In wrestling, bad guys do bad things.
We jeer them for it and, in some cases, even throw lemons.
But not all villains are created equal.
In some instances, the worst of the worst have very real (and reasonable) reasons for their treacherous deeds.
Sure, they may have bad attitudes or popular targets, but their motivations make sense.
You may hate the end result, but it's hard to blame them for what they did.
Case in point...
Andre The Giant (1987)
In 1987, Andre the Giant returned to the WWF.
His "reinstatement hearing" was held off camera and apparently only had his longtime nemesis Bobby Heenan present for some reason.
Still, he was reinstated and all was alright. We glossed over the curious Heenan fact and welcomed the big man back nonetheless.
A few weeks later, in a triumphant Piper's Pit, Roddy Piper and Jack Tunney joined together to present Hulk Hogan with a ridiculously big and rickety trophy to honor his third anniversary as WWF Champion.
Following a speech where Tunney called Hogan everything short of
the messiah, Hulk emerged to accept and do a monologue.
Shortly after, Andre stepped out.
He smiled big and said what we all were thinking, "To be champion three years is a long time." That's it. All done. He just needed a second of our time.
There must have been a sale on giant rickety trophies because Andre had his own Piper's Pit award ceremony a week later.
His Tunney speech was a little less of a lovefest than the Hulkster's, but he was thrilled to get it.
Piper turned the microphone to the man of the moment and he said this:
I only have one thing to say."
That's when Hulk Hogan ran out and grabbed the microphone.
I kid you not.
He ran out like his pants were on fire and immediately zoomed in on the give-me-attention-stick.
As Hulk rambled on about his respect for the Giant, it all got tired.
Seconds ticked away.
Hogan was in the spotlight.
So...Andre left. See them all for yourself and tell me Andre didn't have a reason to be mad. Maybe just a little bit...
It was pseudo-scandalous, but ultimately understandable.
I mean, come on.
Andre had said nine words during Hulk's award presentation.
Hogan had recited a short story.
But still, we all smiled and moved on...until Andre The Giant challenged Hulk Hogan.
That's right. After weeks of buildup, in a moment that will live in infamy, the 7'4 monster that had been "undefeated for 15 years" showed up on Piper's Pit to confront the WWF Champion (they both apparently lived there now).
Hearing he was being challenged, Hulk kept begging Andre to stop.
"We're friends, Andre!
He was undefeated for 15 years and challenging the WWF Champion.
What was there to stop?
The guy's right.
Give him a title shot, ya big jerk.
The only heelish moment went down when Bobby Heenan, Andre's new manager, gave Hulk a shot to the arm so the moment would be real.
He instructed his new Giant to rip the Hulkster's shirt off.
He did just that, taking down the Crucifix from his neck as well.
But even that was evaporated when a few weeks later, on an episode of Live with Regis and Kathy Lee, Andre and Heenan would claim that the crucifix was a mistake and they just meant to rip the shirt itself.
So, yeah. We can't even hold that against him.
Throughout the buildup for the match, Hulk repeated that if Andre had come to him man-to-man, he would have given him a title match.
Yet, no one mentions that that's exactly what the Giant did with Bobby Heenan by his side.
What was his answer?
Don't do this."
Waa, waa, waa. Who needs that nonsense?
If you'll give him one, you'll give him one. If not, don't. But let's not pretend that this whole thing was Andre's fault because he hired a new management team. Hogan made it pretty clear that the mere request of a title match would be met with incredulous whining.
Also, why should he have to ask?
Hogan knows what Andre The Giant does for a living.
At no point in three years did Hogan turn to him backstage and go, "Hey.
You, uh, want a shot at the title or something?"
Granted he's not obligated, but it only makes sense if you claim to be such a great friend.
This, of course, ignores the fact that a man who was undefeated in his chosen sport for 15 years wasn't granted a title match.
Guess he needed a new manager.
That he got.
Even Bobby Heenan comes out of this one as a good guy.
Heenan had been the only one at Andre's reinstatement hearing.
The only person who cared about getting this guy back was Bobby?
Why wouldn't Andre side with him?
Plus, in a few weeks, The Brain had done what Andre's past management team couldn't do in three years- get him a WWF title shot. Ha. Take that, Captain Lou.
The Hulkster played the sympathy card for a while - all sad about his friend leaving.
But it wasn't long before he was referring to Andre as "that nasty smelly flea-infested giant" during TV promos.
What a jerk.
The Giant was right to dump his ass.
A year later, he'd end that title reign and go in the history books.
Given all we know now, what would you have done in his position?
Jerry Lawler (1993)
Imagine, if you will, that you're Jerry "The King" Lawler.
WWF signs you to a deal in December 1992 and you're given the royal treatment.
You get a throne on Prime Time Wrestling and everyone pretty much agrees, you're the King.
Hell, you're wearing a crown. You're either a King or insane and since everyone refers to you as "King", it's pretty much understood.
Then, a mere seven months after you join the company, the WWF announces a "King of The Ring" Tournament.
It's a pay-per-view to crown the 1993 King.
Because winning three matches in one night is better than wearing a crown and beating people weekly in Memphis for - oh, I don't know - ever.
Think about it.
If the World Wrestling Federation had a wrestler named "The Chef" and then held a tournament to determine WWF's Top Chef - without inviting "The Chef" to participate - he'd be pretty pissed off too. So what happens at this PPV? Jerry Lawler sits back on a folding chair and watches the show as Bret Hart gets a big red throne, a giant scepter, and a shiny new crown for his victory.
It almost feels as though Jerry is either being forgotten...or worse - mocked.
Now, ask yourself.
What would you do?
I'd probably run out there and beat the hell out of this guy with all his sparkly new majestic toys.
Even if I was even-tempered, if I ran out there to confront the guy and he started calling me "Burger King", then I'd definitely beat him stupid.
So when Bret did just that, he had all this coming and more...
Can you blame him?
Sure, your heart can go out to Bret.
He's just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But his taunting when the real King arrived served no purpose other than to put a bulls eye on his own head that said, "Hey Jerry - swing the throne here."
Don Muraco (1986)
For years, we all booed Roddy Piper.
He was the baddest of the bad.
But when he returned to fight Adrian Adonis in 1986, all was forgiven.
Adonis, after all, dressed like a girl and had a microphone made of flowers.
So - ehhh - he's out.
In an angle that I could never imagine happening today, Piper was the hero as he fought to take the cross-dressing Adorable Adrian off the air.
A barrage of tranny jokes complete with big underwear all played a part in the quest to take down the "Flower Shop" and bring back "Piper's Pit".
So, Roddy challenged the Adorable one to a talk show battle.
Think Battle of the Bands without bands...and big cardboard walls instead.
Side by side, the two shows - complete with guests - would battle and only one would survive.
Adonis, joined by Jimmy Hart, would be interviewing "the super bodyguard of 1995" Bob Orton.
At least, he would try to.
Hot Rod continously strolled over to stir up trouble and poke fun at his evil nemesis.
After all, no one wants to see the Flower Shop when Piper's Pit was next door.
So we headed next door to Kilt Corner where Piper introduced his guest - Don Muraco.
With Adorable Adrian, Cowboy Bob, and Jimmy Hart breathing down your neck, what would you do in The Hot Rod's spot?
Would you insult Don Muraco, call him fatso, and go off on an anti-cross-dressing tirade?
Well, you ain't Roddy.
Piper did all of that. Furry and happy, Don was smiling when he walked on set.
He clutched his jacket as Roddy started his Q & A by saying, "I would like to thank him for, while I've been gone, doing a tremendous job of imitating me."
Poor Muraco was so flustered that he stuttered his next few words, a point that the Scotsman took time to mock.
From there, he ripped into Don's clothing choice.
Things weren't going too magnificent for Muraco and when Adonis interrupted, the focus shifted off him completely.
This enraged the Hawaiian Beach Bum.
He screamed about how this interview time was supposed to be his and he was right.
He accused Piper of turning the show into a cartoon.
Again, he was right.
That's when the debate turned political and the subject of accepting people came up.
In a scene that is completely opposite of today's political correct climate, Muraco - the bad guy - made the case that Adrian, as an American, had the right to dress any way he wanted to while Roddy argued that he didn't want his children to see a man dressed like a woman on TV.
At this point, the tone was raised, but still civil.
Then, Roddy made things personal.
"Let me tell you something, fatso!"
Adonis walked over and a shocked Muraco asked Roddy who he was calling "fatso".
Hot Rod smirked, looked at both men, and said, "Take your choice!"
At this point, it must have been like, "Yo.
F**k this guy."
Because they just beat him down.
I get that maybe Adrian Adonis and Roddy Piper had history, but what did Don Muraco do that was so bad?
He came on as an interview guest and was insulted four times before he finally beat the host up.
It's like Roddy was begging for an ass kicking. Did he not realize there were three big guys hovering around him as he made wise cracks? Did he have an alternate plan for how all this would end in his head?
Personally, I can't imagine going into this situation with his game plan and expecting it to go any other way. He had this one coming and you can't fault Don at all.
We've all had some bad bosses in our lives.
Maybe he stiffs you on commission or overtime.
Maybe she yells at you in front of other employees.
That sort of stuff can get under the skin of any diligent worker, looking to collect their paycheck and move on.
Now imagine, if you will, your boss invited a major sales celebrity like Zig Ziglar to the office in hopes that he would work to help market the business.
Your boss introduces Ziglar as "the best salesman in the world."
So you, upset at the snub, crash the meeting, give Zig the finger, and then push him into his entourage.
Would you do that?
If you did, would you expect to be employed after that?
If you are employed after that, wouldn't your boss be justified in sending your desk to the basement and throwing things at you each morning?
Yeah he would.
So what did Stone Cold Steve Austin expect when he arrived on that fateful 1998 Raw where Mike Tyson was standing grin to grin with Vince McMahon?
Jilted over McMahon's claims that Tyson was "the baddest man on the planet", ol' Stone Cold showed up, flipped the bird, and got into a shoving match with Mike.
All the time, poor Mr. McMahon, watching his PR stunt evaporate before his eyes, was screaming, "You ruined it!
You ruined it!"
You couldn't help but feel for the still-unevil Mr. McMahon.
This is the guy's business.
He put his heart and soul into building it and now, an employee comes out and tries to mar a big publicity stunt because he's offended over word play?
Once Steve won the WWF Title, McMahon tried to make nice.
He had Austin dress up in a suit and work on fitting in.
It seemed like the two adults had finally settled their dispute and Vince had the champion he wanted.
At long last, everyone could smile and be happy at work...
...or so we thought.
In a sentence that you don't see every day -
the new champion ripped his clothes off and punched Vince McMahon in the balls.
From there, Stone Cold did everything to this poor guy.
He ruined his shiny sports car.
He attacked his children.
He sprayed McMahon's expensive ring with a beer truck.
He even kidnapped him for an entire two hours, with no one coming to help, and tormented him with what he later learned was a toy gun.
When the elderly Vince lost control of his bladder and peed himself at the thought of having his brains blown into the third row by a disgruntled employee, Austin held him up and had a good laugh.
What would you have done?
Personally, I would have fired him.
If not, I would have killed him. That said, I never understood the motivation Vince had to keep him employed.
I know that the idea was that McMahon would be able to make money off of him if he stays in the WWF, right?
Well, how would he make money off of Stone Cold if he manages to bash his head in with a chair?
Seemed like a lot of work that could have been avoided with a simple Fed Ex package and "best luck in your future endeavors" chain letter. It would have saved him some beatings.
Sid Justice (1992)
It's been 19 years and I still have no idea why Sid was supposed to be the bad guy when he fought Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VIII.
Sid Justice joined the WWF in 1991 and immediately showed what side he was on.
The somewhat mentally unstable hero held court as special referee at SummerSlam and then found time to save Elizabeth from Jake Roberts following her on-air wedding.
He was like Superman, if Superman was the type of guy who'd stab Arn Anderson with a pair of hotel scissors.
Either way, though, Sid was a good guy.
That's why when he was named to the 1992 Royal Rumble, an event to crown the new WWF Champion, he was a favorite.
The match was billed - as always - as "every man for himself.
That's the whole deal with the Rumble.
No one works together and even partners turn on each other after having to pretend they love one another all year long.
So when Sid found himself at the end with Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, one thing was certain.
He had to toss them both out and win the gold.
So he waited.
When Hulk had Flair nearly out, Justice came from behind and dumped him to floor.
Fair enough. Now the remaining two could fight it out.
Not quite, actually.
Although we had been reminded for months that the show was to be a free-for-all, Hulk never got the memo.
The former Champion complained from ringside and seemed to be playing the sore loser role.
Then, in a moment that should have made Hulk a top villain, he grabbed Justice by the hand and held on while Ric tossed him to the floor.
What a douche.
But Sid was cool.
He'd just wait his turn and get the title match against Ric Flair at WrestleMania.
After all, he was the last in the ring with Naitch and had it not be for the intervening palm of Hulkamania, we'd all be at the Big Sid congratulations party right now.
But guess what.
Go on guess.
You know already.
WWF President (and card carrying Hulkamaniac) Jack Tunney declared that Hogan would be challenging Flair for the strap.
Even worse, he did this at a press conference where he forced Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Undertaker and Sid to attend and watch.
Afterwards, he took turns kicking each of them in the nuts.
So, what happens next?
Well, in wrestling, the two guys with brewing issues are forced to team up.
That's what happened on Saturday Night's Main Event.
Hulk and Sid joined forces to square off with The Undertaker and Flair.
In the prematch interview, Sean Mooney began by talking to Justice.
He spoke of the big moment that had come and then, just as the scorned Rumble runner-up was about to speak, Mooney pivoted and put the microphone in Hogan's face.
I told you.
He genuinely pivoted on one foot and did all but slap Sid Justice in the face as he did.
When a frustrated Sid left the area, no one even noticed.
When the big tag match turn finally happened, Big Sid didn't even attack the Yellow and Red glory hog.
He simply left him in the ring.
Laughing in the face of Brutus Beefcake and the fans who protested, Justice walked to the back and so ended his time waiting for the Hulkster to toss him a crumb.
Check it out:
Long before the Internet, there were few places to get wrestling news and talk. So, I'd stay up until 3am and listen to Rick Mancuso's wrestling show on WFAN radio.
I remember a caller that night asking a question that I myself had:
"Why is Sid the bad guy in this?
Did you see what Sean Mooney did?
Did you see what happened at the Royal Rumble?
I'd turn on Hogan too."
Good point, anonymous radio caller from my distant memory.
I would too.
A few weeks later, Brutus Beefcake - Hulk Hogan's fragile faced friend - brought Sid on to his "Barber Shop" to discuss the incident.
After badgering Justice about his obvious reasons for attacking the Hulkster, Beefcake was shocked when the cackling psycho exploded and destroyed his set.
Come on, Barber.
It's a no brainer.
As Justice swung chairs and broke bottles, Brutus ran for the hills and I couldn't help but wonder what other result he was expecting from this unfortunate guest booking.
Check out the press conference and Barber Shop destruction. Then ask yourself whether you would have been able to stop yourself from smashing up all of Brother Brutai's fruity little shampoos:
At the end of all this, the matches were changed and we got Sid Justice vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania.
Sid ended up being one of the few to escape the event without being pinned by Hogan and even managed to kick out of the legdrop in the process.
Take your pick of puns - Justice was served? Sid Justified? You name it.
The Rock (1997)
You people treated The Rock like crap.
You should be ashamed.
Sure, he had foofy hair and a Double J-looking neck streamer thing going, but Rocky Maivia wanted you to like him.
He needed it.
Look at the smile.
He was dying for it.
Sadly, it wasn't easy.
I mean, look at this.
The guy wasn't exactly a barrel of monkeys.
The grinning son of a Soul Man eagerly threw dropkicks and went after villains like Hunter Hearst Helmsley, but still, you booed.
Signs sprung up that said "Die, Rocky, Die".
So it makes you wonder how stupid all of us were to be shocked when he turned villainous and blamed the fans.
The strangest part was that this glossy eyed foof head had finally come into his own as a villain.
He must have met someone at a Nation of Domination Party who urged him to get a buzz and drop the shocking blue trunks.
He even formed a mutiny and became the NOD leader.
That says a lot.
Our little Rocky wasn't dead.
He was growing up.
Hell, after that "evil decision", he even learned to do that eyebrow thing and pause before hitting his elbow drop.
All because we sent him away.
You're welcome, Rocco.
(most of the 1980s)
Nikolai Volkoff was from Russia
That was his home
Luckily, the monster got a work visa and was able to grace all the capitalist pigs with his wrestling ability.
In return, he asked one thing.
Let him sing the Soviet National Anthem.
If you can, stand for it.
If not, it's cool.
But just let him sing.
Know who let him sing?
No one let the guy sing.
The fans would boo relentlessly, which was alright.
It was expected.
But what about the announcers?
What right did Gorilla Monsoon have to critique this proud countryman's singing as he honored his homeland prior to competing?
Volkoff would be two lines in and Monsoon would say, "Brain, is this guy for real?"
Even the sound guy would start playing Nik's opponent's theme music during it sometimes. Talk about disrespect.
Know how we know he never made it all the way through?
Because I found a video of him actually doing it.
Rarely, if ever, did we get it all.
At the end of the day, the dude liked singing and the Soviet Union.
Let him sing.
Think of it as a variety show.
He just enjoys it.
As he does here at something titled "Page's Stag":
Now let's hear Hacksaw Jim Duggan sing America The Beautiful.
Judge not Nikolai's singing lest we be judged ourselves. The poor guy just wanted to entertain you.
CM Punk (2011)
CM Punk is a role model.
He doesn't drink, smoke, do drugs, or any of those other vices that Sean O'Haire warned you about.
Not only that, but the former World Champion has made his mission to help others.
During his time on Smackdown, Punk mentored Serena and Luke Gallows.
He gave them sobriety, TV time, and free haircuts.
While all this was going on, Wade Barrett, the winner of NXT Season One, tried to emulate him.
He took the other NXT hopefuls under his wing and attempted to take down the WWE Champion John Cena.
The only problem was that Wade didn't have the experience Punk had.
He didn't know how to organize his group and as time went on, Cena ended up getting the better hand.
Once Barrett was vanquished, CM stepped up.
Following John Cena's brutal beating of Wade, Punk emerged to do the same to him.
Swinging a chair to make his point, CM smashed WWE's Golden Boy - a role that the evil Mr. McMahon was jeered for hoping to have in 1998 - and took over as leader of the group.
His first official act was to make each man earn his spot in the group through a series of tests.
They all passed except for two - Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel.
The two were instructed to beat each other with sticks.
When they refused, Punk stepped back and offered them the opportunity to swing at him.
Surprised, they both dropped their weapons and walked away.
If the sign of a true leader was one willing to do what he asked others to, then CM Punk proved that's what he was.
Add to that the fact that he mentored the original Nexus outcast Darren Young - so he know what a weirdo he is too - and they have something to bond over.
So, in all of this, CM Punk is the bad guy.
The benevolent leader of the new Nexus, complete with a stable of young stars learning each day, preaches to all of us how we can exist without dangerous vices yet we still boo.
He's a satchel of presents shy of being Santa Claus in WWE, yet we all condemn him for it.
Maybe he is better than all of us after all.
The Four Horsemen (1989)
I don't know who taught Sting about wrestling alliances, but he has the idea all wrong.
In 1989, the Stinger became a member of the fabled Four Horsemen group.
Alongside Ric Flair, Ole "Infamous Interview" Anderson, and Double A Arn Anderson, Sting finally joined the mean boys and did his best to lead them right.
At the time, Flair was World Champion and the facepainted hero from Venice Beach was hungry for gold.
So hungry, in fact, that when he was given a title shot against Ric, he chose to keep it.
It was a stable faux pas. So, the quartet came to the ring and had a pow-wow on television about it for all to see.
Ole gave the Stinger his thoughts on the situation including a history lesson of how we had all gotten to the point we were at.
Anderson explained that the day he signed on to face Ric Flair was the day that Sting signed his death warrant.
He made one last attempt to get the contender to relinquish his shot or else there would be dire consequences. Again, the eager challenger refused.
So then what?
These new buddies of his - all lead by Ric Flair - were supposed to stand by and watch him challenge the leader for his title?
Did he not understand that part of his membership to the group included - I don't know - not fighting other people in it?
Did he think that Arn Anderson didn't get a title shot at Flair all those years was because he just couldn't rise up the top ten contendership ladder in the past half-decade?
He didn't challenge the leader of his group because they're in the same group. What possible benefit would this alliance have for Flair if the people in it could challenge him whenever they wanted? What would be the point? Get with the program, Sting.
But alas - no program was gotten with.
Instead, the man who would one day be Crow refused to give up his shot at Flair's shiny gold belt.
If that's how he thought alliances worked, then maybe he never was a Horsemen all along.
Makes sense, right?
Maybe when I say it.
But not when the Horsemen say it. People boo when the Horsemen say it.
The craziest part of all this is that the Horsemen let the guy live at first.
This wasn't an Evolution-style Randy Orton beating.
They didn't just jump him the second he made his intentions known.
The group gave him a chance.
Hell, they even took the time out of their schedules to explain to this rookie how things work with wrestling alliances.
They did all but ask pretty please with cream and sugar on top and this surfer dude still couldn't get the message through his head - Horsemen don't challenge other Horsemen!
If you do, you're out of the Horsemen.
If you're out of the Horsemen, then the Horsemen beat you up.
It makes perfect sense to me.
Should have made sense to Sting too.
In the end, it was the circle of horselife and no one could fault The Nature Boy for doing what we all assumed was Standard Operating Horsemen Procedures.
After the attack, Sting went on to form his own babyface stable with Paul Orndorff, Lex Luger, Junkyard Dog, and The Steiners called "Dudes With Attitudes".
Luckily for the others, the Stinger didn't decide to fight them too.
As we've seen, he doesn't really get the whole "alliance" thing.
Owen Hart was Bret Hart's little brother and everyone reminded him.
He was in the "New Foundation" and even had a blue rocket-themed version of Bret's wrestling attire.
That's who he was.
Bret Hart was Owen's older brother and it wasn't mentioned much.
He was the glorious Champion who always had accolades thrown his way.
But they both worked in the same place.
Their paths crossed now and then when a new heel like Razor Ramon wanted to send the champ a message by beating Owen down, but other than that - not much.
They did their own thing and Owen's thing was sort of down on the card.
When Survivor Series 1993 rolled around, justified from King of The Ring, Jerry Lawler (later to be subbed by Shawn Michaels) challenged Hart's family to an elimination match.
As the bout built up, so did the scrutiny of Owen's place on the totem pole.
Watch the foreshadowing here as Shawn Michaels points out the favoritism during an appearance on Reo "Listen To My Dusty Rhodes Impression" Rogers' Show:
Now if Owen didn't already feel slighted, how about the fact that one of the few times his brother would be teaming with him would be with all the other brothers?
Joined by Bruce and Keith, Owen was just another part of the team.
The Rocket had been working hard with WWF for years.
Keith was a fireman or some nonsense like that.
That had to suck.
Even worse was that Owen ended up being the only one eliminated from his team.
So when the Harts finally emerged victorious, there was no little brother in sight.
Did that stop glory hog Bret?
The Hitman climbed the ropes and raised his arms in victory.
Frustrated, little brother ran back to the ring and yanked the heartless Hitman down.
To Bret's credit, he tried to quell the situation.
He agreed to team up with his increasingly angry brother at the Royal Rumble.
The duo would challenge the Quebecers for the WWF Tag Team Title.
Finally, Owen would get some of that Bret glory rubbing off.
With The Hitman on his team, he would probably win.
After all, he's the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be...
...unless his knee hurts.
If his knee hurts, he'll crumble and hold it until the referee stops the match. Yup. That's what happened.
Talk about a boiling point.
Picture being Owen Hart.
Your brother has beaten giants and toppled kingdoms.
He was all healthy at Survivor Series.
No leg pain there.
He was feeling great.
His leg was healthy enough to hoist him on the turnbuckle to celebrate while you sat in the back mending your wounds.
Now - NOW - when you have him in your corner to challenge for the titles, he falls apart?!
So Owen kicked him in the leg.
Now, I'm not sure I would have kicked my brother in the leg in this situation, but I probably would have been mad.
Not saying it was the right thing to do - just saying I understand.
Plus, they're a wrestling family.
That's how they handle business, I imagine.
They kick each other in the leg.
At WrestleMania, Owen would go on to beat his brother cleanly in the opener before watching Bret win the World Title in the main event.
After all the years with a rocket on his tights, Owen strapped one on his back and went on to have one of the best years ever.
Given the outcome that Owen had, I might reconsider what I said about not kicking my brother's leg after all.