In the wake of what’s happening with the WWE and Maura Ranallo, the discussion over bullying in the WWE locker room is at an all-time high. It appears that Ranallo and the WWE are severing their ties and as a result, the fans are losing out in a big way. It’s a wise business decision that the WWE is keeping this story as under wraps as possible by having Ranallo sign a non-disclosure agreement, but sadly, this sort of thing never needed to happen.
The “Be a Star” campaign that the WWE actively promotes and was created as a way to fight against bullying is not one that the company itself has often adhered to or used a motto in life. There are countless stories of bullying and hazing that took place in the WWE. Ranallo’s situation goes to show that the world, especially as it pertains to the WWE and its superstars has a way to go.
Of course, for every bully, there is often a story of a leader. These leaders were people known to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Perhaps, it wasn’t even so much that they stopped the bullies in their tracks, but that they gave strength to those around them by setting an example.
Below is a list of 10 Superstars who were known as locker room bullies and 10 who were known as leaders. It’s amazing to see just how low some have sunk and just how influential others have been.
20. Locker Room Bully: Bob Holly
There are others on the bully list that rank higher than Bob Holly, but not many. Holly to this day gives interviews about the way of the WWE locker room and how there was a method in which you entered, conducted yourself and behaved. Those who fell out of line were ostracized.
Holly was known to be a wrestler that was called upon to teach others this rule. One example was during the 2005 Royal Rumble when he, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero took to beating the snot out of Tough Enough Winner Daniel Puder. Meant to teach the rookie wrestler a lesson for attempting to show up Kurt Angle, Holly has contended that the boys simply didn’t like Puder and they determined it was time for him to move on from the WWE. Puder may have been in the wrong, but Holly’s old-school ways wouldn’t fly in today’s WWE.
19. Locker Room Leader: Booker T
Booker T is a WWE Hall of Famer. While he’s now retired, he’s still around the boys in the back and he’s one of the most well-respected voices in the WWE Locker Room. He was the same as an active wrestler.
Now the owner of Reality of Wrestling, Booker T is seen as a huge proponent of helping upstart wrestlers get their foot in the door at the WWE. He’s also had a history of standing up for those who are simply trying to earn their way and make it in professional wrestling.
One example is a physical altercation Booker T had with Batista during a promotional shoot. Batista was talking down about the SmackDown product to which Booker was a part of. Standing up for himself and the others trying to make SmackDown great, Booker T decided he’d had enough of Batista’s negativity.
18. Locker Room Bully: Triple H
Triple H is the only wrestler who has the distinction of making our list twice. While he’s known now as the face of NXT and a true mentor to those graduating from the NXT brand, not too long ago, Triple H wasn’t the most highly revered WWE Superstar.
There aren’t a ton of accounts of Triple H singling any one particular wrestler out — although he did take issue with Chris Master’s apparent use of steroids — but Triple H makes the list as a bully due to the example he used to set as a political brown-noser.
There was a time that Triple H knew who to talk to, what group to be a part of and how to find himself in the good graces of those with power just by being the “right place at the right time”. From being a part of the Kliq to marrying Stephanie McMahon, Triple H knew how to take advantage of a situation. It’s a trait that will come in handy in the corporate work he’s now doing with the WWE.
17. Locker Room Leader: Triple H
We mentioned he was on here twice and here’s why. For as much as Triple H was known to cozy up to the right people and find himself in rewarding situations, there is no denying what he’s currently doing for the WWE. Sure, he has a tendency to put himself in high-profile storylines right around WrestleMania season, but his work with NXT is off the charts good.
Every wrestler in that NXT locker room will probably give glowing referrals to Triple H for helping their careers. From teaching them how to work with the WWE on the way the company produces a show to lending his expertise as a professional. They love him in NXT and the fans are clamoring for the day he’s behind the scenes calling the shots in the WWE.
16. Locker Room Bully: Hulk Hogan
The Hulkster still isn’t back in the WWE’s good graces yet, but it probably won’t be long before he is. This the way of Hulk Hogan — do something stupid to the wrestling industry, get in hot water, then come back after all is forgiven because, well, you’re Hulk Hogan.
Hogan was known as an influencer. He would take roles and opportunities from other performers (joining the nWo as the third-man was not originally a role meant for Hogan), he would refuse to lose to certain people or he’d steal the spotlight when it served his career to do so. It was the type of backstage maneuvering that probably made both WCW and TNA environments so cancerous to work in. Very few people are in it for themselves the way Hulk Hogan always has been.
15. Locker Room Leader: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho is one of the most entertaining members of the WWE roster. He’s also among the most highly respected. There are a few accounts of issues backstage where Jericho has been known to “defend” himself or the boys in the back. From going after Brock Lesnar for busting open Randy Orton, to fighting Goldberg in a real backstage altercation when Goldberg refused to help Jericho with an idea that was pure gold, Jericho isn’t afraid to mix it up.
One instance with Sin Cara, where the two got into it may mean that Jericho has a tendency to take things too far. For now and because Jericho has been such a mainstay in the WWE, putting over almost every wrestler the WWE has asked him to, we’ll label him as a leader.
14. Locker Room Bully: The Dynamite Kid
The stories of the kinds of things The Dynamite Kid used to do to people would make you cringe. In post-WWE interviews, Dynamite himself hasn’t denied certain stories calling them funny and good old ribs on his friends and family.
From accounts of him waking up his wife in the morning with a gun in her mouth and threatening to load it next time, to getting in numerous bar fights, he wasn’t one to make his bullying light-hearted. One of the more public stories is one that comes from WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley. He discussed his debut match with the WWE where Dynamite Kid was so stiff in the ring and hard on him as a newbie that Foley couldn’t eat solid foods for a week.
13. Locker Room Leader: John Cena
Cena isn’t necessarily loved by a majority of the WWE Universe today, but that doesn’t make him any less respected by those in the locker room. Based solely on his countless appearances for the WWE as a promotional tool, his travel schedule to make dates and do outside appearances and his work with charities, Cena is setting positive examples left and right for those that are coming behind him to follow.
When those at the top of the WWE make comments about brass rings and cementing their status, it’s Cena they use as an example. That’s he’s used his time in the WWE to stand up to part-timers like the Rock also made him a hero. That is, up until he found success in Hollywood and is starting to do the same. What he does moving forward will tell a lot about the type of example he wants to set now that he doesn’t need the WWE.
12. Locker Room Bully: Randy Orton
Never known as a performer who often got along with many in the backstage area, Orton has a very public reputation for being hard on the ladies of the WWE. It’s not exactly an example the WWE should promote.
Orton is known for having filled a Diva contestants bag with creams and products. He’s known as having gone public with a number of men certain Divas have hooked up with backstage and he’s publicly humiliated fans with tweets about their weight and appearances. At one time, Orton was known as a real lady killer, so it seems odd that he would have such a double-standard.
11. Locker Room Leader: The Miz
The Miz makes the list, not necessarily because he’s going out of his way to set an example or be a leader, but because he’s done so based on how he handled his time as a WWE Superstar who was being bullied.
The Miz would have had every reason to quit. When he first arrived in the WWE as a Tough Enough Contestant and then got a contract, but had a reality television background, he was not exactly welcomed. The Miz was the target of almost every bully attack. He was forced to dress out of the locker room for months on end, razzed and teased and bullies tried to break him. The Miz didn’t break. Instead, he became a huge star and is now well respected in the WWE.
10. Locker Room Bully: Shawn Michaels
If the list was being judged based on former bullies who have changed their ways, perhaps Shawn Michaels would be the champion. Now a devout Christian who spends his time trying to teach those in WWE’s development system how to be better performers, Michales was once the WWE’s biggest brat.
He repeatedly wreaked havoc in the locker room when he was the headliner. From refusing to do certain jobs to running a faction called the Kliq that was primarily only out for themselves, he was probably the most difficult performer to manage. In one instance, he reduced a much larger man to tears (Vader) when he reamed him out for accidentally making real contact in a match. On a live broadcast, he threatened to ensure Vader never worked again. Vader believed him knowing the clout he had backstage.
9. Locker Room Leader – NXT Alumn
Technically, we should probably be reserving these spots for individual performers, but there is a culture change going on in the WWE that deserves some mention. That change is what is currently happening with the developmental product NXT. It’s literally become a breeding ground for better people, better performers, and a changed culture.
Wrestlers like Sami Zayn, Bayley and others have come from NXT and set the bar for others to follow. They’ve shown what it takes to make it in the WWE and rookies to veterans coming from other promotions are looking to these alumni as leaders and as mentors who paved the way. The NXT Alumni are truly showing that the old boys club is a thing of the past and that everyone should be helping everyone.
8. Locker Room Bully: Bill Demott
Speaking of NXT, it’s not always the case that everything that comes from NXT comes out smelling like roses. This can be said of any organization. In the case of Bill Demott and his relationship with the WWE and its talent, the stories of how he bullied former performers as head trainer in NXT is bad for business.
His legacy has forever been tarnished due to allegations that he was abusive, demeaning, threatening, pushed the trainees to the point of exhaustion and even told some of them to kill themselves because they’d never have what it took to make it to the WWE. Until he resigned to save face for the WWE, the rumours were Demott was making comments that were homophobic and hateful, all while threatening to get performers fired if they spoke up.
7. Locker Room Leader: Andre the Giant
Andre the Giant was known as a loveable giant. He was also known as the type of person you didn’t want to get on the bad side of. In a couple instances, certain wrestlers did and he taught them a lesson a behalf of the locker room.
One of the most famous stories centers around the Ultimate Warrior, who it has been well documented was a bit too into his character and worked stiff in the ring. It was a problem for a lot of wrestlers Warrior had matched up against, yet he always used the excuse that his character couldn’t be slowed because of his animalistic nature. Andre, a bit too tired of being hit during matches, kindly asked the Warrior to lay off. When the Warrior refused, Andre hit him with a stiff shot that almost knocked the Warrior out. The two never had issues after that.
6. Locker Room Bully: Vince McMahon
It’s sad to hear that bullying exists. It’s even sadder to know that sometimes bullying is a product of the environment one is placed in. When the act of bullying comes all the way from the top, how do the superstars learn? For years, they didn’t and that was thanks to Vince McMahon who was about as bad as any bully he employed.
There are instances where McMahon has teased and then fought with wrestlers like Kofi Kingston. There are instances where bullies stole former announcer Justin Roberts’ passport and during a meeting, McMahon leaned over to Roberts and told him not to forget his passport. McMahon was notorious for ensuring the boys could handle themselves and looked to bullying as a way to thin out the herd.
5. Locker Room Leader: Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin made some mistakes. He set a few examples that were not great for fellow wrestlers to follow. He was abusive in his personal relationships with women and he walked out on the WWE over disputes. None of these things he should be proud of. I would venture to guess he isn’t.
That said, as a WWE Superstar trying to make it successfully, he’s a prime example of the type of machine the WWE needs to get behind a talent. Austin went from a terrible gimmick to asking for the company to take a chance on an idea. He became the company’s biggest draw in terms of talent and merchandise and arguably the biggest superstar ever in the company’s history. He did all of it by being an extension of himself, dialed up in volume. If a performer ever needed an example of how to get themselves over, he’s the bar.
4. Locker Room Bully: Goldberg
Goldberg made a triumphant return to the WWE this past year. By most accounts, he seemed humble to be given an opportunity to show his family a bit of the former superhero he played on television during his prime. The problem with labeling yourself as a superhero is that you need to act like one.
Typically superheroes do good things for others. This was not what Goldberg was known for during his prime. He was notorious for not wanting to do the job for others or work with performers like Chris Jericho because they were “beneath him.” Goldberg had very much gotten behind the hype of his own character and as such was difficult to work with.
3. Locker Room Leader: Trish Stratus
If ever there was a single performer who changed the landscape of an entire division in wrestling, Trish Stratus might be at the top of the list. In an era where women were viewed in the WWE has “toys” and “eye candy”, Stratus took it upon herself to learn the craft of professional wrestling and go about trying to put on five-star matches.
She was successful and today is known as a WWE Hall of Famer. There are few women in current wrestling scene that don’t attribute some of their success to Stratus and the example she set. Trish Stratus showed everyone in her locker room and many locker rooms after that being a good female wrestler was more important than taking your clothes off and being the subject of jokes and ridicule.
2. Locker Room Bully: JBL
Choosing who to put at the top of our list was easy. In fact, JBL could have made all ten spots if each instance of bullying counted as an entry. It is JBL’s treatment of Mauro Ranallo that has relaunched the debate about bullying and it has come to light that JBL was widely considered the worst bully in WWE history.
From physically beating up the Blue Meanie on a live ECW One Night Stand pay per view, to the constant harassment of performers like The Miz, Mark Henry, Justin Roberts and countless others, he didn’t stop for one second to think about his victims. Whether he was given instruction from above to get rid of the weak and those who couldn’t handle it or is just a mean spirited individual, it’s amazing JBL is still employed with the WWE. Getting knocked out by Joey Styles (someone who refused to let JBL bully him) didn’t teach him anything.
1. Locker Room Leader: The Undertaker
While JBL easily made our list as the biggest bully, The Undertaker makes our list as the biggest locker room leader. It’s ironic considering how close JBL and The Undertaker are in real life.
The Undertaker has widely been known as a performer who will give back to the wrestling business. Never interested in jumping ship to WCW, he stayed loyal to the WWE his entire career. He was the face of the WWE for over 20 years.
He’s also so respected in the backstage area that the wrestlers themselves call upon him to act as judge and jury when it comes to disputes. Simply put, when The Undertaker says something, it becomes law. That’s how respected he is.
His career may have just ended at WrestleMania 33, but he’ll be forever remembered as the most revered superstar in WWE history. He’ll also be remembered as one of the true locker room leaders.
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