Professional wrestling is, at its core, a simple business to understand. Babyface characters are the “good guys” who feud with heels who are, in theory, supposed to be disliked by casual fans. Heels have, in the past, ridiculed and mocked fans to get those personalities over and to make sure that they were not favorites among customers who purchased tickets for live shows and who spent money to view programs via pay-per-view and other services. This type of interaction between wrestlers and fans has helped to distinguish this form of entertainment from others because it requires fans to have makeshift relationships with performers.
While certain wrestlers treating fans like garbage is part of the act, there is no question that some performers went too far during segments or because of a brief lapse of judgment. Some of those moments resulted in wrestlers and/or the company paying that performer having to apologize for fans for the actions of the performer. Others instances of fans feeling as if they had been treated like garbage by wrestlers may have simply been examples of wrestlers playing up to gimmicks. One crime that has, for some fans and promoters, been unforgivable has involved wrestlers no-showing events. In those cases, fans feel as if they have been ripped off through no fault of their own.
15 Bret Hart
Anybody who has ever seen the Wrestling With Shadows documentary that was released after Bret “Hitman” Hart left the World Wrestling Entertainment for World Championship Wrestling has heard Hart explain that he didn't love all of the heel promos that he cut on American fans during his last year in the WWE. Hart nevertheless cut those promos while playing that heel character, and some fans who had previously cheered on the “Hitman” were actually offended. That was the point, after all, as Hart had been turned into one of the top heels in the WWE, a role he would play up through the night of the “Montreal Screwjob.”
14 Shawn Michaels
13 Sasha Banks
11 Steve Austin
It is maybe the most famous walk-out in WWE history, even bigger than the one pulled off by CM Punk in 2014. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was unhappy with storylines written for him in 2002, and he no-showed a Raw event and then walked away from the company for a time. Even if Austin did have valid reasons to be upset with Vince McMahon and others within the company, walking out as Austin did burned the fans who were hoping to see their favorite wrestler. There was no long-term harm done here, but it is a moment of Austin's career that should not be forgotten.
Perhaps you will feel that Sabu was justified for attacking a fan upon seeing the video of that fan reaching over the rail to take Sabu's turban right off of his head. That, as diehard Extreme Championship Wrestling fans know, was not the first time that Sabu has done something to upset customers. Sabu was publicly fired by Paul Heyman in 1995 after Heyman learned that Sabu had no-showed an event to instead take a booking in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Sabu was, of course, welcomed back to ECW with open arms, and he eventually worked in the WWE.
9 Big Show
8 Chris Jericho
7 Kurt Angle
6 Ultimate Warrior
5 Jake Roberts
Just because a wrestler is dealing with personal demons that cause him to miss out on a show or event does not mean that the fans have not been wronged in those instances. Jake “The Snake” Roberts had a long history of either missing certain obligations or showing up “in no condition to perform.” The hope, moving forward, is that Roberts has, thanks to Diamond Dallas Page, gotten his life in order and that he will no longer experience any similar slip-ups. Roberts has unintentionally wronged fans in the past, but there is still time for his story to have a happy ending.
4 Scott Hall
One could copy the Jake Roberts portion of this piece and paste it here for Scott Hall. Hall, like Roberts, has battled a variety of personal problems and setbacks over the years, and the former “Bad Guy” missed an event in the summer of 2015. It was learned later that same year that Hall, who has also received help from Diamond Dallas Page, had decided to enter a rehabilitation facility. Wrestling fans are pulling for both Roberts and Hall, and not just because they hope to see these legends of the ring at conventions and at future events promoted by the WWE.
3 Vince McMahon
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon has arguably done more positive things for the pro wrestling business than any other one individual in history. With that said, McMahon has also been accused by fans and by wrestling journalists of not doing right by his customers during on-air segments and with some of the decisions that McMahon has made behind the scenes. Remember that time when McMahon booked himself to win the ECW Championship? That may have been the greatest instance of McMahon trolling members of his company's fan base, but not every fan was entertained. McMahon also once "feuded" with God, a portion of his on-air career that should be left buried in the past where it belongs.
2 Brock Lesnar
Accidents can happen in any line of work, but one would hope that Brock Lesnar has learned real lessons about tossing certain items into crowds of fans. Lesnar has allegedly twice accidentally struck fans while getting a little carried away during segments. “The Beast” once threw a monitor into a crowd of people. When he was feuding with WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins in 2015, Lesnar threw a car door – yes, a car door! – into the audience. Both Lesnar and the WWE were fortunate that no serious injuries occurred during those two events.
1 CM Punk
Whether he was simply living up to his heel character of the time or he was having a bad day, there is no denying that CM Punk has had some regrettable interactions with wrestling fans in the past. A fan once recorded Punk dropping a homophobic slur during a WWE event (Punk later apologized for those comments). At a different event, Punk threw an elbow toward a fan in the crowd after a different fan had repeatedly shoved Punk in the back. Even the biggest Punk fan out there would have to admit these those moments serve as reminders that wrestlers would be better off not interacting with fans on some nights.
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