Professional wrestlers don't always make the best decisions. Sometimes they're looking to make an extra buck here and there and sacrifice their dignity in the process by shooting ridiculous commercials, taking a role in a movie where they have to babysit children, or sometimes they pass up on blockbuster movie deals that would have made them an additional fortune on top of their already inflated back accounts. Either way, wrestlers don't always know what's best for them and their respective careers, and fortunately for us, hindsight is always 20/20.
We're going to be taking a look at some of those times when we can look back and say, "Yeah, maybe that wasn't such a good idea." Nobody's perfect and nobody makes the right call every single time, but that doesn't mean that we can't critique their judgment.
We also understand that many of these instances may have been beyond their own control, with Vince McMahon being heavily responsible for a lot of ridiculous moments in wrestling history. After all, who else would come up with the idea to have someone fall in love with a mop? Regardless, the damage has already been done, so here's our list of 20 times where wrestlers made some particularly dumb career decisions!
20 The Shockmaster Cometh
Fred Ottman went by many names in his professional wrestling career: Tugboat, Typhoon, and perhaps the most infamously awful and potential career-suicide role as "The Shockmaster." It's a moment in wrestling history that will absolutely never get old, but for Ottman the embarrassment is something that follows him around ever since the debacle took place.
The Shockmaster was supposed to make a thrilling entrance by bursting through a fake wall, but he tripped over a 2x4 and fell flat on his face, with his glittered Stormtrooper helmet flying off in the process. Fred has said that as soon as he got back from shooting the live segment he knew it was a total disaster and he could only shake his head and drive home knowing that what was done was done. The character was then modified to be a clumsy fool in the ring and Ottman would struggle to gain popularity with the character throughout his brief run as The Shockmaster.
19 Steven Regal vs. Bill Goldberg
Back in the heyday of the Monday Night Wars, Goldberg was the undisputed dominant force that tore through the entire WCW roster like he was shot out of a cannon. He was a rare home-grown talent that wasn't an already established WWE Superstar, so it was no surprise that WCW made the conscious effort to put a lot of stock into his success as a wrestler. This is where Steven Regal comes into play...
All of Goldberg's previous matches leading up to Regal had been 30 to 45 second "squash" matches, where his opponents would routinely only have to take a spear and a Jackhammer for a quick 1-2-3 before the match was over, but Regal had other intentions. Regal contends to this day that he was told by management to give the fans a "six minute competitive match" in the ring with Goldberg, but WCW strongly disagrees. Regal ended up executing a barrage of stiff wrestling maneuvers and to Goldberg's credit he didn't actually look completely useless in the ring. WCW would end up firing Regal several months later and it can be argued that this match was a major factor in his release.
18 The Disco Inferno
We've discussed Disco Inferno on this site several times, but that doesn't take away from the fact that disco is officially dead and gone. Glenn Gilbertti's entire gimmick throughout his tenure in WCW was that of a disco dancing fool that would annoy the crowd with his antics before, during, and after matches, legitimately looking to get negative heat from the crowd based solely on an era of music that everyone hated. To a point it actually worked, but that's the problem with the entire gimmick: it never led to anyone ever taking him seriously as a talented wrestler.
He went on to win WCW's Cruiserweight and World Television titles on a couple of occasions, but the real reason why he makes this list is because of this lone fact: when WCW was purchased in 2001 by rival federation WWE, they also had the option to purchase any contracts from the existing WCW roster that they felt could be successful. They took one look at the name "Disco Inferno" and, well, let's just say that it didn't do him any favors in getting employed in WWE.
17 Mike Awesome's Entire Run in WCW
Any wrestling fan of the mid-to-late '90s had to appreciate the hard fought battles between Masato Tanaka and Mike Awesome throughout their stints at FMW in Japan and ECW in the United States. Their matches were legendary and that's what makes Mike Awesome's decision to leave ECW and venture off into WCW so maddening. It's understandable that anyone in his position would have done the exact same thing: leave for much greener pastures (as in way, way more money), but how WCW chose to utilize Mike Awesome was downright appalling.
For him to go from an undoubtedly awesome presence into "That '70s Guy" -- complete with '70s attire and a Partridge Family-esque bus that he drove to the ring -- was just absurd. We suppose that it's only fitting that he also once had the "Career Killer" gimmick, because that's essentially what happened to Awesome once his own reputation and career was ruined in WCW.
16 Bret Hart Leaves WWE
Even Bret Hart will tell you that the most miserable time of his entire career was during his stint with WCW. By now it should be common knowledge that Bret, along with many others at the time (see: Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash...), left WWE for Ted Turner's endless mountain of money in WCW, but the only problem was this: the entire company was so severely disorganized that they had no idea how to use a talent like The Hitman.
Yes, WCW had a string of nearly two straight years of beating WWE in the ratings war, but they sacrificed their investment in the future for immediate returns, which made weekly programming a total disaster at times. This was the case with Bret Hart, who was never happy with his minimal role in the rival organization. Hart has stated that if he could do it all over again that he would never choose to leave WWE, but unfortunately for him that's one regret he'll have forever.
15 Raven a.k.a. "Johnny Polo"
Scott Levy is widely considered to be one of the best "talkers" in wrestling history, often cutting promos that really engaged the crowd and never seemed to be unnatural. His mic skills eventually got him a job as a commentator for WWE in the early '90s while also being a manager named "Johnny Polo," but it's what he did behind the scenes in the WWE that really got him into a bit of trouble with Vince McMahon.
According to Levy, "There [were] some other things that I can’t get into that were heat and so it was a whole confluence of things that were partially my fault, definitely partially my fault, and just circumstances. They made the policy that talent couldn’t sleep with the office people. I was proud of that.” He left WWE shortly after the minor scandal and when he returned to the company after his stints with ECW and WCW, Vince McMahon apparently had no idea why someone re-hired Johnny Polo (unaware of his entire run as Raven).
14 Mr. Nanny
Blockbuster movie roles are nothing new to the stars from the world of professional wrestling, but there's one role that I think a particular wrestling icon may want back: Mr. Nanny. Yes, the immortal Hulk Hogan -- in all of his muscle-bound glory -- took a movie role where he was responsible for two small children, along with all the typical house chores and workout sessions. But wait, there's a catch: the family was also being chased down by a villain who was set out to obtain a highly sought-after microchip that was being hidden in the little girl's doll. Sounds absurd, right? Well, that's what movie-goers in 1993 thought as well, and the film only grossed $4.3 million before it was mercy-killed and pulled from theaters.
Hulk Hogan's career would eventually recover in 1995 when he signed with WCW to be a wrestler again, but his Mr. Nanny blunder will live on forever as one of the lowest rated movies according to Rotten Tomatoes (with a fitting 7% rating).
13 Shane, Or Should We Say "Dean," Douglas
In the early '90s, everyone dreamed of wrestling for the WWE. In fact, I think everyone would have done just about anything to be given the opportunity, nothing short of being a clown, a farmer, a dentist, a mountie, an undertaker… just about any occupation as long as it got you onto TV every week. Shane Douglas -- the one time "Franchise" of ECW -- falls into that long list of gimmicks that the WWE employed just before The Attitude Era, which might have been his worst possible idea at that point of his career.
You see, Shane Douglas had already shocked the world by literally throwing down his NWA Championship Belt and proclaiming himself the franchise of a new organization: ECW. He planted the seed that would turn out to be Paul Heyman's greatest accomplishment, Extreme Championship Wrestling, and would see the company take leaps and bounds by becoming a real threat to WWE and WCW... but not before he quit ECW and went to WWE to become Dean Douglas. Really, Franchise?
12 Jake The Snake Quits WWE
Everyone knows the name Jake "the Snake" Roberts. Everyone knows how capable he was on the mic and how his second-to-none ring psychology made him one of the biggest Superstars of the late '80s and early '90s. He was at the peak of his career and that's when he decided to quit.
Jake stated that he was supposed to be next in line to receive a writing job for the WWE when Pat Patterson stepped down from his role, but Vince "betrayed" Roberts by leaving the position vacant out of respect for Patterson. This infuriated Roberts so much that he demanded that he be released from his contract in 1992 so he could wrestle elsewhere (WCW), but he wasn't able to immediately join the company due to a 90-day "no compete" clause in his contract. To make matters worse, on the 87th day prior to him receiving a $3 million paycheck from WCW, Bill Watts took over the organization and immediately ripped up Jake's potential contract causing him to lose out on millions of dollars.
11 Hogan Pulls His "Creative Control"
What could possibly go wrong when you have Hulk Hogan, Vince Russo, and Jeff Jarrett all trying to negotiate a finish to a match? Well, Hogan is likely to pull his "creative control" card, as he was often prone to using throughout his career. If Hogan didn't want to job to someone, he simply wasn't going to do a job and there was nothing anyone could do about it. When push came to shove and WCW had their Bash at the Beach PPV, Hogan pulled that all too familiar card and refused to job to Jeff Jarrett (probably for good reason). What happened afterward is how he makes this list...
After the "match" against Jarrett (where Jarrett literally laid down for Hogan), Vince Russo came down to the ring and verbally assaulted Hogan in a shoot promo, exposing all of the backstage politics that Hogan was known to pull throughout his entire career. Hogan would never wrestle for WCW ever again and his career would never be the same.
10 Joey Mercury Fired for Substance Abuse
WWE has had its fair share of substance abusers in the past (see: Roberts, Jake), and as a result they've taken a hard stance on trying to clean up their industry by suspending wrestlers for violating their new-found "Wellness Policy." Joey Mercury was one of those wrestlers that unfortunately had substance abuse issues get the best of him and he stated in CM Punk's Beyond the Ring documentary Best in the World that due to his drug and alcohol addiction, WWE had no choice but to fire him.
Mercury's addiction also led to his house being foreclosed on by the bank, but there's a light at the end of this story: CM Punk -- the loyal friend that he is -- wrote a check to Mercury "in the six figures" in order to prevent him from losing his house. Mercury sobered up shortly afterward and he remains employed by WWE as a behind-the-scenes producer.
9 Jeff Hardy Hits Rock Bottom
The sky was the limit for Jeff Hardy's potential in the WWE throughout the 2000s, but he would derail his own career by letting his personal demons get the better of him.
It's an all too familiar tale of yet another wrestler struggling to stay sober, but Hardy's affliction became such a problem that it spilled over into his work in the rin, and that's a gigantic faux pas. The lowest point of his career came when he was set to wrestle the living legend Sting at a TNA Pay Per View event named "Victory Road."
According to Eric Bischoff, Hardy showed up to the event a mere five minutes before his scheduled main event match in absolutely no shape to perform, stumbling down the aisle and awkwardly taunting the crowd while Sting patiently stared at his impaired opponent. Sting, knowing that he was risking his own safety by being in the ring with Hardy that night, quickly ended the match within 90 seconds and left the ring. Hardy was suspended indefinitely by TNA and he later admitted that his performance at Victory Road was a huge mistake.
8 Saturn Gets a Mop
Nobody will ever really know the exact reason why Perry Saturn decided to lose his mind during a televised match and shoot on Mike Bell, but it was a stupid thing to do nonetheless. Okay, yeah, everyone can see that Bell's arm drag was awful and caused Saturn to land directly on his head, but minor accidents like that happen all the time. Was it really necessary to take matters into his own hands and throw Bell out of the ring, so that he'd land directly on the top of his head?
Either way, WWE punished Saturn by giving him an angle with a new love interest: a mop. That's right, a standard house mop. Saturn embraced his punishment so much that the angle actually got over with the crowd and it remains his most successful and memorable time of his entire career. Unfortunately for him though, his entire career can be summed up by one single word: "Moppy."
7 Mankind Sells Chef Boyardee
Mick Foley will forever be regarded as a dedicated professional wrestler who consistently put his body on the line night after night just for the fans enjoyment. He's a hardcore icon and a true legend of the industry, and apparently he just can't get enough of Chef Boyardee's Overstuffed Ravioli.
It wasn't the first time that a wrestler starred in a commercial and it certainly won't be the last, but his commercial was one of the most embarrassing moments not only for Mick Foley, but for fans who actually watched him utter the infamous line "It's the perfect ravioli for all mankind!" There he was, sitting under a tree surrounded by a mountain of empty Chef Boyardee cans, wearing Mr. Socko on his right hand and eating a big bowl of ravioli with the other. We'd like to think that he regrets making that decision, but I'm sure the paycheck he received was worth the loss of his dignity.
6 Stone Cold Passes on The Marine
Stone Cold Steve Austin was the first in line to get pitched the role of John Triton for the movie The Marine, but he thought it over for a while and ended up turning down the role in favor of other opportunities that were potentially more lucrative. Randy Orton was then set to be the star of the film, but his bad conduct discharge from the United States Marine Corps prevented him from accepting the role, making John Cena the lead actor in the three film series.
It went on to become a success, although early reviews suggested otherwise. The movie ended up grossing $22.1 million in the theaters and an additional $30 million in home sales and rentals, so Stone Cold may have been a little quick to judge the movie as a total bust. Whether or not you think the movie series is any good is entirely up to you...
5 Chainsaw Charlie
Terry Funk wasn't a household name for WWE fanboys who grew up during the late '80s and early '90s Hulkamania era, but for many wrestling fans outside of mainstream professional wrestling he's considered an icon and a living legend of the business. That's what makes his WWE Attitude Era character of Chainsaw Charlie so baffling.
4 Daniel Bryan Chokes Justin Roberts
Daniel Bryan was making a name for himself in the WWE after performing well in every independent promotion he wrestled for, most notably Ring of Honor. So when he was asked by management to do a segment with the entire Nexus crew to "go out and raise hell," that's exactly what they did. They tore up the ring, they broke the announcers' table, and Daniel Bryan made an unfortunate decision to choke Justin Roberts with his own tie.
Since the PG era was in full-swing at the time, WWE was none too happy with Daniel Bryan and they fired him four days later. We all know that Bryan's career would rebound shortly afterward, but that's only because of two very important people: Pat Patterson and John Cena. If the two of them didn't vouch for Daniel Bryan, we doubt that Bryan would have ever been given a second chance in the WWE.
3 Stone Cold No Shows Raw
If there's one thing that Stone Cold Steve Austin was known for during his run in WWE, it was that he always wanted to make sure that quality matches showcased each and every one of their events. This kind of idealistic (and inarguably correct) mentality is what eventually caused him to make a pretty severe and controversial decision to no-show a taping of Monday Night Raw in 2002, where he was scheduled to put over Brock Lesnar in a King of the Ring qualifying match.
Austin got the word about what creative had in store for the show and instantly disagreed with the direction, stating that a match like that required a build up of at least two or three weeks in advance in order to make the type of money that it rightfully deserved. Whether or not Austin was 100% correct in his assertion, the fact that he turned his back and walked out on the company is something that he said he regretted and he would approach the whole situation differently if he could do it all over again.
2 Madusa Trashes The WWE Women's Title
Not exactly happy with her lack of competition -- on top of the fact that WWE was struggling financially at the time -- Alundra Blayze (a.k.a. Madusa) was released from WWE and immediately made the all too familiar jump to WCW in late 1995. It was here where her wrestling life would change dramatically, all from one little promo.
Eric Bischoff called Madusa and asked her if she still had the WWE Women's Championship belt in her possession and told her to bring it to Nitro so she could throw it in the trash on live television. Thinking it was harmless, Madusa carried out Eric's plan, not knowing it would send shockwaves throughout the wrestling world and essentially put her on a WWE blacklist for a full two decades. Thanks to this lone act two very important things happened as a result: the Monday Night Wars were officially underway between WWE and WCW, and Vince McMahon made sure to never let his champions leave the company with his belt ever again, which inevitably led to the infamous Montreal Screwjob.
Blayze would also be blacklisted from the WWE for years, until her Hall of Fame induction in 2015.
1 Warrior Threatens McMahon
The Ultimate Warrior was an unstoppable force in the WWE and was at the top of the wrestling world after he beat Hulk Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania VI. What he chose to do next not only jeopardized his entire wrestling career, it severed the relationship that he would have with Vince McMahon and the WWE for well over two decades.
In the lead-up to SummerSlam in 1991, Warrior sent a detailed letter threatening Vince about no-showing the event unless he was given $550,000 in order to purchase a home, a guarantee that no one else would make more money for the show, a higher percentage of merchandise sales commissions... just to name a few of his demands. Vince agreed to the terms but would suspend Warrior directly after the show, stating that he was held at ransom and had no other choice but to agree in order for Warrior to appear at SummerSlam. Warrior wrestled sporadically for WWE and WCW afterward but the damage was already done: it would take until WrestleMania XXX before he would finally get the nod to enter the WWE Hall of Fame and make amends for past grievances. Sadly, Warrior died three days after his induction, but his spirit will run forever.