Wrestlers can lose success just as quickly as they achieve it in the WWE. You’d be surprised at just how many wrestlers have dropped the ball over the years, only to feel the consequences in a big way. No one’s untouchable, and depending on what it is they do – there can be some pretty serious consequences for their actions. Some of the people on this list were successful but had problems that caused a rift between them and the WWE. Others weren’t all that great and needed to reinvent themselves. No matter the reason or the method, second chances in the WWE can be even more crucial than getting into it in the first place.
There are a lot of reasons as to why the WWE might let someone go. Alcohol and drug abuse, discipline issues, conflicts of interest – the list goes on and on. While some wrestlers are shown the door and never again invited back in, plenty of them have been given a second shot at it. Therese guy are luck and while some have made the best of this opportunity to revive their WWE careers, others kind of did nothing with their second chance. Let’s take a look at 8 wrestlers who made good on their second chance and 7 who squandered it.
16 Made Good: X-Pac
There’s a lot you can say about X-Pac as a wrestler and a person. Some would argue that you could say many worse things regarding the later. A member of the Kliq, X-Pac had a pretty successful wrestling career in the 90s and is best remembered for his underdog victory over Scott Hall in an episode of RAW back in 1993. Wrestling career aside, he’s most often remembered for the people he surrounded himself with. X-Pac ditched the WWE in favor of WCW In 1996 but soon found his way back a few years later. It was a smart move on his part as he had a pretty good run his second time around. His career’s kind of quieted down but he’s made some on and off appearances since 2011.
15 Squandered It: Tensai
After initially lasting with the company for five years, Matt Bloom made his way back to the WWE in 2012 and there were some pretty loft expectations that came with the news of his return. While his first run in the WWE was alright, his stint with NJPW saw him mature as a wrestler and performer, and this excited some fans in the WWE. But sadly for Bloom, his Tensai gimmick wasn’t all that great of a platform to build on. The gimmick was terribly outdated and so, people tired of it quick. Things only got worse when he made a controversial comment regarding his manager, Sakamoto and Bloom never really recovered from that. He finished his second WWE stint as Brodus Clay’s sidekick and literally danced his way off the map.
14 Made Good: Eddie Guerrero
The death of Eddie Guerrero is one that still weighs heavily on many wrestling fans minds. Guerrero struggled with drug and alcohol abuse early in his career. Addiction plagued him in his days with the WCW and though his first stint in the WWE was great for him professionally, it couldn’t keep his demons at bay. The problem got out of hand and he was let-go. While most would’ve given up, Guerrero persevered and got clean. He soon rejoined the WWE and found even greater success, becoming a multiple time champ, and was more popular with the fan base than he ever was. He sustained his success and became one of the WWE’s biggest starts, making his death all the more saddening.
13 Squandered It: Batista
You might be more used to seeing him on the movie scene rather than in the ring nowadays, but Batista got his start in the wrestling business, and for a time was one of the bigger stars in the industry. It wasn’t always like that though, and he had to work a considerable amount in order to get to where he was in his prime. But his initial run in the WWE was plagued with fights, problems with his ego and various backstage relations. Eventually, he walked out on the company due to his disagreements with how its direction heading forward. He returned in 2014, but had a very underwhelming run. It might just be that Batista’s best wrestling is behind him.
12 Made Good: Christian
Getting his start with the company back in 1998 as a member of The Brood, Christian is best known for his time as Edge’s tag team partner. The two had a good deal of success together as a duo, but Christian’s talents as a singles performer kind of got overshadowed as a result of it. But Christian’s second run in the WWE remedied all of that. Coming back in 2009, Christian didn’t quite find his groove till 2011, when he was involved in a series of matches with Randy Orton that really solidified him as a main eventer. That success wasn’t sustained, and while his wrestling days are over, he’s still found a comfortable spot with the WWE out of the ring.
11 Squandered It: Sable
The first real Diva of the Attitude Era, Sable was never really someone you tuned in to watch because if her wrestling abilities. There’s no tiptoeing around it, the main draw here was sex appeal. Like many that would follow her, Sable offered little in terms of actual wrestling ability but was a pleasure to look at. But things eventually got out of hand for her and her ego caused some pretty big problems back stage. After making various demands, she left the WWE in 1999. That wasn’t all though, as she hit them with a huge lawsuit as well. She somehow found her way back a few years later but didn’t really change at all in terms of her ability. Compared to the newer Divas on the roster, Sable wasn’t really anything special anymore and kind of faded away.
10 Made Good: Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy is one of several troubled wrestlers to find himself on this list. A fantastic performer, Hardy has struggled with addiction in the past, and now seems to have conquered his demons for good. But back when he left the WWE in 2003, things seemed pretty bleak. It was clear that something was off, and that was greatly affecting his performances. A second chance in 2006 helped revitalize his WWE career. He became a bigger star than anyone could have imagined him being. Several intercontinental runs led to a WWE champion win and cemented him as one of the most popular wrestlers around. Now back for a second time with his brother, Jeff looks to ride out the twilight years of his career as a success in the industry.
9 Squandered It: Goldberg
Coming over from WCW, there were lofty expectations for Goldberg as he came into the WWE. But those expectations never really bore fruit in the end, and his career was mostly forgettable. In total, his first stint lasted around a year. Funny enough, that’s just about how long his second stint with them lasted too. Rumors first started circulating that Goldberg would be back a while ago and then it actually happened. It wasn’t a great run. Not necessarily terrible, but it was evidently more of a nostalgia thing than anything else really. Now possibly teasing another return, we’ve kind of learned what to expect from a Goldberg-WWE partnership. If his next return is anything like his first two stints then he might as well stay home.
8 Made Good: Brock Lesnar
Funny enough, we go from Goldberg to the last guy he wrestled during his first WWE stint. Brock Lesnar and Goldberg certainly share a history, but they’ve also been given second chances by the WWE. Lesnar is a physical specimen and one of the most recognizable wrestlers out there. He’s also known for a pretty dominating UFC career. Lesnar has been incredibly successful with MMA and there was a point in time where it was going so good you had to wonder why he’d return to wrestling at all. But he did, and it was a good thing too. Lesnar was even better his second time around and completely rejuvenated his wrestling career.
7 Squandered It: Jake Roberts
You have to admire Jake Roberts’ dedication and willpower. “The Snake” has always had demons he’s had to deal with, but that didn’t stop him from being a great wrestler. Having hit his stride in the 80s, Rogers was caught up in drugs and alcohol throughout most of his professional career. As his addiction got worse, so did his wrestling and he left the WWE in 1992 for a short-lived stint in WCW. It was awful. He would return to the WWE in 1996, with a new gimmick that reflected his clean lifestyle. But that sadly didn’t last and Roberts relapsed, once again leaving the WWE. Good news is though that he seems to have changed for good and finally looks to have turned his life around.
5 Made Good: Bray Wyatt
Second chances don’t always come as an invitation back into the company and can sometimes just be a wrestler salvaging their dwindling career. Initially introduced to fans as Husky Harris, Wyatt showed some potential early on but was by no stretch of the imagination a success and was often the victim of WWE Creative’s misuse of his talents. He disappeared from TV for a whole two years, only to return as Bray Wyatt and was met with a much warmer response from the fan base – leading to much more success as result. Wyatt has managed to sustain that success well for the most part, and is similar to his father and grandfather in that regard. While his wrestling career is thriving it looks as though his personal life just took a major hit.
4 Squandered It: Gail Kim
Gail Kim was always kind of ahead of her time in the wrestling business, but that was never more evident than when she was a part of the WWE roster. She was a Diva back when most of the female talent was really just eye candy, and always sort of seemed out of place there. After an initial run that didn’t really amount to much, Gail went over to TNA where she found much more success and was truly appreciated for her ability, not just her looks. Gail did make her way back to the WWE, but made it very clear that it was just for the money, which is a shame because the women’s division could’ve really used a leader like her in the long run.
3 Made Good: Shawn Michaels
Hard to believe that one of the most popular wrestlers of all-time almost lost it all. Initially finding success in the early 90s, Shawn Michaels was a force in the WWE and really captured the fan base on his climb to WWE stardom. But with all that success, came an excessive and eventually damaging party lifestyle that got him in trouble on several occasions. Michaels was eventually out of the WWE and while that might’ve hurt most people, it was a huge wake up call for HBK. Michaels got clean and fixed himself up completely. The WWE took him back in 2002 and he had a resurgence, proving that he could overcome his demons and once again be one of the biggest names in the industry.
2 Squandered It: Alberto Del Rio
At this point, everyone’s kind of tired hearing about Alberto Del Rio. We’re tired of hearing about him. We’re tired of hearing about Page and what her future holds, and we’re tired of hearing about the two of them together. Del Rio first left the WWE in the midst of some controversy and a backstage assault. He was very critical of the company following his departure and when it seemed like every bridge had been burned, Del Rio popped up again. Things were going pretty decently for him at first too, but he once again left – angry with how he was being handled. Well, he’s most certainly on the WWE’s blacklist now, as he’s continued to badmouth them every chance he gets. The worst part is, he seems to have dragged down a young, promising talent with him this time around.
1 Made Good: Daniel Bryan
Some would call Daniel Bryan the ultimate underdog in wrestling, and that kind of mentality and perseverance is just what sold him to fans and helped him have the career he had. In 2010, Bryan was poised to have a major part in the Nexus invasion storyline. But then he went and strangled Justin Roberts with his necktie and was promptly let go as a result. Things didn’t look good for Bryant, but he made his way back to the WWE a few months later and really took advantage, capturing the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX. His wrestling days are behind him, but he’s still a popular figure in wrestling and one we want to see more from in the future.