Let's talk karma for a moment. And by karma, we don't mean the female wrestler whose WWE run didn't go as well as expected — she spelled her ring name with an "h," after all. Predictable jokes aside, you all know what it is — good things happen to people who do right by others, and bad things happen to people who don't. Alas, it isn't always that way for people in the wrestling business. To borrow one from TV Tropes, pro wrestling has its fair share of "karma Houdinis," or people who so often get away with doing bad things.
With the current situation surrounding JBL, many fans have wondered if this notorious backstage bully and karma Houdini would one day get comeuppance for his decade-plus reign of terror in the WWE locker room. For his alleged actions against Mauro Ranallo, he's probably going to get away scot-free once again, but you might be surprised to know he's in this list, having gotten his just desserts twice, and in memorably epic fashion at that. And he's not the only wrestler who's gotten karmic retribution for his actions against colleagues or the company he works for.
That said, let's take a look at 15 wrestlers who found out the hard way that karma can be a you-know-what.
15 Daniel Puder
The "million-dollar" edition of Tough Enough in 2004 was responsible for introducing us to a number of future WWE mainstays — Mike Mizanin became The Miz, Ryan Reeves became Ryback, and Marty Wright, who was disqualified early on for lying about his age, became The Boogeyman. Then there was Daniel Puder, the man who won the supposed $1 million top prize, yet quickly faded away into obscurity.
The reason for this was Puder's reckless decision to shoot on Kurt Angle during one of those many Tough Enough challenges, as he put the Olympic gold medalist in a non-worked kimura lock, coming very close to breaking Angle's arm in the process. Meanwhile, WWE's veterans were watching and waiting for a chance to really take Puder to school, which they did at the 2005 Royal Rumble. Four minutes and a flurry of chops after entering that year's Rumble match at #3, Puder was eliminated.
Perhaps Bob Holly, Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero went too far in their in-ring "hazing" of Puder. But his brief flop of a WWE run is enough punishment for what he did to Angle on Tough Enough.
14 Lance Cade And Trevor Murdoch
Hey, we promised 15 wrestlers, didn't we? Although JBL's two inclusions in this list (as we teased in the intro) suggest there are 14 wrestlers here and not 15, we also happen to have one tag team included, and it's the Ruthless Aggression duo of Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. And, as JTG described it in his two autobiographies, they were quite a piece of work to deal with, acting dismissive of JTG and Cryme Tyme partner Shad Gaspard almost from the get-go, and even going as far as conspiring with the referee to change the finish of a match they had against the duo, while effectively throwing JTG and Shad under the bus and getting them fired from WWE in 2007.
Cryme Tyme would soon be rehired by WWE, and while they won three less tag team belts than Cade and Murdoch did (meaning none), they ultimately had better name recall with fans. And in 2008, the bottom fell out for Cade and Murdoch, who fell down the card and broke up in storyline, with Murdoch being given a half-baked country singer gimmick. In all fairness, he wasn't that bad a singer, but since when has that gimmick really gotten over?
13 Abraham Washington
Daves Chappelle and Letterman? Funny. Conan O'Brien? Funny. James Corden? Funny. Abraham Washington? Funny, until you're at the second episode of his ECW talk show. Instead of becoming WWE's next great African-American manager in the tradition of Slick, Teddy Long, or even Clarence Mason, "A.W." might as well have stood for absolutely worthless. His humor seemed forced and unnatural, and it went into uncalled-for territory when he referenced Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case while hyping the Prime Time Players in an August 2012 match.
For that utterly tasteless joke,, A.W. was quickly fired from the WWE, and he spent quite some time calling out the company on social media. And it's no surprise major companies have largely stayed away from him for the past five years — the bad joke was a big enough red flag, and his unprofessional reaction to his firing certainly didn't help.
In 1995, Tammy Sytch joined WWE and became the prototype "Diva" for the company — she was young, attractive, and oozing with charisma and sex appeal. And she acted like she knew it, probably too much for her own good, as she would rub many a wrestler the wrong way for acting like a prima donna backstage. It didn't help either that she openly cheated on her boyfriend (and colleague) Chris "Skip" Candido, most notably with Shawn Michaels.
We could say that the sad state of Sunny's current life is karma for her years of bad attitude as WWE's original Diva, but we won't go there. Instead, we're going to refer to something that happened at the peak of her WWE run. As Dennis Knight (a.k.a. Phineas Godwinn) tells it, several wrestlers "donated" their bodily fluids (and other gross substances) to fill up the slop bucket he was supposed to dump on Sunny as The Godwinns fired her. And slop her they did, as WWE's resident sex symbol obviously wasn't feeling so pretty anymore at the end of that angle.
11 Terry Taylor
Inasmuch as nobody likes school or workplace bullies, nobody likes school or workplace rats either. Sure, we can get it if someone reports a particularly egregious offense (like the aforementioned bullying), but if someone rats you out for smoking in the boys' room or playing hooky, that suggests that person is clearly trying to get on the authority figures' good side. Terry Taylor was the latter kind of person, as colleagues claimed he'd stooge on the boys for even the flimsiest of reasons.
We'd say that "rat-titude"of his has allowed him to wear a variety of hats in the wrestling business. Aside from that, he also wore a rooster's crown, as WWE management punished him for his stooging by having him work as The Red Rooster. That meant adding red spikes to his long blonde hair as he worked the gimmick of a man who thinks he's an actual, cock-a-doodle-dooing rooster. Oh, and Rooster lost a lot of matches too.
Yes, it was a huge comedown from being once shortlisted to play Mr. Perfect, but for the many wrestlers Taylor had ratted out, it was a punishment well-deserved.
10 Buzz Sawyer
Buzz Sawyer is the most obscure example on this list, but he was a pre-fame contemporary of Bret Hart, Mick Foley, and The Undertaker, who all had negative things to say about him despite his in-ring talent. In the case of Hart and Foley, they wrote in their respective autobiographies about how Sawyer would act standoffish as a young prodigy, and subject them to cruel pranks. And in 'Taker's case, the future Phenom paid Sawyer for some wrestling training, only for Buzz to buzz off and leave town after just one day of training.
Sawyer was only 32 years old when he died of heart failure in 1992, and as Billy Jack Haynes tells it, he was supposedly murdered due to some shady deals he was involved in as a part-time drug runner. But his bad karma is the fact that he never lived up to his potential, never getting past the midcard in WCW and not lasting long in his two runs with the company, mainly on account of attitude, drug, and injury problems.
9 Perry Saturn
At a 2001 dark match, jobber Mike Bell had the bad luck of accidentally hitting Perry Saturn with a stiff shot, while catching him in a bad mood. Upset at being potatoed by a lowly enhancement talent, Saturn went ahead and shot on Bell, hitting him with a flurry of stiff shots in a legitimate attack. WWE caught wind of this, but instead of suspending Saturn, they instead saddled him with a potential career-killer of a gimmick.
Saturn's new role as a concussion victim who fell in love with a mop was a sleeper hit among WWE fans, and it took him to even greater popularity than he ever enjoyed as the muscle of the Radicalz. But as we pointed out in an earlier list, the gimmick didn't do him favors in the long run, and it was no longer funny when news broke that Saturn was in poor financial shape and in threat of losing his home, due to traumatic brain injuries rendering him unable to work.
8 Lex Luger
At first, Lex Luger wasn't exactly a top-tier real-world villain among professional wrestlers, even if he always had a bit of an ego behind the scenes. But he gained notoriety in 1995 when he dealt with WCW behind Vince McMahon's back, signing for the "enemy" for a much lower rate and not bothering to tell anyone at WWE that he was skipping town. That, however, had nothing on the alleged abuse he inflicted on girlfriend Miss Elizabeth and how he allegedly facilitated her downward spiral by getting her hooked on drugs.
Ironically, Luger had already reformed his ways and become a born-again Christian when, in 2007, he suffered a spinal stroke that rendered him a quadriplegic shell of the man he used to be as "The Total Package." Many say he had it coming due to his chronic attitude problems and supposed mistreatment of Elizabeth, but we have to give him credit for turning things around somehow after his wrestling career ended.
7 Triple H
You would think that someone as powerful as Triple H is today has eluded visits from the karma police in his two-plus decades working for WWE. But back when he was a young midcarder going by the full version of his ring name — Hunter Hearst Helmsley — the future King of Kings was one of four men who spit on the then-treasured tradition of kayfabe, as he and fellow heel Diesel group-hugged it out with babyfaces Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at a Madison Square Garden house show.
That incident, of course, is known to fans as the "Curtain Call," and it infuriated a lot of old-timers in the business — even in 1996, it was heresy for faces and heels to act like real-life friends in front of live audiences. With Shawn Michaels untouchable as the WWE Champion and Kevin Nash and Scott Hall both on their way out of the company, WWE punished Triple H by jobbing him out for months and taking away his planned win at the 1996 King of the Ring tournament.
6 Seth Rollins
We are definitely not condoning the act of fooling around on your significant other. But if you happen to be doing that, you should make absolutely sure that your partner has no way to get their hands on your phone. Because if they do, and they find photo or video evidence of your infidelity, they just might use it against you in ways you never imagined.
As of February 2016, Seth Rollins was engaged to a woman named Leighla Schultz, while apparently getting some action on the side from since-released NXT wrestler Zahra Schreiber, whose nude photos had somehow found their way to Rollins' social media accounts... and the WWE website, which automatically streams wrestler tweets. In retaliation, Schultz posted The Architect's own nude photos, which quickly went viral.
With his tail (no, not THAT one) between his legs, Rollins issued a statement apologizing for the scandal, and to his credit, he's recovered quite well from it. But as he found out the hard way, there was a big — and embarrassing — price to pay for his infidelity.
5 JBL (Part 1, Vs. Blue Meanie And Stevie Richards)
John Bradshaw Layfield may be getting away with murder at the present, with WWE refusing to punish him for driving Mauro Ranallo away from the company, even as "Fire Bradshaw" chants ring out on SmackDown Live and #FireJBL trends on Twitter. But as we said, he has been a victim of karma in the past — just ask Stevie Richards, who issued a rather painful "receipt" on behalf of his friend, the Blue Meanie.
Back in 2005, JBL had apparently taken offense to some things Blue Meanie said about him on the internet, and had decided to make his feelings known by legitimately attacking him during a battle royal at the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view. WWE had decided to appease Meanie by having JBL job to him in a subsequent match on SmackDown, but in came Richards, interfering in that match with a chair shot on JBL and making sure that he hit the notorious backstage bully as hard as he possibly could.
4 JBL (Part 2, Vs. Joey Styles)
You want more JBL, you've got more JBL. That's probably not going to convince WWE to take action against him, but we just want to point out that karma's proved to be a you-know-what to the Wrestling God more than once in his long tenure with the company.
Even if Joey Styles was a known commodity in the world of wrestling as the voice of ECW (the promotion, not the brand), and already far from being a WWE newbie at the time, JBL still saw him as a fair target for hazing at a 2008 Tribute to the Troops tour in Iraq. After days of JBL calling him names and even spilling his drink on him at one point, Styles had had enough and sucker-punched the much larger JBL, catching him unaware and, miracle of all miracles, humbling him real good.
Apparently, Styles' decision to stand up for himself had impressed JBL, and he never messed with him again as far as we know.
3 Shawn Michaels
In the mid-'90s, Shawn Michaels had three very well-known pet peeves — sobriety, Bret Hart, and doing the job. Talking about that last pet peeve, he became known backstage as someone who'd do anything to avoid taking the pin, and he would oftentimes ensure that he never had to be seen counting the lights en route to losing the belt to somebody else. But nothing topped the time when he allegedly faked a career-ending knee injury (and the loss of his smile) to avoid having to return the favor to Hart (whom he beat for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XII) and lose his belt at WrestleMania 13.
To this day, many still doubt the legitimacy of that injury, especially since Michaels would be back in the ring in just a few months. And many feel that Michaels had it coming when an actual back injury forced him to retire in 1998 at the tender age of 32. It would be four years before he would successfully unretire, but by that time, he had thankfully turned his back on his vices and prima donna attitude, having done so as a born-again Christian.
2 Hulk Hogan
We don't know Hulk Hogan personally, so we couldn't really say whether he is, by nature, a racist or not. But the fact that he was angry at the time doesn't excuse him for using such disgusting language when talking about his daughter Brooke's then-boyfriend, who was African-American. He had made those remarks in 2007 in the infamous sex tape he filmed with Bubba the Love Sponge's wife Heather Clem, and when they leaked out in 2015, WWE promptly fired Hogan and removed almost all references to him from their website.
It's obvious that the Hulkster had never imagined he'd be caught on tape repeatedly using the n-word and saying that everyone's a little racist. And if there's one good thing that came out of this, Gawker settlement notwithstanding, it's how Hogan appears to be genuinely remorseful for having said those things in anger. Triple H has suggested the door will always be open for a Hulk Hogan return, so we may have to wait and see if that does ever happen.
1 Dynamite Kid
Back when a certain John Layfield was probably terrorizing the Abilene Christian University football team's locker room, Dynamite Kid was WWE's number one bully. With his younger, impressionable cousin Davey Boy Smith along for the ride, Dynamite was 5'8" and 230 pounds of bad news. As a tandem, The British Bulldogs were pulling the cruelest ribs on their WWE colleagues, just like they did working for the Hart family in Stampede Wrestling. Dynamite in particular was extremely stiff in the ring, skillful as he was despite his already-escalating injury problems. Worse, he was an absolute monster away from the ring, having allegedly threatened to kill his then-wife and committed other acts of abuse while on 'roid rages.
That all happened about 30 years ago, and while it's sad to think of his plight at the present, there aren't a few people out there who think it serves him right. Paralyzed since the 1990s due to a back injury, the real-life Tom Billington is now broke, sickly, and looking much older than his actual age of 58, and as of late-2016, he had spent nearly one year in a Canadian hospital after suffering a stroke.