You know how the expression goes – open mouth, insert foot. Whatever the reason or excuse may be, people say dumb things from time to time. But when a celebrity or athlete says something stupid, that's when people truly pay attention, and that's what often makes fans lose respect for them, sometimes briefly, sometimes for an extended period of time. Wrestlers can be considered athletes AND celebrities, being the sports entertainers that they are, and you better believe they're prone to saying some of the dumbest things a person in the spotlight could say.
In some cases, such as Ric Flair's comment about Mick Foley being a "glorified stuntman," or Bret Hart's insinuation that Seth Rollins is totally unsafe to work with, it's easy to forgive them and focus instead on their legacy as Hall of Fame wrestlers. But in other cases, wrestlers say things that are so mind-blowingly stupid and/or offensive that you can't help but see them in a completely different, negative light. This list will show us 15 times when this happened, as we look at the wrestlers, the dumb things they said (all of them shoot statements as far as we know, and not in character), and why those statements may have made at least a good number of fans lose respect for them.
15 Ryback's "Pay Me More" Rant
Back when he was booked as a heel, Ryback was derisively referred to by some onscreen rivals, including Chris Jericho, as "Cryback." Who knew that he'd be living up to the name in 2016? Just as he was sitting on WWE's bench and waiting for his contract to expire, The Big Guy went on an extended Tumblr rant, where he demanded that everyone in the WWE, from mid-carders like himself to main event talents like his apparent real-life nemesis John Cena, get paid equally. His reasoning? Pro wrestling is predetermined, and it's the lower- and mid-card guys who put the main eventers over and make them look good.
Ryback's silly plea for equal pay wasn't the last time he'd put his foot in his mouth. Far from that, actually. His podcast, Conversation with the Big Guy, oftentimes operates like an hour-long foot-in-mouth session, as the former Ryan Reeves (he's now legally called Ryback Reeves) often comes about as the most bitter WWE castaway in recent memory.
14 Kevin Nash Hates Vanilla Midgets
If there's one man you can blame for the lack of upward mobility the likes of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero had in WCW, it's "Big Sexy" himself, Kevin Nash. The nWo founding member had infamously referred to the two smaller, yet technically-gifted wrestlers as "vanilla midgets," suggesting that they were too small and bland to draw a dime. And while he later claimed that those comments were a work, he made at least a few more statements in the coming years that truly suggest he has no respect for smaller wrestlers.
When talking about the time Benoit and Guerrero celebrated to close WrestleMania XX, Nash called it the "end of the business," suggesting that watching the two WCW mid-carders turned WWE main eventers was like watching an adult film where the male lead has a "3-inch d**k." Nash wasn't a fan of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan (then Bryan Danielson) either, saying even later on that they would have needed a "gimmick shirt" and a title belt to be recognized at airports.
We get it, Kev. You're a big dude. But that doesn't exclude smaller guys, including your good friend Shawn Michaels, from making a name in the wrestling business.
13 Greg Valentine On Women's Wrestlers And MMA Fighters
Greg "The Hammer" Valentine is an old-school sort, being the son of a legendary wrestler (Johnny Valentine), and someone who competed in an era where wrestlers were here for one reason only, which was for them to let them tell you something, brother. But he's definitely too old-school for comfort, as we found out not too long ago when he shot hard on women's wrestlers and female MMA fighters.
When asked in 2015 to comment about women in wrestling and mixed martial arts, Valentine said that these ladies should be sent "to the strip bar" because they don't draw money, and that their place should be at home, where they could wash dishes, cook for their men, and have their babies. Really. He did say all those horrible, straight-out-of-the-'50s things in 2015, and we can only wish that it was just a poor, tasteless attempt at an in-character heel promo gone wrong.
12 Vince Russo On Women In General
Alas, Greg Valentine isn’t the only Neanderthal who’s been living far too long in a cave to recognize what women can do, and should be doing alongside their male equivalents. In a November 2016 episode of his podcast, The Brand, the always-controversial Vince Russo said that he doesn’t believe that women were created to be leaders. Citing his Christian belief in the Bible, Russo noted that this is because he believes that the woman, or should we say Eve, was taken from the man’s, or should we say Adam’s, rib. He then added that women have the “most important job,” which is to give birth and raise children, which, to him, will always be more important than leadership.
Not only is the above statement disturbingly sexist, its literal interpretation of the Bible suggests that Vinny Ru just might be one of those people who believe the Earth is flat.
11 Baron Corbin Beefs With Dave Meltzer
Up until recently, Baron Corbin was one of the young talents WWE had the highest hopes pinned on, as evidenced by his Money in the Bank contract, and upward momentum on SmackDown Live. But when Corbin inexplicably lost his cash-in attempt, myriad reports and rumors swirled about the Lone Wolf being very unpopular backstage. You also had reports of Corbin's numerous social media altercations with his colleagues, as well as one he had with the well-connected and highly-respected man behind the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer.
Truth be told, Corbin's comment that Meltzer has no right to evaluate wrestlers because he's never worked a match or cut a promo is almost as asinine as the way in which he lost his cash-in attempt. Roger Ebert was not an actor by trade, and Lester Bangs, as far as this writer knows, never played in a band. Yet they were esteemed movie and music critics respectively, which puts Corbin completely in the wrong when it comes to his argument about Meltzer not having the credentials to write about wrestling because he never was a wrestler.
10 Vader Speaks Out On "Flippy S**t"
At this point in Leon "Big Van Vader" White's life, we certainly wish him the best when it comes to his health issues, and are still pulling for WWE to induct him into their Hall of Fame. As a then-450-pounder with unusual athleticism and moves for a man his size, the man WWE called "The Mastodon" deserved much better during his time working for the company. But that still doesn't absolve him from that one time he ruffled many feathers by dissing the NJPW Best of the Super Juniors match between Ricochet and Will Ospreay after it went viral among wrestling fans.
Referring to the match as "blatant acrobatics with no story," the proudly old-school Vader kicked off a Twitter feud with Ospreay that actually culminated in an actual wrestling match at Revolution Pro Wrestling's Uprising event last August. Vader, who has almost four decades and at least 200 pounds on Ospreay, won the match, but was eviscerated on the mic soon after, as Ospreay cut a "pipe bomb" worked-shoot promo suggesting Vader had too big of an ego to put the younger man over.
9 Brock Lesnar Doesn't Like Gays
Not long after he and Bill Goldberg plodded their way through one of the worst matches in WrestleMania history and left the company together, Brock Lesnar was the subject of an ESPN feature article, as he set his sights on an NFL career with the hometown Minnesota Vikings. And that feature started with a story of how Lesnar was approached by a young woman who told him that her friend Shawn (not Shawna, not Shana, as the article stressed) had a crush on him.
Lesnar’s response to the woman? ESPN obviously couldn’t print it due to all the expletives within it. But after the Beast had simmered down, he had told ESPN’s Wayne Drehs that he “doesn’t like gays,” adding that the reporter should “write that down in (his) little notebook.” Still, we don't think that Brock is as homophobic as he is an equal-opportunity hater – there aren't too many people he likes outside of Sable and Paul Heyman, after all.
8 Cameron "Only Dates White Guys"
Prior to her long-overdue release from WWE in 2016, Cameron had a penchant for speaking too much of her mind. That was still true earlier this year, when the former Funkadactyl, who is African-American, told TMZ Sports that she has one key rule in dating – black men need not apply. She then went on to say that she only dates white guys, adding that mixed race couples "make beautiful babies."
After her comments predictably resulted in a ton of backlash, Cameron quickly backpedaled, insisting in a second TMZ interview that she's not racist. She added that everyone has preferences when it comes to dating, and that at the end of the day, "if you're dope, you're dope," regardless of the color of your skin. It was a classic foot-in-mouth moment, and one reason why people no longer exclusively think of Cameron as the girl who said Melina vs. Alicia Fox was her favorite WWE match of all-time, and screamed "Count it, ref!" while opponent Naomi was laying on her stomach.
7 The Ultimate Warrior On "Queering"
When The Ultimate Warrior died in 2014, it was a time of mourning for many wrestling fans. But I do remember this one friend, a fellow lifelong wrestling fan in his 30s, who refused to show sadness because Warrior was such a notorious jerk backstage, and even more so because he was a notorious homophobe. One may want to classify him as a social justice warrior, but I, for one, got where he was coming from, even if I was one of those late-'80s kids shocked and saddened by the Warrior's passing.
When talking about Warrior's homophobia, you've got to look back to the time where he, in a speaking gig at a college, told the shocked audience that "queering doesn't make the world work." It was a callous and outdated statement that makes you wish that Warrior, seemingly chastened in his last days on earth, had also renounced his homophobic ways while he was making amends with WWE and the many wrestlers he had butted heads with.
6 Booker T Defends JBL's Bullying
Earlier this year, bullying became a hot-button topic within the WWE, as John Bradshaw Layfield's notorious bullying ways nearly led Mauro Ranallo to quit the company. Then Justin Roberts released his autobiography, where the former WWE ring announcer related tales of being bullied by JBL. It was open season on Layfield, as stories of his penchant for hazing and bullying began to reemerge. But he had a few staunch supporters, including his fellow WWE legend-turned commentator, Booker T.
On an episode of his Heated Conversations podcast, Booker said that bullying is supposed to end once high school is over, meaning that once you reach adulthood, there's no reason for you to get bullied by anyone, as you're free to stand up for yourself or report the matter to authorities. What Booker didn't get is that it's often not that simple, especially in a company like WWE where JBL obviously gets preferential treatment from the higher-ups.
Additionally, Booker also bragged about NEVER getting bullied in his time in the wrestling business – easy for a street-smart 250-pounder to say, but what about average-sized men like Roberts and Joey Styles who were easy pickings for the near-300-pound JBL?
5 Jay Briscoe On Gay Marriage
Of all the wrestlers on this list who made stupid statements about homosexuality, it's the indie guy who stands out – Jay Briscoe. Together with his brother Mark, Jay has become one of the top names in tag team wrestling, despite the fact they've spent almost all their careers in the independent scene. But it was Jay's Twitter post about wanting to "f**king shoot" anyone who teaches his children that there's nothing wrong with same-sex marriage that stands out for many wrestling fans, not his two ROH World Championships, nor the eight ROH World Tag Team Championships he holds with Mark.
The above post wasn't the first time Jay Briscoe made derogatory remarks about the LGBT community on social media, and when he apologized for the comments, he explained that they were made in the character of Jay Briscoe, and not in that of Jay Pugh, the man behind the redneck gimmick. Two things wrong with that: one, even when speaking in character, there are some lines you shouldn't cross so blatantly. Two, Jay was supposed to be a babyface. Again, we repeat. A babyface threatening to shoot same-sex marriage supporters. Something doesn't add up.
4 Vince Russo Doesn't Care For Foreign Wrestlers
When WCW pried Vince Russo away from WWE's creative team, they had high hopes that he would turn the company's fortunes around with the ideas that helped establish the Attitude Era over with the rival promotion. But without the other Vince – McMahon, that is – filtering out his bad ideas, Russo soon went out of control, booking nonsense angles, and making boneheaded statements like the one where he said he "doesn't give a s**t" about Mexican and Japanese wrestlers, who did feature prominently on WCW's undercard, and were mostly underutilized in a company where the nWo ran wild.
Russo's justification for not liking WCW's Mexican (and Mexican-American, e.g. Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio) and Japanese cruiserweights? It was simple – he's an American, and wants to see Americans in the ring. Not only was this statement xenophobic, it was also counterproductive to what many "smart" fans wanted to see. A lot of WCW's top American talents at the time, after all, were long in the tooth and/or overexposed, and it was those very wrestlers Russo had disparaged who represented a breath of fresh air in WCW's increasingly stale programming.
3 Hulk Hogan: "I Guess We're All A Little Racist"
It may have happened years before gossip rags The National Enquirer and Radar Online published audio transcripts from Gawker's leaked sex tape featuring Hulk Hogan and his then-mistress, Heather Clem. But the content of those transcripts was still enough for WWE to take immediate action and can the Hulkster. And who could blame them? In a fit of anger and disgust at his daughter's boyfriend, Hogan said that if Brooke wanted to date a black man, she might as well end up with an "8-foot-tall n***** worth a hundred million dollars." He then followed that up by telling Clem that "we're all a little racist."
It doesn't matter if you're dropping the "n-word" in a public statement, or while privately ranting about your family to a woman who isn't your wife. Hulk Hogan dropped the "n-word," plain and simple, and while he might not be a racist by nature, as some of his African-American colleagues have maintained, he should have thought first before dropping it on something he knew was being recorded. Sex tapes do have a nasty habit of leaking out, you know?
2 Warrior Says Hurricane Katrina Was A "Good Thing"
Going back to The Ultimate Warrior, many of us also hope that he had ultimately regretted (no pun intended) that long blog rant he made right after the tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina. And it's sadly timely that we have to mention this statement, because as of this writing, the state of Texas is dealing with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Talking about why he believes Hurricane Katrina was a good thing, Warrior essentially said that New Orleans residents made their bed and were now lying in it, as a result of their decadent and "dysfunctional" lifestyle. He went on to add that their lives were already in ruin before Katrina hit, due to the "bad choices they made over and over." Then there was the fat-shaming, and even more suggestions that New Orleans got what it deserved.
Not surprisingly, that blog entry was deleted, just like everything else that might remind you of why many people feel that WWE having a "Warrior Award" is hypocritical.
1 Stephanie McMahon Compares 9/11 To Dad's Steroid Trial
Young people in their teens and 20s tend to say more stupid things per demographic. But when you're a 20-something in the public eye, and the child of the most powerful man in the industry he's in, the cost of saying stupid things becomes astronomical, and such remarks become inexcusable and extremely hard to live down. That's why more than 15 years later, we still remember the time Stephanie McMahon compared the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, a tragedy that rocked the entire world, to the early-'90s steroid trial that threatened to destroy her family's business.
I've heard of comparing apples and oranges, but that wasn't just ridiculous, but utterly tasteless of Steph to say, on the post-9/11 episode of SmackDown. Making things worse is the fact that someone, presumably her own daddy Vince, must have approved those comments, which were pre-recorded, and not taped live. The steroid trial cost the McMahons money and reputation, which were eventually recovered, 9/11 cost innocent people their lives, which could never be restored. It was a bad move for Steph, and an even worse one for whomever approved her statement.