D.T.A.: 15 Superstars You Can't Trust
Three simple letters — “D.T.A.” — speak volumes. “Don’t trust anybody,” “Stone Cold” Steve Austin used to exclaim during times of extreme stress and paranoia (for example, when Rikishi targeted Austin in a vehicular hit-and-run).
But you don’t have to be “Stone Cold” to live by the DTA motto. WWE is a tough place to survive, never mind thrive, and backstabbing and double-dealing are all part of the game for a certain group of cutthroat competitors. Some Superstars boast such lengthy résumés of deception that they belong in a class of their own. Therefore, WWE.com obliges them with this list of The 15 Least Trustworthy Superstars.
You won’t find Austin here, even though D.T.A. is thoroughly an “Austinism.” Sure, “Stone Cold” himself more than dabbled in trickery. At the end of the day, though, Austin was, perhaps surprisingly, a largely dependable fellow. (Case in point, the time he saved Stephanie McMahon from being forced to marry The Undertaker.)
Several of the Superstars listed among The 15 Least Trustworthy are ring athletes that you want to believe in and want to have faith in. Others are likely Superstars who you outright disdain. All of their records, however, would suggest that it’s best to approach judiciously, and always keep your back to the wall.
Let there be no doubt that The Miz is a toxic Superstar who's as capable of achieving great success as he is at tarnishing the good name of any Superstar who dares team with him. (You'd think somebody who came to fame as a member of MTV’s “The Real World” would have a better idea of how to be part of an ensemble.)
The Awesome One has attacked former tag partners R-Truth and John Morrison from behind, tried to sabotage Daniel Bryan's run on WWE NXT season one and — for reasons that were questionable, at best — fired his VP of Corporate Communications, Alex Riley.
That's a pretty staggering record to have amassed over a few years' time. In his two most recent tag teams, Miz & Morrison and The Awesome Truth, it was The Miz who fired the first salvo that ultimately destroyed the units. (We're not blaming The Miz for breaking up his Unified WWE Tag Team Championship partnership with Big Show, even though one could argue that had it not been for The Miz losing the championship fall to The Hart Dynasty, Show might not have lashed out with the WMD.)
Even as a singles competitor, when he has seemingly no allegiances to maintain, The Miz can’t help but be untrustworthy. As The Miz’s second during The Awesome One’s WWE Title reign, A-Ry had proven himself to be a loyal corner man. Despite this, The Awesome One thought nothing of firing him for reasons that spoke more to The Miz’s flawed in-ring strategies than A-Ry’s support for his boss. And you can forget about trying to find anything redeeming about The Miz’s mentorship of WWE NXT season one rookie Daniel Bryan. From the start, The Awesome One made clear he had no intention of giving the then-still-humble Bryan a leg up on the competition.
Shawn Michaels is often hailed as the most exciting in-ring performer of all time, but he’s also one of sports-entertainment’s shiftiest Superstars. HBK’s pattern of guile first revealed itself early on in his WWE career, and it has often been punctuated by his patented Sweet Chin Music. In 1991, Michaels ended his longtime partnership with Marty Jannetty by superkicking his Rockers teammate through the glass window of Brutus Beefcake’s Barber Shop. ( WATCH)
From there, The Showstopper only added to his resume of betraying tag team partners. He cost his pairing with John Cena the World Tag Team Championships in 2007 when he eliminated Cena from a Tag Team Championship Battle Royal. While serving as the special guest referee during The Rock vs. Triple H main event of the very first SmackDown, Michaels shrugged off impartiality in favor of his D-Generation X roots, superkicking The Great One during a pivotal moment in the match (all but gift-wrapping the win for The Game). HBK also blew apart his one-time team with Hulk Hogan when he blasted The Hulkster with a superkick out of nowhere. ( WATCH)
DX cohort Triple H hasn’t exactly been spared Michaels’ deceitfulness, either. During the opening seconds of the Survivor Series 2009 Triple Threat against The Game and Cena, HBK hauled off on Triple H with Sweet Chin Music — even while both men sported DX’s green-and-black ring gear. At the following year’s Royal Rumble, Michaels — dead set on facing then-World Heavyweight Champion The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI —eliminated The Game from the Royal Rumble Match.
As the longtime manager of The Undertaker, the decidedly non-swarthy Paul Bearer was considered a stable and dependable ally of The Phenom throughout the early 1990s. He even remained loyal to The Deadman during a period of uncertainty in 1994, when had been presumed that The Undertaker was, simply put, dead and gone. That all changed in 1996, when the urn-carrying Bearer shattered his once-strong alliance by robbing him of victory in a Boiler Room Brawl against Mankind. With a single, crushing blow, Bearer crashed the urn down on The Phenom’s skull, causing a deep rift in their relationship. ( WATCH)
Bearer further cemented his treacherous reputation in 1997, when he briefly realigned with The Undertaker under the veil of blackmail. (Bearer threatened to reveal a damning secret about The Deadman, which turned out to be that he had once set his family on fire.) For better or worse, The Undertaker would later again fall under the guidance of Bearer in 2010. However, just as before, the decision would come back to haunt The Phenom: At that year’s Hell in a Cell event, Bearer threw his support behind Kane, helping The Big Red Monster overcome The Undertaker inside Satan’s Structure. Given his history of dupery, it’s almost no wonder that Bearer has been buried in cement and locked inside a walk-in freezer.
Wild animals are not to be trusted, and neither is “THE Animal” Batista. The former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion leaped up the ranks in WWE as the hulking force in the Triple H-led Evolution stable. Valuable though it was to have the likes of The Game, Randy Orton and Ric Flair in his corner, Batista’s championship ambitions bred resentment from Triple H and served to fracture the almighty faction.
After The Animal won the 2005 Royal Rumble, then-World Heavyweight Champion Triple H tried vigorously to convince Batista that he should go after JBL’s WWE Championship and not The Game’s title. Triple H went so far as to orchestrate a near hit-and-run of Batista using a knock-off of JBL’s white limo. Upon learning of The Game’s plot, Batista made Triple H believe he was on board with the Evolution agenda until he gave a symbolic thumbs-down and viciously turned on Triple H. (WATCH)
At least that instance of trickery, however, was justifiable. Less excusable was Batista’s crossing of tag team partner, The Undertaker, in February 2007. Teaming with The Phenom against Shawn Michaels & John Cena at No Way Out, The Animal unleashed a spinebuster on The Undertaker at a critical point in the match. The Undertaker would get his retribution shortly after at WrestleMania XXIII, where he pinned Batista to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
Perhaps most appalling, however, was The Animal’s betrayal of best friend Rey Mysterio in 2009. Believing Mysterio had wrongly cost Batista the World Heavyweight Championship in a Fatal 4-Way Match at that year’s Bragging Rights event, Batista snapped on his former WWE Tag Team Championship partner and unleashed a brutal assault on The Ultimate Underdog. ( WATCH)
Kevin Nash may have answered to the name “Big Daddy Cool,” but the 7-footer’s real power wasn’t in his size or his charm — it was in his political savvy. First finding sports-entertainment success alongside Shawn Michaels and Scott Hall in a backstage collective known as The Kliq, Nash and the boys used their influence with the front office to score preferential treatment — and halt the careers of the guys who rubbed them the wrong way.
When Nash left WWE for a bigger payday in WCW, he helped engineer the most shocking betrayal in sports-entertainment history when he formed the villainous New World Order alongside Hulk Hogan. The two men later plotted to destroy the credibility of the WCW Title by having The Hulkster beat Nash for the historic championship simply by poking him in the chest.
Years later, when Nash finally reemerged in WWE, he did so by attacking CM Punk and then claiming that Triple H had urged him to carry out the assault via text. By the time the big man’s ruse unraveled, it was revealed that he had actually sent the message to his own phone. Apparently, Nash can’t even trust himself.
Chris Jericho can be charming and entirely likable, or he can be a snarky liar. He’s always been a fan of the ol’ misdirection.
In WCW, The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla got Lenny Lane to disguise himself as Jericho for a bout against Dean Malenko. At Royal Rumble 2003, Christian dressed up as Jericho to distract Shawn Michaels from the real Y2J. Jericho’s such a big admirer of himself, he has repeatedly had others imitate him, and always with nefarious overtones.
Jericho fought Michaels in WrestleMania XIX’s show-stealer, and after the mighty encounter. Y2J hugged HBK, his in-ring idol. Seconds later, he doubled Michaels over with a low blow. As a member of John Cena’s Team WWE during the SummerSlam 2010 Seven-on-Seven main event against Team Nexus, Jericho joined Edge in demolishing team captain Cena.
Don’t forget Jericho’s return to WWE in January 2012. First it looked like he was sincerely swept away by the positive reception given by the WWE Universe. Then it became clear his joy was cloying and he was making a mockery of the fans. On Jan. 16, in his first match back in more than a year, Jericho was tagged into action by CM Punk, excitedly ran around the ring and then tagged out to Daniel Bryan before walking away from ringside altogether. Jericho left his partners short a man, and the WWE Universe frustrated.
Randy Orton is one of WWE’s most popular Superstars, but that doesn’t mean you should turn your back on him. The Viper’s prone to “snapping” at a moment’s notice, which makes it difficult for him to play well with others. Midway through a Six-Man Tag Team Match in early 2010, he decided he was through with Legacy underlings Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. After Rhodes tagged himself into action, WWE’s Apex Predator coldly draped Rhodes over the middle rope and brought him into the ring the hard way, via a dome-compressing DDT. (He followed up with an RKO on the outside floor for DiBiase.) ( WATCH)
In 2011, after a brawl with heated rival with Wade Barrett was broken up by several Superstars, Orton’s temper red-lined and he wound up delivering painful RKOs to the intervening grapplers, who included fan-favorites Trent Barreta and The Usos. More recently, The Viper unremorsefully went after Sheamus. Teaming with The Great White against Chris Jericho & Alberto Del Rio this past May, Orton did not take kindly to being Brogue Kicked by Sheamus, albeit inadvertently. Following his pinfall loss, WWE’s Apex Predator repaid The Celtic Warrior with a jarring — and largely unprovoked — RKO.
Being WWE’s Apex Predator means looking out for No. 1, and Orton has never lost sight of that.
The World’s Largest Athlete or The World’s Largest Turncoat? Big Show has given the WWE Universe ample reason to believe the latter nickname is just as apropos as the former. Over the course of his more than 15-year career, Show has regularly bounced between integrity and underhandedness, and in doing so, he has left numerous accomplices in the dust. (You can even dial Show’s history of duplicity all the way back to 1996, when he jumped ship from WCW to The New World Order.)
Since arriving in WWE in 1999, Show has turned the tables on everyone from The Rock and Rey Mysterio to Mr. McMahon and his son, Shane. In 2002, Show betrayed “Stone Cold” Steve Austin by rejoining The nWo, which by that point had invaded WWE. Years later, in 2009, Show appeared to be the savior of Raw, when he beat Chris Jericho in the build-up to an all-important Raw vs. SmackDown Elimination Match at that year’s Bragging Rights. However, during the match itself, Show’s true colors shone through as he yanked Raw teammate Kofi Kingston off the top rope and ostensibly fed him to a lying-in-wait Jericho. After tag team partner The Miz dropped a crucial fall in 2010, causing his WWE Tag Team Championship reign with Show to come to a close, The World’s Largest Athlete immediately demolished the loudmouthed Awesome One with a colossal WMD.
None of these acts of betrayal, however, galvanized the WWE Universe against Show more than the dirty deed he took part in earlier this year. Days after being fired by unpopular General Manager John Laurinaitis, Big Show shocked the world at WWE Over the Limit by interfering in John Cena’s high-stakes No-Disqualification Match against “Mr. Excitement.” Had Show stayed out of the match and Laurinaitis lost, Cena would have sent Laurinaitis packing a month earlier than ended up happening. Thanks a lot, Show.
He might call himself “The Best in the World,” but CM Punk might also be the best at deception.
Shortly after WrestleMania 23, Punk turned his back on the ECW Originals to join forces with fellow youngsters, The New Breed. The alliance was short-lived as Punk switched allegiances again only two weeks later by nailing Elijah Burke with a swift kick to the skull and the Go To Sleep.
A two-time Money in the Bank Ladder Match winner, Punk quickly taught rivals to never trust him. He defeated supposed ally Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight Championship immediately after Hardy had won it in a grueling Ladder Match, and Hardy soon learned that Punk was far from a friend.
Punk’s NXT Rookie, Darren Young, also discovered his WWE Pro could not be trusted after Punk forced the future Prime Time Player to compete against Punk’s Straight Edge Society enforcer, Luke Gallows. The SES leader constantly expected his followers to prove themselves, then eventually attacked the group’s members in the ultimate betrayal.
Punk’s reputation even gained the ire of Mr. McMahon in summer 2011. Punk, nearing the end of his WWE contract, threatened to leave — and, ultimately, did —with the WWE Championship. The Chairman couldn’t trust that Punk would not appear anywhere else with his company’s signature title.
But Punk’s greatest act of betrayal to date occurred on Raw 1,000 when The Voice of the Voiceless turned his back on the WWE Universe. Delivering a thunderous clothesline and GTS to The Rock, Punk revealed that The Second City Saint respects no one but himself.
They don’t call Triple H “The Cerebral Assassin” for nothing. Eternally a self-preservationist, The Game has always done whatever’s necessary to keep hold of his place atop the WWE mountain, even if that meant turning his back on those closest to him. Such was the case in 1999, when Triple H revolted against the stable he helped co-found, D-Generation X. At WrestleMania XV, The Game stunned fans by costing longtime running mate X-Pac the European Championship in a match against Shane McMahon. As the WWE Universe would soon realize, Triple H had shed his DX skin to become a member of McMahon’s hated Corporation unit.
That would not be the last time that The King of Kings’ Benedict Arnold ways would become apparent. One-by-one, Triple H turned against his pals in Evolution. First, after deeming that Evolution member Randy Orton had grown too big for his britches by winning the World Heavyweight Championship, he spearheaded an attack on The Viper. Later, Triple H devised a wicked plot to get Batista to think JBL had tried to run him over with his limo. (Triple H did so in an unsuccessful attempt to get The Animal to challenge for JBL’s WWE Championship, as opposed to Triple H’s World Heavyweight Title.) Finally, in October 2005, Triple H even double-crossed his idol, Ric Flair.
Then there’s Shawn Michaels, the other founding father of DX. When it looked as though HBK and The Game were finally ready to reform the stable in 2002, Triple H ruined the festivities by Pedigreeing The Showstopper. Soon thereafter, a mystery assailant put HBK’s head through a windshield. Sledgehammer in hand, Triple H searched high and low to find the guilty party.
As it turned out, Triple H did not have to look any farther than the reflection in the mirror: After being confronted, via satellite, by HBK, The Game admitted that he was the one who attacked Michaels in the garage.
What made ECW so special — other than the innovative in-ring action — was the tremendous allegiance exhibited by the extreme grapplers to their spiritual leader, Paul Heyman. But the mad scientist of sports-entertainment was not always so devoted in return. His inability to be trusted was often on display in the squared circle.
Years earlier, as the founder of WCW’s Dangerous Alliance, his own clients soon discovered they couldn’t trust their manager. Paul E. Dangerously — as he was then known — dispatched both Larry Zbyszko and Madusa from his roster in 1992 after they each disappointed the cell phone-wielding suit.
The following decade, Heyman betrayed his clients on two separate occasions to favor the same Superstar. After hailing Brock Lesnar as “The Next Big Thing” and leading him to the WWE Championship in a matter of months, he turned his back on the young behemoth and caused Lesnar to lose the title to Big Show. Nearly four years later, he once again sided with The World’s Largest Athlete when Show defeated Rob Van Dam for the ECW Championship, only one month into the organization’s re-launch on Syfy. And the double-cross transpired in ECW’s stomping ground of Philadelphia, to boot.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts
One of Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ most frequently uttered phrases was, simply, “Trust me.” (It was even the name of his official WWE entrance theme starting in 1992.) The fact that Roberts always felt obligated to implore others to believe in him, often without prompting, should have been all the hinting that anyone needed to steer clear of “The Snake.” Trusting in Roberts was about as poisonous a predicament as being bit by one of his venomous vermin. Everything about the man was iffy. The aptly nicknamed “Snake” moved around the ring with slithering grace, and it was difficult to predict when he would lunge into attack or snap off a match-ending DDT.
Though “The Snake” won over the hearts of the WWE Universe in the early 1990s (and again in the mid-’90s), he was always viewed glowingly by fans. Upon his arrival to WWE in 1986, Roberts frightened fans and fellow Superstars by toting around his valet of choice, a giant python named Damien. When he targeted eternal fan-favorite Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Roberts once went so far as to put Damien into the mouth of an unconscious Steamboat.
The most heinous side of Roberts came out years later. Convincing Ultimate Warrior that he needed to toughen up and face his demons to regain his winning edge against The Undertaker, Roberts locked Warrior inside a room full of snakes (which led to a cobra biting Warrior) and trapped him in a coffin. Soon, the WWE Universe found out that Roberts wasn’t trying to motivate Warrior; he was simply aiding The Undertaker. Around this time, Roberts also donned a mask and went by the name “El Diablo.” The charade was nothing but a set-up to lull Sid Justice into a two-on-one attack perpetrated by Roberts and The Phenom.
It was alongside The Undertaker that Roberts crashed the reception that followed “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s wedding to Miss Elizabeth at SummerSlam 1991. The sneaky Roberts put one of his snakes in a gift-wrapped box that, when opened by Elizabeth, caused severe panic among the wedding party.
The takeaway here? Never trust a snake.
Ric Flair relishes his standing as “The Dirtiest Player in the Game,” though the long list of Superstars that Flair has stabbed in the back would probably view that distinction less glowingly. Much like Triple H — who has cited “The Nature Boy” as his idol — Flair always made it a top priority to protect what was his. In 1985, that meant joining in on Arn & Ole Anderson’s ambush of Dusty Rhodes inside a steel cage. Rhodes had only entered the fray to save Flair from a two-on-one attack by Nikita & Ivan Koloff. Instead of seeing it as the goodwill gesture that it was, then-NWA World Champion Flair pounced on Rhodes, who was seen as a potential challenger to his throne.
No one has felt the brunt of Flair’s underhanded nature quite as acutely as the former franchise of WCW, Sting. In 1990, Flair brought The Stinger into the Four Horsemen fold, only to exile him a short time later. Sting fell for “The Nature Boy’s” charm again in 1995, when Flair — having seemingly parted ways with best friend Arn Anderson — sought a partner to help him challenge Anderson and his new teammate, Brian Pillman. The always upstanding Sting agreed to lend a hand, which ended up being a very poor decision. During the ensuing match, when Sting tagged in Flair, The Nature Boy resorted back to his old tactics and began going to work over the face of WCW. Once again, Flair had orchestrated a masterful ruse. ( WATCH)
During a period of time in spring 2003 when Flair’s relationship with Triple H appeared irreparably torn, “The Nature Boy” would pull a similar trick, this time against Shawn Michaels. Teaming with HBK in a 2-on-1 Match against Triple H in May 2003, Flair waited until he was tagged into action and then, without warning, he landed a punch squarely on the jaw of The Showstopper. ( WATCH)
If the recent anger management courses have reminded WWE Universe of nothing else, it’s that Kane is a complex individual who has overcome many hardships in his lifetime. As such, it may come as no surprise The Big Red Monster rarely lowers down his guard enough to make friends, and even when he does, there is little reason to think that Kane is to be trusted implicitly.
No one knows this better than his own half-brother, The Undertaker. At Royal Rumble 1998, Kane cleared the ring of the not-yet New Age Outlaws and Los Boricuas, who had jumped The Phenom during his WWE Title Match against Shawn Michaels. Rather than aiding The Undertaker, though, Kane attacked his sibling and locked him inside a casket before lighting it on fire. In August 2000, Kane ran off Shane McMahon, who moments earlier had struck The Undertaker with a chair. The Devil’s Favorite Demon stuck around long enough to help The Phenom to his feet, only to thrust him through the mat seconds later with a powerful Chokeslam. Two years ago, Kane framed Rey Mysterio for an attack on The Undertaker. The actual perpetrator ended up being — you guessed it — Kane.
The Undertaker’s not the only ally on whom Kane has turned. In 2003, Kane was forced to unmask for the first time. So enraged was The Big Red Monster about losing cover that he took his anger out on former tag team partner Rob Van Dam, who had actually helped Kane fend off an attack by Evolution.
Then there was the example from April 2012, when Kane didn’t budge a muscle to assist his father, Paul Bearer, who was locked inside a freezer by Randy Orton. Kane’s vicious and, at times, humorous, but he’s certainly not trustworthy.
WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon has been described on WWE.com as one of WWE’s greatest villains, and a prime example of someone who let power go to his head. Geez, how do we tactfully add that the WWE Chairman, our boss, is occasionally — *gulp* — dishonest, let alone ranked No. 1 on a list subtitled “Don’t Trust Anybody”?
With legitimate, irrefutable evidence, that’s how.
Being king of the WWE empire affords Mr. McMahon the luxury of calling his own shots, no matter how controversial or deceitful. Perhaps the ultimate manifestation of Mr. McMahon’s double-dealing was the incident that occurred in Montreal at Survivor Series 1997 Adamant about keeping the WWE Title out of WCW’s reach, Mr. McMahon sabotaged the Survivor Series main event between challenger Shawn Michaels and WWE titleholder Bret Hart, who had agreed to jump to WCW. In Hart’s home country, no less, McMahon ordered referee Earl Hebner to call for the bell while HBK had Hart in The Sharpshooter, ensuring the WWE Championship wouldn’t leave home. Hart had not submitted.
That would not be the only time the swaggering Mr. McMahon has betrayed the trust of the WWE Universe. Other notable instances include his revelation that he was the “Greater Power” who masterminded the Corporate Ministry’s reign of terror in 1999. McMahon went so far to convince fans and Superstars (and most of all, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin) that he and the “Greater Power” were two separate people that he filmed himself demanding that the Greater Power reveal his face. So as to make the video clip appear as though it was live footage, Mr. McMahon had the film shown on the TitanTron while the Greater Power (i.e., Mr. McMahon wearing a robe and a hood) stood in the ring. Seconds after the clip ended, Mr. McMahon lifted his hood and cackled, “It’s me, Austin! It was me all along, Austin!”