By now, most of you are aware of the real-life "Tomspiracy" announcer Tom Phillips has found himself in — an alleged online affair he carried out with a woman he met on Instagram. And while many are poking fun at the graphic comments Phillips made in his online and text conversations with the woman, reports suggest that 1) he had communicated with her while using his WWE company phone, and 2) the fact remains that he is engaged. As a result, he is the subject of many an Internet meme, mostly the ones relating to the NSFW stuff he told the woman he wanted to do.
These days, everybody has to take good care of the things they say on social media. Deleting their old Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram posts isn't enough to save their butts from scrutiny — sometimes, people can dig up these old posts one way or another. And this is especially true with people who are in the public eye, professional wrestlers included.
Where does Tom Phillips' recent social media misadventure rank? Read on, as we now look back at 15 Instagram posts that resulted in professional wrestlers and wrestling personalities getting in hot water.
15 NAOMI'S PHOTO WITH KEVIN HART
Even to this day, WWE still wants to believe kayfabe is alive and well, even if any fan over the age of ten knows that the faces and the heels they watch don’t really hate each other or want to maim each other. That’s why management was less than happy in 2014 when Naomi posted a photo of her posing with comedian Kevin Hart, who was, at that time, Monday Night RAW’s special guest star. That’s all fine and dandy, but what the former Funkadactyl didn’t realize was that John Cena and Kane were right behind them, two men of opposing alignments seemingly discussing a match.
After realizing her slip-up, Naomi deleted the Instagram photo and re-posted it with Cena and Kane blurred out. But that wasn’t enough, as she reportedly got some backstage heat for failing to check for any possible kayfabe-blurring sightings.
14 JOHN CENA TAKES HIS CATCHPHRASE TOO LITERALLY ON IG
Anyone who follows John Cena on Instagram knows that he loves ribbing his followers in a rather unique way – those “abstract” posts of his that tend to be teasing something, or in many cases, nothing at all. An example of the former – and ultimately, the latter – would be the numerous Kenny Omega references he posted amid rumors “The Cleaner” would be heading to WWE from New Japan. But in 2015, WWE had a small problem with Cena’s Instagram – just as his catchphrase goes, fans "couldn’t see him" on IG. Not really terrible, but enough to get him in a wee bit of trouble with officials.
On a Twitter post in July 2015, Cena suggested that WWE had asked him to make his Instagram “less abstract” and post more photos of himself, and to his credit, he appears to be doing that. But we’ll always be entertained – and left scratching our heads – each time he posts something out of left field, or something meant to troll or drop hints in an “abstract” (that word again) sort of way.
13 THESE HACKERS JUST MADE THE LIST!
Once again, the terrible post doesn’t have to come from the wrestler him/herself. In this example, it came from someone who had hacked into Chris Jericho’s IG and Twitter accounts around Memorial Day 2015, going as far on Twitter as to change his name and post that he’s a “huge [derogatory term for homosexual man]” who sold out to WWE by being a part-time wrestler. On Instagram, the hackers posted several obviously NSFW images, including obviously doctored nudies featuring AJ Lee, John Cena, and Y2J himself. And it got Jericho’s account suspended for some time.
In the end, the perpetrators of the hack were a bit too proud of their grade school-level trolling of the then-part-timer Jericho, advertising the name of their crew in a few posts. And while the real Jericho replied to the hackers by posting a photo of his middle finger on IG, it’s safe to say that if the hack happened much more recently, he’d simply have this to say – Galvanize Mob, you just made the list, you stupid idiots!
12 KHARMA’S WWE RETURN THAT NEVER WAS
Early last year, the word behind the scenes in TNA was that Awesome Kong (formerly Kharma in WWE) was on the way out of the company, largely due to backstage issues with Reby Sky. But before Matt Hardy’s missus could “delete” the physically-imposing Kong, TNA did that for her, releasing her due to a “physical altercation in the locker room.” That led to rumors that she’d be returning to WWE for another chance at dominating the company’s women’s roster, and several Instagram posts from a user named Kia Stevens (Kong/Kharma’s real name) hinted that that would indeed be the case.
As it turned out, it wasn’t Awesome Kong after all, but someone pretending to be her, likely a troll trying to fuel rumors of a WWE return for a few cheap chuckles. Soon after the ostensible Instagram teases, Kong took to Twitter to clarify that she doesn’t have an Instagram account. We still wouldn’t mind Kong/Kharma coming back to WWE, even if RAW already has Nia Jax pushed fairly well as a female version of Braun Strowman.
11 SCOTT HALL SHARES HIS HOLIDAY MOVIE HABITS
By most accounts, it appears as if Scott Hall simply wanted to show his Instagram followers how his Christmas tree looked like in December 2016. But in the process, he had also revealed to his fans that he doesn’t exactly watch It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, or even The Miz’s Christmas Bounty and Santa’s Little Helper during the holidays. Instead, he apparently likes to watch the films where Sean Morley made his name in the world of kayfabe – in other words, Scott Hall likes his adult movies.
Being that Hall is known for his snarky sense of humor, it’s also entirely possible that he was ribbing his followers by sneaking an adults-only Easter egg into his Christmas tree photo. But he may have also been a bit too careless, and forgotten to change the channel or turn off the tube while taking the picture. In any case, the internet mostly got quite a kick out of the post, which is why it ranks fairly low on here.
10 THE LUKE HARPER FAN CLUB
At the moment, Luke Harper is enjoying the best push of his WWE career, though we don’t know how long it will last, or if WWE will align him once again with Bray Wyatt now that Randy Orton revealed his true intentions by burning down the Wyatt Family compound. But late in 2015, Harper was in the doghouse as Chris Jericho (who has two more appearances on this list, one through no fault of his) posted a photo on Instagram of several wrestlers – himself, Harper, Wyatt, Cesaro, Roman Reigns, and even The Shining Stars – mugging it up as the charter members of the “Luke Harper Fan Club.”
Jericho might not have had bad intentions with the post, and many would say Harper is one of WWE’s most underrated competitors. But even with the Curtain Call nearly two decades past at that time, WWE management wasn’t happy with seeing a social media photo of mixed heels and faces, all in an attempt to help get a brother over. Due to this, Harper was taken off a few shows, and Jericho took the image down due to the unintended backstage heat that followed.
9 RENEE YOUNG VS. INTERNET TROLLS
At this point, we should let you know that this list doesn’t entirely include examples of wrestlers getting in trouble with WWE officials and getting backlash from sensible fans. Sometimes it covers wrestlers – or in this case, a popular backstage interviewer and WWE host – getting slagged by “keyboard warriors,” or, in other words, internet trolls who are the ones behind the "terrible" posts.
On September 19, 2015, Renee Young turned 30 years old, and she posted a photo of herself with Corey Graves – an innocent photo of a woman in a relationship (with Dean Ambrose) and a married man, a picture of two platonic friends celebrating. This, unfortunately, made Young fair game for all sorts of slut-shaming on social media, even if as stated above, there was absolutely nothing between her and Graves.
While Renee is normally the type who wouldn’t hurt a fly, she was absolutely furious when she told her haters to “focus on more important things in their own lives rather than stay up way past (their) bedtimes on a school night and try and tear down other people.” That shut the trolls up, but sadly, we all know that they don’t take long to find themselves another target to bully from the comfort of their own homes...or internet shops.
8 JERICHO AND ROLLINS GOOF AROUND ON A PLANE
Oh, Y2J. You just made THIS list once again. Then again, we personally don't find anything wrong with WWE wrestlers having fun away from the camera, and faces and heels shooting the breeze together. WWE does, however, and it's a good thing, considering how hot everyone involved was at the time, that Chris Jericho escaped scot-free when he Instagrammed a photo of himself and Seth Rollins (whose name also appears multiple times in this list) making goofy faces and having fun while on a flight. As you know, Jericho and then-best friend Kevin Owens' heel partnership was the biggest thing on RAW in late-2016, and Rollins was just one of several babyfaces JeriKO feuded with while they were best friends onscreen.
Jericho and Rollins didn't get in trouble with WWE officials, but Jericho in particular got roasted by some online dirt sheets, who accused him of being a bit too careless in posting a photo of a heel and a babyface having a laugh and sharing a goofy moment.
7 JASMIN/ALIYAH DOESN’T LIKE BLACK PEOPLE?
Or it would seem, based on a barrage of Twitter posts credited to NXT wrestler Jasmin in September 2015. Jasmin, who is known in real life as Nhoop Al-Areebi, had apparently made several tweets in 2012 making racially-insensitive and offensive comments against African-Americans. While those posts were made when she was only 17 years old, youth does not excuse one from abusing social media and using it as a platform to post racist remarks, or even use the “n-word” when you aren’t even black to begin with.
In the end, Al-Areebi was not sanctioned by WWE, as it was found that someone else was using her account at the time the post was made. She’s since been given the ring name Aliyah, which is ironically quite close to the name of the late African-American singer Aaliyah. Still, we have to wonder about one Instagram post she supposedly made in 2014, at the time she was 19 or 20 – in there, she called a black wrestler who was carrying her to the ring a “slave.”
6 ALBERTO DEL RIO AND PAIGE GO PUBLIC
Wrestling fans know it, so why not go ahead and celebrate your love on social media if you’re a real-life WWE couple? That was what Alberto Del Rio and Paige did in the summer of 2016, as photos of the couple began circulating on the internet, seemingly confirming that they had begun dating behind the scenes, despite the fact Del Rio was, at the time, technically married but separated from his wife. But that complication wasn’t the main reason WWE was apparently miffed at the couple, miffed to the point that they placed Alberto and Paige in separate brands in the July 2016 brand draft.
The main reason was the very fact they were a couple – we’ve said it before, but unless you’re at the level of John Cena (and Nikki Bella) or even The Miz (and Maryse), WWE would ideally want their wrestlers not to take a dump where they eat, if you know what we mean. Add to Del Rio’s discontent with his midcard push and Paige’s similarly outspoken nature on social media, and both spent a good part of 2016 in WWE’s doghouse.
5 DIXIE GETS A MASSAGE WHILE TNA BLEEDS MONEY
Back when she was still in charge of TNA, Dixie Carter was accused numerous times of acting like a spoiled little princess (yes, even at 50-something) living off her parents’ fortune, while ignoring the numerous pay complaints of her wrestlers and other employees. That was especially true in May 2016, when she Instagrammed a photo from an airport massage room, adding that there’s “nothing like a 3 a.m. massage” while waiting for her flight to Abu Dhabi to take off.
Now there’s nothing wrong if you’re a top company executive pampering yourself before a long flight, but if you’ve got employees with delayed paychecks and myriad financial problems plaguing your company, you’ve got to think twice about spending your money on luxuries. And if you can’t resist doing that, why post it on Instagram? Carter reportedly got major heat backstage for that Instagram post, and rightfully so, as TNA was hemorrhaging money at the time of the post.
4 RUSEV AND LANA’S ENGAGEMENT KILLS A BAD STORYLINE
You didn’t need to explain it to your average wrestling fan in 2015 – Lana wasn’t just Rusev’s manager and mouthpiece, but also his real-life girlfriend. But during that year, the Bulgarian Brute and the Ravishing Russian were at odds with each other in storyline, as Summer Rae had just proposed to Rusev and Dolph Ziggler was being managed by Lana in one of the worst cases of bad in-ring chemistry in recent WWE history. Fans couldn’t wait for the storyline to meet its merciful end, and it did in October, when TMZ reported that Rusev and Lana were, in real life, engaged.
This was confirmed soon after by Lana, as she took to Twitter and Instagram to post photos of her engagement ring. And while fans mostly loathed the Rusev/Lana/Dolph/Summer “love quadrangle/rectangle” storyline, WWE didn’t want it to end just yet, and officials were understandably furious. Though we have to argue that Rusev, who boasts of unusual agility and technical skill for a big man, is being punished way too long for his now-wife’s arguable social media gaffe. Recently, Rusev has been doing a ton of jobs on RAW, albeit usually with tag team partner Jinder Mahal taking the pin.
3 THE ARCHITECT AND HIS NEW BLUEPRINT
It’s an age-old expression – hell hath no fury than a woman scorned. And in this millennial age we live in, scorned women will often take to social media to post their partners’ private photos, and sometimes those of their paramours. That was what happened when Seth Rollins had apparently posted nude photos of NXT wrestler Zahra Schreiber on his Twitter and Instagram pages. And when the photos leaked out, his then-fiancee Leighla Schultz retaliated by tweeting photos of Rollins’, well, “little Architect." It's also been alleged that she was behind the Schreiber leak, having found the photos on Seth's phone.
It wasn't long before the internet had a field day, not only with Schreiber's nudies, but also with Rollins' nickname-for-Richard images. Even worse for everyone involved, these compromising photos showed up on WWE.com, which automatically pulls images shared via Twitter. Rollins would apologize for the brouhaha, and his career seems to have recovered nicely. Wish we could say the same about his knees.
2 TOM PHILLIPS' KINKY TEXTS GO PUBLIC
Before growing a beard in recent years, Tom Phillips looked like the epitome of a wholesome, All-American boy in a grown man's body. But if very recent events are any indicator, the ostensibly wholesome Mr. Phillips loves tattooed women, and he's got quite the dirty mind and vocabulary when it comes to detailing what he wants to do to them in bed.
Last week, an Instagram user called "missythetattooedgirl" went public about how she discovered that Phillips, whom she was having an online fling with, was engaged all along, and posted screenshots on Instagram detailing some of his more colorful sexts, including a much-reposted one which took place while he was on a flight. She also had this to say about the whole incident:
“This is why I don’t trust people. Without my friends I never would’ve known that a high profile WWE commentator who was talking to me and wanted to get together, is engaged. I had zero idea and I couldn’t be more sorry to (Phillips’ fiancée). You deserve better than this. Apparently nobody is faithful anymore.”
There's been no word as to whether WWE has sanctioned Phillips, but the woman added that he did get in trouble with WWE officials for talking to her on his company phone.
1 ZAHRA SCHREIBER "LIKES HISTORY"
We’ve got a detailed explanation about the controversy surrounding Zahra Schreiber’s leaked nudies on the Seth Rollins entry. But that was literally the first time many wrestling fans had known of this heavily-tattooed NXT wrestler. Months later, she had again become controversial, as it was revealed that she had been posting seemingly pro-Nazi images on Instagram back in 2012. And defending the swastika quite adamantly, might we add, by saying that she’s a history buff. Oh, and that wasn’t all, as she had also been using social media to rant about people, mostly other women, with a lot of profanity and homophobic and racial slurs thrown in.
Fearing that WWE’s higher-ups may discover them, Schreiber had deleted those controversial social media posts, but when word got out in the summer of 2015, they chose not to take any chances and canned her post-haste. Months later, Rollins announced that he and Schreiber had broken up. Good on you, Seth. Good on you.