Professional wrestling has always been defined by its tendency to create good guys and bad guys and pit them against each other in a battle which wouldn’t seem out of place in a 1960s Batman episode. Of course, pro wrestling is fictional and the battle of good versus evil does little more than add dramatic effect to the in-ring action, though the line between heel and face has been blurred in recent years.
With WWE’s ever increasing charitable efforts, we have seen heels break character to meet with young fans or lecture kids on how they shouldn’t be bullies but stars, whatever that means. In the kayfabe free world of 2016 WWE, good guys are good guys and bad guys are good guys too. Except for when they’re not. While Vince McMahon would like to portray each and every one of his employees as caring individuals concerned with the well-being of the community, there is no shortage of stories of professional wrestlers being jerks behind the scenes. Some pro wrestling douchebags have earned their reputation through an occasional outburst toward a fan or a wrestler, while others have gained the title by creating a steady stream of problems backstage, bringing a bad attitude and equally bad behavior to every locker room they find themselves in.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at some of the most notorious SOBs in the history of professional wrestling.From legendary curmudgeons to literal curtain jerks, here are 15 WWE superstars who are real douchebags.
15 Brian Kendrick
The recently rehired Brian Kendrick has made no bones about the fact that he was a bit of a jerk during his last run with WWE.
In 2008, Kendrick had just split from his long-term tag team partner Paul London and looked to be on course for a massive push. He scored win after win in squash matches – unusual for a guy his size – and even managed to capture the WWE World Championship for a couple of minutes during a Championship Scramble match.
However, Kendrick was young, foolish, and corruptible. He let the power of his new position go to his head and pretty soon he was making enemies backstage. Kendrick, assuming his status as a future main eventer was set in stone, became complacent and began arriving to shows late, often times refusing to cooperate with his opponent for the night. He was even known to openly smoke weed and was fined for it on several occasions.
Kendrick’s 2009 release was arguably the best thing that could have happened to him as it forced him to look at his behavior and reevaluate his life. Since that train wreck year, he has managed to get his life back on track and is enjoying a rejuvenated career in WWE’s Cruiserweight division.
14 Jim Cornette
Nobody can say that Jim Cornette isn’t passionate about professional wrestling. However, I don’t think anybody will argue that that passion sometimes manifests itself in some not-so-good ways.
Cornette’s temper caused multiple problems for himself and his talent when he was working in WWE’s former developmental territory, OVW. Perhaps most famously, a furious Cornette threatened to pull a gun on then up-and-comer Brock Lesnar. In Cornette’s defense, Lesnar did sexually harass his wife, which is probably why he wasn’t fired for his reaction.
Cornette’s dismissal came when he struck Santino Marella, who was supposed to help get debuting The Boogeyman character over by pretending to be frightened of him. Instead, Marella laughed in the monster’s face. This was obviously unprofessional of Marrella, but that’s why he was in developmental. Cornette’s reaction, while equally unprofessional, was far more difficult to forgive.
13 T.J. Perkins
If you’re a fan of professional wrestling, or just feel good stories, it’s hard not to like T.J. Perkins. On the surface, Perkins seems like an embarrassingly earnest, humble guy who loves pro wrestling and has given his life to it. However, the winner of the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic has not been making a whole lot of friends behind the scenes in WWE.
According to various wrestling news sources, Perkins’ famous sob story – being evicted from his apartment and being homeless for a period – while technically true, omits some key details. Perkins apparently spent his period without a home couch surfing and sleeping in gyms, a situation many of the guys in the WWE locker room have found themselves in at some point in their lives. In the eyes of many of his co-workers, T.J. Perkins is just a guy who exaggerated his life story in order to get ahead in WWE.
12 John “Bradshaw” Layfield
SmackDown Live color commentator and former WWE World Champion John “Bradshaw” Layfield has long been known to be a bit of a jerk backstage. Actually, not just a bit of a jerk, but a full blown douchebag.
Bradshaw had always been a little difficult to deal with behind the scenes, but his success in 2004 resulted in his bad behavior sky rocketing. The new main eventer began bullying younger WWE superstars, with some even claiming he threatened to sexually assault them. Former WWE World Champion The Miz has spoken at length about JBL’s mistreatment of him when he first arrived in WWE.
Since his retirement from in-ring competition, JBL seems to have simmered down some and stories of him throwing his weight around backstage have dried up, presumably because he no longer feels he has a main event position to protect.
11 Triple H
While Triple H is pretty popular with hardcore WWE fans today, a decade or so ago he was the recipient of much hate and criticism due to his relationship with Stephanie McMahon, the boss’s daughter.
There are multiple reports from former WWE Superstars and writers alike that Hunter frequently used his pull with Vince McMahon to further his own career. He would often times refuse to put other superstars over, most notably Booker T, who would have been the first African American WWE World Champion had Triple H agreed to do the job for him. However, The Game refused and Booker T would never capture WWE’s greatest prize.
For the most part, Triple H has overcome his insecurities in recent years and has managed to put his ego aside for the good of the business. On rare occasions, however, we still get a glimpse of the Triple H of old, such as at WrestleMania 31 when he defeated the former face of WCW, Sting.
10 Ezekiel Jackson
When Brian Kendrick was released from his WWE contract, his on-screen bodyguard Ezekiel Jackson seemed destined for a main event push. However, it wasn’t just Kendrick’s push that Jackson inherited; he also gained a reputation as a trouble maker backstage.
In his autobiography Yes: My Improbable Journey To The Main Event Of WrestleMania, former WWE World Champion Daniel Bryan tells the story of his one and only negative encounter with another wrestler. That wrestler was Ezekiel Jackson.
According to Bryan, he and his fellow NXT rookies were traveling with the main roster and were killing time in the airport terminal. As they waited to board their flight, Jackson approached and demanded Bryan, who had a window seat, surrender his ticket to him. Bryan refused and Jackson was subsequently scolded by William Regal for his blatant show of disrespect to a far more superior wrestler.
Like Randy Orton, former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Batista benefited immensely from working with Triple H and Ric Flair as a part of the Evolution faction. Hunter taught him how to be a main event guy and carry himself like a big game player. Unfortunately, in Triple H’s mind, that means rubbing your colleagues up the wrong way and refusing to put people over.
Shortly after winning the WWE World Championship and being drafted to SmackDown to serve as the brand’s top guy, Batista allowed his ego to swell to gargantuan proportions and he began to see his co-workers, even those who were significantly more experienced than him, as lesser performers.
This all came to a head during promotion for the 2006 SummerSlam pay-per-view. Booker T, already one of the most respected veterans in the business, called out Batista over his recent ego issues and the two quickly came to blows. According to most reports, Book came out on the winning end and the supposed animal was a lot more humble from that point forward.
8 Shawn Michaels
“The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels is one of the most beloved figures in professional wrestling history, but during the 1990s his popularity among his peers was not necessarily very high.
After capturing the WWE World Championship for the first time in the mid 1990s, Shawn Michaels allowed his ego to ascend to the heavens. As the face of the then World Wrestling Federation, he was one of the most popular men in the business and it certainly went to his head. There are many unflattering stories regarding Michaels during this time. Most wrestlers had little option but to tolerate Michaels during this period, with only superstars like The Undertaker and Bret Hart having enough pull to stand up to him.
HBK infamously “lost his smile” towards the end of the 90s and disappeared for some time. He returned a changed man in 2002 to resume his career without any of the controversies which had plagued him during the previous decade.
7 Brock Lesnar
I touched on the infamous incident in which Jim Cornette threatened Brock Lesnar, the WWE’s hottest prospect at the time, but now we can look at it in a little more detail.
Lesnar was being booked as a monster heel on OVW shows, much like he would be for most of his career, and one storyline called for him to gorilla press Cornette’s real-life wife. According to Cornette, his wife had just had “a certain part of her anatomy” pierced and was still quite a sensitive in the area. Lesnar, obviously struggling to separate himself from the bully he had been in high school, joked throughout the day about how he was going to pinch Mrs. Cornette in that area as he held her above his head. Cornette warned him against it, but Lesnar did it anyway, presumably thinking nobody would dare call him out on it.
Of course, Jim Cornette isn’t one to back down from a fight and, much like his heel TV persona, is willing to do whatever it takes to win, including threatening him with the possibility of having a firearm pointed his way. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and Lesnar came out without a punctured lung, though he was probably seriously reprimanded by WWE brass, who certainly didn’t need another sexual harassment lawsuit to deal with.
6 Sin Cara
Hunico, the man currently behind the Sin Cara character, has been building up quite the reputation as a troublemaker behind the scenes. This year alone, he has been involved in two backstage fights, apparently winning both but losing a great deal of friends in the process.
Sin Cara’s first fight came against Simon Gotch, SmackDown Live star and member of the Vaudevillains tag team. Cara went unpunished for the altercation while Gotch was taken off live events.
Later, news broke of another backstage fight, this time between Sin Cara and Chris Jericho. According to reports, Cara was being disruptive on a bus and became incensed when Y2J told him to calm down. As punishment for his short temper, Sin Cara was forced to attend anger management classes and, perhaps most humiliating, was forced to change with the extras for a period of time.
5 Randy Orton
Randy Orton’s struggles to overcome his addiction to being a jerk are well-documented. After being taken on board Evolution as the group’s de-facto breakout star, Orton began to let his success go to his head, much like many young men thrust into the WWE spotlight.
Randy Orton took a page out of Triple H’s book. He began arguing with writers over creative decisions and refused to have anything to do with wrestlers who he believed to be below his level. Perhaps most infamously of all, Orton once put tanning lotion and baby oil in former diva Rochelle Loewen's - effectively ruining whatever she had on her at the time.
Much of Orton’s behavioral issues during this time came as the result of his substance abuse, which only worsened the further he ascended up the WWE ladder. It was not until a failed drug test saw him suspended that he began to put his life back together.
4 John Cena
There aren’t many guys who have worked in WWE who have bad things to say about John Cena, but those who do are totally justified in their dislike of The Face That Runs The Place.
According to multiple former backstage figures, Cena went out of his way to make Alex Riley’s life difficult during his early years with the company. Cena demanded Riley perform certain maneuvers in his matches and would lecture the young superstar if he did anything wrong, which he always seemed to do.
According to current SmackDown Live superstar Kenny Dykstra, his engagement to former WWE Women’s Champion came to an end when he discovered she had been cheating on him with John Cena. After Dykstra discovered the affair, he was mysteriously moved from Raw to SmackDown, away from his ex-fiancé and her new lover.
3 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is arguably the most important figure in professional wrestling this side of Vince McMahon. Alongside Good ‘Good Ol VKM, Hogan took pro wrestling from a side show attraction to an almost mainstream form of entertainment. And he made a lot of enemies in the process.
In the early '90s, it looked as though Hulk Hogan’s time at the top had come and gone but neither he nor Vince McMahon was willing to accept it. The result was Hogan refusing to drop the belt to anybody he deemed unworthy, and that included Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Although The Hitman was more than ready to become WWE World Champion, The Hulkster insisted he lose his world championship to Yokozuna so he wouldn’t appear weak by losing to someone smaller than him.
Two decades later, Hogan would continue to refuse to put another worker over, this time “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, who finally got to be on the other side of such unprofessionalism.
2 Bret Hart
Because of guys like Hulk Hogan, much of Bret Hart’s early career consisted of him being told he was too small for the big time. He would be placed on the mid-card at best and forced to watch as talentless muscle men pandered to children for eight minutes in the main event.
This kind of treatment, combined with what he experienced at Survivor Series 1997, has resulted in Bret Hart becoming a very bitter man. Convinced everybody is out to get him, The Hitman seems to feel the need to run down other wrestlers before they have a chance to do it to him.
The most notable modern example of this comes in Hart’s treatment of former WWE World Champion Seth Rollins. The Hitman has been openly critical of Rollins, calling him an unsafe worker and an unfit champion. Rollins has voiced his hurt at Hart’s comments, though he isn’t immune from being a douchebag himself…
1 Seth Rollins
In fact, he’s number one on this list.
By all accounts, Seth Rollins is well liked backstage and his treatment of co-workers is nothing less than stellar. However, it is his treatment of women, in particular his former fiancé, which earns him the number one spot.
In early 2015, nude pictures of NXT trainee Zahra Schreiber were sent from Seth Rollins’ Instagram account, presumably by a hacker. The leak lead to Rollins’ fiancé discovering his affair with Schreiber and subsequently calling off their engagement, but not before posting some nude pictures of Rollins to level the playing field.
Rollins has since ended his relationship with Zahra Schreiber and has managed, for the most part, to avoid further controversy.