Pro wrestling, throughout its vast history, has had a lot of colorful characters. Some of these characters have been absolute villains inside of the ring, yet are perfectly normal and upstanding citizens outside of it. Mick Foley, now known for his charitable work, was once the dark and brooding Mankind who viciously assaulted the Undertaker, or even before then as the barbaric and sadistic Cactus Jack that competed in ECW, WCW, and in Japan.
Wrestling has also had its fair share of bullies, such as JBL and Hardcore Holly, who were frequently accused of taking liberties with their opponents in the ring but were generally well-respected by their peers.
But then there are those whose actions outside of the ring seem consistent with some of the characters they play inside of it. John Cena for example, plays a strong-willed good guy who always does the right thing, and outside of the ring he seems to be the same guy as his frequent charitable work suggests. On the flip side of that coin however, are the wrestlers who behave villainously both inside and outside the wrestling ring. Pro wrestling, just like other forms of entertainment or other sports, has had its fair share of real-life “bad guys” and the following list features 20 of them.
20 Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner looked as physically intimidating in the ring as anyone ever has, that is until he'd get blown up after a few minutes of working. His promos were also as entertaining as anyone’s have ever been. The former WCW Champion had a lot to offer the wrestling business, but he also caused a lot of problems in the back.
The most famous Scott Steiner backstage incident was his conduct during a fight with Diamond Dallas Page, where it is reported that Steiner fought by trying to gauge out DDP’s eye. Most recently Scott Steiner was reportedly banned from the WWE Hall of Fame ceremonies, after it was alleged that he made death threats towards Hulk Hogan.
19 Vince Russo
While Vince Russo didn’t kill anyone, didn’t physically assault someone and didn’t commit any crimes, he is widely regarded as one of the most disliked people in the history of the wrestling business.
Most who dislike Russo do so because of his horrendous booking in WCW, where he started working in 1999 and attempted to create a style of wrestling that weaved in and out of reality in a way that followed no clear logical pattern.
The others who disliked Russo do so because of allegations against him for racism. The most notable allegation against Russo stems from a lawsuit that Sonny Onoo filed against WCW for racial discrimination. In interviews after the lawsuit was settled out of court, Onoo wondered how Ted Turner could ever have put someone like Russo in charge, and noted that there were key differences between how minority and non-minority wrestlers were booked, paid, and treated.
He also booked David Arquette as a World Champion, which was not fair to wrestling fans, the wrestling business, or even David Arquette.
18 Mr. Anderson
TNA Wrestling formally parted ways with Ken Anderson in March of 2016, and with good reason.
Ken Anderson, who also wrestled as Mr. Kennedy in the WWE, used to cut promos about how he was an “A-hole” in TNA. Turns out that wasn’t just a gimmick.
Anderson failed an on-the-spot drug test during a TNA event in February, the same event where people reported him seeming “unfit to perform” during his match with Eric Young. Witnesses stated that Young could be heard complaining to management about it afterwards. Numerous wrestlers have fallen victim to drug and alcohol dependency, so that’s not what gets Mr. Anderson on this list; he also proclaimed “F*** TNA” at indie events following his release.
It’s one thing to go into a match in a state where you put your opponent at risk, but then to complain about getting fired for it?
17 Abdullah the Butcher
Abdullah the Butcher matches aren’t exactly athletic masterpieces, but they sure are fun to watch! Typically an Abdullah the Butcher match consists of him reaching into his tights to pull out a fork and then stabbing his opponent in the forehead with it, followed by each wrestler bashing the other with as many objects as each can find. Even though Butcher couldn’t move around very quickly given his size, an Abdullah the Butcher match always felt very violent and very real.
Most matches involving the Butcher were very bloody, which is actually a big reason why he made this list. For years before it was taken to court, there were accusations that Abdullah had infected other wrestlers with Hepatitis C by sharing blades (for cutting themselves open) and not disclosing that he had the blood condition.
In 2014 wrestler Devon Nicholson sued Abdullah for having infected him with Hep C and was awarded $2.3 million in damages.
16 Dynamite Kid
Tom Billington, who went by the wrestling name “the Dynamite Kid,” was ahead of his time in terms of wrestling ability.
His matches with Bret Hart in Stampede Wrestling, with Tiger Mask in Japan, and his time spent teaming with his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, as the British Bulldogs are all looked upon fondly by wrestling fans. But it is his reputation as a backstage bully that adds him to this list. The most famous incident stemming from Dynamite’s bullying was when Jacques Rougeau, of the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, fought back against Dynamite by giving him a sucker punch and breaking his jaw.
Dynamite would leave the WWF shortly after the incident, with many stating that he had been humiliated that someone had chocked it up to his bullying.
15 Bill Demott
Demott is better known by his old ring-name “Hugh Morrus,” but he also went by the name “Hugh G Rection” when Vince Russo was booking him in WCW.
After his wrestling career concluded Demott went to go work for WWE as the head trainer for NXT, WWE’s developmental territory. Stories had persisted for years regarding Demott’s bullying tactics while training wrestlers, as well as allegations of sexual harassment and accusations that Demott took inappropriate pictures of female wrestlers. But WWE took little action until the hashtag #FireDemott started trending on Twitter, forcing the WWE to step up.
In 2015 Demott resigned from his position as head NXT trainer, being replaced by Matt Bloom.
14 Bubba the Love Sponge
Born to the name Todd Alan Clem, he legally changed his name to “Bubba the Love Sponge” in 2001.
His association with the wrestling industry comes through his “friend” Hulk Hogan, although exactly how good of a friend he was to Hogan is certainly up for debate. Bubba worked as a backstage announcer for TNA in 2010, after his pal Hogan was given an executive role with the company.
Just one week after starting with TNA Wrestling, Bubba decided to take an anti-Haiti stance after a massive earthquake devastated the country. TNA wrestler Awesome Kong decided to take matters into her own hands and physically assaulted Bubba as a result of the offensive anti-Haiti relief effort tweets that he sent out. Awesome Kong was fired as a result of the incident, but Bubba was ultimately let go as well, not lasting even two months with the company.
In 2012 Gawker released a sex tape of Hulk Hogan and Bubba’s then-wife, that had been leaked by Bubba without Hogan’s consent. The release of the tape led to Hogan suing Bubba, and ultimately they would settle out of court.
Great way to pay your friend back for getting you a job, Bubba!
13 New Jack
It hurts a little bit to put New Jack’s name on this list, but there really is no other way around it. You would be very hard-pressed to find any other wrestler who has taken more liberties in the ring with his opponents than New Jack.
His most famous incident almost ended ECW, when he bladed inexperienced wrestler Eric Kulas so badly that it severed two of his arteries and caused him to black out and be taken to hospital. The Kulas family sued ECW, but the lawsuit was ultimately thrown out.
Kulas had lied about his age and experience in order to get booked as a last minute replacement on the show.
Another infamous New Jack moment came when he pinged an aluminum baseball bat off the side of Gypsy Joe’s head at an indie show for no-selling his moves and hitting him hard with a head butt. Jack attacked the 70-year-old Gypsy Joe for real and the video ended up going viral on YouTube. New Jack was also arrested after a 2004 match with William Jason Lane, after he reportedly pulled out a metal object and stabbed his opponent with it 14 times.
12 Art Barr
Art Barr became a big star working in Mexico for both EMLL and AAA, under the moniker “the American Love Machine.”
Rape charges were filed against Barr stemming from an incident after a match in Oregon. A year after the incident took place Barr took a polygraph test as part of a police investigation. Barr admitted on the polygraph that the sex was not consensual, and plead guilty to 1st degree sexual assault. He served no jail time for the crime. Art Barr died in 1994 at the age of 28. There is some debate over the cause of his death, but drugs and alcohol were present in his system at the time.
11 Invader #1
Bruiser Brody was at a wrestling event in Puerto Rico in July of 1988, when he was asked to speak about some business with Gonzales (who also worked as a booker) in the shower area. Nobody aside from Gonzales knows what happened in the shower, but witnesses reported hearing a scuffle and screams shortly after. Brody would die as a result of stab wounds from the attack.
Gonzales claimed self-defense and was acquitted of all charges. Multiple books about Brody’s life have questioned the investigation by the police and the courts before Gonzales was acquitted. WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas claims he was the first to run into the back after hearing of the commotion and that the courts never called him to testify during the trial.
While nobody knows exactly what happened and why, there has always been a dark cloud looming over Invader #1 as the man who stabbed Bruiser Brody to death.
10 Rob Feinstein
Rob Feinstein is the owner of RF video and played an important role in the forming of Ring of Honor wrestling.
In 2004 Feinstein was caught in a “Perverted Justice” sting operation aimed at catching pedophiles trying to lure children into sexual situations. The sting was similar to those made famous by the “To Catch A Predator” series where adults posed as children in chat rooms and then they would film adult pedophiles who made arrangements to meet them in person for sex.
The allegations against Feinstein are that he attempted to meet someone whom he believed to be an underage boy for sex, but Feinstein claims that the chat room logs had been altered, and that the person he had been speaking with appeared to be of-age in pictures and on the phone.
Ring of Honor cut ties with Feinstein, and Doug Gentry bought out Feinstein’s ownership stake in the company.
9 Rob Black
Rob Zicari, better known to wrestling fans as Rob Black, is the owner of Xtreme Pro Wrestling, and has managed names such as Terry Funk and Abdullah the Butcher.
XPW looked to capitalize on the hole created in the business when ECW filed for bankruptcy, and featured many of the same wrestlers and hardcore style matches as ECW did. He was also the owner of an adult entertainment company named Extreme Associates, which produced extreme x-rated material. On July 9th 2009 Zicari plead guilty to obscenity charges, stemming from material that included simulated rape.
He was sentenced to one year in prison. He had sold Xtreme Pro Wrestling in 2004 but regained the rights to it in 2012, and while a re-launch of the promotion was scheduled, it never came to fruition.
8 Grizzly Smith
Aurelian Smith is better known by his wrestling name of Grizzly Smith. At 6 ft 8 and 350 lbs., Smith was a physical specimen in the ring during his career which spanned the 60s and 70s.
After he retired from in-ring competition, he performed various backstage duties for both WWF and WCW. Smith is also the father of three professional wrestlers: Jake “the Snake” Roberts, Rockin’ Robin, and Sam Houston.
In multiple documentaries, Jake Roberts has claimed that his father raped his mother when she was only 12 years old, and they were forced to marry as a result of her pregnancy. Roberts states that the trauma that he and his sister endured as a result of their father’s actions are responsible for his drug and alcohol abuse and her battles with mental illness. In the book Swimming with Piranhas, it is alleged that Rockin’ Robin was a victim of sexual abuse by her father.
7 Jimmy Savile
Jimmy Savile is better known as a British DJ and television host, but he also did some wrestling back in his day.
Wrestler Adrian Street, known for his exotic appearance in the ring, wrestled Savile once back in 1971, a match that Street claims was Savile’s last. According to Street, Savile had a well-known penchant for underage girls and would brag about his exploits with them. Street was booked to wrestle Savile to a draw and was not too happy about it. In the match Street let Savile have it, tearing out parts of his scalp along with the hair he would pull out of his head.
Savile never wrestled again, according to Street. One year after his death, the BBC aired a documentary on Savile that included claims by 10 women, one of whom was under the age of 14 at the time, of sexual assault by Savile.
6 Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
Wrestling fans have, for the most part, nothing but fond memories of Jimmy Snuka’s heyday in the wrestling business.
Snuka jumping off the top of a steel cage in Madison Square Garden onto Don Muraco is considered an iconic moment that helped inspire Mick Foley to become a pro wrestler. His feud with Roddy Piper after Piper bashed him in the head with a coconut on “Piper’s Pit” is a frequently recalled memory when any wrestling fan thinks back to the 1980s.
Many people also believe Jimmy Snuka is a murderer.
In 1983 Snuka’s girlfriend Nancy Argentino died under suspicious circumstances. An autopsy on Argentino revealed that she died of traumatic brain injuries. While Snuka was the only suspect in the case, charges were not pressed until 32 years after the events took place.
Snuka, now in his 70s, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and third degree murder. At the time of this writing his defense is claiming Snuka is suffering from dementia, and is unfit to stand trial.
5 Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit was suffering from brain damage when he murdered his wife and child, and then killed himself on the weekend of June 23rd-25th 2007. Leading up to the murder-suicide Benoit was a well-respected member of the wrestling business. He was regarded as being both a technically gifted wrestler, and a positive leader in the locker room.
The crime was a big news story, and many outlets began to blame Benoit’s use of steroids, and “roid rage” for what happened.
Back in 2007 the impact of multiple concussions was not as widely talked about as it is today, and Chris Nowinski’s “Sports Legacy Institute” was still in its infancy. The SLI tested Chris Benoit’s brain and found Benoit to have been suffering from a condition called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) when he died, a condition that results from multiple concussions and can cause, amongst other symptoms, erratic behavior.
Many feel that Benoit’s actions were as a result of the brain damage he was suffering from, which helps to explain why someone so well liked could commit such horrible actions. Since Benoit’s condition could be linked to his actions, and since Benoit didn’t knowingly put himself at risk of the condition (little was known about CTE at the time, although it was common knowledge that multiple concussions could cause brain damage) that Benoit is also a victim of this tragedy.
Regardless of what degree of culpability you place on Benoit for his crimes, the Benoit-Nancy-Daniel murder-suicide will always be seen as one of the lowest and most heart-breaking tragedies ever in wrestling.
4 Hardbody Harrison
Norris Harrison Jr., was trained to be a pro wrestler in the WCW Powerplant and wrestled for WCW from 1995 to 2001.
Also a former Army Sergeant that served in the 1st Gulf War, Harrison was charged with holding eight women hostage and forcing them into prostitution. During the trial Harrison acted as his own lawyer and his defense was that the women were all living in his homes willingly, as they wanted him to train them to be pro wrestlers.
Witnesses testified at the trial that Harrison would beat the women if they did not engage in prostitution and also forced them to work in his homes performing various duties, such as painting the homes. Harrison was convicted on all charges from eight of his nine accusers and sentenced to life in prison.
3 Brian McGhee
Brian McGhee was better known by his ring name DT Porter, during his time in WWE developmental.
Also known by the name “The Future” Donovan Riddick, McGhee is alleged to have stabbed his girlfriend, 25-year-old Bianca McGaughey, to death in 2013. In the hours following his stabbing of McGaughey, McGhee fled the scene and changed the picture on his Facebook page to one of a bloody gash, alarming his friends and family.
McGhee was spotted by police on the highway, leading to a car chase between him and the authorities. He was arrested only after crashing his car into the guardrail. He has since been charged with 1st degree murder.
2 Buck Zumhofe
Buck “Rock N Roll” Zumhofe was a top-tier light heavyweight wrestler for both the AWA and WCCW in the 80s and 90s. He also made a few appearances for the WWF as well, mainly as a job guy.
Some of his most notable WWF appearances include being the first ever WWF opponent for Triple H, and being the first guy that the Undertaker ever stuffed into a body bag.
Zumhofe was arrested in 2013 under suspicion of having sexually abused his daughter, throughout a period of 12 years. Upon being found guilty on all counts, Zumhofe attempted to flee the courtroom but was apprehended by court officers. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
1 Juana Barraza
Her ring name translated from Spanish means “The Silent Lady”, and she is currently serving a 759-year prison term for murdering 11 women. Wrestling under a mask Barraza was a famous Luchador in Mexico at the time of her arrest in 2006.
Barraza was found guilty on multiple counts of murder, all of her victims were elderly women who lived alone. It is said that Barraza targeted older women as a result of resentment she felt towards her mother. Her mother was an alcoholic that Barraza claims sold her at a young age for alcohol to a man who repeatedly raped her.
She would be 807 years old when she is released.