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.
Along with using his meteoric rise to fame to push people out of main event spots, Warrior’s sudden prominence caused him to do such outlandish things as refusing to meet a Make A Wish child after a show.
People sometimes forget just how popular Sable was in 1998 when she finally started to break out on her own. Her undeniably great looks and attitude made her stand out from just about every female wrestler that had come through WWE before. You could argue that, at one point, she was second to Stone Cold in terms of fan favorites. The one person who never forgot this was Sable. To say that Sable had an ego in her prime would be a bit of an understatement. Reports suggest that she never really considered herself to be one of the gang, which is also why she was apparently the subject of many backstage pranks. Sable was the worst kind of star you can imagine. Her later lawsuit only alienated her from the locker room further. She has since admitted that she got a big head once her popularity grew.
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.
The worst era of Triple H, though, was shortly after his return from injury in 2002. This is when Triple H began to seriously exert his political influence and became responsible for keeping some of the most talented wrestlers in recent memory down on the card.
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.
He managed to upset just about everyone in WCW once upon a time with his ego problems and inability to resolve any issue (real or imagined) without resorting to childish antics.
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.
He has changed his ways in recent years, but it’s going to take a lot for some people to forget – and forgive – his worst actions.
10 Buff Bagwell
Buff Bagwell was never a particularly good wrestler nor was he that big of a star. Why is he so often considered to be one of the biggest backstage jerks in wrestling history, then? The truth of the matter is that some people are just inherently selfish. Even early in his career, Buff exhibited the kind of laziness that all but guarantees you are never going to be respected by your peers. Perhaps you’ve heard the infamous story about the time that he had his mom call in sick for him, but Buff’s lack of work ethic goes further than that. In fact, the reason that he wasn’t offered the huge WWE contract that he could have easily gotten is that he immediately established himself as a poisonous presence that flat out refused to put in any effort.
9 Lex Luger
Lex Luger shares a few career similarities with Buff Bagwell. Both came into the world of wrestling when they were young, both sported some incredible physiques, and both were seen as potential future stars. The difference between the two is that Luger actually managed to achieve a respectable level of success at various points in his career. Had he not, maybe he would have been a nicer guy. Luger’s career sins begin with the usual stuff like refusing to lose to new talent the company wanted to push, but soon ballooned into worse things. For instance, Luger allegedly loved to sleep around while he was on the road which eventually led to him starting a relationship with Ms. Elizabeth. Their extreme drug usage and partying almost ended both their lives, but certainly helped cost Elizabeth hers.
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.
Hall simply couldn’t be depended on once he found himself in the middle of a binge and often retaliated against his fellow wrestlers through violence or outrageous pranks.
7 Muhammad Hassan
Muhammad Hassan’s run at – or near – the top of the card was so brief, that it’s hard to imagine that he could have possibly earned that bad of a reputation in such short time. Yet, that is very much what happened. The story on Hassan isn’t complete, but what we do know is that WWE once had big plans for the young wrestler before a series of incidents forced them to abandon his push. Apparently, there weren’t many people backstage that were sad to see him gone. Hassan had a habit of rubbing people the wrong way. Apparently, he had very little knowledge of the business and very little respect for the people that came before him. Hassan would regularly engage the roster’s veterans and challenge their rule. As for the young guys, he saw himself as the best among them. Needless to say, this didn’t leave him with many friends.
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?
Yes, there are multiple stories involving Waltman “having a little fun” by relieving himself in the locker room. Beyond that, Waltman is sometimes cited as the guy that got a lot of former wrestlers in the day to start doing harder party drugs regularly.
Along with her entrance, some of you may remember Melina best for her superstar character who felt that she was a bigger draw than everyone else in the company. It turns out that character was only a slight exaggeration. Basically, the problem with Melina is that she felt she deserved to have the world handed to her. She pouted whenever another Diva was given a spot that she felt belonged to her, and she would regularly trash her fellow competitors to management or another wrestler. Beyond that, she reportedly would get into actual fights with other wrestlers backstage and once needed to be kicked out of the Diva’s locker room when some of the veterans simply got tired of hearing her complain.
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.
Sometimes, this meant going off on wrestlers in the ring for messing up spots, but more often than not, Randy would take his frustrations out on fans. Orton’s famously short-temper has caused him to get into altercations with fans on numerous occasions or otherwise just insult them on social media unprovoked.
3 Shawn Michaels
Much like Triple H, Shawn Michaels has made a fairly impressive effort to turn his life around in recent years and become a well-respected, well-liked, genuinely nice guy. Nothing the man does in his life, however, will ever make people completely forget about the things that he did during the early days of his career. Shawn Michaels was like the eye of the hurricane. People wanted to be as close to him as possible in order to avoid the damage that surrounded him. Shawn Michaels was seen as the savior of WWE during their darkest days, and he didn’t exactly respond well to the pressure. Anyone in his way was forced to move and even those who did not directly oppose him usually ended up falling victim to his childish behavior just because he enjoyed messing with them.
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.
The only thing you can say about Hogan’s attitude in his favor is that he wasn’t nearly as rude to fans as he was to his fellow wrestlers. Then again, some comments he’s made in recent years do suggest he was just really good at hiding how awful he was out in the real world.
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.