Wrestlers are often chastised poorly for their egos. Dusty Rhodes once said that “If you don’t believe you’re the best out there, get out of the business.” Maybe it’s rough but wrestling mixes sports and entertainment and thus a huge ego is constant. Some guys have used the desire to be the best to their benefit and become huge stars like Steve Austin, The Rock and more. The fact is, an ego can be healthy and push a guy along. However, it can also be an albatross as, just as with sports and entertainment, a wrestler can believe he’s a much bigger star than he really is.
It’s a constant and more than a few guys have paid a price for this attitude. They think they’re a bigger deal and thus hold out for more money, demand more of a push and other bits that often backfire. It can last for years, this belief you’re a bigger deal than you are making you seem downright foolish and sometimes you’re better known as a joke than anything you did in the ring. Sure, you can complain about some not being as big in success but other times, it’s amazing how some B-level midcarder carries on like he’s Shawn Michaels. Here are 15 wrestlers who clearly think they’re bigger stars than they really are and how ego can hurt as well as help in the business.
When a guy has the twitter handle of “KING” it should be no shock he’s confident in himself. Neville rose up well in WWE as he held tag titles in NXT and the singles belt and fans impressed by his great moves. Moving to the main roster, he made it sound like he was the next mega-star and pushing himself but soon lost amid various poor feuds. He was bouncing back winning the Cruiserweight title and top feuds with Enzo and Austin Aries. However, Neville’s attitude backstage was grating as he seemed to be thinking he deserved far better push despite how he was better in a small space. He finally walked out on the company and has trashed them as not deserving of his talents. Word is they might be making backup but it showcases that even a smaller guy like Neville can have a huge ego to think he’s a bigger star than he really is.
14 Damien Sandow
For a while, it looked like Damien Sandow might be able to back up his bragging. After coming to WWE and time in OVW, Sandow hit upon a genius bit with his “intellectual heel” gimmick that got fans going. That led to success, a master on the mic and he and the Miz forming a fantastic team. It looked like Sandow was rising up but then was hampered with comedy bits like the “stunt double” schtick. Released, Sandow complained a lot on WWE wasting his talents and fans backed him up. But then in TNA, his run as Aron Rex was utterly horrible, no flash to him at all in the ring or on the mic and showed WWE had done a lot to make him seem better than he was. He’s claimed to be taking a break to focus on acting and making it sound like a huge deal when most fans had forgotten him. For a time, Sandow was great but today shows he’s not as smart as he seems.
13 Jinder Mahal
You can blame WWE for this guy thinking he’s a huge deal. Fans are still baffled as to why the company thought elevating a life-long jobber to main event champion in just weeks was a good idea. The results say it wasn’t, with fans hating Jinder’s rise and his title run leading to poor ratings and a downturn in visibility. Mahal hasn’t helped matters by how he’s let the instant run go right to his head, flaunting his “power” in interviews and acting like this is the culmination of years of hard work. Heck, the guy wasn’t even working for WWE up until a little over two years ago and his previous runs showed no promise whatsoever.
For the company to decide Jinder should be top dog remains baffling but Mahal himself seems to let the company’s judgement dictate how he’s the hottest worker alive rather than a huge mistake fans never bought for an instant.
12 John Morrison/Impact
From the start, the former Johnny Nitro had great talent. He showed it in WWE as part of MNM, winning the tag titles several times. Breaking into singles work, Morrison showed promise as US champ and then he and the Miz a great heel team. He was fantastic in the ring with his remarkable parkour moves and a cool style and most thought he deserved bigger. But at the same time, Morrison didn’t seem the guy to carry a company or push himself higher despite his acclaim. He was released with word on ego backstage and since moved on to Lucha Underground. He seemed to believe he was a huge deal there despite how most agree the far more staged conditions of Lucha make it hard to get into.
Now, as Johnny Impact, Morrison is in TNA, a big step down yet seems to hold like he’s still capturing the fancy of fans despite how his act has gotten rather stale.
11 Alberto Del Rio
It’s said the best wrestling personas are just the real guy taken to the 10th level. Alberto Del Rio fits that as his arrogance was easily showcased with WWE. He was given more pushes than most, winning the Royal Rumble and the World title and WWE really thought they had something big. But somehow, the fans just didn’t take to him. It got worse with a face turn and eventually Del Rio got fired after slapping a co-worker for a racist comment.
When he came back, his first match was a win over John Cena, but he quickly fizzled out from there. The bigger mess was when Del Rio went to TNA and started doing interviews boasting of how WWE missed the boat on him and he was the future of wrestling. He even acted like he was “showing up” WWE by going to TNA despite how it was an obvious step down. The mess involving his assault on Paige just makes it worse and for a guy who boasted about his “destiny,” Del Rio doesn’t seem likely to make a real impact.
10 Jack Swagger
It’s not Swagger’s fault that his WWE run was rough. He was a perfectly good mid-card talent but the company insisted on pushing him as a main eventer. It just shows some guys really are better off on the lower rungs of the business. Swagger started off in ECW before moving up the rung, winning Money in the Bank and then the World title. But his run was quite poor, fans just not buying him as a major star and he suffered badly. Swagger had talent but just couldn’t get traction with a bad face turn and not clicking.
Finally, released, Swagger has bad-mouthed WWE and actually made it sound like he was held back when it’s obvious the company had no problem pushing him. Fans just didn’t want to accept Swagger at all and that’s the reason his “stardom” doesn’t seem to have taken off like he thinks it should have.
Given the only reason Ryback was given his makeover and push was to show him as being a Goldberg clone, he has no right to talk on being “held back.” Yet he does, constantly, even going so far as to claim a big plan was for him to face The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania XXX. WWE and the Warrior’s widow say there was absolutely no discussion of that whatsoever yet he continues to claim it as fact. It’s amazing how the man continues to push himself hard on the indies, bragging about his greatness and even claiming Goldberg is afraid of him. That he was little more than a knock-off given a push just to fill time never enters his head or how bad his runs were at the end. Yet Ryback seems to consider himself the top dog for his time in WWE and demands bigger “respect” outside it.
8 The Honky Tonk Man
Ah, HTM. You can’t talk huge egos in this business and not mention him. On paper, he should never have been anything more than just another forgettable comedy worker in WWE with his “wrestling Elvis” persona. But then, by a quirk of fate, he was given the Intercontinental title and ended up getting the longest reign of all time with it. It was astounding as he kept the belt around his waist against all comers. Once he lost it to The Ultimate Warrior, HTM took a huge drop downward and mostly became an afterthought. Yet the man insists on acting like he really was “the greatest of all time” as you see him still doing the gimmick and showing up on shoot interviews to take massive shots on today’s workers as if he has a right to talk. Honky Tonk was fun in his time but his runs since haven't exactly proven he’s the best ever.
It’s been noted that a big issue with NXT folks is how what works for a small Florida audience doesn’t translate as well on the big stage. Emma has sadly shown that. She got popular in NXT with her quirky dancing and Australian accent so WWE had high hopes when she was promoted to the main roster. Sadly, Emma didn't do nearly as well there, her dancing coming off annoying to fans and she took a severe slump downward. She tried a comeback after a makeover into “Emmalina” and it had promise. But again, it suffered when the gimmick was scrapped and she was finally let go.
Fans were sad about that at first but then word came of Emma demanding up to a couple of grand for an indie show appearance. So some think WWE made the right call as this was a woman who clearly had it in her head she was better than she seemed.
6 Eva Marie
If ever there’s a diva pushed more on looks than talent, it’d have to be Eva Marie. She is a knockout, one must admit it with her lush red hair and stunning body. But Eva also showcased bad mic skills, her promos stilted and rough. Adding to it was some of the most atrocious ring work imaginable as it became obvious the woman didn’t have the slightest clue how pull off the most basic of moves. Videos of her non-stop botches were soon highly popular online for laughs and pushed her nutty antics. After one bad push following another, Eva was finally let go and fans were grateful for it. But she maintains she was some sort of grand star when she wasn’t and shows why fans hate having to put up with her behavior which was truly “Diva” to the extreme.
5 Enzo Amore
There’s no denying Enzo is a top notch mic guy and terrific in his promo work. But the man is also under the impression he’s a bigger deal than he is. It started in NXT, his obnoxious persona soon winning fans over and getting a huge deal thanks to his famous introduction. He and Cass became a great “opposites clashing” team but doing fantastic work in NXT. That led to their promotion to the big leagues and taking off nicely. But since they split, Enzo’s weaknesses have been exposed, his presence on 205 Live not as good as hoped. Worse is his ego backstage and reports of how he’s been bragging to the others of his massive pay which nearly got him kicked off a bus. On the mic, few can touch Enzo but he’s hardly the most skilled guy on the roster. Yet his belief he is carries him on and a major reason why he seems all mouth to many.
4 Bob Holly
You can’t take away from Bob Holly’s incredible toughness. The man was fantastic in his ring work and his ability to bounce back from huge injuries is remarkable. Likewise, he’s managed to survive a slew of frankly horrible gimmicks (Sparky Plugg) to be a good worker. He won huge acclaim for his 2006 match where he took a savage gash across the back but kept on wrestling. However, Holly clearly is his own biggest fan. His book and various interviews have him constantly talking about the mess of 1995 WWE and making it sound like a key reason was him being pushed down. Never mind no one was going to take his persona back then seriously or that he was even that ready for a push as, say, IC champion. But still, Holly contends that he was always held back rather than given more chances than guys should have and somehow believes he was the star WWE needed.
3 Bruce Hart
When it comes to the Harts, Teddy might be cited as thinking himself a big deal. But he can’t hold a candle to Bruce. Even Bret and Owen had issues with the way Bruce seemed to think he was a much bigger star than his brothers, despite how he was seriously lacking in charisma and talent. His time running Stampede was notable by making sure he was seen as a big star, including he and Brian Pillman being crowned tag champions. But his booking just helped run Stampede into the ground and in a famous instance, caused a near riot by fans and workers. That continued with Bruce trying over and over to get into WWE. A famous case is a PPV where Bruce was at ringside and meant to spit on Steve Austin. Instead, he wailed on Austin, causing a real farcas that took away from Owen pinning Austin and Owen was ticked over that. Even today, Bruce seems to think he was right behind Bret in fame and even superior despite how most fans have no idea who he is.
2 Jeff Jarrett
In various shoot interviews and books, it’s become clear how his fellow workers feel about “Double J.” Yes, a good worker and a great mid-card heel. But Jarrett’s big problem is that he truly and honestly believes he’s on the same level of mega-heat as Hogan, Flair or Austin. It’s driven him on as he felt he and Austin should have had a top-notch feud in WWE despite how fans would never buy him in that role. It continued in WCW with his runs as champ doing nothing for business (to quote Mike Graham: “He broke 6000 guitars, never drew a dime.”) And it certainly followed in TNA as Jarrett was obsessed with making the company all about him with the NWA title always around his waist and every feud about him. He made Triple H look the model of restraint in hogging the spotlight and a key reason it was harder to take TNA seriously is because Jarrett truly thinks he’s a mega-star when he isn’t.
1 Shane Douglas
No shock here. For years, Douglas has pushed himself as some sort of epic star when others don’t see him that way. He was always cocky and arrogant but it got worse as time went on. Douglas started off a clean-cut babyface for WCW, he and Ricky Steamboat a fantastic tag team. But Douglas had clashes with his bosses that led to his exit. He bounced around before remaking himself as “The Franchise” in ECW and thus a remarkable run to put that company on the map. But Douglas soon believed himself to be his hype, a true mega-star despite how low ECW was.
His run in WWE was bad, yes, hampered by the Kliq but still for him to claim he was a huge star held back is a bit much. That led to more in WCW with Douglas acting like he should have been the champion. He hasn’t held back in shoot interviews where he acts like he’s the biggest star of his era. Obviously, the biggest is his long-time “feud” with Ric Flair with Douglas taking massive shots and Flair just ignoring him. It all shows that Douglas is his own biggest fan and a guy completely nuts in how huge a star he thinks he is.