All in all, WWE has a pretty good crop of wrestling talent right now. There’s incredible athletes like AJ Styles, huge monsters like Braun Strowman, technical wizards like Cesaro and Brock Lesnar, who falls into no category except for “Brock Lesnar.” However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the current WWE roster. As with all workplaces, everybody has something to hide in the WWE and I don’t just mean that Titus O’Neil has been photocopying pictures of his rear end or that Dana Brooke and Jack Gallagher hooked up at the Christmas party.
The following 15 facts about current WWE wrestlers are all things that the company would rather we didn’t remember about our favourite wrestlers; from tiny moments within wrestling to outside occurrences that threatened to derail the careers of some of the brightest stars in the industry. Either way, this stuff ain’t good, which is why I know you’re going to love it. Here are 15 things the WWE wants buried when it comes to their current roster.
15. Kofi Kingston’s Jamaican Accent
Kofi Kingston is currently having a pretty good time as one third of The New Day, the longest-reigning tag team champions in WWE history. However, before Kofi started doing, umm, whatever weird thing The New Day are doing this week, he was doing something very different. When he debuted for the WWE in 2007 (yes, it really has been that long), Kingston was promoted as being the first Jamaican wrestler to ever wrestle for the WWE. “Hmm”, you might be thinking, “I didn’t know Kofi was from Jamaica”. Well, do you know why you thought that? Because he isn’t.
The Ghanaian-born, Boston-raised Kingston was given the Jamaican gimmick to work with for a long time, even sporting a fake Jamaican accent in the early days of his run. It’s only really been since joining The New Day that Kofi has been fully able to shake the Jamaican gimmick off, ditching his Caribbean-style music in favour of The New Day’s gospel theme. Whilst it might seem like a tiny detail to some of you, the fact that WWE presented an African-born man as a Jamaican man (and then congratulated themselves for signing their first “Jamaican”) isn’t something they really want to be reminded off, especially considering Kofi’s continued success and prominence. As bad as this period was, though, I do kinda miss the old “S.O.S.” music. Come on, it was groovy as hell.
14. Dean Ambrose’s Failed Interview
If anyone says WWE isn’t petty, remember that this is one of the big reasons Ambrose lost his WWE Championship.
When Dean Ambrose won the WWE Championship for the first time in his career, fans went crazy. When he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on the same night he won it in 2016, the audience in the arena and watching around the world finally thought that the long-underappreciated former Shield member was finally getting his dues. Sadly, the reign didn’t quite live up to its expectations, consisting of a Shield triple threat at Battleground, a lacklustre SummerSlam match against Dolph Ziggler and this absolute car crash of an interview with Steve Austin.
Ambrose was a guest on the Stone Cold podcast as WWE Champion and this appearance has now become famous for all the wrong reasons. In it, Ambrose recalled past instances of him breaking the law, labelled Brock Lesnar as “lazy” during their WrestleMania 32 match and gave an impression that he’d rather be doing anything else but chatting to The Texas Rattlesnake. The interview was so bad that many people see it as the moment WWE lost faith in Ambrose as a main event player and, all in all, it was a pretty embarrassing affair all round. Never mind, Dean, at least you didn’t get fired.
13. Braun Strowman vs The Undertaker
Oh, how times have changed.
When Braun Strowman first debuted in the WWE the night after SummerSlam 2015, no one was quite sure what to make of him. The Black Sheep sure cut an imposing figure as the newest member of The Wyatt Family, but, once he got in the ring, fans could see that Strowman had been called up to the main roster far too early. However, over the course of the next two-and-a-bit years, Strowman improved massively between the ropes and is now one of the biggest stars in the WWE today. If you’d have told this to someone watching WWE in 2015, though, they’d have probably laughed directly in your face.
Whilst WWE fans nowadays might want Strowman to receive more of a push, back in 2015, the thought of a push for the big man was enough to strike fear into the hearts of wrestling fans. This was very nearly what happened, though, because, if rumours were to be believed, then Braun’s first WrestleMania opponent was going to be the most iconic performer in the event’s history. Before it was announced that he was going to be taking on the wrestling’s favourite dad, Shane McMahon, rumour had it that The Undertaker was set for a match against Strowman at WrestleMania 32. Once fans caught wind of this plan, they dumped on it faster than a flock of birds over a group of beach-goers. The fact that nobody (and I mean nobody) wanted to see Strowman vs Taker less than two years ago is pretty humiliating, especially considering how beloved Strowman is nowadays.
WWE would rather this was kept under wraps, because it’s obvious that suggesting this match was a huge screw-up on their part and could have ruined one of their main attractions. Oh well, at least Strowman got to do something else cool at his first Mania. Oh, wait, he was just in a segment with the rest of The Wyatts and John Cena and The Rock that completely buried them. Yay?
12. Lana’s Terrible Pay-Per-View Match
“Lana – The Wrestler” sounds about as entertaining as “Paint Drying – The Musical”.
Lana first made a name for herself in the WWE as the manager of her real-life husband, Rusev. The Ravishing Russian (who was, of course, born in Florida) led Rusev to two United States Championships and was one of the most popular performers in the WWE at the time, sometimes eclipsing Rusev in segments, which was even made part of an angle in the Summer of 2015. The less said about that, however, the better.
Lana eventually transitioned into an in-ring role in 2017, debuting as a wrestler on a June episode of SmackDown Live. So, how did WWE try and get this new in-ring character over? A tag team feud to hide her inabilities? A lower tier match to slowly build Lana’s skills up? Nope. Lana had her very first televised match at the Money In The Bank Pay-Per-View for the SmackDown Live Women’s Championship. Because logic don’t mean nothing in the WWE. This was a really bad match and was pretty much the worst start to an in-ring career you could possibly have. Whilst it’s by no means the worst thing they have done to one of their performers, this total and utter lack of common sense from the WWE is not something they’d want to promote very often. Like there’s anyone out there who still thinks the WWE has common sense.
11. Matt Hardy’s Firing
If this had happened to me, I think I’d have gone broken too. Before he was “Broken”/”Woken”, Matt Hardy was most famous for another, slightly more distressing angle in wrestling. In 2005, it became public knowledge that WWE wrestler and Hardy’s real-life girlfriend at the time, Lita, had been cheating on Matt with fellow WWE performer and friend of Matt’s, Edge. Forget the Spear, this was the most painful move Edge ever delivered.
As a result of some serious backstage tension between the three, WWE released Hardy from his contract on April 11th 2005. Fans went ballistic once they heard the news; chants of “We Want Matt” started filling arenas that hosted WWE shows and a petition calling for Hardy to be rehired was even started online, collecting over 15,000 signatures. Hardy was eventually rehired in July that year and would embark on a worked-shoot feud with Edge and Lita on TV, which was actually a pretty decent angle. However, there can be no justifying WWE’s decision to fire a man who, not long before, had found out that his partner was cheating on him with one of his closest friends. For all the good things that WWE have done for their employees over the years, there are incidents like this that cast huge doubts over how much the company actually care about the people they hire. And if you think we’re done spilling secrets about The Hardy Boyz, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
10. Jeff Hardy’s Substance Abuse
Yeah, Jeff was in a real bad place.
Jeff Hardy is arguably one of the biggest superstars wrestling has ever produced. From revolutionary tag team performer to accomplished singles wrestler to bona fide main eventer, Hardy has done it all in his 25-year career and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. However, had Hardy’s vices gotten the better of him, we could be telling a very different, very tragic story about The Charismatic Enigma.
As anyone who knows anything about Jeff will tell you, the man has had his demons when it comes to illegal substances. Sadly, there are a number of instances I could refer to when talking about this, but perhaps the most famous (or rather, infamous) took place at TNA’s Victory Road Pay-Per-View in 2011. Jeff, who was supposed to be facing Sting for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in the main event, came out to the ring heavily intoxicated, prompting the match to be completely overhauled and Sting to beat Jeff in just 88 seconds. With the company doing all it can to remove the stigma of drugs in pro wrestling, the WWE definitely doesn’t want reminding that one of the biggest stars ever and one of their current employees has a long history of drug-related issues, even if they do all seem to be behind him now.
9. The Usos’ DUIs
Like brother, like brother, I suppose.
Recently, news broke that Jey Uso had been arrested in Texas for driving under the influence of alcohol. This is not ideal for a number of reasons; firstly, because, you know, drunk driving is a stupid thing to do that not only endangers your own life, but also the lives of other people on the roads and on the streets, secondly, because Jey was one half of the SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions at the time and thirdly, because this is not the first time an Uso has been busted for boozing behind the wheel.
Six years prior to Jey being arrested, his brother and tag team partner, Jimmy, was also caught out for driving whilst under the influence. The fact that now both of Smackdown’s tag team champions have been caught breaking the law can’t make WWE officials too pleased; in an era where PR and the public image of WWE is more important than ever, the company don’t want to be seen as rewarding members of its roster that commit crimes, especially ones that could have ended in much more serious circumstances. It remains to be seen if the brothers will be punished for this come the Royal Rumble, where they defend their titles against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin, but, either way, this is a very bad mark against some of WWE’s most promising stars. Also, does anyone else see the irony in a team who coined the phrase “Uso Penitentiary” both being arrested?
8. Mickie James’ Body-Shaming Storyline
Yep, this was a thing.
A Mickie James return to the WWE in 2016 wasn’t something I thought I wanted until I actually got it. James, who first debuted for the company in 2005, made her triumphant return in NXT at their TakeOver: Toronto show in November 2016. Shortly after this, she re-debuted on the main roster and has been a permanent fixture of the WWE ever since. Although it is great to see a talented performer like James back in the big leagues, considering one of her final storylines before she left the company in 2010, I’m amazed she ever wanted anything to do with WWE ever again.
Whilst feuding with Michelle McCool and Layla in the autumn of 2009, James starting receiving some storyline bullying from the pair, only this was far more serious than your average kayfabe trash talk. LayCool, as they were known collective, starting teasing James about being “overweight”, gave her the nickname “Piggy James” and even put together a Titantron video with James’ face superimposed onto the body of pig. In a world where body-shaming is a real problem facing thousands of people across the globe, this was not an okay thing for WWE to do, especially when James was the body shape she was. Imagine if a little girl had seen Mickie getting called “fat” and decided that she needed to be thinner than James, who already had a great-looking figure, to avoid the same treatment at school. This could have done untold physical and physiological damage to people watching and “Piggy James” is looked back on as one of the most tasteless storylines WWE have ever run as a result. Don’t expect this to be included in Mickie’s Hall of Fame video package.
7. Randy Orton’s Military Career
That’s a dishonourable discharge… FROM OUTTA NOWHERE!
If WWE are to be believed, then Randy Orton was born in a wrestling ring, grew up in a wrestling ring and will probably grow old and die in a wrestling ring. The third-generation wrestler is the latest in a long line of Ortons to grace the squared circle and has been in the grappling business for nearly half of his life. This makes it pretty hard to imagine what Orton must have been like before he became a wrestler, but, when you do a little reading, you soon discover that this is actually something you don’t want to give too much thought to.
Shortly after leaving high school, Orton would enlist in the United States Marines, after his parents warned him away from the pro wrestling business, due to the strains of living on the road. Yeah, how’d that one work out, Mr. and Mrs. Orton? Whilst in the Marines, Orton was charged with not one, but two counts of desertion, as well as disobeying the orders of commanding officer. Things got so bad for the Viper, that he was actually tried by court martial and spent 38 days in military prison. Ouch. That’s almost as bad as his WrestleMania match with Bray Wyatt in 2017. The WWE have a very strong relationship with the Armed Forces and Orton himself has performed at WWE’s Tribute to the Troops numerous times. Orton’s damning military record doesn’t really fit in with the company’s view on the forces, so the company would like it if this little secret was kept like Randy Orton in the Marines – locked up.
6. Roman Reigns’ Suspension
Not something WWE want hanging around their “top guy”.
When it comes to wrestling, Roman Reigns is just your average guy, really. Former Shield member, latest WWE Grand Slam Champion, one of the most soundly-rejected top-level babyfaces in WWE history. You know, nothing special. Yes, ever since The Shield split up in 2014 and probably long before that, Reigns has been Vince McMahon’s little pet project. The CEO has been desperate to get Reigns over as the company’s next big thing, despite the fact that a large majority of WWE fans have clearly expressed a desire for this not to happen. The fact that this has often come at the expense of other better-liked wrestlers has only added to the Reigns hate and it is only now that Reigns has had another run with The Shield that he is finally beginning to get back over with the fans. You just wait till he beats Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 34, though. (And worse, if he wins the Royal Rumble.) Then we’ll be back to square frickin’ one all over again.
Negative fan reactions aren’t the only setbacks that Reigns has faced in his turbulent WWE career. On 21st June 2016, shortly after losing his WWE Championship at Money In The Bank, Reigns was suspended by the WWE for violating their Wellness Policy. This is bad news for a number of reasons. Firstly, it could show that Reigns isn’t the clean cut babyface WWE want us to think he is. I know there have been a lot of arguments that the Wellness Policy isn’t as effective as it should be, with many wrestlers claiming their suspensions were for prescribed drugs and not illegal substances, but this still casts some doubt over Reigns’ legitimacy as a role model and company leader. Secondly, reports speculate that WWE knew of Reigns’ violation before Money in the Bank, so the decision to suspend him was actually delayed by several days. WWE supposedly takes their Wellness Policy very seriously, but, if they weren’t willing to suspend someone immediately after they were found to have violated this extremely important policy, then how seriously can we assume WWE actually takes it?
And, lastly, after serving his 30-day suspension, Reigns’ first match back was a WWE Championship Triple Threat at the Battleground Pay-Per-View. In a business where so many stars’ careers have been derailed by suspensions, it’s extremely hypocritical of WWE to put someone who had just returned from suspension into such a high-profile match upon their return. It was an incident that asked a lot of serious questions about Reigns and the WWE as a whole and one that, when Reigns is hopefully heralded as the biggest star in pro wrestling one day, the company would very much like to forget ever happened.
5. Paige’s Turbulent Personal Life
There is currently a Hollywood movie in production about the life of Saraya-Jade Bevis, better known to wrestling fans as Paige, and, when you study her life in any detail, you can see why studios were quick to back this project. An active performer from the age of 13, Paige got her first start in the business wrestling for her father’s promotion, WAW (World Association of Wrestling) in the mid-2000s. She was snapped up by the WWE in 2011 and would go onto become the first ever NXT Women’s Champion, as well as the youngest female main roster champion in history, when she won the Divas Championship in 2014 aged just 21. So far, so good, right? Well, I hate to say it folks, but I’m afraid it’s all downhill for the Norwich gal now.
Saying that Paige hasn’t had the best last couple of years is a bit like saying the Titanic didn’t have the best maiden voyage. She has been hit by not one, by two Wellness Policy Violations over the past two years, serving a combined 90-day suspension for both incursions. Then in 2017, a series of personal pictures and videos of Paige were leaked online, prompting more backlash against the already-under fire young woman. Combine this with her rocky relationship with former WWE star, Alberto Del Rio, who has been less than complimentary towards the WWE in shoot interviews since leaving the promotion, and that’s the perfect recipe for a very wild few years. It is a testament to Paige’s talent, resilience and likeability that she was ever allowed to return to the WWE following all of this and hopefully recent reports of her in-ring retirement prove to be false. Retired or not, however, Paige comes with a lot of background, most of which, tragically, was nothing to do with her.
4. Brock Lesnar’s UFC Record
Turns out The Beast isn’t as Beasty as we think.
When Brock Lesnar left the WWE in 2004, he tried his monstrous hand at a number of different things. He wrestled in New Japan, played professional football and ate entire zebra whole with his reptilian-like jaw. That last one has never been confirmed, but I can only assume. One of the other things Lesnar tried was mixed martial arts, a practice he pursued in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he won their Heavyweight Championship. As impressive as this is, however, when you look at Lesnar’s UFC run in greater detail, things begin to seem a little less notable.
Despite becoming Heavyweight Champion and headlining one of UFC’s most profitable Pay-Per-Views ever (UFC 100), Lesnar doesn’t actually have the most impressive UFC record. Of the 8 fights Lesnar had in the UFC, Lesnar only won 4 of them. Of the other four, three ended in losses for Lesnar and the other, his most recent UFC match, originally saw Lesnar win the match, but this was later overturned, after Lesnar failed a substance test. Lesnar’s UFC career lent him huge credibility when he made his WWE return in 2012 and has been a big part of his aura ever since. If WWE fans knew the real statistics surrounding Lesnar’s time in Dana White’s House of Fights, then perhaps they wouldn’t be so afraid of Brock. I mean, obviously they wouldn’t be, because Brock is a nightmare in human form, but you know what I mean.
3. John Cena’s Heel Gimmick
I know. I’m as shocked as you are.
John Cena may as well be called “Little Johnny Babyface”, because that’s exactly what he is. Not little, I mean, (have you seen the guy, he’s shredded), but the absolute epitome of a blue-eyed, patriotic, heel-hating, justice-craving, merchandise-shilling wrestling good guy. For the better part of the last fifteen years, Cena has been the company’s top face, battling the top villains of the WWE and winning more championships that you could shake a brightly-coloured t-shirt at. With most WWE fans being so used to seeing Cena in the role, many of them have been calling for Cena to freshen up his character with a heel turn. Well, it may surprise some of them to learn that, if you go back far enough, the WWE’s biggest good guy used to walk on the wild side.
Yes, when Cena made his WWE debut in 2002, it was as a heel. His original character, a loudmouthed hip-hop wannabe was a villain and would use his freestyle rap skill to throw disses at his fellow wrestlers, public figures and even the WWE audience. Cena was actually so successful as a bad guy, that he only lasted a year in the role, as he became so popular as a villain, that WWE were forced to turn him face in 2003, something he has been ever since. WWE has put so much time and effort into making John Cena the ultimate good guy, the fact that he used to be a villain and that footage of this exists on the WWE Network is not something that they will be promoting anytime soon. Luckily for them any footage of John Cena is quite hard to find – after all, you can’t see him… I’m sorry.
2. Seth Rollins’s Cheating and Photos Leak
Somebody leaked The Architect’s “blueprints.”
The very first NXT Champion, Seth Rollins, is a shining example of why the system works. A multi-time world and tag team champ, Seth can also claim to be the first wrestler to hold both the WWE and United States Championship at the same time, as well as the first man to cash in Money in the Bank at WrestleMania. In short, Seth has been nothing short of a revelation since joining the WWE. Sadly, there was one “revelation” in 2015 that made The Architect a little blue in the face.
In early 2015, mere months before Seth won his first WWE Championship, the star’s twitter account was hacked, which resulted in a nude photo of NXT trainee, Zahra Schreiber, being leaked online. Now, this is already pretty bad, but things got even worse when Leighla Schultz, Rollins’ fiancée at the time, then leaked a number of nude photos of Seth, seemingly in revenge for her partner’s adulterous ways. The whole thing was a real mess and was not the sort of attention WWE wanted surrounding someone they were just about to make their world champion. Luckily for the company, this whole incident was passed over without much fanfare at the time, but, had things gone differently, maybe Roman Reigns would have won at the end of WrestleMania 31 anyway. Jesus, can you imagine?
1. Triple H, Kane and Katie Vick
Now, this may seem like a bit of a cop-out at number one, but come on, how could this not be at the top of any list about things WWE want to bury? It is, without a doubt, one of the worst things WWE have ever done and, if you’ve never heard of it before now, I am truly sorry for what I am about to unleash upon you. It was 2002 and Kane and Triple H were feuding over the World Heavyweight Championship. In an attempt to get one over on The Big Red Machine, The Game revealed to the world that Kane used to have a girlfriend named Katie Vick who, after a car accident in which Kane had been drunk at the wheel, had died. If the thought of Kane, the babyface, being an accidentally murderer doesn’t make you uncomfortable enough, you just wait till you hear what happened next.
The next week on Raw, Triple H said he had some “footage” to show us, further incriminating Kane in the Katie Vick incident. Oh, great. What followed was some of the worst television I have ever seen; Triple H, dressed in a Kane mask, entered a funeral home where the “body” of Katie Vick lay (it was actually a mannequin). He then proceeded to undress, get in the coffin and simulate intercourse with it, implying that Kane not only killed this woman, but then was intimate with her corpse afterwards. That’s just sick and not in the cool, young people way. The worst part of the video was when Triple H pulled out some slimy objects from the coffin and uttered the immortal line, “wow, I literally screwed your brains out.”
Puns are bad at the best of times, Triple H, and this was not the best of times. WWE have made no reference of this awful angle since it aired and with damn good reason. It was disgusting, it was offensive and it was wrong on every possible level and some impossible ones too. Truly, this is a moment that Triple H and Kane should be forever ashamed of being involved in, but let’s be honest, after everything else they’ve done in their careers, surely they have no shame left.
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