If you’re one to read the dirtsheets – and since you’re reading this it’s safe to say you are – you’re probably aware of the longstanding rumors of a secret homosexual subculture in WWE (and wrestling altogether). From the beginning of the 1980s onwards, there have been rumblings of homosexual relationships between top stars and the big players behind the screens. Several former superstars (who were admittedly a little disgruntled) have alluded to a love affair between “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon during the 1990s. Current WWE employees Darren Young and Pat Patterson are both gay men, and Patterson is one of the longest tenured employees in company history, -so it doesn’t seem that being gay is really that much of an issue in WWE.
While the company as a whole is clearly a supporter of the LGBTQ community (their recent demonstrations to show solidarity with the victims of the Orlando shooting is a testament to this), there have been a number of performers and officials who have not been as open-minded.
Some have been accused of homophobic antics backstage, while others have used a homophobic slur online only to be made into a wider issue by the Internet’s most vocal users. Some, however, have been steadfast in their disapproval of the gay community and even in 2016, stand by their traditional values. A lot of these comments aren’t all that surprising when you think about it, but there are some names on this list which will likely come as a disappointment to a number of readers.
Here are 15 wrestling superstars you didn’t know were anti-LGBTQ:
15. Bill DeMott
Bill DeMott may be the perfect example of someone who just shouldn’t teach. The man was not all that great inside a ring and had trouble getting over with the WWE crowd, and he was sent to developmental to work as a trainer years later.
When WWE opened their state of the art performance centre in July 2013, DeMott was brought in as head trainer. There were problems with DeMott’s training methods from the get-go and NXT trainee Austin Matelson penned a letter to WWE officials in which he accused the head trainer of using racial and homophobic slurs on a regular basis.
The letter was pretty much ignored at first, but it created a domino effect after being leaked on Reddit in May of last year. One by one, more former NXT trainees spoke out against DeMott, claiming they had also witnessed him bullying those he was supposed to be helping, often mocking and questioning their sexual orientation. Some even claimed to have seen him sexually harass the female trainees.
14. Scorpio Sky
A lot of you probably don’t know who Scorpio Sky is. This is because his use of homophobic language resulted in WWE severing all ties with the indy star before he ever made it big on TV.
In August 2012, Sky began to work with WWE in the same capacity as a lot of independent wrestlers before him. Rather than performing on WWE television as a competitor, Sky appeared in a couple of those anger management sketches with Kane and Daniel Bryan during their run as “Team Hell No.”
Known simply as “Harold,” Sky proved to be surprisingly popular on the Internet and looked to have a bright future with the newly social media-conscious WWE. However, the tide of public opinion turned against him when he began using homophobic language on Twitter.
Obviously, numerous people called out Sky and demanded he apologize to the LBGTQ community, but he refused to do so. Not only did Scorpio Sky blow his shot with WWE, he also lost his job with the wrestling promotion LuchaVaVOOM.
13. Jim Cornette
Jim Cornette is the last of a dying breed. Having grown up in the golden age of southern wrestling, he is an outspoken and often controversial wrestling purist. In his numerous shoot interviews, he has pulled no punches when criticizing today’s stars, usually using questionable terms to describe the people he particularly dislikes.
While a lot of what the man says makes sense, but Cornette has missed the mark a couple of times (on one occasion telling Kevin Owens he would never make it). Last year, after Joey Ryan’s “Penis Toss” went viral, Cornette was vocal in his disdain for the spot.
Corny added Ryan to his long list of guys he doesn’t like and tore into the Lucha Underground star on Twitter, saying Ryan “appears to enjoy standing over men w/his d*** in their face”.
12. John “Bradshaw” Layfield
John “Bradshaw” Layfield’s role as a locker room bully is well-documented. Numerous people who spent time in WWE have said that JBL took a great deal of joy in humiliating newcomers, and the stories of his hazing stretch from light ribbing to borderline assault.
Among some of the more serious accusations against JBL is the claim that he once forced an unnamed wrestler into the shower and told him he was going to sexually assault him. Former WWE Champion Edge has also claimed that Bradshaw “soaped my ass in the shower”.
Mike Bucci, who performed in WWE as Simon Dean, has said that JBL was one of the wrestlers who spearheaded the abuse Chris Kanyon received for being gay. According to Bucci, Layfield would encourage younger guys on the roster to join him in mocking Kanyon’s sexuality. Years later, Kanyon– who took his own life in 2010 – would reveal that he unsuccessfully attempted suicide during his time with WWE.
11. Chavo Guerrero Sr.
A member of the Guerrero wrestling family, Chavo Guerrero Sr. wrestled all over the world and held countless titles during his 40-year career.
In 2004, he was hired by WWE and entered into a storyline which saw him team with his son, Chavo Guerrero Jr., in a feud against his brother Eddie. During his time in WWE, Chavo Classic (as he was then known) won the WWE Cruiserweight Championship from Spike Dudley, becoming the oldest performer to ever hold the belt.
Chavo Sr. retired in 2010, but has remained active on social media, often causing controversy with his conservative tweets. Although he himself experienced discrimination as a child, it did little to soften Guerrero’s opinion of homosexuals and last year, he tweeted that he would be ignoring any tweets from members of the LGBTQ community. Chavo went on to claim that he is not a bigot, but cannot associate himself with gay people, as he is a religious man.
10. Matt Hardy
Poor Matt Hardy hasn’t had the greatest time on social media. The Internet Wrestling Community has had numerous reasons to mock the veteran.
While most of the ridicule Hardy has received has been through no fault of his own, the backlash he experienced back in 2011, when he uploaded a homophobic video to YouTube, was all his own doing.
Hardy obviously realized what a terrible move he had made shortly after posting the footage, as he removed it less than 15 minutes later. However, by that time, hundreds of wrestling fans around the world had watched it and reported it to various wrestling news websites.
According to those who saw it, the video (which was entitled “The NWO Shane Helms”) featured Hardy and a friend of his using multiple gay slurs without any clear reason. Since uploading and deleting the video, Hardy has climbed atop his high horse, criticizing anybody on Twitter he deems to be using homophobic language.
9. Zahra Schreiber
Zahra Schreiber is a terrible person, and there’s no other way to say it. While a bit of ruthlessness is good when trying to succeed in pro-wrestling, Schreiber’s lack of compassion proved to be the ruination of her career.
During her stint in WWE developmental, Schreiber became notorious as the woman who Seth Rollins cheated on his fiancé with (she was also the recipient of numerous Rollins nudes).
However, the affair didn’t influence Schreiber’s career, and thankfully didn’t impact Rollins’ either. Zahra Schreiber did find herself in trouble with WWE a little later on in the year when it was discovered that she had posted numerous racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks on her Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Prior to her signing with WWE, Schreiber posted multiple tweets mocking black people, women, and the LGBTQ community (who she referred to as “f****ts”).
8. The Iron Sheik
The Iron Sheik is different to a lot of the other entries on this list as his homophobia seems to be manufactured in order to generate a response on social media. Furthermore, The Sheik is set apart from other wrestlers who have used homophobic language in the past by his refusal to apologize or explain himself.
With the exception of a few random appearances on WWE television, The Iron Sheik had pretty much drifted into obscurity prior to his arrival on social media. Now he has been resurrected thanks, in no small part, to his exploitative laden tweets and slurs on a wide variety of groups.
Sheiky Baby has drawn the ire of the internet on a number of occasions for particularly offensive tweets. Among other things, The Iron Sheik has questioned the sexuality of Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and Justin Bieber (whose mother he promised to put in the Camel Clutch).
The Iron Sheik’s reputation as an unapologetic hater of all people stretches so wide that politician Olivia Chow was forced to apologize for taking a picture with the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion during a 2014 meeting in Toronto.
7. Bubba Ray Dudley
Bubba Ray Dudley is currently performing in the WWE alongside his kayfabe half-brother D-Von, and has competed for the WWE Tag Team Championships multiple times since his return last year. However, had his 2013 homophobic rant received more publicity, it’s likely WWE never would have hired him back at all.
Three years ago, when competing as “Bully Ray” for Impact Wrestling, Ray became incensed with a member of the audience and called him a “f****t” and a “frickin’ queer”.
Probably at the behest of TNA management, Ray, who was one of the company’s biggest names, took to social media to apologize the following day. Though he insisted no harm was meant, it’s hard to imagine what else he was trying to achieve.
TNA President Dixie Carter also released a statement and promised that Bully Ray’s behavior would not be tolerated. Shortly after, LGBTQ rights group GLAAD announced that they would be working with TNA on the situation.
6. Brock Lesnar
Back in 2004, Brock Lesnar said something that would be enough to have him released from WWE and wiped from the company’s history if he said it today.
Back when he was trying to make it as a football player, the Next Big Thing was told by a woman that her friend (a male named Shawn) had a bit of a crush on him. While some people would be flattered to hear something like this, Lesnar was furious. For some reason, the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion saw it necessary to embark on a hate-fuelled rant about his dislike of the gay community.
Lesnar turned to a number of journalists who had witnessed the encounter and told them “I don’t like gays…write that down in your little notebook.”
It’s moments like this that make you understand the importance of Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece.
5. Shawn Michaels
If you’re a longtime fan of professional wrestling, you may find this entry a little bit heartbreaking. With the exception of his supposed gay affair with Vince McMahon, which I mentioned earlier on, there is little to suggest HBK has any fondness for the LGBTQ community.
Like many former wrestlers (think Sting, Tiffany, and Ted DiBiase), Michaels is a Born-Again Christian and is not shy about saying so. Due to his strong religious beliefs, HBK is not really allowed to approve of homosexuality (he does get to kill lots of animals, though).
In 2012, Michaels responded to a fan who joked about his receding hairline on Twitter. He mocked him for being obsessed with another man’s hair, before following it up with “#homo.” He deleted the tweet shortly after and apologized the following day, but did little to dispel the rumors of anti-gay beliefs.
4. The Ultimate Warrior
It’s understandable that McMahon and the WWE wanted to portray The Ultimate Warrior as a friend to all and a champion of courage after his death in 2014. However, multiple reports suggest that the way Warrior (that was actually his name) was described in the tributes, which poured in after his fatal heat attack, were not entirely accurate.
Many who knew The Ultimate Warrior have claimed the man was an unabashed homophobe and an all-around bigot. These accusations are supported by a speech which the man gave just under a decade before his death.
While speaking at a Young Conservatives event in 2005, Warrior questioned if “the queer is a legitimate as the heterosexual.” From there, he declared “queering doesn’t make the world work”. While Warrior’s comments were met with gasps by a number of people in the audience, it is worrying to note that there were scatterings of applause.
3. AJ Styles
When you think about it, it really shouldn’t be any surprise that AJ Styles has a bit of a homophobic side. Throughout his career, the devout Christian and self-professed family man has shown brief signs of a negative attitude towards the LGBTQ community.
During a recent interview, AJ was asked by a caller how he felt about his following in the gay community. Styles was shocked by the question, exclaiming “the gay community?!” as if somebody had just asked him how he felt about the KKK. The caller went on to explain that Styles has a number of gay fans not only due to his in-ring skills, but because of his good looks. The call was promptly ended.
Shortly after this, another caller admonished AJ and the host of the show for the way the first caller had been treated and reminded Styles that a person’s sexuality is not important. He, too, was hung-up on.
Much like Shawn Michaels, it seems AJ Styles does not have any real hatred of the LGBTQ community, but opposes it on the grounds of his religious beliefs. Let’s hope he doesn’t have any homophobic incidences in the future, because the guy needs to be on WWE TV every week.
2. CM Punk
CM Punk is the longest reigning WWE Champion of the modern era and has proven time and time again that he is one of the most talented people to ever enter the wrestling business. He also claims to be an avid supporter of LGBTQ rights, something he backs up occasionally on Twitter. However, footage of Punk from a WWE live event in 2011 seems to conflict with this.
While competing on WWE’s tour of Australia, Punk got involved in an argument with a fan, as he is prone to doing. It isn’t clear what the fan did to upset Punk, but it resulted in the leader of the New Nexus using a number of offensive terms and calling the fan a “homo.” Punk went on to proclaim the male fan was a woman, telling him “you have a vagina.”
TMZ caught wind of the incident and posted a recording of it to their website, which pretty much forced the usually stubborn Punk to issue an apology. He owned up to his actions on Twitter and took responsibility for being “a total douche,” which was an undisputedly classy move no matter how you feel about the guy.
1. Hulk Hogan
Much was made of Hulk Hogan’s leaked racist rant in July of last year. In fact, people were so shocked by his use of “the N word” that several homophobic remarks made on the same tape went pretty much under the radar.
Talking to Heather Clem (the woman he had just “ran wild all over”), Hogan recalled visiting his childhood home during filming of his VH1 series Hogan Knows Best.
“So we knock on the door,” he told Clem, “and a big f** lives there now!” Hogan went on to use a number of other homophobic slurs before the recording came to an end. In 2012, during another one of his many controversies, Hogan said that some of his closest friends, both in and out of the wrestling business, were gay. If this is true, and his support of the LGBTQ community is as strong as he claims, Hogan really should have known better.