At some point, every young wrestling fan learns that the characters they see on-screen don’t necessarily represent the people playing them. One of the most shocking parts about the entire process is learning that those bad guys you spend the entire show rooting against are actually decent - sometimes even saintly – human beings outside of the ring. Yes, not every snarling bad guy in the world of professional wrestling is a pure heel in real life. However, don’t take that to mean that there aren’t bad guys in every wrestling locker room.
In fact, you could argue that the backstage heels of the wrestling world are even more evil than their on-screen counterparts. Call it the pressures of the job, the influence of fame, or the way that pro wrestling rosters are so often divided into “haves” and “have nots,” but there is something about the world of professional wrestling which seems to bring out the worst in some performers. These backstage heels may not have resorted to such classic tactics as chair shots to enforce their evil ways, but their ability to destroy any locker room they were in make them the 15 wrestlers who were hated most behind the scenes.
15 The Ultimate Warrior
To be clear, we’re talking about The Ultimate Warrior’s early days here. While the man born as Jim Hellwig eventually made an effort to repair some of the bridges he once burnt, there’s no denying that in his young days, The Ultimate Warrior was the ultimate backstage heel. There’s the stories of him doing things like running into Andre The Giant at full speed in the ring which make you realize that he was a dangerous guy to work with in the ring, but Warrior’s worst exploits were typically reserved for backstage.
13 Triple H
Triple H actually ranks lower on this list than you might expect for a couple of reasons. First off, he has made great efforts in recent years to undo some of the damage he’s done to himself and WWE. Second, some Triple H stories are actually up for debate. All that being said, there was a time when Triple H was indeed a huge heel. Early on, Triple H rode his friendship with Shawn Michaels to a higher place on the card than his skills at the time technically warranted.
12 Scott Steiner
You know, there’s actually not a lot of information out there regarding just how much of a jerk Scott Steiner was in his early days. While he was certainly a guy that liked to joke around and have a good time, there aren’t really many stories out there that suggest that young Scott Steiner was a heel. That changed the moment that he became Big Poppa Pump. At some point, Steiner figured out that the way to WCW’s main event spots involved becoming larger than any human being should ever be and talking more trash than is ever necessary.
11 Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy is another guy that wasn’t a backstage terror for most of his career. In fact, young Jeff Hardy was regularly referred to as a pretty nice guy who would do whatever was necessary for the business. Once Jeff fell into a downward spiral of substance abuse, however, his real-life persona changed. While he was a member of TNA, Jeff Hardy pulled some of the biggest real life heel moves a wrestler can possibly come up with. From no-showing major events without warning to coming to the ring so high that he was unable to work a real match, Hardy proved to be more than anyone in TNA could handle.
10 Buff Bagwell
9 Lex Luger
8 Scott Hall
To be fair, both Scott Hall and Kevin Nash have both been called two of the biggest jerks in wrestling at one point or another. The difference between them is that Kevin Nash was apparently a pretty likeable guy most of the time even when he was screwing people out of career opportunities. Hall, however, never seemed to be as likeable as Nash on his best days and on his worst days, he was a real nightmare. Hall wasn’t quite as interested in political maneuvering as some of the real heels on this list, but his fondness for self-destruction via substance abuse led to a number of memorable moments.
7 Muhammad Hassan
6 Sean Waltman
Of all the former Kliq members, Sean Waltman tends to get off lightest in terms of being a huge jerk once upon a time. It’s hard to say exactly why this is. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he never enjoyed quite the same level of fame as some of his fellow members. Regardless, the fact remains that Waltman was an absolute nightmare. For instance, did you know that one of Waltman’s favorite activities involved defecating in people’s food and luggage?
4 Randy Orton
Randy Orton is a tough guy to rank in terms of the all-time real-life heels. By all accounts, he has mellowed out considerably over the years and has become a fairly likeable guy that is generally respected by his peers. Once upon a time, though, the real Randy Orton was a bigger heel than the Randy Orton you saw on screen. Randy knew exactly how valuable he was to WWE and would regularly test the limits of what he could get away with.
3 Shawn Michaels
2 Hulk Hogan
There comes a point in the life of every fan who grew up watching WWE during the ‘80s when they are forced to come to terms with the fact that Hulk Hogan is one of the most hated wrestlers of all-time among his peers. Hulk Hogan wasn’t so much a backstage politician as he was a backstage tyrant. The entirety of WWE was under his control. Nobody got near the top of the card unless Hogan wanted them to be there, and he almost always found a way to share someone else’s brief moment in the spotlight.
Number one with a bullet is the man who was so dedicated to being one of the most despised heels in recent WWE history that he never broke character even when the cameras were turned off. In another time, JBL’s backstage antics probably would have just made him one of the boys. In the more modern WWE, there can be no denying that they just make him a huge bully. JBL’s methods of hazing and making people pay whatever dues he imagines they owe typically involve such playful antics as assaulting people in the showers or otherwise sucker punching them in the ring. Anyone who wasn’t bigger than JBL or higher than him on the card was subject to his constant harassment.
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