Perhaps more than any other job, wrestling becomes a lifestyle. The same can be said about most professional sports, but it's a lot easier to find full-time, viable jobs in hockey or baseball once you retire. There's hundreds or even thousands of scouting and management jobs among teams, whereas in wrestling there's a few producer and trainer roles as well as on-screen management roles for former talent. That's about it. Whereas a middle-tier talent in the MLB can find a job as a scout or even a coach, someone in the same position in wrestling - especially outside of the WWE - is going to struggle looking for work upon retirement unless they have a back-up plan. A lot don't, which gives them plenty of time to watch the product and then spew their opinions when asked during interviews or on podcasts.
That's great for fans who love more content, but what usually happens is that a retired - or older - wrestler will overstep his or her boundaries in criticizing a younger talent. While it's more common for them to shoot on former wrestlers with whom they worked, they often also express their disdain for the younger generation, as every older generation that has come before has done. It's a rite of passage to old age, in a sense. With that in mind, here are 15 incidents of old school wrestlers engaging in drama with newer talent.
15 Bret Hart/Seth Rollins
Bret Hart is one of the best technical wrestlers of all-time. He's the best there is, best there was, and best there ever will be, by his own admission and according to a large portion of WWE fans who came of age during the 1990s. His matches almost always had perfect pace and told a great story in the ring. While he sometimes took chances in the ring, he was pretty calculated with his moves and has been regarded as one of the safer workers in the business.
He prides himself on that to this day, and it's for that reason why he has a somewhat tamed beef with Seth Rollins.
"Actually, I'm a big fan of Seth Rollins," Hart said on Heated Conversations With Booker T in 2016 following criticism of him for injuring Finn Balor. "I mean, it sounds like I've been a little hard on him the last few months, but I'm trying to make a point to make him a better wrestler, to live up to what I expect out of him. And we're in this business. It's not about hurting people, and, too often, people misunderstand my point, and, maybe, including him."
The Kingslayer seems to have gotten better in that regard, but Hart has continued to criticize him as recent as April 2018.
14 Goldust/Montez Ford
If you don't follow NXT that regularly, you likely aren't aware of Montez Ford as he isn't exactly one of the promotion's prominent workers, although he has been gaining momentum as one-half of the Street Profits tag team alongside Angelo Dawkins. He's also engaged to NXT superstar Bianca Belair, who appears almost a shoe-in to earn a promotion to the main roster in the future.
That normally wouldn't be relevant in this section, but in February, Ford injected himself into a strange Twitter exchange involving Belair, Mandy Rose, and Goldust. Belair began the exchange by criticizing Rose for using her hair as a weapon during a match against Bayley, as it's one Belair's most unique moves.
Goldust then came to the defense of "The Golden Goddess," asking "Who is this Binaca girl?" While it might have seemed harmless fun, Ford replied that Goldust was standing up for his "Terri," and corrected him on the spelling of Bianca. He also added "you know where to find me. Grinding at the WWE Performance Center." In a since-deleted tweet, Goldust replied:
"Get back to me when Bianca can hit the ropes without her hair getting in the way. And don’t you disrespect me, punk. I’ve chewed up and spit out more than you could ever dream. YOU KNOW WHERE YOU CAN FIND ME, if you make it up here."
13 Konnan/Curtis Axel
It's hard to really gauge whether or not Twitter exchanges can be taken as a work or a shoot, but the previous one seemed certain to have some real animosity behind it and the same can be said for a recent exchange between Konnan and Curtis Axel. Konnan has a history of being outspoken on Twitter and doesn't mind mincing words when it comes to how he feels about present-day wrestlers.
In late 2013, he took to Twitter to label Axel as "Wonder Bread," and criticized his promo skills and lack of charisma. He even, likely on purpose, called him Mark Axel.
Naturally, after being made aware of Konnan's remarks, Axel replied with a shot of his own, claiming that Konnan was simply trying to be controversial to gain social media popularity by attacking a "REAL Superstar." Axel, at the time, was the Intercontinental Champion and being managed by Paul Heyman. Konnan continued to take shots at Axel over the course of the next few months and Axel retaliated on a few occasions, but the heat between the two seems to have died down, which is fine, considering both stars are fairly irrelevant these days. The B-Team, however, has been pretty entertaining at least.
12 Maria/The Bellas
You might have forgotten, but Maria Kanellis is back with WWE. She and her husband, Mike Kanellis (Bennett) debuted last year, but were only on SmackDown Live for a handful of episodes before Maria announced she was pregnant and Mike took time off to deal with his substance abuse issues. It's somewhat ironic the timing of it all, considering you might have thought Maria would have relished the opportunity to come back and work regularly in WWE.
That was her stance back in 2013, when she took to Twitter to slam Nikki and Brie Bella for holding her back from re-signing with WWE.
She even went as far as to live-tweet an episode of Total Divas, during which she fired off several inflammatory tweets about the Bellas.
According to Kanellis, the source of the heat stemmed from the fact she simply danced with Nikki's ex-boyfriend, Dolph Ziggler. She noted that Nikki tried to reach out and squash the beef after her Twitter tirade, but Maria clearly wasn't ready to talk:
"There's no real reason to talk to her. She's not worth my time. She took something from me and it wasn't a man, or it wasn't a piece of candy, it was a contract. It's my career and I think for me, that's probably the worst thing you can do, is mess with my money. I'm not going anywhere."
One year later, Maria noted that she apologized to the Bella twins, but we probably won't be seeing them all together on Total Divas anytime soon.
11 Vince Russo/Cody
Even casual WWE fans have to be aware of the upcoming All In event being put on by Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks. The card is expected to feature some of the best wrestlers in the world working outside WWE and it has clearly attracted the attention of wrestling fans as the 10,000-seat Sears Centre Arena sold out in less than an hour. Tickets will probably be sold at a higher value and we'll probably see several surprise guests show up at the event. However, one person you shouldn't expect is Vince Russo.
Following the announcement, Russo tweeted:
"The ABSOLUTE FACT that I am ready, willing and able to appear at ALL IN while others are already attempting to do EVERYTHING in their power to keep me from attending-tells you just about everything you need to know about ME & THEM."
Rhodes replied that they simply don't reward bad behavior and it was later clarified that he wasn't impressed with Russo's history of saying controversial things in podcasts, specifically in regard to homophobic comments. For his part, Russo didn't fire back at Rhodes and instead further stressed his desire to be part of the show. However, he recently announced he was taking a step back from Twitter.
Who hasn't Sunny taken a run at or vice-versa over the past few years? The WWE Network Edge and Christian Show went as far as to publicly trash her on multiple occasions, which of course wasn't received well by the former valet for The Smoking Gunns, Bodydonnas, and Godwinns. As you may know, Sunny hasn't exactly been doing well in recent years, having been performing cam shows and being arrested on multiple occasions. She's in a rough spot and she doesn't mind mouthing off about other superstars, especially since she's all but been ostracized from the wrestling community.
In a somewhat impressive manner in regard to insulting people, she managed to attack Bayley while speaking of Candice LeRae on Facebook:
"She was signed to 'developmental' right? Which means she's too ugly to ever make the big show. Unless they give the girl some MAJOR plastic surgery. IE Bayley. Sorry. Had to be said."
True to her character, Bayley hasn't replied to Sunny and why should she? The Hugger, as a character, is way above interacting with someone as troubled as Sunny and Pamela Martinez, the person, has been all class throughout her distinguished professional wrestling career. Let's not forget the fact she's immensely more talented than Sunny.
9 Jim Cornette/Kevin Owens
Jim Cornette has been a polarizing figure in the wrestling industry for quite some time now. He did a lot to help build the WWE and its developmental territories up over the years, but in recent years he has been busy lashing out at just about anybody and everybody. He has ongoing beef with about have of the world's population of professional wrestlers and, if we wanted to, we could put 15 Cornette beefs in here, but we'll spare you. However, it's hard to ignore his beef with Kevin Owens, who is one of the most popular and over wrestlers in the WWE. Not surprisingly, he also attacked Sami Zayn.
Cornette worked with both superstars during their time in Ring of Honor in 2009 and, seven years later, when they were with WWE, took to his podcast, The Jim Cornette Experience, to voice his issues with the talented wrestlers.
Cornette's biggest issue with the pair was that they were difficult backstage, throwing some shade towards KO. A year later, after Cornette was announced to induct the Rock N' Roll Express into the WWE Hall of Fame, Owens brilliantly tweeted:
"Think it's wild that @TheJimCornette is inducting the Rock N' Roll Express into the @WWE Hall of Fame? Just wait until he has to induct me!"
8 Hulk Hogan/Xavier Woods
Hulk Hogan has had a storied wrestling career and, even with his past mistakes, is still one of the most popular wrestlers of all-time. While he wasn't as talented as some of the in-ring workers of today's era, he was the most over superstar of all-time and helped revolutionize the industry. Yet, the video (we all know the one) in which he also happened to say some racist and derogatory things tarnished his reputation among a lot of wrestlers, especially African Americans. Xavier Woods is one of the few current WWE employees who went on the record with an opinion on Hogan.
A fan asked if he had all the WWE video games, even WrestleMania Challenge for Nintendo, which featured, front and center, a picture of The Hulkster's face. Woods replied: "Nah, something about that game just doesn't sit right with me anymore... Not sure what it is...."
There have been reports that the WWE is open to bringing Hogan back into the fold in some capacity, but it seems to be delayed. It could be that Vince McMahon is waiting for the right time, or it could be that members of the roster, like Woods, are so against the idea that they'd risk leaving the company if Hogan was brought back.
7 Randy Orton/Will Ospreay
In May 2017, several wrestlers weighed in on the style of wrestling in the independent circuit after Randy Orton shared a tweet from Rip Rogers that characterized indie matches as "drawn out move exchange, this is awesome chant, strike exchange, dive, no sell indie strongstyle, dive, more strikes, no sells, dive, flippy floppy sequence, dive..." You get the point. Orton clearly takes issue with his perceived lack of in-ring psychology on the independent scene and wrestlers unwillingness or inability to sell. Several wrestlers responded, but one of the more prominent was New Japan star Will Ospreay.
"I don't bash people for doing death matches, but I love death matches," Ospreay said in an interview following the Twitter exchange. "I've done one a while ago at Progress [Wrestling]. I loved it. I don’t mock the tech wrestling ’cause I can do it, but I don’t like it. But at the end of it, I still think it's wrestling. No matter what it’s an art form, and I think people need to accept that there’s so many different styles. I symbolize myself as the Spider-Man of professional wrestling. How boring would Spider-Man be if he did everything everyone else would do. Imagine Spider-Man doing a wristlock. I'm Spider-Man."
While it seemed that might be the end of it, Orton later replied with tweets about how he's so rich and doesn't need to do all those unnecessary high spots. The two sides clearly aren't friends.
6 Stone Cold/Simon Gotch
After one of the greatest, if not too-short, runs in WWE history, Stone Cold Steve Austin is now an established podcast host who talks about everything from music and family life to, of course, wrestling.
While he isn't as involved as he once was, he still keeps up fairly regularly and, in 2016, he was very critical of Simon Gotch after he concussed Enzo Amore by throwing him face first into the middle rope, which caused his head to bash against the mat. Austin knows a lot about potentially career-threatening injuries, so it wasn't surprising to see him weigh in on his podcast.
"Don't use that much horsepower that close … It's dangerous. And don't pick a man up by his head if you have an inkling that something went wrong. I'm not coming down on Gotch and I think the excitement got a hold of him, but, man, a really scary bump. Gotch, check on a man before you grab someone by the head if you suspect anything. And that’s just words of wisdom."
Gotch respond directly to Austin and said he was frustrated with his version of the spot as it had fans and others calling for his head on social media. What really happened, Gotch said, is that Enzo messed up the spot by running too fast and sliding too late. He might have a point.
5 Victoria/Tessa Blanchard
It was rumored for awhile that Tessa Blanchard might finally sign in WWE as she was dating Riccochet, who had just signed with the company. However, the couple seems to have broken up in May, which is likely better for all parties involved given she has a reputation of being hard to work with. Had she been hired, it would have put Riccochet in a tough spot, whereas even if she wasn't she likely could have been posturing him for a job. Yet, WWE was likely well aware of her reputation from the likes of other wrestlers, specifically Lisa Marie Varon better known as Tara in Impact Wrestling and Victoria in WWE, where she is a former Women's Champion.
In 2016, Varon tweeted that she had simply tried to offer some advice to Blanchard, but she didn't want it. "What a slap in da face," she added.
Blanchard, who had previously tried out for WWE in 2014, lost in the first round of the Mae Young Classic to Kari Sane and later addressed rumors of being difficult to work with, without mentioning Victoria.
"I saw on the dirt sheets that 'Tessa has a bad attitude.' I think that I am misunderstood because people perceive me to be a certain way because I am generational. They expect me to be entitled and expect me to have things early on. I think people misconstrued that honestly. I was so excited for my spot on the Mae Young Classic."
4 John Cena/Alex Riley
You might not yet consider John Cena to be in the old school category of wrestling, but compared to the high-flying new generation on the independent circuit, he's definitely near the end of his career. He's been a part-time wrestler for a considerable amount of time now and doesn't seem to be coming back on a full-time basis anytime soon. Conversely, Alex Riley isn't really part of the new school, but it's worth including as he believes his career would have taken off were it not for Cena.
Riley was signed to WWE and its developmental territories from 2007 to 2016 and appeared to have the tools to succeed in the company, but didn't amount to much other than winning the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship.
On a 2017 episode of The Ross Report, he alluded to an incident backstage with Cena: "I'll put it this way. There was an incident and it certainly changed the path of my career. I don't want to discuss it right now, but I will one day for sure. I will one day. It was a tough situation at times, I guess we can leave it at that... I struggle with the morality of even talking about it and I'm not into blowing up anybody else at this point, but I promise you this, I will address it one day for sure. You don't want to know. It was a tough situation."
He isn't the first to accuse Cena of shady backstage antics and, quite frankly, we can't wait until he spills the beans.
3 Jim Cornette/Kenny Omega
If you're pissing off Jim Cornette, chances are you're doing something right in your career. Cornette, as previously mentioned, doesn't mind ripping the new generation of wrestlers at any and every chance he gets, so it's no surprise that he took aim at Kenny Omega back in 2017.
To his credit, Omega simply replied by telling Cornette to get out of his mentions. Yet, that isn't going to stop the constant whining from Cornette, who again voiced his disgust with Omega on his podcast following his match with Chris Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 12:
"If it was any other serious other real pro wrestler than Omega, I would watch this, obviously. But just the sight of his [Omega] punk face and the sound of his whiny voice makes me sick to my stomach."
2 Jim Cornette/The Young Bucks
He's had beef with Kevin Owens, Kenny Omega, and practically every independent wrestler to ever exist, so it shouldn't be surprising that Jim Cornette has ripped The Young Bucks on multiple occasions. On one such occasion, Cornette jumped into a Twitter debate involving UFC fighter Daniel Cormier, who questioned why fans would want to see the strange drop kick spot during an Ring of Honor show in which all six competing wrestlers kept trying to drop kick each other. It wasn't exactly a classic wrestling spot, but the fans were into it nonetheless. Cody Rhodes first stepped in to defend the Bucks, but Cornette replied by stating, "Come on Cody, don't encourage these ballet dancers."
He added: "@UFC is kicking pro wrestling's butt all over the world cause of stuff like this. I know you have to work with these clowns but it's embarrassing. Grown men used to want to wrestle, now want to fight in UFC cause of this stuff." Oh, and if that wasn't enough to let the world know how he feels about the Bucks, he later added: "These guys are kids playing wrestler & laughing at how they tell people it's fake. They're a disgrace." They're laughing all right. But only at Cornette.
1 Goldberg/Matt Riddle
In a rare case of a young independent wrestler going out of his way to attack an older superstar, Matt Riddle took particular exception with Goldberg's 2017 Universal Championship run, as did many fans. While it was nice to see Goldberg back, the fact he beat Kevin Owens for the belt in mere seconds was a slap in the face to KO and WWE's young talent in general. Beyond that, Goldberg isn't exactly known for being a talented in-ring worker and it's that point that Riddle took issue with in an interview with Sporting News.
"If he works more than one minute, it could Botchamania, you know? Even with one minute, it's Botchamania almost. Let's be honest, if we get more than a one minute match from Bill Goldberg, it's gonna suck. So, I hope he only wrestles for one minute whether he wins or loses, whatever."
While Goldberg obviously didn't need to waste time responding, there could come a time when Riddle is a bigger superstar than him and this comment could come back around. Riddle was named the Most Improved Wrestler of 2016 by Dave Meltzer and the former UFC star recently defeated Zack Sabre Jr. to become the Evolve Champion.
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