It may not be totally fair to judge the selfishness of some wrestlers. The business has always been about taking care of number one and getting yourself put ahead. Guys have to go through a lot to make it to the top so it makes sense that when you get there, you do what it takes to hold onto the spotlight. More than one guy has talked in radio interviews of how everyone knows there’s a hierarchy and their place on it. For the most part, it can work out okay but sadly, there are too many cases of guys who put their own interests ahead of the rest of the locker room and it ends badly.
That’s more true when the star has a major position with the company, champion or even booker. The chances of things going badly just increase and can lead to major disaster. Throughout wrestling history, there have been guys who go into business for themselves and use their clout to keep on top while shoving others down. It continues throughout the business, not just in WWE but elsewhere and while bosses do their best to keep control, when a wrestler becomes too selfish to let go of things, it can lead to bad stuff. Here at fifteen cases of wrestlers who cared more for their own standing than what was best for the business and fans and quite often ended very badly.
15 Bret Hart
Some may do a double-take on this one but it has to be said. Yes, Bret did specialize in giving the rub to guys well and did a great job in his tenure as multiple champion in WWE. There is the issue of how he seemed to get more selfish about “his place” and trashing guys who could beat him despite how over they were. But the fact remains that so much of Montreal rests on Bret’s shoulders. I get he had his pride and all but for a man who claimed to love the business so much, Bret had to know the massive damage his leaving WWE as champion would do for the company. He knew Bischoff would be crowing about signing the WWE champion, even giving up the belt wouldn’t have stopped that and it would have been a terrible blow for WWE.
14 Bruiser Brody
13 The Road Warriors
When the Road Warriors burst upon the scene in 1982, they were like nothing else seen before. From the leather outfits to face paint to in-your-face promos, they rocked the industry and became instant stars. With that success came some swelled egos as the team soon became infamous for taking it hard and stiff on opponents with jobbers literally in fear of being hurt badly but the Road Warriors wouldn’t mind it. They also started to really throw their weight around, backed by their heat with fans to change things.
12 Buddy Rogers
Buddy Rogers was one of the first truly flashy heels wrestling has known, fantastic on the mic and backing it up in the ring and for that, he should always be credited. However, this meant Rogers was one of the first to use his newly found clout with fans to get his own way. During his reign as NWA Champion, it seemed Rogers favored northeastern promoters over others and on a few occasions, he’d rub shooters like Karl Gotch the wrong way and get a broken hand out of the deal. He only agreed to drop the title to Lou Thesz under the threat of giving away his $25,000 title bond to charity.
11 Fritz Von Erich
In his wrestling days, Fritz played the evil German heel and did a good job but never got the NWA World Title. That may have played a part in how things turned out as he would start World Class and waste no time pushing his sons as the big stars. While WCCW saw massive success, Fritz’s refusal to flex and grow more held them back as he insisted “Dallas is big enough” even when the company could have blossomed further.
10 Jerry Lawler
Fans today know “The King” by his commentary stuff, maybe the occasional bout. They don’t quite realize that for decades, Lawler was THE man in Memphis wrestling and that counted for the title scene. Yes, he had a personal stake in things but the fact remains that during the time Memphis wrestling was a major promotion, Lawler held the Southern/USWA championship a total of 80 times. That’s not a typo or mentioning numerous runs as tag team champion and even AWA champ.
9 Mil Mascaras
8 Kevin Nash
Given all the terrible gimmicks he had to put up with (Oz, Vinnie Vegas), maybe it’s no surprise that when Nash hit the big time, he was unwilling to back down from it for anyone. It may be a bit unfair to blame his reign as champion for all of WWE’s bad business in 1995 (having Mabel as a contender hardly helped) but Nash made it worse with a lazy attitude, more into partying, not turning in decent work and leading to more of a mess.
7 Triple H
He grew up idolizing Ric Flair and came under the tutelage of Shawn Michaels at his Kliq height. Is it any wonder Hunter turned into a show-boating politician? Contrary to belief, the man was always destined for stardom way before he hooked up with Stephanie, he proved that with DX and his own rise as singles star. But it can’t be denied that his relationship with Stephanie gave him a hell of a lot more power to throw his weight around and dominate as champion from 2002-2005. There were slews of great guys who could have gotten title runs like Jericho, Booker T and RVD but HHH not only beat them but seemed to go out of his way to bury them all.
6 Shawn Michaels
It speaks volumes that HBK today is the first person to acknowledge what a totally selfish jerk he was in his wrestling days. Maybe it was having WWE wash out the Rockers’ tag title reign to backstage politics or just his own pride but in the 1990s, Shawn started throwing his weight around big time. His skills as performer and star added to his clout as he soon formed “the Kliq” and for a couple of years practically ran the company, refusing to do jobs.
5 Dusty Rhodes
Another case of a fantastic performer and talker who sadly put himself ahead of others too much. Dusty had success booking in Florida despite how he would have himself at the center of things. It just increased as he would work in Jim Crockett with his long feuds with Ric Flair, pushing himself against the Four Horsemen, beating the much younger Lex Luger for the U.S. title and bringing back his old “Midnight Rider” act. That’s not to mention pushing the “Dusty Finish” so often that it would be named after him and insisting that Crockett’s second-ever PPV, the Bunkhouse Stampede, end with him winning the main event.
4 Jeff Jarrett
Having an ego and putting yourself ahead as the best is nothing new in wrestling. In fact, it might be encouraged. But Jarrett takes that attitude in the entirely wrong direction. The man is a good worker and a decent upper-midcard talent but is under the delusion he’s on the same level of huge fan heat/stardom as The Rock or Stone Cold. It built up slowly before WCW where he was pushed hard and boasting of his greatness and stories of him backstage not wanting to lose the belt.
3 Verne Gagne
Gagne was a terrific athlete and his skills in both wrestling, training and promoting the AWA cannot be ignored. But neither can the fact that he is one of the worst cases ever of the old mentality of “keeping the belt for yourself” that the business has ever known. He held the title a total of 10 times, including one solid reign from 1968 to 1975 and while he can defend it as doing good business the fact is that considering all the great talent in the AWA, having the boss keep the belt that long was pushing it in ego.
2 Ric Flair
Some may find this a high ranking but make no mistake, Flair was as much a spotlight-hogging politician as anyone else on this list. To be fair, his reign in the 1980s was great as he would travel the territories and be top business facing guys as NWA champion while wowing fans with his fantastic promos. Things got complicated when Crockett’s JCP became the real public face of the NWA/WCW and Flair’s power grew. He had it placed into his contract that he got veto power over any title changes. That came to light when Flair refused to drop the title to Lex Luger in 1988 despite how monster over Luger was and a win would have been better for Crockett’s business. He had matches against Hawk and Ricky Morton where they had no chance of winning the belt, it was just more heat for Flair cheating to win. He did drop it to Steamboat but quickly regained it and immediately went into a feud with Terry Funk that turned Flair face. He did lose to Sting but when business got bad, he agreed to become the Black Scorpion just so he could be champ again.
1 Hulk Hogan
Terry Bollea is quite possibly the greatest backstage politician the business has ever known. There is no denying the power Hogan had in the 80s and for the most part the WWE undercard knew he was the guy fans wanted to see and they went along with it to make money. Even then, there were issues of Hogan not wanting to put guys over, always making himself the top guy but as he was the moneymaker, folks just went with it. As his heat faded with the coming of the 90s, Hogan’s selfish nature became more clear, his refusal to job even when he wasn’t the champion and insistence on the spotlight, including getting the title back at WrestleMania IX that shoved Bret down the card and not giving him the rematch promised.
It got worse as Hogan jumped to WCW and was given creative control, pushing his old buddies like Ed Leslie to main event status and making himself the Superman character southern audiences had never embraced. His heel turn was sensational and led to hot business with the New World Order but Hogan’s ego couldn’t let him give way to younger guys. His refusal to job cleanly to Sting at Starrcade ’97 ruined a year of buildup and threw WCW off badly. He lost the belt to Goldberg but always planned to get it back and in doing so, shoved WCW down more with the Fingerpoke of Doom. His tenure finally ended in a showdown with Vince Russo that made the company look worst.
Then came TNA, Hogan pushing himself from day one as the “savior” of the company, eating up precious time and later setting himself as the monster heel just like 1996 but no one was buying it. He messed up the big title win for Bobby Roode over Angle by tweeting about Roode “not ready yet” just so the win wouldn’t overshadow Hogan’s face turn on the same show. When he finally left, he did it by quitting, not getting fired and making Dixie look like a fool. Maybe the recent controversy over his racist comments is karma for his past as Hulk Hogan has a long history of not giving other guys the fair shake over himself and that may finally be coming home to roost.
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