5 controversial storylines WWE Superstars refused to do

Stephanie and Shane McMahon (left) and Jeff Hardy with Lita (right)
Stephanie and Shane McMahon (left) and Jeff Hardy with Lita (right)

Several WWE Superstars have refused to take part in controversial storylines in the past.

Many wrestlers have participated in storylines they didn't like. For example, Buddy Matthews (FKA Buddy Murphy) disclosed that he felt uncomfortable kissing Aalyah Mysterio on television during their on-screen romance in 2020. Nevertheless, he eventually did it because it was his job.

However, a few superstars have refused to participate in controversial storylines. These refusals eventually led WWE to drop these angles. Hence, wrestling fans never saw them on television.

Among the slew of controversial storylines over the years, let's explore five that WWE Superstars refused to do.


#5. Ken Shamrock refused to participate in an incest storyline

Ryan Shamrock (left) and Ken Shamrock (right)
Ryan Shamrock (left) and Ken Shamrock (right)

Ken Shamrock joined Vince McMahon's company in 1997 and spent nearly two years there before leaving in 1999. During his time in WWE, The World's Most Dangerous Man feuded with several top superstars, including The Rock, Vader, and Bret Hart.

In an interview with Chris Van Vliet in 2019, Shamrock disclosed that company officials once wanted him to do an incest angle with his kayfabe sister Ryan Shamrock. However, the former Intercontinental Champion refused to do the storyline.

"I know that they wanted to do a storyline where Ryan, who played my sister, wanted me to be in love with her (…) I'm like 'that just don't feel right.' So in my mind with everything that was going on around that with the Bret Hart thing and all of the other things that they were happening around that, it just felt to me like they were trying to ruin The World's Most Dangerous Man. They were trying to kill my character. (…) So I took a stand against that to not let that happen," he said.

The company eventually dropped the storyline after Shamrock refused to do it. Since leaving WWE in 1999, the retired mixed martial artist has competed in a few other promotions including IMPACT Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling.


#4. Jeff Hardy refused to kiss his brother's girlfriend on WWE television

Jeff Hardy refused to kiss his brother's then-girlfriend, Lita, in 2001
Jeff Hardy refused to kiss his brother's then-girlfriend, Lita, in 2001

In the early 2000s, Jeff and Matt Hardy were one of the top tag teams in Vince McMahon's company. However, the two brothers split and feuded for a while in 2001.

In December of that same year, Jeff defeated his brother at Vengeance in a match where Lita was the special guest referee. The former Women's Champion would later side with Jeff in his rivalry with Matt.

As part of the storyline, WWE initially wanted to have Jeff kiss Lita - his brother's real-life girlfriend - on television. However, Matt and Lita refused to do the storyline. In her autobiography, the former Women's Champion revealed more details about the incident.

"The initial plan was for Jeff to kiss me. When Matt saw that on the monitor, he'd get angry and then that would give him more fight in the handicap match. We totally disagreed with that—what would've happened next? Jeff and I would skip off into the sunset as heels? (...) Forget the fact that we were uncomfortable with the storyline—we also felt we'd be making definitive steps with our actions that there would be no turning back from. They kept saying, 'No, no. We think the crowd will pop for it,' but Matt and I put our foot down," she wrote.

Lita also disclosed that Jeff disagreed with the idea and refused to go through with the storyline despite WWE officials trying to talk him into it.

"When Jeff finally got to the building, we told him what was going on. 'I'm not doing that,' he said. 'I'm not kissing my brother’s girlfriend.' They tried talking him into it, but he was adamant. 'No way,' he said. 'I'm not doing it.' They eventually relented, and all Jeff and I did was hug. The whole experience was weird and awkward," she added.

As the three wrestlers turned down the love triangle storyline, WWE took them off television for a few weeks. They later returned as a team again.


#3. AJ Lee turned down the "mental case" storyline

Former WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee
Former WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee

In 2012, WWE wanted AJ Lee to do a storyline in which she would appear as a mental case. The angle would have seen her character hallucinate, kiss a leprechaun, and dance with dinosaurs from outer space in a series of skits.

Nevertheless, the former Divas Champion - who has spoken openly about herself and her mother suffering from bipolar disorder in real life - refused to do the storyline as she found it offensive.

"It felt like it disrespected both me and my mother. It was a joke, but, to me, it wasn't something to laugh at," she told the New York Post.

WWE ended up dropping the storyline. However, the company then took the 35-year-old off television for two months as punishment for not doing the skits. Nearly three years after the incident, Lee left WWE and retired from professional wrestling.


#2. Owen Hart refused to do a love triangle storyline with Debra and Jeff Jarrett

In the late 1990s, Owen Hart joined forces with Jeff Jarrett to form a tag team in WWE. Jarrett's on-screen girlfriend, Debra, then became their manager. Nevertheless, the company later suggested doing a storyline in which Hart would have an on-screen affair with Debra.

In an interview with Sportskeeda Wrestling's Dr. Chris Featherstone, former WWE writer Vince Russo disclosed that Hart turned down the storyline out of respect for his wife, Martha.

"Bro, we had discussed it and I'll never forget, bro, he came up to me at a TV and he just said to me, he goes, 'Vince, this story idea with Debra and everything… bro, the idea of the angle and the story would crush Martha.' Martha would have gotten so upset. 'Vince, I can't do that to my wife.' And, bro, this is Owen telling me. As soon as Owen is telling me, I immediately said to him, 'Okay, bro, then we're not doing it. It's that simple," he said.

In her book "Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart," Martha also revealed that WWE asked her to participate in the storyline before her husband refused to do it.

"They then wanted Owen to have a scripted affair with Debra the valet, a buxom blonde (...) who was supposedly dating Owen's new tag team partner, Jeff Jarrett. The idea was that it would pit the two partners against one another. They went as low as to suggest I get involved by doing an interview for their monthly magazine with reactions to Owen's 'infidelity.' It was sick. Owen didn't consider it for a minute and demanded the entire idea be scrapped," she wrote.

Owen later returned to his old persona, The Blue Blazer. According to Owen's brother, WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart, the company made the former European Champion return to his old gimmick as punishment for his refusal to do the love triangle storyline.


#1. Stephanie McMahon refused to do an incest storyline with her father and brother

Stephanie McMahon and Triple H dated for a few years before tying the knot in 2003. Two years later, The Billion Dollar Princess got pregnant with the couple's first child.

While she was pregnant, Stephanie's father, Vince McMahon, suggested doing a storyline in which he would reveal himself to be the child's father. However, the WWE CBO immediately turned down her dad's suggestion.

After his daughter refused his idea, The Chairman suggested that Stephanie's brother, Shane, could be the one to play the child's father. Nevertheless, the former Women's Champion again refused.

In a DVD titled "McMahon," Stephanie revealed that she did not believe anyone would have found the storyline entertaining.

"I don't know who would find entertainment in a storyline like that," she said.

Vince McMahon eventually dropped the idea. In July 2006, The Billion Dollar Princess gave birth to her eldest daughter, Aurora Rose. She and Triple H later had two other daughters. According to Stephanie, Aurora is currently training to become a wrestler.

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