never actually engaging in a major feud. A crocodile hunter, Jack was intended to feud with gator farmer Skinner, but even that fizzled out when fans simply didn’t care about Jack in the slightest.
Still, Peter Stilsbury, the man behind the gimmick, thinks it could have been huge. Well, actually, he seems to think it was and still is huge. He claims he was slotted to win the WWE World Tag Team Championships with Hillbilly Jim, despite the fact records indicate the duo only actually teamed together for one single televised match. Jack blames his gradual decline on the “egos” in the wrestling industry, noting Vince McMahon in particular has a massive ego. How exactly this prevented an Australian from teaming with a hillbilly, we haven’t the slightest clue, nor do we believe Jack’s repeated boast that he remains “one of the most asked about names” in WWE history.
Nowadays, Sable goes by Rena Lesnar, and we think it’s best to be nice to her as to not rile her husband, Brock. But there’s no denying at one point in the late 90’s, Sable was one of the most hated members of the WWE roster, due to her backstage attitude and her apparent belief she was the biggest star in the company at the time. The WWE was beating WCW in 1999, and Sable had just appeared in her first Playboy centerfold. According to X-Pac and corroborated by Steve Austin, amongst others, Sable began calling herself the reason for WWE’s success, angering the other wrestlers in the company.
Sable was perhaps the most overrated female wrestler at the time, and in no way do we condone the cruel pranks played on her by the rest of the roster, but she wasn’t even close to being the most popular wrestler in WWE. Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, The Undertaker and many others were on top of the card, while Sable would only appear for a 10 second long dance, during the middle of the show.
8. Big Dick Dudley
Big Dick was the enforcer of the Dudley Boyz in ECW, and once held the XPW World Heavyweight Championship, but neither of those things really mean much in the wrestling world. The Dudleys were hugely successful, but only Bubba, D-Von and Spike were ever considered particularly talented, which is why they were the ones to win titles in ECW and WWE. This didn’t stop Big Dick from spreading his belief he was one of the greatest heels of all time, allegedly claiming he thought Paul Heyman could have saved ECW by giving him a run in the main event.
Big Dick does deserve credit for being one of the first three Dudleys, the manager/enforcer of the original tag team of Dudley Dudley and Little Snot. Although Dick gets the longevity record, the group never really became the top stars of ECW until Bubba and D’Von started running the show. Prior to his death in 2002, Big Dick also claimed both WWE and WCW were interested in hiring him, and it’s not that we deny that, it’s just that we don’t understand what they possibly could have done with him without his fake brothers.
7. Lance Storm
Lance Storm’s problem isn’t so much that he wasn’t as big as he thinks, but rather his philosophy on pro wrestling in general is deeply flawed. Storm trained with Chris Jericho, amongst others, under the tutelage of the legendary Stu Hart, so it’s no wonder he values crisp technical wrestling over flashy gimmicks. Storm goes way too far, though, when he claims technical skill is all that matters in wrestling, and his career proves it. Storm regularly takes to his website and blog, StormWrestling.com, to complain about WWE and TNA, criticizing what he sees as an over reliance on gimmickry and a lack of focus on wrestling.
We acknowledge Storm was an incredible technical wrestler, and he did have a great deal of success, winning titles in WWE, ECW and WCW. However, Lance is also best remembered today for a storyline in which Stone Cold Steve Austin repeatedly called him boring, and the crowd loudly chanted along. It’s hard to really deny his natural talents, but considering Storm’s lack of success, it’s curious why he believes he can impart advice on the biggest wrestling companies in America.
6. “Dr. D.” David Schultz
David Schultz is best known for having his career shortened when he made the powerfully misguided decision to attack John Stossel during a 20/20 segment on professional wrestling in 1985. Earlier in his career, he worked with Jerry Lawler, Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan before they were the mega stars they would become, and when he joined the WWE he was immediately paired with the equally legendary Roddy Piper. Schultz has more than once claimed McMahon instructed him to slap Stossel, and the way he tells the story, the various legends he worked with were just siphoning off his talent, while he was the only true talent of them all.
After Dr. D was fired for slapping a reporter on national television, he claims he made more money on the independent circuit than the major companies were willing to pay him, which makes no economic sense, regardless of his perception of self-status. He also said he believed he could have been a huge film star, but the Stossel incident blackballed him from Hollywood.
5. Tom Zenk – Better Than Hulk Hogan?
Tom Zenk had a moderately successful career in WCW winning the WCW Television Championship as Z-Man, after teaming with Rick Martel as the Can-Am Connection in WWE. Martel, a former AWA World Champion with ten years of experience over Zenk, had a slightly better contract, so Zenk quit WWE, feeling he was equally responsible for the success of the team. Martel quickly formed a new, much more popular team with Tito Santana called Strike Force, while Zenk made a career out of complaining about being ignored and passed over for less talented people with better connections.
Zenk is particularly hateful of Martel, of course, but also Dusty Rhodes and Eric Bischoff, who he feels never treated him properly in WCW. As late as 2000, Zenk was claiming he had more ability than Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Diamond Dallas Page, purporting they only had their positions in WCW because of their egos and friendships. Granted, WCW in the year 2000 was hardly a successful wrestling promotion, but with Zenk on top they would have folded years earlier, and nobody would be clamoring for a DVD of their greatest moments.
4. Paul Roma – The More Popular Horseman
Paul Roma was a solid wrestler who was given an opportunity he couldn’t possibly live up to. That didn’t stop him from surpassing it within his own mind. In one of the most maligned moves in WCW history, Roma joined the Four Horsemen in 1993. Teaming with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson didn’t exactly boost the former Young Stallion, with fans instead seeing him as a bland distraction getting in the way of two of the greatest wrestlers of all time. This hasn’t stopped Roma from spreading his belief he “took a lot of Ric’s spotlight” and saying Anderson “look[ed] like the Pillsbury Dough Boy” next to him.
It’s possible Roma still sees himself as the star of the wrestling world to this day, mocking Vince McMahon, Triple H and John Cena whenever he has an audience, despite no longer having any actual connection to the business. Roma did manage minor success in WCW, winning their tag team titles with both aforementioned “dough boy” Anderson and Paul Orndorff, but he was never able to achieve any level of success on his own without far more talented legends carrying him.
3. Larry Zbyszko – “The Living Legend”
Larry Zbyszko calls himself “The Living Legend,” and even sued WWE over the phrase, claiming he held a common law trademark over the phrase given the fact his name was allegedly synonymous with both life and legend. He is also well known as the final AWA World Heavyweight Champion, holding that title for the better part of two years, indirectly assisting in that promotion’s failure. The problems associated with the AWA are too vast to get into, but it’s clear one of the huge problems was Zbyszko, who was married to the boss’s daughter and refused to give up the spotlight despite fans finding his wrestling technique to be genuinely boring.
Although not a huge success as a AWA Champion, Zbyszko did manage some success as a tag team wrestler in WCW, partnering with Arn Anderson as the Enforcers. After retiring, he found himself in the WCW commentary booth, and this is where his ego would start to show itself. On a weekly basis Zbyszko would leave the booth to bow to fans, and after being insulted by Scott Hall over the AWA failing, Zbyszko attempted to argue the promotion only failed because competitors were so afraid of him as champion no one would challenge him. It’s possible the line was scripted, but given Zbyszko’s self-aggrandizing nature and WCW’s policy of letting ego run the show, we see it as one of the more delusional comments WCW allowed over the air, and this is the company that gave Tony Schiavone a live microphone every week for decades.
2. Billy Jack Haynes – Says He Came Up With “WrestleMania
Billy Jack Haynes was a decent power worker in NWA and WWE in the mid 1980’s. After failing to be a huge success in either company, Haynes started his own promotion, the Oregon Wrestling Federation, which quickly failed as well. Though he’s more remembered for his craziness later in life, he did achieve some successes, feuding with legends like the Andersons, Randy Savage and Bobby Heenan. The real interesting story about Billy Jack Haynes has nothing to do with wrestling, though, and everything to do with his accusation Vince McMahon actually tried to murder him.
In a rambling shoot interview titled “Conspiracy Theory,” Haynes first suggests he came up with the name “WrestleMania,” despite the fact he didn’t work for the WWE full time until 1986. After getting fired by McMahon the first time, Haynes claimed he was in line to win the NWA World Championship, this time despite the fact he barely worked for the NWA longer than a few months. Whether or not that holds any truth is unlikely, but we don’t care enough to question him. What we do question is Haynes’ claims that Vince McMahon attempted to murder him, and is directly responsible for almost every wrestling death over the past several decades.
All of the wrestlers on this list made weird claims about their careers, but none ever said anything nearly as bizarre, tasteless or utterly ridiculous as Haynes’ claim Chris Benoit committed his crimes because Vince was the true father of Benoit’s son. Next to that, we’d believe the Brooklyn Brawler if he told us he won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Al Snow.
1. Triple H
Triple H is a 14-time WWE World Champion and the only active wrestler in The Authority, so we don’t deny his importance in WWE today. However, when it comes to his place in history, few people have tried as desperately to use their influence to rewrite themselves as having far bigger roles than they actually held as Triple H. In 1998, D-Generation X were extremely popular for their comedy antics and fan interaction, but crowds were far more interested in Stone Cold Steve Austin’s battles with Vince McMahon and the Corporation. The Monday Night Wars were full in effect, and history shows it was Austin and Mick Foley, not DX, who regularly caused viewers to change the channel from WCW to WWE. And yet, when WWE released the Monday Night Wars DVD, DX was front and center, inflating Triple H’s place in history from an also-ran to the wrestler who sparked the war.
The night DX drove a jeep/tank to a WCW show was memorable and it made fans laugh, but it was ultimately just for a video package that aired in the middle of a show headlined by Austin vs. McMahon. The DVD cover isn’t the only case of the DX Tank’s importance being inflated, as WWE regularly brings it up as a major turning point in the war on WCW. Triple H has since gone on to be the focal point of WWE television for over a decade, actually accomplishing a great deal in the wrestling industry. The fact he can’t let go of the fact quite a few stars were much bigger than him during the beginning of his career, using the fact he’s married to the boss’s daughter to rewrite history and make himself the biggest star from day one, says a lot about his ego and insecurity to this day.