5 WWE Superstars who were accused of backstage politics
With so many high-profile Superstars and personalities involved in WWE, it is inevitable that behind-the-scenes clashes are going to happen.
For example, in August 2018, one former WWE Superstar was supposed to be involved in a big moment at the end of the WWE SummerSlam pay-per-view. However, plans changed at the last minute due to another Superstar making a different suggestion right before the show went on the air.
On another occasion, one of WWE’s most iconic Champions allegedly derailed the careers of two Superstars following differences of opinion backstage.
In this article, let’s find out the full details behind those stories, plus three others, as we take a look at five WWE Superstars who were accused of backstage politics by at least one WWE colleague.
#5 WWE veteran Brock Lesnar
Jon Moxley (fka Dean Ambrose in WWE) made a lot of headlines in 2016 when he claimed on The Stone Cold Podcast on the WWE Network that he was “met with laziness” by Brock Lesnar ahead of their match at WrestleMania 32.
On that occasion, Moxley did not necessarily have an issue with Lesnar’s backstage politics. The former Shield member was more frustrated that his opponent seemed disinterested in the match and he was not very receptive to any of his ideas.
Speaking to PW Torch’s Wade Keller, Moxley told another story about the time that Lesnar politicked his way into getting what he wanted in his match against Roman Reigns at WWE SummerSlam 2018.
WWE’s creative team came up with an idea that would have seen The Shield reunite at the end of the show.
Lesnar then arrived and suggested a different idea, including Braun Strowman but not the rest of The Shield.
“Brock comes in at 6pm and changes everything. And Vince [McMahon] is like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna go with Brock’s idea,’ and it made everybody else look stupid except Brock, and the writers are just sitting there watching it in a room and they’re just like, ‘Come on, we had this great ending to the show.’”
Strowman failed to cash in his Money in the Bank contract after Lesnar threw the briefcase towards the top of the WWE SummerSlam ramp. The Beast then re-entered the ring and walked into a spear from Reigns, who picked up the win.
Moxley said Strowman looked like a “doofus” and he believes Lesnar is the only person who benefited from the chaotic finish.
#4 WWE Superstar Randy Orton
Randy Orton has been accused of using his backstage power in WWE to derail the careers of Mr. Kennedy in 2009 and Kofi Kingston in 2010.
In Mr. Kennedy’s case, Orton allegedly complained that his fellow WWE Superstar injured him while executing a back suplex during a 10-man tag team match on WWE RAW in May 2009.
Kennedy, who was released by WWE later that week and never worked for the company again, confirmed on Sportskeeda’s UnSKripted Q&A series with Chris Featherstone in 2020 that he has since made up with Orton.
As for Kingston, the New Day member botched the finish to a Triple Threat match against Orton and John Cena in January 2010. Kingston was supposed to stay down and receive a punt kick to the head, but he kept getting back to his feet to set up an RKO.
In the end, Orton hit the RKO before repeatedly shouting “Stupid! Stupid!” in the direction of his opponent.
It was widely speculated at the time that Orton made a complaint about the incident backstage, causing Kingston to drop out of WWE’s main-event scene.
Those rumors were confirmed in 2019 when the real-life issue was addressed in the build-up to the WWE Championship matches between Kingston and Orton at WWE SummerSlam and WWE Clash of Champions.
#3 WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels
It is no secret that Shawn Michaels was difficult to deal with backstage in WWE during the 1990s. As one of the top attractions in the company, The Heartbreak Kid allegedly used his backstage power to his advantage on multiple occasions.
One of those occasions came in 1996 when he made a complaint about Vader following their WWE Championship match in the main event of WWE SummerSlam.
Vader was originally supposed to win the title from Michaels at WWE Survivor Series 1996 before dropping it back to his rival at the 1997 WWE Royal Rumble.
Unfortunately, Vader botched two spots in the SummerSlam match and he was replaced in the storyline by Sycho Sid.
Speaking on WWE show The Bump in 2020, Michaels addressed the reputation that he used to have as someone who politicked backstage.
“I will say, certainly for me anyway, ignorance was always bliss for me. I never got, for a guy who had the reputation of politicking, I don't really ever know what's going on for me, company standpoint, how they want to advance. I just don't pay attention to that stuff. It was more, in-ring was my focus.” [H/T Bleeding Cool]
It was also claimed by Bob Holly that Sycho Sid walked out on WWE because he was fed up of Michaels and Kevin Nash’s backstage politics.
#2 WWE Superstar John Cena
While John Cena remains one of the most respected Superstars in WWE, various stories have emerged over the years about him politicking backstage to get what he wants.
Cena’s idea to change the finish of the Team WWE vs. Nexus match at WWE SummerSlam 2010 is often brought up by the 16-time WWE World Champion’s critics.
It has also been speculated for a long time that he had a role in Alex Riley’s push being canceled in 2011.
The rumors were alluded to on WWE television in September 2019 when Roman Reigns subtly implied that Cena sabotaged Riley’s career because they had a similar look.
“Trying to say that I’m the next John Cena? I mean, come on, man. Do I walk, talk or even look like Cena? I don’t know, I don’t have a mirror, but do I look like a jacked-up white guy with a giant head and a military crew cut? Nah. If I did, I wouldn’t have a career here. You don’t believe me? Ask Alex Riley about that.”
Riley responded by hinting that the WWE Universe was starting to “C” what Cena is really like.
Another former WWE Superstar, Tyler Reks, has spoken about the time that Cena yelled at him backstage for using a move that looked similar to the Attitude Adjustment.
#1 WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan
Nobody in the wrestling business has ever been accused of backstage politics more than WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan.
Hogan’s unwillingness to go ahead with certain storyline developments in WWE and WCW can be summed up in six words, “That doesn’t work for me, brother.”
That phrase, which has been attributed to Hogan by the likes of Eric Bischoff and Kevin Nash, has become the stuff of legend over the years – so much so that Becky Lynch even used it in 2019 to respond to a comment from The Hulkster on Twitter.
In a less talked-about example of Hogan getting his own way backstage, WWE icon Bruno Sammartino claimed in an RF Video shoot in 2007 that the six-time WWE Champion politicked his way out of facing him on two occasions in the 1980s.
“Yeah, I think twice. Once I remember for sure… the Civic Center in Wheeling, West Virginia. He didn’t show up. No reason why. He just didn’t show up and Sgt. Slaughter took his place. He knew what kind of shape I was in, even at that age.”
Another famous example of Hogan’s backstage politics came in 1993 when he allegedly refused to drop the WWE Championship to Bret Hart, even though Vince McMahon promised Hart that the title change was going to happen.