7 Times WWE Superstars Were Punished Backstage
Professional wrestling locker rooms are notoriously difficult environments, especially for newcomers. Hazing, harassment, and general bullying are reportedly commonplace. There's an unspoken, unwritten code of etiquette that's easy to run afoul of. Forget to shake someone's hand? Disrespect a veteran by accident? You could be changing outside the locker room for the next month.
Today, WWE is a publicly traded company, and with stockholders come greater scrutiny and regulation. WWE's locker room is allegedly far more professional than it used to be. But not so long ago--especially from 2003-2007--there was an unofficial Wrestler's Court, where the locker room would "try" an accused wrestler for some perceived slight or bad behavior. In theory, this was a straightforward way of settling disputes without coming to blows or getting management involved. In practice, it was often a way to screw with the weak and intimidate those who didn't have backstage clout. The Undertaker served as judge over this kangaroo court. JBL (yeah, that gem) served as prosecutor. And if the defendant was found guilty, that wrestler would be disciplined or hazed.
Here are the seven most notable times that wrestlers were punished backstage (for real) either by the locker room or by management. What did these wrestlers do to deserve punishment, and what was their disciplinary sentence? Read on, and be thankful for your HR department.
7. The Miz Gets Kicked Out Of The Locker Room
The Miz is one of the best WWE superstars working today. He's a former world champion and multi-time Intercontinental champion. His ring work is solid, and his mic skills are unrivaled by anyone on the roster. But at one time, Miz was on the bottom rung of the locker room. He was a former Real World cast member, and he got into WWE by competing on the Tough Enough reality show. And because he didn't "pay his dues" on the indie circuit, he was ripe for targeting.
One day, Miz was eating chicken in the locker room. Unfortunately, he got crumbs on referee Scott Armstrong's bag. Chris Benoit saw this and kicked The Miz out of the locker room. The Miz was forced to change in the hallway, and sometimes, he even changed in the arena's general bathroom, where WWE fans would occasionally catch a glimpse of him.
This continued for over half a year. Then, unexpectedly, Chris Benoit died. And since it was Benoit's call to kick Miz out of the locker room (and thus, his call to let him back in), the Miz was stuck in a sort of punishment limbo. Eventually, the Undertaker noticed what was going on and invited Miz back inside.
6. Muhammad Hassan Picks Up A Bar Tab
The Muhammad Hassan character was so wrong in so many ways. A relatively inexperienced Italian-American wrestler, Marc Copani, played an Arab American who complained about prejudice. It's the sort of "ripped from the headlines" race baiting that WWE is infamous for. And if that's all it was, WWE might have even gotten away from it.
Unfortunately, WWE decided to take things one step further and made Hassan an actual terrorist. On one SmackDown episode, he summoned a gang of ski-masked, camo-wearing followers, who choked the Undertaker with piano wire. This was taped on July 4, 2005, but it aired on July 7--the same day as the London bombings. Under pressure from TV executives, WWE removed Hassan from its programming. But backstage, the locker room hadn't taken well to Hassan either. He was a new guy who rocketed to main event status, which didn't endear him to any of the veteran midcarders.
Hassan's finisher was the Camel Clutch, adopted from the Iron Sheik. When Eddie Guerrero used the move in a match, Hassan was convinced by Kurt Angle to confront Guerrero backstage. Hassan didn't know that Eddie's father, wrestling legend Gory Guerrero, was the one who originated the move. For this disrespect, Hassan was forced to pick up one of the wrestlers' bar tabs in Tokyo, which ran over $2000. According to Hurricane Helms, when Hassan bought shots for the wrestlers that evening, they all simultaneously poured their drinks onto the floor.
5. Melina Breaks Down In Tears
Melina, according to many of her peers, was difficult to work with. The most publicized incident stems from her relationship with fellow wrestler John Morrison. Melina felt that Trish Stratus took her spot at WrestleMania XXVII--the match ended up as John Morrison, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Trish Stratus vs. Dolph Ziggler, Layla, and Michelle McCool--and she got in Morrison's head about it. This resulted in Morrison treating Trish with disrespect the entire weekend, even while they were planning out the match.
But even prior to this, Melina had backstage friction with a lot of wrestlers. In 2006, she was reportedly dragged in front of Wrestling Court to address her stuck-up behavior, including a recent incident with Sharmell. Soon afterwards, MNM--the wrestling stable she was in, along with Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro--broke up. At the time, the gossip was that the Court's "verdict" was a contributing factor to the stable's dissolution. Melina had a tough day in Court; according to Paul London, the wrestlers took bets on how long it would take for her to cry.
4. Crapping in the King's Crown
Jerry "The King" Lawler is an iconic part of WWE, thanks to his '90s feuds with the Hart family and his sexually barbed commentary during the Attitude Era. But Lawler, due to being top draw in the Memphis territories when he was younger, had a massive ego. And The Kliq (the influential backstage group that included Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Sean Waltman) decided to do something about it by taking a crap in the King's crown. Literally. They filled it to the brim.
This sort of thing became such a recurring problem (even the Undertaker was rumored to have crapped in the crown) that according to Raven and the Honky Tonk Man, WWE circulated a memo asking its employees to stop doing it.
3. Enzo Amore Gets Booted Off The Tour Bus
Enzo Amore's entire character was a brash, out-of-control party animal. And according to numerous sources, this "certified G" and "bonafide stud" persona seeped into his real life behavior. Amore had a bad habit of bringing friends backstage, who would take pictures and act disruptively. And multiple people in the company--most notably Corey Graves--outwardly disliked the man and made their feelings known on WWE programming.
In late 2017, Amore was reportedly kicked off a WWE tour bus by Roman Reigns for being loud and obnoxious, which prevented his fellow superstars from getting sleep. When asked about it at the beginning of this year, Amore dodged the question with a middling non-answer:
"You can’t kick me out of someplace I don’t want to be.”
Two weeks later, after a graphic allegation of rape, WWE fired Amore, kicking him off the tour bus for good.
2. Chris Benoit Tortures A Newcomer
When WWE first found out that Chris Benoit, his wife, and his son were found dead in their home, the company decided to cancel Raw and air a three-hour tribute to the former world heavyweight champion. This was a hasty, poorly thought-out decision. Mere hours later, it became clear that Benoit had killed both his wife and son before committing suicide; he hanged himself from a weight machine in his basement.
The Chris Benoit tribute special has never aired again and is not available on the WWE Network. But it's a fascinating document if you can find a copy online. One of the highlights is that many superstars, including CM Punk, Edge, and John Cena, recorded unscripted, personal tributes to Chris Benoit. And Triple H's tribute is particularly interesting; he describes how Benoit punished a new wrestler who was disrespectful to Shawn Michaels:
"Chris made the young wrestler do 1000 squats in a row... the next day when that young wrestler couldn't bend his legs, Chris made him do 500 more."
Back then, Triple H framed this anecdote as an example of how Chris valued respect. With the benefit of hindsight, it takes on a more sinister, sadistic tone.
1. Batista Eats A $100K Fine
The current PG era of WWE means that intentional bleeding, without the expressed permission of management, is strictly forbidden. But many wrestlers, who considered blood a traditional storytelling device, pushed back. And one of those wrestlers was Batista.
In 2008, not long after the "no blood" policy had been implemented, Batista intentionally bled in a steel cage match with Chris Jericho. His logic was that it was an important championship match, where the title would switch hands, and thus, bleeding was the right thing to do for business. But Vince McMahon did not see it that way. He handed out fines. Jericho, Mike Chioda (the referee), and Dean Malenko (the producer) were each fined $5000. And Batista, the man who bladed, was fined $100k.
Batista paid all of the fines. He felt the punishment was overly harsh, and according to him, it was the beginning of the end of his full-time wrestling career. But perhaps it all worked out in the end. Batista is one of the few wrestlers to successfully make the jump to Hollywood. He has Marvel money now, thanks to his role as Drax the Destroyer, and he doesn't need to take bumps off furniture for 12 months out of the year.