Whether it’s getting a flat tire on the way to an important appointment, losing your voice the day you were scheduled for a crucial job interview or dropping that expensive meat lover’s pizza on the floor during a WrestleMania viewing party you were throwing for your hungry friends, we’ve all had our fair share of bad luck.
It happens. No matter how good our intentions are and how much we plan and prepare, things can screw up for us royally and there’s nothing we can really do about it but hope for the best and keep it moving.
Having the occasional bout of tough luck is normal but for some people it just seems like being screwed over constantly for no reason is in their DNA, like a dark cloud that rains over them and follows them wherever they go. I’m sure you know some poor unfortunate souls like this, the kind of person who would slip on a banana peel and POOF—they’re broke and homeless.
In the world of wrestling there are quite a few of those types of people. No matter how hard they have worked and how over they organically got, the Wrestling Gods just would not allow them to succeed and reach their potential. The following list features 15 wrestlers who could never catch a break during their career and could use a hug. If life is going pretty rough for you, just take a look at this list and thank your lucky stars you’re not these poor saps.
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Though he’s jacked to the gills and can chow down like nobody’s business, Ryan Reeves is not much different from us diehard wrestling fans. The big guy grew up on wrestling and saw it as his dream to make it big in the WWE. That childhood dream came to fruition when he was selected on the 4th Season of Tough Enough. He ultimately lost, but impressed enough in management to be signed to a developmental contract.
Ryback would languish in developmental for years until he was brought up as an NXT Rookie in the inaugural NXT season. Ryback’s character was the forgettable Skip Sheffield, a goofy farm boy with a ridiculous catch phrase ( “Yip, yip, yip, what it do?”). Reeves failed to win another competition for a contract but gained some serious momentum when he banded together with fellow NXT Rookies as the Nexus. He was one of the more impressive members of the group but unfortunately that run was short-lived as he broke his ankle and was sidelined for a year.
Reeves returned repackaged as the unstoppable monster Ryback and built up momentum with a Goldberg-esque undefeated streak. It appeared the WWE machine was behind Ryback as he was put into main event feuds with CM Punk and John Cena. However, inexplicably the WWE squashed Ryback’s momentum by turning him heel and pushing him down to the lower card. Since then, Ryback has had start-stop pushes and was last seen losing to the much smaller Kalisto on numerous occasions. This appeared to be the last straw for Ryback as he has now departed from the WWE citing frustration with his standing in the company and payment disputes.
14 Sin Cara/Mistico
The luchador known as Mistico was a mega star in Mexico, dazzling audiences with his innovative offense and lucha libre expertise. When WWE signed him in 2011, it appeared the company had another Rey Mysterio on their hands. Unfortunately, Mistico’s run as Sin Cara ended up bombing with epic proportions.
Part of it was Mistico’s own doing as it was reported that he refused to learn English or acclimate himself to the toned down and more formulaic WWE style of wrestling. This led to miscommunication with his wrestling peers and many embarrassing botched spots and injuries which made both the company and Mistico look bad. Botching and hurting himself as frequently as he did infamously became Mistico’s calling card. A wellness policy violation also didn’t help matters.
Things soured so much with Mistico and WWE that he was replaced with another Mexican wrestler who would portray Sin Cara, the character WWE invested so much time and money promoting the guy as the new star for their Latino demographic. If there was anything to take away from Sin Cara’s miserable run in WWE is that it stressed the importance of NXT to act as a buffer for non-home grown talent to adjust to the WWE performance style.
13 Adam Rose
The story of Ray Leppan, the man behind the partying character of Adam Rose, is one that is heart breaking. You can’t help but feel for the guy. In an ESPN documentary special, Leppan was featured as an up and coming wrestler in WWE’s developmental system who was working to take care of his son who had a genetic deformity and needed constant care. He had hopes that he would succeed so he could provide his family with a better life and give his son the best care possible to overcome his deficiency.
Those hopes were dashed when his NXT character Adam Rose, his second character after flopping as the dark brooding Leo Kruger, was not clicking on the main roster. Rose tried to make the best of his character being a “lemon” but WWE pulled back on his singles run and began featuring him less before placing him with the Social Outcasts, an underused and underrated group of wrestlers consisting of Bo Dallas, Heath Slater and Curtis Axel. The team wasn’t special nor did they have any upward mobility outside of being comedy loser but they were getting regular TV time.
Adam Rose however would find himself off TV when he was suspended for 60 days for his second violation of the WWE’s wellness policy. The suspension caused some drama as Adam Rose complained publically via social media against the suspension and to make matters worse, he was arrested less than a month later for domestic violence. This was the straw that broke the camels back as WWE saw no choice but to release him.
12 Drew McIntyre
Scottish native and current TNA star Drew Galloway had everything going for him when he was signed by the WWE, even being booked as Vince McMahon’s “chosen one” for the Smackdown brand when he debuted in 2009. WWE saw money in the guy and positioned him as a future star of the company when he captured the Intercontinental Championship mere months into his rookie campaign and an impressive undefeated streak for some time.
Things were looking good for McIntyre until a case of tough luck reared its ugly head and derailed his climb to the top. First it was the fact that McIntyre’s work visa had expired and he had to be taken off television, slowing down his momentum. It was beyond his control and McIntyre was able to bounce back from that inconvenience. However it was his domestic incident with then-wife Taryn Terrell (who went by Tiffany on WWE programming) that may have sealed the deal when it getting the necessary backing by WWE higher ups to give him a bigger push.
Drew McIntyre would be repackaged as part of a lower card comedy trio with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal known as 3MB and would be unceremoniously cut by WWE in 2014. So much for being the Chosen One.
11 Damien Sandow
He may have regarded himself as the “Intellectual Savior of the Masses” but the one thing that he couldn’t save was his career from being an epic disappointment. Aaron Haddad has been involved with the WWE since as early as 2002 under different incarnations such as Aaron Stevens and then as Idol Stevens as part of a failed short-lived tag team on Smackdown in 2007. Third time was the charm for Haddad when he appeared to strike gold with his character Damien Sandow, the robe wearing intellectual snob who wrestled in pink tights.
The character was both amusing and talented as Sandow could deliver in the ring when given the opportunity and time. However, as customary of WWE’s ever changing minds, Sandow was pushed and de-pushed frequently through no fault of his own and unfortunately his potential was never maximized. The height of Sandow’s run may have been when he won the Money In The Bank briefcase, only to anti-climactically lose it fair and square in a match against John Cena.
Sandow would flounder around until he struck gold again as a stunt double to Miz’s Hollywood star character. The crowd ate up Sandow’s mannerisms and waited in anticipation for Sandow to break out of Miz’s shadow and be his own man. Sandow succeeded but after that the WWE didn’t know what to do with him so they stuck him with the ridiculous Macho Man gimmick rather than letting him be himself. Even with the crowd behind him and rooting for him to succeed, the WWE released Sandow in 2016.
10 Jack Swagger
An amateur wrestling champion and all-around athletic stud, Jack Swagger at one point was regarded as the second coming of Kurt Angle. He sure was booked that way early on in his career by capturing the ECW Championship in his rookie year and then moving on to both win and successfully cash in his Money In The Bank briefcase to capture the World Heavyweight Championship.
In another one of those inexplicable creative decisions, the WWE lost faith in Swagger and decided to pull back on Swagger’s push, having him drop the title to Rey Mysterio and pushing him backwards into the mid-card. An unmemorable run as United States Champion was ended by Santino Marella of all people and it appeared that Swagger’s career was stuck in neutral.
Things looked to be turning around for Swagger when he would reemerge from hiatus in 2013 having been blessed with a new manager in Zeb Colter, new theme music, a relevant gimmick, and what looked to be a World Title win in a feud with then-champion Alberto Del Rio. Unfortunately for Jack, the WWE put the kibosh on that happening when he was busted for speeding on the highway while high on marijuana. Since then Swagger has not been given anything significant to do which is a shame given his talent.
9 Ahmed Johnson
Before Bobby Lashley, Vince McMahon saw dollar signs in another large, muscular and athletic African-American. That man was Tony Norris, better known in the WWE as Ahmed Johnson. Ahmed had a football background and had made the switch to pro wrestling and was signed by the WWE in 1995. He made an instant impact upon his debut, bodyslamming the near 600 pound Yokozuna on an episode of Monday Night Raw.
The WWE were invested in Johnson, having him team with the likes of Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker against the top heels of the company. After capturing the Intercontinental Championship against Goldust in 1996 Ahmed was well on his way to being a marquee star for the WWE. However he was seriously injured when Ron “Faarooq” Simmons kicked him stiffly in the kidneys where he needed surgery, putting a halt on his main event aspirations.
Ahmed would return from injury to feud with Faarooq and the Nation of Domination in 1997 before setting his sights back in the main event scene against WWE Champion the Undertaker. Before any match could take place, Ahmed was injured again, ruining another main event push.
As a result of those poorly timed injuries and the rise of Attitude Era stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kane, Ahmed’s momentum would never recover and he would find himself out of the company by the beginning of 1998.
8 Muhammad Hassan
In the post 9/11 era of the world and the resulting racial profiling of Arab Americans in the US based on the actions of terrorists during that world-changing incident, the WWE seized an opportunity to create an unforgettable character by the name of Muhammad Hassan. Portrayed by an up and coming Italian-American wrestler Marc Copani, Hassan had the look of a star and had a controversial character that took the WWE by storm in 2005.
Hassan wasn’t a stereotypical foreign character the WWE was known for portraying in the 80s, he was clean-cut, intellectual and spouted off about the prejudices of the country against his ethnicity. Hassan made quite an impact in his first year, interacting in feuds and high-profile contests with Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Hulk Hogan and John Cena.
The WWE had a money making heel character on their hands and had planned to have him go against World Champion Batista at the upcoming Summerslam event. However, WWE placed him in a feud with Undertaker where his character took a dark turn at the worst possible time. Hassan’s character attacked the Undertakers along with mysterious masked men who pledged allegiance to Hassan as if he were a leader of a terror group. It was a tasteless angle that was timed horribly after another terrorist attack had took place in London. The WWE were grilled about their level of insensitivity and had to prematurely kill off the Hassan character at his hottest, ending Copani’s wrestling career.
7 Wade Barrett
An arrogant and brash trash talker with the fists to back them up, Wade Barrett was a bare-knuckle fighter who had the look and the microphone skills to be the WWEs next biggest heel when he became the leader of the Nexus group of disgruntled NXT rookies in 2010. After the group flopped and disbanded, things still looked promising for Barrett if he could stay healthy, which unfortunately for him, was too much to ask.
Barrett would try to play off his real-life background as a bare-knuckle fighter to launch a singles career, but it would be cut short before any momentum could be built for it when Barrett would dislocate his elbow in 2012. Another try at a singles run in 2014 resulted in him capturing the Intercontinental Championship but he was injured yet again, suffering a separated shoulder in a brawl with Jack Swagger.
Barrett would make another comeback with an interesting twist to his character as Bad News Barrett as luck would have it, he would injure himself once again in 2015, ruining his momentum after winning the King of The Ring tournament. After returning from injury this time around, Barrett was placed in the forgettable and short-lived “League of Nations” stable before being released from the WWE in 2016.
6 Ken Kennedy
Ken Kennedy’s career in the WWE carried a lot of potential but a mixture of bad injuries, disciplinary violations and being blamed for injuries to top stars did his career in. Kennedy was a standout talent in 2005 when he debuted on the Smackdown brand. His bravado and mic skills coupled with his in-ring ability got the WWE the machine behind him until he was bit by the injury bug by the end of 2005, tearing his latissimus dorsi, forcing him out of the ring for six months.
Upon returning, Kennedy built himself up again as a premier star on the Smackdown roster, involving himself in high-profile feuds with Batista, Kane and the Undertaker. Kennedy took the next big step in his career in 2007 when he won a Money In The Bank Ladder match. He would never be able to cash the briefcase though, as an injury caused him to give up the briefcase to Edge. Upon returning from injury, Kennedy would find himself out of action once more with a suspension after violating the wellness policy for taking steroids.
Kennedy would injure his shoulder and be out of action again in 2008, leading many to label him as injury prone as well as unsafe to work with because he was involved in matches with wrestlers who were injured and put out of action, namely John Cena and Bobby Lashley. Kennedy would come back in 2009 and compete in a ten men tag match where he would famously do a backdrop to Randy Orton who fumed visibly after landing awkwardly. This would cause Kennedy to get fired after Orton complained about him being unsafe.
5 Dolph Ziggler
Here’s an interesting tidbit. Dolph Ziggler is a two-time World Heavyweight Champion. Don’t laugh. It’s true. Sure they lasted what felt like mere seconds, but he is in the record books, folks. Ziggler’s career can be summed up in one word: disappointing. Ziggler has been with the surprisingly for over a decade and is regarded as one of the finest workers the company has. Athletic, hard-working and dripping with charisma, he’s compared often to Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels. It’s a shock that he hasn’t been a bigger deal but you can attribute a lot of that to bad luck and the fact that you can only go so far in this business with a ring name like Dolph Ziggler.
Ziggler started his career in WWE in 2006 as Nicky, a member of a group of male cheerleaders known as The Spirit Squad. Though they won the tag team championship, they were mostly a comedy group who served as fodder for teams like Degeneration X. Nicky would be repackaged in 2008 as Dolph Ziggler.
Ziggler would be a midcard staple for the next four years, winning the Intercontinental Title on 4 occasions and the United States title. Any time where he would wrestle with top talent like Edge, Batista, John Cena, CM Punk of Daniel Bryan, he’d always be on the losing end.
A Money In The Bank win looked to change things for Ziggler when he would finally cash in his briefcase to capture the World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio in 2013. What looked to be the start of a main event run as champion was cut short when he received a concussion. Ziggler hasn’t sniffed the main event scene since and has displayed his frustration on social media, which may have done more harm than good.
4 Zack Ryder
Vince McMahon puts the responsibility on the Superstars to make themselves stand out and “grab the brass ring”, but what happens when you put in all the necessary work that is required to get that ring and it isn’t given to you? That’s Zack Ryder’s career in a nutshell.
Ryder has been in the WWE for a decade and finally found some success as his Long Island Iced Z character. WWE wasn’t impressed so Ryder turned to the internet to get the company to take notice of him. Ryder’s humor and social media savvy via his YouTube show resulted in a surprising cult following that the WWE couldn’t ignore as much as they wanted to. Ryder had loud vocal supporters and all they wanted was for WWE to give Ryder a shot.
Ryder did received that chance to prove himself and captured the United States Championship. However, his storybook victory was followed up by head scratching booking and an emasculating series of angles feuding with Kane and being dumped by Diva Eve Torres derailed his momentum and set his career back several years. WWE was kind enough to toss Ryder a bone at WrestleMania 32 with a Intercontinental Title ladder match victory on the big stage, but he lost it the next night and has been shoved back into WWE purgatory. Hey Zack, sorry bro.
You can’t help but feel sorry for the late Ninth Wonder of The World. She had a hard life. From her painful upbringing to her struggle with drug addiction to her unceremonious exit from the WWE and her legacy tarnishing porn career, Chyna carried a lot of baggage. But it wasn’t always like that.
During her run in WWE Chyna was on top of the world. She was a staple of the attitude era and with her combination of beauty and braun, she was one of Wrestlings most recognizable stars. She made women a force to be reckoned with in the ring by competing with men and winning, having captured the Intercontinental Championship 3 times and being the first women to ever compete in the Royal Rumble match. She broke stereotypes and became a crossover star based on her in-ring accomplishments. So what happened?
Triple H and Stephanie happened. Chyna and Triple H were a long-time couple and came up in the business together. Chyna was very much in love with Hunter but Triple H started a relationship with Stephanie McMahon which made for an awkward atmosphere backstage.
The company saw it best to release Chyna from WWE while he was in her prime and at the height of her popularity. Some say that being let go by the WWE was the beginning of Chyna’s downward spiral. Who knows how things could have been for Chyna had things gone differently.
2 Daniel Bryan
Of course you can’t have a list called Bad Luck Bryan without Daniel Bryan! Daniel Bryan’s case of bad luck is one that brings tears to a wrestling fans eye. Unfortunately circumstances out of Brian Danielson’s control led to a premature end to his career.
Trained under Shawn Michaels, Daniel Bryan had a dream of making it big in the WWE and fortunately had the Heartbreak Kid’s backing which led him to a WWE tryout in 2000. The brief stint never materialized to anything so he took himself around the world to season his skills and make a name for himself. As “The American Dragon” Danielson was recognized as a technical and submission wrestling mastermind, but he had yet to prove himself on the big stage.
He got that chance when he was signed to WWE in 2010 to be a rookie on the first season of NXT. He was a runner up in the competition and also became a part of the original Nexus group but because of his commitment to his role of being a destructive menace that resulted in a visual of him choking announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie, he was fired from the WWE.
WWE would re-sign Bryan and he would go on to become a US Champion, Tag Champion and World Heavyweight Champion. Even with all these accolades, WWE still failed to invest in Bryan as a franchise player for the company despite his supportive and vocal fanbase. The fans wanted to see D-Bry succeed and because the WWE thought different, the fans vocally railed against Bryan’s poor booking to the point that he was inserted into the Main Event picture. Bryan would get his Mania moment, overcoming Triple H and the authority to become WWE Champion.
But a series of unfortunate events would cut the title reign short. A nerve issue in his neck would force him to relinquish the WWE Title and be put on the shelf for 6 months. He’d return, only to receive a what was ultimately a career ending concussion. Oh, what could have been.
Darren Drozdov was a member of the Legion of Doom, known for his ability to puke on command (which Vince McMahon just loved as seen on the Beyond the Mat DVD) and a promising young superstar during the Attitude Era. Sadly though, he’s most known for having the worst bit of bad luck in wrestling history, having had his WWE career ended permanently in a little over a year after it began.
An errant running powerbomb he suffered during a match with D’Lo Brown on an October 1999 SmackDown taping did poor Droz in as he suffered two fractured disks and was paralyzed from the neck down.
Droz is now a quadriplegic but thankfully he’s at least gotten back feeling in his upper body and arms. It’s unfortunate that such a promising wrestler and all around good man like Droz has to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair but those are the breaks. Darren is at least in good spirits about his fate all things considered but it’s a shame how his career had to end so abruptly from such a freak “tough luck” accident.
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