Who was your favourite wrestler as a kid? Depending on what era you grew up watching, your answer will vary, but there are definitely some standout candidates. Steve Austin, The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan. They may have come from different times, but there is no doubt that they were some of the most popular wrestlers to ever step through the ropes.
Unfortunately for them, they also happen to just be not great people when you get outside of the ring, and you’ll find out all about that too.
Below are 12 of the most charismatic wrestlers of all time, many of whom I am sure you have some fond memories of. Yet as you’re also going to find out, there is a very real reason as to why they are some of the most hated wrestlers outside of the ring. I suppose being a WWE Champion does not mean your ego becomes smaller, and when you’re already a jerk like Shawn Michaels, things are only going to go from bad to worse.
There are a lot of factors that went into why these wrestlers made the list. Perhaps their character has just gotten stale over the years. Also highlighted is reasons as to why that wrestler may have been one of your favorites as a kid, just in case you have no idea why people used to love The Ultimate Warrior. Just try not to turn on them too hard when you find out some of the uglier things from their past.
24 Goldberg: Why Would You Love Him
Why Would You Love Him? Goldberg was easy to fall in love with when you were a kid watching wrestling. He seemed to dominate in WCW and his Spear was a great looking finisher that you swear you would be able to try at home. The crowd also ate him up, and he was described by Arn Anderson as being “as hot (popular) as anybody has ever been in the business.”
23 Goldberg: Why You Hate Him Now
In hindsight, having a wrestler go undefeated for as long as Goldberg did (173-0) is ridiculous but could work with the right guy. Goldberg wasn't a tremendous wrestler and had a limited move set along with weak mic skills. It’s amazing that he had the career he did. There are also several backstage reports of him being incredibly difficult to work with. Not to mention the absolute trainwreck that was his WrestleMania XX match with Brock Lesnar.
22 Jeff Hardy: Why Would You Love Him
To be fair, if you’re going to talk about Jeff Hardy, especially the Jeff from your childhood, you’re probably talking about The Hardy Boyz. But why wouldn’t we! They were daring, they were electrifying and they put their body on the line night after night. Who didn’t want to root for two legitimate brothers? The TLC match at WrestleMania X-Seven is still one of my fondest memories of wrestling as a kid.
21 Jeff Hardy: Why Would You Hate Him
It’s sad to see someone who had the talent that Jeff did, ruin it with substance abuse issues. Jeff has been arrested several times, including one incident in which he had “262 Vicodin prescription pills, 180 Soma prescription pills, 555 milliliters of anabolic steroids, a residual amount of powder cocaine, and drug paraphernalia.”
There have also been incidents where he has appeared inebriated during live shows, which is definitely not a cool thing to do. He also said that one of his main inspirations is Vanilla Ice…may have seem cool as a kid, maybe not so much as an adult.
20 Bradshaw: Why Would You Love Him
Now this is a very biased example that applies to my own childhood. I absolutely loved watching Farooq and Bradshaw. The Clothesline From Hell looked like it would literally rip someones head off. Not to mention that outside of Steve Austin, they made drinking beer look incredibly cool.
19 Bradshaw: Why Would You Hate Him
Perhaps one of the reasons will be when you find out that Vince would often use JBL to rough up new talents in the WWE, so perhaps that clothesline was nearly ripping off heads. There were also reports that Bradshaw was a bit of a bully backstage. As an adult, Bradshaw also disappeared into the character of John 'Bradshaw' Layfield. Call me crazy, but I much preferred watching him drink beer over driving around in limos and being obnoxious on the mic. On top of that, if you hated him in the ring, now you need to listen to him as a commentator.
18 Hulk Hogan: Why Would You Love Him
Hulk Hogan is arguably the biggest Superstar in WWE (and wrestling) history. Charismatic and larger than life, anything Hulk said was gospel to many children. Whether it was to eat your vitamins, or say your prayers, Hulk was a fan favourite to people of all ages, and that definitely didn’t exclude kids.
17 Hulk Hogan: Why Would You Hate Him
The fact that he’s currently being barred from the WWE is a pretty big sign that some bad stuff has gone on. Hulk Hogan was caught using offensive language on a videotape that included repeated racial slurs. In the video, Hulk also admits to being “racist, to a point.”
The WWE immediately terminated his contract and removed all mention of Hogan from their website, including his Hall of Fame page and merchandising. If that wasn't reason enough to earn your scorn, you also need to consider the fact that if you loved any other Superstar during the peak of Hulk's popularity, you may realize how much it would have sucked to constantly be losing to him. "I keep trying, and trying, and then he just Hulk's up and it's over!"
16 Shawn Michaels: Why Would You Love Him
Shawn Michaels was the man! Whether you loved his classic matches in the early '90s, his time with DX or the later stages of his career, HBK always seemed to be able to bring his A-Game. If The Undertaker is the greatest WrestleMania performer of all time, then Shawn would have to be second, helping cement his legacy with countless memorable moments.
15 Shawn Michaels: Why Would You Hate Him
Shawn Michaels was a jerk! Prior to his switch to Christianity, Michaels battled heavy substance abuse issues which made him incredibly disliked backstage by many wrestlers. During a candid moment, Michaels opened up about how back then, even he didn’t like himself. While he was able to mend a lot fences, there is no doubt that having to work with someone like Michaels in the '90s would have been unbearable. As Vince McMahon learned, the fact that he was so talented would make that ego all the harder to keep in check.
14 Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts: Why Would You Love Him
Many parents out there must have hated Jake Roberts, especially when their kids came to them asking for a pet snake. Jake also had the wicked DDT as a finishing move, which you had to hope your kids wouldn't try at home. Jake may not have had many championships to his name, but he was still an iconic figure in WWE's history and was inducted in the Hall of Fame on April 5, 2014.
13 Jake 'The Snake' Roberts: Why Would You Hate Him
Unfortunately, if you have had a chance to meet Jake, it may not have gone so well. Jake has a reputation of being openly rude to fans and charging fees for autographs. He has also openly battled alcohol and drug addiction, which caused Jake to neglect his own family.
Perhaps the real tragedy will come when you realize that in 2004, he was charged with “causing unnecessary suffering” after he allowed his snake to starve to death in his garage.
12 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin: Why Would You Love Him
Are you kidding me? I know I was the one that asked the question, but why would you love Steve Austin? Maybe because he was the absolute man in WWE! Rebellious as all hell and made drinking look cool, long before I was able to crack open a cold one.
11 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin: Why Would You Hate Him
Steve Austin is not the best person once you get out of the ring. The height of this came on June 15th, 2002 when police were called to his home after his wife, Debra Marshall, was badly beaten on her face, back, and shoulder. His wife accredited the incident to being 'roid rage and that Austin was a frequent steroid user (which also loses him some points).
In 2007, Marshall came out and stated that Austin beat her three times. She also opened up about how the WWE knew about the abuse and would work to conceal her bruises; as a lawsuit would have cost the company millions.
10 Vince McMahon: Why Would You Love Him
As a kid, Vince McMahon was just the man who was responsible for the product that I loved! I mean, sure, you ‘hated’ the character of Mr. McMahon, but that just made you love Steve Austin all the more, so it all balanced out. On top of that, Vince was also at the center of some of the biggest and most iconic moments in wrestling history.
9 Vince McMahon: Why Would You Hate Him
Vince may be an outstanding businessman, but there is no telling if he is a great person. Vince has had some very public falling outs with many wrestlers and while some of it is justified, there are also ugly moments like The Montreal Screwjob, that don’t impact you when you were a child. The older you get, the more you see wrestling as a business, and it is far from the warmest and friendliest one out there. Credit Vince for all he’s done, but he’s definitely made some justifiable enemies along the way.
8 Batista: Why Would You Love Him
Whether it was from his time as champion, or his role in Evolution; Batista had a lot to love as a kid. Everyone wanted to see him come up on top after Triple H betrayed him, so when it happened, we had every right to get excited. Not to mention that Batista was just a physical freak, making huge wrestlers look like tiny men beside him: which definitely ramped up the cool points when you were a kid.
7 Batista: Why Would You Hate Him
As a wrestler, Batista is far from the most talented in the ring. His Powerbomb was awesome and everything he did looked like it inflicted some damage, but he was also not the most entertaining. Especially in comparison to other wrestlers on the roster who people felt deserved title shots. As an adult, you may also have loved Batista but held some scorn towards him because he has left the WWE to become an actor. Hard to blame the guy, but you’re not exactly going to win over many wrestling fans by leaving the company.
6 John Cena: Why Would You Love Him
John Cena may still be an active wrestler, but that doesn’t mean that many wrestling fans did not grow up watching Cena. Perhaps it is hindsight bias, but Cena just seemed cooler when to me when he was younger. Fresh off his United States Championship win at WrestleMania XX, I was all about that action. With his cool free-style rhymes and equally-cool gear, it was easy to see why he was one of the most charismatic wrestlers of all time.
5 John Cena: Why Would You Hate Him
Cena is an outstanding person, having performed hundreds of Make-A-Wish foundation children's wishes. But he is also incredibly polarizing, often eliciting boos from the crowd alongside the cheers. Part of this is not Cena’s fault. Fans are just tired of seeing the same-old routine and are hoping to mix it up. Whether it would be turning him heel or Cena further diversifying his skillset, there just needs to be something to help add some intrigue back to the character. Cena recently took some time off to recover from an injury, so here is hoping that the WWE has some great things in mind for him.
4 Triple H: Why Would You Love Him
Triple H is one of the most successful wrestlers of all time. On top of numerous championships, he’s also had some of the best angles and storylines to help his character flourish. For many of us, we were also kids when Triple H was in D-Generation X; who most likely caused you to burst a gut laughing every week, along with being captivated by his talent in the ring.
3 Triple H: Why Would You Hate Him
Triple H is married to Stephanie McMahon, which definitely does not help the backstage heat that he faced throughout his career. Many wrestlers have been outspoken about him using his relationship with Stephanie to get ahead. Bret Hart has also come out and stated that Triple H was an ‘ass kiss’ to Vince.
There are also incidents like when he refused to put over CM Punk, which was partially responsible for the fallout between Punk and the company.
2 The Ultimate Warrior: Why Would You Love Him
The Ultimate Warrior was incredibly charismatic and when you’re in an arena surrounded by people in matching face-paint, how do you not fall in love? Especially when you’re a kid and he’s literally the closest thing the WWE has to a superhero. Warrior also had some great moments that are iconic, such as beating Hulk Hogab at WrestleMania VI, which definitely helped put him over.
1 The Ultimate Warrior: Why Would You Hate Him
Oof! Talk about having your blinders on as a kid to what kind of person he was. Vince had a very public falling out with The Ultimate Warrior after he essentially blackmailed the company into giving him more money; threatening to not show up at the SummerSlam '91 Pay-Per-View.
Not to mention that as an adult, watching his old promos is just weird. The yelling, the face-paint, the tassels, it all worked as a kid but as an adult it’s just not right. Throw on his homophobic comments and you have a wrestler that was hard to continue to love.
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