We live in a truly unprecedented era in which it’s increasingly difficult to for the professional wrestling business to keep a secret. Not only are there enterprises of yesteryear that include dirt sheet reporters covering backstage news and rumors, and a shoot interview business that pays old timers to speak candidly for a VHS or DVD buying audience of hardcore fans. On top of that, nowadays there are stars breaking kayfabe with their social media, podcasts, documentaries, and tell all books. It’s gotten to the point that WWE even releases some of these materials themselves to capitalize on a fan base al too eager to learn the inner workings of the business they love.
With this increased access fans are getting more and more insights into today’s happenings backstage, but also what happened in yesteryear in stories only now being remembered, or answer to questions that people just thought to ask. This includes not only stories from WWE, but also word from WCW, Impact Wrestling, and a variety of other promotions past and present.
This article takes a look at 15 particularly interesting revelations offered up by wrestling talent. Some of them are confessions of what they, themselves, did. Others discuss what they heard, personally observed, or thought about someone else. As is to be expected in any walk of life, there are some discrepancies in terms of what has actually gone down, or the opinions people have on events. Nonetheless, this is a peak behind the curtain at what actual wrestlers say actually happened in real life.
15. Bret Hart Was Told He’d Beat The Ultimate Warrior
Bret Hart shared all kinds of secrets in his book, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling. Included were tales of his first big push as WWE Champion. While he indicates that Vince McMahon didn’t offer a clear heads up that reign was coming, he also makes clear that McMahon sold him in the idea of a long and decorated reign that included some huge wins. The rumor comes up fairly often that Hulk Hogan was supposed to put over The Hitman after WrestleMania IX, possibly at SummerSlam. A less frequently discussed prospective angle saw Hart battling The Ultimate Warrior.
According to Hart, the plan was laid out for him to defeat The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania IX. It’s unclear if this were true—it seems as though McMahon sold him on ideas he’d want to hear that may never been in the cards to come to fruition. Regardless, Hart holds that this would have happened had Warrior not ended up suddenly parting ways with WWE the November before, thus precluding any ‘Mania program.
14. John Cena Had A Beef With Ryback
Since leaving WWE, Ryback has been nothing if not outspoken. He’s made the rounds of others’ podcasts and shoot interview opportunities, in addition to starting his own podcast. The Big Guy is blunt to a fault, often as not making controversial comments about his former employer and colleagues.
Ryback hasn’t back down from knocking John Cena. He’s defended Alex Riley, claiming Cena wrecked the budding star’s career, avoiding particulars but suggesting it was Cena’s petty choice after Riley didn’t respond well to getting ribbed. Additionally, Ryback has suggested Cena was fiercely protective of his spot as the top guy in the company and took issue when Ryback’s merchandise started moving at Cena like levels, as well as a time when Ryback outdrank him.
While many will dismiss Ryback’s claims on the grounds he was likely as not just jealous of Cena,it does give fan some food for thought as to whether there may be a kernel of truth about Cena’s Machiavellian tendencies.
13. Roman Reigns Exiled Enzo Amore From A Tour Bus
In the summer of 2017, rumors exploded around the Internet that Enzo Amore had major heat. There was reason to believe it was true. Amore split from his popular tag team with Big Cass, and quite decisively lost the follow up battles with his former partner. Word was that Amore had a big ego and had run afoul of management and his fellow Superstars alike.
The core incident cited was Roman Reigns kicking Enzo off a WWE tour bus. Apparently, the Certified G was hamming it up on his phone, bragging about his money and fame, and generally annoying a lot of the other wrestlers. Reigns is emerging as not just the man on TV, but also a locker room leader, and apparently took it upon himself to lay down the law in this instance.
12. Jeff Jarrett Realized His Mistake In Hiring Vince Russo For TNA
Jeff Jarrett cofounded TNA with his father Jerry, and years later, the latter released his journal from the process of starting up the promotion in book form. One difference of opinions between father and son early on was the point of how to handle creative. Jerry had worked the Memphis territory for a long time and had successful track record as an old school booker. Jeff championed Vince Russo.
Russo has a horrible reputation among fans, critics, and quite a few people in the wrestling business. While his outside the box ideas helped WWE’s Attitude Era take flight, without someone like Vince McMahon rein him in, and parse good ideas from bad, he didn’t do so well in WCW or TNA. Jerry cites that his son came to recognize he may have made a mistake as they discussed how Russo had used Jeff himself previously in WWE and WCW, and generally not situated him as a serious, main event level talent. It’s debatable whether Russo were right in how he previously used Double J, but the previous lackluster perception of Jeff’s talent and potential called into question his judgment, while also stinging Jeff personally.
11. The Undertaker Wanted To Kill His Old “Trainer”
Former ring announcer, Gary Michael Cappetta, best known for his time with WCW, wrote a book called Bodyslams! Memoirs of a Wrestling Pitchman. In it, he described years of encounters with a lot of big names in wrestling. One of the most fascinating of all was his account of The Undertaker as a young man. The man who would become The Phenom was a bit out of place and a loner, and fell into a friendship with the ring announcer.
In a fascinating moment, Cappetta recounted The Undertaker seeing Buzz Sawyer. According to Cappetta, Sawyer took The Deadman’s money to train him to wrestle, then split town and left him hanging. Consequently, The Undertaker was set on having out with him—perhaps literally killing Sawyer for the injustice. Cappetta talked him down, citing it would only ruin his career, if not his life, to actually attack the man who ripped him off. Clearly, The Phenom got the last laugh given the legendary career he would go on to.
10. The Kliq Claimed Their Own Dressing Rooms
It has been widely reported that The Kliq—a group of friends including Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman—had a lot of heat in the 1990s. They were brazen, talented, and by some accounts prone to politicking. A number of their contemporaries have cited, among their grievances, that The Kliq somehow managed to secure their own private locker room at live events.
The story has come out more recently in a number of interviews from Kliq alumni that they weren’t given a private dressing room. On the contrary, they simply showed up early, and claimed a room for themselves by putting a sign on the door, and no one challenged them on it. People can certainly take issue with The Kliq going even this far in taking something they didn’t really have a right to. It seems, however, they were more brazen and assertive than subject to special treatment.
9. Randy Orton Turned On Mr. Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy was a star on the rise in the mid-2000s, just a developmental “class” behind Randy Orton. The two had their share of matches and, according to Kennedy, were friends. Kennedy, in particular, cited that their wives would even hang out together when they had the opportunity.
Things took a turn, though. In shoot interviews, Kennedy suggests that John Cena got in Orton’s ear and poisoned him against Kennedy. Whatever the case may have been, it seems that Orton complaining about Kennedy being reckless in the ring contributed to him getting de-pushed and ultimately let go by WWE. Those less inclined toward conspiracy theories tend to cite that Kennedy was injury prone and derailed himself. He holds fast, however, to his interpretation of events.
8. Eric Bischoff Only Hired Lex Luger As A Favor To Sting
In the Monday Night War, Eric Bischoff served as WCW’s most frequent and most visible architect, heading up creative and many of the promotion’s business decisions. One of his more famous moves saw him re-introduce Lex Luber to his audience on the first episode of Nitro—a huge surprise because, as far as anyone knew, he was still working for WWE.
Bischoff has discussed the matter in a number of interviews and explained that he actually didn’t want to bring Luger back. He claims Sting went to bat for his friend and, as a courtesy, Bischoff made him a job offer. It was a lowball money deal, with the intention Luger would pass, but Bischoff could say he tried. Much to his surprise, Luger in fact took the contract. It worked out for everyone as Luger would enjoy a career rebirth in WCW and be a key player throughout the Monday Night War.
7. Vince McMahon Was Disappointed In Kevin Owens At WrestleMania 33
A number of top stars in WWE have noted that one of the keys to thriving at the highest level in the company is to form a personal relationship with Vince McMahon. To be fair, forming that relationship is a two way street that requires McMahon taking interest in the performer himself. Based on the first episode of WWE 365, centered on Kevin Owens, it’s clear that he is one of those wrestlers who has cultivated a partnership with the Chairman.
McMahon isn’t a fan of everything Owens does, though. On the show, Owens discussed going to McMahon after his WrestleMania 33 bout with Chris Jericho. Cameras even caught Owens in the act, confidently asking Vince, “Are we good or what?” only for McMahon to reply no. As Owens went on to discuss, McMahon did not feel the match accomplished what it set out to, and it was completely deflating for KO.
6. JBL Kicked The Miz Out Of The Locker Room
When The Miz rose to the top of WWE from 2010 into 2011, stories broke about his tumultuous time with the company. He started as a contestant on Tough Enough, and it was widely held that WWE kept him around based less on wrestling promise than the fact that he had some celebrity buzz around him from his previous stints on reality TV shows like The Real World.
One of the more infamous stories of Miz’s ascent regarded veteran JBL punishing him as a rookie. The A-Lister purportedly ate fried chicken in the locker room and made a mess of him. Consequently, JBL banished him from the locker room for a period of months. The Miz earned the respect of the roster by taking his consequences, improving as a performer, and eventually emerging as a WWE mainstay.
5. Ric Flair Sabotaged Bret Hart’s First Main Event Push
In 1992, Bret Hart went from a career tag guy and mid-carder to the unlikely WWE Champion and de facto new face of the company. It was a move to follow up on Hart’s successes as Intercontinental Champion opposite stars like Mr. Perfect, Davey Both Smith, and Roddy Piper. Additionally, Hart fit the company’s new ethos as they moved away from larger than life physiques in the wake of the steroid trial.
It was Ric Flair who put over The Hitman as champ. According to Hart in his book and a number of interviews, The Nature Boy was less than gracious in doing the honors. While he conceded Flair may have been off his game or distracted, he also speculated that Flair may have purposefully sabotaged Hart’s beginnings as a main event player. Maybe it was personal against Hart. Maybe it was out of resentment for WWE taking him out of the top spot. Regardless, Hart seemed unhappy with Flair, and perceptions by some that Hart, not Flair, was responsible for their one on one matches proving less than stellar. In any event, the two seemed to have made peace today for whatever differences they used to have.
4. Seth Rollins Was The Shield’s Driver
The WWE Network’s Table for Three doesn’t exactly offer up hard hitting revelations. More often than not, the conversations stay fairly superficial, and are subsequently edited and trimmed down to fit time constraints and WWE’s vision. The show has revealed some interesting tidbits, however, that fans wouldn’t necessarily have guessed.
Taking Seth Rollins’s role as the wheel man for The Shield, the trio of upstarts lived their gimmick in traveling together for their early years on the main roster. In a bit of an old school move, management dictated that they couldn’t continue that arrangement after the faction split up. It was a move toward protecting kayfabe and selling the Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose rivalry in particular. While Rollins had always been the one to drive the three of them, he wouldn’t return to that role until the unit came back together in 2017.
3. Triple H Wanted The Festival Of Friendship To Go Down Differently
Though the Festival of Friendship segment went down all the way back in February, it is still remembered as one of the very best WWE moments of 2017. The segment built upon months of storytelling around Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho as friends and partners in crime, with Jericho helping Owens stay on top as Universal Champion. A part of what made it work so well was the unique combination of over the top comedy with Jericho as the bumbling, over eager friend, and Owens playing the slightly embarrassed straight man. It all culminated in a vicious turn as Owens not only disowned his friend, but gave him one of the most brutal WWE beat downs in recent memory.
When former WWE writer and current indie talent Jimmy Jacobs visited Jericho’s podcast, the two recounted how Triple H had strongly suggested the segment should be played more seriously to ensure the gravity of its end effect came across. Vince McMahon sided with Jericho and Jacobs on the comedic beginnings making the violence at the end all the more impactful. In retrospect, Jericho said that Hunter owned up to the fact that he was wrong.
2. Impact Wrestling Never Cut Senor Benjamin A Check
The Broken Universe was the hottest act in Impact Wrestling for a period of months as Matt Hardy got explosively over with his incredibly quirky character, and imaginative movie-style experiments filmed from his “compound.” His brother Jeff, as well as Matt’s wife, son, drone, and father in law all got over in the process for an innovative angle.
The fallout form the angle was pretty ugly as new management didn’t play nice with the Hardys. That included holding out on signing them to a new deal, and then engaging in a lengthy, public battle over the intellectual property rights to the Broken Universe. Amidst all of the turmoil, Matt and his wife Reby Sky brought up that cult favorite Senor Benjamin—his real life father in law—never even got paid by Impact, instead performing his part for fun and to help the family.
1. Daniel Bryan Was Told To Make Roman Reigns The Next John Cena
On his visit to Edge and Christian’s podcast, Daniel Bryan discussed an interestingly up front conversation with Vince McMahon in which the Chairman openly told Bryan that he wanted for Roman Reigns to become the next John Cena. Bryan claims McMahon went so far as to ask Bryan help the youngster get over in that capacity. Bryan indicates that he stood up for himself, indicating that he wanted to be the next Cena.
There’s a lot captured in this little exchange. Sure, there’s confirmation of what many already believed about how McMahon sees Reigns. There’s also an indication of how McMahon saw Bryan and his potential, and what Bryan himself thought about all of this. While Bryan was arguably more over as an active performer, his time in the ring would come to a premature end (at least for the time being) while Reigns would, in fact, further cement his spot
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