Wrestlers are very careful with what we see on screen. When the camera is rolling, we will see what is meant to be seen; these characters are painted in a certain light. What wrestling fans may not be aware of is that while they may be popular in the ring, sometimes the way they carry themselves outside the ring rubs their colleagues the wrong way. It could be how they act, think, feel, or in a number of cases their use of politics to help further themselves that will irritate other wrestlers on the roster.
Are they simply misunderstood businessmen and women? Of these particular choices, some may not necessarily be this way today, but at one point or another in their career their focus was either putting themselves first or putting others in their place. Some of these wrestlers were disliked not just because of what they did for themselves, but how they would engage in juvenile and immature antics at the expense of young or new talent, to ensure others knew the pecking order. In a number of cases, the feeling towards these wrestlers were that they were jerks. Here are 13 wrestlers who were total jerks backstage.
13. Scott Steiner
As time passed, Steiner’s popularity within WCW grew. He went from a successful tag team wrestler alongside his brother Rick to Big Poppa Pump, with a look and style all his own, and being known for saying outlandish things on the microphone. Backstage, Steiner was known for having issues with DDP, stemming from deep-seated issue between the two. While in character, Steiner would often ‘shoot’ during promos, and create uncertainty as to whether he meant what he said or not. Steiner and Hulk Hogan have had their issues in the past, and while they no longer compete against one another, it is no surprise how much Steiner disliked someone that was equally questionable backstage.
12. Randy Orton
With time generally comes maturity, and in the case of Randy Orton he needed both. At the age of 34, Orton has seen his share of career highs and lows. As a third generation wrestler he may have had a sense of entitlement, or perhaps he was elevated too quickly; regardless, he was known for being among the most difficult people to work within the locker room. There were stories of him being guilty of harassing females on the roster and pulling juvenile pranks that aren’t reflective of a professional. As he has gotten older, times have changed for the former WWE Champion. Recognized today as one of the most effective in ring storytellers, in the past he was often criticized for treating others as less than equals, which hindered his credibility and overall likability among those he worked with.
While opinions about JBL are mixed, one of the constant subject of rumours that circulated about the Texan was his overall likability backstage. During his rise as the United States and then World Champion, JBL was considered, for lack of a better word, a bully. One instance was his relationship, or lack thereof, with Brian Heffron, who competed as The Blue Meanie during his time in ECW and later the WWE. During the 2005 WWE pay-per-view ECW One Night Stand, JBL legitimately came at Meanie full force with punches connecting directly with Meanie’s face. Meanie has said that JBL’s punches opened up staples that were in Meanie’s head. Some have stated that Meanie provoked the incident because of comments he made about JBL during ‘shoot’ interviews. JBL has also admitted to hazing other wrestlers in the past.
10. New Jack
During his time in ECW, New Jack was one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster because of his hardcore matches and ability to compete against all sorts of competitors. On one particular occasion, New Jack faced off against a young man who was aspiring to be a professional wrestler, an incident that has gone down in history as the Mass Transit incident. The late Erik Koulas, who passed away a few years after the incident, asked to be bladed during the match. However, New Jack deliberate cut him deep. Whether this was a case of hazing or tough love, New Jack didn’t need to make an example of someone in what appeared to be a thoughtless and careless act. The Koulas family sued New Jack over the incident and it remains one of the more infamous moments in ECW history.
9. Jacques Rougeau
Jacques Rougeau competed in both WCW and the WWF, and during his time, he saw success in different roles and characters. The problems he had backstage centred around one particular wrestler, Tommy Billington, The Dynamite Kid. Rougeau didn’t believe The British Bulldogs liked him very much, but what is missing is that he didn’t get along with others backstage. The late Bad News Brown was also among the men that didn’t like Rougeau. Upset over an incident between Kid and himself, Rougeau asked a pointed question and then punched him in the mouth when he was in the midst of replying. When Rougeau recounted the events, though, he didn’t say that he had something in his hand when he threw the punch. Whether it was his demeanor or the way he carried himself backstage, Rougeau wasn’t held in very high regard.
8. Kevin Nash
A culprit who is notoriously guilty for being less than accommodating backstage was Kevin Nash. During his early days in the WWE, Nash was among the members of the Kliq, a group of guys that didn’t look at the big picture, but rather looked out for themselves first. Nash being guilty of backstage politics was also common during his time in WCW as part of the nWo. The faction itself was not only popular, but what we saw in front of the cameras wasn’t too different from what happened behind them. Whether it was animosity between he and Roddy Piper, or booking himself to Goldberg’s streak unceremoniously, Nash has often been accused of being not necessarily a forward thinker, but a businessman that didn’t consider the long-term ramifications of his actions.
7. Bubba Ray Dudley
He is a multi-time champion in ECW, WWE and TNA, but that doesn’t free Dudley from being a recognized backstage tyrant. This reputation stems from occasions when things didn’t to the script and deviated from the overall plan. This came to a head over the past few months when former WWE talent Rene Dupree revealed he was hit and hit often by Bubba, suffering concussions on multiple occasions. And Bubba would be the first to tell you himself that he’s a jerk, and that he generally doesn’t like people. It wasn’t him maintaining kayfabe by being mean, it’s legitimate: he isn’t a nice person. Much like with JBL he has been guilty of hazing newer wrestlers upon entry into the company. It’s fairly remarkable since Bubba teams with Devon who has been called one of the nicest guys in wrestling.
6. Hardcore Holly
It’s time to nut up or to shut up; and one former WWE wrestler was guilty of making others put up whether it was warranted or not. Some may debate whether Holly was a jerk or backstage bully. He may have seen what he was doing as tough love, but in the case of former WWE developmental talent and Tough Enough contestant Matt Cappotelli, it may be seen as something completely different. For those unaware, Cappotelli has stated that, while part of Tough Enough program years ago, Holly unjustly used his force to make sure his point was heard. Matt ended up with hurt feelings and a black eye. Holly perceives that his actions reflect someone who felt just in doing what he did, as it ensure he was respected. While it may be a case of stopping disrespect, some will question his methods.
5. Billy Gunn
When he first came to the WWE, Gunn was thought of as self-involved, believing he was better than he was. While Gunn has had runs with the company in different capacities, one has to wonder why he was relegated to the different roles that he had. He was recently released for his use of performance enhancing drugs. His being given a coaching role with the WWE says a lot about how he was valued for his time in the ring. However, outside the ring Gunn has been accused of everything from being difficult to work with to being a headcase behind the scenes.
4. Scott Hall
Much like Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash, Hall has also been thought of as being difficult to work with behind the scenes. Whether it was a case of him respecting only those that came before him, or simply politicking behind the scenes, Hall also finds himself on this list. The former Intercontinental and WCW Tag Team champion has been successful in every promotion he has been part of. When he left the WWE in 1996 for WCW, he made a business decision that made sense for him and his family. For a long time there were concerns about Hall’s sobriety, his ability to work effectively and his overall condition in the ring. One has to question whether the decisions made during his time in WCW were reflective of someone that was more concerned about getting himself over rather than helping the promotion around him.
3. Shawn Michaels
While he isn’t actively competing anymore, it is hard to dispute the backstage reputation Michaels had during his rise to prominence leading into the attitude era. It was noted that he was difficult to work with, and uncooperative helping to elevate others, and was recognized as a head case. The challenging part was that his actions caused so much dissension in the locker room that it made it difficult to work a program and effectively tell a story in the ring. By Michaels’ own admission, a history of substance abuse severely impaired his ability to make decisions both personally and professionally. He has since sought support and guidance through religion, and appears to be better for it.
2. Vince McMahon
When you own the company, you can pretty much do and say what you want, and that’s the case when it comes to Vince McMahon. He has never been thought of as someone that was nice or kind. In fact, McMahon is disliked by a number of different people for a number of different reasons. There has been his relationship with Bret Hart after SummerSlam ‘97, and his relationship with Kevin Walchoz aka Nailz. Being someone that thought about his property and its overall success first has often made him jerk. A number of reports from former WWE talent or creative have said he is difficult to work with, and that his micro-managing doesn’t allow the performers to perform to the best of their ability.
1. Hulk Hogan
If there was ever someone guilty of backstage politics and ensuring he looked good at the expense of others, it was Hulk Hogan. While he has seen his share of troubles outside the ring, it is behind the scenes that others have often questioned his motives and ability to do business. While McMahon helped develop the Hulk Hogan character, Hogan has remained very careful about guarding his character’s perception. He has had strained relationships with a number of wrestlers in the past, including The Ultimate Warrior and Bret Hart. He is guilty of not putting over younger talent as well; reportedly, he and former WWE Tag Team Champion Billy Kidman had issues because of a refusal to elevate others. There comes a time where everyone should be thinking of passing the torch, but who did Hogan do that for, without later stating he regretted doing it?