Everyone who has ever watched professional wrestling believes into some aspect of the on-screen product. Younger fans believe the characters portrayed are who the wrestlers really are outside of the ring, but even the older fans follow that guideline a bit if they watch long enough. A wrestler providing you many great moments and finding association with being a highly respected figure is bound to make one believe in the performer to some extent. There is a popular belief that the kindest wrestlers make the best villains and the biggest jerks easily portray themselves in a positive light.
Many of the wrestlers viewed with respect and appreciation for the perception of being a good person have let us down. Some of these names have been known for playing a great face character proving the theory that acting helps hide a person’s true character. They use those skills to fool you outside of the ring in real life as well. Other wrestlers are pillars of the wrestling community after an impressive career that makes fans want to believe that travels to their genuine personalities. We’ll take a look at some of the wrestlers that are regarded in high esteem for their characters or reputations, but have proven to be jerks in real life.
15 Roman Reigns
The reaction to Roman Reigns at live shows is polarizing, but you can’t argue he’s one of the most beloved stars in WWE. Younger fans love Reigns following WWE’s pushing to make him the face of the company. Even the fans that dislike Reigns have accepted that he’s kind of a cool dude. There have been instances of Reigns being an absolute jerk with his mentality towards critics.
Reigns’ first public interview about the fans starting to boo him weekly saw him make some controversial comments. Aside from questioning if fans have a right to criticize if never wrestling in the ring, Reigns also bragged about being the person that is getting rich at the end of the day. Reigns bragged about his earnings recently on Twitter again leading to John Cena of all people calling him out. The biggest face in the company insulting others for how much money they make is definitely not the right away to earn a good reputation.
14 Booker T
Booker T is generally viewed with a great reputation for his long career. There’s no doubt he worked his way up to the top of the card in WCW earning everything he’d receive in both WCW and WWE. Booker is also considered to be one of the coolest dudes to have lasted in the wrestling business this long. The later years of Booker’s career however showed him starting to grow an ego.
Booker joined TNA following his WWE in-ring career ending. Fans and management expected him to help push the company forward. Instead, Booker used it as a vacation having some of the worst matches of his career and refusing to interact with the younger talent. Booker returned to WWE years later and added more drama to his name. According to multiple reports, Booker ridiculed many young wrestlers at a tryout including The Young Bucks before publicly burying them on social media. The air has been cleared since then, but picking on young wrestlers hoping to land a job is a jerk move.
ECW is still remembered for the impact it had on the wrestling business at the time and the stars that led the revolution. Sabu was a wrestler truly before his time with many high risk innovative moves that would become commonplace in the industry many years later. Fans rightfully respect Sabu for all he sacrificed for the sport, but the belief that he is a good dude to the fans is just not true.
Sabu has been known to get into confrontations with any fans he feels gets too close trying to talk to him. The interactions between fans and Sabu at conventions or meet and great appearances usually range from disappointing to upsetting. Sabu often shuts down conversations with the fans and sometimes does it in an aggressive manner. The hardcore legend has started traveling with his girlfriend having her do all of the talking so he doesn’t have to.
12 Bill Watts
Any wrestling historian knows the horrible stories of Bill Watts, but many in wrestling like to glorify his legend. Watts is most known for his time booking in a few promotions, namely WCW in the early 90s. Many wrestling pundits to work with him like Jim Ross still sing his praises. WWE even inducted him into the Hall of Fame. The problem is Watts is one of the worst people to ever step foot in the wrestling business.
Watts went on the record making many offensive statements aimed towards African-Americans and gay people. The comments stated that businesses should be allowed to profile and discriminate against any groups they look down on. It led to WCW firing him and Watts being exiled from the wrestling industry. Sadly, his former peers still saying kind things about him and WWE celebrating him has made him become a beloved figure hiding his real legacy of being an evil bigot.
11 Seth Rollins
The work of Seth Rollins in recent years has made him one of the most popular fan favorites in the wrestling business today. Rollins was the first break out star following The Shield splitting. The combination of his in-ring work and the inherent ability to connect with a large audience made Rollins a WWE World Champion and consistent main eventer that most love. A few instances have harmed Rollins reputation as a person outside of the ring.
Rollins has been rumored to be a diva wanting special treatment to come with his name. The most popular story featured a fan claiming he wanted to cut in line when boarding a flight and acted offended the airport employee didn’t know who he was. An episode of WWE’s Swerved saw him react the same way to a security guard pranking him so it appears to be true. Rollins also was caught cheating on his former fiancé with former WWE wrestler Zahra Schreiber. It led to a huge controversy online that he likely deserved for his actions.
10 Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels is the reason many current wrestlers and longtime fans still love the business today. The in-ring work of Michaels was in a league of its own. It inspired viewers to care about the in-ring product in addition to the larger than life characters. Michaels however was less kind backstage as he earned the reputation of being the biggest jerk in wrestling. The majority of wrestlers to work with him at the time hated his guts until his return years later.
Michaels becoming a born-again Christian changed his outlook on life when returning for WWE from 2002 to 2010 with a clean life. Still, the old personality of Michaels shined once in a while. Shane Helms revealed Michaels was a jerk to many co-workers and abused his power. Michaels definitely was a better person, but he still held some of his older traits. The attitude of Michaels is overlooked due to his wrestling excellence and fans should know about both sides of him.
9 Jake Roberts
The legendary Jake “The Snake” Roberts was a standout performer in the 80s. Roberts never held the world championship and rarely was featured in the main event angles. He still found a way to leave an impact on the viewers with his work being among the most compelling of the time. Many years of personal demons damaged Roberts’ life with alcohol and drug addiction causing him to be a mess.
Fans and peers dealt with his wrath during those stretches trying to overlook it due to his issues. Roberts has been clean for a few years now following his rebirth with the help of DDP Yoga. Sadly, he still appears to be rude to fans every now and then. There have been differing reports regarding Roberts’ treatment of customers at conventions. The progress from being a jerk all the time to once in a while is a good step, right? We’ll keep telling ourselves that in hopes of Roberts being a sweetheart to fans all the time one day.
Despite being one of the greatest heels in recent memory, JBL is a beloved figure at WWE shows. Fans cheer JBL like a hero when he makes his way to the ringside area for his spot as a commentator. JBL however has a strong reputation for being one of the biggest jerks in wrestling history. The backstage role of JBL was to be an enforcer of the locker room to anyone stepping out of line and he crossed the line on many occasions.
There have been numerous tales of JBL going out of his way to make life miserable for wrestlers he just didn’t like without any real rhyme or reason. One of the victims was The Blue Meanie in a very public way at ECW One Night Stand 2005. JBL had a personal disdain for Meanie and brutally beat him up during a scripted brawl breaking the code of protecting your peers at all times. The other stories range from dumping water on Lilian Garcia to bullying The Miz. JBL has always been a jerk and it’s hard to believe he truly changed over the years.
7 Bubba Ray Dudley
Another instance of a backstage bully would be Bubba Ray Dudley. Bubba is highly respected for all of his accolades in the wrestling business as a member of the Dudleyz tag team. His tag team partner D-Von is viewed as a great person, but the same can’t be said for Bubba. The antics of Bubba have seen him go after fellow wrestlers and the fan base.
Bubba went too far in ECW and other shows where would incite riots by saying horrible things to fans in the arena. It is one thing to be a heel, but Bubba said things that no human being should say to another. Various wrestlers like Paul London and Rene Dupree have gone on the record to say Bubba was equally evil to young wrestlers backstage by throwing around his clout. Bubba still runs his mouth and appears to have not changed one bit if you read some of the things on his social media pages.
6 Randy Orton
The career of Randy Orton is reaching the latter stage with him being one of the veterans on the roster. Orton has been a fixture on WWE television for over fourteen years now. WWE saw something special in him from day one and he has delivered a Hall of Fame worthy career. Fans love Orton in his current state of a legend with a resume naming just about every noteworthy accomplishment in WWE.
Orton’s backstage reputation is however completely different from his in-ring work. The various incidents of Orton over the years have seen him trash hotel rooms, bully talent backstage and just be a jerk to both wrestlers and fans. Orton essentially ruined a singles push for Kofi Kingston back in 2008 when he had an outburst in the ring at Kingston forgetting a spot. The legacy of Orton will be him remembered as a highly successful wrestler that was a jerk to his fellow human beings.
5 Triple H
Triple H’s reputation has changed over the years. The popular vote would have seen him referred to as the biggest jerk in wrestling about ten years ago. That has evolved through the recent years with his role in WWE leading to positive changes. Triple H is responsible for the success of NXT and many of the die-hard wrestling fan’s favorites coming to the company. We have to thank Triple H for Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura becoming fixtures in WWE.
That shouldn’t erase many of the terrible things he has done through the years. Triple H abused his power as a talent for over a decade before putting his ego aside for his role in management. Numerous wrestlers with rising momentum felt the wrath of Triple H burying their pushes and opportunities. Triple H also vocally insulted many of his peers in public interviews. The legend loved being a jerk, but now he has to hide it for the betterment of WWE.
4 Scott Hall
Another member of the Kliq makes the list with Scott Hall being a huge jerk. Many would consider Hall the coolest member of the Kliq for his outstanding work in the 90s. Hall also just had the demeanor of someone you’d want to hang out with. No one could have predicted he would consistently be a scumbag for the entirety of his wrestling career. Hall often picked on wrestlers backstage by using his power to mess with their heads.
The motto of “it’s show business, not the friend business” is something Hall would say to excuse his horrible behavior. Chris Jericho singled out Hall in his books as one of the worst people to be around and stated he had to challenge Hall to a fight at one point to end the bullying. A story in recent years saw Hall refuse to sign a birthday card for a sick child at a convention despite just about every other wrestler there agreeing to do it.
3 CM Punk
The popularity of CM Punk made him a huge star in his final years as a WWE superstar. Punk always had a strong spot in WWE, but raging against the company with worked shoot promos calling out those in charge made him a cult hero. The storyline of him being frustrated with the company actually turned out to be reality. Punk is viewed as having a fair opinion about how WWE is run, but his own attitude held back many from showing support to him.
The personality of Punk saw him rub many peers the wrong way by talking down to them. Most wrestlers that were close friends of Punk saw him turn against them. Hornswoggle claims Punk cut him out of his life for asking for a mutual acquaintance’s phone number. The longtime best friendship of Punk and Colt Cabana also ended when Punk got pissed off at Cabana for visiting a WWE show backstage. Punk has had a hit or miss record with the fans as well. Quite a few fans have been yelled at or insulted by Punk throughout his career.
2 Ric Flair
Wrestling fans still treat Ric Flair like a god every time he appears in the squared circle, and it sadly has made him start thinking he is one. Flair is arguably the greatest wrestler of all time with his library of classic matches and memorable promos earning the adoration of fans all over the world. Unfortunately, the real life persona of Flair is equally as egotistical to his heel character of yesteryear.
Flair has treated many people in the industry horribly. Quite a few wrestlers like Scott Steiner and Paul Roma feel like Flair tried to sabotage their careers. Businesses like Highspots and Ring of Honor paid Flair big checks to make appearances and he never held up his end of the bargain while running away with the money. Fans have also felt the wrath of Flair when he’s in a bad mood or just wanting to show off. Flair is just not a good dude no matter how much we want to believe the iconic wrestling skills translate.
1 Hulk Hogan
The worst story of a wrestling being a hero in the ring, but a jerk in real life has to be Hulk Hogan. No one played the traditional good guy character better than Hogan telling children to say their prayers and take their vitamins. Hogan was a white meat babyface doing everything by the books and it led to massive success for WWE. The backstage reputation of Hogan showed the opposite of Hulkamania.
Hogan used politics and his power to hold the top spot for many years at the expense of others. Bret Hart still holds a grudge for Hogan refusing to put him over as agreed in 1993. Hogan also showed his true colors when a sex tape leaked showing him make racist comments, insulting black people with no remorse. Fans are treated like dirt by Hogan in person unless you are paying him. The legend charges hundreds of dollars at appearances and demands a curtain so those not paying aren’t even allowed to look at him.
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