By terms of the job, professional wrestlers should maintain some, you know, professionalism. It is a job, after all and you need to be on your best behavior doing it. True, this is a business packed with prima donnas and huge egos, not to mention issues of drug abuse that causes problems. But you figure some guys could act a hell of a lot better than they do. Andre the Giant was infamous for stuff in Japan of showing up totally drunk for matches and refusing to do a job. But WWE is still packed with plenty of examples of guys who don’t take their jobs as seriously as they should. And quite often, it ends very badly.
It’s not just the guys who famously refuse to put someone over or not. There are guys who show up in no condition to wrestle at all. The ones who take a beef with someone to huge heights. And the ones whose beefs with Vince McMahon and other workers hit amazing heights. In some cases, careers have been derailed and shifted because of what happened and amazing how they occurred at all. Here are 15 occasions where guys in WWE acted like spoiled children. It's remarkable how crazy the business can get.
15 The Curtain Call
Today, it’s something you see constantly but in 1996, it was a massive deal. Word had gotten out that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were leaving WWE for WCW. Thus, a cage match at Madison Square Garden between Shawn Michaels and Diesel was to be the last night for them. After the match, the duo were joined by their fellow members of “The Kliq:” Scott Hall and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. The group joined together in a massive hug as the fans cheered them on. Back in 1996, this was an absolutely horrible shattering of kayfabe, heels and faces embracing as friends before the fans and exposing their work to the outside.
While they all felt it was needed, they also acknowledge how taboo it was and they all got serious heat backstage for it. It ended up being a historic thing as Triple H got the punishment and lost his scheduled King of the Ring victory. That paved the way for Steve Austin to win and make his “Austin 3:16” speech that kicked him to stardom. Thus the amazing irony is the choice to be unprofessional here would lay the groundwork for WWE rising to the top.
14 Andre the Giant
The issue with Andre was that when a man is seven feet tall and 500 pounds, so he could basically do whatever the hell he wanted and you couldn’t stop him. While a great act, tales abound of Andre’s wild stuff like using a hotel bathtub as a toilet and hijacking a horse carriage. A legendary event was when Andre showed up for a match in Japan utterly drunk and refusing to sell anything his opponent threw at him. In WWE, Andre was famous for pulling an “oil job” on opponents in the middle of matches which did not go over very well.
When Roddy Piper painted half his body black for Wrestlemania VI, Andre switched the wash-off paint for stronger paint, forcing Piper to fly home still looking like that. He would often no-sell for opponents, even crushing them for real like The Ultimate Warrior and showing up drunk at least once was proven to have taken a dump in the middle of a match. He was loved for his standing and appeal but behind the scenes, Andre was hardly a gentle giant.
13 Dave Schultz
In his prime, Schultz was a terrific worker, a top-notch heel and on the rise in WWE. In 1984, he was being primed for a run against Hulk Hogan for the title which would have elevated him more.
However, Schultz also had a huge temper that had gotten him into trouble a few times over the years. That was nothing compared to what happened when John Stossel confronted Schultz for a segment on “20/20.” When Stossel asked if wrestling was fake, Schutlz completely lost it. He slapped Stossel hard on the head and then to the ground to kick him, all in front of the camera. Schultz was legitimately suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission as WWE got a huge amount of flak for the entire thing. Schultz was naturally fired and his career never recovered and he has no one to blame but himself for his temper causing a huge amount of bad press.
Maybe it’s not too surprising Batista got into issues backstage. The man entered wrestling late, not paying his dues much before he got his big push. He also hung around Ric Flair and Triple H and if that doesn’t teach you how to be an entitled jerk, nothing does. He got into fights and some conflicts, including some harsh stuff with Melina (who could be a diva in her own right) and one with Ariel that led to her firing when she tried to stand up to Batista. He also got into a famous fight backstage with Booker T over their spots that got majorly out of hand.
Even his return in 2014 was marred as Batista got into a fight with Alberto Del Rio, tweeting about Del Rio being nowhere near his star level and not deserving to speak out. The man was soon gone amid complaints of not getting the main event title run promised despite how the fans had hated him in that spot. It looks like Dave lived up to his “Animal” moniker a bit too much.
11 Marty Jannetty
Shawn Michaels has said numerous times that he and Jannetty should have been fired a dozen times as the Rockers. What saved them was how they consistently wowed fans and co-workers with their incredible in-ring work. While Shawn’s problems with drugs and drinking are well documented, Jannetty could be just as bad. In fact, his long absence after their famed breakup in 1992 was to give him time off to deal with his issues. Jannetty seemed to sober up when he returned later in the year to feud with Shawn.
However, at the 1993 Royal Rumble, Jannetty showed up for their IC title match obviously drunk and Shawn had to carry him to a decent battle. Jannetty was fired, returning for a brief IC reign himself but those issues continued. Jannetty has admitted his own personal demons prevented him from rising up more as he failed to live up to his potential and showed how Shawn had more of the goods with fans.
10 Bruno Sammartino
This may be a surprise. There probably wouldn’t be a WWE today without Bruno as his first reign as champion put the promotion on the map. A huge fan favorite, Bruno regularly sold out Madison Square Garden and fans loved him majorly. However, Bruno today is up front on how he played politics in a way that could make Hogan or Triple H look humble. He also made sure to go over anyone in his path and even dumped some planned bouts that would have the heel shown to be strong. He forced any major challenger to run through his various friends before they could face Bruno and always ensured he came out of a bout looking fantastic.
While that led to great business, it also gave his matches a sense of monotony. Bruno also pushed his son David too much while the boy had a serious drug problem and Bruno got into yelling matches with Vince over his lack of a push. Bad blood existed for years before they made up as Bruno’s legacy isn’t too tainted but still notable for how he could be rather selfish in his dealings.
9 Curt Hennig
A fantastic worker, Hennig was well-regarded as “Mr. Perfect,” holding the IC title twice and loved for his great heel work. Behind the scenes, he got along mostly well with others and was a great guy to party with. However, Hennig was known for some pranks that quite often crossed the line. He cut up the Rougeaus' clothes and blamed it on the British Bulldogs which caused them to have major problems. He once took a dump under the ring while waiting to pop out and joked a lot about working stiff with guys. He was also a key instigator of the infamous “Plane Ride From Hell” in 2002 where he picked a fight with Brock Lesnar, which backfired with him getting beaten down. Dying at only 44, Hennig’s backstage antics caught up with him as he was hardly perfect with his behavior.
8 Perry Saturn
Here’s what happens when you let your temper take over. Saturn was mostly a forgotten figure among the Radicalz, not in the same standing as Benoit, Guerrero or Malenko. Those frustrations grew more and more as he sunk to the B and C shows. Taping a match for “Velocity,” Saturn was set up against jobber Mike Bell. Bell began botching a few moves, nearly dropping Saturn on his head with a slam. Fed up, Saturn attacked Bell for real, punching and kicking him around, shoving him out of the ring and tossing Bell hard against the ring steps. Bell wasn’t injured but the front office was angry at how Saturn could have hurt the guy.
His punishment was to be put in the storyline of a blow to head causing him to believe a mop was his girlfriend. That may seem bad but Saturn brought it on himself by going too wild at a bad time.
7 Alberto Del Rio
On the one hand, you can understand why it happened. On the other, there had to be a better way to settle it. In 2014, Del Rio was backstage when he heard one of the social media employees making a racist joke about Mexicans. Del Rio naturally took exception and demanded an apology. Words were exchanged and Del Rio proceeded to slap the man repeatedly. He was fired and filed a lawsuit over his non-compete clause which ended up being upheld. The employee was eventually let go when Del Rio returned to WWE.
While some back him for taking such a stand, striking a non-wrestler isn’t the best way to settle any sort of deal and showed how Del Rio’s hot temper could get him into some hot water.
There was also his suspension for breaking the wellness policy and his recent departure has shown constant complaints about his lack of a push and how he felt he deserved much more in the company. For a good worker, Del Rio’s attitude could be his own worst enemy.
Many a worker has had issues with their boss. That’s par for the business, any business really. But rarely do you see it explode into full-on violence. Kevin Wacholz was being pushed in 1992 as “Nailz,” a supposed ex-con seeking revenge on The Big Bossman. Wacholz wanted a bit more money and talked to McMahon about it. So far, so good. The argument became heated until suddenly, Wacholz attacked Vince and beat him down right in his office. Bret Hart was present and reported how Wacholz was choking Vince right on his desk. They had to be separated as Nailz was naturally fired.
This led to a series of lawsuits as Wacholz would also snap about McMahon’s treatment of him but stories of his own harsh behavior with others came out. While many a guy has probably wanted to punch Vince, Nailz took it a bit too far.
5 The Dynamite Kid
It’s a bit sad that most know the Dynamite Kid better by his terrible reputation than his fantastic in-ring work. It started in Stampede as the Kid blew away fans with his amazing work, mixing hard hitting with a high-flying style not seen before and took off nicely. But this was also when Kid got into drug use and a very harsh attitude. His “pranks” included drugging a guy’s drink before a cold winter night drive and other acts that caused trouble.
In WWE, he and Davey Boy Smith kept it up as they would get truly stiff on guys and not seeming to care if they were injured or not. Mick Foley shares the story of how he told the Bulldogs they could go a bit strong on him and didn’t expect his lip to get busted open by a clothesline. He continued those harsh “pranks” on others and his attitude got worse with massive feuds with guys like the Rougeau Brothers. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for a guy in a wheelchair but Kid pulls that off as many feel he’s paying for all the harsh stuff he did to others.
4 Hulk Hogan
For a man who helped push wrestling to prominence in the 1980s, Hogan could come off seriously insecure behind the scenes. His massive ego is the stuff of legend as most at the time acknowledge that Hogan got away with so much because he WAS the WWE back then. In 1985, Hogan and Mr. T did a guest spot on a talk show with Richard Belzer, Hogan putting the comedian into a facelock that knocked him out, then dropped Belzer face first on the floor. The lawsuit would have gotten anyone else fired but Hogan was kept on. Then there’s the countless stories of Hogan refusing to put over guys like Perfect, Sid, Flair and others. The worst was in 1993 as he was to face Bret Hart for the title at SummerSlam but Hogan felt Hart wasn’t on his level and then made huge noise about payment to leave WWE.
He continued to throw his weight around in his mid-2000s return, demanding to go over Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton despite how each would have been better served as the winner. Hogan’s actions caught up to him with his leaked racist comments getting him fired from WWE. Many feel that’s overdue karma for a man who demanded the spotlight way too much at the expense of others and not caring about who he hurt along the way.
3 Michael Hayes
The stories of the Fabulous Freebirds are legendary in the wrestling business. Hayes was one of the hardest partiers wrestling has ever seen, able to go wild at bars with drinking and drug use and backed it up with a wild attitude. By the time he reached WWE, Hayes was older and no longer ring-active but that didn’t slow down his wilder behavior.
Stories abound of Hayes still taking younger guys out for partying after shows and even showing up intoxicated for commentary work. He was part of the famous “Plane Ride From Hell” as he helped cause the massive friction. He nearly got into a brawl with Mark Henry after claiming “I’m more of a n----er than you.” He also was found having drinks with Rosa Mendes despite how she had just gotten out of rehab. This had led to serious heat backstage as Hayes continues to be a rocking rebel at his age and this Freebird is no doubt still riding high.
Always a hard and tough guy behind the scenes, JBL wasn’t someone known for his easy temperament. He got into some hard fights backstage but really hit his stride when he was pushed to the main event. The big incident was in early 2004 when, during a show in Germany, JBL goose-stepped and gaze a Nazi salute. Given how the Nazi Party and all its symbols were outlawed by Germany decades ago, that naturally got WWE into some hot water. Word abounds of JBL throwing his weight around as champion a bit too much and showing some arrogance to other workers.
A notorious incident occurred in 2005 when, during the first ECW One Night Stand, JBL beat the Blue Meanie down for real during a major brawl over some issues they had. It led to a few matches where the two continued to fight for real and showed how JBL is not a beloved guy backstage.
1 Shawn Michaels
In his prime, the Heartbreak Kid was one of the most reviled jerks in the entire business. And he’d be the first one to admit that. One reason Michaels gets more respect today is how up front he is on his behavior and the conflicts it caused. Shawn has admitted being high as a kite for much of his time and showing arrogant behavior backstage, flaunting his star status. He refused to job the IC title to Dean Douglas and gave it up after getting beaten by a bunch of guys at a bar. Bret Hart is still ticked at Shawn for not wanting to return the favor with a title loss at WrestleMania and ducking him with an 'injury'. The road to Montreal was packed with stuff of Shawn going too far such as his “Sunny Days” comment that hinted at an affair between Bret and Sunny. All of which led to Montreal and its brutal fallout.
Even when he turned over a new leaf with his return, Shawn could still be this way at times. The best example would have to be SummerSlam 2005 when Shawn was upset he’d have to lose to Hulk Hogan. Thus, for their match, Shawn totally oversold Hogan’s offense to make the bout a joke and didn’t get him much good press. While he can be revered for his fantastic matches and turning his life around, Shawn is just as famous for his childish behavior behind the scenes that added to his reputation.
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