The deterioration of fame for any athlete is something that many struggle to cope with. For a pro wrestler, in a sport that is so dependent upon idolization of its stars, this can be even more damaging to the individual's ego. Also similar to every other sport, most wrestlers have their day in the sun, and then slowly start to diminish in popularity as their career goes on. It can be jarring to someone who's seen consistent fame in the wrestling business, and it can cause them to act in ways that are less-than humble, to put it lightly.
No matter what the specific reason is, some wrestlers just don't age particularly well when it comes to the PR department. They expect to still be revered as they were in the prime of their career, and that's simply unrealistic for most of them. As time marches on, they inevitably become at least marginally more irrelevant than they were in their heyday. Let's take a look at some of the worst examples of veteran wrestlers who have an inflated opinion of themselves.
Ranked below are 15 older wrestling stars who think they're still famous, but they're not.
To be frank, Virgil wasn't often relevant when he was a full-time active wrestler, but since his retirement, it's gotten even worse. He's a mainstay for autograph signings at Indy shows, but the draw simply isn't there for a wrestler who was on the outskirts of the roster to begin with. Simply, Virgil has an inflated opinion of his importance in the wrestling world.
Neither of his major runs in WWE and WCW yielded anything higher than mid-card success, so it's not a surprise that most fans would be less-than-enthusiastic about meeting him, and paying money for autograph. Ultimately, Virgil just wasn't a great draw, and the fan reaction around him in the modern day follows suit.
14 Michael P.S. Hayes
Having been a member of one of the most popular stables of all-time in The Fabulous Freebirds, it's understandable why Hayes would carry a certain degree of arrogance along with him at all times. Having worked backstage in WWE for years now, Hayes has gotten the opportunity on many-a-dcoumentary to spout whatever opinions he feels like on a regular basis. Not all of them are ridiculous, but he definitely sees himself in a light that many do not anymore.
Hayes isn't clueless in the least, but he does like to puff out his chest and wax poetic about the "old days" a little to often for some people's taste. He's definitely an important wrestler in the history of the business, but not on the level of the truly elite talents that he would probably compare himself to.
13 Marty Jannetty
Clearly, Jannetty was always the weak link in The Rockers from the beginning. A solid in-ring talent to be sure, but Shawn Michaels was always the one with star potential in the singles ranks. Jannetty has always been a bit peeved over that fact, and perhaps his continued involvement on the indy scene is a try-hard way to prove that he still has the same in-ring ability that he once did.
He's complained over contracts in the past, and ripped WWE on numerous occasions. Truthfully though, Jannetty was just never really worth a contract after the early-'90s. Despite this, WWE kept him around for several stints after that, which was frankly a show of unnecessary loyalty. Jannetty's bitterness has persisted for years, despite ample opportunities to wrestle on the biggest stage imaginable.
12 Kevin Nash
As has been well-documented, Nash has always been a bit of an egomaniac (to say the least), and the stories of him flexing his power at the wrong time are abundant. This amounts to him being quite arrogant in his semi-retirement, making no bones about ripping wrestlers he doesn't like, and promoting his distorted view of the past, particularly about the dumpster fire that was WCW.
Nash just has the tendency to come off as a jerk, and while that's not surprising, as long as it persists, he's going to perpetuate the negative reputation that he's always held. He should probably tone it down with the hostile remarks and re-writing of history, given that he's now fairly anonymous in the modern wrestling landscape, but that's unlikely ever to happen.
11 Bobby Lashley
Though he should have been granted a better chance to succeed in WWE initially, Lashley has proven that he's not much of a draw outside of the company. Stints in TNA, GFW and most recently MMA, have given Lashley plenty of opportunity to prove that he belongs as a primetime player in the world of fighting-based sports. Instead, he's proved that he's dispensable; nothing more than a mid-level figure who doesn't have a penchant for putting up great matches in the clutch.
North of the age of 40 right now, there's not much left for Lashley to do. He's signed with Bellator MMA currently, but there's not much hope that it will lead to anything substantial, and he hasn't fought since October of 2016. Lashley's constant career-switches and comebacks indicate that he believes he's still on top, but every shred of evidence says otherwise.
10 Rob Van Dam
Van Dam has had no problem building his brand over the years, even though its been based off less than a decade of prime performance. There's no doubt that he was entertaining at his peak, but putting him up with the all-time greats is also a stretch. Regardless, if you see Van Dam at a wrestling-related event or signing, expect to shell out big bucks for the smallest of autographs.
Everything he's done in the past ten years or so has just been over the top considering his deteriorated skill level. He never was the most liked guy in the locker room to begin with, but with his continuous no-selling, jerk-ish attitude and refusal to compliment anyone but himself, Van Dam has proven that he's nothing short of arrogant on a regular basis.
9 Eric Bischoff
Most people wouldn't deny that Bischoff was in large part responsible for WCW's ascension into wrestling's elite promotions in the mid-'90s. While he certainly had his detractors, his ideas were innovative and provided the only true threat to WWE since the company went national in the mid-'80s. But that only encapsulates a period of about four years before the company went downhill, also in large part due to Bischoff's doings.
Bischoff has had multiple career ventures since initially departing from wrestling, but has found his way back into the business on a part-time basis. Via his podcast, he has no problem calling people out, trying to throw his weight around like he still has any clout in the modern day wrestling landscape. Fact is, Bischoff was good for a time and a place, and that's it. His ideas weren't immune to the changing of the times, and he often had trouble making adjustments.
8 Scott Steiner
Steiner's singles career wasn't nearly as successful as he would like everyone to believe. He ascended to the top of a broken WCW with barely any new stars, and hobbled into WWE during the fallout of The Alliance period where the roster was in the midst of a major shakeup. He has no room to act like he was a top-tier main event talent in a successful company, because that's never been the case.
Nevertheless, he's one of the most hostile ex-wrestlers in shoot interviews, and he'll say anything he wants to anyone, regardless of how much truth there is attached to it. WWE could see that he was out of his prime during his early-00s run with the company, and he was sent packing soon after. Steiner often refuses to admit that he wasn't on the level of many other 90s wrestlers, and his ego is just generally out of control.
7 Road Warrior Animal
It's understandable why Animal would be sour on the wrestling business. His best friend and tag team partner for decades in Hawk passed away at a young age. He's had to watch the wrestling world apply the hallmarks of The Legion Of Doom without half of the team to see modern tag teams taking ideas from them. While this is certainly legitimate, it's clear that he's also holding a grudge against the industry.
He's also another example of an autograph that will cost a fortune at any given appearance, and generally seems to be there just for the PR. Animal was an important wrestler for the tag team circuit, but outside of his work with the LOD, he was nothing more than a middling talent.
6 Jim Cornette
Hands down one of the biggest pot-stirrers in the history of the business, Cornette has no problem blasting anyone and everyone that he personally has a problem with, for any reason. He typically goes after wrestlers in the newer generation, clinging to the model that wrestling had decades ago. While it's all well and good to discuss the successes of a past era, to just write off everything that came after it is ignorant, to say the least.
The fact is that Cornette doesn't have the clout in the business that he once did. Ever since the Attitude Era, he's been on a lower-tier than he was earlier in his career. After the NWA folded, it's been a downward trajectory for him ever since. He's a great talent as a manager, but also incredibly bitter about the business and how it has evolved.
5 Billy Gunn
Gunn's always been very good at self-promotion, but he's getting to be a little long in the tooth to justify the kind of schedule he's putting himself on right now. He's lived on the indy scene as a direct result of his WWE days, even though he's clearly past his prime as an in-ring talent. His appearance with NJPW over the summer was frankly embarrassing, and he just has no business booking himself to the extent that he does at this point in his career.
He's not the same draw that he once was, but it's clear that he's not going to quit while he's ahead. Gunn will likely continue to tour the Indys with little success, and promote himself like he's still in D-Generation X, even though he's essentially been doing nothing substantial for the past decade.
4 Honky Tonk Man
Perhaps the most overrated WWE wrestler of the late-'80s, Honky Tonk Man was one of the most contrived and cringeworthy gimmicks in the history of the company. He's always had an inflated opinion of himself, and it's carried over to his public appearances and shoot interviews where he tends to rip other wrestlers on a regular basis.
He's a prime example as to why most retired wrestlers should keep a low profile after retiring. More often than not, he just embarrasses himself trying to live up to some image that he's cultivated for himself, instead of realizing that the public perception on him is lukewarm at best. Honky Tonk Man has been dead weight for years in the business, offering nothing except criticism for others, and a disturbing degree of self-infatuation.
3 Brock Lesnar
Nobody really wants to admit it, but Lesnar has jumped the shark. His shtick has gotten nothing short of boring, and he's not the draw that he once was. Sure, he's been an impressive physical specimen, and some of his showdowns over the years have been pretty cool. Ultimately however, he doesn't have the depth of character or in-ring ability to be considered such an elite talent. Clearly, he's always thought otherwise, as he follows the money to whatever fighting-based event will have him next.
Lesnar always had a short shelf life as a legitimate star in wrestling. He was a Goldberg ripoff to begin with, only with far less of the mystique. Lesnar will continue wrestling for WWE until they won't have him, but there's better talent out there, and Lesnar isn't doing anything to further the product.
2 Arn Anderson
During his heyday, there were few better all-around wrestlers than Anderson was. The fame he achieved as an original member of The Four Horsemen was certainly well-deserved, and it helped define an entire era of wrestling, no question about it. But since taking his well-publicized backstage role at WWE, Anderson's probably been around the overall product more times than he should as someone who retired in 1997.
It's not so egregiously bad, but the same old stories from the NWA days do get tiresome. Anderson hasn't aired his dirty laundry or complained about current wrestlers as many as some other former talents have, but he still makes sure that he gets enough air time per year in various WWE-affiliated broadcasts and events to keep his ego satisfied. He probably deserves to do so, but less people probably care than he thinks.
1 Jeff Jarrett
By far the biggest problem Jarrett has ever had has been his inability to admit the reality of his ability. His father Jerry founded USWA, and was a big promoter in Tennessee, so naturally Jarrett has always thought that he was royalty for just stepping into a ring.
He succeeded for a while on his own merits; there's no doubt of that. He put together generally-good work in mid-'90s WWE and late-'90s WCW, even if he was pushed beyond what his talented warranted. It's everything that happened after 2000 that has turned his career into a laughing stock.
The failure of TNA, the generally irrelevance of GFW now, and Jarrett pushing himself for years as a main event talent inherently is own company, even though he was on the downswing of his career, is all laughable. It was detrimental to not only his own company, but his reputation, which has consistently devolved as the years have worn on.
Essentially, Jarrett has always thought he was more important than he actually was. With more restraint he could have been an asset to a successful company, but he'd usually rather be an overbearing control-freak.