Nobody has lived a squeaky clean life. We all did stupid things when we were kids. We drank too much, got into fights, exposed ourselves, and had run-ins with the law. It’s all part of being young. Thankfully, most of us don’t have to worry about the stupid things we did coming back to haunt us or costing us our livelihoods. If you’re hoping to be employed by WWE, however, you should probably make sure there is no evidence of your rowdy early years online.
After a couple of embarrassing incidents with talent over the past two years, Vince McMahon is extra careful about who he hires. He has a team to comb through the social media accounts of potential signees to make sure there are no images which may reflect poorly on the company. Because of WWE’s determination to avoid any controversy, many talented performers have either lost their jobs or just not been hired in the first place.
Of course, there are some superstars who Vince McMahon can’t fire. They have already established themselves as major stars and fans would notice if they just stopped appearing on television. For that reason, WWE has to do everything it can to make sure certain incriminating photographs do not make it into the mainstream media.
Here are fifteen pictures of young WWE superstars which Vince McMahon does not want you to see.
15 World’s Largest Felon
Now that he is beginning to wind down his career as an in-ring competitor, The Big Show is sliding into a role as one of WWE’s many ambassadors. He’s the perfect man for the job. He has been a mainstay on WWE television for years, is considered by many to be synonymous with the product, and his career has been almost entirely without controversy. Almost.
This is a mug shot of The Big Show from his early career when alcohol and drug use still ran rampant. Extremely inebriated, Show is not operating at 100% mental capacity, which is obvious from his inability to keep his eyes open. While he has been compared to Andre the Giant numerous times throughout his career, it is clear that The Big Show does not share Andre’s legendary ability to consume alcohol.
14 The Undertaker, Human Being
These days, WWE doesn’t give a lot of thought to protecting the characters of its performers outside of the ring. Heels ride with faces, and every superstar is free to appear on podcasts to openly discuss the inner workings of the business. The only WWE superstar who still bears a shred of mystery is The Undertaker.
The Undertaker’s “deadman” character is unquestionably the most enduring of all Vince McMahon’s creations, and you’ve got to believe WWE will do whatever it takes to maintain the intrigue surrounding the man. Company officials are likely aware that once the mystique of The Undertaker is gone, they’re never going to be able to recreate it.
For that reason, you’ve got to believe that Vince McMahon would like to keep this picture of The Undertaker away from public eyes. In it, we see Mark Calaway, the man behind the character, laughing and smiling with his buddies from the infamous BSK. It makes The Undertaker appear all too human. Not only is he showing genuine emotion and vulnerability, but he is seriously overweight, resembling more a Dublin taxi driver than the man with 21 straight WrestleMania victories.
13 Most Valuable Prisoner
Although WWE never really mentioned it on television, it is no secret that former superstar Montel Vontavious Porter, MVP, had a bit of a troubled childhood. At just 16 years of age, MVP was found guilty of armed robbery and kidnapping. He was sentenced to 18 and a half years behind bars, a devastating sentence for the young man.
He wound up serving nine and a half years of the sentence before being released, making it out of prison with much of his life still ahead of him. He became involved in professional wrestling after it was suggested to him by a corrections officer as a way to keep himself out of trouble. The corrections officer was also a wrestler on the independent scene.
Although those years in jail helped MVP turn his life around, they are something the WWE would rather you were not aware of. This mugshot is another in a series of professional wrestler mugshots which Vince McMahon would like to keep locked away.
12 The Burier Becomes The Buried
Although he doesn’t allow himself much time to relax these days, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon used to be quite fun behind the scenes. There are stories of him pranking his employees, grappling with the superstars, and getting drunk off his ass with The Hart Foundation. In this picture, Vince is seen posing in a casket while William Moody, better known as Paul Bearer, looks on.
With WWE now trying to appear more professional, and with rumors of McMahon being furious at his employees for goofing around backstage, it is likely that the company would like to keep this picture to itself.
Some might be offended by the fact The Ultimate Warrior’s iconic symbol can be seen embroidered on the casket, likely related to his feud with The Undertaker. This could be seen as being in bad taste today, considering Warrior passed away a number of years ago.
11 Braun Squashing Hunger
Destroying smaller opponents every Monday night, Braun Strowman is currently being built as a monster heel.
In this picture, however, we see a very different side of Strowman. The young man is decked out in a pink muscle top and a way-too-short pair of shorts. With his legs spread farther than TNA’s budget, he is shoveling what seems to be a packet of chips down his gullet while making funny faces towards the camera.
Braun Strowman is likely going to receive a main event push in the near future, challenging for the Universal Championship or its SmackDown equivalent, so it is no surprise that WWE has tried to keep this photo from doing the rounds on the internet.
10 Definitely Not The Undertaker And Paul Heyman
The Undertaker was not always The Undertaker, something which seems absolutely insane to think. The guy has been synonymous with the dark lights and the trench coat for so long that it’s easy to forget he did not just spring from Vince McMahon’s womb as a fully formed, yet half-dead human being.
For much of the 80s, The Undertaker traveled from promotion to promotion, performing under a variety of different names and gimmicks. For a brief period, he competed in WCW as one of the very first Paul Heyman guys.
More than two decades later, during The Undertaker’s 2014 feud with Brock Lesnar, Heyman spoke to WWE creative about playing on his past with The Undertaker. He wanted to use their history to heighten the drama heading into the match, but Vince McMahon refused to acknowledge ‘Taker had a career outside of WWE.
9 Legend Killer Killer
Randy Orton’s problems with drugs and alcohol have been well-documented. He had some serious issues with substance abuse in his early years with WWE and found himself suspended on more than one occasion.
As he matured, Orton managed to kick most of his bad habits, but it seems that he is still battling an addiction to nicotine. Although this picture of him puffing on a cigarette (one of many on the internet) seems to have been taken a number of years ago, it is hardly the kind of thing which WWE wants to be doing the rounds.
The fact that WWE treats Orton as one of its top talents could mean disaster for the company’s anti-smoking campaign if parents of young WWE fans were to stumble upon this image online.
8 Finger Owens, Finger
Okay, that heading didn’t sound the way it was supposed to, but you get what I mean. During his time on the independent scene, Kevin Owens – or Kevin Steen, as he was known then – played a similar character to the one he plays today. However, Kevin Steen was quite a bit more unruly than Kevin Owens.
In this picture, a young Kevin Owens is seen flipping the bird in the direction of a redheaded Mexican luchador. The crowd no doubt went wild when Owens raised his finger, but it is unlikely Vince McMahon would have the same reaction. I mean, he may go wild, but it would be in the same way a gorilla goes wild when exposed to flash photography.
Now that Kevin Owens is the WWE Universal Champion, you can expect WWE to do everything it can to keep this picture hidden. The company is likely planning big things for Sami Zayn – the kid under the mask – so this it would be doubly damaging were a wider audience to see it.
7 Dean Bloody Ambrose
Much like Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose is a guy whose work independent scene may not exactly jive with WWE’s current product.
The now former WWE Champion made a name for himself as one of the most hardcore wrestlers on the indie circuit, competing in a variety of gruesome matches for not nearly enough money. Many of Ambrose’s most gory moments came in CZW, where it is not unusual to be put through three flaming tables before being beaten with tube lights.
In this picture, Ambrose is being attacked with what looks like a knife attached to a drill. The blade digs deep into his skin, causing more blood to pour onto his already red face. Were Dean Ambrose to try a spot like this in WWE, it is likely he would be sent packing by Vince McMahon, but not before receiving a hefty fine.
6 Chris Jericho And [Name Redacted]
Chris Jericho is undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. The skill which he exhibits in the ring on a weekly basis was developed over the 90s when he traveled around the world to work with various different promotions. During this time, he made friends with a great deal of future WWE superstars, including Chris Benoit.
In this picture, a young Jericho and Benoit pose for the camera with childish grins spread across their faces. Decked out in gear from the Super J Cup, they are still learning the ways of the world both in and out of the ring. Neither man knew what the future held, which is presumably why Jericho agreed to this picture.
Everybody knows what Chris Benoit did a little over a decade later, despite WWE’s attempts to make us forget. While the company cannot erase Chris Benoit from our memories, it can try to block any image of him from making it onto television or social media, including this one.
5 Er… VD
Rob Van Dam, one of the most captivating superstars of the past two decades, has had his fair share of struggles with illegal drugs. Actually, perhaps ‘struggles’ isn’t the right word, considering the fact that RVD really, really enjoys them.
The former WWE Champion has made no secret about his affinity for marijuana and is an avid supporter of the legalization of the drug. Van Dam’s love of weed has caused him problems in the past and was the reason he lost the WWE Championship after finally capturing it in 2006.
In this picture, RVD poses happily with a bong bearing his name, looking as though he is quite familiar with it. Given that Van Dam makes sporadic returns to the company and will likely be back soon to beef out the post-brand split roster, WWE would like to keep this picture from moms and sponsors.
4 Team Extremely Inappropriate
The Hardys, Jeff in particular, have always been a little bit edgier than Vince McMahon would like, as is clear here.
This picture was taken when the Hardys were still quite young. Still enjoying the blissful combination of youth and money, they were partying night in, night out for close to 365 days a year. In it, we see Matt Hardy pretending to hold a woman down while Jeff shoves his crotch in her face.
Of course, the woman was a willing participant in the picture and doesn’t seem to have any issue with it, but it is hardly the kind of thing WWE wants to be associated with. The company is still trying to recover from years of objectifying women with sexist skits and match concepts.
3 Paige Experimenting
Paige is one of the youngest signees in WWE history. Still in her early twenties, she is trying to figure out just who she is, just like everybody else her age. Unlike most other millennials, however, Paige has a camera following her for most of the day.
This picture of Paige making out with another woman leaked a couple of years ago and was immediately screenshotted by the majority of male wrestling fans around the world. No explanation was ever given and the identity of the other woman remains unknown.
Although WWE ran a Total Divas storyline which saw Rosa Mendes kiss Paige, that was under the company’s control. They could decide how far it went and were able to ensure it stayed classy. This picture was not taken by a WWE photographer and caught Paige in a pretty intimate and potentially scandalous moment, so it is no wonder Vince McMahon would like to keep it out of the mainstream media.
2 The Lap That RunsThe Place
You have to believe John Cena was able to enjoy himself a lot more before he won his first WWE Championship. After capturing the title from John Bradshaw Layfield, Cena became the smiling face of the company and was a favorite of children everywhere, meaning he had to watch what he said and did at all times.
Prior to this, Cena was able to do whatever he wanted, including getting a drunken lap dance at a party. In this picture, a young woman is riding John Cena’s lap while another woman holds her in place, grinning all the while. Cena doesn’t seem to be too unhappy about it either.
Were this picture to get out now, there would be uproar from the mothers WWE seeks to please with inoffensive PG programming. Sponsors would most likely pull out and Cena’s Hollywood career would suffer. At the very least he wouldn’t win the title for a while.
1 The Big Dog Caged
WWE has done everything its power to make Roman Reigns the next John Cena. In fairness, kids and moms do love him, although that would probably change if they were to see this mugshot.
A couple of months prior to his WWE signing, Reigns got way too drunk and was arrested for essentially being loud and ignorant. He doesn’t quite look as imposing here as he does on Monday nights, so it's safe to assume this was not the picture Vince McMahon was looking at when he decided Reigns should be the next face of his company.
With WWE stressing the importance of not doing anything stupid if you want to get hired, the company could be accused of serious hypocrisy if this picture found a larger audience.