The backstage aspect of wrestling can be as important as the on-screen work when it comes to a wrestler’s career. Wrestlers need to carry themselves well backstage if they want to have a long career on top. Some top wrestlers will see their egos grow out of control and make choices that damage their legacies in the long run. Other wrestlers in the mid-card or lower will hurt their careers in their prime thanks to the wrong decisions landing them in hot water. Basically, it is easier to ruin a career behind the scenes that it is in person.
We’ll look at some of the most surprising stories regarding how isolated incidents have changed the perception of wrestlers. These performers made bad choices behind the scenes that became common knowledge. Wrestling is one entertainment industry where secrets will always spill out. That led to the wrestlers having their reputations destroyed for the worse as the stories became more public with books, interviews and the overall growth of the internet. Not everyone involved has been impacted to the same extent, but these incidents provide a dark cloud over their legacies. Here are fifteen behind the scenes stories that destroyed the reputation of these wrestlers.
15. Sheamus: Losing Multiple Fights To Smaller Wrestlers
Sheamus is one of the toughest wrestlers when it comes to having hard hitting matches and working through injuries. That reputation doesn’t necessarily follow him after multiple stories came out about his real-life disputes. Other wrestlers have gotten in hot water with Sheamus during his time in developmental and during his early years on the main roster.
Japanese wrestler Yoshi Tatsu reportedly beat up Sheamus in a real fight when Sheamus kept interfering with his personal property when they lived together in developmental. This story became public knowledge during Sheamus’ first WWE Championship to hurt his reputation. Another story leaked that Sin Cara got the better of Sheamus during a backstage disagreement in the WWE locker room. Some wrestling insiders have speculated that the stories of Sheamus getting beat down by smaller wrestlers was why WWE gave up on pushing him as a true top star.
14. JBL: Getting Knocked Out By Joey Styles
John Bradshaw Layfield had a memorable run with the WWE Championship that helped him become a bigger star before ending his career. However, his legacy is equally remembered for the bullying he would partake in backstage. JBL often abused his power as a veteran in the locker room to haze others. The Hardy Boyz, John Morrison and Mauro Ranallo are some stories of his bullying to come out during different periods in his WWE career.
Bradshaw however picked on the wrong person during a flight to a Tribute to the Troops show overseas. Following the gross decision to dump a bucket of ice water on Lilian Garcia, JBL turned his attention to Joey Styles. The targets were female ring announcers and broadcasters significantly smaller than him. Styles shocked the entire plane by punching JBL in the face dropping him. All the wrestlers were in awe and the story essentially ended Bradshaw’s reputation as a tough guy.
13. Sunny: Cheating With Shawn Michaels
The career of Tammy “Sunny” Sytch has become rather embarrassing for many moments. Sytch is a train wreck today with horrible stories continuously following her personal life. However, her legacy in the wrestling business was ruined a long time ago. Most wrestlers look down upon her for how treated longtime boyfriend Chris Candido.
Sunny and Candido both made it to WWE together, but Sunny was a far bigger star due to her looks and charisma. The star power of Sunny saw her start to branch out and develop a closer relationship with top star Shawn Michaels behind the scenes. Sytch often slept with Michaels in the backstage area of shows while Candido was in the locker room. Various wrestlers have shared stories about this showing why they all lost respect for her as a human being.
12. Buff Bagwell: Having His Mom Call In Sick For Him
The WCW career of Buff Bagwell saw him underperform while making great money for a decade. This wasn’t enough to ruin his reputation as he received another chance in WWE. Bagwell was one of the major players WWE wanted to build the WCW brand around when making plans for the show to be its own product.
Bagwell had a stinker in the first WCW match on WWE television against Booker T. The fan reaction led to WWE canceling all ideas of WCW being its own brand. Bagwell got into a fight with Shane Helms days later and never returned to television. Jim Ross claims Buff no-showed the following Raw and had his mother call in sick for him. It led to Bagwell being fired and being blackballed from WWE forever.
11. Enzo Amore: Annoying The Locker Room
The backstage ethics of WWE lead to some issues of wrestlers being blackballed from the locker room. Enzo Amore is the most recent instance of someone becoming the most hated person among the roster. It was building for a while but came to ahead when Enzo struggled to contain his abrasive personality. Enzo reportedly had a loud phone conversation on a tour bus running down the wrestling business and bragging about his wealth.
Roman Reigns stepped up on behalf of the roster and kicked him off the tour bus. Enzo was banned from the locker room going forward at the leadership of Reigns. Recent interviews have revealed that Enzo is now dressing in a smaller private room away from the other wrestlers and is still being the annoying person the other wrestlers hate. Since he won’t change his ways or apologize, this will likely be the reputation for the rest of his career.
10. Sid: Stabbed Arn Anderson With Scissors
Sid had a very successful career that is mostly forgotten today. Despite not being the best wrestler or having much passion for the industry, Sid always received huge pushes in WWE and WCW each during the 90s. The big man was one of the few wrestlers to have runs with both WWE and WCW World Championships during the Monday Night Wars.
One moment in the early 90s however hurt his overall reputation in the industry. Sid and highly respected WCW veteran got into an altercation at a hotel following a show. It escalated with Sid stabbing Anderson with a pair of scissors leading a dangerous situation. They eventually worked together again, but Sid going that far on a locker room favorite made him a hated man. This is part of the reason he isn’t considered a legend by WWE despite having the credentials to enter the Hall of Fame.
9. Tazz: Bullying Gets Shut Down By Rob Van Dam
The ECW locker room was full of shocking stories and embarrassing moments looking back at it today. Tazz was considered a malcontent that showed little respect to the other wrestlers. Many ECW stars claimed Tazz lived the gimmick and believed he was the toughest man on the planet. That all changed one night when rubbing Rob Van Dam the wrong way.
RVD approached Tazz with the game of “pick a hand.” Tazz picked one of Van Dam’s hand and Van Dam responded by slapping him in the face with that hand. Nothing happened after that as Tazz’s bullying ways showed he didn’t want any fights with the wrestlers he talked down to. Van Dam enjoyed sharing this story on various shoot interviews about how he killed the reputation of Tazz in the locker room. Tazz has mellowed out over the years and now has fun with this story.
8. Vince McMahon: Humiliating Jim Ross On A Regular Basis
The vision of Vince McMahon is the biggest reason wrestling is the form of entertainment it has shaped into over the past three decades. McMahon will always be praised for his role in making WWE such a successful brand. However, there are many terrible things he has done throughout his time running WWE.
One thing stands out when looking at how the wrestlers view him is how McMahon treated Jim Ross. Most of the locker room respected Ross as a commentator, backstage personnel and a wrestling mind. The respect of Ross was not reciprocated by McMahon. Vince went out of his way many times to humiliate Ross on screen and off screen. No one could understand what McMahon’s beef was, but it exposed him as being a huge jerk.
7. Melina: Cheating With Batista
The relationship between Melina and John Morrison was on and off for many years throughout their wrestling careers. They were still together when Melina allegedly cheated on him with top star Batista. Melina claimed the affair never happened and she was only friends with Batista. However, many wrestlers, including Batista, have revealed that it was very well known at the time.
Morrison ended up being viewed as weak by Vince McMahon following this incident. Melina ended up getting the brunt of the fallout with her reputation being ruined. She is still asked about it today in interviews. Melina has stated that this becoming her reputation hurt her greatly. Unless she gets another return to WWE, this behind the scenes incident will sadly be what most defines her reputation.
6. Batista: Getting Beat Up By Booker T
Batista took part in Melina’s story, but his reputation took a hit in another behind the scenes incident. The star power of Batista rose after he won the World Championship to become a consistent main eventer. This led to his ego growing out of control and rubbing some of the wrestlers the wrong way. Booker T was a respected veteran at this point and no longer felt the need to put up with it.
A fight between the two took place at the filming of the commercial for SummerSlam 2006. Batista apparently said something that offended Booker leading to them getting into an altercation. Booker’s tougher background saw him ready for the fight and he embarrassed Batista. The two wrestlers coincidentally had a match on the show after the incident during the commercial filming.
5. Triple H: Running CM Punk Out Of WWE
Triple H has become a relatively popular name in public perception in recent years. The inception of NXT along with Triple H hiring some of the best wrestlers in the world gave faith to the fan base that he will be a great replacement for Vince McMahon. Triple H even shows respect for the fans due to the presentation of the product in NXT not insulting their intelligence.
However, one black mark on Triple H’s reputation is rather strong and is somewhat recent. CM Punk’s controversial walk out from WWE was a product of many factors, but Triple H’s relationship with him was the top reason. McMahon had a good rapport with Punk that could have led to a resolution. Triple H sabotaging Punk and not staying true to his word led to Punk leaving with the intention to never return.
4. Goldberg: Loses Backstage Fight To Chris Jericho
Bill Goldberg is someone that has been accused of taking the wrestling business too seriously. Goldberg often hit his opponents with full force and treated others lower on the totem pole poorly. Chris Jericho felt his wrath in WCW. The two were working an entertaining program thanks to Jericho’s promos. Goldberg stepped in and ruined any chance the feud going anywhere due to believing Jericho’s smaller size and comedic nature made him a joke.
Both men worked together a few years later when Jericho was Goldberg’s first WWE feud. Goldberg apparently tried to talk down to Jericho again leading to Jericho calling him out since he was the longer tenured WWE star with more credibility at that point. It led to a fight where Jericho had control until the other wrestlers stepped in to break it up. Goldberg’s reputation took a hit and WWE never booked him as a major star until his return in 2016.
3. Hulk Hogan: Ruining Careers In WCW
No wrestler had more power in the wrestling business than Hulk Hogan following his massive success as the face of WWE in the 80s. Hogan had power in WWE but didn’t abuse it in a harmful way to most of the other wrestlers aside from a handful of situations. The move to WCW saw it become a common thing due to his creative control clause in his contract.
Hogan could turn down any ideas he didn’t like at any given time. This led to multiple losses being due to interference rather than putting over the other talent. The biggest match in WCW history featured Sting needing a loophole to beat Hogan after sixteen months of storytelling. Hogan made sure many of the younger stars were held down and it started to shift his reputation as a snake in the wrestling business rather than a hero.
2. Michael Hayes: Racist Comments Towards Wrestlers
Michael Hayes has been one of the most important people backstage in WWE over the past two decades. The original hiring of Hayes as a broadcaster saw him transition into a role backstage as a producer and writer. Hayes was one of the lead writers during the 2000s putting the shows together as a right-hand man to Vince McMahon.
The incident in question here took place during a conversation with Mark Henry backstage. Hayes tried to run down Henry by saying he was blacker than Henry and used the n-word to describe it. Henry was livid and went to management. This would have been a fireable offense in any other profession, but WWE suspended Hayes. An apology was issued when he returned, and he still works for WWE today. However, the story lives on with the internet exposing Hayes. This will follow him for the rest of his life when you look up his history in wrestling.
1. Ultimate Warrior: Snubbing Sick Children
The Ultimate Warrior is arguably the most problematic person still being celebrated by WWE today. There is the history of racist and homophobic comments following his retirement. There is the horrible relationships he had with wrestlers during his in-ring career in WWE that painted him as a jerk. However, the story that truly exposed him came at the hands of Bret Hart.
Warrior passed Hulk Hogan in popularity for a very short time allowing him to win the WWE Championship. Hart shared a story about a sick fan dressed as Warrior getting a backstage pass to meet his wrestling hero. Warrior demanded the kid and his family be moved away from the locker room area and refused to meet him. The kid went home with a broken heart back to his fight with sickness. Warrior is remembered for being a horrible human being despite WWE trying to change the perception.
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