7 WWE Superstars Who Have Reportedly Had Backstage Heat In 2020
When a WWE Superstar does something to upset the higher-ups in the company, it is often reported that they have received "backstage heat" due to their actions.
In 2015, for example, Lana and Rusev reportedly found themselves in trouble after news of their real-life engagement emerged at a time when the two Superstars were involved in a romance storyline with Dolph Ziggler and Summer Rae respectively on WWE programming.
This led to WWE scrapping the lengthy angle, with Rusev becoming a member of The League of Nations faction after his on-screen association with Lana came to an end.
Five years on from that incident, it feels like there have been more reports of backstage heat in 2020 than any other year in recent memory, despite the fact that we are only halfway through the year.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at seven WWE Superstars who have reportedly had heat over the last six months.
7 Nia Jax (WWE RAW)
Nia Jax has been accused of being an unsafe in-ring performer for several years, notably in 2018 when she punched Becky Lynch in the face on RAW, causing “The Man” to be ruled out of her match against Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series.
Earlier this year, Jax returned to action for the first time in 12 months following double knee surgery, and it did not take long for concerns about her opponents’ safety to emerge
As you can see in the clip above, Kairi Sane suffered an injury to her head after being forcefully thrown into a set of steel steps by Jax.
The Wrestling Observer’s Bryan Alvarez reported that someone within WWE told him that the incident was “one thousand percent Nia’s fault” and “she needs to be f***ing fired”.
As well as the steel steps incident, Jax also came under fire for seemingly hurting Sane with a Buckle Bomb into the corner in another match that they had on RAW.
It has since been reported that the Buckle Bomb, which has also injured Finn Balor and Sting in matches against Seth Rollins in recent years, is no longer allowed to be used by WWE Superstars.
6 Angelo Dawkins | #5 Montez Ford (WWE RAW)
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WWE shows were held without any fans in attendance for over two months between March-May 2020.
The May 25 episode of WWE RAW saw the introduction of ‘fans’ behind screens at ringside, with WWE’s Performance Center recruits portraying audience members.
PC recruits have adhered to social distancing guidelines by standing away from their colleagues as they watch episodes of RAW, SmackDown and NXT. However, that did not happen on June 15 when The Street Profits went into the audience to high-five the recruits, as well as a select few WWE fans who were also in attendance.
Sportskeeda’s Tom Colohue reported that, while Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford have engaged with fans during their entrance for years, this particular entrance caused some upset backstage due to the RAW Tag Team Champions going against social distancing advice.
The Street Profits did not appear to suffer any kind of on-screen repercussions for their actions, though, as they retained their titles against The Viking Raiders one week later on RAW.
4 Rob Gronkowski (WWE WrestleMania 36 host)
It was expected that Rob Gronkowski would compete in a WWE ring one day after he was announced as the company’s latest high-profile Superstar signing in March 2020.
The former New England Patriots star appeared sporadically on WWE television prior to his role as the host of WrestleMania 36, where he defeated Mojo Rawley to begin a 57-day reign as the 24/7 Champion.
It has since emerged that Gronkowski caused a two-hour filming delay at WrestleMania due to his hesitation to jump off a platform onto a group of Superstars. In the end, Vince McMahon had to perform the stunt himself to show the ‘Mania host how it was done.
Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp reported that a top name on the WWE roster told him that Gronkowski was a “f***ing clown who we are so much better off without”.
Since then, it has been confirmed that Gronkowski has decided to return to the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bringing an end to his short-lived WWE career after just 10 weeks.
His final televised appearance came in June 2020 when he lost the 24/7 Championship to R-Truth in a comedy segment on RAW.
3 Randy Orton (WWE RAW) | #2 Tommaso Ciampa (WWE NXT)
Randy Orton and Tommaso Ciampa were involved in a back-and-forth exchange on Twitter following the WWE NXT TakeOver: In Your House event.
Wrestlers often slap their leg whilst executing certain moves to make them sound more impactful, but Ciampa’s leg-slapping in his match against Karrion Kross at In Your House clearly left Orton less than impressed.
The former NXT Champion hit back by saying he sends his daughter to sleep by showing her matches involving Orton, prompting speculation that a possible match between the two could be on the horizon.
According to the Wrestling Observer’s Bryan Alvarez, Vince McMahon “hates it” when Superstars tease a match that is not part of WWE’s storyline plans – and that proved to be the case with Orton vs. Ciampa.
Alvarez said McMahon was “not happy” about the recent Twitter exchanges, so it will be interesting to see if a match between the two men ever comes to fruition.
For what it's worth, Orton has said in recent media interviews that he would like to work with Ciampa one day, but he thinks the NXT Superstar needs to adopt a safer in-ring style to prolong his career.
1 Sami Zayn (WWE SmackDown)
,SmackDown Superstar Sami Zayn was stripped of the Intercontinental Championship in May 2020 after he decided to stop working WWE’s shows during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This led to an eight-man tournament on SmackDownto crown a new champion, with AJ Styles defeating Daniel Bryan in the final to win the Intercontinental Championship for the first time in his career.
The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer reported that, although nobody in WWE will publicly criticize Zayn for not working, there is “a lot of unhappiness” backstage over his decision.
When it was announced that the Intercontinental Championship would be vacated, many fans pointed out on social media that WWE had taken a different approach with Jordan Devlin’s NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Devlin, who is in Ireland and cannot travel to the United States, kept hold of his Cruiserweight Championship, while a tournament took place on NXT to crown a new Interim Cruiserweight Champion. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
In contrast, Zayn was simply stripped of his title, meaning Styles is the official – not interim – Intercontinental Champion.