Professional wrestling is certainly an industry filled with a lot of stress. It’s especially true for those who work in the bigger promotions with hundreds of shows scheduled per year. This can require a lot of travel that can take up most of the time of a wrestler’s life outside the squared circle.
However, it’s amazing how many wrestling superstars can still find the time to be thankful for the fans who have supported them during their careers. One would imagine not wanting to spend time signing autographs or posing for pictures at an airport. However, there are a number of wrestlers who have been more than happy to show their appreciation to wrestling fans they meet everywhere they go.
But there’s another side of the coin. Not every wrestling superstar is willing to take that time out of their day to even say hello. If they aren’t committed to a meet-and-greet event or a live event they are booked on, there are some wrestling stars who simply don't want to take the time to talk to fans. Sometimes, they want to have some time where they can be a normal person without cameras being pointed towards them. Or they could just be in a bad mood because of several personal and/or professional reasons.
Dedicated wrestling fans have stories about wrestlers who other fans would love to meet and stories that act as warning signs of who to avoid. The following provides you a top ten for each side of the coin. Consider this as a guide of who would provide a positive fan experience and a warning for those who will provide the exact opposite.
20 Do – Titus O’Neil
Not everyone who acts like a heel in the WWE ring is really a bad guy outside of the squared circle. Currently on WWE television, Titus O’Neil looks to be someone who has become very grumpy about his recent struggles. This was a man once held the WWE Tag Team Championship with Darren Young as the Prime Time Players. But his singles run has yielded little success.
But O’Neil has developed quite the reputation of being a very approachable guy. He’s also been involved with plenty of charities outside of the WWE. But if that wasn’t enough, O’Neil has taken homeless people to lunch. He even brought a larger group of homeless people to one San Diego restaurant when a manager made it seem like a problem. O’Neil seems to have a good head on his shoulders.
19 Don’t – New Jack
We’re not sure why anyone would want to meet someone like New Jack. The man has developed quite the reputation for making people bleed profusely. There was the Mass Transit incident where he bladed a young “wrestler’ deeper than usual. He beat up an older man named Gypsy Joe because he wouldn’t sell certain moves. And then New Jack even stabbed a man during an independent show.
But if that wasn’t enough of a deterrent, New Jack has insulted fans out in the public. One fan wrote online that he asked for an autograph. Instead of receiving a signature, New Jack chose to laugh at him and call him a “dumb mark.” For anyone who has followed his career since the closure of ECW, none of this should really be a surprise at all.
18 Do – Bayley
The WWE always seems to have at least a few superstars who are able to connect with the younger fans pretty quickly. One of the most recent examples is Bayley .Whether it was during her time in Florida with WWE’s NXT developmental brand or since her call-up to the main roster months ago, Bayley has developed a connection with the young audience. Part of that has to do with her “hugger” gimmick.
But she doesn’t just hug fans during live WWE events. She’s also been happy to give hugs to WWE fans who come to see her during autograph signings. Bayley will even hug people who are about to give her an interview. If there’s one thing fans can agree on, Bayley is very consistent with being known as a “hugger.”
17 Don’t – Bubba Ray Dudley
One of the wrestlers that fans have consistently called a “jerk,” “prick” or other words involving a body part is Bubba Ray Dudley. One of the most decorated tag team wrestlers through the last 20 years has had a number of negative fan interactions. One person said his meeting with Bubba Ray got to a point where the two nearly got into a fight with each other at a bar. Only a few have ever seen him as a calm, collected person outside the ring.
Even people he’s close to in the world of wrestling admit that he can be a jerk at times. Devon Dudley once said during an interview with VOC Nation Radio Network that Bubba Ray can be quite the “prick,” and that Bubba will be one of the first people to tell you. Despite being one of the fan favorites through ECW, WCW, WWE and TNA, Bubba Ray still doesn’t seem to like meeting fans in public.
16 Do – Bray Wyatt
Another heel who seems like he would be a bit intimidating to approach is Bray Wyatt. He’s certainly portrayed a scary character on WWE television; similar to someone who leads a cult. But who would have known that the man who screams that he’s the Eater of Worlds would be a pleasant person to meet at airports. One fan captured video of Wyatt with fans. Despite having his bags ready to go, he stopped to get a picture with everyone who wanted one.
But Wyatt has shown himself to be quite the caring person. One fan wrote a message on Twitter in hopes Wyatt would see. The fan wrote that he identified with Wyatt and it helped him cope with disabilities and even thoughts of suicide. Wyatt would take the time to write back saying “keep your head up, you are never alone.”
15 Don’t – Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner was once a huge star in the world of professional wrestling. A few years after WCW was closed, Big Poppa Pump received one of the biggest pops in WWE history at the 2002 Survivor Series. However, Steiner hasn’t had quite the great reaction from meeting fans outside of live events. One fan wrote online about meeting Steiner at a hotel in Orlando, Fla. While he wasn’t rude, Steiner apparently had the kind of look that made seemed threatening.
Recently, Steiner has seemed to become more of a grumpy older veteran who takes shots at his former employers and other former coworkers. During a 2014 independent show, Steiner even showed some anger on the microphone. The odds of anyone having a positive experience with Big Poppa Pump – while originally small to begin with – have shrunk even more.
14 Do – Dean Ambrose
There are wrestlers who are able to quickly connect with the fans. Dean Ambrose seems more like a common man than most WWE Superstars. Part of that could be due to the fact that he wears jeans to work every day. Not everyone can get away with wearing jeans to their office. But when he’s not in the ring, Ambrose has shown to be quite personable with fans at autograph signings.
He’s also been filmed by fans giving hugs once in awhile. Not every WWE superstar stops to do that for a fan. In a world where one would expect to have a cool meeting with a wrestler, Ambrose has only made it seem like an inconvenience when he seems to be in a rush. It’s understandable. But fans who have had a “negative experience” meeting Ambrose seem to be in the small minority.
13 Don’t – Randy Orton
Randy Orton seems to have a few positive stories shared about him by fans. However, the fan experience stories that have been posted online have been mostly negative. One instance involved a fan who had to wait on him and received less than $2 tip on a bill that was worth about $56. But he’s carried around quite a reputation of bad behavior; even dating back to going AWOL during his time with the U.S. Marine Corps before joining WWE.
While Orton might be willing to take pictures with fans, he’s not necessarily going to be respectful. A recent picture that showed up online saw Orton checking out a female fan’s chest while posing for a picture. On a side note: Orton seems to still be human like the rest of us men sitting at home watching SmackDown Live on television.
12 Do – Daniel Bryan
Fans have fallen in love with Daniel Bryan through his run on the independent circuit and eventually the WWE. Despite an unfortunate ending to his career, Bryan still remains a fan favorite as the general manager of SmackDown. That’s because he continues to show respect towards the fans who approach him at signings, WWE events and anywhere outside the ring.
Even when Daniel Bryan was a heel, he was still willing to meet with fans; especially with younger fans. During the height of his tag team run with Kane, he was still all smiles when meeting kids. One video on YouTube saw him meeting a six-year-old cancer patient who got to hold Bryan’s WWE Tag Team Championship belt. Throughout the video, Bryan’s enthusiasm and laughter seemed extremely genuine.
11 Don’t – Seth Rollins
Not every WWE superstar likes being “bothered” by the fans of the WWE Universe. There are times when fans decide to credit it towards a superstar being a heel. But when it comes to Seth Rollins, he says he’s mean to fans when they are rude towards him. In fact, he was asked about it during a 2015 interview with the Chicago Tribune. In the story, he talked about how some fans stalk superstars.
Fans need to be aware not to approach him for a picture opportunity when it’s 4 a.m. at an airport. Don’t hang out near his hotel or wait for him to finish up at the gym. He admits there are times when a fan happens to run into him at certain moments. That’s when he might be okay with a photograph. But based on what fans have experience, he’s still not too happy being asked for an autograph outside of a WWE event.
10 Do – Rob Van Dam
There are certain superstars who are able to bring the same attitude from the WWE to the public. Rob Van Dam is certainly a perfect example of that. While he spent several years being one of the most technically gifted wrestlers in ECW, WWE and TNA Wrestling, RVD is known for a laid-back personality in his promos. That same attitude has carried over to being met by fans in public.
Many fans have gone to message boards writing about how RVD was extremely cool even to fans who were extremely nervous. Now granted, fans assume part of his friendly demeanor comes from possibly being “high” from marijuana use. He’s certainly been vocal about being 420 friendly. Regardless, RVD is certainly someone fans should feel encouraged to meet in person.
9 Don’t – CM Punk
CM Punk has once said in a shoot interview that he is more than happy to be respectful to a fan who is nice to him. However, there are a number of fans who would disagree with that statement. One fan wrote about seeing CM Punk and his wife at a Chicago Blackhawks game. He requested a picture, but was ignored by someone who was waiting in a concessions line. Punk has come across as a jerk to fans despite being viewed as one of the best in the ring.
Punk is also not willing to hold back on social media. He seems especially harsh when someone tags him in a social media post that uses grammar which doesn’t meet Punk’s standards. Punk might not be willing to say hello to fans after the perception of him has declined since his WWE departure and his struggles to transition to the world of mixed martial arts.
8 Do – Big Show
No one in professional wrestling history has ever flipped between the sides of good and evil as much as the Big Show has. But if there’s one thing that has remained true is that he’s an extremely humble guy. Many fans have written online that he’s taken the time to make sure anyone who asks kindly gets an autograph or picture. That ranges from the youngest to older fans who can recall matches from his days in WCW.
He’s been especially great with kids during signing events; making plenty of small talk and getting to know the people who support him. One person posted a video online writing that Big Show actually spent two hours with a large crowd of fans before an episode of RAW in 2014. It would have been easy to say that he didn’t have the time to meet everyone, but that's the kind of guy the big man is.
7 Don’t – Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash certainly doesn’t seem to have much of a filter. While many of us might think before typing something or saying something that could be viewed as “mean,” Nash doesn’t seem to do that. That would explain the YouShoot interview when he called Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson 'gay'. Nash has repeatedly made derogatory comments about other wrestlers that haven’t sat well with the wrestling community.
There was a time when he made a comment about wrestlers like Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero being “vanilla midgets.” Fan experiences have also been pretty negative. But that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone at all who has listened to the things he has said in interviews and during autograph signings. Many have feel that he’s gone through the motion at fan meeting events; likely just wanting to collect the paycheck.
6 Do – Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio has been active in professional wrestling since he was a teenager growing up in Mexico. He knows what it’s like to be a young wrestling fan. It’s a big part of why he’s probably extremely nice to young fans to come up to him during any WWE event – whether a match or an autograph signing. Mysterio can be seen “bumping” heads with young fans wearing his mask near ringside.
But Mysterio has also remained polite with fans who want an autograph, picture or a hug. He even had one person hold his phone to take a picture with another fan who couldn’t get her phone to work. Even with Mysterio reportedly asking for a lot through independent bookings, that hasn’t given him too big of a head that affects his relationship with the fans.
5 Don’t – Brock Lesnar
Maybe if you were a young fan who was requesting a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, you would have a better chance of meeting a smiling Brock Lesnar. He might even let you put him in a headlock. But for many wrestling fans, the Beast Incarnate has not been a pleasant person to be around in public. In fact, many fans feel that he can be quite the jerk to fans who happen to run into him outside of a wrestling event.
This carried on through his first run in the WWE, his pursuits to play in the NFL and even through his mixed martial arts career. There’s even a story about a former WWE developmental manager being bullied by Lesnar during his time in Ohio Valley Wrestling. There was even a story of a fan approaching Lesnar and his wife Sable; being ignored at first the fan’s photo request was declined.
4 Do – Goldberg
During his big winning streak in the 1990s with WCW, Bill Goldberg was one of the most intimidating men in professional wrestling. However, many fans can agree that he is one of the nicest, most approachable wrestling stars in real life. During a 2015 fan convention, Goldberg not only signed autographs, but posed for several pictures. He even did a stare down for one fan, which was followed by a wink, a smile and a handshake.
When he returned to the WWE in time for his 2016 Survivor Series match with Brock Lesnar, Goldberg spoke about how he enjoyed seeing young Goldberg fans. It seems that even with his long break from the WWE, he enjoys being able to make a child’s day. His demeanor in person seems to be consistent with the statements he made last November.
3 Don’t – Ric Flair
In recent years, there have been a number of negative stories regarding fans being able to meet Ric Flair. Flair has often been found at a bar where he doesn’t seem to want to be bothered at certain times. Then there’s also moments when he’s ignored fans wanting an autograph or a picture taken with a fan or two. But he’s also been dealing with a number of personal problems that have hit the internet.
When adding the fact that his son recently died, Flair is definitely going through some personal issues and is also reportedly having trouble managing money. With all of that in mind, it might not be a good time to try and approach the Nature Boy. He’s certainly not in the best of moods to deal with fans trying to ask for pictures and signatures from someone dealing with a lot of stress.
2 Do – John Cena
It’s funny how there is a large number of the WWE Universe who boo John Cena at WWE events. However, he might be one of the best ambassadors for professional wrestling in popular culture. Cena has become the most requested celebrity for Make-A-Wish Foundation meetings. Cena will take the time out of his schedule to make sure a fan who wants to meet him doesn’t end up disappointed.
Cena doesn’t have to do any of that. He doesn’t have to throw his T-shirts and hats into the ring like a human T-shirt cannon. Cena never had to build a connection with a generation of young WWE fans. But he’s continued to do that despite still receiving boos. The leader of Cenation deserves respect considering how he’s always made fans feel special at meet-and-greet events both for WWE and for other organizations.
1 Don’t - Hulk Hogan
After years of being the most popular wrestling star through the 1980s, 1990s and part of the 2000s, Hulk Hogan might have grown tired of fans’ requests outside of wrestling events. Many fans have written that Hogan doesn’t seem to be too approachable when found in public view. Then again, he has recently gone through a bit of a legal war with Gawker Media in regards to a sex tape.
However, he’s apparently been mean even during the good years in his career. One fan wrote about approaching him as a child and asking if he really was the Hulkster. But Hogan reportedly seemed annoyed, confirmed he was Hogan and asked if there were any other questions. Hogan has had his share of positive stories, but it’s been more negative recently.