Believe it or not, you don’t have to love pro wrestling to be a pro wrestler. Sounds crazy, right? In fact, in some instances those who have made a name for themselves in the industry down right hate what they’re doing from day to day. I am a life long fan of the pro wrestling business. When I was a child I wanted nothing more than to become a WWE Superstar when I grew up. Which is why when I hear of wrestlers who don’t enjoy what they do or didn’t grow up immersed in the business then it irks me a little.
I feel like they’ve made it to a pinnacle that they don’t deserve to be sitting atop of. Now before I go on, that’s not always the case. There are examples of wrestlers who didn’t know much about pro wrestling growing up and once finding their way into it have fallen in love, naturally I have no qualms with that.
The other side of that coin is quite the opposite. There are a multitude of wrestlers who have wound up in wrestling because they’ve failed elsewhere. Or Superstars who are just using WWE or another wrestling company as a stepping stone to something else. And it’s hard to argue with their success.
WWE is currently littered with Superstars who failed to make it in the NFL. Plus, there are a number of wrestlers who have used wrestling to springboard into Hollywood. They don’t always hate the wrestling business but here’s a list of 15 Superstars who do and would more than likely much prefer doing something else to earn their coin.
15. Eva Marie
We find ourselves in the midst of a women’s revolution right now, not just in WWE but across all of professional wrestling. Sadly for Eva Marie, despite WWE’s best efforts, she’s a square peg in a round hole when it comes to said revolution. Maybe ten years ago Eva would have fit right in when the locker room and the women’s matches consisted of Superstars hired based on their looks rather than their talent, but not today.
It’s evident also that Eva isn’t that bothered about fitting in, despite what you may see on Total Divas. We’ve not seen her in a WWE ring since the middle of 2016 and it would appear that Eva was simply using wrestling as a stepping stone to the Hollywood lifestyle she now has.
Ironic really that one of the showcase matches at WrestleMania 33 involved two guys going head to head who don’t particularly like being pro wrestlers. Goldberg got in to the business because of an injury he picked up playing pro football, and he’s openly admitted that he’s only returned now for a short run to show his son a glimpse of the super hero he used to be.
During interviews prior to his WrestleMania 33 bout with Brock, he even commented on how his training and lifestyle while being back in the ring has made his life miserable, and he’s only working a fraction of what most Superstars have to work right now. When you’ve got a footballing background and a physique as impressive as Goldberg’s, it would appear that your opinion on professional wrestling doesn’t even register on WWE’s radar.
13. Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley is one of an increasing number of pro wrestlers who are crossing the divide between wrestling and mixed martial arts. Well, Lashley has gone back and forth so often that he’s practically playing jump rope with that proverbial line. What is abundantly clear though, and has been since Lashley’s time in WWE ten years ago, is that Bobby much prefers the octagon to the squared circle.
He may be a good in-ring performer but what has stopped him excelling on the wrestling side of things is his lack of enthusiasm on the mic. I can only assume that stems from the fact he doesn’t really want to be there, and seems much more at home when performing MMA.
12. Brock Lesnar
I’m almost certain that it will come as no surprise to anyone reading this that Brock Lesnar is not a fan of pro wrestling. Actual wrestling? Maybe. The Universal champion has a rich amateur wrestling background, he’s a former NCAA champion, and I believe that’s maybe the only reason that he ventured in to the world of pro wrestling.
With his background and his monster look, he could have turned up on Vince McMahon’s doorstep and told the chairman that he hated the business and he’d still probably have reached the heights that he has done. Lesnar is a bonafide badass and he proved that during his time with UFC, and truly that’s where Brock wants to be. Because of health and drug testing problems though he’s back to stay in WWE and that’s where he has to make his money right now. Previously, he tried his hand at a footballing career in the NFL as well.
11. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns is a classic example of someone who failed elsewhere in sports and since then has tried his hand at wrestling. No question that he’s talented in the ring and because of that coupled with Vince McMahon taking a shine to him he has had tremendous success so far in WWE, regardless of what the crowd may think of him.
Despite all of his success and owing his whole career to WWE, he has been very vocal at times about how he treats his job. During an interview he actually said he just does what he’s told and waits to get paid. When fans hear comments like that it’s no wonder that they have a hard time taking to him.
10. Stacy Keibler
Unlike Eva Marie, Stacy Keibler arrived on the wrestling scene at just the right time with just the right attitude. She debuted on our screens back in WCW when she won a competition to become a Nitro Girl. For those of you who don’t know, Nitro Girls were not wrestlers but merely cheerleaders for WCW’s leading Monday night show at the time.
Despite it being clear from that alone, not long after Keibler made the move to WWE Vince McMahon thought it was necessary to have her perform in the ring. As mentioned above though, it was a different time in WWE where women didn’t necessarily have to wrestle and were just there to look pretty, so the fact that Stacy didn’t want to wrestle probably didn’t come in to play too much.
9. Vince Russo
This one may be surprising to some of you. Vince Russo had a hand in writing some of the most famous moments in pro wrestling history during the Attitude Era and to this day has his own podcast that’s focused around pro wrestling. Why he’s included on this list is because he is one of the main proponents of pro wrestling being all about entertainment and not about wrestling, despite the very name of the business.
Looking back, that’s plain to see from the era that he helped shape during his time with WWE and is most definitely evident from his comments on today’s product. Russo is way down on the likes of Kevin Owens who fans love for his outstanding wrestling ability and leans more toward those who bring an entertainment aspect to the product, not completely unlike Vince McMahon.
8. Hulk Hogan
Yes, The Immortal One Hulk Hogan makes this list. That may be blasphemy to some of you but it is sadly true. During the early 1980s, The Hulkster may well have loved the business of pro wrestling but as time went on and Hogan became more and more of a mainstream figure his love of the business gradually slipped away.
A prime example of this beginning initially is Hogan’s appearance as Thunder Lips in Rocky III. Allegedly Vince McMahon warned Hogan that if he took time off to star in the film, he wouldn’t have a place in WWE. The Hulkster clearly didn’t care about that and went ahead and chose the silver screen over the squared circle. Luckily for all you Hulkamaniacs though, Vince went back on his word once the filming was done.
If Stacy Keibler was a Superstar who capitalized on a time when WWE valued looks over in ring ability, then Sable was the woman who started that trend. During the late 1990s, Sable would appear on Raw each week for, in her words, the men who want to see her and the women who want to be her. She would take part in some matches but due to her lack of wrestling ability and training they were thankfully few and far between.
Sable was mainly there to boost her career in modelling and earned some appearances in Playboy thanks to her fame in WWE. She tried to do it alone and left the company in 1999 but it quickly became clear that she needed wrestling to remain relevant and returned to the company a couple of years later.
6. Randy Orton
Randy Orton is a pro wrestler with the business in his blood. He’s a third generation Superstar whose father and grandfather performed inside the ring. Because of that he’s a great performer and has won the WWE championship an impressive thirteen times. While for the first few of those reigns Orton might have been enjoying what he was doing, it’s plain to see that in the present day he really doesn’t.
When watching Randy perform nowadays you can tell from his match that he’s simply going through the motions. Doing the same moves he’s done in the same order for ten plus years to keep earning that pay check. It’s effective though as WWE now view him as a reliable Superstar with tenure that can help raise the stock of anyone he’s in the ring with.
Shockingly, I’m about to make a case that half of Evolution, one of the greatest factions in WWE history, actually hate wrestling. While Randy Orton’s dislike of what he does has evolved over time and you have to look a little harder to see it, his former faction buddy Batista’s is much plainer to see. By the end of his first run with WWE, you could tell that he had become disillusioned with the pro wrestling business and his amusing speech from his wheelchair when he quit probably wasn’t completely staged.
Then after becoming a big film star, he returned to the ring because he was expecting a hero’s welcome. He didn’t get it. Fans greeted his Royal Rumble win with disdain and after becoming increasingly frustrated with fan reactions he left WWE a second time just a few months later. You could say that Batista hates the WWE and the business itself but not wrestling.
4. Kevin Nash
Nowadays every Superstar in WWE has a guaranteed contract. What that means is they get a wage regardless of how many dates they work in the ring. In the past, that wasn’t the case and wrestlers would be paid based on appearances. A pretty daunting prospect for someone down on their luck, and you can thank Kevin Nash for that change in philosophy.
Back during the Monday Night War between WWE and WCW, Nash jumped ship from the former to the latter and it was because he was being offered the first ever guaranteed contract in pro wrestling. Nash openly said that if Vince would have offered him more money he would have stayed but because he didn’t, so he left for Eric Bischoff and WCW. Nash has never attempted to improve in the ring.
3. CM Punk
There was definitely a time in CM Punk’s life where he not only loved pro wrestling, but he lived and breathed the business. As he made his way up through the independent scene and Ring of Honor he loved what he was doing. Then he arrived in WWE and Vince McMahon and co slowly killed that desire to compete in the squared circle until it was completely extinguished.
Despite continuous backing from the fans, CM Punk never got the monster push that he deserved. He should have headlined a WrestleMania, he should have been the face of the company, but for one reason or another, he never made it that far. Eventually, he became so disillusioned with wrestling that he turned his back on the company and to this day he has no desire whatsoever to come back.
Nailz had a short, unsuccessful but eventful stay in WWE back in the early 1990s. His intriguing and slightly scary story stinks of someone who didn’t really care about the wrestling and was just performing to earn a pay check. It all stems from an alleged confrontation that he had with Vince McMahon that ultimately led to his termination.
Apparently, Nailz stormed backstage to Vince’s office to confront the boss over a financial dispute and things got heated with Mr McMahon supposedly getting knocked out of his chair and choked by Nailz. Kevin Wacholz, Nailz’s real name outside of the world of WWE, also took WWE to court after his departure for wrongful termination as well as testifying against the company during the steroid trial in 1994.
If you’re reading this and you recognize Zeus, you’re probably more familiar with his acting career and his real name, Tom Lister Jr. Well, in 1989, Lister starred in a film alongside Hulk Hogan called No Holds Barred. A pro wrestling film that pitted the two against each other and the first time the Zeus character was witnessed.
Well, later that year, Zeus materialized in real life and arrived on the scene in WWE to avenge the loss he suffered to Hulk Hogan on the big screen. Lister was reluctant at first though and allegedly said he wasn’t interested in having to touch a bunch of sweaty men, or words to that affect. Once he saw the pay check on offer though, he quickly changed his mind.