In the WWE there are two ways the company will show you that you messed up. The first, and the potentially more sinister way is by poking fun, humiliating you or scheduling a series of big losses live for the public on their programming. This is one way fans can confirm rumors of wrestlers or talent being in trouble backstage. If in one moment a wrestler seems hotter than ever and in the next, they're being pinned by a career enhancement talent, something is up.
The other way you'll get punished is the more traditional way. Suspension, termination or a fine.
In the WWE, both exist. A fraternity in many ways, the company often believes the best way to show its power is to make an example out of its subcontractors. Since punishments like these are not talked about and wrestlers are booked in strange ways all the time, there's no way to prove losses means punishment. But, everyone understands the circumstances.
Over the course of many years, there have been numerous accounts of WWE wrestlers being punished both in front of and behind the camera. What are some of the most insane examples? Well, we believe we've found 15 strong considerations for the most savage. From being humiliated on camera to find ridiculous amounts of money, to being fired for ludicrous reasons, let us know if you think we've found some of the worst ways one company can punish its talent.
15 On-Screen: Lana Humiliated
Right after Lana and Rusev broke character by sharing their engagement on social media, the WWE decided to teach Lana a lesson. In a backstage segment with The Rock, Lana was practically an inch from being sexually harassed by "The Great One" as he suggested a number of sexual positions the two had practiced together one night. It went on and on before Rusev finally walked up and cut the conversation short.
It was a completely out of the blue moment that made little to no sense as the two had no history prior to it and the timing was so obvious that you knew she was being told to stand there and just let The Rock go off. “You showed me how to do the one-legged Russian vacuum,” The Rock said. “Remember I showed you how to do the Wisconsin wheelbarrow?”
The angle drew a ton of criticism from several publications and writers and the scene was said to turn Lana into a prop for a joke at her expense.
14 Off-Screen: Batista Fined $100 Grand For Blading
In a cage match versus Chris Jericho, Batista decided to go old school by blading in a match where he got hit with a pipe over the head. This was in a time that WWE had banned bleeding (the company was PG) and Batista ignored the rule to make the match memorable.
Vince McMahon lost his mind over the match and when deciding on punishment for the wrestlers levied at $100,000 fine to Batista and $5,000 fines to Jericho, referee Mike Chioda and booker Dean Malenko. Batista has said publicly that he thought the fine was incredibly harsh and he knew after that moment the wrestling business was never going to be the same for him. He ended up paying his fine and the other men's fines too but he never forgot the punishment and still holds bitterness over it.
13 On-Screen: Balor Jobbed To Kane
It was the squash match that led to Finn Balor's current status as "not over" with Vince McMahon but after Survivor Series, where Balor squared off with AJ Styles, Balor's push has gone completely off the rails. A last-minute replacement for Roman Reigns who had the mumps, Styles versus Balor was a dream match for many fans. Two former leaders of The Bullet Club, they paid homage to their former crew by respecting each other in the ring with the "too sweet" hand sign.
Apparently, McMahon didn't appreciate the nod and waltzed Balor out on the Raw the following night (after beating Styles at Survivor Series) and had him lose clean to Kane in a match that made Balor look weak and like a midcarder. Balor hasn't gotten much attention since and was rumored to have been removed from his spot in the Royal Rumble main event.
12 Off-Screen: Triple H Pulled From King of the Ring
After the Kliq broke kayfabe (keeping in character) in a major way at an live MSG show, Triple H was pretty much the only member of the group left to punish. Shawn Michaels was off of television and Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were headed to WCW which was the reason behind the display in the first place.
Vince McMahon decided to show everyone that this was not the kind of thing you did without his say-so. He pulled Triple H from King of the Ring, had Steve Austin take his place and Austin became the most over WWE Superstar in history, going on to have a career that dwarfed many other WWE stars during that time. This isn't to suggest that "The Game" would have had the same impact as Austin but there's no way to know what would have happened to Triple H's career had he been given that shot earlier.
11 On-Screen: Saturn Forced To Carry A Mop
After Saturn got upset with an enhancement talent in the ring one night, he decided to dump the poor schmuck outside the ring onto his head. It was Saturn's way of suggesting this kid better watch how he throws his punches. Well, the part-timer was hurt pretty good and Vince didn't like Saturn's reaction. Vince decided to make an example out of him and stuck him with a mop as his sidekick.
The story was that Saturn had taken "one too many" shots to the head and fell in love with a mop he lovingly called "Moppy". In the same way Tom Hanks believed Wilson was a real-life volleyball in Cast Away, Saturn thought "Moppy" was real and had feelings for him.
10 Off-Screen: Destruction of Ultimate Warrior DVD
The Ultimate Warrior did not leave the WWE on good terms after his first major departure. There were attempts to reconcile between WWE and The Warrior, but when WWE realized he was just too much to deal with, they said goodbye for good and made a DVD out of his character and career that made him look insane.
It was full of other WWE Superstars poking fun at him, suggesting Jim Helwig (the person who played Warrior) had lost grip on reality and it was done in a way that would damage his legacy. The whole thing was childish and WWE's way of getting the last laugh. Things did finally work themselves out between the two sides but it took many years to bury the hatchet.
9 On-Screen: Baron Corbin Loses Money in the Bank Match
Baron Corbin was in the middle of a gigantic push by WWE management when he made the mistake of opening his mouth (or, in this case, typing) on social media and not thinking first. In two successive bad judgment calls, Corbin first poked fun at a member of the military and second got into a war of words with Jack Swagger. Corbin lost both exchanges badly.
The consequence for making WWE look bad was placing him in a match with John Cena to which Corbin was putting his Money in the Bank title shot on the line in an effort to win the WWE Championship. He lost that match in a matter of seconds. His push was stopped dead in its tracks and it took weeks before WWE gave him any sort of favorable outcomes in matches.
8 Off-Screen: Jim Ross Fired For Ric Flair Drunken Stooper
Jim Ross was easily the most respected ringside announcer there ever was in the world of professional wrestling. He was also heavily involved in a number of the behind-the-scenes comings and going in WWE. He and Ric Flair made an appearance at a WWE 2K14 symposium but Flair was drunk.
Having unsuccessfully tried to mourn the loss of his son Reid Flair, Ric was in no shape to be a part of that panel at the show and Ross was held responsible for Flair's behavior. Many people believed this was an underhanded way to get rid of Ross and Flair was the excuse to terminate Ross' contract. Ross was told to announce that he'd chosen to retire but everyone knew otherwise. It was a shameful way to say goodbye to a legend in JR. He's back now with the company on a very part-time basis but it's not the same and his legacy was tarnished thanks to some very underhanded tactics.
7 On-Screen: Daniel Puder Gets Chopped Over and Over
Daniel Puder had a mixed martial arts background when he tried out for the WWE through the Tough Enough reality competition the company used to hold on a yearly basis. So, when Kurt Angle invited contestants into the ring to try and take him down, Puder attempted a legit armbar on the Olympic Gold Medalist.
Angle was able to get his way out of it but was extremely upset that Puder would try to take advantage of the situation. As a result, when Puder was entered into the Royal Rumble as a participant, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Bob Holly remembered the stunt and began to chop Puder so many times that his chest was about to explode. They then dumped him over the ropes and he was rarely seen or heard from again in WWE.
6 Off-Screen: Austin Fined For Walking Out
Stone Cold Steve Austin was not happy when he discovered WWE was planning on pitting him against Brock Lesnar for free on Raw one night with next to no publicity. Rightfully so, it didn't make sense to give away such a headliner of a match and Austin wasn't pleased to take the pin under those circumstances. As a result, he bailed on the show and left WWE.
Vince came back the next week, announced in front of a live crowd that Austin was done and he blackballed Austin behind the scenes until Stone Cold came crawling back. When he did, Vince decided to fine Austin to the tune of $250,000. (it was as high as $650K) until it was lowered.
5 On-Screen: Sting Jobs At His Only WrestleMania
Sting was perhaps the greatest wrestler of all-time not to compete in the WWE. He spent years as WCW's franchise talent and when WCW folded, collected on the his guaranteed contract and then avoided WWE out of concern they might bury his legacy. When he finally came to WWE many years later, he was half right.
WWE was glad to have Sting, but at this point, Sting was a shell of his former self. Still able to sell interest in a match, he couldn't wrestle like he once did and he was booked to appear at his only ever WrestleMania against Triple H and lose. Many believed it was WWE's way to saying, "here is your WrestleMania moment, but you aren't winning Mr. WCW." The least WWE could have done was give him a victory in his only ever WrestleMania match.
4 Off-Screen: Enzo Has His Own Dressing Room (Sort of)
Enzo Amore is known to have a sense of confidence in himself. Like a Conor McGregor in MMA or a Andy Roddick in tennis, Amore was cocky and it rubbed many of his fellow WWE Superstars in the wrong way. As a result, he was ostracized backstage.
Enzo was kicked off a WWE tour bus, forced to dress outside the normal locker room where other competitors were changing and he talked to very few other WWE stars who wouldn't give him the time of day. Yet, the whole time Amore has been on screen as WWE's Cruiserweight Champion. He's taking it all in stride and still cocky as ever, claiming to have his own dressing room because he doesn't need friends.
3 On-Screen: Montreal Screwjob
Bret Hart was leaving for WCW. It was a future that was signed, sealed and almost delivered. Unfortunately, there was one thing left to do and that was to drop the WWE Heavyweight Title before leaving. Bret wasn't keen to do the job to his nemesis Shawn Michaels and he definitely wasn't keen to do so in Montreal, Canada where Bret had a legion of fans.
Refusing to take the loss, WWE and Vince felt like they had little choice but to tell Bret one thing and do another. A handful of individuals in the company knew the plan and when Bret was locked into his own finishing maneuver the ref mysteriously motioned for the bell to signify Bret had submitted. The company had lied to Bret and stolen the title from him live on a major pay-per-view.
2 Off-Screen: Neville Forced To Sit Out
The details of what's going on between Neville and the WWE is still a bit sketchy but it was recently learned that after some fruitful talks to try and get Neville back to television, he's once again on the sidelines in a dispute over how he's being used. Neville was unhappy about a lot of things from being asked to lose to Enzo to being stuck in the Cruiserweight Division. He left WWE and hasn't returned, hoping the WWE will release him.
Out of fear Neville might be successful elsewhere and to prove a point that he doesn't get to call the shots on his own career, the company is simply holding out until Neville comes back. WWE has no intentions of releasing him from his deal and they'll keep him suspended without pay until he returns, likely adding time to his deal because of his holdout.
1 On-Screen: Roman Reigns Dissed in Feud With Cena
When Roman Reigns was being "handed the torch" by John Cena this year, it wasn't without first having to eat a little crow and take some lumps on the way to the podium. WWE decided to go with shoot-style promos all the way up the match and week after week Reigns and Cena would come out and tee off on each other about very real issues that were brewing behind the scenes.
Everyone understood that Cena would win over the mic and when he said, "pretend I'm like a drug test holmes... you ain't gettin' past me", it was a parting shot meant to dig straight into the heart of Reigns failing a Wellness Policy test earlier in his career. It was an unnecessary dig and it wasn't relevant to the storyline but Cena and the WWE went there anyway.