Whether it’s ego or what’s best for business, sometimes wrestlers refuse to work certain storylines for various reasons. As you can imagine, these wrestlers are normally high end talent who simply stand up for what they believe is right, whether it really is or not.
The wrestlers on this list refused to do their jobs for various reasons. Some simply refused to work with a wrestler they didn’t like, while others refused to lose because it wasn’t right for their on-screen character. At the end of the day, you have to respect some of these wrestlers and their reasons for not going through with what was asked of them.
Today the business is much different; we rarely see these Kayfabe stories anymore. The days of wrestlers like Stone Cold Steve Austin walking out are pretty much gone. Which begs the question, are the glory days from the Attitude era in wrestling dead forever? Let’s now take a look at these 13 wrestlers that went against orders at one time or another and refused to do their jobs. These wrestlers had that attitude era mentality in their blood. Enjoy!
13) The Rock: Refuses To Work With Shawn Michaels
What would have been an absolute classic was surprisingly turned down by The Rock. During an episode of The Ross Report, Michaels broke the news that The Rock turned down a match against the Showstopper. According to Shawn, Patterson asked Michaels about doing a program with The Rock, and Michaels was excited about the possibility having never fought against The Rock before. When The Rock was asked about the match, Shawn claims Rock simply said he wasn’t interested.
The Rock has also refused to work some angles in the ring. One that comes to mind was with Bubba Dudley in a tag match. Bubba was extremely ticked off when The Rock refused to take a spot that Bubba had come up with. The plan was for Stacy Keibler to distract The Rock, allowing the Dudleys to take over the match. The Rock agreed with Bubba that it would be a good idea, but just not for his image. Originally, Bubba thought it was a joke, but ultimately realized it was not and The Rock was really not on board.
The Rock also initially refused to take shots from Cena during their build off to their clash at WrestleMania. Rocky wasn’t too comfortable with John’s personal attacks pertaining to his Hollywood career. This time Rock would not get his way, and Cena was given the green light to fire on all cylinders.
12) Kevin Nash and Scott Hall: Creative Control
Despite all the success that WCW had in the mid 90s, the company backstage was an absolute mess. The newcomers Hall and Nash were given creative control in their guaranteed contracts, which allowed them to pretty much do whatever they wanted. Nash and Hall would go on to make their own angles and constantly refuse story lines that WCW asked them to work. An irate Bischoff sent them a message by firing Sean Waltman since the duo were untouchable with their guaranteed contracts. The situation would only get worse and soon enough, all the top stars were doing what they wanted, including Hulk Hogan who we will discuss about later on in this article. It remains a big question mark as to how WCW would be if all the big stars didn’t have as much power to do what they wanted.
11) Mark Henry: Turns Down Gimmick and Problems With McMahon
Henry turned down a new silverback gimmick in 2007. Henry admitted that creatively the WWE wasn’t being racist, but Henry thought the gimmick was crossing the line. Henry told the WWE he couldn’t do it because he had two black children at home and he wasn’t comfortable working this angle.
In another instance, Henry refused to go back to work after a prank that got extremely heated with Vince McMahon. After a series of ribs, Henry allowed cooler heads to prevail, though one night he finally had enough. During an off-air match, Vince McMahon thought it would be funny to play another wrestler’s entrance music while Henry would make his way to the ring. Mark was so upset that he grabbed the microphone to voice his displeasure about the rib, only to have it also cut off. Following the match, Henry realized everyone had already left the arena. He proceeded to destroy thousands and thousands of dollars of equipment. He then called Vince saying he was done and also threatened McMahon. Henry’s wife finally convinced Mark to go back to work.
10) Bruno Sammartino: Promoter’s Nightmare
Sammartino will go down as one of the greatest ever, and one reason for this was that Bruno was so ahead of his time and very protective about his character. Bruno would often turn down matches and refuse to show up to events just because of the outcomes of the matches. Bruno simply refused to lose. This caused some serious heat between the promoters and himself, and they would turn to blackmailing the WWE Hall of Famer in order for Bruno to actually do his job. Sammartino would often tell promoters: “I’ll lose to him if he can beat me up in real life.” Got to love this guy!
9) Ric Flair: Only Working With The Best
During his prime in the 80s, Ric Flair was actually quite picky when it came to his opponents. Ric made it clear that he only wanted to work with the best, and he wasn’t interested in anyone else. This attitude would end up causing Flair some serious problems throughout his career. In one instance, Flair refused to drop the title to Luger because of his dislike for Lex’s in-ring talents. Flair would only agree to drop the title to Sting. Ultimately, the promoter told Flair to either drop the belt to Luger or he’d get fired. As you can probably imagine, Flair refused and jumped ship to the WWE. Now that deserves a big WOOOOO.
8) Jeff Jarrett: No Money, No Match
WWE made a huge mistake in the 90s when Jarrett’s contract ran out a day before his final match. What made matters worse was the fact that Jarrett was the Intercontinental Champion at the time, and he was scheduled to drop the title but his contract had ran out the day before the event. McMahon would try to plead with Jarrett on the appearance. Despite Vince’s attempts though, Jeff refused to show up unless he was paid $300,000 for the one match. McMahon was pretty much backed into a wall, had he not agreed to this ridiculous deal, not only would Jarrett have not shown up to the event but Jeff would have brought the title to Nitro. Jarrett’s ridiculous proposal was accepted; he showed up for the one appearance and dropped the title to Chyna.
Rumor has it that Jarrett and Vince Russo together purposely extorted McMahon, extending Jarrett’s title reign for the money. Pretty sure we’ll never see Jeff inducted into the Hall of Fame after this situation.
7) Goldberg: Business Monster
When it came to his character, Goldberg was very much like Bruno Sammartino, he hated the idea of losing. Unlike Bruno, Goldberg was given creative control to do whatever he wanted. Goldberg would often refuse to work with certain wrestlers, like Chris Jericho for example. Bill refused to work a story with Jericho because he thought Y2J simply wasn’t big enough or believable enough to face Goldberg. Bischoff himself discussed that dealing with Goldberg during his success was one of the most difficult parts of his career. Eric referred to Goldberg as a “business monster”. Among the talent, Goldberg wasn’t too popular either. His reluctance to put young talent over reportedly frustrated many wrestlers, and once again WCW dropped the ball giving wrestlers way too much power in doing whatever they wanted.
6) Hulk Hogan: Hulk Still Rules
The biggest knock on the Hulkster throughout his career was his inability to put others over. Surprisingly, this didn’t only take place in WCW. During his stints with the WWE, Hogan often refused to work angles with certain wrestlers. In one instance, Hogan refused to lose to Bret Hart; because of this, the storylines were changed and it ended up with Bret losing to Yokozuna and later in the night, Yoko losing to Hogan with Hulk somehow winning the title.
In another case, after it was determined that Hogan would defeat Shawn Michaels at Summerslam, Hogan refused to repay Michaels the favor by letting Shawn win the rematch. Knowing the storyline would end following his defeat, an angry Michaels oversold every move in the match. Many backstage were happy to see Hogan finally get what he deserved.
5) Stone Cold Steve Austin: Took His Ball And Went Home
Who can forget this moment when Vince McMahon declared to the WWE Universe that Austin “took his ball and went home”? Austin refused to work after the WWE’s creative staff booked Austin to lose to Lesnar on an episode of RAW. To make matters worse, the match was a King of The Ring qualifying match. What angered Austin wasn’t the loss, it was the lack of build up or storyline to the match. Austin, who was the company’s top draw, didn’t want to lose out of the blue. After both sides stood firm on their positions, Austin walked out of the company. Some agreed with Steve’s move, like Brock himself, who as a guest on The Steve Cold Podcast said he understood why Steve walked out. It’ll be interesting to see if these two will ever end up clashing together in a blockbuster matchup.
4) Shawn Michaels: WrestleMania XIV No Show
During the late 90s, Michaels reportedly became very difficult to work with. What made matters worse is that Shawn’s time in the spotlight was coming to an end and the WWE was making way for the 3:16 era.
The storyline saw Michaels drop the title to Austin, and this would lead to Michaels leaving the WWE to recover from his career threatening back injury. The only problem with this was that Michaels refused to wrestle at the event. Shawn’s back had gotten much worse after taking a terrible bump during a match against The Undertaker at the Royal Rumble. A mix of bitterness, anger and injuries caused Shawn to potentially “no show” the biggest event of the year. Still at the live show, Michaels claimed he wasn’t going to do the job. Apparently it took a threat from The Undertaker for Shawn to finally work the match. Rumors indicate that Triple H literally needed to help Shawn put his gear on like a child before Shawn’s final match of the 90s.
3) Bret Hart: Montreal Screwjob
For Bret it was quite simple, he wasn’t dropping the title to Shawn in Canada. After Vince proposed the idea, Bret refused to do the job on his home turf. Instead, Bret wanted the match to end in a DQ and the following night Hart would vacate the title before moving on to WCW. This angered McMahon, so much so that they decided to make Michaels win the match without Bret even knowing and well, you all know how the rest played out. Bret’s refusal to do the job eventually screwed him out of the championship.
2) John Cena: You “Can” See me
Working with The Rock was like a dream for Cena, though this perceived thought turned quickly on John and the story became a bit of a nightmare. John was furious with the WWE after The Rock was repeatedly taking shots at him on the air with John being unable to respond. Cena was so mad that he refused to work the story any longer if he was unable to fight back to The Rock’s comments. Cena said it best, the fans wanted to see “LeBron against Jordan”, with the two at their very best and not Jordan against some pushover. Ultimately, Cena’s requests were met and he was given the green light to attack The Rock verbally on the air. The promos between the two wrestlers were usually unscripted, with the wrestlers literally speaking out of anger towards each other.
CM Punk also made claims during the Colt Cabana Podcast that Cena would often refuse storylines coming from Vince. Punk respected the fact that Cena stood up for himself when Vince asked him to work stupid outdated storylines; something that few wrestlers do today.
1) Stephanie McMahon: Inappropriate Father/Daughter Angle
You know things are pretty bad when your own daughter refuses to work an angle for her dad. Vince revealed on his DVD that he had been trying to work an inappropriate inc*st storyline for years. McMahon wanted himself to be reviled as the father of Stephanie’s baby. Not surprisingly, Stephanie turned this down, and McMahon later pitched the idea of Shane being Stephanie’s baby’s father. This was also turned down by the boss’s daughter (and rightfully so).