Professional wrestling always brings entertainment inside the ring, but often the most controversial moments take place outside the squared circle, normally revolving around real life. The personalities are so varied and the egos are often so large that there is always room for conflict and a little controversy.
10 Most Controversial Wrestlers In AEW History, Ranked
Whether it be backstage issues, allegations, or other forms of controversy, there have been several AEW wrestlers who have been most controversial.
It’s something that keeps fans on their toes and also leads to them continuing to come back consistently. There’s been a lot of major moments in wrestling throughout the past year, many of which got people talking, which is often good for the business, even if everything isn’t always positive.
10 Jon Moxley Works Injured
He Competed While Concussed
- The match happened on AEW: Dynamite – Grand Slam
- Fenix defeated Moxley for the TNT Championship
- Moxley suffered a concussion early in the match
Health and safety are paramount in professional wrestling, but sadly that wasn’t the case when Jon Moxley competed against Rey Fenix for the TNT Championship. Moxley got rocked early on in the match with a knee to the head, and he suffered a legitimate concussion because of it.
It was evident that he wasn’t 100%, but that didn’t lead to the match stopping. Instead, Moxley continued competing with the official not pulling for this to stop, which was the wrong call and a controversial situation.
9 NWA Brings In Drugs
It Potentially Cost The Company A TV Deal
- Father James Mitchell and his entourage did ‘drugs’ in a segment on the show
- It took place on October 28
- The segment upset higher-ups at CW
NWA has slowly been putting together some entertaining moments and matches as the company attempts to grow and compete with the rest. It had been reported that a television deal with CW was coming, but then one spot that saw Father James Mitchell using drugs brought an end to that.
The segment reportedly had such an impact that the TV deal was scrapped, with NXT now set to air on CW instead. It was a hugely controversial decision, and one that could have been very costly for the company.
8 What’s In A Number?
AEW’s All In Attendance Got People Talking
- All In is AEW’s highest-attended show of all time
- It was AEW’s first show in England
- The event was headlined by MJF vs. Adam Cole
One of the biggest events of the year was AEW’s All In, which saw the company head overseas and to England for the first time. Tony Khan took a big swing by having the event happen at Wembley Stadium, and it more than paid off for the company.
5 Best Booking Decisions From AEW All In 2023 (& 5 Worst)
AEW All In at Wembley Stadium is in the history books, highlighted by both good and bad booking decisions.
However, coming out of it there was controversy regarding how many fans were in attendance. AEW had claimed there were 81,035 people, but a turnstile count stated it was 72,265, with a big controversy taking place based on what the truth was.
7 Tony Khan’s Twitter Fingers
Khan Held Nothing Back
- His tweets took place on October 10
- He took shots at Shawn Michaels being bald
- Took shots at John Cena and The Undertaker’s legacy
Tony Khan has never been known for holding back his thoughts on matters, and in a lot of ways that makes him refreshing to fans. However, there are many times when he ends up causing controversy due to how wild he can get, and the night AEW: Dynamite and NXT went head-to-head this year was an example of that.
Khan was tweeting constantly throughout the night, taking shots a WWE, Vince McMahon, and anyone he wanted to. While it was entertaining for the fans, the problem was that it wasn’t a professional look, which isn’t good for the company.
6 Cody Rhodes Doesn’t Finish The Story
He Lost At WrestleMania 39
- They headlined night two of the event
- Rhodes won the Royal Rumble to earn the match
- Reigns returned following Bloodline interference
One of the biggest matches of the year was Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39 for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. People naturally felt it would be the crowning moment for Rhodes and he would finish the story, but shockingly it was Reigns who got the win.
The result here divided fans massively, with some believing it was the right time to crown a new face of the company, while others felt Reigns had more left in the tank as champion.
5 Ric Flair Joins AEW
It Wasn’t A Popular Decision
- He debuted on AEW: Dynamite 10/25/23
- He was a ‘gift’ from Tony Khan to Sting
- Flair claimed he was going to be part of Sting’s final months as an active wrestler
Ric Flair is a legendary figure in professional wrestling due to what he’s done inside the ring, and nothing can take away from that fact. However, he is an extremely controversial person due to situations outside the ring, largely due to the Plane Ride From Hell episode of “Dark Side Of The Ring.”
WCW: 5 Best Ric Flair Moments As The Leader Of The Four Horsemen (& 5 Worst)
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair had his ups and downs as the leader of The Four Horsemen.
Tony Khan had taken shots at other people for similar behavior to what Flair has been questioned of, which is one of the reasons this was so controversial. While Khan has claimed it is Flair’s Woo Energy drink paying the company, it still wasn’t a good look.
4 CM Punk’s AEW Departure Was Messy
He Was Involved In Another Backstage Fight
- CM Punk was involved in a backstage altercation at All In
- Tony Khan feared for his life during this moment
- Punk was fired with cause from AEW
CM Punk’s entire wrestling career has been filled with pockets of controversy, and his spell with AEW was certainly filled with that. This was particularly true in 2023 when reports came out about him banning certain people from being involved in AEW: Collision, as he then stopped Jack Perry from using real glass in a spot.
That ultimately led to Perry taking a shot at Punk during All In, and the two then had a physical altercation backstage. This all unfolded in front of Tony Khan who feared for his life and opted to fire Punk, which was a huge talking point.
3 Vince McMahon Makes His Return
He Returned To Become Chairman Again
- McMahon had semi-retired
- He stepped down following controversies
- He got back onto the board once again
Vince McMahon has been a hugely controversial individual in wrestling throughout his time in the business, but that has been clear as of late. He decided to return to the board after stepping down this year, simply to ensure that a sale took place.
He wasn’t going to approve of any sale unless he was brought in as Executive Chairman of WWE, which was likely done for selfish gains. It was another poor decision in what has been a difficult saga for the company.
2 Hell Freezes Over
CM Punk Returned To WWE
- He returned at Survivor Series: WarGames
- Punk confirmed himself for the Royal Rumble
- Punk was last in WWE in 2014
CM Punk returning to WWE is something that nobody ever expected to happen considering the controversy that surrounded his initial departure. However, that happened at Survivor Series: WarGames, which nobody saw coming, especially because of his issues with Paul Levesque.
10 Facts You Need To Know About CM Punk’s Tattoos
There’s no hotter name right now in wrestling than CM Punk, so let’s take a look at WWE’s newest returning legend’s tattoos and their meanings.
Even though the fans were very happy to see Punk back in WWE, that wasn’t the case with everybody in the company. Several wrestlers such as Seth Rollins have been outspoken about him returning, which added to the controversy.
1 WWE Is Sold
Something Nobody Saw Coming
- A deal was announced on April 3
- WWE has merged with UFC
- Vince McMahon is the Executive Chairman of TKO Group Holdings
The majority of wrestling fans presumed that WWE would never be sold, with most fans expecting that Vince McMahon would remain in control until he passed away when it would then be handed down to his family. However, due to scandals in McMahon’s personal life, his hand was effectively forced.
This led to him selling the company to Endeavor, which led to the merger between WWE and UFC. It’s a partnership nobody expected, and was one that certainly got the wrestling world talking.