WWE is a political minefield that adds so many other factors one has to deal with to achieve success. Unlike sports where there are on-field results that will make one become a star and deemed the best, WWE choose who they want to be the top athletes on the program and which will ultimately fail. One of the more annoying things that exist in the WWE atmosphere is the political game of being close to the right people in the right places and knowing how to portray one’s self in the best light for WWE’s outlook of them.
Wrestlers have to at the very least have a good relationship with Vince McMahon to get a big push and a chance at making significant money in the business but it doesn’t mean kissing up is mandatory. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan became two of the biggest WWE stars of the last decade and neither is known for playing the corporate role. Both men expressed their genuine thoughts and feelings while standing up for what they believe in. Punk was a bit more vocal and Bryan was more subtle, but they proved you didn’t have to kiss someone’s butt to make it if you're talented and smart enough to develop bonds with McMahon.
The company is still full of people that badly want to keep their jobs or get elevated so they will carve out a plan to toe the corporate line on their way to the top. We’re going to look at various employees that have sucked up to gain success or keep employment. Some are wrestlers trying to become valuable, others are office workers and a few are just forgotten folks that still work for the company in smaller roles. WWE’s culture has created this and many believe Vince McMahon and Triple H prefer it this way. We’ll take a look at how it has all gone down with the top fifteen backstage butt kissers in the WWE.
15 Triple H
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Triple H has a history of using backstage politics to his advantage and forming relationships with the right people via the art of sucking up. There’s no doubt Triple H would go down among the top backstage butt kissers in wrestling history but he now holds the position of power and is the one that has people trying to gain favor with him. Triple H’s talent has always been among the best in the industry so he would have always become a main eventer but the sucking up helped him become a powerful person who now controls the wrestling industry.
14 Roman Reigns
Triple H’s WrestleMania 32 opponent Roman Reigns will also make the list for his reputation as being a “yes man.” Not to be confused with Daniel Bryan’s YES chant, Reigns chants “yes” to WWE management and is often regarded as having a great relationship with Vince McMahon. Let’s be honest – Reigns is the corporate choice for a reason and it’s because he knows how to play political game. The fans have partly rejected Reigns due to the perception of him being sort of a teacher’s pet to McMahon and it may end up hurting him even more when he gets booed out of the building at WrestleMania in a few weeks.
13 Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins is one of the best wrestlers in the world and he has certainly earned everything he has achieved in his career. That doesn’t change how close he has become to Triple H as his protégé in a lot of ways as seen with Rollins adopting The Pedigree. Rollins goes overboard raving about how brilliant Triple H is and how much he loves learning from such a legend. Obviously, anyone would be happy to spend time under the learning tree of Triple H but Rollins going above and beyond to compliment his boss while getting a bigger position in the company all but defines kissing up.
12 Big Show
Wrestling’s largest athlete has held a great spot in WWE for the majority of the past seventeen years. The Big Show is a loyal WWE employee and that is to be admired in some ways but toes the company line to the detriment of his character. The big man has revealed on the recent Steve Austin Podcast on WWE Network that he knows he has been booked horribly but he wants to do what the company requests out of loyalty. Big Show has been in quite a few random main event spots and was given a couple of title reigns with no momentum as a result of his blind loyalty.
11 David Otunga
David Otunga has been employed with WWE for years despite holding very little value and most fans forgetting he still exists. The company occasionally uses him in a broadcasting role since he's well-spoken but he doesn’t even stand out there. Otunga’s lack of wrestling skills has been negated with his ability to kiss up to the people of power. WWE even wrote Otunga into a role as a stooge assistant to heel general manager John Laurinaitis as a way to have life imitate art. Otunga excelled in the role and he plays the political butt kissing game to hold a spot in WWE.
10 Michael Cole
Your feelings on Michael Cole as a commentator are subjective as the argument can be made strongly either way for how he does his job but what isn’t subjective is how much of a kiss up he is. Cole formed a better relationship with Vince McMahon than Jim Ross did and it helped influence the decision to make Cole the new voice of WWE. Wrestling insider Wade Keller has stated that Cole kisses up backstage and has been disliked by certain wrestlers for that reason. We can all remember how much passion Cole showed when repeating McMahon’s lines insulting Daniel Bryan on NXT and he has proven he will do what it takes to keep his position.
9 John Laurinaitis
John Laurinaitis has been one of the biggest stooges in WWE for quite some time. Following years of sucking up, Vince McMahon decided to have Laurinaitis replace Jim Ross as the lead of talent relations to make the decisions of who to hire. Johnny Ace did a terrible job bringing aboard many stiffs and was most known for looking in modeling magazines to reach out to the models he found attractive to see if they would want to be a WWE Diva. CM Punk referred to Laurinaitis as a “glad-handing, nonsensical, douchebag yes man” during his infamous pipebomb promo and that’s all you need to know about Laurinaitis.
8 Nikki Bella
The Bella Twins have been afforded more opportunities than any other female performers in WWE history. Nikki Bella was awarded the Divas Championship and held the title long enough to break AJ Lee’s record in 2015. While Nikki was a good champ, the title reign definitely lasted longer than it should have specifically to get the record for her. The rumors were that Nikki used political clout from her relationship with John Cena and her position of power to avoid losing sooner. Nikki has accommodated WWE’s desires for years in terrible segments and promotional tours by doing what is asked with a smile until becoming the most valuable female name in WWE.
7 John Cena
Nikki Bella’s significant other John Cena joins her on the list for years of service for WWE. Being a loyal employee isn’t the same as kissing up but when you do it for so long without doing anything to change for the better, it becomes one in the same. Cena has dominated the WWE main event scene for a decade now and while no one else is on his level as a star, his undying loyalty to Vince McMahon plays a huge role. McMahon has put all his faith in Cena and others like CM Punk or Daniel Bryan didn’t get the same chance to lead the company at their peak because they didn’t excel in the art of kissing up like Cena does.
6 Chris Jericho
As one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Chris Jericho doesn’t need to curry favor with anyone but he certainly does it anyway. Jericho goes on the defensive to call out critics of WWE any time someone dares state their displeasure with the world’s largest wrestling promotion. He has even ended the concept of PPV reviews on his weekly Talk Is Jericho podcast because he didn’t want negativity towards a WWE show getting out there. Various wrestling insider sites have reported that Jericho is one of the very few wrestlers in WWE with the ability to pitch ideas or change things due to his close relationship with Vince McMahon. Jericho even goes out of his way to refer to McMahon as a professional father figure.
5 The Miz
If the art of proverbial butt kissing in WWE was an Olympic sport, The Miz would be a multi-time gold medal winner. Miz is like a corporate robot created by Vince McMahon to spin everything towards complimenting the WWE in interviews. The Miz goes strongly out of his way to adhere to the WWE outlook of using terms like “sports entertainment” and “WWE Universe” rather than wrestling or wrestling fans. While talented in his own right, there’s no doubt years of kissing up helped Miz get his WWE Championship win and the undeserved opportunity of main eventing WrestleMania XXVII against John Cena. Part of the reason Miz fails to connect is he doesn’t come off genuine due to playing everything by the WWE books rather than reacting to things organically.
4 Kevin Dunn
Everyone hates Kevin Dunn and considers him among the worst butt kissers in the history of the wrestling industry. Dunn has served as a producer in WWE but is more importantly the unofficial right hand man to Vince McMahon. Years of sucking up has elevated Dunn into one of the highest paid employees in WWE making $4.8 million in 2015. It’s unfathomable to think an executive yes-man is making more than all of the wrestlers punishing their bodies on a nightly basis. Rumors state that Triple H is not a fan of Dunn and Dunn has tried to sabotage the debuts of NXT wrestlers as a power play if you wanted more reason to dislike him.
3 Road Dogg
This one is difficult to believe since Road Dogg was one of the coolest wrestlers during The Attitude Era with his highly entertaining promos. After years in TNA, WWE hired him back for an office role and he is now one of the more powerful people in the company. Road Dogg actually was the main person in charge of SmackDown during the months Vince McMahon and Triple H spent working with the Tough Enough live show. You can find him on Twitter engaging in arguments and talking down to fans that voice displeasure with a WWE show. Considering he trashed Triple H during his years out of WWE, Road Dogg has been kissing up quite a bit to make up for it as he rises in the political game.
2 Ric Flair
Speaking of butt kissers of Triple H who deliver silly rants to defend the WWE publicly, Ric Flair ranks high on the list. The Nature Boy would be a great version of this generation’s stooge to Triple H as Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco were to Vince McMahon in the 90s. Flair goes on the defense any time there is a story portraying WWE in a negative light. With a podcast on the internet these days with CBS Radio, Flair has trashed Mick Foley for criticizing WWE shows, has tried to downgrade CM Punk’s success and blamed Ring of Honor for Daniel Bryan’s injuries. Basically, Flair’s role in the business now is parroting any thought Triple H has in between kissing up to keep a spot on television.
Wrestling’s biggest butt kisser has been doing it for over two decades and is still successful in WWE thanks to it. JBL has been employed with WWE through all the flops in the ring and stories of him bullying other wrestlers in the locker room due to gaining favor with Vince McMahon. He even pitched the JBL character as an extended version of the Vince McMahon character but with the stock market making him rich rather than owning the company. Bradshaw found a way into becoming the top color commentator in WWE despite having very little skills apart from shouting McMahon’s thoughts on the air in a convincing manner. No one has sucked up more to achieve as much success as JBL has.