In a 2019 interview with Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin, Batista discussed his previous run in WWE and how it has changed the way wrestlers portray their gimmicks.
“The creative process I still don’t get. It was a nightmare to me the last time I was there, which was 2014, and it seems like it’s become worse. I feel like they don’t have a clear vision, a long-term vision, everything is very week-to-week. It doesn’t seem like they stick to a plan very much.”
This seems to be a theme with previous WWE stars who come back for occasional runs with the promotion. Batista also claims that WWE wrestlers used to have more freedom which allowed them not only to develop their characters better but also to connect with fans.
6. Gail Kim
Gail Kim has always been vocal regarding her tenure in WWE, often speaking of her encounters with Vince McMahon and why she is not interested in returning to the promotion any time soon. In 2019, the Impact wrestler participated in an interview with Chris Van Vliet of WSVN-TV. Within it, she discussed the creative differences between brands and AEW emerging as competition for WWE, who was previously an assumed monopoly in the wrestling business.
“Right now I believe that Impact Wrestling’s creative is better than WWE and I’m not lying, I truly believe that. It’s not just because I work for them, all I hear from the general fan base is how badly the creative is right now in WWE and how they’re not really enjoying the show and I get the opposite response from people who watch Impact.”
She regularly speaks out on social media, having criticized Vince McMahon’s booking decisions and creative control over the company. She maintains her opinions and speaks openly about WWE on her own accord.
5. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin notoriously left WWE in 2002 after the company to put Brock Lesnar over without any proper buildup or booking. Austin came out later to say that he did so because he felt as though Vince McMahon and WWE creative were insulting him because of the outcome of their single match.
When Austin starred on an episode of Pardon My Take, he also discussed modern WWE creative issues and how the current WWE product lacks the “surprise factor.” This “surprise factor,” according to Austin, is what made his major feuds during the Attitude Era so exciting and uncertain. The creative freedom given to wrestlers back then is what made wrestling so special.
Cody has become a staple in the wrestling world after developing All Elite Wrestling alongside Tony Khan, The Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega. He serves as one of the promotion’s Executive Vice Presidents and has truly made a name for himself since leaving WWE in 2016.
In 2017, during his reign as Ring of Honor Champion, Cody spoke to Metro about his tenure in WWE and the potential lack of creativity in the company:
“There are some guys in WWE, Vince McMahon, Triple H, Michael Hayes, Arn Anderson and Mike Rotunda included, who should be writers but instead are producers. I would hope at some point they will consolidate all of that, because if you were to get some of these megaminds in a room, you could write out two years worth of TV and stick to the plan.
Wrestling is not an episodic TV show. If you were to come into my office and say ‘hey I wrote 20 episodes of Friends and I want to be a WWE writer’, I’d say ‘that’s great but do you know who Lou Thesz is? Do you know who Bruno Sammartino is? Do you like wrestling?’
You’d be surprised at how many would say they’d never watched wrestling. That blows my mind, and if you were to shift the power to some of the greats in our business, you’d have a big difference.”