The recent drama of Enzo Amore’s antics in WWE has become one of the biggest stories in wrestling. Enzo has a knack for running his mouth and getting in trouble. Roman Reigns kicked him off of a tour bus during an international tour for badmouthing the business loudly on a phone call. Other wrestlers allegedly wanted to punch him in the face. Things got worse when Amore bragged on social media about spending $10,000 on floor tickets to see Floyd Mayweather defeat Conor McGregor. This all led to WWE punishing Enzo on television by having Braun Strowman destroy him along with turning him heel in the Cruiserweight Division.
There is a long history in wrestling of performers being embarrassed on screen for things that went down backstage. Promoters don’t want to fire talented performers that rubbed them the wrong due to being able to make money off them. It leads to a middle ground of making a fool out of the performer for a short time period as punishment before hopefully allowing them to have another chance at getting over. All of these situations showcase wrestlers that saw their careers impacted due to behind the scenes drama. These are fifteen wrestlers were embarrassed on-screen for something backstage related.
15 Roman Reigns
The current position of Roman Reigns as the golden boy that WWE wants to push to the moon makes you think he’d be above this. However, Reigns found his way on WWE’s bad side in 2016 when he violated the Wellness Policy during his reign as WWE World Champion. Reigns lost the title to Seth Rollins and left television for thirty days as per the suspension rule.
WWE was obviously upset at their champion failing a drug test during the biggest push of his career. They punished Reigns by having Seth Rollins air his “Rollins Report” television segments mocking Roman for using drugs. It was the first and one of the few times that WWE allowed someone to make Reigns look silly. John Cena brought up the drug test failure again this year during their promo battles, but the punishment came from Rollins during Reigns’ suspension.
14 Perry Saturn
One real life incident that changed the trajectory of a career came when Perry Saturn broke character. A local enhancement talent apparently botched a move that put Saturn’s safety at risk and it made him snap. Saturn decided to pummel the non-contracted wrestler in the ring and it was uneasy to watch. WWE was livid at Saturn for putting them in risk of a lawsuit. Saturn also apparently didn’t apologize to the wrestler backstage.
All of this culminated in Saturn getting stuck with the gimmick that featured him falling in love with a mop. Saturn dumped heel manager girlfriend Terri Runnels and started dating the mop known as Moppy. This was a memorable storyline for all the wrong reasons. It killed Saturn’s career as he was fired shortly after.
13 Serena Deeb
The biggest break of Serena Deeb’s career came when she shaved her head to join CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society faction. Punk was arguably the most relevant heel in WWE at the time and his faction was getting tremendous heat. Deeb played one of the followers that was apparently brainwashed by Punk’s words demanding she cut her hair and follow the straight edge lifestyle.
Unfortunately, Serena was caught drinking and partying at a bar following an episode of SmackDown. Punk got word of this and was furious over one of his stable mates breaking character in public. WWE aired a segment that depicted the real situation of her drinking at an establishment. Punk then kicked her out of the Straight Edge which coincided with a real life firing shortly after.
12 Public Enemy
The tag team of Public Enemy was one of the first hot acts to come out of ECW. Following a disappointing run in WCW, both Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock signed a deal with WWE hoping to become successes during the Attitude Era. One issue that surfaced right away was heat from the rest of the locker room that believed Public Enemy had huge egos that made them the enemies.
This heat led to Rock and Grunge getting absolutely decimated during a Sunday Night Heat match against the APA. Bradshaw and Ron Simmons destroyed Public Enemy using weapons in a very stiff manner. You could tell neither member of Public Enemy saw this coming. The embarrassing moment came in the form of pain. Grunge and Rock would not last much longer in WWE following this match.
The Legion of Doom is regarded as the most successful tag team of all time due to success in every promotion they wrestled for. Both Animal and Hawk created the perfect team of the era that destroyed everyone in their path. Their biggest issue would surface when Hawk’s alcohol and drug use became an addiction that negative impacted his life.
WWE especially grew tired of Hawk when they felt his performance was weakening due to the influence of substance abuse. Instead of trying to clean his life up, WWE decided to punish him with a gimmick that saw him pretend to be under the influence in the ring. The storyline saw Hawk’s real life issues become a secondary angle that led to Hawk teasing suicide. It was all uncomfortable to watch and one of WWE’s worst examples of punishing someone for backstage issues.
10 Bret Hart
Bret Hart is always going to go down among the greatest in-ring performers of all-time and one of WWE’s biggest stars. The one major issue between Hart and WWE would become a massive wrestling story that is still discussed today. Bret refused to lose the WWE Championship in his hometown to his legitimate enemy Shawn Michaels.
WWE felt Michaels had to be the one to win the title and couldn’t risk Hart taking the belt to WCW during the Monday Night Wars. It led to Vince McMahon coming up with the scheme to have the referee Earl Hebner ring the bell when Michaels had Hart in the Sharpshooter. Bret felt embarrassed and betrayed in front of the world. McMahon stated Hart deserved this for his attitude refusing to lose to HBK.
9 Triple H
One of the people that convinced Vince McMahon to go with the Montreal Screwjob was Triple H, but he also found himself in trouble earlier. The Kliq decided to break character at the end of a house show at Madison Square Garden before Kevin Nash and Scott Hall went to WCW. Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Nash and Hall all embraced despite wrestling each other earlier in the night.
Vince McMahon and others in power decided to punish Triple H for this. Michaels was too big of a star and the other two were already gone. Triple H went from the favorite to win the 1996 King of the Ring to being treated like a glorified jobber for a few months. WWE tested Triple H’s patience and it ended up paying off as he was ready to go when getting a clean slate months later. This was one instance of the punishment working out.
8 Jim Ross
The backstage relationship between Vince McMahon and Jim Ross saw many ups and downs through the years. Ross was the VP of Talent Relations during the Attitude Era and beyond. The majority of top stars between the mid-90s and mid-2000s were hired by Ross’ vision. You’d think playing such a pivotal role on and off screen during the company’s peak time period would have made him immune to embarrassment.
However, McMahon butted with JR over talent signings and booking numerous times. It apparently led to him going out of his way to humiliate Ross on countless occasions. The biggest example of this came when Ross was forced to kiss Vince’s backside in the middle of the ring during a live show in his home of Oklahoma. WWE did many other things to embarrass JR due to McMahon taking exception to his thoughts.
7 Shane Douglas
The backstage landmine in WWE during the mid-90s featured wrestlers getting destroyed if they were an enemy of the Kliq. One of the wrestlers to experience this was Shane Douglas. Following a rocky career already making enemies in WCW, Douglas signed with WWE to play the heel Dean Douglas character. Shane tapped into his background in education to portray the hokey gimmick.
Shawn Michaels and the other members of the Kliq made life miserable for Douglas as they just couldn’t get along. Douglas claimed he was one of the few to talk back to Michaels and refused to back down. The moment of Douglas winning the Intercontinental Championship should have been the highlight of his career. Instead, he lost it minutes later to Razor Ramon for the moment of humiliation due to him pissing off the Kliq.
6 Dusty Rhodes
The legendary Dusty Rhodes could have had a huge career in WWE during the late-80s. Rhodes was second to none in cutting promos that resonated with the fans. The organic love between Dusty and the fans was one of a kind. WWE however didn’t care about making the most money off their investment. Vince McMahon seemed to have an axe to grind against Rhodes for helping other promotions compete against WWE.
Rhodes would be forced to wrestle in the polka dots that were meant to be a joke at his expense. The manager known as Sapphire was another element meant to hurt his potential of getting over. Dusty still found a way to connect with the fans. WWE’s attempt of embarrassment led to him making it work as people still wear polka dots today in celebration of his legacy.
5 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is arguably the biggest wrestling star of all time and even he wasn’t above being embarrassed by WWE. The prima donna antics of Hogan backstage existed throughout his entire career as a top star. WWE finally had enough during his run in 2003. Hogan started portraying the Mr. America masked character as a comedic way to get around Vince McMahon firing him.
The running gag would see Hogan unmask after each television taping to give the live audience a nice moment of the classic Hogan poses. WWE got into a disagreement with Hogan about how much money he deserved to make. Hogan refused to show up unless WWE agreed to his desired figure. McMahon embarrassed him by showing he was dumb enough to unmask after a show and they used that as reasoning to publicly fire him.
4 Mickie James
The career of Mickie James is hugely underrated when looking at the former female wrestlers of past eras. WWE didn’t take women’s wrestling as seriously as it does these days leading to many of the more talented women being underrated. James did achieve success by winning the Women’s Championship multiple times, including at WrestleMania 22 when defeating Trish Stratus.
A romantic relationship however led to her downfall when dating John Cena. James saw WWE sour on her after the two broke up. The time frame coincided with Mickie being in a storyline where Michelle McCool and Layla bullied her for her looks. Both heels would refer to her as “Piggie James” and other weight related insults. Many viewers felt uncomfortable watching it, but the variables would make it seem like this was done by WWE to embarrass Mickie.
3 Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin is one of the more shocking recent examples of someone being embarrassed for backstage behavior. WWE originally planned to have Corbin cash in his Money in the Bank title shot to win the WWE Championship at some point before the year ended. There was a very realistic possibility of Corbin being the champion heading into WrestleMania 34.
An incident backstage that featured Corbin yelling at one of WWE’s doctors in front of everyone and claiming the doctor didn’t know what he was talking about led to his demise. WWE would not stand for this going down in the locker room. Corbin lost his title shot to Jinder Mahal in a matter of seconds for the most humiliating MITB cash-in ever. Natalya’s line a few weeks later featured her use the term “Baron Corbin of the Women’s Division” as an insult to Carmella. The company definitely tried to embarrass Corbin for his actions.
WWE was forced into embarrassing JBL after his actions at ECW One Night Stand 2005. JBL had animosity towards The Blue Meanie due to Meanie referring to JBL as a bully in shoot interviews about his prior time in WWE. After being offended at being called a bully, JBL decided the right action here was to bully Meanie in front of everyone watching.
A big brawl between WWE and ECW wrestlers in the ring saw JBL target Meanie and throw stiff punches at Meanie bloodying him. The fact that JBL trashed Meanie online leading up to the event just made it all look worse. WWE hired Meanie to prevent him from suing the company and decided to embarrass JBL by having Meanie defeat him in a wrestling match. It was the high point of Meanie’s career and the best way to make JBL look bad at the same time.
1 Ric Flair
The late 90s run of Ric Flair in WCW featured the biggest instance of a company embarrassing a wrestler for backstage reasons. Eric Bischoff developed an intense hatred towards Flair due to Flair speaking against how WCW was being run. The tenure of Bischoff saw Flair fall from the face of the company to a secondary main eventer that lost almost all the time.
Both men went back and forth in backstage meetings that culminated in Bischoff trying to ruin Flair’s career. The New World Order parody of the Four Horsemen was done in part to offend both Flair and Arn Anderson. WCW also booked Flair to be forced into a mental asylum, get his head shaved and have his family turn on him at different points. The main reason Flair was so happy to see WCW end was due to knowing he’d never be embarrassed by them again.