Wrestling is like a dance, in that both participants need to be on the same page in order for the moves not to look terrible. A wrestler could be the most athletic person who ever lived, but if he can’t cooperate with his partner, he will never be able to put on a solid showing.
Some guys are difficult to work with due to their style in the ring, not taking their opponent's safety into consideration when performing their moves. Wrestlers like Kevin Nash who relied on power moves, rather than technical prowess would usually be guilty of this. It doesn’t matter how many times he does it safely, the Jackknife Powerbomb is one of the most unsafe moves in wrestling. When your finisher is something that is potentially dangerous, guys will shy away from working with you.
Another type of difficult wrestler are the backstage politicians, guys who will refuse to do the favor for guys who they deem to be inferior. These wrestlers are usually more concerned with their own self image, rather than the long term storyline implications of refusing. If one of these politicians are eventually forced to actually lose, the match becomes cringeworthy to watch, with one guy not giving the audience their moneys worth.
The last type of difficult wrestler to work with, is one who is just plain crazy out of their mind. A guy like (spoiler alert) Ultimate Warrior comes to mind, who despite his iconic status, was completely crazy. These guys are difficult to work with because they change things up mid stream, or don’t sell for their opponent.
This list will pull difficult wrestlers from all categories, to find out who the top 15 most difficult were/are. Let us know what your is opinion in the comments below.
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15 Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner had the reputation and still does to a certain extent, of growing violent and disrespectful towards coworkers. His backstage fight with DDP, who seems like one of the nicest guys imaginable is one example. After having chased Page's wife Kimberley out of a building at a WCW show, Page confronted Steiner when he cut a shoot promo on her in the ring.
Steiner was also vicious with coworkers like Ric Flair and would rip him on camera, blurring the lines of kayfabe and shoot. Of course, this could partially be blamed on WCW wanting to blur the lines as much as possible by that point.
14 Dynamite Kid
Dynamite Kid was an influence on many of the fast-paced performers you see today. Bret Hart has gone on record saying Dynamite was perhaps the best wrestler he ever worked with. Kid's problems with people stemmed from stuff backstage where he was known as a bully, and could also be very stiff in the ring.
Mick Foley, never one to shy away from physical punishment, said that when working a match with Kid, he was hit so hard by a clothesline that he tore a ligament in Foley's jaw and he couldn't eat solid foods until it healed.
13 Randy Savage
Working with Randy Savage was a unique experience for any wrestler to say the least. It wasn't that Savage would refuse to put people over, or was dangerous in the ring. In many ways, it was an honor for anybody to work with Savage. However, Savage's meticulousness when planning out matches were tough for some wrestlers to deal with. There have been stories of Savage calling people at 2, 3 in the morning to go over moves and promos.
In an interview with WWE.com, Hogan explained what it was like working with the Macho Man:
"Well, you know, first off when you work with Randy, it’s intense. The only other person that I could call at three or four o’clock in the morning to talk about wrestling and would even answer their phone is Vince McMahon. And that’s how Randy was. Except Randy called me! “Hey, brother. Got an idea.” So when you got in bed with Randy, you were in it for the long haul. Good or bad, brother. He’s going to drag you through the mud whether you like it or not."
Once again, it's not really an indictment on Savage. It was just that if you were going to work with him, you'd better be ready to work.
12 Bruiser Brody
Bruiser Brody was an odd individual. He was supremely talented and a trailblazer of sorts in the ring, but behind the scenes, he caused plenty of nightmares for promoters. Brody was notorious for holding up promoters for more money, even threatening them physically on some occasions.
Brody was killed in a backstage altercation in 1988 with Jose Huertas Gonzalez. Gonzalez was charged with first-degree murder, but it was later reduced to involuntary homicide. Gonzalez was acquitted on the charges, citing self defense.
11 Bob Holly
Doing jobs wasn't Bob Holly's problem (heck, he was once Spark Plug) but it was in the ring where Holly's coworkers were in for a tough night. Holly was notorious for potatoing guys if he had a legit beef with them.
One horror story involves Rene Dupree at a house show. Dupree was essentially a rookie on the roster and he had made the mistake of getting a ticket while borrowing Holly's rented car and not telling him. Holly proceeded to beat the daylights out of Dupree. Holly often did this with rookies, using the excuse that he was just toughening them up.
10 Bret Hart
Although Bret Hart is without a doubt the safest wrestler to work with in the ring, his over analyzation of his own character also made him one of the hardest to deal with. Hart always considered himself a role model and hero to the fans, especially in Canada. Because of this, Hart would make a fuss about losing matches/titles if he felt it made his character look weak.
Kevin Nash has repeatedly told a story about how Bret Hart was complaining about not getting a clean win over him at In Your House 6: Rage in the Cage, prompting The Undertaker to tell him “not everything is about you!” The Hitman infamously refused to drop the title to Shawn Michaels, which led to the Montreal Screwjob. Hart, who claims to have had creative control of his character, went against the age old wrestling tradition of leaving a territory on your back. His stubborn nature, along with HBK’s antagonizing, proved to be too much for all parties, leaving the business forever changed.
9 Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior is an icon in the wrestling industry, for being one of the most memorable and charismatic wrestlers in history. It was that charisma that propelled Warrior to the top of the card, where he worked with technically proficient wrestlers. The problem with that logic however, was that Warrior couldn’t hang with anyone with a strong mat style. Feeling the need to overcompensate, the former champ would often work an overly stiff style towards opponents.
Besides being dangerous in the ring, the late Hall of Famer was notoriously difficult backstage. Warrior was fired from WWE for refusing to work at the 1991 SummerSlam pay per view unless he received more money from Vince McMahon. Warrior probably described his professionalism best with the following quote:
“THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR IS TOTALLY OUT OF CONTROL!”
8 Chris Jericho
Let’s start this off by saying that this is no longer the case, but Chris Jericho used to be an extremely hard person to work with. Jericho has stated on many occasions that he couldn’t figure out the WWE system, paving the way for rough first year in the WWE. Jericho needed so much guidance in the WWE, that he had to clear his matches with former WWE talent X-Pac before performing a match.
After figuring out the system, other wrestlers have called Jericho out for being too involved in backstage politics. Jericho was called a “political b***” by Rob Van Dam, who said that Jericho was controlling in matches, and needed every detail planned. Since then, the two have made up, and Jericho has great matches with younger talent whenever he comes back to the WWE.
7 Randy Orton
Randy Orton isn’t just a legend killer, he also is a WWE career killer. The Viper has derailed many careers in WWE due to losing his temper during storylines or matches. Most famously Orton verbally berated Kofi Kingston after he botched the ending of their match on Raw in 2008. Mr. Anderson of TNA (formerly Mr. Kennedy in WWE) was dealt a worse fate from Orton, actually being fired after the star claimed that he was unsafe to work with. It is debatable whether or not Orton actually changed these careers by playing backstage politics, but if he didn’t it is very coincidental that the times line up perfectly with their feuds.
6 Steve Austin
You would be hard pressed to find an interview of someone speaking ill of Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rattlesnake seems to have earned everyone’s respect in the industry, by earning his spot on top after years of hard work. With that being said, Austin himself has admitted that he was very hard to work with in his white hot Attitude Era days.
During an episode of The Steve Austin Show podcast, Austin and Vince Russo discussed the former champion's stubborn days. Austin acknowledged that he was completely unprofessional, citing instances where he would curse at Vince McMahon and the creative team. He has also apologized for his no-show on Raw, when he was scheduled to lose to Brock Lesnar in 2002, which he described as the “worst decision” he ever made in his professional life. That incident however, was only one of many times that Austin refused to put over a talent, if he felt it hurt the image of Stone Cold.
5 CM Punk
He may formally be the Best in the World, but CM Punk is self admittedly hard to work with. During his telling podcast with Colt Cabana on The Art of Wrestling, Punk stated that he would flat out refuse to do angles if he didn’t feel that they made sense. The former WWE Champion also stated that he would tear up scripts backstage, and refused to leave the Royal Rumble despite his concussion. In a 2013 interview, Punk claimed that Vince McMahon told him he was “harder to work with than Shawn Michaels on drugs," which Punk said at the time he took as a compliment.
The only reason that he is not higher on this list, is that he had great matches, and wasn’t afraid to put people over. Most of Punk’s problems came from being burned out, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that people hated dealing with him.
4 Shawn Michaels
Popping pills and then having matches isn’t usually the best way to live your life, especially while traveling non stop, and then being on live television. During the 1990s Shawn Michaels claimed that his insecurities manifested themselves during his first run, which led to explosive blowouts with multiple talents and executives. HBK’s delivery was wrong, citing that his creative perspective was often different than his opponents, which led to problems behind the scenes. His personal demons along with his growing health problems, led to an exit from the squared circle in 1998.
When Michaels made his second run he seemed to be a changed man, that was until he faced Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam. History repeated itself, as Michaels disagreed creatively and decided to oversell the match to show management how he felt. Since retiring, HBK has come to terms with his wrong doings, and has apologized for most of them.
3 New Jack
To start this off, New Jack if you are reading this I am not disrespecting you, I am stating facts.
New Jack is an ECW Original, who for the lack of a better word is...crazy. He has deliberately taken risks with others' lives by legitimately beating them senseless, nearly killing a fan who asked for “color”, and pushing an opponent off of a 40 ft scaffold (Vic Grimes). New Jack literally does not care about anyone, or anything, and is barely even a wrestler. Rob Van Dam, who also is a ECW original, accused New Jack of not even knowing how to do a head lock.
Goldberg makes this list because of a combination of three reasons. First, he was green as grass when he began his streak in WCW, leading to other talents needing to carry him along during their matches. Notably William Regal was reprimanded for trying to have an actual wrestling match with the former Atlanta Falcon, instead of a normal squash match.
Secondly, Goldberg took his character way too serious, and fell into backstage politics at WCW. Chris Jericho has stated that Goldberg acted entitled, and felt that he didn’t have to work with him because Jericho was “beneath him”.
Lastly, he ended Bret Hart’s career….need I say more?
1 Hulk Hogan
You know that you are a backstage politician, when there are on top 10 lists that are dedicated to wrestlers who refused to do jobs. We aren’t talking about Brooklyn Brawler here either, we are talking about guys like Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin. Admittedly three of those four are actually on this list too, but I digress.
Hulk Hogan has a long history of only looking out for Hulk Hogan. Insiders of WCW such as Scott Hall have claimed that Hogan refused to put younger, or physically smaller talents over, even at the insistence of Hall. At that point in time, Hogan was acting as the quasi booker causing him to drive storylines and WCW’s general direction.
Besides the obvious backstage control Hogan had, the Hall of Famer was quite limited in the ring; relying on the nWo to resurge his career, rather than actual in ring ability.
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