The wrestling business is an interesting one as it is a form of entertainment just like films or TV shows but it relies on constantly putting on events in front of crowds. That means that those in the industry travel the world in order to make it to the venues that hold their shows. However, if you are a wrestling fan and think that the seemingly endless time in cars and airplanes is the only grind these pros need to go through, then we’re here to tell you otherwise.
Once they arrive at the show they must wait around backstage while waiting for their potential moment on the show. While you or I might dream of making our way back there, for the pros that must be a boring prospect a lot of the time. As a result, many of them grasp at straws to stay entertained in a world that is filled with over the top people. Realizing this is what inspired us to put together this list of 20 awkward backstage wrestling photos fans need to see.
In order for an image to be up for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to have been taken backstage at a wrestling event. For our purposes, it doesn’t matter if the show being put on was put together by the WWE, TNA/Impact, or any other company from the past as long as wrestling was on the card. Next, the image needs to feel awkward to those that come across it for one reason or another. In some cases that may require some context but with that in mind we considered including those images here. Finally, we want to make it clear that screengrabs of content aired by a company could make the cut as long as it was filmed in the back. However, we made sure that in that case, the shot was especially off-putting.
20 Edge And Matt Hardy
Edge and Matt Hardy are two men whose careers will always be associated with one another. For the longest time that was only for positive reasons, but that definitely didn’t last. Edge teamed up with real-life best friend and storyline brother Christian, while Matt Hardy teamed up with his brother Jeff, and both had some classic matches and rivalries against each other. On top of that, it was publicly known that all four men were very close to one another but that was all torn asunder when Matt’s longtime girlfriend Lita and Edge had an affair. This was something that went public when Matt let the world know about it online, and that unprofessional act made out of anger led to his dismissal from the WWE. Hardy was eventually brought back, and he and Edge shared locker rooms several times, but we can’t stop from feeling uncomfortable looking at shots of the two of them so close to one another.
19 El Torito Bathroom Leap
A wrestler that was hired by the WWE in 2013 and departed in 2016, El Torito never really amounted to very much as a part of the biggest wrestling company in the world. He was a little person that they dressed up as a bull when they repackaged Primo and Epico as bullfighters, and it was clear they never took him very seriously. That said, he did have his time in the sun and the so-called WeeLC match he had with Hornswoggle at Extreme Rules 2014 was one of the most talked about aspects of that show at the time. Seen here backstage at a WWE event, this shot is a good example of his impressive aerial abilities that weren’t given their just due. Of course, in his case, they felt the need to take the picture while he was in the bathroom.
18 A Monster Among Creepers
One of the biggest success stories in the WWE over the last several years, Braun Strowman began his time on the WWE’s main roster as the least important part of The Wyatt Family. Clearly, WWE's powers that be saw something in Braun, and it didn’t take long for him to move on to the singles ranks and become one of the most fearsome talents in the company. Cast as a brutal monster of a man that his opponents should absolutely be afraid to grapple with, he holds his own and even dominates some of the biggest monsters the company has ever created. Still, despite all that, we know he is a guy with the same physical desires that any other human could have. That doesn’t mean that we have any interest in seeing him creeping on Dana Brooke though.
17 Stephanie’s Awful September 11th Response
From one screengrab of a moment that aired on WWE television to another, this time around we’re looking at a scene that was filmed in the backstage area of a hugely important WWE show. Aired as part of an episode of SmackDown that aired in the early days after the September 11th attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, at the time there was still much fear. In fact, this show is said to be the “first public assembly of its size” after the tragedy which allowed it to have a small part in the healing process for a gravely injured nation. It was arguably heroic of the company and talent, and there was no way to know that the event would not be targeted for more violence and death.
Sadly, during one memorable moment, the good the McMahon family had done that night was tarnished when a tone-deaf Stephanie MacMahon made it all about her father. Incredibly, she opted to compare the coldhearted murder of thousands by terrorists to the American government taking Vince McMahon to trial for charges related to illegal steroids. It was shocking for how self-involved and ridiculous it was, even in a world prior to Twitter and Facebook, and there was a backlash against her words. Up to now, looking back on them is cringe-worthy.
16 Coach Bill DeMott
A mainstay of the WCW roster from 1995 until that company closed up shop in 2001, Bill DeMott was known as Hugh Morrus through most of his career and served as a supporting player as a wrestler. Hired by the WWE to take part in their Invasion storyline, he was a part of their roster for six years and clearly earned the respect of many power brokers. Hired back again after being a part of the independent scene, this time around he served as the company’s head trainer, first as a part of the “reality” show Tough Enough and then in developmental, as he was tapped to usher in young talents and teach them the way the WWE wants them to work. Here we see a shot of him with several one-time students of his, including Baron Corbin. That's awkward in retrospect, since this picture was taken a long list of talent accused Bill of a laundry list of egregious abuses.
15 Paige Proposal Gone Bad
Paige is someone that worked extremely hard to become a fantastic wrestling talent. Her family has a long history in the business and she seems to have been born to be a part of it. Signed by the WWE in 2011, she was a part of their developmental system for a number of years, and as a part of NXT, the matches she had with Emma and Natalya started off the so-called Women’s Revolution.
A standout talent when she was brought up to the main roster, it seems like some have forgotten how wonderful her career was prior to being the focus of controversy and the victim of injuries. Sadly, she has suffered a pair of awful injuries (one likely in-ring career ending), had her privacy ripped away from her, failed wellness tests and been a part of a rocky relationship. Speaking of that, this is an image from a video shot backstage at a WWC event in which she proposed to Alberto Del Rio (or Alberto El Patron). Obviously, it is awkward as they broke up after run-ins with the law and a pattern of erratic behavior.
14 Cameras Everywhere
One of the most talked about WWE performers over the last several years, Nikki Bella has never headlined an event but she is the star of more than one show and seems to be crossing over. As the main focal point of both Total Divas and Total Bellas alongside her twin sister Brie, she was also tapped to compete in a recent season of Dancing with the Stars as well. That's an impressive feat, as she is now among the likes of Chris Jericho and Stacy Keibler, as a wrestler who took part in that show. All in all, Nikki has a lot of potential to help the WWE get a stronghold with viewers that never gave them a chance before. As a result of all of this, she has gotten used to being shadowed by people holding cameras wherever she goes. Still, this shot feels awkward, showing her backstage at a WWE event looking like a princess texting with cameras in her face as another woman in the background is bent over.
13 Charlotte’s Crying Face
The daughter of the only wrestler to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice, at least as of yet, Charlotte Flair has been putting together a career that will make her a legend as well. She currently holds the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship, and also held the Raw version of that title four times. What's more impressive is that at 31, her career is far from finished. However, none of those reigns were the first time that she was able to prevail in a championship bout during her time as a contracted performer for the WWE. Just like Ric Flair did back in the day, Charlotte seems to burst out into tears at a moment’s notice. Because this is a shot of her after she won the NXT Women’s Championship for the first time, we understand the emotion but still feel a tad uncomfortable looking at this image of it.
12 Show Shoe Shine Service
One of the largest human beings on the planet today, The Big Show is an individual that is so huge that the WCW tricked millions of fans into thinking he is the son of Andre the Giant. A consistent part of the wrestling industry since he won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at the end of his very first televised match, he has been a part of many memorable moments. In fact, he has had seven world championship reigns over his long run and that is to say nothing of the many lesser titles he’s been able to take from his mostly much smaller opponents. Then you see this shot of him cleaning the shoes of longtime referee Charles Robinson that leaves us assuming that he lost a particularly embarrassing bet of some kind.
11 Backstage Former Friends
This is an image that is both sad and off-putting at the same time, and that is a combination that we don’t get too often. The picture features CM Punk, a man that would go on to make it to the very top of the business as a multiple time world champion in the WWE. Truly, there is little doubt that he is likely to stand out quickly. However, it is hard to look past the fact that there is a heavily bloodied shirtless man sitting across from him and another less damaged but still grisly guy in the background. In the midst of all that, we also see independent wrestling superstar Colt Cabana, someone we know was the best friend of CM Punk. Sadly, this image was taken at a better time as they are no longer friends. With all of the context and violence going on, here this shot is hard to stomach.
10 Randy Orton And Mr. Kennedy
Here's a screengrab from a moment that actually aired as a part of WWE television. There are a couple of things going on here fans are likely to react to. First off, you have the rather amusing fact that the expression on the face of Mr. Kennedy, as Ken Anderson was known at the time, is quite ridiculous, to say the least. However, the main reason why this shot finds its way here is that we see him with Randy Orton. This was a massive deal for a wrestler that was up and coming at the time, and getting to interact with The Viper should have been an awesome step forward for the upstart’s career. Instead, Randy was severely angered by the recklessness that he felt Mr. Kennedy exhibited in a 2009 match, and is said to have pushed for the slightly older, yet less-seasoned wrestler to be released. At least, that is the version of events that took place, according to Ken.
9 Bray Wyatt Gets Fancy
Up until this point on the list, we’ve looked at a pair of massive men that have been built up to be feared by the WWE acting totally out of character – Braun Strowman and the Big Show. Sadly, it is time to look at another instance of a total character-destroying photo and this is the most appalling of the group in our view. We say that because not only is Bray Wyatt seen not only completely dropping the backwoods cult leader style performer that we’ve seen, but he also seems to be trying to look as fancy as possible. Worse than that even, he is doing that while posing with an executive in the company that makes money off of the character he had built. Just try to imagine The Undertaker posing for a photo like this with Vince McMahon and then the shot being allowed to go out on social media.
8 Vince Looking Old
Due to his complicated nature, Vince McMahon has been involved in several real-life moments that have led fans to question his moral barometer. That said, no matter what you think of him it seems pretty much impossible to argue that anyone else has done more to alter the path that the wrestling industry has gone down. In fact, even if you tried to argue that someone like Stone Cold Steve Austin was more imperative to the WWE’s success during the Attitude Era, that would be ignoring that Vince served as his antagonist. He was willing to sacrifice his own body several times over the years; when he was older than almost anyone else on his roster he took part in some physically taxing bouts. While we respect that he is the WWE’s Chairman but has still put his body where his mouth is, this shot of him warming up before a CM Punk match looking far too old for that is just worrisome.
7 WWE Talent Fired
WWE is a business that is built off the backs and bodies of professional wrestlers. Their talents choose to give up much of their personal time and spend most of their time away from loved ones. Then, after working tirelessly to make it and building their whole life around the industry, in the end almost all WWE employees are unceremoniously released and oftentimes soon forgotten.
We know wrestling can be an insensitive business, and we feel bad about the fact that so many talented people that have given so much will suddenly have the rug pulled out from underneath. That said, there is an expectation that something like that is inevitable. However, when the WWE put together a “reality” show looking at the process of getting talent ready in NXT, they upped the ante in a ghastly way, if you ask us. We say that because they opted to set up cameras and record the moment in which NXT backstage interviewer Devin Taylor was fired and then show the footage to the world. Looking at this screengrab from that moment, it is hard to believe anyone would do this in such a public fashion.
6 Ellsworth Shuffle
Having made his debut on national television as one of Adam Rose’s Rosebuds back in 2014, James Ellsworth's career went to another level when he got a singles match on Raw in 2016. Although he was sent to the ring to be destroyed by Braun Strowman during a period where he beat up unknown entities each week, there was something about James that made fans root for him. Eventually given a WWE contract and made a part of the SmackDown roster, he even took part in a match for the WWE Championship which is something nobody could have ever predicted. It wasn't expected either that he would turn heel and join forces with Carmella, but seeing her stand there as he seems to be in the middle of doing a ridiculous dance makes us feel uncomfortable for him.
5 Another Awful Kiss
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are a couple that has been all over WWE television off and on since they first became an onscreen couple in the latter part of the '90s. The only daughter of Vince McMahon and her real-life husband, who also had a pretty incredible in-ring career, have both been able to amass a great deal of behind the scenes power. All of this has resulted in WWE fans being forced to sit back and watch as the two of them make out on their TVs over and over unless they opt to change the channel. As such, this shot of them backstage in a lip lock is far from shocking. But coming across this happening again forced us to marinate in their moment and we don’t want that at all.
4 Jeff Jarrett’s Drunken Night
Jeff Jarrett was a wrestler that had the uncanny ability to jump back and forth between WCW and WWE during the height of the Monday Night Wars. That helped him find a better role each time. That said, he did upset people and despite winning four World Championships in WCW, he was persona non grata in the WWE until they just recently announced he was going to join their Hall of Fame. However, in the intervening years, he co-founded two wrestling companies in TNA and GFW, and helped create opportunities for many talents, while also remaining a star for several more years.
Sadly, when it comes to the entities Jeff helped create, things haven't been too smooth. After merging TNA and GFW together and being put in a leadership role once again, he lost his job due to his drinking problem, as he was let go for being obviously drunk in the back of AAA’s 2017 TripleManía show. That said, the company that was no longer interested in working with him featured him on TV again. As this was an event that had several cameras in the back, Jeff was filmed in that state and they opted to air some footage. Even more surprisingly, they also interviewed him in the back about what happened that night, which is where this screengrab is from.
3 CM Punk And The Rock
This is a photo of two men that both garnered huge fan bases while they were known best for their wrestling careers. The Rock and CM Punk have moved on from that world into different fields. In the case of the Rock, he has become one of the biggest actors in the world due to starring in movies like the Fast and Furious franchise, Central Intelligence, Moana, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Punk, on the other hand, left and took part in one MMA fight to date and has written several Marvel comic books including an ongoing Drax series and a one-shot named Master of Kung Fu. Looking relaxed in one another’s company, you may be wondering why we find this shot awkward. Well, that is because Punk revealed he left the WWE in anger partially because he never was given the WrestleMania main event while part-time former stars like The Rock were slotted there.
2 Natalya And The Sweaty Man
From one shot of WWE wrestlers backstage together to another, this time around there is no backstory that helped make this image a shoo-in for a list like this one. However, this image does make us reflect on the reality of what it must be like in the back of a wrestling event and not in a pleasant way in the slightest. As it is an industry where everything is built to a point where people get in the ring and grapple with one another, people refer to wrestling as fake, but that is not a word that we find accurate. Don’t get us wrong, we know the outcomes are predetermined but the WWE’s talents are incredible athletes that pull off incredible, difficult, and sweat-inducing things regularly. As such, we always knew they go to the back covered in perspiration but assumed they’d go straight to the shower instead of getting their sweat all over the place as they hang out and take photos.
1 Final Nitro Production
It was arguably the most impactful night in the history of professional wrestling. This image was taken in the back during the final WCW Monday Nitro. WCW was the only company that has ever been able to compete with the WWE since it broke free of the territorial system, and when the WWE bought WCW, it was a major blow to the health of the industry. That said, when looking at the picture above, it can be easy to forget about how it felt for the people there that night.
Jimmy Hart and Arn Anderson, who were then WCW employees and en route to making the WWE Hall of Fame, had a part in the production side of things at the time, and were power brokers. However, all of that was over, which is crystal clear due to the presence of Bruce Prichard, who was there to oversee them since he was a part of the WWE’s production team. Because they are men whose careers are indisputably worthy of great respect, seeing these two with someone looking over their shoulders like that is crazy.