The world of wrestling is filled with different characters, different personalities – all of which make wrestling a highly entertaining industry. You could be the most boring person on the planet, but portray your gimmick intelligently, and that’s what you’ll be remembered for. On the other hand, you occasionally get personalities that have a zest for life and a love of all things wrestling – The Rock comes to mind. Regardless of the in-ring persona they’re playing up to, some of their real personalities shine through. This can be a terrific thing – and can enhance the gimmick. But if you’re a sourpuss, have an attitude problem, think you’re something you’re not, fans will get to see this too.
Fans know that 99% of wrestling is scripted, but that makes no difference whatsoever to their enthusiasm when cheering on their favorite wrestling superstars at events. But they get really pissed off when they come across a wrestler who thinks he’s the bee’s knees, the real deal – someone who takes himself too seriously as he goes about his business. It is a business after all, and many wrestlers choose to have fun with it, be versatile, but not everybody has that attitude. These are the top 15 wrestlers who take themselves too seriously.
15 Jeff Jarrett
You’re probably all well aware of the dispute between Jeff Jarrett and his former employer, Vince McMahon. Jeff apparently tried to extort $300,000 from Vince to wrestle on after his contract had expired for a one night deal. Did he really, truly believe he was worth that much? Needless to say, that was the last time he wrestled for the WWE; that’s only reason number one.
After being left out in the cold when WWE bought WCW, Jeff, along with his dad formed and founded TNA. He molded the company around himself, establishing himself as the "King of the Mountain". Jarrett did the same thing in 2015 with his latest venture – Global Force Wrestling, which is part of his Global Force brand.
During this period, Jeff wanted everything to be about him, and he got greedy. Because of his demands in relation to TNA and the business side of things, he and his dad had a massive falling out and didn’t speak for many years – they only reconciled in 2015.
14 Bret Hart
Hart was arguably the biggest, most-loved superstar in wrestling during the mid-90s. Perhaps that stroked his ego, but some say his took himself too seriously – especially during that infamous event - the Montreal Screwjob in 1997 when he refused to drop the WWE Championship to Shawn Michaels in Canada.
After the events of that night, a lot of people sided with Hart and felt that he had a right to be angry, but what ensued was just ridiculous. The aftermath of that event wasn’t scripted, as cameras caught the Candian hero punching his boss and spitting in Vince’s face.
Over the years he has continued to toot his own horn, while crapping on many other wrestlers' skills. He took himself and his stardom at the time too seriously – not a good trait for a hot-headed wrestler to have. Hart's undoubtedly one of the best ever, but it can be exhausting hearing him speak at times.
Goldberg at his peak was the biggest superstar in the world– his popularity even eclipsed the legend that is Hulk Hogan for a period of time.
Bill Goldberg comes from a sporting background. Having started off as a linebacker in the NFL, the former Atlanta Falcon then dabbled in a bit of powerlifting and MMA before embarking on a wrestling career. His athletic background certainly gave Goldberg a winning mentality, which is great to an extent, but he perhaps forgot at times that wrestling’s scripted, and that you’re going to occasionally have to lose. Goldberg’s on this list because he absolutely hated to lose. There have been plenty of stories making the rounds that Goldberg refused to look weak in protection of his character. Many wrestlers have claimed that Goldberg was a "mark" for himself, and that was the reason that he was difficult to work with.
12 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle’s another guy that’s on this list because he absolutely hated to lose. He’s another, that like Goldberg, had that winning mentality and took himself way too seriously in the beginning. The Olympic gold medalist famously told Vince McMahon that he needed to win every match before signing his contract. During the later stages of his WWE career, Angle prided himself on his intensity, which got the better of him on a few occasions. Specifically his embarrassing "victory" over Daniel Puder in the early 2000s, which saw him almost have his arm broken due to a kimura lock.
Since joining TNA Angle has certainly calmed down a lot, but one main reason he joined the company. Perhaps being in a more relaxed environment helped him in that regard.
11 Hulk Hogan
The Hulkster took his macho man, larger than life persona way too seriously – but perhaps that’s why he’s now the legend that he is. Was his in-ring persona a gimmick, or was it just him being him? Probably a bit of both.
Despite all the fame and fortune and all the accolades Hogan gets wherever he goes, at one point – actually for the vast majority of his career – all of this got to his head. Hogan thought he was the icon of wrestling and that nobody else deserved a chance. Things didn’t happen without his say-so, and he even had creative control over his contract. Hogan is known as one of the biggest politicking wrestlers in the business, and if you’re someone the Hulk doesn’t like, you don’t stand a chance of making it. He couldn’t stand to lose, thought his character invincible and just took himself way too seriously.
10 The Undertaker
The Undertaker’s career looks to be coming to an end; he’s 51, went undrafted in the 2016 WWE draft and seems to be easing back from a life spent in the ring. Regardless of what happens next for The Undertaker, he’s cemented himself as one of the greatest wrestlers to have ever lived. His legacy will live on for yonks – it’s all credit to Mark Calaway who lived and breathed his character – The Undertaker.
Calaway has always been The Undertaker – he’s rarely captured on film not portraying The Phenom; some may say that’s dedication, other will argue he just takes himself way too seriously. Taker even showed up to the Cleveland Cavaliers ring ceremony in full character this year to show his support of the team. His imposing stature has meant that he’s king of the ring inside and out; what he says goes – you’d have to be mad to want to mess with The Undertaker!
9 Randy Savage
Randy Savage was nicknamed “Macho Man” for a reason; that’s because he was macho – it was all machismo with Savage who personified the ideal wrestler for many of the fans during that era – in a way, much like Hulk Hogan. Savage was also different from Hogan on so many levels, although they’re both in the same category when it comes to the greatest performers of all time.
He might have been great but something he did was take himself and the situations he found himself in, too seriously; his marriage to Miss Elizabeth comes to mind. Miss Elizabeth was his actual wife, so understandably he was very protective over her. There are rumors that Savage would lock Elizabeth in their Florida home for weeks until he came back home from the road; all because wrestlers mentioned her in promos. Aside from those stories, Savage also had creative control over his WCW contract, and ensured that he didn't put many people over in his later years.
8 The Ultimate Warrior
To you and I sitting in front of the TV, to the thousands of fans watching in the arenas, The Ultimate Warrior was an utter legend, and he’s rightfully received all the accolades that have come his way for his in-ring performances over the years. Having said that, there’d be quite a few in wrestling who curse every time they hear his name, because he was also hated by a lot of people. That’s because, for the majority of his career, he took himself and the industry too seriously, he was selfish, egotistical and buried a lot of wrestlers, ruined a lot of careers. I mean, look at how he sold Triple H's pedigree and you will understand exactly what we mean here!
He also thought that he was worth a ridiculous amount of money - he once demanded $500,000 to wrestle at SummerSlam – a ludicrous amount of cash in those days. Throughout it all Warrior maintained that his character was larger than life, and even changed his legal name to reflect his wrestling character.
7 Shawn Michaels
Where to start with Shawn Michaels…he’s undoubtedly one of, if not the greatest in-ring performer ever. But HBK was also a real pain to deal with; he thought nothing of stealing the show and ensuring that he was the star of the match. During the early stages of his career, he didn’t really care about anyone else – apart from those in The Kliq – and refused to lose matches to anyone outside his close circle of friends.
What Michaels said, went – we’ve said that a few times in the this article, but that was certainly the case with Michaels. He even had the audacity to tell Vince what’d be happening, not that Vince minded. During the 1990s, Michaels basically ran the show, had an ego the size of Long Island and was just a nightmare for the other guys in the locker rooms.
6 Triple H
Triple H along with the likes of Shawn Michaels and The Kliq, basically ran things in WWE during the 90s and early 2000s. Well now he is a corporate executive so nothing’s really changed here – instead of backstage bullying he actually has a position with WWE allowing him to do so.
Back in the day, The Game's backstage locker room antics, meant that he wasn’t the most popular guy around. He thought nothing of doing what he needed to do in order to get to the top - even if that meant screwing people over. He thought he was the bee’s knees and took himself – and still does – way too seriously. To be fair, it was Triple H's vision that brought us the gold mine known as NXT, but even then that system favors certain performers over others.
5 Ric Flair
Did Ric Flair take himself too seriously, or was everything he did just Ric being Ric? It’s debatable, but one thing he did love to do was steal the show. Ric Flair – arguably the greatest wrestler of all time – demanded that the spotlight was always on him, and being the flashy, brash – some may say arrogant – guy that he was, he was always in the limelight. He loved splashing the cash, in the ring and out – he brought his real-life persona into the ring, a true entertainer if ever there was one.
Flair used cut-throat policies to reign supreme over the promotions he went to, and stepped on more than a few toes to get to the top. There are quite a few people who don’t see eye to eye with Ric Flair, thinking he takes himself and the business too seriously, but again, he did what he had to do and has become a legend because of it.
4 Roddy Piper
A lot of people thought Roddy Piper took himself too seriously when playing the Scottish angle. Sure, he had Scottish heritage, but the whole Scotland theme that was associated with Piper was just over-the-top. So was his attitude inside and out the ring; he loved to live up to the tag that he was labelled with – one of the original hell raisers of wrestling. The Hot Rod took his career extremely seriously, and despite the business being a work, would often hold grudges as a result of a match.
His real life feud with Mr. T stemmed from the fact that he didn't want a celebrity getting the better of him in a wrestling ring. Piper's wrestling persona would continue to shine through his real life until his untimely passing in 2015.
3 Stone Cold Steve Austin
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin took the stone-cold persona way too seriously, some may say from start to finish, throughout his wrestling career. During his red-hot run in during the Attitude Era, Austin took his character more serious than anyone else on the roster. Feeling that the company was on his back, The Rattlesnake never wanted to compromise his character in any way shape or form. If you recall, Austin rarely lost matches clean during the height of his career, instead losing due to interference or special match stipulations.
In fact, Austin was so protective of himself in the business that he walked away from the WWE rather than take a loss to future WWE Champion Brock Lesnar in 2002. Austin has since admitted that some of his choices were immature, but stands by protecting his career the way that he did.
2 David Schultz
For a lot of people on this list, they took themselves too seriously and it worked for them – they became much-loved figures and went on to have very successful careers. Schultz perhaps isn’t on the same level – in terms of popularity – as these guys, but he’s a controversial figure and makes this list all the same.
Schultz - not to be confused with the American Olympic and World Champion freestyle wrestler of the same name – began wrestling back in the mid-1970s. He was a big guy and used his size to inflict some damage on a reporter John Stossel. This infamous incident is what he’s known for and is why he’s made this list. He took himself way too seriously during this interview, acted like the bad guy to protect the wrestling business, but you can’t go around assaulting people in real life without repercussions. He punched and open hand slapped the reporter twice when asked if wrestling was fake – unsurprisingly David was fired from WWE.
1 CM Punk
CM Punk took his straight-laced persona to the extreme. He’s straight-edged in real life, but when he brought this diligent and aggressive attitude into the ring and mixed it with business, it landed him in plenty of hot water. There were constant disputes with the management, simply because he wanted things to be done a certain way, and he felt that he deserved more than what he was getting at the hands of WWE. During multiple interviews, Punk will admit that he was hard to work with in the WWE, ripping up scripts, and flat out refusing to deliver certain promos if he felt they were outside of his character.
In fact, Punk's main reason for leaving professional wrestling is because he felt that he deserved to headline a WrestleMania. While we can't argue against his logic for this, it's hard to defend leaving a company over a storyline choice that you weren't a part of.