Tuesday, February 27

Why WWE Wrestlers Used To Be More Selfish, Explained


  • Accusations of selfishness haunted legendary WWE wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena, reflecting the intense demands of the wrestling industry during their reigns.
  • Financial gain and the preservation of larger-than-life personas contributed to these allegations, as these icons were accused of hindering the rise of emerging talent and consistently positioning themselves in prestigious matches at the expense of others.
  • In a volatile and uncertain industry, the pursuit of success through self-preservation was paramount, with wrestlers using their influence and clout to shape storylines and navigate their careers. Perceived selfishness was a survival strategy in an industry where success was fleeting.

In the hallowed halls of WWE‘s storied past, legends like Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena etched their names in the annals of sports entertainment. Yet, a whispered accusation lingers, a label of selfishness that echoes through the decades. As we delve into the bygone era, where the squared circle was a battleground and fortunes hung in the balance, we uncover a compelling narrative of ambition, rivalry, and the relentless pursuit of glory. These titans, accused of orchestrating their ascent at the expense of others, were not merely wrestlers; they were architects shaping the very foundation of a billion-dollar empire. And if they were seen as selfish, there were many reasons why they had to be.

Many WWE Legends Have Been Called Selfish

The Drive To Main Event WrestleMania

The labeling of iconic wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena as selfish goes beyond mere accusations; it reflects the unique demands and circumstances of the wrestling industry during their reigns. In the intense spotlight of WWE’s grandest stage, WrestleMania, certain wrestling legends faced accusations of selfishness that reverberated through the industry. The allegations against such iconic figures were diverse, reflecting a perceived pattern of behavior that fans and critics alike couldn’t ignore. One of the prominent charges levied against these wrestling titans was their inclination to “bury” emerging talent. Whether through backstage politics, creative influence, or outright resistance to putting others over in high-profile matches, these legends were accused of hindering the rise of potential stars who sought to make their mark in the industry.

The pursuit of financial gain often played a role in the accusations of selfishness. Critics argued that these wrestling icons were more focused on securing substantial paychecks than nurturing the growth of the industry or elevating their peers. Preserving the larger-than-life personas at the expense of others that defined these wrestlers was another dimension of the accusations. The staggering number of main events at WrestleMania attributed to these icons raised eyebrows. It hinted at a trend of consistently positioning themselves in the most prestigious and spotlighted matches, potentially at the expense of others who aspired to headline the marquee event.


WrestleMania Main Events

Hulk Hogan


“Stone Cold” Steve Austin


The Rock


John Cena


RELATED: Top 10 Most Selfish Moments In Modern Wrestling History

Wrestlers Like Hogan And Austin Had To Be Selfish In WWE To Succeed

Brock Lesnar Thanked The Rock For Teaching Him

During the bygone era of professional wrestling, the industry was characterized by an inherent uncertainty that dictated the behavior of its participants. Unlike today’s WWE, which stands as a billion-dollar global phenomenon, the wrestling landscape of the past was still in the process of carving out its identity on the world stage. In this volatile environment, every wrestler with aspirations of stardom was engaged in a relentless pursuit to become the next Hulk Hogan or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. It wasn’t just about winning matches or securing high-profile main events; it was a matter of survival in an industry where success was not guaranteed. Legends like Hogan, with creative control over their characters, wielded influence to shape the trajectory of wrestling promotions, sometimes at the expense of it like in WCW. Steve Austin wasn’t afraid to deviate from the script if he believed a match lacked the necessary narrative depth or financial potential, like when he didn’t show up to a match booked to lose against Brock Lesnar.

Speaking of Lesnar, he actually thanked The Rock on Steve Austin’s podcast for teaching him why it’s important to be selfish in this business. The cut-throat nature of wrestling during this era created an environment where self-preservation was paramount. Wrestlers were not only battling opponents in the ring but also navigating a landscape filled with uncertainties. Stories abound of backstage politics, strategic maneuvering, and wrestlers using their clout to shape storylines that would elevate their status. In essence, perceived selfishness was a survival strategy in an industry where success was fleeting, and the window of opportunity could close as quickly as it opened. While contemporary fans might view these actions as selfish, it’s crucial to recognize that the competitive spirit and drive displayed by wrestlers of the past played a pivotal role in transforming WWE into the global phenomenon it is today.

RELATED: 10 Least Selfish Wrestlers In WWE History

How Wrestlers Got Paid In WWE In The Past

Jonathan Coachman Agrees With Approach


The pay structure of the past added another layer to the wrestlers’ perceived selfishness. Beyond guaranteed salaries, significant bonuses came from merchandise sales and PPV appearances. The main event of WrestleMania, in particular, carried a million-dollar bonus. To secure these bonuses, wrestlers were driven to be selfish, ensuring they remained at the top of the card. In contrast, today’s standardized contracts offer lucrative deals for most wrestlers, with the bonus system seemingly diminished.

Jonathan Coachman, a WWE veteran, argues that calling legends like Stone Cold or The Rock selfish is misguided; in their era, it was the norm and a driving force behind the industry’s success. As he told Chris Van Vliet, “They had to be because everybody fought to get in that spot. If more wrestlers fought today to get in that spot, I think we’d have better storylines. We’d have more competition. We’d have better promos. I really believe that.”

In retrospect, before today’s fans label past WWE icons as selfish they should first have an understanding of the unique challenges and dynamics that shaped the wrestling landscape of their time.

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