The dreaded term “backstage heat” is used in WWE when a Superstar does something to upset their colleagues or somebody in management.
For example, it was reported by Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp in June 2020 that Rob Gronkowski had backstage heat after his reluctance to jump off a platform at WrestleMania 36 caused a two-hour filming delay.
The former 24/7 Champion returned to the NFL after his short-lived WWE run, so we may never know what was planned for the next stage of his WWE career.
Unlike Gronkowski, many Superstars remain with WWE after garnering backstage heat and, as we’re about to discuss, they have gone on to have mixed experiences after inadvertently developing a bad reputation for themselves early on in their careers.
In this article, let’s take a look at five WWE Superstars who had heat with other wrestlers in developmental.
#5 Baron Corbin had heat before he was on WWE’s main roster
Before Baron Corbin became one of the top bad guys on WWE RAW and WWE SmackDown, he had to learn how to wrestle in the Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) territory.
Although the 2019 King of the Ring winner grew up as a WWE fan, he did not have any experience in the pro wrestling/sports entertainment business prior to joining FCW. This led to Corbin (real name Thomas Pestock) being given the nickname “Football Tom” by his colleagues.
Various stories about Corbin’s backstage heat in developmental have been told on Corey Graves’ After The Bell podcast, including the time he turned up to a promo class with $20,000 in cash following rumors that he had lots of money.
Graves, who used to share a car with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, was one of the first people to realize that Corbin was not as bad as WWE’s next generation of Superstars thought.
“I remember going, ‘Guys, I think Football Tom… he might not be so bad.’ ‘Wait, what are you talking about?’ Rollins going, ‘What, no way?’ ‘No, he was asking about how we survived in the indies,’ and that was kind of all any of us wanted [Corbin to show he was serious].”
Roman Reigns admitted in another interview on the podcast that he would not have believed anyone if they told him in FCW that he and “Football Tom” would main-event WWE shows one day.
“He rubbed us a certain way, and when push came to shove and it was time for him to get in the ring, they were like, ‘Dude, you’re going to get fired if you don’t get in the ring.’ He picked it up, he’s a big guy, he’s got good timing... I’ll give him that.”
Fortunately for Corbin, he was able to win over WWE’s rising Superstars and he has gone on to establish himself as a key member of WWE’s main roster since leaving NXT in 2016.