Sometimes, life isn’t fair. In both sports and entertainment, there are dozens, even hundreds, of people who try and try to become stars but just never get the chance. Meanwhile, people with far less talent are soon making millions and rising up fast. But these same people also falter and let their egos get the best of them and soon falling. It’s remarkable how people with the world at their feet just fall apart and throw it all away seemingly overnight. As wrestling combines sports and entertainment, it’s no surprise you’ll see the same. So many guys try for years to get to the big time but never do. Meanwhile, guys are given fantastic opportunities but end up blowing them, showing how unfair things can be.
It can be drugs, it can be ego, it can be a bad injury. But most of the time, it’s just a combination of bad luck and bad attitude that tends to mar things majorly. It’s sometimes sad to see guys blowing such a big chance and messing things up but quite often, they only have themselves to blame for it all. From mega-stars to could have beens, wrestling is filled with folks who mess up at the worst time and here are 20 whose bad timing helped mar not just their careers but their companies.
20 Tyler Breeze Leaves Arena Early
Most saw Tyler Breeze as the best NXT star to never hold the NXT title. He was truly over with his great drive and style, fans loving his arrogant character and backing it up with good ring work. When he got the call-up to WWE, it was expected he’d rise up fast with his style, many comparing him to a young Shawn Michaels. One would think Breeze would make the most of this opportunity, a golden chance many would kill for. Instead, he walked out on a show in 2016 because he didn’t have a match scheduled. He was soon pushed down the card on a losing streak before being teamed with Fandango and while their act may win some fans over, it’s hardly the huge push fans had expected. But the fact is, Breeze has no one to blame but himself for not taking this chance seriously and ruining his shot at WWE stardom.
19 MVP Suffers Fluke Injury
Montel Vontavious Porter had a great look and style in WWE. Pushed as an arrogant jock type, he got over well with his skills and was good on the mic. He had runs as a U.S. champion and tag champion and was over with fans. MVP credited WWE’s policy with finding a heart defect in time to fix it. But he got frustrated with his lack of push and soon left for the indies. In 2014, MVP made a return to TNA and pushed again as the new “investor” and on-air authority figure. At first a face, MVP turned heel to attack Eric Young and start the Beat Down Club with the plan for him to win the World title and reign as both champion and evil boss. But during a tour in Europe, MVP took a bad fall that broke his leg. Thus, they had to alter plans for Lashley to win the belt instead. Even then, MVP could have done more but then was made the fall guy for the mess of Hernandez signing with Lucha Underground and was fired. Too bad that a guy as talented as MVP got a (literally) bad break at a bad time.
18 Triple H Participates In Curtain Call
One has to wonder how different things would be without this. In 1996, Hunter Hearst Helmsley was still a snobby character but was clicking and meant for bigger things. He was to win the King of the Ring and take off from there for a main event run against Shawn Michaels. However, in May, Hunter decided to go out and take part in the “Curtain Call,” the moment where Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman and Shawn Michaels broke kayfabe to hug in Madison Square Garden. Hunter was reluctant at first but decided to join his Kliq buddies in bidding a farewell to Hall and Nash. But WWE was livid at the display and thus someone had to pay. With Hall and Nash gone and Shawn champion, that meant Hunter would have to take the fall and lose his push.
That would allow Steve Austin to win KOTR and make the “Austin 3:16” speech that changed everything. Hunter rebounded as IC champ by the end of the year but so much would be different had he not made this mistake.
17 Goldberg Smashes Window With His Arm
As WWE took hold of the Monday Night War, WCW at least had Goldberg. The monster worker soon caught fire with his style and drive to win fans over and be a huge hit. Pushed to both the U.S. and World titles, Goldberg was the biggest thing the company had. But for all his push, the man lacked training and skills and soon was slammed for some sloppy stuff. A key one would have to be his kick to Bret Hart that caused Bret’s career-ending concussion. More serious was days after that, Goldberg doing a bit where he was chasing the New World Order inside a limo. The plan was to use a pipe to smash up the window but Goldberg decided to do it with his elbow. He suffered a cut so deep, he came within inches of losing his arm and put him on the shelf for months. Losing their big star at a key time was another nail in the coffin of WCW and Goldberg was never the same afterward to make this a very bad move on multiple counts.
16 Shawn Michaels Popped For Substance Use
From his debut, Michaels had to balance his terrific ring work with a huge ego and love of partying that marred some of his work. In 1993, he was riding high as IC champion with plans for big feuds and a push to the main event, at which point, he was reported as failing a drug test. Shawn defends it on the idea steroids were about the only drug he wasn’t taking at the time but was suspended and his title was vacated. It did lead to fame with his feud with Razor Ramon and Shawn becoming a true star. In late 1995, he was pushed again as IC champion but then got into a fight with a pack of Marines at a bar, forcing him to drop the title and be off camera for a bit.
Shawn has won fans and respect with his return but his jerk behavior contributed to bad bits that hurt WWE a few times.
15 Alberto Del Rio Loses His Temper
He’s talented but Del Rio has been marred by a big ego and fans not quite taking to his act. He was pushed hard as a singles star in his debut, winning the Royal Rumble and then the World title and shoved down the throats of fans. A face turn did little to win folks over but Del Rio remained a top star for the company and still ready for pushes. In 2014, however, Del Rio heard a guy backstage making a racist joke and slapped him. While he may feel it was justified, it was still a no-no and got him fired. He later returned and got another push but left with anger over his lack of progress up the main card.
That led him to TNA and GFW, soon rising up as their champion and ready for another major run. But then came the reports of his domestic violence with Paige that led to him being suspended and stripped of the title. So not once but twice, Del Rio has let his temper get the best of him to ruin his stuff.
14 Titus O’Neil Grabs Vince At The Wrong Time
Some may feel this is unfair but you also have to understand some issues involved. Titus O’Neil had a good look, beefy and strong and was given some good pushes. Fair on his own, he really took off teamed with Darren Young as The Prime Time Players with runs as tag team champions. In 2016, plans were underway for another singles push for O’Neil, maybe even a run as IC or US champion even as he and Young were doing a reunion. However, during Daniel Bryan’s retirement ceremony, O’Neil got into a “playful altercation” with Vince McMahon. Titus thought it was just joking around but Vince took it the wrong way and O’Neil was suspended for 60 days. In his return, he was pushed down the card, coupled with a heel turn, but nothing really notable and most feel he’s still being punished for that, showing how playing with the boss at the wrong time isn’t a good idea.
13 Lana Ruins A Storyline
When Rusev began taking off as a heel, he was helped by the presence of Lana. A throwback to the days of Americans pretending to be Russians, the gorgeous blonde got major attention for her looks great promos. She and Rusev were clicking as things took a turn with Rusev dumping her, so Lana went to Dolph Ziggler while Rusev took up with Summer Rae. The plan was for them to continue for a while and push both men. However, Lana took to Twitter to post a picture of herself and Rusev announcing their real-life engagement. This caused some major embarrassment by WWE as Lana was basically ruining an entire storyline. Lana and Rusev had to be put back together and while neither suffered massively, it was still a dumb move by Lana to forget there’s still a difference between what’s on screen and what’s real.
12 Jake Roberts Leaves For Better Pay, Gets Shafted
In his prime, Jake was a stunning worker, great in the ring but a true marvel on the mic. With the DDT as his main move, Robert was over huge, his snake in the ring a big addition but fans loving how well he handled the work overall. But Jake had his dark side of addictions, not helped by how he could often seem perfectly sober when he was drunk as hell. In 1992, Jake held up WWE for more money and then asked for a release when he didn’t get it. He left for WCW, signing a plush contract and held by a non-compete clause. Just before he was to debut, Bill Watts took over, literally tore that contract in two and forced Jake to sign a much cheaper deal.
Jake has cited it as a terrible move as he could have stayed in WWE and gotten a booking job for much better pay. But it led him to more of his addictions that would affect his life a lot. Jake has made many mistakes but this counts as one he regrets.
11 Buddy Landel Caught At The Worst Time
A lot of workers have emulated Ric Flair but few as blatant as Buddy Landel. He had blonde hair, used the figure-four as his finisher and even called himself “The Nature Boy.” But Landel could back it up with great ring work, good on the mic and was rising up more in JCP. He was taking off with the plan to have him win the NWA title and embark on a feud with Flair. It should have been a major event, elevating Landel up and make him a mega-star. But just before it occurred, Landel’s personal addictions of drug use led to a huge blow-up with Jim Crockett that ruined his push. He soon left the territory, bouncing around wrestling for years but burned bridges with his attitude. Landel’s life ended due to a car crash in 201. He was a man so close to the top but ended up ruining it.
10 Daniel Bryan Breaks PG Rule
For years, Bryan Danielson had been hailed as one of the best workers in the indie scene. He was a top notch star in ROH, his feud with Samoa Joe a huge deal and many hailing him as a true star. Most thought he was better off in the indies, that WWE wouldn’t really know what to do with him. But he came in as part of NXT and got some attention even with the whacky antics of the brand at the time. He then broke out as part of The Nexus, their debut still incredible, attacking everyone in sight and tearing the ring apart. Bryan was meant to be the leader of the group and elevate himself to the main event. But then he was caught on camera strangling Justin Roberts with his tie. This was crossing the line majorly according to the PG friendly WWE and thus they let him go. Thankfully, it was short-term to let the heat die down and Bryan came back for his star career. Still, it nearly ended before it started thanks to Bryan taking things a bit too far.
9 Curt Hennig's Plane Ride From Hell
For years, “Mr. Perfect” was regarded as one of the best workers around. His tenure in WWE included a great run as IC champion and renowned for his ring work. His stuff in WCW also showed good skills and charisma although marred by some injuries. However, Hennig was well liked for his joking attitude and still had amazing talent. In 2002, he did a spot at the Royal Rumble and got over well, leading to a new contract. It looked like it’d be a good “second act” for Hennig and pushed well. However, Hennig soon got involved in the infamous “Plane Ride From Hell” with some pranks that went badly. He also made the mistake of picking a fight with Brock Lesnar who everyone knew was about to be the new star of the company. It led to Hennig getting fired and many feeling it contributed to his death a year later for drug uses and how this was an imperfect moment for him.
8 William Regal Ruins His One Chance At A Huge WWE Push
For years, Regal had been a dependable worker in many companies despite some personal issues. In WCW, he got in hot water for putting a then-rookie Goldberg in a really hard match that exposed Goldberg’s limitations and was chastised for it. In WWE, Regal had some title runs and a good push but mostly enhancement talent. He was named General Manager of RAW and set up for more attention. A major bit was in 2008 when Regal won the King of the Ring and setting himself up to be a major force in WWE. Reports abound that the idea was Regal would indeed win the WWE title, a reward for his years of service and do a job using his power to make sure he kept the belt. But before that happened, Regal was suspended for drug use and his push was ruined. While he had some good stuff later, Regal never got that title run and a shame his addictions cost him huge.
7 Jack Swagger Blows Away World Title Opportunity
Swagger always had a rough go of it in WWE. He was a good worker and a decent mid-card guy but the company kept pushing him as a main event champion. It didn’t work as fans didn’t buy the “All American American” on that level and Swagger’s runs as World and ECW champ not huge business. In 2013, it looked like Swagger finally had it, a good move paired with Zeb Colter as “Real Americans” and facing off with Alberto Del Rio. The plan was for Swagger to go at Del Rio at WrestleMania for a better push than ever. But just a month before, Swagger was arrested for marijuana use and thus the plans had to be altered. Del Rio kept the title with Swagger facing suspension soon after combined with a broken hand. It basically ended Swagger’s main event run, bouncing around the lower card for a few years before his release and thus ruining his shot at real stardom.
6 Serena Deeb Fails To Stay Straight Edge
Fans have learned to never say never with WWE. Many a worker most thought had burned their bridges for good has returned. But it was still a huge surprise when one of the contestants in the Mae Young Classic was announced as Serena Deeb. The promising worker had come to prominence in 2010 as a “fan” pulled out of the crowd, wanting to be “saved” by CM Punk. He shaved her head in the ring and she was joining his Straight Edge Society for a good push. But right in the middle of it, someone caught video of Deeb drinking at a bar after a show, a major no-no given she was meant to be part of a “straight edge” group. She was fired, which helped end the entire angle. Now with her hair back, Deeb is getting a second chance and shows even WWE can be surprisingly forgiving.
5 Teddy Hart Remains His Own Worst Enemy
He had the name, the skills, the attitude, everything one could need to be a star. Teddy Hart was one of the last graduates of Stu Hart’s Dungeon and looked ready to rise. He had a good break getting a tryout for WWE but soon let go with reports of his attitude getting out of hand. He then had a shot in ROH and infamous for no-selling a beating, then doing moonsaults off a cage to the point of throwing up at fans. He and CM Punk got into a fight after a TNA taping that led to Hart being cut from that company too. From Japan to Mexico, Hart has become a warning to workers as he has blown one opportunity after another to prove himself and instead shows as a guy thinking he’s a much bigger deal than he is, while ruining every opportunity given to be a real star.
4 Jeff Hardy's Victory Road Match
Jeff Hardy was always a great worker, no one can deny that. His fantastic skills and amazing abilities got him over with his unique style to make him a winner with fans. However, Hardy had his addictions and demons that could overwhelm him at times. In 2005, he was pushed in TNA, getting some runs at the main event and prepped for more but no-showed a PPV and fired. He returned but it went poorly and he came back to WWE. In late 2007, Jeff was hotter than ever, pushed hard and most expected him to win the title at the Royal Rumble. Instead, he lost with many fans bummed out. As it turns out, WWE was smart not to do it as just weeks later, Jeff was arrested after a police raid found slews of drugs in his home. Had he been the titleholder at the time, it would have been a huge nightmare for WrestleMania.
So Jeff went to TNA for another run. The “highlight” was when at Victory Road 2011, he showed up for the main event obviously stoned out of his mind, forcing TNA to do a one-minute match that outraged fans. He returned and actually a title reign but most feel he’s let down fans and company alike too often to be a real huge star.
3 Kerry Von Erich Gets On Motorcycle Without Protection
The tragedies of the Von Erich family are well known. World Class never fully recovered from the death of David, robbing a huge star and much of their power. They were still going ahead, including making the move of breaking away from the NWA for their own promotion. Kerry was pushed as the star and while he had his issues in the past of drugs, he was clearly meant to be carrying the promotion on his back and be a champion. He had not just the promotion but his entire family legacy on the line, a huge responsibility. Thus you can wonder what Kerry was thinking when he went on his motorcycle without a helmet or protective pants and cracked it up.
It was a terrible accident as he was nearly killed and actually lost his foot (which amazingly was kept quiet for years). It took over a year for him to return and in that time, WCCW took its collapse to never be as great as it could have been. Kerry messed up a lot in his life but this one was a horrible mistake in many ways.
2 Mr Kennedy Upsets The Wrong People
Rarely can you find a guy with “future main event star” written all over him who messed it up time and again. When Kennedy broke out in 2006 in WWE, he was instantly over with his look, skills and great mic work. His promos and entrance announcement had fans going and the plans were underway for him to get a singles title reign. But then in late 2006, he suffered a knee injury and was out for months. He returned, winning Money in the Bank and set for a bigger rise, including being revealed as Vince’s secret son. But then Kennedy was suspended for breaking the wellness policy, ruining things. More injuries followed before his release due to botching a move on Randy Orton. His TNA run was marked with more injuries to mar his championships and thus Kennedy is a showcase of a guy who somehow managed to bungle his every chance at the big time.
1 Rob Van Dam's Habits Cost Him WWE Title
For years, Rob Van Dam was hailed as the future of WWE. He had broken out in ECW with moves few had seen and a fantastic sight in the ring. A bad leg injury stopped his drive in ECW, robbing them of a major star and by the time he came back, the company was on its last legs financially. Coming into WWE with the Invasion, RVD broke out, soon reigns with IC and tag titles and many fans insisting the company should be putting him on top. He seemed hot, he had a good style and most cited WWE’s refusal to give him a main event run as a bad idea. Finally, in June of 2006, RVD beat Cena for the WWE title at One Night Stand and also named champion of the revived ECW brand to be on top of the world.
Just weeks later, RVD was arrested for drug possession. It got bad press and WWE had no choice but to have him lose both belts and suspend him for a time. For RVD to finally have gotten the break fans always wanted for him and then blow it just a couple of weeks was astounding and has hurt his legacy. Before, fans could complain about him not getting his shot but RVD proved WWE right ignoring him for so long to ruin such a huge opportunity.