Professional wrestling is a constant war between good and evil. There are the good guys, babyfaces, whom fans will root for as they continuously battle the heels, the forces of evil, or however the audience views them. It’s been true through the decades of wrestling back to the earliest years with territories and up until today’s wrestling with major promotions in the United States, Japan and other parts of the globe.
The audience may have views of who they think are approachable outside the ring, based on what they see on television or at live events. One would assume some of the most popular good guys and girls would be easy. However, fans have learned through multiple interactions that is not always the case. Regardless of their respective face-heel affiliation, wrestlers can have a different personality outside of the ring.
But fan interactions aren’t always the only thing that can earn a male or female wrestler the label of “jerk.” With the emergence of social media and the internet, it is easier for backstage reports to get out to wrestling fans. Stories about backstage politics where one wrestler gets into a real-life feud with co-workers is more common than years before. Based on what is said in those reports, a fan’s perception of certain wrestling superstars can sour quickly.
It happens for both male and female wrestlers, whether they can be viewed as warranted of being called a jerk or not. The following are 10 male and 10 female wrestlers who have been viewed as jerks in real life.
20 New Jack
This one shouldn’t be any surprise. New Jack has developed a reputation for not caring too much about the well-being of some of his co-workers. There was controversy involving his feud with Vic Grimes through ECW in the late 1990s; although Grimes hesitating on a scaffold spot doesn’t clear him of any wrongdoing either. But New Jack’s reputation can arguably surpass “jerk” status.
New Jack has been reckless with other wrestlers through the independent circuit. There was the time he beat up on the elderly Gypsy Joe for not “selling” New Jack’s offense. There was also an incident where minutes into a small independent match, New Jack pulled out a knife and stabbed his opponent multiple times. But the most egregious offense was the 1996 Mass Transit incident where he bladed a young wrestler that required serious medical attention.
19 Michelle McCool
Similar to the criticism that male wrestlers like Triple H and Kevin Nash have faced in their rise up the wrestling ladder, Michelle McCool has faced similar comments from fans and other peers. Part of that was beginning an intimate relationship with The Undertaker in 2007. It was around that time that McCool started to receive a big push in the WWE women’s division. However, some argue that, like Triple H, she was actually improving overall.
But regardless of how she improved in her wrestling abilities, there were a lot of people who didn’t take kindly to McCool essentially leading to Undertaker splitting up with his wife. McCool was asked about the situation in 2012, which she responded with something along the lines of “people can say what they want to say.”
18 Bubba Ray Dudley
Bubba Ray Dudley might be one of the best tag team wrestlers through the 1990s and even well into the 2000s. He’s won tag team gold for every major wrestling promotion and was able to win his world championships for TNA Wrestling. There are fans who have tried to approach Dudley for autographs and have been turned down in not-so-subtle rude ways. But it’s not just fans who have negative things to say about the tag team specialist.
Wrestlers in the past have often talked about how Dudley has wrestled way too stiff, including former WWE superstars Christopher Nowinski and Rene Dupree. While most of the complaints have come from lower-tier wrestlers, some bigger names like Randy Orton have also made similar comments behind the scenes. Considering some of the things Dudley has said in the past, he might not care much about the label.
17 Brooke Adams
Some women in the WWE have a hard time adjusting to the locker room politics. Brooke Adams was someone who was not able to get along with her peers and often rubbed people the wrong way. Some have found that she was always drawing attention to herself in a way that continued to build heat behind the scenes in the WWE. One famous incident involved her wearing the same type of furry boots to a match as Melina.
This led to Melina having an issue and the WWE officials deciding to let Adams go. She would find some success with TNA Wrestling as Miss Tessmacher, but she was also accused of similar backstage issues with her peers. She didn’t do herself any favors when she got involved with a social media war in August with Tammy Sytch in regards to pregnancy selfies; which she never had to be involved with in the first place.
16 Kevin Nash
The man once known as Big Sexy in WWE and WCW has stepped on a number of toes. Part of that could be through his time of creative control in WCW. However, he’s also continued a negative reputation well after his days as an active competitor. For whatever reason, Nash doesn’t mind speaking what’s on his mind; even if it’s going to ruffle a few feathers. A perfect example was making a comment in a shoot interview that he thought Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was homosexual.
But many fans were upset at some of his comments in 2012 about wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. With the fan base enjoying the more technical artists like those two, Nash said they didn’t have the personality that one would expect from a world champion. A number of fans would certainly disagree with that comment, but Nash didn’t seem to care if people liked his “vanilla midget” critique.
15 Angelina Love
There are some online forums where fans have not had the most pleasing comments about the former TNA Wrestling Knockouts Champion. Angelina Love is someone who has shown not to be the most approachable female wrestling star over the past decade. One fan wrote about meeting her at a car shop and tried to get her attention. Her response was getting in her car and leaving without saying a single word.
Love has said in media interviews that she can often be viewed as a jerk in real life. Love once told the Ottawa Sun in 2010 that she views herself as a jerk in a funny, sarcastic way. Despite claiming that she isn’t a “b***h,” she says that if “basically, it’s if you don’t love me, screw you.’”
Batista has been viewed as a heel in recent years and he didn’t seem to care too much about how the fans viewed him during his WrestleMania XXX run. But through a good portion of his wrestling career, Batista has been known to yell back at fans who have heckled him at live events. That alone would earn him a spot on the “jerk” list, but there’s a lot more than going back and forth with wrestling fans.
In his book “Batista Unleashed,” he made claims where he called out some of his peers in the WWE locker room. Bubba Ray Dudley was one of them. He also wrote about a relationship with former WWE Diva Melina. But Batista was married at the time and his wife was reportedly battling cancer at the time. Certainly not the most PR-friendly move a WWE Superstar can make.
Melina has certainly received a lot of criticism for her actions behind the scenes in the WWE. There was the situation where she had a relationship with Batista while he was still married to his wife in the middle of a cancer battle. But her issues behind the scenes go beyond just dating The Animal. Melina reportedly attracted a lot of backstage heat for a number of complaints she made while she was the WWE Women’s Champion.
In 2009, she openly complained about being moved from Raw to SmackDown in the WWE Draft. In addition to being difficult to work with in the WWE, there was also the entire situation where she was accused of sleeping around with other members of the WWE locker room while actively dating fellow wrestler John Morrison. While Morrison got some heat for letting it happen, the backstage view on Melina continued to decline until she was officially released in 2011.
12 John “Bradshaw” Layfield
There might be little argument against placing John “Bradshaw” Layfield on this list. Through the years, he’s developed a reputation behind the scenes as a big bully. It wasn’t too far from the rich heel he portrayed as a long-reigning WWE Champion on SmackDown in the original brand split. Several stories that have been revealed over the years support how much of a jerk he was outside of the WWE ring.
One perfect example was treating The Miz with little respect when he wouldn’t let the former reality-television star into the locker room. JBL has also been accused of a number of hazing stories of younger wrestlers; which he hasn’t denied. But wrestling fans who watched the 2005 ECW One Night Stand recall when JBL legitimately attacked the Blue Meanie during the final “brawl” segment that left the ECW Original bleeding.
11 Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks might not be the most hated female superstar currently in the WWE, but she hasn’t quite been 100 percent positive in the eyes of some fans. One fan was able to get a picture with Banks at an airport and posted it on social media, tagging Banks in the process. However, Banks responded by labeling him as an “airport creeper.” Certainly not the nicest thing a superstar should say about her fans, which is one of the biggest problems with Banks.
In addition to some of the fan stories about meeting The Boss, Banks has also called out some of the fan criticism about an ongoing feud with Charlotte Flair for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship through a good portion of 2016. When a fan made a point with the line “no offense intended,” Banks would then fire back about how there was once a time when the WWE didn’t get a consistent storyline before her feud with Charlotte.
10 Randy Orton
Despite having become a family man, Randy Orton’s reputation is still not the cleanest on the WWE roster. Sure, he’s certainly not guilty of the things he did when he was a younger WWE Superstar with major attitude problems. The third-generation superstar came into the WWE after his personal issues in serving with the U.S. Marine Corps. Most of his problems behind the scenes revolved around female co-workers.
Orton once decided to dump a number of products into Rochelle Loewen’s duffle bag in the women’s locker room. Why? Because she didn’t seem to recognize who Orton was. Things like this certainly impacted his initial World Heavyweight Championship push. But even more than a decade later, Orton has his moments. The most recent example was when he was caught staring at a female fan’s chest when she took a selfie picture with the 12-time world champion.
9 Mickie James
Sometimes, trying to start a relationship with one of the big names in the locker room only works once in a while. Mickie James certainly was not one of those winners when she had an affair with John Cena at a time when she was dating former WWE Superstar Kenny Dykstra. While many people give Cena a bad name because he was married at the time he was having the relationship with James, she wasn’t necessarily innocent in the entire situation.
According to the former star Dykstra, James reportedly flipped out when Cena refused to make it an official relationship. But it seems with her marriage to TNA Wrestling star Magnus and having a child, she might have become more mature as a professional. There’s a reason she was not only able to return to the WWE, but she has been placed on the same SmackDown roster as Cena.
8 CM Punk
This might be viewed a little unfair based on which fans you speak with. A number of wrestling fans have written online about positive experiences meeting CM Punk. But it’s all about how Punk feels he is approached by fans who want an autograph or picture. However, Punk doesn’t seem to hold back when he doesn’t want to be bothered; telling fans to leave him alone when he’s seen at airports.
But co-workers have also had some thoughts of their own when working with Punk. Between the things said in his 2011 “pipe bomb” promo and the interview on Colt Cabana’s “Art of Wrestling” podcast, Punk made comments that weren’t necessarily warranted. While there’s a “never say never” belief in WWE returns, Punk may have burned his bridges and danced on the ashes.
Back in 2005, Matt Hardy was let go from the WWE and went on a tirade where he would reveal that his long-time girlfriend Lita had an affair with Edge, who was also married at the time. While Hardy certainly may have gone overboard with how he went on and on through social media about the affair that some felt led to his WWE release, Lita certainly didn’t do herself any favors in terms of fan response.
Fans certainly turned on the once extremely popular WWE female superstar. It certainly led to the fans chanting “You Screwed Matt!” at various live events and television tapings. It was the sort of news that fans didn’t forgive for several years. Lita has since retired from wrestling, but many fans still hold her affair with Edge against her.
6 Triple H
The world of professional wrestling is a lot like any business where climbing the corporate ladder might involve stepping on a number of toes. In his rise to becoming the heir apparent of Vince McMahon to run the WWE, Triple H might have also kicked some exposed shins with steel toe boots. With marrying the boss’s daughter, he’s certainly benefited behind the scenes of the WWE.
There were a number of wrestlers that were certainly worthy of main event pushes – i.e. RVD, Booker T and Chris Jericho – but were held down during the Ruthless Aggression Era’s brand split. However, that’s probably not the worst offense Triple H reportedly committed. His former girlfriend Chyna also made comments about how she was treated after she discovered Triple H having an affair with Stephanie McMahon.
5 Tammy Lynn Sytch
The question is where one should begin when looking at how far the former WWE superstar Sunny has fallen over the years. Tammy Lynn Sytch has developed quite the negative reputation among wrestling fans. Part of it has to do with the countless social media wars that she’s been involved in with other female wrestlers like Ashley Massaro and Brooke Adams. Other wrestlers have also caught her soliciting drugs from other wrestlers.
But she’s also hit a number of money problems that can be linked to a number of legal troubles. Sytch has now had to go into the world of adult films in what seems to be an effort to stay out of any further financial trouble. This comes after reports of fans having paid for Skype sessions with the former WWE Superstar.
4 Brock Lesnar
Outside of Goldberg in the 1990s WCW, not many wrestlers had a big rise through the ranks like Brock Lesnar did after his 2002 debut. The former collegiate heavyweight wrestler was quickly moved through Ohio Valley Wrestling and brought into WWE as a monster that was also able to make a successful transition into the world of mixed martial arts. But he also developed a reputation with fans in both WWE and UFC.
Not only has he been very quiet when fans ask for photographs or autographs, Lesnar has also been seen flipping off fans at UFC events. But he also maintained a reputation as a bully through his time with WWE. Former developmental manager Kenny Bolin said he was threatened when he was near Lesnar’s girlfriend at the time.
3 The Fabulous Moolah
It might come as a surprise to know that the Fabulous Moolah was not viewed in the best light. While considered one of the greatest women’s champions in early pro wrestling history, the Fablous Moolah also faced a lot of criticism for her treatment of women that she “trained” during the 1950s. With the fame she had built up during that time, she essentially brought in a number of students to train.
But she faced a lot of criticism in what some fans would call “pimping” her students out to several wrestling promoters in an effort to also receive better booking opportunities for herself. Moolah was also credited for having gotten many of her students involved in drugs at the time. It was certainly a huge black mark against the storied wrestling career that she had.
2 Hulk Hogan
The days of Hulkamania running wild through the world of professional wrestling and most of popular culture have long passed. The former wrestling star from the 1980s, 1990s and even part of the 2000s was the king of the wrestling world. Wrestling was synonymous with Hogan’s legacy from body slamming Andre the Giant to forming the New World Order. However, recent years have seen him become a real-life villain.
In 2015, Hogan’s sex tape was released. But it wasn’t the fact that he was having an affair at the time with a friend’s wife. Hogan faced harsh criticism for making a racial comment about someone his daughter Brooke was dating. This led to the WWE cutting all ties with Hogan and cost him a legends contract. Hogan would end up filing a lawsuit with Gawker Media for the release of the sex tape – netting him about $140 million in restitution. But the damage to his image was done, to say the least.
Being one of the biggest names in female wrestling through the 1990s can lead to a lot of pressure when working with her. There have been reports of how Sable’s influence got other wrestlers in trouble during her time with the WWE. There were reports of her having a real-life feud with Luna Vachon as Sable was not working well with Vachon trying to train her for wrestling matches.
In her return to the WWE to work with Torrie Wilson, apparently there was some heat between the two as Sable reportedly thought Wilson was trying to steal her spotlight. Now retired from wrestling altogether and married to Brock Lesnar, fans have often written about how she’s given cold shoulders to fans approaching the two at airports and other public places.