We’ve covered again and again the various wrestlers, managers, and on-screen performers WWE and the McMahon family want you to forget about. These were the people Vince and company put on your televisions dozens of times per week and promoted, and some of them aren’t on the best terms with Vince, Stephanie, Triple H, or society at large anymore, so WWE does their best to distance themselves as much as possible from wrestlers and performers who they no longer see eye to eye with. It wouldn’t make sense to continue promoting a wrestler who publicly badmouthed them, and it would be in bad taste, and garner bad publicity, to keep promoting a wrestler who committed some heinous crime.
WWE has hundreds more employees than just the ones who appear in front of the camera, though. They have an endless number of producers, trainers, writers, executives, medics, agents, and plenty of other employees that perform vital duties within the company. WWE is much more than a wrestling company; they are by this point a media conglomerate, and that means they need professionals for every facet of the entertainment industry. With such great numbers, it’s inevitable that certain former employees are going to end up a little disgruntled or perhaps simply disliked. Especially with the rise of the Internet, former WWE employees have also begun speaking out about their time with the company, and the McMahon’s might not appreciate the things they’re saying. Keep reading if you want to learn about 15 backstage WWE employees Vince McMahon would prefer we forgot about.
15. Bruce Prichard
Bruce Prichard appeared on screen in a small but occasionally important role, portraying the preaching manager Brother Love. As Brother Love, he introduced the world to The Undertaker, and hosted The Brother Love Show on Superstars of Wrestling. Love was loud and annoying on purpose, controversial at the time for his clear imitation of disgraced Southern preachers like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Brother Love made several appearances in gimmick matches and nostalgic comedy segments, and Prichard even appeared out of character as himself to tribute Owen Hart after his tragic death in 1999.
While not painting his face red and pretending to preach the word of love, Prichard worked on the creative team as a writer for WWE for 22 years from the 90’s to 2008. His exact roles varied throughout his tenure, but he was often considered one of Vince McMahon’s right hand men until a sudden change occurred near the end of his time with the company. Stephanie McMahon released him after his two decades of service for reasons that weren’t entirely clear, and shortly thereafter he was hired by Total Nonstop Action to perform essentially the same duties he had performed in WWE. Prichard was eventually promoted to Senior Vice President, Programming & Talent Relations in 2012, but that company for vague reasons would release him as well in 2013.
14. Court Bauer
Court Bauer is a former WWE writer also known for founding the independent promotion Major League Wrestling. Now, MLW exists as a wrestling podcast network that hosts a variety of shows by wrestling insiders about their time in the business and feelings about the current wrestling product. Bauer runs the network and hosts a show called “Bauer and Pollock,” where he regularly shares stories about his time writing for WWE, and like most of the people on this list, he doesn’t have many flattering things to say.
Bauer has told stories about some of the funniest ideas WWE creative has invented, such as Bob Holly turning into an astronaut with his own pet space monkey, but it’s the negative stories that get more press. Recently, Bauer has been receiving attention on dirt sheets for his claims Triple H and Shawn Michaels intentionally buried CM Punk from the very start of his career in WWE. According to Bauer, Michaels watched one of Punk’s tryout matches and made sure to immediately tell Vince McMahon how terrible it was, which Bauer feels was a side-effect of Michaels and Triple H already being worried Punk could overshadow them. Bauer is less damning of the McMahons in his stories, but he has also claimed working underneath Stephanie McMahon was a huge challenge, due to her constantly changing her mind in ways he felt didn’t make sense.
13. Alex Greenfield
Alex Greenfield was the head writer and co-producer of SmackDown starting in the summer of 2006. His post-WWE career has focused more on the sci-fi and disaster film variety, and while he was with the company, he was very vocal about what he felt was a disaster to the sports entertainment industry: longtime WWE producer Kevin Dunn. Greenfield hates Dunn so much it boils over into criticisms of Vince McMahon, having stated: “[Dunn’s] creative instinct is fast food: if it works, don’t muddle with it, and keep Vince convinced it is the only way to do things by any means necessary.” According to Greenfield, the problem isn’t that Dunn doesn’t care about wrestling or creating a good product, it’s that he’s incredibly lazy and wants his job to remain easy, at the detriment of looking fresh or creative.
Greenfield is very negative about Dunn, but he’s much kinder to his former boss Stephanie McMahon. Of course, the fact he and Stephanie got along only inspired Dunn to hate him more, as Greenfield’s stories continue. Dunn wasn’t just horrible to him, as if Greenfield is to be believed, Dunn has badmouthed virtually every writer, as well as on screen talents like JBL and Jim Ross, to Vince McMahon as soon as they walked out of earshot. Greenfield’s takedown of Dunn gets to its worst point when he blames him for the misogynistic way WWE has been accused of treating women for years, with Dunn apparently mocking the universally loved Mickie James/Trish Stratus stalking angle that Greenfield created, feeling the women were being portrayed too intelligently and wasting TV time when they should’ve been “sexier and stupider.” Given the fact Dunn is still respected by Vince and Greenfield left the company years ago, it’s clear who WWE feels is more important to the company, and their choice doesn’t make them look good.
12. Larry Mollin
Larry Mollin was a writer and producer for television series such as CHiPs and Beverly Hills, 90210 before becoming a writer and creative consultant for WWE in the mid 2000’s. Mollin was already in his 60’s and with decades of experience in the entertainment industry before he joined WWE, and while his resume is no doubt what got him his job, it’s that same long history of working on successful television shows that make his stories about WWE so damning in retrospect. Mollin knows more than the average writer about what works on television, but Vince McMahon still repeatedly shot down Mollin when he told the WWE owner to start planning storylines weeks and months ahead, instead of booking only one week or even one show at a time.
WWE ignoring Mollin’s experience isn’t that bad, since in all fairness, WWE also has decades of success they can point to that says their system works, too. However, the more in-depth Mollin gets about his time in WWE, the worse they start to look. During his other Hollywood TV jobs, Mollin says the writers were given far more breaks than in WWE to avoid burnout, and Vince’s policy of changing things at the last minute only increased the need for time off, thanks to highly increased levels of stress working for him caused. Most descriptively, Mollin referred to WWE as a “cult,” saying they would beat you down and treat you terribly all week, only to pretend you were a big happy family who couldn’t wait to do it again next week.
11. Dan Madigan
Dan Madigan is one of the most controversial WWE writers in history, as he is responsible for some of the strangest and most bizarre angles of the mid 2000’s. Madigan is responsible for things like Snitsky the baby killer and the universally hated Katie Vick storyline, and he was the scriptwriter for Kane’s starring film vehicle, See No Evil. Madigan is also famous for pitching the balls to the wall insane character Baron Von Bava, an unfrozen Nazi warrior lead to the ring by the Jewish Paul Heyman, which thankfully never actually saw the light of day. According to Madigan, we can feel the same way about a very strange idea Vince wanted to get into that Kane movie, too.
Madigan claims the film’s director, Gregory Dark, once called him to inform him of a last minute change insisted by McMahon. Kane’s character Jacob Goodnight would at some point pull out his penis, which would in turn be three feet long. Even Madigan knew that was an insane idea that didn’t fit within the film, and perhaps that’s why once he submitted his first draft, outside writers were brought in to handle the rewrites. Possibly even more damning than admitting McMahon’s craziest secrets, Madigan has also spoken out on his firm belief that Triple H doesn’t actually love Stephanie McMahon, and has only married her for the fame and power it brought him.
10. Seth Mates
Seth Mates was a writer for WWE during the early 2000’s, and he too had a big hand in the Katie Vick angle, which should say more than enough right there. Mates shouldn’t be blamed for that, as the way he puts it, he just did his best with the crazy idea Triple H and Stephanie McMahon threw at him. In fact, when you read through various interviews with Mates, it would seem like that describes his entire job description, and there were times it almost drove him crazy himself with the horrible ideas and treatments they gave him and his fellow writers, not to mention the other wrestlers.
Mates once said “no matter what you hear about guys reading comic books or whatever, creative is Vince and Hunter, and it’s not a democracy.” Mates has also gone on Twitter tirades about Triple H, explaining that HHH always buries rising stars due to “positioning.” Mates says Triple H also pulls an old tactic Hulk Hogan used in WCW, going off TV for a few weeks whenever ratings are sure to dip due to football and other TV events, then coming back and claiming he was the sole reason for the diminishing return of slightly higher ratings. Mates also claims that any negativity towards part time stars is simply Triple H forcing other wrestlers to spread his views as theirs, spreading a toxic influence that true or not, will get Mates erased from history for saying it.
9. Bill DeMott
Bill DeMott had a decently notable career in front of the camera wrestling under names like Crash the Terminator in ECW, General E. Rection in WCW, and Hugh Morrus in both WCW and WWE. He started to rise the ranks of the wrestling world during the dying days of WCW winning that company’s United States Championship, but DeMott’s time in WWE primarily took place behind-the-scenes as a trainer and coach for NXT and it’s predecessor developmental promotions. DeMott started as a head trainer for Tough Enough and quickly was promoted to the position of head coach at NXT, but his career crumbled around him in mid 2015 amidst dozens of bullying allegations from current and former trainees.
DeMott’s bullying seemed mostly relegated to name calling and insults, with a proclivity for homophobic, racist, and misogynistic slurs. DeMott was also involved in an incident where several trainees stripped naked in the ring and performed stink faces on each other to get out of training, which while not exactly his fault, shows he had virtually no control over his job. DeMott publicly resigned in 2015 “to avoid any embarrassment or damage” to WWE. He has since been replaced by former superstar Jason Albert, and there have been no signs from WWE they would ever even consider a reconciliation.
8. Cody Barbieri
Cody Barbieri was the Social Media Manager for WWE in 2014, and made headlines when he was responsible for getting Alberto Del Rio fired after Del Rio slapped him for making racist comments. Del Rio was fired on August 7, and either earlier that day or shortly beforehand, Barbieri made a racist comment to Del Rio about how Del Rio’s job was bussing Barbieri’s food tray. Del Rio was extremely offended by this insult to his race, and although his offense was reasonable, he perhaps took things too far by slapping Barbieri once he refused to apologize. The incident and decision to fire Del Rio brought WWE a high level of controversy, with most people feeling the racist should at least take some of the blame.
It was only two months later that Barbieri and WWE parted ways. The exact terms of his departure haven’t been made public, but it’s pretty easy to put two and two together on this one. Siding with a racist for any period of time is pretty darn shameful, and having the press and fans calling them out for it eventually must have made WWE realize their error in doing so. Even within WWE, most wrestlers were reported to be siding with Del Rio, but Stephanie McMahon was close with Barbieri, which saved his job for a short while.
7. John Gaburick
Fans of the first few seasons of Tough Enough remember “Big” John Gaburick as one of the producers of that show, and he eventually rose all the way up to the role of WWE Vice President of Television Production. In this role, Gaburick had a huge influence on the general layout and look of all WWE programming, and he shared this influence alongside the current WWE Executive Vice President of Television Production, Kevin Dunn. Virtually everyone on this list has some story about how Dunn has always been Vince’s right hand man, and that clashes with producers and writers alike, but somehow Big John became good friends with Kevin Dunn, up until a certain point.
Somewhere in 2013, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon began a corporate overhaul of certain longtime executive positions within WWE. It was reported as the company “changing landscape,” and Gaburick was one of the many victims of the mass firings. Even insiders were surprised at first, assuming that Gaburick’s relationship with Dunn would have saved him from losing his job. This was explained away when it was later reported that Dunn and Gaburick had some kind of change in their relationship that actually meant Dunn was the one trying to get Gaburick out. Apparently, Dunn didn’t like the fact Gaburick was getting promoted to a position almost equal to his, and got him fired as a result. Gaburick now works for Total Nonstop Action.
6. Kevin Marshall
Kevin Marshall is a stand-up comedian who for a short time served as a member of the WWE creative team in 2014. Marshall didn’t necessarily aspire to work for WWE, and didn’t even know he was applying for the position when he was hired. He applied to be a “digital writer,” a position he assumed meant would involve the web site and social media for the company. He ended up hired as a writer, but didn’t last long, and would later explain in detail his various problems with the infrastructure of the company to The Wrestling Observer Newsletter and in various other interviews.
According to Marshall, the main problem with WWE and their writing process is the fact Vince McMahon “micromanages everything to death.” Due to this micromanagement, shows that were carefully crafted by the writers weeks in advance were regularly thrown out and rewritten by Vince at the last second, destroying their work. After Marshall spoke out, there were rumors WWE attorneys were looking into his contract to see if he may have violated his confidentiality agreement by disclosing too much news about their hiring process. The rumors didn’t seem to go anywhere, but it’s a sure bet WWE doesn’t want any part of Marshall’s tenure coming up as a result of them.
5. Dr. George Zahorian
George Zahorian was proven in a court of law not to officially work for WWE on a long term capacity, but he was an unofficial member of the family who all of the wrestlers had a personal relationship with in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Zahorian was a urologist in Pennsylvania who came to national attention when it was revealed he was distributing steroids to virtually all of the wrestlers working for WWE. In 1993, the New York District Attorney charged McMahon with distributing steroids as well, under the assumption Zahorian was a paid employee of WWE Vince was sending the wrestlers to.
Zahorian did, however, work for WWE for a short while as a state-appointed ringside physician. Most medical staff are provided by WWE themselves at this point, and even more are probably kayfabe for that matter, but in the 80’s and earlier when wrestling was still viewed as an athletic contest, actual doctors had to be present for all matches. It wasn’t a one time thing for Zahorian either, as there was a period throughout the 80’s when he was the doctor-on-call to fulfill this need. The court eventually decided Zahorian wasn’t officially supplying the wrestlers steroids on WWE’s corporate dime, but evidence showed that in the very least, WWE was aware he was distributing their employees drugs, and the company didn’t see any reason to stop it.
4. Jerry Jarrett
Jerry Jarrett is the father of Jeff Jarrett, and fans of that family in general know how important they both are to wrestling history. The two founded Total Nonstop Action together in 2002, but Jerry had been a promoter for decades before his son was even born. Jarrett worked in Memphis as Jerry Lawler’s partner during the most successful period in that territory’s history, with Jarrett being the one who first agreed to the idea of legendary comedian Andy Kaufman appearing in an actual wrestling ring. Jarrett later took over some level of control over World Class Championship Wrestling as well, and would be the integral figure in merging the two companies to form the United States Wrestling Association in the late 80’s.
Jarrett’s involvement with WWE didn’t last long and ultimately wasn’t that important, but it could have been something that changed the company forever had things only been slightly different. When Vince McMahon was under indictment by the federal government for allegedly distributing steroids, Jarrett claims Vince called him and told him that while there were plenty of great employees in WWE, none of them knew how to run a wrestling company like Jarrett. Worried about going to jail, Vince invited Jarrett into WWE to a high level executive position from the start, and groomed him to take over should Vince get convicted. Jarrett left shortly after Vince was acquitted. Both the embarrassment of remembering the lowest point in his life and Jarrett’s later career endeavors probably mean Vince doesn’t like to think about him that much, and he certainly doesn’t like to admit how close Jarrett may have been to owning his company.
3. Vince Russo
Vince Russo is almost without question the most controversial professional wrestling writer not named McMahon. Russo wrote for WWE throughout the 90’s, eventually ascending to the position of head writer during the Attitude Era. As a result, Russo has been varyingly given credit or outright ignored for the success of WWE during their most profitable period. Russo was in charge of the writing when WWE finally started to fight back against WCW and turn the tide of the wrestling world once again, but this was also a period when wrestlers were given freedom to be themselves, and most pundits argue the characters the wrestlers were playing is what made the company a smashing success, not Russo’s influence.
The feeling Russo may not have been so important became powerfully widespread when he jumped to WCW in October of 1999 and almost immediately destroyed the company. While some other writers on this list have claimed WWE’s big failure as a television show is their inability to book more than one week at a time, but Russo seemed unable to book more than five minutes at a time, taking his “Crash TV” concept to an extreme once he started working for Turner. Russo is at the center for nearly all of the lowest points in WCW history, including making David Arquette and himself World Heavyweight Champions, and publicly firing Hulk Hogan at Bash during the Beach 2000. Russo has since had one more short run with WWE which was highly criticized and lead to him getting fired almost instantly, and has worked with Total Nonstop Action on and off since that company was founded in 2002.
2. Mel Phillips
Mel Phillips wasn’t literally behind-the-scenes in his longtime role with WWE, but he was at least behind the camera. Phillips sat at ringside for years as ring announcer for virtually every WWE match during his tenure with the company. Phillips played a very minor, but noteworthy and integral role in major events, including WrestleMania III. He was also one of the three people in the center of the sexual harassment scandal that rocked WWE in 1992.
Former ring crew worker Tom Cole came forward with accusations about Phillips and road agent Terry Garvin (more on him later) acting sexually inappropriate with him when he was as young as 15 years old. In future interviews with magazines and on an infamous episode of Donahue, Cole claimed that Phillips in particular would wrestle with him and put him in holds that gave Phillips access to sexually play with his feet in a manner Cole found extremely uncomfortable. Cole may not have been Phillips’ only victim, as a subsequent lawsuit from an unnamed plaintiff has required WWE to remove all images of him from their future releases. This has affected the DVD and Network versions of the biggest shows in history, so Vince obviously wants Mel Phillips gone from his company for good.
1. Terry Garvin
Terry Garvin was a regionally successful wrestler during the 60’s and 70’s, often teaming with his fake brother, future NWA World Heavyweight Champion “Rugged” Ron Garvin. Garvin retired from the ring in the early 80’s and started working behind-the-scenes for the NWA territory in Kansas, and it wasn’t long before his skills as an agent were known by every wrestling promoter in the world. This was the same time Vince McMahon was stealing all the greatest wrestlers in the world en route to going national, so it made perfect sense for him to steal the best road agents, as well, and he hired Terry Garvin in 1985.
Garvin was good friends with Pat Patterson, and as a matter of coincidence, both men were openly gay. The friendship might have helped Garvin get his job, but their coincidentally shared homosexuality nearly cost Patterson his. In 1992, several former WWE employees including wrestler Barry O spoke out about sexual harassment from Garvin and the aforementioned Mel Phillips. Patterson was implicated with them due to his sexuality and closeness to the two, but all known claims against him were later proved to be completely false. The complaints against Garvin and Phillips were completely real, though, and memories of the lowest point in company history are obviously something Vince wants to erase. The fact Vince has stood by Patterson all this time should only sharpen this resolve, to prevent further associating his loyal employee and friend with the incident.