Wrestling is a business built on egos and it’s only natural big ones are all over the place. This isn’t a team sport but every guy out for himself and more than a few wrestlers can push it in terms of ego. Bret Hart often said that everyone in the 1980s WWE knew Hogan was the top dog but put up with it because he helped bring in the money. For the most part, guys get along okay but there are cases where actions and clashes erupt into something worse thanks to those involved.
The fact is, there are so many guys in wrestling who just are not liked by their peers. It’s their actions, it’s their attitude, it’s throwing their weight around (even if it’s not all that much) and it’s pushing themselves way too much to piss off those around them. In wrestling history, there have been lots of guys who were selfish and some are able to still be charismatic enough to cover it. Kevin Nash, for example, was talked of as being a really cool guy to hang with despite the damage he caused. Hogan gets slammed a lot for his selfish ways but has defenders noting his surprising soft side helping guys out at times. On the other hand, slews of other guys fail to do that and, in fact, often seem to make guys even angrier by their actions. Here are 15 cases of guys who were hated backstage by their fellow workers and even those upstairs and caused far more trouble in the locker room than they should have.
15 Erik Watts
It’s not really Erik’s fault. He was a decent kid who could have been a good worker given time. But in 1992, he was plucked after just a month of training and immediately pushed to the upper mid-card all because his father, Bill Watts, was running WCW at the time. Veterans were not happy about how they had to job to this untalented rookie because his dad was the boss and that led to some bad feelings that Erik didn’t totally deserve. He didn’t help himself with an encounter against Rick Rude that led to Rude’s firing from the company and using his dad as a cover for his actions. When Bill was fired from WCW, Erik’s standing took a major fall and a clear case of what happens when you let nepotism in the business get a bit too out of hand.
14 Hulk Hogan
He’s not as high on the list as you might expect due to the fact that he has a surprising number of defenders. Yes, Hogan gets slammed, justly, for his selfish moves and keeping the spotlight on himself way too much. His actions in WCW are legendary, cutting down guys like Vader, blowing the big Starrcade battle with Sting and leveraging his power to maintain his control.
At the same time, you’ll hear stories from guys like Jacques Rougeau on how Hogan put him over at a Canada house show or Kamala on Hogan defending him on a racial attack. Of course, the hate has grown over the years with stuff like refusing to job to Randy Orton or Shawn Michaels and his moves in TNA that hurt so many. Still, Hogan has his defenders and notes on how he’s not all bad even amid all the dislike.
At first, Batista got along okay with guys backstage when he debuted but as his fame grew, so did his issues. As he rose as champion, Batista’s ego grew bigger and he threw his weight around a lot, leading to clashes like a backstage fight against Booker T. It wasn’t helped by how Batista had to take so much time off from injuries and come back expecting to be a huge star again and helping to cover for/push his lover Melina during her own antics.
His return in 2014 led to more problems as guys weren’t happy about him getting the huge Mania push after being gone so long and Batista carrying a Hollywood edge to his ego. It contributed to his fast exit and more than a few guys are happy he’s sticking to movies now as most feel he’s worn out his welcome in wrestling.
John Bradshaw Leyfield had been unpopular for a while due to his really stiff work in the ring and often giving out real beatdowns, such as the Blue Meanie in 2005. It got worse with his push in 2004 driving his ego and stuff like the infamous “Nazi bit” in Germany.
Stories of his backstage fights are common as even Joey Styles has punched JBL for some of his antics and his hard partying style not helping matters more either. He’s mellowed in the last few years and doing charity work but that doesn’t excuse how grandly disliked JBL has been by his peers and how that leads to his heat with fans.
11 Randy Orton
A big part of his DVD documentary has Orton owning up to what a pretentious jerk he was in 2004-06. With his big push at a young age, Orton went into drinking a lot and that sparked stuff like going after rookie diva Rochelle Loewen and throwing his weight around majorly. A great bit on that DVD was how Orton would use his youth as an excuse for his behavior and HHH would snap “what’s the cutoff age for you using that as an excuse?” Becoming a father helped his attitude shift and he’s better regarded today so at least he learned from that past to become a better guy and put some of that hate behind him.
10 Lex Luger
The problem with Luger was that he was pushed right out of the gate, winning the Florida championship just two weeks after his debut and never paying his dues. Naturally, this increased his big ego which got bigger when he was signed to WCW and part of the Four Horsemen. He was hugely over and some argue he should have been given a title run in 1988 but his arrogant attitude backstage worked against him, making those in charge think he couldn’t handle it.
His WWE run was much the same with him acting self-entitled and demanding more of a push than he got, acting on a higher plane than the other stars like Bret Hart. Plus, many blame him for helping the drug overdose death of Miss Elizabeth and while Luger has turned to religion to change his life, that arrogance is the reason he never became the next Hogan.
Another case of a guy pushed way too soon, Sid was shoved fast by promoters wanting a new Hogan on the scene. He had the look of a guy who could kick your ass but his ring skills made Hogan look like Lou Thesz and his attitude wasn’t much better. His persona of a guy ready to go off at any minute wasn’t that far off from his real personality as he was chided for bad stuff like nearly breaking Brian Pillman’s neck with a bad powerbomb and other stiff moves.
It all built to the now famous moment in 1993 where he and Arn Anderson got into a fight backstage with Sid stabbing Arn with scissors. You’d think that would change his attitude but it continued to grow badly in WWE and a later WCW run with bizarre interviews and clashes backstage and to this day, the story of Sid being a true psycho is what’s remembered more than anything he did in the ring.
8 Buff Bagwell
He had a great look, there’s no denying that but Bagwell’s monstrous ego was his worst enemy in his wrestling tenure. That could be tolerated in WCW where big egos ran things all over the place and some gave Buff slack after his terrible neck injury. But when he came to WWE in 2001, he turned in a horrible match with Booker T on TV and then reportedly faked an injury after being attacked by the APA with his mother actually calling up the office to ask for time off for her son. Wrestlers can put up with a lot but getting your mom to call in sick for you as if it’s third grade is way too much and not surprising Buff was fired soon afterward.
7 The Miz
Coming in as a reality star was not a good way to win guys over in the locker room and while it gave the Miz instant fan heat, it was soon working against him. He dropped a chicken into Chris Benoit’s bag as a shot at the veteran and was forced to change in the hallway at events for six months. It got worse as he was pushed more, especially in his run as champion, acting like a huge deal and CM Punk openly said there wasn’t a single guy in the WWE locker room who didn’t want to kick the Miz’s ass if they got the chance.
It seems to continue today as the Miz continues to act as the cocky jerk as more of a veteran when very few guys in the back, however long they’ve been around, buy into respecting him.
6 Muhammad Hassan
Hassan is often cited as being fired unfairly due to the whole “terrorist attack” angle in 2005. However, the guy was hardly making any friends backstage as it was with a harsh attitude and leading to stuff like him legitimately beaten up hard in the 2005 Royal Rumble. Hassan openly told Eddie Guerrero to stop using the camel clutch as it was his finisher and Eddie snapped that his father Gory had actually invented the move.
A famous story is Hassan buying drinks for the SmackDown roster at a bar and every guy pouring the drinks on the floor and glaring at Hassan until he left. No wonder he had few defenders in the company when he was axed, the guy’s attitude drove him out as much as politics.
5 The Ultimate Warrior
Many have slammed the 2005 “Self-Destruction” DVD as a hatchet job on the Warrior but in truth, that was downright kind compared to the stories going around the guy. From his lack of ring skills that often hurt guys to Bret Hart’s story of Warrior refusing to meet a dying fan, due to his monster ego, the Warrior made little friends in his wrestling tenure. Vince McMahon has openly stated he was downright gleeful firing him in 1991 and his later runs short because of his demands for more main event time and money when he couldn’t back it up that well. The Warrior would mend fences with many of these guys before his untimely death but there’s a good reason he was slammed for so long by so many as he really deserved a lot of the hate.
4 The Dynamite Kid
The Kid is the Ty Cobb of wrestling: Absolutely brilliant as a worker and athlete but outside the ring, the biggest jerk you can imagine. His stiff work was driven on by his temper and not only didn’t mind hurting a guy for real in the ring but relished in it. His “pranks” bordered on the criminal such as drugging a guy’s drink before he began a drive on the dangerous Canadian winter roads and his beat-downs and treatments of rookies appalled most veterans.
He and Davey Boy Smith got along okay for years but the tension soon drove them apart as Dynamite’s arrogance rubbed everyone wrong. The man has paid the price for his physical efforts being in a wheelchair but sadly, not many people are that sorry for him as some say that much of it was brought onto Dynamite by himself and his brutal ways with others.
It’s always dangerous to believe your own hype and that’s just what Melina did. She was hailed as a highlight of WWE when she debuted in 2005, improving as a singles worker with her memorable ring entrance. That led to her ego pushing her to throw her weight around, getting into fights with Sharmell and Lita, a long real feud mocking Mickie James on her weight and at one point was put into a Wrestlers’ Court with bets on how long it would take to make her cry.
It got worse with her later runs, discussions of her crazy antics backstage that had some seriously wondering if she had mental problems and refusals to job to other talent. Thus, no one shed tears when she left the company in 2009 as all her skills couldn’t quite make up for an out-of-control ego and a temper that could erupt at any time.
2 Triple H
As a fan of Ric Flair, it may be no surprise that HHH took after Flair’s tendency to hog the spotlight and put himself over. It began with his membership in the Kliq that helped him throw his weight around although that backfired as he was made the fall guy for the “Curtain Call” that slowed his progress. Hunter himself has acknowledged the heat he got backstage when he and Stephanie began dating, the obvious feelings among the wrestlers that he was just trying to keep himself in the spotlight. He hardly helped his case with dominating the World title scene for so long, cutting down promising contenders at various points and pushing himself as the focus of the company constantly.
He would lower it a bit in later years to put over Batista and Cena but seems back in that with the Authority. There is talk of guys who give HHH props for always bringing his A-game to major matches and smart about the business but that stigma of “out for himself” is something Hunter will always carry.
1 Shawn Michaels
It’s always interesting that today, HBK is the first person to acknowledge what an absolute jerk he was in his ‘90s heyday. The attitude was already rising when he and Marty Jannetty were the Midnight Rockers in the AWA, their hard-partying ways getting them in trouble and leading to their dismissals from the company twice. When they tried to join WWE in 1987, they only lasted a week before Vince sent them packing with the famous “those boots are meant for walking” line. Shawn has openly stated that he and Jannetty should have been fired a dozen times for their crap but saved themselves with their terrific ring work.
As HBK’s single stardom took off, so did his ego as he threw his weight around, pushing the Kliq up and demanding to get his way far too much. It led to stuff like refusing to drop the title back to Bret and the events of Montreal and one wonders how it would have grown if Shawn hadn’t been put out by his back injury. When he returned, it was with a new attitude, putting some other guys over, the old selfish nature popping up now and then with DX but his fantastic matches and opening up about his bad stuff helping to win folks over. While that attitude has improved over time, it should never be forgotten how HBK was pretty damn hated in his prime and with good reason.