The world is filled with fevered egos, and nowhere is that more true than in WWE and professional wrestling. The wins and losses seen on screen are scripted, and the characters being portrayed are just that, but that doesn’t mean the people portraying those winning characters don’t let the success go to their heads. In fact, some wrestlers have been unclear about their place in wrestling history from the very start, and have built friendships and surrounded themselves with yes men who ensure their unrealistic standing is at least reinforced by everyone around them. The McMahon family is probably the guiltiest of this of all, and anybody who manages to get near them is likely to follow their path.
WWE hasn’t always been complicit in building these egos, but they’ve always had the power to shut them down a bit. It’s extremely unlike in a few situations, but WWE could always have a character beaten down and embarrassed on TV, which at least would be a start in chipping down their massive egos. They could also fire, demote, or refuse to promote wrestlers that particularly overstep their bounds as far as self-image is concerned. Of course, a good part of how their egos were able to get so out of control has been managing to end up in positions of power of their own, not to mention the fact some of the most outrageous egos in the wrestling world belong to the McMahon family themselves. Keep reading to discover which 15 wrestlers’ sense of worth are completely out of control in our list of wrestlers we can’t wait for WWE to break down.
15. Charlotte Flair
Charlotte is the face of the WWE women’s division, and she’s definitely a talented wrestler with an incredible family legacy. Her father Ric is a huge part of that, and regardless of what he does these days, fans will always remember him as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. However, with WWE boasting about a revolution of women’s wrestling, and currently having more talented female wrestlers on their roster than they ever had, the incredible focus on Charlotte is getting a little unnerving and starting to feel like nepotism. Charlotte has dominated the division since September 20, 2015, and though she’s finally left her father behind, her character remains a huge problem with the division.
The fact Charlotte is at least talented a wrestler is the only thing that prevents us from criticizing her too harshly, but quite frankly, she’s not good enough to dominate the division on the level she does. With potential opponents like Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Bayley when she’s finally called to the main roster, it doesn’t make sense why Charlotte is thus far the only WWE Women’s Champion since the belt has been reintroduced. The fact she relied on her father until very recently only hurt things further, since Charlotte is one of the few wrestlers on this list who could have the talent necessary to rise above whatever people think about her ego.
14. John Bradshaw Layfield
John Bradshaw Layfield is a former WWE World Heavyweight and World Tag Team Champion who has been the color commentator for both Raw and major WWE events since 2012. Both of these facts were controversial in the first place due to John’s low standing in the company until he suddenly became champion, and they’re only made worse by the perception by most fans that he’s a loudmouthed bully who doesn’t add anything but negativity to the product in the first place. Layfield’s main job seems to be mocking the wrestlers for daring to stand out and making extremely mean jokes at the expense of his co-broadcaster, Byron Allen.
Because JBL doesn’t get in the ring anymore, it might be harder to humble him, but considering his actions in the past, he’s the only who might need a humbling the most. JBL has been accused both of indirectly and outright bullying Mark Henry, Rene Dupree, The Blue Meanie, Chris Masters, Billy Silverman, The Miz, Palmer Cannon, and Joey Styles, to only name those who have spoken up about his actions. The fact he still gets to sit at ringside and treat himself like an expert on the sport thanks to his one lengthy title reign that took place during the same era that saw endless fans tune out after becoming fans during the days of The Rock and Steve Austin.
13. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns was suspended for his first violation of the WWE Wellness Policy on June 21, 2016. Chances are Roman will start to get de-pushed after returning from his suspension, and fans can’t wait, considering how violently they’ve been reacting to the push Roman received up until his mistake. Reigns is a 3-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and WWE presented him as a virtuous underdog clawing for his spot on his journey to becoming that. In reality, though, Reigns was the chosen one from the start, and fans have hated watching him fail to grow and expand as a wrestler while he settles further and further into that position.
Reigns is booed out of the building nearly every time he appears, but somehow he still has it in his head he has legions of fans who support his career. When addressed with criticism, Reigns claimed that WWE is a kids’ show, and it’s not his job to make grown men like him. Statements like this are probably things he shouldn’t be saying, especially when adult fans are leaving in droves thanks to his time on top of the company. Time will tell if the suspension was enough to knock him down to reality and turn him into a more relatable and less abrasive personality.
12. Bret Hart
Bret Hart spent so many years calling himself “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be,” that he clearly started to believe no one would ever be as good as him. There’s no denying The Excellence of Execution is one of the greatest wrestlers and WWE World Champions in history, but his rose colored glasses are so colorful at times, it’s hard to imagine he lives in the same version of reality as the rest of us. Bret is a great wrestler and everybody who watches wrestling knows it, but very few people have actually been physically moved to tears by watching his or anyone’s matches. If you were to ask Bret, fans regularly bawled their eyes out in joy and respect after watching his matches, and that simply didn’t happen anywhere in reality.
On one of his DVDs in particular, Bret relates stories of random fans approaching him during his feud with Owen to cry with him and talk about how strongly the story affected his life. Considering Bret is retired and has recently experienced some health problems, its unlikely WWE will do anything to knock him down a peg. The one chance they may have would be continuing to bury him through his niece, Natalya.
11. The Bella Twins
Brie Bella is semi-retired, and Nikki Bella is currently recovering from an injury, but their status as the stars of Total Divas and the upcoming Total Bellas probably means the twins’ egos are probably pretty safe as far as WWE is concerned. Nikki will also forever be on record as the longest reigning WWE Diva’s Champion, as that title has been abandoned after her record setting 301-day run with the title. Nikki has been dating John Cena for the past several years, and Brie has been married to Daniel Bryan since 2014. Considering their high profile relationships, although the Bella Twins don’t enter the ring much these days, they still get considered some of the best female wrestlers in WWE history whenever they come up.
The reality is, the Bella Twins aren’t necessarily bad, but they aren’t anywhere near the talent level of the new batch of female wrestlers in WWE, either. Especially considering Nikki’s record setting title reign was concurrent with the so-called rise of the Diva’s Revolution and only seemed to prove egos and nepotism were running the women’s division just like those concepts had been controlling men’s wrestling for decades. By starring in Total Divas, they only manage to cheapen the women’s division overall, celebrating an outdated terminology that denigrates and trivializes female wrestling in general.
10. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is the biggest mainstream draws in WWE today, and therefore it makes sense he’s one of the highest paid. Unfortunately for WWE and Lesnar’s fans, he also has one of the most unique contracts in wrestling, which allows him to keep his status as one of the top paid superstars in wrestling, while also barely ever stepping into the ring. Lesnar only wrestles a handful of matches per year, usually only on Pay-Per-Views and Network specials, and he only even appears on the episodes of Raw and SmackDown immediately preceding his more important matches.
It’s hard to argue with WWE in their decision to treat Lesnar the way they do, but that hasn’t stopped fans from trying their best to complain. Lesnar is a freak of nature and a singular talent, but by spending all his time in outside pursuits, fans feel he’s wasting the television time that could be going to full-time wrestlers. Lesnar also seems to have a very high opinion of his own talents, feeling he earns every dollar he makes, and is not looking to wrestle or make more appearances of any kind unless he makes the money he feels he deserves for it. WWE could fix that by offering him a lot less money in the first place, but it seems unlikely they’ll ever do so.
9. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin is a WWE Hall of Famer and the highest money-drawing superstar of all time relative to the number of years he spent on top of the sport. Austin is also known for being pretty down to Earth and approachable for a superstar of his fame, and his ego is definitely less out of control than everyone else on this list. However, WWE still needs to stop treating him exclusively like a legend who can do no wrong, especially considering he’s been arrested for real on multiple occasions, once for physically assaulting his wife.
WWE never really acknowledged Austin’s status as a domestic abuser, and continue to treat him as a highly respected legend for years after the incidents occurred. Instead of ever trying to denigrate Austin or remind the world of his crimes, WWE has decided to snub his former wife, Debra, who used to manage Austin and others in WWE and WCW. On one level, Austin’s problems are wildly different from all of the others on the list, and his ego might not be unrealistically large or anything, but WWE still need to stop treating a spousal abuser with such unmitigated respect. In the very least, they could probably stop promoting his podcast and outside efforts now that he’s so far away from wrestling.
8. Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash has been retired for several years and is slowly settling into understanding his place in the wrestling industry, but he still makes some comments that make it seem like his ego is out of control. Nash was WWE World Champion for nearly a full year from late 1994 to late 1995, and until recently, his time as champion was infamous for being the lowest rated and lowest drawing era in WWE history. Nash also held the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on several occasions, and his time with that title in inexorably linked with some of the lowest moments in WCW history.
Despite dragging entire companies down every time he gets anywhere near the top, Nash is seen as a legend and is currently a WWE Hall of Famer. It doesn’t hurt that one of his best friends throughout his entire career has been Triple H, who is now in a cushy executive position with WWE and has been doing his best to keep his friends in the spotlight well past their expiration date as wrestlers. Nash is one of the few people on this list who may have actually managed to humble himself during his final run in wrestling, when he admitted he just wasn’t capable of doing the things in the ring he wanted to and was able to do maybe 10 years earlier.
7. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels is another highly controversial superstar who will likely never get any kind of comeuppance on television thanks to his relationship with Triple H. Michaels isn’t just best friends with The Game, but he’s had a close and powerful relationship with Vince McMahon for the past several decades, as well. Michaels is unquestionably one of the most charismatic and bombastic WWE World Heavyweight Champions in history, but especially now that his career is over, he needs to stop appearing on television in dominant roles.
Michaels’ latest appearance in WWE was at WrestleMania 32, where he easily beat up both The League of Nations and The New Day with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Mick Foley. Austin at least still makes some appearances with the company on the WWE Network, but there was no reason at all for Michaels or Foley to be their other than to put themselves over and further bury the current talent that is starting to take his place. Michaels has made a great deal of personal growth over the years and his ego has been relaxing for the past decade, but moves like this show WWE is still willing to feed it and keep it alive well past Michaels’ usefulness as a wrestler.
6. The Undertaker
The Undertaker is an enigma and one of the most original and enduring wrestling characters of all time. As ageless and timeless as he may seem thanks to over 26 years in WWE, the reality is, The Undertaker is over 50 years old and clearly not as capable in the ring as he was only a few years ago. He remains one of the highest paid superstars in WWE, but he only wrestles a handful of matches per year, usually at WrestleMania and Survivor Series, and his matches don’t have much to do with the long-term direction of WWE.
Undertaker’s latest return was for a ego-stroking disaster called Hell in a Cell against Shane McMahon, only a few years after he had some ego-stroking masterpieces against Triple H and Shawn Michaels. The trend here is as obvious as it is proof The Undertaker just needs to go now that the good matches are gone and all that’s left is the boost to his own ego by increasing the number in his WrestleMania win column. Especially now that his opponents are the caliber of Shane McMahon, and therefore truly couldn’t benefit anybody who regularly wrestles regardless of the outcome, it’s time for The Undertaker to hang up the cloak and cowboy hat, or at least for WWE to beg him to.
5. The Rock
The Rock has transcended wrestling and become a full-blown movie and TV star with endless film appearances and his own sitcom, Ballers. While he wrestled, he was an 8-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion and most fans would agree with him when he called himself The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment. The problem is that The Great One can’t have it both ways, but WWE does everything they can to bend over backward and make it seem like he can whenever he’s willing to make an appearance in the ring.
Were The Rock still a full-time wrestler, he could probably still go in the ring and there wouldn’t be any problem with treating him like the biggest star on the planet. Even as it is, he IS the most mainstream star WWE has ever produced, so it’s hard to blame them too harshly for siphoning his fame at every opportunity they have. However, having him beat up regular wrestlers and easily destroy superstars like The Wyatt Family under the precipice of “putting them over” by the mere honor of being in the ring with him, as he did at WrestleMania 32, causes fans to resent The Rock and his status as a part-timer only interested in making himself look good.
4. John Cena
John Cena likes to present himself as the most humble, down-to-Earth guy in human history, who is totally affable and ambivalent towards anything that comes his way, because he’s just such a good person. WWE has likewise done everything in their power to spread this image and prove to wrestling fans around the world that it’s true, and Cena is just the friendliest, most charismatic wrestler in the world today, regardless of what some of the most vocal portions of the audience have been saying about him for years. Roman Reigns is hardly the first face to get booed nonstop, as Cena has been hearing fans hate him for almost a full decade now while still getting pushed as the smiling babyface for whom nothing can ever go wrong.
Cena connects with children and his positive “Never Give Up” message is in line with his company’s positive anti-bullying message, but the fact of the matter is that makes for a pretty dull wrestling character. Cena’s ego may actually be the most in control of anyone on this list, but the way WWE treats him could easily get to his head and get him to start believing his own hype pretty fast. WWE probably can’t do anything about Cena’s ego at this point, either, since he might be the only truly viable full-time wrestling star they have left.
3. Triple H
Every wrestler on this list has had a small but existent chance of having their ego ripped to shreds until we got to our top three. The three biggest egos in WWE that need to be destroyed the most are also the three people with the most power in the company, and the first name on that shortlist is Triple H. Triple H married into the McMahon family in 2003, but his ego was already well out of control for at least a few years prior to that while his relationship with Stephanie McMahon progressed. Triple H went on to become a 14-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion and one of the most hated heels in wrestling history, and never once has it been truly admitted this is only a result of his wife’s influence.
WWE tries to paint the narrative Triple H is truly “that damn good,” and deserves every second of success he’s achieved, but fans have loudly been feeling the opposite since as early as 2002. Triple H’s first few title reigns were fine, but ever since the World Heavyweight Championship was invented solely to appease his ego, there’s been a downward spiral within the entire wrestling business thanks to Hunter’s inability to make himself look weak. Careers have been ruined, stories have been rewritten thanks to crowd response, and endless superstars were prevented from breaking through at the peak of their potential for fear it could ultimately hurt Triple H. But really, he’s alone isn’t to blame…
2. Stephanie McMahon
Stephanie McMahon is a minority owner and Chief Brand Officer of WWE thanks to her father, Vince McMahon. She has worked with the company since she was a teenager, and is poised to one day take her father’s place as the leader of the wrestling universe should anything happen to him. Stephanie has stepped in the ring on a few occasions like most of her family, but her recent status as the figurehead authority figure within the company combined with the dicey politics of a man hitting a woman, even in the context of a wrestling show, has put her in a difficult to deal with situation.
We aren’t saying Stephanie needs to get beat up by a wrestler, but fans around the world know the extent of power she has over them on television is disproportionate to the extent of futility. Especially since taking over as the head of the onscreen Authority, Stephanie has insulted, slapped, and even been accused of emasculating virtually every major male wrestler on the roster, with no real end game in sight. The only thing achieved from the many segments where she belittles and abuses her talent is the feeling she’s truly a bad leader who doesn’t like her fans, which only works in wrestling if the bad person eventually gets their comeuppance. However, nobody wants to see a muscle-bound man beat up a woman regardless of the circumstance, so her comeuppance will never happen, and wrestlers will keep looking bad at her expense.
1. Vince McMahon
There’s a small chance Vince could get mad at any of these wrestlers and decide to surgically remove their egos for them, and given his family reputation, he might even do that to his daughter, too. But is there any chance the CEO of WWE could tear down his own ego? No chance in hell.
McMahon has ruled the wrestling industry with an iron fist since he took WWE national and became the biggest game in town back in the mid-80’s. He’s had his rivals and he’s been beaten down a few times, but Vince and WWE always managed to fight their way back to the top. While he can occasionally admit that it hasn’t all been roses, Vince has a peculiar way of looking at history that ignores the many, many wrestlers and personalities who helped him and his company become what they are today in order to take all of the credit solely for himself.
Vince has made himself look stupid plenty of times, and is better at acknowledging his faults than the others on this list, but his manner of doing so isn’t exactly humble. Vince admits he isn’t perfect, but the people calling him imperfect are always presented as much worse, and anyone who would dare challenge him or wrestling is cast-off as a bully who doesn’t understand a private businessman’s attempt to succeed in a crazy business. Fans know that’s crazy, though, since Vince is anything but a small private businessman trying to scrape by; he’s a media mogul in charge of a monopoly. On top of that, thousands of people helped him build that monopoly, as it was hardly a one-man show. Until Vince is able to admit this to himself and the fans, chances are the egos on this list will continue to grow and grow, and what that means for WWE’s corporate structure is still to be seen.