Professional wrestling is an extremely competitive business, and we’re not just talking about what happens in the ring. Office politics play such a major role in wrestling that at certain times it’s seemed like the most important piece to a successful wrestling career was knowing how to manipulate the people in charge to best fit your interests. The more power a wrestler has the more inclined they are to use it to their advantage, which explains how Vince McMahon and Triple H have ruined a pretty significant number of careers on their own, but you don’t need to control the company to squash the people beneath you.
Wrestling is also a medium prone to rampant rumors, so all of these alleged burials can be taken with a grain of salt, but some are pretty clear-cut cases of career sabotage. The stories are usually pretty similar—a major star is either worried a rising star will take their place, or worried a rising star just genuinely doesn’t deserve the opportunity, and therefore become worried the newbie could drag them down by proxy. Whatever their reasons were at the time, keep reading if you’d like to find out why 10 major superstars have been accused of ruining the careers of smaller scale wrestlers.
10 John Cena
In order to actually affect the careers of your coworkers, you either need to have some serious power in your company, or your company just needs to really love you. As the current top star in WWE, Cena has both the power and the company support, and some wrestlers feels he’s used that power to absolutely destroy them. Tyler Reks worked for WWE as part of the ECW brand during its dying days, and briefly was a mainstay on Raw before he began having problems with Cena. Cena claimed Reks’s finishing move was too similar to his own, and reportedly told Reks, “find another finisher or you’re fired.” Reks wasn’t immediately fired, but by his estimation he was shunted down the card and let go shortly after all as a punishment for using the move.
9 Randy Orton
8 Ric Flair
7 Dusty Rhodes
6 Jim Duggan
5 The Fabulous Moolah
The Fabulous Moolah has been accused of some seriously horrible crimes in her day, many of which haven’t been directly proven. What has been directly proven is the fact she regularly refused her own students opportunities in the wrestling world to ensure she herself would be the only woman to achieve true success in the industry until she retired.
4 Kevin Nash
The timeline on this one is a little bit fuzzy, but the main points are the important ones. Kevin Nash was booking WCW at some point in the late 90s. Amongst the top stars on the roster were Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Dean Malenko. They weren’t always in the main event, and in fact they almost never were, but they received huge crowd reactions for their incredible in-ring capabilities. Kevin Nash, however, openly referred to them as “Vanilla Midgets.”
3 Shawn Michaels
2 "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
1 Hulk Hogan
There are dozens of stories of Hulk Hogan refusing to give up the spotlight. Terry Bollea the human has a long history of being unable to separate his character from reality, and in his mind, Hulk Hogan is a hero to millions and a legend who should apparently never, ever lose. The first well-known instance of Hogan putting the kibosh on a wrestler who might surpass him came in the late 80s, when he was set to feud with Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Famously, crowds cheered Jake and booed the Hulkster, so Hogan had the whole thing scrapped.
In that instance, Jake pretty much agreed business would probably go better with Hulk as the hero. Several years later, things went the exact opposite, and Hogan’s vindictive greed not only harmed the career of another wrestler, but it was the first major incident in a string of many that ultimately costs hundreds of wrestlers their jobs when WCW went out of business. Starrcade 1997 should have been the apex of WCW—that company’s equivalent to WrestleMania III that shoots them into wrestling’s stratosphere. It was going to happen when Sting beat Hogan for the WCW World Title in the main event, but as is well known by now, the referee was supposed to make a fast count and give Hogan a tainted victory, but the fast count was actually pretty slow, and it ruined the whole thing. The referee has gone on record to explain he was confused over several bosses telling him different things, but most people interpret this to mean Hogan was the one who told him to do what he actually ended up doing. Sting eventually recovered, but WCW ultimately didn’t.
The Hulkster has also been accused of using his influence to give cushy jobs to his friends in favor of actually talented wrestlers, and has an extremely long history of having his appearances on television heavily edited to make it sound like crowds were always cheering him, even when he was being booed.
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