A wrestler’s reputation is an important factor they will have to carry with them throughout their career. Most wrestlers don’t spend their entire career at the top of the WWE and have to continue working in other promotions later. The latter stage usually involves fans wanting to see them and support them. Even the biggest names, like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, still appear at conventions to meet the fans. The wrestlers that are generally cool to fans and respectful to all people end up having things work out for the best at the end of the day.
Not all wrestlers believe in that philosophy sadly. The many years of stories involving the world of professional wrestling has caused things to leak and show the true colors of the performers we’ve watched and admired in the squared circle. Much like any other field of work, there are both wonderful and disgraceful people. We will look at the moments in wrestling that showed us both of those characters. These are real life situations that showed eight wrestlers to be jerks outside of the ring and seven that were proven to be sweethearts.
15. Jerk: Scott Hall Refused To Sign Sick Child’s Birthday Card
Scott Hall has a reputation for being a jerk to other wrestlers during his in-ring career, but one of his worst moments came when he snubbed signing a birthday card for a young child suffering from brain cancer. Many respected legends like Edge, Goldberg, Bret Hart, Ric Flair and many others signed the card and added 8×10’s as a show of support.
Hall was the rare exception to refuse signing the card. Fans at the convention where this took place where shocked. Remember that Hall had surgeries funded by taking donations from fans via crowdsourcing websites. The fact that he refused to sign a card for a child going through such a difficult journey made him come off like the jerk prior stories would have suggested. Adding to the situation, Hall insulted people on social media criticizing him for the terrible judgment.
14. Sweetheart: CM Punk Pays For Fan’s Meal
The controversial reputation of CM Punk has left a polarizing assumption of the kind of person he is. An ornery personality and many negative interactions at airports led to Punk being deemed as a jerk. One fan interaction situation that Punk talked about on The Art of Wrestling podcast discussed a positive memory that featured a fan respectfully waving at him at a Chicago restaurant, but chose not interrupt his meal.
Punk decided to show his appreciation for the fan being respectful by picking up the tab for their table. Wrestlers typically dislike it when a fan tries to get a conversation or picture out of them during a dining experience. This particular fan showed the perfect etiquette and was rewarded with a free meal courtesy of one of the biggest wrestling stars of all-time.
13. Jerk: Michael Hayes Used Racial Slurs Towards Mark Henry
WWE has employed Michael Hayes for over two decades now and he is one of the most powerful men backstage. Hayes had a role on creative at the time of this memorable incident. The terrible moment saw a very drunk Hayes use the n-word when making an insulting comment towards Mark Henry. Hayes said he was blacker than Henry and used the racial slur to get his point across.
Henry was understandably livid about this and reported it to the WWE. The company responded by suspending Hayes for sixty days. Hayes returned to his role and is still a top producer for the WWE today. Henry apparently made peace with him, but the fact that this even happened in an environment like the WWE tells the story about Hayes’ character.
12. Sweetheart: Daniel Bryan’s Friendship With Connor
One of the best things the WWE does is put wrestlers in contact with worthwhile causes. Daniel Bryan was made aware of a young fan battling with a rare tumor that affects the brain and spinal cord. Connor Michalek braved his battle with the heartbreaking illness by looking to the WWE for joy. Bryan was the wrestler he wanted to meet and they had an incredible connection.
The most amazing visual was Bryan allowing Connor to put him in the Yes Lock and tapping out for the valiant boy. WWE did their best to do right by Connor. They put him and his family in front row seats at shows they could attend and allowed him to meet the wrestlers, while Bryan remained his favorite through it all. WrestleMania XXX featured Bryan closing the show and thanking Connor for the support to help him win the WWE World Championship. Connor sadly passed away a few weeks later but was able to experience the moment of a lifetime with his hero.
11. Jerk: Austin Aries Insulting Fans
Austin Aries has finally made it to the WWE after a long road building his name in ROH and TNA. His best work always comes from a heel role and that’s likely because it’s his natural personality. Aries had a reputation for being rude to fans at live shows and looking to keep his heel gimmick strong at the merch table.
Fans would look to take pictures with him and get autographs. Aries repaid them with snide comments. At one point, Aries started charging for insults too in addition to the merchandise and autographs for sale. There’s a fine line in portrayal when working as a heel, but Aries often crossed the line in regards to being a jerk to the paying customer who literally went out of their way to support him.