With the fall season on the horizon, you can expect the WWE to turn things up a notch with the regular viewers returning to their everyday lives. The WWE has done their best to keep this audience. In the past they’ve welcomed returning Superstars, adding a spark to the program (like Goldberg last year, and Sting a couple of years prior).
This year, returns are once again a hot topic. Kurt Angle is linked to a return as some believe this might start to percolate in the near future. A big reason for the returns in the past has been the inefficiency of the younger stars to carry the ball and run with it. In this article, we look at that exact issue with the current crop of Superstars getting buried in booking due to heat backstage.
On the flip side, we also take a lighter stroll in this article looking at interesting friendships you wouldn’t believe that are currently taking place behind the curtain. From Braun Strowman and Renee Young, to Shawn Michaels and Roderick Strong, these friendships will have you scratching your head.
Enjoy the article and like always, be sure to pass it along. Here are eight current WWE stars that have backstage heat and seven close friendships that’ll shock you. We begin with a hot topic surrounding a certain WWE Superstar that may have squandered the opportunity of a lifetime!
15 Heat: Baron Corbin
We start the article off with a recent story that seems to be trending pertaining to the former “Money In The Bank” holder Baron Corbin. The WWE Universe was shocked when the up-and-comer squandered his title shot opportunity. Most believed he’d use the contract at SummerSlam but instead, he did so on the show prior unsuccessfully on SmackDown.
This caused a firestorm via social media as several speculated that Corbin’s failed cash-in was due to an altercation behind the scenes. Two stories have emerged; one indicates that a dispute took place behind the scenes between Corbin and Cena, which as we’ve seen in the past, can be the death of a wrestler. The other story claims that Corbin was challenging a WWE doctor who was discussing brain issues in the world of football. Being a former football player himself, Corbin took exception to some of the things the Doc was saying; the big problem here is the doctor’s high end status in the company. Challenging such a figure could have been another reason that led to Baron’s downfall.
14 Close Friendship: Corey Graves & JBL
A big departure in the WWE was highlighted last week as long-time employee JBL, stepped down from his position as the color commentator over on SmackDown Live. According to the recent news, JBL and the WWE had this planned out for months prior. JBL signing with a new company as a brand ambassador was a big part of the release, however, the wear and tear of travel from Bermuda to TV shows every week also played a big role in his decision.
Although he received a lot of heat for his antics backstage in the past, many took to Twitter thanking JBL for his friendship. One of the most surprising tweets came from Corey Graves who stated, “This makes me proud & breaks my heart. THANK YOU, for being a friend & all you’ve helped me with”. The mutual admiration between the two was quite evident during live WWE Network specials, however, not many could have guessed they were that close.
13 Heat: Mike Kanellis
The signing of Mike Kanellis was originally meant to be a big deal, so much so that WWE was forced to transfer over The Miz and Maryse to Raw in order to keep the two power couples away from each other. Miz has continued to enjoy massive success, but we certainly can’t say the same for both Kanellis’ and it seems as though there’s a reason.
According to the rumor mill, Vince McMahon and the WWE staff were infuriated at Mike’s shape once he worked his first match. Many believe that Mike basically sat at home on the couch while waiting for his WWE debut. Of course, Vince is huge on image and this was regarded as an absolute “no no”. He had somewhat of a push in his first couple of matches defeating Sami Zayn, but it now looks like he’s in "wrestler prison" recently serving as an “enhancement" like talent in order to put over the new Bobby Roode.
12 Close Friendship: Nia Jax & Byron Saxton
Here’s a connection absolutely nobody saw coming till an episode of WWE’s Ride Along. In the episode, Jax made the claim that her and Byron were quite flirtatious with one another and that Saxton was constantly inviting her over for events like Christmas dinner with his family, believe it or not. Jax proved her point by calling Byron and putting him on speaker phone. Wouldn’t you believe, Jax’s comments were all true as it was proved through the phone call!
Not only is Jax getting “hit on” by Byron Saxton but she’s also climbing up the WWE ladder rapidly, set to work the biggest program of her career in a Fatal-Four-Way Match for the Women’s Title at No Mercy. As for Saxton, he’s doing just fine on the Tuesday show. In truth, with the dialogue the guy’s being given, he’s doing the best possible job.
11 Heat: Big Cass
Someone Cass knows all too well makes the list as well however, that dude’s heat is a lot worse than Cass’. According to the rumor mill, Cass turned many of his co-workers off when talking about his political views and his love for the man in charge, President Donald Trump. Of course, that likely sits well with the McMahons but the same apparently can’t be said for the other talents backstage that have different views.
Making matters even worse, Cass recently sustained an injury which came at the absolute worst possible time as the big man was finally enjoying the biggest single’s push of his entire career. Although the timing couldn’t have been any worse, he did recently purchase a home with his girlfriend Carmella, so at the very least, he’s got something else to focus on during his time off.
10 Close Friendship: Jinder Mahal & Vince McMahon
Some would argue about the term “friendship” between these two, however, we can confirm that Mahal and Vince have in fact a close working relationship together. In various shoot interviews, Mahal has discussed McMahon personally helping him with promos, something Vince rarely does nowadays. Yes, the biggest part of Mahal’s title reign was a play in India, however let’s not forget, Vince is a huge sucker for not only an “international villain”, but someone that manages to maintain a tremendous body (aka Jinder Mahal who’s one of the most jacked dudes in the entire company nowadays).
Mahal is still going strong as the WWE Champion, meaning the relationship between the two is likely growing stronger and stronger. It’ll be interesting to see how Mahal gets booked once he drops the WWE Title. Is his relationship with Vince enough to keep him relevant for the long haul?
9 Heat: Tyler Breeze
This one might be known as a throwback heat, however, the reason for the heat starting was recently revealed by Ryback during his podcast. Breeze joined the main roster hotter than ever but it all came crashing down.
According to the “Big Guy” Ryback, things went south for Tyler when he decided to leave a show early. For some, when you’re not booked in a match, the WWE allows you to leave and get a head start for travel purposes, heading to the next show. Still so green, McMahon was infuriated when Breeze walked right by him without saying a word and took off. Ryback claims he knew then and there that things would not be good for Tyler. Making things even worse, a Superstar sustained an injury on the night and with Breeze long gone, there was no suitable replacement on hand. Yikes. In Tyler's defense, it was said that an agent gave him the word to take off early, but yeah, the damage was already done.
8 Close Friendship: Braun Strowman & Renee Young
On the surface, this friendship is pretty shocking, however according to various backstage tails, it truly makes a lot of sense given Renee’s outgoing attitude and Strowman, who’s shockingly labelled as one of the chillest, laid back and funniest Superstars behind the scenes. Seeing a picture of them travelling together as close friends makes a lot of sense, also, it helps that Young is quite small in stature, allowing Braun that much more room during his travel time.
Strowman continues to enjoy the push of his life working the upper-card scene alongside Brock Lesnar. His body of work has been tremendous, rarely missing a spot during his matches. As for Young, she was recently linked as a possible replacement for JBL, however that doesn’t look like it’s going to be the case with Corey Graves set to work double duty on both programs.
7 Heat: Rusev
This one has been evident for quite some time and many believe Rusev sealed his faith with the company once a picture of his proposal to Lana went viral. The two were working a story against one another and the picture of Lana wearing the engagement ring while Rusev smiled in the background destroyed everything. Vince was irate and it looks like Rusev might be permanently screwed.
He was once again buried at SummerSlam despite being booked in a high profile bout against Randy Orton. Rusev lost the match within seconds, adding yet another loss to his resume. At this point, many believe it’s only a matter of time before Rusev and the WWE part ways. Looking at his talent, a man of his skillset should not be getting squandered this badly. He might be better off elsewhere at this point, as opposed to staying in permanent “wrestler prison”.
6 Close Friendship: Sasha Banks & Summer Rae
WWE fans tend to forget, but Summer Rae made a huge impact on the careers of both Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks. Entering the NXT pipeline, Banks was given her first big break working alongside Summer and Charlotte; the trio formed a stable called Beautiful, Fierce Females. It was at that point when Sasha started to show off her “Boss” like persona.
Since then, the two have remained quite close despite the fact that Summer has been non-existent on WWE television. Banks even tweeted that she missed her friend dearly earlier in the year. Many fans are dumbfounded as to how the WWE hasn’t had anything for Rae, her in-ring work was improving but most of all, she oozed in charisma. If Elias Samson can get a job on the main roster, we believe the same can happen for Summer.
5 Heat: Sasha Banks
Speaking of The Boss, she might be rubbing some the wrong way nowadays. She’s lost her luster with the crowd and we think we can all agree that a heel turn is more than necessary at this point. Everything about Sasha screams out heel; how she remains a babyface is truly beyond us.
She’s made critical comments about her booking time and time again, which likely didn’t sit well with those backstage. Many believe Banks is a notorious complainer. Along with that, many noticed that Banks changed her Twitter bio taking out WWE Superstar and instead, replacing it with booking inquiry info. Oh, and if all that wasn’t bad enough, her shoot comments about hating to meet fans at airports also didn’t really add bonus points on her standing in the company.
Looking at various shoots she’s recently worked, Sasha’s future might be elsewhere, outside of the WWE.
4 Close Friendship: Mark Henry & Daniel Bryan
As pro wrestling fans, we’re all suckers for a good old bromance and when it takes place with two polar opposites, we love it that much more. Daniel Bryan has made some bizarre friendships during his WWE run, he got really close with Kane and recently, he was seen travelling alongside James Ellsworth, one of the last members of the WWE roster you’d expect to see travel with the former WWE Champion.
However, one of his closest friendships pertains to a surprising connection with Mark Henry. Early on, Mark was one of the only Superstars backstage that believed in Bryan when very few did. Working in the WWE for so many years, Henry used his influence to put Bryan over with those in power backstage. Bryan will never forget that Mark was the only one that believed in his talents, when nobody else did.
3 Heat: Jason Jordan
The WWE has come up with some wacky storylines in the past, especially back in the 90s and early 2000s where nothing was off limits. Seeing this storyline play out today is truly baffling. In a world with everything is out in the open due to technological advances, most fans were insulted by the Kurt Angle-Jason Jordan storyline.
Of course, as most of you probably know by now, Angle was deemed the father of Jordan. Many believed this meant a huge push for Jordan and although it appeared that way at first, it doesn’t look as such any longer. Inexplicably getting pinned by The Miz at the SummerSlam pre-show, his momentum was totally squandered.
The word backstage is that Jordan has done a poor job in the role and some are regretting the entire storyline altogether. Given the context of his re-creation over on Raw, can you really blame Jordan for failing with such a persona?
2 Close Friendship: Shawn Michaels & Roderick Strong
Yes, it finally happened. The great HBK, Shawn Michaels is finally a part of NXT behind the scenes. He showed up to the Performance Center sporadically throughout the years, however, he’s now moved his family down to Florida working with the talents on more of a set schedule.
He’s made some connections early on and given the evidence, we have reason to believe Michaels and Roderick Strong have gotten along famously. The two exchanged tweets discussing their admiration for one another; looking at Strong, it isn’t hard to see why HBK loves him. Like Shawn, Strong is a family man and a veteran in the business spending 13 years with ROH. This connection can only do good for Strong who’s been in the upper-card of NXT since Shawn’s move took place. Coincidence? Who knows?
1 Heat: Enzo Amore
We close off the article with the WWE Superstar making the most headlines in terms of heat backstage with his peers, and that’s Enzo Amore. Dating way back to his NXT days, many disliked Amore strongly, so much so that he was almost released multiple times. Ironically, his mouth constantly saved his job as the dude is a wizard on the microphone (and it helps that Cena was a fan of his early on).
Things took another sour turn on a tour bus when Amore was caught talking way too loud and if that wasn’t bad enough, all the money he was making happened to be the topic of conversation (he makes a killing in merchandise). Viewing himself as a locker room leader, Reigns stepped up in the situation and kicked Amore off the bus. His booking followed suit, getting buried week after week. However, like in his NXT days, his mouth-piece saved his job as he’s now booked for 205 Live, in an attempt to add an entertainment value to the dying brand.