It's not that any of us truly know for sure, but it is believed that one way to punish a wrestler or talent who wrongs the WWE is by jobbing them (having them lose) or placing them in a less than ideal storyline to show them that the boss didn't take too kindly to their behaviour. It's one of those unwritten rules that there's no proof exists but pretty much everyone knows does. Vince McMahon would never admit to doing this to his talent but when Vince decides you need to be taught a lesson, you can almost pinpoint the exact moment a wrestler is being admonished. Vince likes to get a little payback in public and often on one of his flagship shows on television.
Throughout the history of WWE, there have been many instances where someone might be watching WWE programming and wonder what happened behind the scenes to warrant what's unfolding in front of them. Did a wrestler botch a move? Did he demand more money? Did he tick off the wrong veteran? Did he refuse to take part in one of the WWE's "big" ideas? There could be endless reasons a talent is getting the short end of the stick.
Below is a list of 15 times we believe Vince McMahon and the WWE decided someone needed to be taught a lesson. From the rumours about backstage heat and the timing of the on-camera results of that WWE Superstar, it appears they were being punished.
Are we right? Are we reading too much into things? Let us know what you think!
15 Baron Corbin Loses Money In The Bank Briefcase
WWE wrestlers get themselves in hot water frequently these days by tweeting or saying something that, if they'd only taken a couple extra seconds to think before they posted, could have saved everyone a lot of embarrassment. But the cardinal sin that separated Baron Corbin from the rest was that he chose to feud with other wrestlers and fans on social media and got served.
He lost the war or words so badly and realized he'd bullied a war veteran who was friends with Vince McMahon. He had to know there'd be repercussions, and there were. Vince forced Corbin to drop the Money in the Bank briefcase he'd previously won; when in seconds he couldn't defeat a prone John Cena. He then lost a string of matches afterward and is now finally recovering with a U.S. Title run.
14 Lana And Rusev Announced Their Engagement
It was a dumb idea but somehow the WWE writers decided to split up Lana and Rusev and have Lana fall for Dolph Ziggler. It was never really believable and at the time Lana and Rusev were still a fairly popular and powerful partnership. They were also in a real-life relationship.
When the couple posted on social media that they'd gotten engaged, WWE had no choice but to put them back together on tv and what came next was a series of losses and exclusions from big matches that still exists to this day. Rusev and Lana have never seen the same success since they forced the WWE to change directions. There have even been rumours of the two WWE Superstars being so upset by the lack of direction of their characters they wanted out of their contracts.
13 Shawn Michaels Forced To Wrestle God
For much of Shawn Michael's career he played the heel role to perfection. In fact, before his second stint with the WWE, he was considered one of the hardest guys to work with thanks to his attitude and willingness to drink and party to the point it caused friction with everyone, including Vince McMahon. Still, he got away with it because he was just that good.
Michaels retired and during his absence became a born-again Christian. When he returned to the WWE, things were different. No longer a problem with the talent, Michaels was unwilling to do stories and angles that he found offensive and that included much of the things DX had become known for during his first run. Refusing to take part in certain elements of the on-screen skits, Vince forced Michaels to wrestle with God in the match on pay-per-view.
12 Sting Loses At WrestleMania
Sting was the one member of WCW everyone wanted to come to the WWE. For years he avoided doing so out of concern that Vince might either have nothing for him or treat him poorly thanks to his allegiance to WCW. Sting had just cause for thinking so as many past WCW stars were buried upon arrival in WWE.
It wasn't until many years later that Sting finally joined WWE and was set to get that WrestleMania match he'd always dreamed of. Set to take on Triple H, the thing WWE would always do in the past was give the win to a guy like Sting because he was the fan favourite and it was more an attraction match than a storyline related one. Instead, Sting had to job to Triple H and become part of an angle where the NWO, DX, and others came out to interrupt the match. It was a terrible waste of the one time WWE had an opportunity to get it right.
11 Roman Reigns Picked Late In The Brand Draft And Jobbed
He was in the middle of that epic Vince McMahon push everyone knows exists when Vince finds a toy he really likes. Unfortunately, Reigns did the unthinkable and got busted on a Wellness Policy violation suspended for 30 days. The result was that a wrestler who should have been a shoe-in to go first-overall in the brand split draft was taken much later in the draft and when he was brought back after his suspension was lifted, was forced to job clean in the ring to Seth Rollins on a night that Finn Balor won the Universal Title.
Whatever message WWE was trying to send to the rest of the locker room (likely that anyone can be punished for screwing up the way Reigns did) was forgotten pretty quickly as Reigns shot back up the ranks of the roster and is now the focal point of Raw again.
10 Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat Becomes Jobber
He put on the match of a generation when he battled "The Macho Man" Randy Savage at WrestleMania III and he was potentially set to become one of the WWE's biggest stars. Unfortunately, he was also a victim of unfortunate timing. Most bosses would give an employee a little time off when it comes to having a child and right around WrestleMania III Steamboat's wife was pregnant. He made the mistake of asking for time off. Vince is not most bosses and not only was Vince upset Steamboat asked, but "The Dragon" was punished by losing the Intercontinental Title within two months of winning it.
Steamboat left WWE and went on to be a star in WCW with iconic matches against Ric Flair. Vince later decided to dress him like a literal dragon and make him a complete gimmick character that people didn't much care for.
9 Mark Henry Became The Butt Of All Jokes
Mark Henry signed a big juicy contract and was a disappointment (at least to Vince) out of the gate. The world's strongest man, Mark Henry was a sight to behold but he just didn't seem to catch on with the WWE Universe and took a while to get going. Since Vince was upset that he'd invested so much money on a long-term contract with Henry, he started forcing Henry into roles that were anything but becoming of a strongman hoping he'd quit.
Henry became "Sexual Chocolate", dated an elderly Mae Young and eventually was the butt of all jokes when Young became pregnant and gave birth to a rubber hand. Mark Henry did take a pay cut when he was told by the WWE he wasn't main-event material but he didn't deserve to be humiliated every time WWE had a terrible idea.
8 JBL Lost To Blue Meanie
JBL is not heard of much in the WWE these days. He's still technically an employee but he's mutually agreed with the WWE that a little time away is best for everyone. It all stems from his reputation as a backstage bully and it got so bad WWE had to do something.
The company should have dealt with this issue long ago as it stemmed back years. The most obvious incident was when he took liberties by repeatedly punching Blue Meanie on a live WWE/ECW pay-per-view. Rumours were JBL had gotten a bit tipsy, had a beef with Meanie and decided that was the appropriate time to punch him over and over. Meanie threatened to sue and the compromise was that JBL had to lose clean to Meanie on TV after WWE extended Meanie's contract.
7 Perry Saturn Had A Mop For A Partner
Vince and the WWE have had some crazy ideas. But how does one suggest a wrestler fall in love with a mop as anything other than a punishment? Really, there isn't a place to go after that. Here comes the champ who loves a mop. WWE Hall of Famer who's best partner was a mop. Yea, none of that rings as highly likely.
Why was Saturn given a mop as a partner? It appears it was because he booted a jobber out of the ring on an episode of WWE Jakked when the jobber (named Mike Bell) accidentally landed a hip toss too stiffly on Saturn. Saturn dumped him out of the ring, onto his head and it looked like he was intentionally trying to hurt Bell. That's a severe no-no in wrestling. That was the start of Saturn's downturn in WWE and a series of terrible ideas that eventually saw him gone from the company.
6 Finn Balor Was Not "Too Sweet"
This one just happened and there's no concrete proof that the events the evening before led to Balor losing clean in the middle of the ring to returning Kane, but logic dictates that's exactly what happened. First Finn Balor had to take on AJ Styles last minute. They put on a great match at TLC (which Balor wins) and because everyone is thinking "The Club" or "Bullet Club" or "Too Sweet", both wrestlers give the audience the hand sign after the match ends. Going one step further, Balor posts a video referencing "Too Sweet" in a WWE.com exclusive interview. Fans are all abuzz wanting to see it.
What does the WWE do? They choose Balor of all people (a guy they just chose to win over AJ Styles) to job clean to a veteran and insignificantly returning Kane. Again, we don't know why WWE chose Balor and we don't know if the two things are related, but it appears that way.
5 Owen Hart As Blue Blazer
It's strange to think the WWE would punish a wrestler because he didn't want to appear as though he was cheating on his real-life wife on TV by being part of a storyline that meant having an affair with another wrestler's wife. Owen Hart refused to take part in an angle where he scampered about with Debra (Jeff Jarrett's wife) and since he wouldn't play ball, WWE instructed him to go back to his old gimmick of the Blue Blazer.
It probably didn't bother Owen much, but it was a tad disrespectful. Unfortunately, Owen playing the Blue Blazer character led to his untimely death when he fell from the rafters of an arena before attempting a superhero-like entrance for his match one evening. Such an unfortunate set of circumstances that probably could have all been avoided.
4 DDP Became A Motivational Speaker
DDP should have been a star in the WWE. He'd made his mark as a blue-collar champion in WCW after everyone told him he'd never amount to much as a wrestler and he took an early buy-out from his guaranteed contract to join WWE and try and restart his career. He could have made more money sitting at home but he was thinking long-term.
Instead of WWE giving him an idea he could run with, he arrived to feud with The Undertaker, lost twice and then was pinned by Undertaker's then-wife in the storyline. After that, DDP was forced to become a motivational speaker that drove everyone nuts. It was actually great work by him as an actor, but it was also a dead-end and he was let go not much later. Most people felt it was merely thanks to his reputation as a WCW guy.
3 Macho Man Became A Color Commentator
The Macho Man made two mistakes. One was making people think he'd had an affair with Stephanie McMahon (still not proven to have happened) and the other was to get old. The kicker here is that Macho Man wasn't that old when WWE pushed him to the side for guys like Kevin Nash and Scott Hall (who WWE saw as the future).
They asked Macho Man to lose a retirement match to the Ultimate Warrior and then stuck him on the commentary table to serve out the rest of his contract. Macho Man begged to be let back in as a wrestler and when Vince refused, Savage jumped ship to WCW and changed the face of their company along with Hulk Hogan. All of this over some alleged affair that no one seems to know did or didn't happen.
2 Jeff Jarrett Losing To Chyna
Jeff Jarrett has proven to be the kind of guy who makes a lot of enemies. Recently having checked into a WWE sponsored rehab program, Jarrett knew how to push buttons and take advantage of situations. In one instance, the WWE accidentally didn't realize Jarrett's contract had expired. Problem was, Jarrett was the Intercontinental Champion. Jarrett saw this as a quick moneymaker and refused to drop the belt if he wasn't paid handsomely.
Vince submitted but once he got Jarrett back in the ring, he forced him to finally lose that Intercontinental Title to a female wrestler in Chyna. It's not that Chyna wasn't believable, but pretty much everyone knows that loss was due to the ransom. To this day WWE still won't work with Jarrett.
1 Steve Austin Won King of the Ring
It worked out great for everyone, but Steve Austin's reign as one of the most over champions in WWE history is all thanks to Triple H and the Kilq. In fact, if it weren't for the infamous "Curtain Call" incident that Triple H became the scapegoat of, Austin may never have become "Stone Cold", nor would Austin 3:16 have been born.
When the Kliq broke kayfabe by revealing to an audience they were all friends in real life Vince thought perhaps his "wrestling secret" was ruined. Triple H was punished for being part of the Kliq and was instantly replaced in the 1996 King of the Ring by Steve Austin. The entire landscape of the WWE changed because of that one decision.