Alright, let’s be fair here from the beginning and say that I understand that everybody makes mistakes. We should all be given some measure of forgiveness if the situation that occurred was not malicious, and if intentions were not to harm anybody – sometimes people do things that are not good for them or others due to a lapse in judgement. However, sometimes these situations occur at what can be considered the worst possible time. Whether it is because someone is on the brink of greatness in their career, or if they are just starting out as a rookie and do not understand the norms of professional wrestling, some “screw-ups” can be detrimental to their career and very difficult to recover from.
Some of these situations are currently occurring in the world of professional wrestling, and others we can still feel the aftershock from how they effected wrestling history. At the end of the day, one thing is for sure – the timing of these incidents were absolutely horrible (or hilarious, depending on which angle you want to look at it from). When you work for WWE, they tend to have an even lower tolerance for messing up.
Here are 15 WWE Stars Who Screwed Up At The Worst Possible Time:
15. Buff Bagwell Stinks Up The Joint In WCW’s WWE Audition
Oh, Buff Bagwell – he just cannot catch a break. No list about wrestlers is completed without featuring Buff Bagwell in some shape or form, and unfortunately it is never very complimentary for him. I am going to continue this trend, and bring up how Buff Bagwell essentially ruined WCW’s opportunity at becoming its own brand within WWE. How did he ruin this, you ask?
After purchasing WCW in 2001, the alleged initial idea for WCW was for it to become a separate brand alongside WWE, complete with its own roster and television show apart from RAW and Smackdown. In order to pilot this idea, a WCW-style main event between Booker T and Buff Bagwell on the July 1st 2001 episode of RAW. While the inception of a WCW brand would have been a very interesting turn for WWE to take at the time, the match between Booker and Bagwell was not received well by the live crowd or WWE Management, and the project was quickly shelved after this. Imagine being Bagwell and having the hopes of the WCW faithful hanging on your ability to perform, and you cannot deliver on their expectations. Don’t you think you could have turned up the heat just for one night, Mr.Stuff?
14. Lio Rush Pokes Fun At Emma’s Release
To go from one of the most infamous “screw-ups” to one of the most recent. Rush was signed to a WWE developmental contact in 2017. Rush quickly started a program with The Velveteen Dream in NXT, however he quickly disappeared from NXT television and events after only a couple of matches. How could one of the hottest young wrestlers be removed from all of his WWE-related appearances?
When long-time NXT and WWE performer Emma was released from her contact after being defeated by Asuka during her main roster debut, Rush took it upon himself to tweet to Emma regarding her release stating, “I guess these are the things that happen when you’re not TRULY ready for Asuka”. Whether or not Rush tweeted this in an attempt to promote Asuka or to take a shot at Emma is unknown, but it was not received well by any member of the NXT or WWE locker rooms. As punishment, Rush was forced to issue an apology and was removed from NXT events for a month.
13. Rob Van Dam Gets Busted While Holding The Title
More than likely the most written about “screw-up” of all time, Rob Van Dam deserves a place in the record books for how bad his timing was in this story. Coming off his most successful run in the WWE, Van Dam was crowned as the first (and only) dual ECW and WWE Champion in history, after defeating John Cena at ECW One Night Stand 2006. With his career seemingly in great position, Van Dam went on to hold both of these titles for only one month, when he lost the WWE Championship to Edge (on a Monday) and then the ECW Championship to The Big Show (the next day). The question is, why would WWE put two World Championships on someone only to have them lose less than a month later?
Very shortly after winning “the big one”, Van Dam was pulled over for speeding while travelling in Ohio with his riding buddy Sabu, and was discovered to be in possession of various narcotics and paraphernalia. Naturally, after news of his arrest broke, he was suspended by the WWE for 30 days, and was made to drop both of his championships as quickly as possible. Since his suspension, Van Dam has never achieved the level of success that he was on the brink of in 2006 – during his return to WWE in 2013 he was placed in the main event scene, but did not achieve any measure of success that he did previously.
12. Blue Pants Can’t Control Herself
Sometimes fame goes straight to a wrestler’s head that they do not understand how good they have it as a wrestler with WWE. Such is the case when it comes to Leva “Blue Pants” Yates during her time with NXT in 2014. Not a full-time wrestler with NXT, Yates was an enhancement talent used to make other female members of the roster look strong by defeating her. While Blue Pants only made a total of nine appearances with NXT, something miraculous started to occur – she was getting over with fans, and became very popular during her appearances. Following her final appearance where she was defeated by Nia Jax, it was announced that Blue Pants had been released from her contact. Why would someone gaining so much popularity get released?
According to several reports, Yates was released from her contract for several reasons. It is documented that Yates became intoxicated at several company events, with corporate employees present, which did not showcase her character very well. After stringing all of these negatives together, the decision was made to let Yates go. So much potential, but there is not enough skill in the world that can erase a bad attitude.
11. Triple H’s Push Is Delayed After The “Curtain Call”
Sometimes wrestlers screw up at the worst possible time, but at the end of the day it will still work out for them as long as they can endure the punishment that follows. Triple H is the prime example of this during his career – for those that have ever wondered why Triple H has been so protective of his main event status of the years, perhaps you will understand after you learn what he did to earn it.
In 1996, Triple H was a member of “The Kliq” and as has been well documented, the group broke kayfabe at a house show in MSG, with both faces and heels embracing. This was still taboo in the business. While Nash and Hall could not be punished because they were leaving the company, and Michaels was WWE Champion at the time so he was not likely to be reprimanded, Triple H was left to hold all of the blame for the incident. As a result, Triple H’s intended push to win the 1996 King of the Ring tournament was removed, and he was relegated to jobber status. Sorry Hunter, but it was the wrong time and wrong place for you!
10. Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn Don’t Follow The Script
Another recent example of a wrestler’s own ego getting in the way of them achieving success, in this case two wrestlers. Let it be known that I fully understand the intention of both Owens and Zayn during this incident, as I understand the reasoning behind the wrestling psychology. However to put it simply, both were asked to do a part of the job, which they chose to ignore. Both men are fantastic wrestlers, but should have recognized in the moment that scripts are made for a reason, and should be followed as wrestlers with the WWE.
As referenced in various wrestling news articles, a recent episode of SmackDown, Owens and Zayn were wrestling The New Day and at one point were scripted to “feed” for the team, which refers to them getting beaten up by the “good guys” in order to make the audience happy. Departing from the scheduled plans, Owens and Zayn fled from the ring instead, making themselves look stronger than their opponents, which was deemed as “going into business for themselves” and was not following the job they were asked to do by management. Both Owens and Zayn were recently in high-profile spots in the careers, and it currently unknown how it will affect them both long term, but if any of the previous entries are an indication then it will not be a positive experience for them.
9. Jack Swagger Gets Busted Right Before Scheduled Title Win
What is it with wrestlers being pushed into main event status only to screw it up for themselves? There are already far too many examples on this list for it not to be a conspiracy, but let’s add in another one! Enter Jack Swagger during his return to WWE in 2013 as “The Real American”. During this time period, Swagger’s character was at peak performance, and he was garnering national headlines for how despicable both him and his manager Zeb Colter were portraying themselves as over-conservative Americans advocating for anti-immigration beliefs. Given his status as a heel, Swagger was given a chance in the main-event scene, ultimately being given a World Championship match at WrestleMania XXIX against Alberto Del Rio. How do we think this opportunity turned out for Swagger?
While Swagger may have been on the cusp of reaching main-event status in his career for the first time in three years, he shot himself in the foot when he was arrested for driving under the influence and marijuana possession weeks before WrestleMania, severely dwindling his chances of becoming World Champion, and almost missing his match completely as a result of the felony charges. Following this, Swagger was never given another opportunity as a main-eventer, and quietly finished his career with WWE in 2017.
8. Brodus Clay – Spoiler Alert!
Somebody call my Momma because I have a sad story about Brodus Clay! If you could separate Clay from his gimmick as “The Funkasaurus’ for a moment, take a look at him as a wrestler – he is a 375 pound strong man with a menacing look and a lot of charisma. There is no reason that he would not be successful in WWE if he was presented as an unstoppable monster with a mean streak who delighted in injuring his opponents, and did not care about anything except for winning. Doesn’t that sound like a winning act for a wrestler? The question is, why wasn’t Brodus Clay given this treatment during his WWE debut in 2012?
Unfortunately for Brodus Clay, he became very “trigger-happy” before his debut and unfortunately leaked his debut before it occurred, and also spoiled some of WWE’s plans for other wrestlers in the process. Despite his debut being advertised on RAW, it was delayed for several weeks as a result, and when he finally did debut in January 2012, but in the way that anybody had thought about. Clay did not debut as the monster I described earlier, but as the fun-loving, dancing Funkasaurus who would rather gyrate than attack his opponent. Rumor has it that Clay’s gimmick change was a result of his social media activity before his debut. Sorry Clay, but next time keep it under wraps.
7. Daniel Bryan Goes Too Far (According to WWE)
Everybody loves Daniel Bryan, but let’s not forget that he once legitimately screwed himself out of his WWE career. Once a part of the hottest wrestling storyline, Daniel Bryan was a member of The Nexus faction, who violently invaded RAW on June 7th 2010 in an attempt to make a name for themselves. The Nexus group attacked wrestlers, commentators and announcers and also ripped up the surrounding ring area to send a message to WWE Management. The angle was very well received because it was a genuine surprise and served to introduce the members of the group to the wider audience in a sensational fashion. However, despite all of this grandeur, Daniel Bryan was released from his WWE contract shortly after this occurred.
During the “attack”, Bryan took it upon himself to attack ring announcer Justin Roberts by strangling him on the floor with his own tie directly in front of the camera, as well as spitting in John Cena’s face as an act of defiance. Given WWE’s conservative TV-PG rating at the time, WWE Management felt that this was too violent to support that rating, and released Bryan as a result. While Bryan eventually made his way back to WWE very quickly and became one of the most beloved wrestlers in recent memory, it is important to remember that it was almost gone in the blink of an eye due to this one night.
6. Think Before You Tweet, Bronson Matthews
Not only do we have a trend occurring with main-event wrestlers, but also with new wrestlers joining the WWE who can very simply “screw-up” their new career with a single social media outing. Let’s take the case of the most recent Tough Enough winner Josh Bredl, known as Bronson Matthews during his time as a wrestler, who single handedly ostracized himself from the NXT locker room when he proved how little he knew about the wrestling business. While training at the NXT Performance Center, Matthews must have been reviewing an episode of RAW when he tweeted out a reference to The Social Outcasts group (made up of Heath Slater, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel and Adam Rose) that they were #socialjobbers.
Oh Mathews, how quickly you learned how important respect is to the wrestling business. Wrestlers from both the WWE and NXT rosters were quick to pounce on Matthews’ mistake for disrespecting other wrestlers, such as Kevin Owens who said “He is not our peer” and Cody Rhodes who tweeted “Enjoy dressing in the hall d***. Not blocked. Banned”. Matthews was never able to recover from this #socialblunder and he was quietly released from his contact in 2017 without ever wrestling on a televised NXT show. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
5. Roman Reigns Violates The Wellness Policy
This is an easy one that I am sure everyone will be able to get behind due to the mass levels of hatred for Roman Reigns – remember when Reigns lost his WWE World Championship because he violated the WWE Wellness Policy? During his third WWE Championship reign in 2016, Reigns was booked to wrestle Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank, and up to that event he had been positioned strongly to win and retain his championship. Unexpectedly, Rollins defeated Reigns decisively, stripping him of the championship. This seemed very strange to wrestling fans, as all signs at pointed to Reigns retaining and staying as champion for at least the next 60 years due to how WWE Management was positioning him. Why did things suddenly go sour?
Following the event, it was revealed that Reigns had violated the WWE Wellness Policy after a routine drug test. Following the release of this information, Reigns publicly apologized on Twitter for “letting everyone down”. Furthermore, WWE revealed that they had known about his failure prior to the Money in the Bank title defense, and allowed Reigns to wrestle and lose the title publicly as punishment. He is not a guy who failed a drug test, he is the guy who failed a drug test at the worst time in his career.
4. Hardcore/Crash Holly Botch A WrestleMania match ending
Now it is time for my favorite entry on this list – picture yourself being showcased in a match at WrestleMania with millions of eyes watching you perform. Surely you would take the time to ensure that everyone understands how your match is scheduled to end, and you would take the time to walk through the timing of it before wrestling, right? Well apparently both Bob and Crash Holly left some timing to chance during their Hardcore Battle Royal match at WrestleMania 2000. While things can always go wrong in wrestling, it is our right as fans to laugh at it when it does.
During their Hardcore Match at WrestleMania, the stipulation was that the Hardcore Championship could change hands multiple times via pinfall or submission during the match, but that it was the final wrestler who was “champion” would be crowed the winner. Confusing for you? Don’t worry, it didn’t end well for the wrestlers either. Ultimately, the finish was that Crash Holly would be hit with a glass jar (ouch) by Hardcore Holly in the final seconds of the match, but the timer would expire before Hardcore could be crowed champion. Unfortunately, the timing for the match was off slightly, and the referee counted Hardcore Holly as the new champion with one second remaining in the match. Talk about bad luck!
3. Papa Shango Misses His Cue At WrestleMania VIII
While we already discussed an error in a Hardcore Championship match being made at the worst possible time, imagine screwing up when you were involved in a WrestleMania main event? Just ask Charles Wright, who was playing Papa Shango during his WrestleMania VII main event push. The ultimate finish for the match was planned to be Sid Vicious losing to Hulk Hogan by disqualification after Shango was scheduled to break up a pin attempt by attacking Hogan, furthering his main-event level feud with one of the biggest wrestlers of all time.
Why did that not go as planned, you ask? Well Mr. Shango missed his cue to break up the pin attempt, resulting in Sid kicking out of Hogan’s leg drop maneuver, which was unheard of at the time. Due to his error, Shango did not enter his feud with Hulk Hogan, and was instead relegated to be an enhancement talent for the rest of his time on screen, before being released in 1993. While Charles Wright who played Papa Shango ultimately would receive several more opportunities with WWE, ultimately receiving an induction into the Hall of Fame in 2016 for his time as The Godfather, he surely must have kicked himself every night for making such a big blunder on the biggest stage of them all.
2. Emma Forgets To Pay For iPad Case
Poor Emma just cannot catch a break! Emma never quite made it to a high-status position during her time in WWE, despite being a formidable wrestler. Some say it because her goofy character never clicked with the audience, or because her gimmick change to Emmalina was not executed well. We will never really know for sure why Emma was not successful in WWE, but we do know that some shenanigans in 2014 did not help her achieve status in the “good books” of WWE Management.
In June of 2014, Emma had a pretty rough day – it was reported that she had been released from WWE as a result of her being arrested for shop-lifting. According to several reports, Emma had forgotten to pay for an iPad case while leaving a Walmart’s self-checkout area, and was reprimanded as a result. Once the story had been cleared up publicly, WWE retracted her release, but unfortunately for Emma the damage had already been done, and she was never able to recover from this blunder.
1. Steve Austin Takes His Ball And Goes Home
I can distinctly remember the day that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin apparently “took his ball and went home” from WWE television in 2002. I have always been a tremendous Steve Austin fan, and to hear that he would not be appearing on my television screen was devastating, and I reacted very angrily at the situation. While Twitter didn’t exist at the time, I would have loved the opportunity to express my displeasure with the situation, and I truly feel that because of this incident we missed out on some of Stone Cold’s final matches as a professional wrestler, and it still upsets me.
In the Spring of 2002, Stone Cold was visibly upset with his position in WWE, stating during an interview with the Byte This program, “To be honest with you, the whole thing sucks. I’m not happy with the direction Stone Cold is going and I’m not happy with the direction the whole company is going. I think the writing has been pretty substandard”, before ultimately not showing up for an episode of RAW because he was scheduled to lose to upcoming star Brock Lesnar. While Austin’s theory on this is that he did not understand why this match was being given away on free television, he damaged his career and legacy by walking out.
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