A wrestler's reputation is an important factor they will have to carry with them throughout their career. Most wrestlers don’t spend their entire career at the top of the WWE and have to continue working in other promotions later. The latter stage usually involves fans wanting to see them and support them. Even the biggest names, like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, still appear at conventions to meet the fans. The wrestlers that are generally cool to fans and respectful to all people end up having things work out for the best at the end of the day.
Not all wrestlers believe in that philosophy sadly. The many years of stories involving the world of professional wrestling has caused things to leak and show the true colors of the performers we’ve watched and admired in the squared circle. Much like any other field of work, there are both wonderful and disgraceful people. We will look at the moments in wrestling that showed us both of those characters. These are real life situations that showed eight wrestlers to be jerks outside of the ring and seven that were proven to be sweethearts.
15 Jerk: Scott Hall Refused To Sign Sick Child’s Birthday Card
Scott Hall has a reputation for being a jerk to other wrestlers during his in-ring career, but one of his worst moments came when he snubbed signing a birthday card for a young child suffering from brain cancer. Many respected legends like Edge, Goldberg, Bret Hart, Ric Flair and many others signed the card and added 8x10’s as a show of support.
Hall was the rare exception to refuse signing the card. Fans at the convention where this took place where shocked. Remember that Hall had surgeries funded by taking donations from fans via crowdsourcing websites. The fact that he refused to sign a card for a child going through such a difficult journey made him come off like the jerk prior stories would have suggested. Adding to the situation, Hall insulted people on social media criticizing him for the terrible judgment.
14 Sweetheart: CM Punk Pays For Fan's Meal
The controversial reputation of CM Punk has left a polarizing assumption of the kind of person he is. An ornery personality and many negative interactions at airports led to Punk being deemed as a jerk. One fan interaction situation that Punk talked about on The Art of Wrestling podcast discussed a positive memory that featured a fan respectfully waving at him at a Chicago restaurant, but chose not interrupt his meal.
Punk decided to show his appreciation for the fan being respectful by picking up the tab for their table. Wrestlers typically dislike it when a fan tries to get a conversation or picture out of them during a dining experience. This particular fan showed the perfect etiquette and was rewarded with a free meal courtesy of one of the biggest wrestling stars of all-time.
13 Jerk: Michael Hayes Used Racial Slurs Towards Mark Henry
WWE has employed Michael Hayes for over two decades now and he is one of the most powerful men backstage. Hayes had a role on creative at the time of this memorable incident. The terrible moment saw a very drunk Hayes use the n-word when making an insulting comment towards Mark Henry. Hayes said he was blacker than Henry and used the racial slur to get his point across.
Henry was understandably livid about this and reported it to the WWE. The company responded by suspending Hayes for sixty days. Hayes returned to his role and is still a top producer for the WWE today. Henry apparently made peace with him, but the fact that this even happened in an environment like the WWE tells the story about Hayes’ character.
12 Sweetheart: Daniel Bryan’s Friendship With Connor
One of the best things the WWE does is put wrestlers in contact with worthwhile causes. Daniel Bryan was made aware of a young fan battling with a rare tumor that affects the brain and spinal cord. Connor Michalek braved his battle with the heartbreaking illness by looking to the WWE for joy. Bryan was the wrestler he wanted to meet and they had an incredible connection.
The most amazing visual was Bryan allowing Connor to put him in the Yes Lock and tapping out for the valiant boy. WWE did their best to do right by Connor. They put him and his family in front row seats at shows they could attend and allowed him to meet the wrestlers, while Bryan remained his favorite through it all. WrestleMania XXX featured Bryan closing the show and thanking Connor for the support to help him win the WWE World Championship. Connor sadly passed away a few weeks later but was able to experience the moment of a lifetime with his hero.
11 Jerk: Austin Aries Insulting Fans
Austin Aries has finally made it to the WWE after a long road building his name in ROH and TNA. His best work always comes from a heel role and that’s likely because it’s his natural personality. Aries had a reputation for being rude to fans at live shows and looking to keep his heel gimmick strong at the merch table.
Fans would look to take pictures with him and get autographs. Aries repaid them with snide comments. At one point, Aries started charging for insults too in addition to the merchandise and autographs for sale. There’s a fine line in portrayal when working as a heel, but Aries often crossed the line in regards to being a jerk to the paying customer who literally went out of their way to support him.
10 Sweetheart: Titus O'Neil Buys Dinner For the Homeless
An extremely kind act by Titus O’Neil made headlines. O’Neil took a couple of homeless people in the area to a local restaurant and treated them to a meal, but the restaurant was hesitant to serve them based off the appearances of the homeless folks. Titus responded by gathering more homeless people in the area and treating them all to a dinner at the same restaurant.
Instead of starting a war with the restaurant, O’Neil gave them business and forced them to change the way they viewed customers. The fact that he was supplying meals for that many people showed a caring spirit that many of us could learn from. You can’t even fault the restaurant as a large percentage of people have a fear and assumption about the homeless. O’Neil going out of his way and paying for the dinner truly proved he is a great human being out of the ring.
9 Jerk: The Ultimate Warrior Almost Starts Riot With Hate Speech
The Ultimate Warrior passing away after returning to the WWE family led to the company honoring his legacy. WWE’s Hall of Fame event now features one person being honored with The Warrior Award in his memory. While the intent is great, it skews the fact that Warrior wasn’t the most kind-hearted person and could be downright evil.
Warrior delivered a lecture at the University of Connecticut in 2005 that almost incited a riot. The controversial wrestler made offensive comments insulting the gay community. His reputation would make him be known as a homophobe for many years. Warrior also insulted students attending the lecture based off their races and religions. Hopefully, he made changes in the final few years of his life, but the evidence shows he was a massive jerk for quite some time.
8 Sweetheart: The Rock Stops Baywatch Production to Meet Young Fan
Thank you universe. I was on set this morning ready to start our shooting day when I got word that there was a family with a special needs young man named RYAN who was hoping to meet me. They understood that they travelled in unannounced but they were willing to wait all day until I wrapped to meet. That would've 12hrs. Way too long. So I asked production to hold and walked across the beach to the barriers where they were waiting. When I walked down the stairs, Ryan's mom (pictured here) was waiting with a huge hug! Her tears started to come as she whispered, "Thank you, thank you". I met Ryan, his brother and his nurse. What a great and cool kid. Without getting into the details, this kid has waaaaaay more heart, is stronger and tougher than I could ever imagine. He can't talk much, but he did tell me, "I love you" in sign language. I thanked him so much for that love. I walked away from this family so grateful to have met them and Ryan. I don't ever take meetings like this for granted and when that mama hugged me today and I felt her start to cry... that stuff gets me every single time I hug a parent in these situations, because I'm a parent too and will do anything to make my babies happy and put a smile on their faces. I know I'm a lucky guy to be in this position and have this platform. I'm grateful and moments like this will always, ALWAYS be the best part of my job. Stay strong Ryan and thanks for teaching me how to sign language buddy. Great meeting you and your family. Thank you universe.
Baywatch is hitting theaters next year and will feature The Rock in the leading role. A heartwarming moment took place on set when The Rock met a young fan with special needs named Ryan. The kid traveled with his family to the set and planned to wait all day in hopes of meeting The Rock following his shooting time. The Rock found out and refused to make them wait the twelve hours.
Using his star power, he requested the shooting stop and went out to meet the fan and his family. The mother broke down in tears and hugged Rock to thank him. Ryan told The Rock that he loved him in sign language and it was a moment no one involved would ever forget. For all of the incredible accolades that will follow Rock’s life, this is one of the defining memories we should have of him.
7 Jerk: Jim Cornette Curses Out Dairy Queen Employee
This viral video of Jim Cornette losing his mind at a Dairy Queen drive-through lives on today. While it can be viewed as comical, it showed an insight into the ridiculous mind of his. Cornette has done many horrible things through the years from threatening others using colorful language to striking wrestlers he was training, but the Dairy Queen incident perfectly summed up everything wrong with him.
Cornette was driving with a car full of wrestlers and they ordered an obscene amount of food following a show. By the time the car reached the window, there was no food due to the woman thinking they were pranking her with the amount of food ordered. Cornette completely lost his mind and started cursing her out using highly offensive language that would end one’s professional career today.
6 Sweetheart: Triple H Breaks Character For Scared Kid
Triple H is regarded as one of the greatest heels in wrestling history. His dastardly actions have gone on for years but even The Cerebral Assassin has a heart. On an episode of Raw, Triple H’s heel work actually made a young fan cry. The boy started tearing up leading to Triple H noticing it and breaking character to console him.
To make things right, Triple H hugged him and told him he was just playing around. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon happened to be sitting at ringside for this specific moment in the show and requested security take the boy and his family backstage to meet the wrestlers. At the end of the day, wrestling is meant to entertain us all. Triple H knows that and completely changed a horrible memory for a young boy into one of the best nights of his life.
5 Jerk: Bill DeMott Bullying Young Wrestlers
Wrestling training is meant to be tough so they can weed out those that don’t really have the passion for it, but sometimes a line can be crossed. Bill DeMott served as the head trainer for WWE’s Performance Center in the early days until stories started to surface about his training methods. A large number of wrestlers revealed they all felt DeMott was a bully and treated them inhumanely.
Stories ranged from verbal to physical abuse, to racism to homophobia and to evil incompetence. As the days went by and it became a huge story, more wrestlers shared their experiences with DeMott being an evil dictator taking advantage of their position in the company. WWE let him go and replaced him with Matt Bloom. Finn Balor cut a memorable promo at his final NXT show discussing how terrible the atmosphere at NXT used to be with DeMott and how much better it was with Bloom replacing him.
4 Sweetheart: Bill Goldberg Gives His Time To The Children
Bill Goldberg stated one of the major motivations for his WWE return was his desire to be a superhero to the children once again. This wasn’t just a promo talking point, but a real representation of who he is. Goldberg had an inconsistent track record of getting along with fellow wrestlers. That didn’t take away from him being overly kind and considerate to young fans.
Daniel Bryan revealed on Talking Smack that Goldberg collects toys to take to local children’s hospitals on his own time with no press coverage. Goldberg does these acts out of the kindness of his heart and he doesn’t want anything in return.
I personally witnessed Goldberg help get a young fan in a wheelchair positioned ringside when there was no room due to the set-up of the venue. Goldberg was made aware of the situation, came out of the locker room and personally made sure the child had a seat to enjoy the Legends of Wrestling show at Citi Field.
3 Jerk: Hulk Hogan Racist Rant
Hulk Hogan's reputation as a human being has seen him treat both wrestlers and fans poorly. Hogan rose to prominence as the first major WWE “Superstar” as the company went into the mainstream. Along with the success came a huge ego, as Hogan held wrestlers down from making more money and treated fans poorly unless they paid huge money for autographs throughout his career.
The most shameful moment came when his sex tape was leaked. The sex tape in itself was bad enough, but Hogan was revealed to have made racist comments on the tape insulting the black community. Hogan used the n-word without remorse and discussed the disdain he had for his daughter Brooke Hogan dating a black man. The wrestling legend has tried apologizing, but he is one of the phoniest people in entertainment, so it's hard to trust his word.
2 Sweetheart: John Cena Sets Make a Wish Record
John Cena deserves the top spot on the sweetheart portion of the list for all of the incredible things he does in his free time for others. As the biggest star in the WWE, Cena is the hero of millions of children all over the world. Cena has the record for the most wishes granted with the Make a Wish foundation of ill children wanting to meet him more than anyone else in the world.
The total wishes granted by Cena have reached over 500 and that isn’t even the only form of charity he works with. Cena spends a great deal of his free time and off days giving back to those that supported him and are dealing with difficult times. A sick child had some relatives tweet Cena a few years ago about the desire to get his autograph and Cena sent a package full of merchandise. No one in wrestling with such a high profile has delivered as many kind acts as Cena.
1 Jerk: Randy Orton Bullies Fan On Twitter
Social media can be a tool used for good as seen with a fan reaching out to John Cena. However, it can also be used for negatives as seen with this Randy Orton incident. Orton has often been portrayed as a villain in real life for picking on female talent backstage and being a jerk to fans outside of the ring.
A somewhat recent instance of Orton being a scumbag featured him taking a photograph with a fan. That sounds like a sweetheart move more than a jerk, right? Well, Orton posted the picture on his Twitter page and insulted the woman for her appearance calling her the “Latino Miss Piggy.” Apparently, Orton’s fiancé wasn’t fond of this fan and they made the post together as a way to insult her for millions of Orton’s followers to see.