Wrestlers today are far more separated from their gimmicks than previous generations have been. While the likes of Bruno Sammartino may have wanted to protect the illusion that wrestling was real and the champions are actually tough, today’s wrestlers generally aren’t concerned with coming off in such a way behind the scenes. The result is: instead of having a locker room full of legit tough guys, WWE now has a roster full of fairly nice people for the most part.
Now that WWE is a publicly traded company, they can’t afford to have bad apples. If someone gets a reputation as a bully or mean-spirited, it could mean bad PR for the company. It’s all part of WWE’s plan to market themselves as good corporate citizens. That’s why they do so much charity work, that’s why they’ve even set up their own charitable foundations. The McMahon family wants to be bigger than wrestling, and in a sense they already are. Without the changes they’ve made to their company in recent years, Linda McMahon’s political career would be dead rather than peaking.
This article takes a look at 15 wrestlers who may come off as tough guys but when the cameras aren’t rolling – are actually pretty soft.
15. Bray Wyatt
While his soon-to-be ex-wife probably isn’t too thrilled with him, it is believed that Bray Wyatt is considered a big softy. News broke earlier this year that Wyatt and his wife were going through divorce proceedings which were complicated by his new relationship with WWE ring announcer, JoJo.
He’s considered a hard worker who has put everything he has into his character. It is said that his dedication is what won over Triple H.
Along with his dedication to character, Wyatt is a gentleman when meeting the fans, rarely turning down a picture request as he’s got numerous candid photos with fans available online in just about anywhere. He’s a class act and someone you wouldn’t expect to be based on his in-ring gimmick.
14. Mark Henry
Mark Henry may have fathered an illegitimate “hand-child” with Mae Young, but don’t let his indiscretions fool you, he’s a big softy at heart. Henry has made a habit of doing charity work during his long WWE career. In 2013, he pulled up in a semi-truck at a charity event which got some press.Also in 2013, Henry was interviewed with the Life of Dad website as a featured father. He spoke about how important being there for his kids is and how much they love watching him in WWE.
Henry has also been involved with the Special Olympics and other charities which WWE has been involved with.
At the moment, Henry is working as a road agent backstage. His last match was at the WrestleMania 33 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
13. Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe has never smiled. He’s smirked a little bit, but nothing that has resembled a full smile has ever appeared on his face. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a nice guy, as he is someone considered well-respected in the locker room.
Joe also has a history of charity work. He participated in a Gears of War tournament with Forrest Griffin for charity once. Earlier this year, he appeared on the Celebrity Spin Zone to raise money for the Salvation Army in Nevada.
Along with his charitable work, his real personality was on full-display just recently while a guest on the Edge & Christian Podcast. The interview was filled with laughs, exposing Joe’s real-life self. It was refreshing hearing Joe laughing constantly on the podcast, as opposed to his in-ring demeanor as a true badass.
12. Dean Ambrose
Despite being portrayed as an “out-of-control lunatic”- Ambrose is believed to be a down-to-earth and nice guy.
Ambrose isn’t just a nice guy outside the ring, however, he’s actually quite the nice guy in it as well , though fans aren’t supposed to notice. He has a reputation as a safe worker. Nothing he does is considered very ever stiff, as in he doesn’t hit people too hard. This is somewhat ironic considering WWE likes to market him as something of a hardcore wrestler and because before WWE, Ambrose really was a hardcore wrestler. He competed often for Combat Zone Wrestling, which focuses on brutal matches filled with weaponry.
Earlier this year, it was confirmed that Ambrose and Renee Young were married after being together for four years. Renee seems like someone who can bring out Dean’s softer side and it has been documented though Total Divas.
11. Braun Strowman
I get asked a lot what my favorite thing is about being a #wwe #superstar This right here is my favorite thing about my job the money fame and all that is great don’t get me wrong but this this right here is what I kill myself for night after night this is worth more to me than any dollar sign. To see the overwhelming joy in the kids eyes that look up to me is priceless!!!! #BeSomeonesHero #MonsterAmongMunchkins #SmilesarePriceless #MonsterHeart #BraunStrowman
34-year old Braun Strowman is not the big tough brute he comes off as. In fact, most say he’s a down-to-earth nice guy. Braun has said in multiple interviews he believes Roman Reigns is the best wrestler in the world and has learned a lot from him. He’s rarely had a negative word for anyone as well.
Oddly enough, Strowman credits Mark Henry for bringing him into WWE. Strowman was competing in strong-man tournaments and met Henry, someone he says he’s looked up to for a long time. Apparently what Henry noticed about Strowman was not his size and appearance but actually his sense of humor. Henry said in an interview with ESPN that when he saw Strowman making all the other people around him laugh, he knew he wouldn’t crack in front of a live crowd. WWE agreed and they signed the big man in 2013.
10. Kevin Owens
While WWE will never admit this on their programming, one of the nicest guys they have on their roster is Kevin Owens.
Owens frequently gets involved with charitable causes, including donating $5, 000 to his friend Sami Zayn’s charity to buy medical supplies for Syria, the country Zayn’s family moved to Quebec from. Owens also created a GoFundMe account for those who have been impacted by the Alberto wildfires along with Tyler Breeze. Both Canadians wanted to help out.
Along with the charitable causes, Owens is an absolute family man outside of the ring. His Instagram account is loaded with family pictures, alongside his wife and kids. He’s even got some silly pictures rocking Disney attire, all in order to put a smile on the face of his loved ones.
Bill Goldberg has never been accused of being soft inside the ring. The time he full force kicked Bret Hart in the head is evidence of this. The opposite is true outside of the ring, however, as Goldberg has always been someone considered a respectable person in the real world.
The real world often doesn’t translate well to professional wrestling, however. Goldberg had his run-ins with numerous wrestlers and promoters during his short wrestling career. Goldberg and Triple H did not get along during Goldberg’s first run with the company but now both have calmed down in their older age and seemed to be working together much easier during Bill’s return. In his return, we also saw what a family man he’s become, living for both his wife and kid. In large part, his return took place so he could put a smile on his son’s face.
8. The Miz
This might be hard to stomach for some, but Miz is widely regarded as a hard worker and dedicated WWE employee. This was not always the case, of course. When Miz first appeared in WWE he was seen as the guy from the “Real World” and generally not seen as someone who had enough respect for the business.
Throughout his WWE career, however, he has slowly chipped away and replaced his old reputation. In its place now is the reputation of someone the company can always call on for charity events, public appearances, or to be in WWE studios’ movies. While the opposite used to be true, nowadays it’s hard to find a WWE performer who doesn’t have the utmost respect for Miz. and his work ethic.
7. Luke Harper
As is the case with Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper is someone who has a backstage reputation for being a hardcore wrestler with a heart of gold. He’s also a very good wrestler – someone many veterans feel should be pushed more than he is currently.
While Luke Harper seems anything but a family friendly wrestler, he’s actually exactly that. Despite him competing against Dean Ambrose in Combat Zone Wrestling, Harper also spent five years in family-friendly Chikara promotion before debuting in WWE. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that nobody has had a bad thing to say about Harper throughout his 15 year career as a wrestler.
As of this writing, Luke Harper and Eric Rowan just debuted their new Bludgeon Brothers gimmick. Perhaps this new persona is just what both of them need to take their games to the next level.
58-year-old retired pro wrestler Sting, first got his break in professional wrestling in 1985. It wouldn’t be long before he became a big star. Throughout his 30+ year career pretty much nobody ever had a negative word to say about the guy.
Sting was always loyal to WCW and that’s why he was labelled the franchise guy. If he had started in WWE, there’s no telling if he would’ve been just as loyal to Vince McMahon. Sting was also very loyal to TNA throughout his 11 year run with the company.
Sting always said that he was hesitant to sign with WWE because he was concerned with how some old WCW wrestlers had been portrayed on WWE television. By the time he finally got to WWE in 2014, his body was pretty broken down. His WWE matches left much to be desired but his overall career does not. A humble attitude despite all his accomplishments makes Sting one of the classiest guys in the industry.
5. Mick Foley
Mick Foley was proof that wrestling did have a heart of gold underneath all of the questionable and downright sleazy programming during the Attitude Era. Foley has been notoriously thrifty with his money but generous with his time and donations to charitable causes.
In many ways, Foley’s good nature helped to protect the business when the movie Beyond the Mat became popular. The movie was released in 2000 and featured some aspects of professional wrestling that the general public might find repulsive. The documentary followed Jake “The Snake” Roberts as he spiraled into drug abuse. It followed New Jack, who at the time was enjoying the peak of his popularity in ECW. Many felt the documentary focused too much on wrestling’s seedy underbelly.
The movie also focused on Mick Foley and his family, however, which allowed the business to seem much more human. Recently, the Holy Foley WWE Network program showed how much of a family man he truly is nowadays.
4. Rey Mysterio
Arguably the most successful Luchador of all-time, Rey Mysterio has an almost unblemished reputation with his fellow wrestlers. The guy is no saint mind you, he failed a few WWE Wellness Policy violations in his day, but that doesn’t mean Rey Mysterio Jr. isn’t a softy, because he is S-A-W-F-T.
Rey goes out of his way to do charitable work and be a positive role model for kids. He’s never really been a heel at all in his careers, something few in the business have ever done.
He even return to Mexico in the later stages of his career just because he wanted to help the business out in the country he started his career in. Along his return back home, he was involved in charity shows to help the victims of the recent earthquakes in Mexico as well.
3. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan likes to come off as a stiff working, strong-style influenced professional wrestler but the truth is – he’s an eco-loving, granola-eating, loves the planet and animals hippy. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with that, far from it, it’s just to say that Daniel Bryan is not the tough guy that perhaps he wanted to come off as during his wrestling career.
Nobody in WWE has a negative word to say about Bryan including those at the very top. That’s why the issues surrounding his medical clearance is all the more troubling. Daniel Bryan can get doctors to clear him to wrestle again but WWE’s doctors won’t do so. His contract is up next September, and it will be interesting to see where he writes the next chapter of his career.
2. The Undertaker
Undertaker spent decades as the WWE locker-room’s moral enforcer. He has always had the reputation as the guy who will call out his fellow performers for behaving inappropriately.
In terms of wrestlers Vince respects and holds close to his heart the most, it doesn’t get any closer than ‘Taker, not only for his dedication to the company, but his attitude behind the scenes. We got a sneak peak at that when Goldberg embraced ‘Taker with an emotional hug at last year’s WrestleMania behind the scenes, Superstars love the guy and there’s a reason for all the appreciation, gratitude and affection he receives.
Nowadays, he’s a happy family man living life with his lovely wife Michelle McCool along with his daughter. You can expect a massive homage to his career once he enters the WWE Hall Of Fame.
1. Stephanie McMahon
If you don’t believe us, take the words from Mick Foley who asked Stephanie to write the forward for his latest book. Foley also feels that Stephanie has brought something to WWE that may have never occurred if she hadn’t pushed for it. Stephanie has her father’s ear, and many believe that she has helped push for ideas such as an increased charitable presence for the company, Connor’s cure, and not to mention how she has pushed for the Women’s Divisions to receive more airtime. Getting all that stuff by Vince McMahon isn’t an easy task and it’s one that perhaps only his daughter was capable of doing.
Stephanie is WWE’s moral compass and the company and the wrestling business, in general, is better off for it. She’s also a gem with fans and sponsors, hence her Chief Branding Officer role.
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