TV Interviews With WWE Superstars That Went Horribly Wrong

Professional wrestlers are tasked with doing outside media appearances on almost a weekly basis — and while the majority of the time things go according to plan, there is always the possibility that things can go awry and lead to some unfortunate or amusing moments.

Given the complex nature of the industry, some mainstream journalists or TV hosts can struggle to grasp exactly what WWE or any other promotion is all about. Terms such as "scripted" and "fake" can be thrown around to the objection of the performers, while questions like "Does it really hurt?" can be taken as disrespectful, especially considering the intense physical nature of the business. 

Even on occasions where the reporter or host may have knowledge of the wrestling business, sometimes wrestlers can react to a certain line of questioning — or in some cases, are just having a bad day — leading to some intense out-of-character moments. 

In this piece, we look at some TV interviews with past and present WWE superstars that went horribly wrong — from heated physical altercations that led to lawsuits, to wrestlers walking out mid-way through their interview, and others that were just plain and uncomfortable awkward to watch. 

Grayson Waller (2024)

Let's kick this piece off with an incredibly recent example, which saw Australian WWE star Grayson Waller returning to his home country for a promotional tour ahead of February's Elimination Chamber premium live event. The 33-year-old was back in Sydney to create buzz for the event, conducting interviews and making appearances with a number of mainstream outlets, as well as meeting with some of the star players from rugby league club, Penrith Panthers.

Unfortunately, one of his appearances alongside fellow WWE star LA Knight didn't go to plan for the pair, leading to an incredibly awkward moment that ultimately earned Waller some high praise from wrestling fans across the globe on social media.

Towards the end of an interview with Channel 7's Sunrise program, co-host Natalie Barr asked Knight to perform one of his finishing moves on a member of the crew, which the babyface palmed off to his heel companion in order to stay in character. Waller initially looked confused until the network's floor manager said "I will take one" and it was only then that he reacted in frustration and tensions flared. 

"I don't think you understand – if I come over there right now, we're gonna have the police here," he said.

"I'm not gonna give you some fake punch, I'm gonna punch you straight in the jaw. The disrespect that you have even talking to me ... you wanna talk to me like this ain't real? Don't act all tough. You guys come in here and try to disrespect us."

The situation was de-escalated rather quickly by the hosts, but it was clear that both Waller and Knight were taken aback by the lack of respect on the show, as it appeared that the Australian TV hosts were making a mockery of professional wrestling.

Roddy Piper (1999)

As one of the most iconic and controversial pro wrestlers of all time, Rowdy Roddy Piper was no stranger to upsetting the apple cart and speaking his mind, whether it was on WWF television or in outside media. The legendary "Hot Rod" was enigmatic on the microphone and could go blow-for-blow with the best of them, inspiring a litany of future superstars — most notably, CM Punk — to pursue a career in one of the toughest sports in the world.

But when TV host and comedian Bill Maher opted to take shots at the industry during a 1999 episode of "Politically Incorrect" with Piper and other WCW performers sitting in the studio, things got a little heated. Maher would first claim that "audiences are in on the joke" of pro wrestling, which Piper took as an insult, before he continued his degradation of wrestlers by saying "there is never a bruise on any of you" and gaining an instant reaction from Sting, Madusa and Piper.

What followed was pure chaos, with Piper pulling down his pants to point out his metal hip and broken wrist sustained in the ring, before urging Maher to go and speak to the family of the deceased Owen Hart regarding the "fake" nature of wrestling. Piper would get one more dig in at Maher, who said he "doesn't drop his pants in front of other men," to which the notoriously quick-witted WWE Hall of Famer bit back and said "Well, how did you get the job?" to some oohs and ahhs from the live audience.

If there was ever a pro wrestler that was going to stand up for the business in a mainstream setting it was him — and Maher found out the hard way not to attempt to trade insults and barbs with the late, great Piper.

Hulk Hogan and Mr T (1985)

One of the most unforgettable TV interviews gone wrong with a professional wrestler came in the midst of "Hulkamania" — and it landed the iconic superstar in legal trouble.

During a 1985 episode of "Hot Properties" with actor and comedian Richard Belzer, Hulk Hogan and Mr T. made an appearance to promote their upcoming WrestleMania main event tag team match. Everything was going smoothly in a regulation sit-down chat, before Belzer asked Hogan to place him in a wrestling hold, to which he obliged. Unfortunately, Belzer would pass out in the front chin lock applied by "The Immortal" and when Hogan released the submission, the host fell to the floor and hit his head. 

Belzer would require seven stitches in the back of his head and while Hogan apologised on-air and urged fans or un-trained people not to attempt wrestling moves, it wasn't enough. Belzer would sue Hogan for $5 million worth of damages for personal injury but before the case was heard in the New York Supreme Court, the pair reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount of money.

After the issue was resolved, Belzer would use the money from Hogan to buy a house for himself and his wife in France.

Randy Orton (2009)

It's no secret that Randy Orton had some issues with his temper and behavior early in his career. The 43-year-old was thrust into the business at a very young age, becoming the youngest world champion in WWE history, but has admitted he struggled to deal with the new-found fame in his early-20s, at one point leading to multiple suspensions and also spending four weeks in an anger management program. While he has grown in maturity both inside and outside of the ring over the past two decades, there was one incident on live television in which Orton's short temper was on full display. 

During an interview in Mexico during his 2009 title reign, Orton was quizzed on some of his previous injuries and his diet — but when the host used the word "fragile" to describe him, things got ugly in a hurry. Orton would take the glasses off the host's face and toss them away, before threatening to get physical due to the insult. 

"You wanna talk s**t to me on your own show and make you look cool? Say it to my face, why are trying to run. I'm serious, look at me! Say it again, I dare you to say it again. Call me fragile and I will headbutt your teeth through your skull, do you hear me? Say something funny again boy ... I'm done."

To this day, fans are still divided over the legitimacy of the altercation and whether it was a work or a shoot. 

It wasn't the only time Orton got heated while appearing outside of the WWE umbrella, with the 14-time world champion delivering an expletive-laden spray during a 2013 MTV red carpet regarding an incident with a fan in South Africa. 

Vader and The Undertaker (1997)

There weren't many legitimately tougher pro wrestlers in history than Vader — and a TV host in the Middle East found that out the hard way during a 1997 interview.

Appearing alongside The Undertaker on "Good Morning Kuwait" to promote an upcoming WWE tour in the region, things immediately got off to a rough start as host Bassam Al Othman asked the duo about the idea of wrestling being fake. The Undertaker was clearly annoyed by the line of questioning, but the Hall of Famer gave a relatively polite response — but Vader wasn't as forgiving.

"My astute colleague -– the heavyweight champion of the world -– is a very diplomatic individual. I'm perhaps not quite so diplomatic. In fact, I find your question, and your remarks, insulting to what I do," he said. 

After a few more words, Vader stood up, knocked over the coffee table in front of him, and grabbed Bassam Al Othman by his tie. "Does that f***ing feel fake? Huh? Does that feel fake?" Vader asked the uncomfortable Othman. "Why don't you come down tonight and, before I kick his ass, I'll kick your ass."

Police were called to the studio and Vader was placed under arrest and while he was detained for 10 days, he spent the time in a luxury hotel rather than a jail. WWE would later acknowledge the confrontation and Vader's arrest on-screen, using it to showcase Vader's toughness. Jim Ross interviewed Vader and asked if he had any remorse or shame about what occurred. In response, he told Ross and the crowd that he went over there and did his job — which was to "beat up people". 

During a 2022 interview looking back on the incident, The Undertaker admitted he realised things were starting to escalate early in the interview.

"I could see it coming long before it ever happened," he told SHAK Wrestling

"You don't know when you're in a foreign country what the ramification of putting your hands on somebody else is, right? You just don't know, so you don't put yourself in that situation. I appreciate Leon, the fact that he was protecting his business — but there is a time when you have to be a little bit more vague."

Vince McMahon (2001)

Vince McMahon remains one of the most controversial figures in professional wrestling history — and he was no stranger to facing tough or uncomfortable questions from journalists or reporters during his lengthy tenure at the top of WWE.

Perhaps his most infamous out-of-character interview during a sit-down with veteran broadcaster Bob Costas regarding the demise of the XFL — McMahon's own football league — on an episode of HBO's "On The Record" over two decades ago. During the segment, Costas took aim at both the XFL and WWE, painting both McMahon-owned organisations in a poor light, leading to a heated confrontation and a number awkward moments as both men attempted to gain the upper-hand.

McMahon would begin to lean into Costas' personal space, while the host smirked back at the WWE chairman in a moment that could have turned far more ugly.

In a book released in 2021 titled "Tinderbox: HBO's Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers," McMahon explained his issue with Costas during their infamous confrontation. 

"Once we were doing the interview, he kept interrupting me and interrupting me, and bringing up topics that had nothing to do with what we were supposed to be talking about ... he kept trying to do the 'I gotcha' kind of thing. It was clear he didn't want to hear any of my answers." he said. 

"The other problem was that Bob is so freaking pompous. The entire time he acted like he was above me and was just using me to show how great he was. I was sitting there really pissed off and started thinking, I wish he wasn't 5-feet high and 140 pounds. If he was 6-5 and 295, he would deserve to get the s*** beat out of him."

The feud between the pair has continued to this day and Costas explained his side of the initial interview during an episode of "In Depth With Graham Bessinger" in 2023.

"The interview became very heated, perhaps because he wasn't expecting to be challenged, although I told him in the green room beforehand that there were going to be some tough questions," Costas said. "I wasn't so much as smiling as smirking, and I think that set him off all the more."

CM Punk (2014)

If you come at the king, you best not miss.

CM Punk is notorious for his quick wit and ability to verbally eviscerate his opponents inside and outside of the ring, and that was no different during a 2014 interview with Michael Landsberg on TSN's "Off The Record" program. While the multi-time world champion had left the WWE earlier in the year, he was still heavily-tied to the wrestling industry, despite his attempts to distance himself and move in a new direction with the UFC.

During the conversation, Punk gave short and sarcastic answers to the exuberant Landsberg, but things went off the rails completely towards the end as the "Second City Saint" snapped and began to reveal the reason for the on-air tension between the pair. 

"Your demeanour off the camera is 100 percent different than it is when you know you are being recorded in your interview with me, you know it's just funny to me," he said. 

"You tried to be friendly, you tried to act as my friend, and then when you get me on camera, you try to act like the cool kid in school, I understand that. You try to play innocent and defensive when you are not on camera and then when you get on the camera, you wanna act like a *****. I appreciate that, I like your gimmick kid, I love it."

Landsberg would go also criticize Punk for drinking coffee throughout the interview, to which the WWE star responded by saying "I gotta stay awake on TSN, I need my caffeine."

David Schultz (1984)

Perhaps the most infamous wrestling interview of all-time saw David Schultz go toe-to-toe with broadcaster John Stossel over the nature of the wrestling business — and it ultimately resulted in him being fired by the WWF and in legal trouble. During an episode of "20/20" in December 1984, Stossel was conducting a review into pro wrestling but he made the huge mistake of referring to the sport as "fake" whilst interviewing Schultz, who responded by slapping the reporter twice in the side of the head.

Marvin Kohn, a deputy commissioner at the New York State Athletic Commission, had been present at the arena during the incident and immediately suspended Schultz for his actions. Schultz would soon write a letter to the commission and apologize.

"I admit the allegations ... I intend the commission to know that I did not intend to hurt John Stossel. I apologize to the commission and to John Stossel," he said. 

At the time, Schultz was portraying a heel on-screen for WWF and has claimed that Vince McMahon urged him to "stay in character" during his interaction with Stossel. Unfortunately, Stossel would file a lawsuit against the WWF and settled out of court for $425,000, but it was the end of Schultz's time with the promotion. 

Schultz became the topic of a 2020 episode of VICE's Dark Side of the Ring series, focusing on his wrestling career, his assault on Stossel that resulted in his termination and departure from the industry, as well as his transition to become a bounty hunter.

Dean Ambrose (2016)

Of all the active and retired pro wrestlers that have started a podcast, perhaps nobody was able to garner more interest than Stone Cold Steve Austin. In his self-titled podcast launched in April 2013, the iconic WWE superstar would interview people from inside and outside of the wrestling business, as well as offering his own insight to the modern-day product and telling stories from his legendary career. After the launch of the WWE Network in 2014, some of Austin's episodes would be recorded with the cameras rolling and be broadcast to fans across the globe, with the likes of Vince McMahon and Triple H appearing on early episodes. 

In 2016, Austin would host Dean Ambrose (now known as Jon Moxley) and what ensued was one of the most awkward encounters in wrestling television history, with the one-time WWE Champion giving blunt answers and seemingly bothered by the line of questioning from "The Texas Rattlesnake", which included him bringing up the fact the former Shield member was "resting on his laurels" amid his title run and recent program with Brock Lesnar, that culminated with a disappointing match at WrestleMania 32. 

During an episode of his podcast in 2019, Austin would admit the interview still haunts him and bothers him, despite the years that had already passed.

"For whatever reason we got off on the wrong track and it was a rough podcast," he said.

"I felt so bad about that interview – and I was leading that interview so I gotta take the fault of it – because I'm there to get people over and make them come off like a million bucks. We just came off on the wrong street and kept taking left turns and we never got back on track ... he had his reasons and I had mine.

"I felt like s*** about that interview. Everyone thought there was heat between myself and Dean. His fans were just crapping all over me. There was all this discombobulation and s*** going on on social media. That interview is something I think about every single day. I s*** you not – that's how bad that bothered me."

Comments