When you work for the WWE you represent the biggest name in sports entertainment. What you do and say is followed by millions of people and as such, fair or not, you are held to a higher standard of behaviour than someone who is not in the spotlight. Your actions as a WWE employee can have a profound effect on how the public views the company.
Still, you can bet if there's something that could be done to embarrass a company, a WWE employee has done it. From beating up innocent people to getting caught nude on tape, WWE staff have made plenty of mistakes. From ruining their own lives to discriminating and abusing others, WWE employees and been there and done that. Neither bullying, sharing secrets, or going anti-America is off limits. It's all fair game as we determine the worst of the worst.
Are only the employees to blame? Of course not. Some of the actions and behaviour of the subjects who've committed some of the WWE's most unspeakable acts can thank the WWE for breeding bad decision making up to the top brass. But at the end of the day, company or individual, someone has to take the heat.
Below is a list of 15 times WWE Superstars truly embarrassed the WWE and hurt the reputation of a company that was trying to make them a star.
It's hard not to start this list with Paige. After having private photos leaked and a video going public (a video in which she was romantically involved with two WWE Superstars at the same time), Paige got involved in a relationship with a very unstable Alberto Del Rio. Since that time she's been in the public eye for all the wrong reasons.
She's been charged with assault, been captured on audio at an airport arguing with her on-again-off-again boyfriend and she's rumored to return, but there's some belief the WWE may let her contract simply expire. She happily goes on social media to tell fans to chill out about her life even though Dwayne Johnson is producing a film about her family. Paige is simply the definition of bad timing for the WWE and they can't be pleased with how she's making them look with all her poor decisions.
16 Bill Demott
The WWE took a hit when it looked like one of their trainers was abusing the talent. Bill Demott eventually resigned when it came out that his methods as head trainer at the WWE's Performance Center were coming under fire because he was taking things too far and harassing talents and future WWE hopefuls.
He was accused of putting trainees in danger, making homophobic/racial slurs and condoning sexual harassment. WWE released statements in response some of these claims in 2013 and 2015, claiming that the matter was investigated and no wrongdoing was found. It was too little too late however as the damage had been done. Matt Bloom became the new head trainer in an effort to reduce the heat on the company.
15 Robbie McAllister
What Highlander Robbie did was not so much embarrassing by the standard definition of the word, but to the head honchos in WWE, he made them look bad in the eyes of the wrestling industry and that was enough to get him fired. The WWE believe he broke a cardinal rule when he showed up on the competition's television programming.
Robbie was one-half of a WWE tag team named the Highlanders. Just before heading to WrestleMania, Robbie figured he'd visit a TNA show and sat in the audience. Unaware of how stupid a decision it was to visit a live taping of the show, TNA realized they had a WWE star in the crowd and put him on tv. Once McMahon realized it appeared like his wrestlers were promoting his competition (competition he didn't think was in his league) he let Robbie go.
14 Bart Gunn
When the WWE came up with the bright idea that they wanted to stage their own real-life tough-man competition, Brawl For All was born. It included some of the WWE's toughest competitors and the idea was that the winner would take on legendary tough-guy Butterbean at WrestleMania XV.
Bart Gunn surprised many by breezing through the field and making it to the finals. Looking like a legit threat to compete, Gunn walked in and was unceremoniously dropped by Butterbean in a matter of seconds. In one swift punch, the entire legitimacy of how tough WWE competitors really were was called into question and Gunn was never used again by the company. It was a pretty embarrassing moment for WWE and Bart Gunn who was fired for being the toughest guy in the WWE.
12 Superstar Billy Graham
If you've seen any videos or comments posted by Superstar Billy Graham in the last thirty years or so, you'd know he's a very bitter individual. Choosing to air his misunderstood grievances with wrestlers like Chris Jericho and others publicly, he's made a career of going up against everyone from Hulk Hogan to Vince McMahon. It's ironic that he's so hell-bent on the destruction of others because Graham did more harm to the WWE and the wrestling industry than he ever did any good.
Known as a talent who was jacked, charismatic and flamboyant, he freely admitted to regularly using steroids and claimed it was a widespread phenomenon in the WWE. He even helped get Hogan to use them. Steroids became a huge issue for the WWE in the 1980's and Graham was seen as one of the worst offenders. He tried to take down everyone with him and he's still upset about not being able to do so.
JBL just recently left the WWE and his SmackDown Live commentary job. While it's being discovered that he never intended to extend his contract when it expired, there was all sorts of speculation that the WWE and JBL had mutually agreed to part ways, mostly due to alleged incidences involving bullying of other WWE talent.
Former talent shed all sorts of light on JBL's behavior and it looked terrible that the WWE allowed an employee to not only bully other less experienced talents as a hazing ritual but that the company actually promoted the use of this technique to weed out the weak. JBL became the face of bullying in the WWE and while McMahon was always willing to back his close friend JBL, many wanted him gone a lot earlier than when he actually left.
10 The Kliq
For younger wrestling fans, the idea of keeping behind-the-scenes friendships secret might seem foreign, but back in the day it meant everything to the WWE to maintain kayfabe (meaning characters always stayed in character). Wrestlers who feuded on television were not supposed to be seen with each other outside the ring or it would threaten the legitimacy of a storyline. That rule was thrown out the window when the Kliq decided to do the infamous MSG "Curtain Call."
When Triple H, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels and Scott Hall came out at the end of a show at Madison Square Garden to embrace and say goodbye (Hall and Nash were headed to WCW), it pulled back the curtain covering years of hiding the truth that good guys and bad guys cared for each other. McMahon was so upset that they'd embarrassed the WWE that he punished Triple H for months.
8 Muhammed Hassan
This one wasn't Hassan's fault but the WWE used his character and gimmick as an Islamic supporter and took things a step too far when Hassan staged a mock terrorist angle that sent media outlets and special interest groups into a frenzy. The cable company airing WWE programming at the time was so upset, they threatened to remove WWE from their network if something wasn't done to rectify the situation.
The WWE immediately ended the run of one of the most hated heel characters of all time and stopped using the wrestler altogether. It was an embarrassing error in judgment by the WWE and Vince McMahon and they almost paid for it dearly. They haven't eliminated the use of the footage, but have been more cautious with anti-American type characters ever since.
7 Randy Orton
For a company as pro-military as the WWE appears to be, it can't sit well with the public that one of its biggest stars over the last decade was a washout from the United States Marine Corps. Orton went AWOL from the Marine's, admitting afterward that he didn't have the guts to die for his country if it came to it.
It was later determined that Orton received a “Bad Conduct Discharge,” and not a “dishonorable” discharge, but it still cost him a lead role in a sequel to The Marine movie. The WWE has gotten over it and Orton has gone on to become a huge star, sometimes using his history in the Marines as a storyline, but there was a time that Vince and the WWE were truly embarrassed by the news Orton's military history was not good.
6 Ric Flair
Let's preface this entry by saying that it's great to hear Ric Flair has rebounded and is doing better with his health. No matter what kind of past Flair has had, it was sad news for everyone to hear Flair wasn't well.
That said, frankly, it's amazing Flair is still ticking. A renowned party animal and one who has done just about everything from pass out on tours, harassing stewardesses on plane rides, and even have wrestlers clear his bar tab when he couldn't afford it. There isn't a story ever told about Ric Flair that should surprise anyone.
As much as the WWE loves Flair, it's got to be embarrassing for the company to have seen one of the greatest wrestlers of all time struggle so mightily outside the ring. The WWE is not a babysitting service but they do take heat when one of their biggest stars is notoriously out of control, broke and can't separate himself from the business.
5 "Dr. D" Dave Schultz
Dave Schultz doesn't likely get the credit he deserves for being a wrestler who influenced the careers of many future stars in the WWE. Instead, what he'll be remembered most for is his incident with John Stossel. Stossel was a reporter for ABC, and he was nearly beaten to a pulp by Schultz after Stossel insinuated wrestling was fake.
Stossel filed a lawsuit against WWE which was settled out of court for $425,000. It was not a good look for the company and it gave the impression WWE (WWF at the time) was far too concerned with protecting a secret that everyone already knew wasn't a secret. Other incidences have happened like this since then, but not as aggressively and it was one of the triggers for McMahon to "expose" the entertainment side of wrestling.
4 Mike Adamle
When the WWE hired Mike Adamle, they embarrassed themselves on an epic level. Completely unfamiliar with the product, Adamle came out as an announcer on WWE programming and butchered names, screwed up his lines and made quick work of the opportunity given to him.
The only reason he was hired was his football experience and tenure as the host of American Gladiators. He quickly showed the world that his hiring was a terrible mistake and the WWE ate a lot of crow for making such an awful decision. It was so bad in fact that the WWE actually had to remove him from the role he played on television and eventually out of the WWE altogether.
3 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan may go down in history as the highest-profile embarrassment in WWE history. His leaked private tape and resulting lawsuit with Gawker Media was bad. When it was overheard that he used racial slurs in reference to someone Brooke (his daughter) was dating, it made things ten times worse.
The WWE immediately released him from his Legend's contract and removed all references of his likeness from their programming for quite some time. They simply couldn't be associated with someone with as much heat as Hogan had brought upon himself.
It's only now that there are rumblings things could be settling down and Hogan may have an opportunity to return to the company. It took Hogan winning his case against Gawker to have his return even become a possibility.
2 Chris Benoit
What happened with Chris Benoit and his family was tragic. It was also a terrible image for the WWE who took a lot of heat for post-concussion and drug related issues that were a cause in the deaths of three people.
When what looks to be a loving family leaves the world in such a horrid way, the first thing almost everyone wants to do is find someone to blame. What Chris Benoit did was unspeakable. Whether people were right to point fingers at the WWE, Vince McMahon or the industry in general for what happened is still a matter of opinion but the WWE was so connected to the issue they thought it best to completely wipe Benoit's name from their history. He hasn't been shown in videos, photos or other WWE related materials since the incident.
1 Vince McMahon
We're cheating for our last entry because it's simply too good to not include. Why is it cheating? Well, because Vince has always been seen as the owner of WWE and not an employee. But, as CEO, he is technically an employee of the publicly traded company and has done more to embarrass the WWE than perhaps any other employee in history.
From trying to get one of his talents to have a match with God, harassing countless women on television, using racial slurs on a live broadcast, creating and botching a new football league and basically treating his employees like dirt, McMahon has done it all. He's made fun of special needs, written a storyline about a wrestler molesting a corpse and gone so anti-America on some of his ideas that his employees have received death threats.
Fortunately for him and the WWE Universe, his good decisions have outnumbered his bad ones. Otherwise, who knows where the WWE would be right now.