Professional wrestling is a performance art. And thanks to this, the wrestlers that perform inside the squared circle get to play characters that might be light years away from how they are in real-life.
Back in the good old days, this distinction between real-life persona and the gimmick of the wrestlers were usually hidden from the fans. Kayfabe was maintained well and almost everyone believed that the gimmicks were a reflection of a wrestler’s real-life.
But as the fans got more involved into the wrestling business through magazines, dirt sheets, internet and most recently, social media, the distinction that we mentioned earlier became clear. And when the veil flew off, the real faces of wrestlers were exposed.
Some turned out to be as good guys both inside and outside the ring while others turned out to be complete jerks in real life. We will be focussing on the second category today in our list. So here are 10 wrestlers who are jerks in real life.
#10 Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels might be clean and polite these days, but in the past, he used to be one of the worst wrestlers to be around. Before he became a born-again Christian, Michaels was a major troublemaker. He used backstage politics to climb the ladder and had a reputation for being disrespectful towards his fellow workers. Along with his Clique, Michaels also played a role in burying many talented wrestlers.
Apart from treating his co-workers badly, Michaels didn’t have the best relationship with his fans as well. He used to be one of those wrestlers that kept the fans away and not only this, he used to degrade the fans that approached him.
Most of the times, however, Michaels got off the hook lightly as his in-ring work was exceptional. Things turned upside down for the better but certain wrestlers still think that Michaels is a hypocrite.
#9 Kevin Nash
Just like his mate Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash was also known for using backstage politics for staying on the top. In fact, his backstage politics was one of the main reasons behind the fall of WCW. Now that you think of it, Kevin Nash played a huge role in changing the course of the professional wrestling business.
Coming back to his real life, there are also many accounts of Nash being rude to the fans who try to interact with him. He also has a habit of taking shots at people who disagree with him on social media.
Above all these, there was a recent incident that saw Kevin Nash beat up his 18-year-old son while being drunk. Nash, however, has a different story about the whole incident and claims that he was just protecting himself and his wife. You can draw your own conclusions about this but the fact that Kevin Nash is a jerk in real life is something that a majority of the fans can agree upon.
JBL had an interesting career as a wrestler. He was one-half of a legendary tag team during the early stages of his career and then went on to become a main event level heel champion later on. Throughout the ups and downs of his in-ring career, JBL had one thing in common: backstage bullying.
There are stories about how JBL bullied the likes of the Hardy Boyz, Mark Henry and Joey Styles among others. His infamous incident with the Blue Meanie at ECW ONE Night Stand is another major achievement in JBL’s jerk resume. JBL took some brutal shots at Blue Meanie during a scripted brawl at the event and he did so out of personal disdain.
Recently, there were also rumors about JBL bullying Mauro Ranallo. The exact truth behind these rumors, however, still remains unclear. Nevertheless, there are enough accounts from wrestlers apart from the Ranallo incident which makes JBL worthy of a spot in this list.
#7 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan was the biggest draw in the professional business for a long time. During this time period, he was projected as the perfect role model for kids. But behind the curtains, it was a different story altogether. Hogan had a reputation for using politics and power to stay on top and various wrestlers held grudge against the Hulkster for doing so.
The most notable one perhaps would be Bret Hart. Hogan refused to put Bret over in 1993 when the Hitman was red hot. This situation led to a lot of issues between the two.
While the backstage politics part is understandable to an extent, the racist comments that Hogan slurred out in his sex tape is something entirely different. Though he returned to WWE television recently, the sex tape had a huge impact on Hogan’s image and it still does.
#6 Scott Hall
Scott Hall was a great performer during his prime, period. But at the same time, he was a complete jerk in the locker room. He used to play mind games with the younger wrestlers during his heydays and was very good in playing backstage politics as well.
Chris Jericho once tagged Scott Hall as one of the worst people to be around and has been very vocal about the bad experiences that he had with Hall. He once shared a story about how Hall pissed on Chris Benoit’s cowboy boots and how Hall claimed that none of the fans wanted to see Jericho wrestle.
Along with all these and his alcohol addiction incidents, there are also stories of Hall treating the fans badly. A few years back, he refused to sign an autograph for a terminally ill child and if that doesn’t earn him a spot in this list, I’m not sure what will.
#5 Triple H
Triple H is seen as a revolutionary these days and rightfully so. He is the brain behind NXT and many wrestlers that we see on present day WWE television is there because of Triple H. This is, however, just one side of the story.
Back in the days, Triple H used to go to any extent to protect his ego. Numerous wrestlers have talked out about how Triple H derailed their progress. Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Chyna, Goldberg and Kurt Angle are just some names that called Hunter out for this.
Body shaming Chris Masters, making fun of RVD’s drug issues, holding down CM Punk, bullying Chris Jericho and a long list of other incidents make Triple H worthy of a spot in this list despite his recent clean image.
#4 Bubba Ray Dudley
Bubba Ray Dudley is another one of those backstage bullies that used to pick on younger performers. Randy Orton, Batista, and Dean Ambrose are three huge names that have opened up about the bullying stories of Bubba.
In his book, Batista explained how Bubba used his position in the company to push around rookies while Ambrose gave an account in his book about how Bubba once bullied a girl who was at the gym counter. Ambrose also went on to detail how Bubba mocked Ambrose when they first met in person in the company. Orton, meanwhile, revealed in an interview that Bubba has no work-ethic and that he only cared about himself.
In addition to these, fans rarely have a good opinion about him. Most of them have horrible tales to share about the former Tag team champion with only a handful of exceptional cases citing otherwise.
#3 Randy Orton
While Randy Orton was the victim in the Bubba Ray Dudley story, it wasn’t always the case in Orton’s career. In fact, he was a bully himself for most part of his run as a wrestler.
When it comes to the in-ring work of Orton, there aren’t many wrestlers that can beat his longevity and experience in the business today. He is a respected veteran but outside the ring, it is a different story.
There have been numerous incidents in the past which showcased how much of a jerk Orton is. He is known for bullying wrestlers and fans. Orton’s attitude was so bad that he was discharged from the US Marine Corps for bad conduct. He also has records of multiple suspensions for violating the wellness policy.
When everything is done and dusted, Orton will be remembered as one of the best wrestlers out there but that doesn’t take away the fact that he was a jerk in real life.
The impact that ECW had on the wrestling business was huge. It would also be safe to say that the promotion played a huge role in the rise of WWE during the Attitude Era. Apart from this, ECW was also responsible for giving platform to some memorable performers.
One among this list is Sabu. A true ECW Original, Sabu was one of a kind in-ring performer who went to extreme limits. But outside the ring, Sabu had a bad reputation.
He used to get into confrontations with the fans very often and most of his meet and greet appearance were disappointing outings for the ones that came. There was also an incident where Sabu beat up a fan that accidently touched Sabu’s turban.
The reputation that Sabu had for getting into physical altercations with anyone that pissed him off was and is still notorious.
#1 New Jack
If Sabu got into altercations with people that pissed him off, New Jack was something different altogether. He had a reputation for intentionally hurting people that stepped into the ring with him. New Jack once stabbed his opponent 14-times with a metal blade and spent three week in jail for doing so.
In another incident, he threw off Vic Grimes from a high scaffold during a match. While it can be seen as part of the storyline, New Jack later admitted that he wanted to injure or kill Grime with the stunt.
Let’s not forget the Mass Transit incident as well where New Jack severely injured an under-aged performer called Erich Kulas. New Jack bladed Kulas so badly during one match and ended up severing two arteries in Kulas’ forehead.
Depending on whom you ask, the opinions about other wrestlers in the list might vary. But when it comes to New Jack, we might have a unanimous agreement on how much of a jerk he was in real life.
What do you think of the wrestlers in this list? Also, which are the other wrestlers that should be in this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.