Here’s an understatement: WWE is a pretty big company. They’re worth billions in market share in today’s time, and they’ve been the kingpins of wrestling for decades now. Vince McMahon started pulling the strings from behind the scenes after buying this company from his father and he placed the right bets most of the time. That’s what earned him his fortune, but it wasn’t always a smooth road.
Every company has disputes, including WWE. Sometimes these fights took more than just a talk to resolve, including lawsuits, and making other tough decisions with the wrestlers on the other end coming up short.
10 Zack Ryder
Earlier this year, Matt Cardona tried to trademark his WWE ring name “Zack Ryder.” According to him, WWE had let it lapse, so Cardona tried to gain rights to it because he wanted to do a cinematic match between Ryder and Cardona and also use it for merch purposes.
But when he tried to obtain a trademark, WWE fought with him, so he dropped it.
9 Jesse Ventura
Jesse Ventura and Hulk Hogan were once on good terms until Ventura found out during a trial that Hogan had ratted him out about his union plans to Vince McMahon before WrestleMania 2. When McMahon got the word of it, he told Ventura to never bring this up again, or he’d be fired.
Ventura did later become part of a union due to his role in Predator, through the Screen Actors Guild, and got his health insurance (which he had lost some years back).
8 Larry Zbyszko
Back in 2001, Larry Zbyszko was in talks with WWE about a potential match with Chris Jericho. Both wrestlers had adopted the moniker of “Living Legend.” After the match plans fell through, Larry decided to sue WWE over the moniker’s usage.
Larry claimed that he owned the trademark to this nickname, which turned out to be a lie, and on top of that, it wasn’t even his own nickname. He took it from Bruno Sammartino. The lawsuit didn’t help Zbyszko at all, but WWE and Chris still decided to drop the Living Legend moniker and all the merch associated with it.
Raven, Kanyon, and Mike Sanders filed a lawsuit against WWE to challenge wrestlers’ independent contractor status. Unfortunately for them, U.S. District Judge Peter Dorsey dismissed the case after WWE filed a motion to dismiss the suit.
Raven later said that “the judge was in Vince’s pocket,” something Chris Jericho also said.
6 The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior may not have been popular among his coworkers, but he was a legend in the business. Warrior was at one point one of the most over wrestlers in the world.
Fans remember that in 1991, he tried to hold up Vince for more money by threatening to not show up at SummerSlam 1991. McMahon agreed to pay him $500k for working WrestleMania 7, but right after SummerSlam, he handed him a letter notifying him of his suspension instead.
5 The Concussion Lawsuit
A lot of wrestlers were once involved in a class action lawsuit against WWE that claimed that WWE didn’t tell wrestlers about the risks of concussions, which led to these wrestlers suffering long-term head injuries and other disabilities.
The original lawsuit was dismissed in 2018, but it was appealed and later that was also dismissed. Konstantine Kyros, the lawyer who represented all the wrestlers, took the case to the Supreme Court who decided not to hear about it.
4 Doink The Clown
More lawsuits related to brain injuries were filed against WWE. This time it was the widow of the original Doink the Clown (Matt Osborne), who claimed that his overdose death in 2013 was a result of repeated head traumas suffered during his WWE career.
Another similar suit was filed by Viscera’s girlfriend. Both of these suits were dismissed.
3 Bret Hart
At this point, most wrestling fans are aware of the Montreal Screwjob incident, which took place at Survivor Series 1997. Bret Hart had tried to go against Vince McMahon’s wishes (although he had given in to Hart’s demands) to retain his belt in Montreal.
Only a handful of people knew about the screwjob because it was such a big deal. This was one of the popular examples of McMahon getting his way and not letting his wrestlers win against him.
2 Jeff Hardy
This one’s a bit of a glass-half-full or half-empty kind of situation. Some would say that Jeff Hardy got what he wanted by walking out during a match in a live event and getting fired.
WWE wanted him to go to rehab because they assumed it was a drug-related issue for obvious reasons and later released him when he didn’t agree. This might have been his plan all along, but at the same time, he lost a job and hurt his image because most fans sided with WWE for this one.
1 David Schultz
For many fans, David Schultz was the wrestler who protected kayfabe when he slapped John Stossel. According to him, even McMahon encouraged him to teach Stossel a lesson, but when the lawsuit happened, McMahon left him out to dry.
He asked Schultz to take the blame for the whole thing and was even pressured into admitting this. Schultz didn’t flinch, he stood his ground and in the end, it got him blackballed from wrestling.