Never a dull moment in the world of pro wrestling; what makes it all so unique is the constant buzz surrounding the entire world of sports and entertainment, whether it be from rumors, signings or news.
Another constantly searched aspect by fans is kayfabe comments made by wrestlers regarding their peers behind the scenes. Wrestling fans love to take off the blanket from backstage and really find out what the situation is like with certain performers.
Times have in fact changed today, as the scene backstage is absolutely professional with limited controversies, though this wasn’t always the case especially during the Attitude Era which was as entertaining behind the scenes as it was in the ring.
In this article, we document some controversial statements revealed by former wrestlers regarding their peers. Some are lighter than others, but still worth a read. Topics vary from bullying to dealing with creative writers. These confessions are pretty surprising and definitely worth a read for any type of wrestling fan. Let’s take a leap behind the scenes and find out some shocking confessions made by wrestlers regarding their peers. Enjoy!
15. Ahmed Johnson: Stone Cold Was Racist
Although both their careers ultimately went in different directions, 1996 was a huge year for both wrestlers. That year, The King of the Ring was a huge breakout PPV for both Superstars; Ahmed Johnson claimed the Intercontinental Championship from Goldust becoming the first ever African American IC Champ, while Austin won the KOTR tournament and launched his 3:16 Era. Following the event both wrestlers were labelled for huge things and scheduled to be future main eventers for the company.
This all leads us to Ahmed’s shoot. Following his biggest career victory Ahmed found a note on his car that said “congratulations n*****”. Johnson can’t confirm who it was but said that fans told him they saw Steve put the note on his windshield. This did not surprise Ahmed, who said Austin was racist with several of the talent behind the scenes, although Johnson said nothing was ever said to him.
14. Simon Dean: Criticizes DeMott As A Trainer Before His Release
WWE went through several developmental changes over the last couple of years. Back in 2004, the development was under the label of Deep South Wrestler lead by Bill DeMott. Wrestlers were irate with DeMott’s tactics, and huge Indie star Kenny Omega was one of those guys who left the territory because of Bill’s treatment towards the talent. Soon after, the company released Bill in 2007, and he was replaced by Tom Prichard.
This is where things got weird. In 2011 the company would re-sign DeMott as the head trainer for FCW and gave him a spot on the Tough Enough show. This angered several former wrestlers, including Simon Dean, who was horrified by the decision and absolutely baffled as to how DeMott was reinstated by the company after doing such a poor job initially.
13. Val Venis: The Writers Don’t Care About Wrestler Pitches
Val Venis played a pivotal role during the Attitude Era providing the company with an edgy, mid-card persona. Throughout the years it was crucial for Val to keep things fresh and he did so for a certain amount of time, bouncing around some new gimmicks which included a member of Right To Censor, A World Tag Team Champion, and the Chief of Staff under Eric Bischoff.
Following these character portrayals, Venis started to subside and became a glorified jobber before leaving the company. In large part, Val targeted the creative team for his demise claiming they’d listen to wrestlers but ultimately it would go in one ear and out the other. The Canadian stated that if it wasn’t their idea, they just weren’t interested. This is a recurring theme we’ve heard from several former WWE stars, including the recently released Cody Rhodes, who also talked about his differences with the creative team.
Venis did however praise Stephanie for her involvement as a creative writer. Morley discussed how Steph was the only creative head that actually got excited about ideas and legitimately tried to help performers as much as possible by actually listening to their ideas.
12. Jerry Lawler: Breaking Heyman’s Jaw
Before finding a job with World Championship Wrestling in 1988, Paul Heyman bounced around the Indie scene trying to find his place in the world of pro wrestling. Bam Bam Bigelow helped bring Paul to Memphis, which was dominated by Jerry Lawler at the time. Heyman became a prominent manager and unleashed his gimmick as Paul E. Dangerously, a New York based character that carried a phone with him constantly, it was basically a replica of his actual self.
During his time Heyman rubbed some people the wrong way (including Jerry Lawler). One night, The King had enough and broke Paul’s jaw. In a shoot, Lawler claimed it may or may not have been an accident. The two clashed several times behind the scenes when Jerry was working as a booker. Heyman wasn’t too keen on some of Jerry’s ideas while Lawler was upset at the fact that he needed to please a manager. The two had quite the beef. Eventually Paul left for WCW and later began the legendary ECW brand.
11. Scott Steiner: Hogan Hurt Bret’s WCW Run
Bret’s WCW run was ultimately a massive fail; had things worked out differently with the Hitman, maybe the WCW promotion could have had a fighting chance. Several wrestling personalities were very critical of Hart’s WCW involvement (including Eric Bischoff who admitted the company didn’t get what they paid for when Bret joined the company). Eric pinpointed Bret’s state of mind as just never being fully invested into the company.
Scott Steiner actually took things a step further during a shoot interview blaming Hogan for Hart’s failed run. According to Scott, Hogan and Bret still had some major heat from their WWE days, so this ultimately hurt Bret as Hulk apparently tried to bury Bret once he came to WCW.
The proof was essentially in the pudding; when Bret came over to the company they kept Hogan as the front-runner while Hart bounced around some silly ideas early on. Looking at Hulk’s previous track record, this was all a strong possibility.
10. Hulk Hogan: Harley Race Pulled Out A Gun On Him
Back in the 80s the wrestling scene was quite territorial. Each promotion had their very own home for the most part. The WWE was unique and would often tour, and at one point they took a left turn into Harley Race’s neck of the woods which infuriated the Hall of Famer. If you know some old school Harley tales, you’re well aware that the guy has no filter.
So, the story goes that Harley showed up to the event claiming he was going to set the ring on fire which frightened several staff members. He also told some wrestlers he was looking for Hogan and proceeded to show them a gun. Once Hulk heard about this he immediately fled the scene.
Race would eventually find Hogan and pull a gun on him, claiming he’d blow off his knee caps! Race then extended his hand and told Hulk he was just messing around and wanted to join forces with him as a member of the WWE. Hogan put in a good word for him and in May of 1986, Harley would join the WWE as “Handsome” Harley Race.
9. Mark Henry & Chris Jericho: Backstage Politics Were Awful At One Point
One of the biggest differences from today’s product is the level of professionalism behind the scenes. In today’s climate, the Superstars are extremely business-like and are more of a unit than ever before.
Chris Jericho and Mark Henry have been around long enough to see both sides of the coin. It wasn’t always the case though, especially during the Attitude Era which saw a locker room of groups including the Kliq, the BFK and the Puerto Rican Crew. This caused massive hostility behind the scenes, so much so that wrestlers were in actual danger in several instances. Henry recalls Superstars messing with The Rock in particular. Not only did Rocky almost get jumped by some of his former co-workers, but they would also leave some disturbing feces in his food from time to time. The locker room area itself was also divided with certain big time stars getting their own dressing rooms, like Bret Hart for example.
8. Rikishi: JR Didn’t Like Heavy People
Former WWE star Rikishi, flopped around through some terrible ideas while a part of the WWE umbrella. His involvement with the Headshrinkers and his gimmick as The Sultan, were rather forgettable to say the least. Let’s not forget his other failed persona known as “Make a Difference”, which was like a rip off of a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air character. He would finally strike gold as Rikishi, winning the IC Championship at one point. He even got promoted to main event status alongside The Rock, for a brief period.
Despite all his success, Rikishi went on the record to bash Jim Ross and the negative effect the former commentator had on his career. According to Fatu, JR strongly disliked the prototypical “heavier guy”. Rikishi claimed that most heavy wrestlers got similar treatment, like Bubba for example, who was also neglected and critiqued by Jim Ross at various points. Fatu ultimately blamed Jim for his eventual demise within the company.
7. Matt Striker: Kurt Angle Was An Animal
Matt Striker got his first big break with the WWE when he wrestled Kurt Angle on Raw as a part of the Angle Invitational, in February of 2005. The match itself and his real life job as a teacher eventually blew on mainstream media, and it paved the way for Striker to endure a solid WWE career.
The backstory to all of this is absolutely fascinating. Before the match Angle met Striker and was rather blunt with him, threatening to really injure him in the ring if Matt wasn’t aggressive enough. In animal-like fashion, Angle told Striker to really hit him hard during the match. A nervous Matt did what he was told and the two had a barbaric slugfest filled with some stiff shots.
The finish was ultimately improvised as the two ran out of time and Angle made Striker tap out at the very last second. This was not part of the script as Kurt lost track of time. When the two headed backstage, McMahon ripped his headset off, turned dark red and said, “now that’s good f***** TV!”.
6. The Godfather: Triple H Was A Student Of The Game From Day One
Following his stint with WCW, Triple H made his way to the WWE in 1995 as Paul Levesque, which was later changed to Hunter Hearse Helmsley. A little known fact was that Hunter was actually extremely unpopular once he came into the WWE behind the scenes. Other wrestlers didn’t like him and he was alone for the better part of his debut behind the scenes before he finally aligned with The Kliq.
According to The Godfather, while Hunter was alone he spent the bulk of his time assessing every match and studying the art of pro wrestling intensely from behind the scenes. According to the former IC Champ, he was a student of the game from day one when he stepped foot inside a WWE ring. Godfather says that the difference with Hunter and everyone else (including himself) was that while others were partying and having fun, Triple H was constantly at work, and this ultimately separated him from the herd and let him to the position he is today. You see kids, hard works pays off!
5. Ken Shamrock: Shawn Wasn’t As Bad As People Said He Was
Ken Shamrock entered the mix on February 24th, 1997, making his Raw debut. When he burst onto the scene, Michaels was the face of the company just having reclaimed the WWE Title against Sycho Sid at the 97’ Royal Rumble.
Several former WWE wrestlers referred to Shawn as cocky, arrogant and a pretty terrible person to deal with in general. Michaels admitted himself he was in a dark place and his ego didn’t help things one bit. Ken Shamrock actually went against what most people had to say about Shawn and praised HBK. Ken discussed the fact that Michaels was very helpful with him and put Shamrock over in many bouts making him look great in the process, something Shawn really did not have to do at the time considering how up the ranks he was at that point. So hey, maybe Shawn wasn’t really all that bad…
4. Ivory: Stephanie Changed
Stephanie McMahon officially burst onto the scene in 99’ when Vince Russo requested to have her work in an on-screen role with the company. She began working as a marginal character and later blew up to be one of the biggest heels in all of the company in a really short amount of time.
Behind the scenes Ivory was very critical of Stephanie’s rise to power. The former Women’s Champion made the claim that Steph was a joy to be around when she first entered the fold but later became cold once she rose to power on-air and later behind the scenes as a major creative head.
To sum it up, Ivory stated that Stephanie changed into a “product of the environment” and called it a shame to see her change the way she did. Ivory’s comments are rather debatable; you’d certainly expect Stephanie to change her ways significantly as she gets pegged with a new position. Then again, Ivory is notorious for going on and on about various Superstars, so her comments really should not come as a surprise.
3. Hardcore Holly: Stone Cold Changed
Similar to Ivory’s comments made about Stephanie, Hardcore Holly was also very critical about Steve Austin’s rise to power during the Attitude Era. Holly sounds rather bitter when speaking about Stone Cold, but does make some interesting points worth discussing.
According to Bob, Austin changed in more ways than one once he rose to power. Austin went from riding with Holly and Billy Gunn from show to show and eventually leaving them for upper tier wrestlers. Holly stated that it was like he and Gunn “no longer existed”.
He took things a step further claiming once Austin became the face of the company it was like he knew everything all of a sudden and would not listen to a single person any longer. Holly might have a case with that statement, as Steve was notorious for shooting down ideas like putting certain wrestlers over (Brock Lesnar and Triple H are a pair of Superstars that immediately come to mind). Morale of the story, power can change people.
2. Bruce Prichard: The Rock & Triple H Hated Each Other
According to various sources and countless stories, the Attitude Era was as entertaining behind the scenes as it was in the ring. Pranks were a routine and competition was heated amongst the Superstars behind the scenes more so than any other era of pro wrestling.
Two wrestlers that were massive rivals at one point in time was The Rock and Triple H. It’s hard to believe that now, as the two are great friends but during the Attitude Era that couldn’t be further from the truth.
According to Bruce Prichard it was a battle for supremacy. Things got sour when Hunter would get off script insulting Rocky while Dwayne was forced to constantly follow a script which infuriated him. Eventually, the wheels came off and the insults in the ring were quite legit between the two that flat out did not like each other. Prichard credits their brilliant in-ring chemistry together based on the fact that it was actually real.
1. Paul Heyman: Daniel Bryan Ruined Roman Reigns
No doubt about it, Paul Heyman is one of the greatest wrestling minds of today, so when he talks we listen. His take on Roman Reigns is rather interesting and certainly gives fans some food for thought.
Like on television, Heyman discussed Roman legitimately being the “right guy, in the right place, at the wrong time”. Paul elaborated on this statement saying that Roman had all the momentum in world which was squandered by one announcement, the return of Daniel Bryan to the Royal Rumble match.
A babyface like Daniel seems to be over no matter what the case may be. This hurt Roman and caused the fans to resent him because of Daniel’s return and immediate exit. Had it not been for Bryan, Reigns would have been the fans’ choice but that was all derailed because of a terrible booking decision which can in fact still be haunting Roman to this day.