People make mistakes. It happens. No one is perfect. At the same time, mistakes will come with consequences; whether they are fair or not. In the world of professional wrestling, most wrestlers who are punished usually did something that was deserving of the price they had to pay. Lost wages, suspensions and terminations quickly come to mind.
It can also lead to someone losing a push within a promotion. A company might have valued a wrestler very highly and had big plans for the long-term future. And then that wrestler makes a mistake that puts things into question. Is this someone I can fully trust moving forward? If not, why should I continue to book them in high-profile matches with main event implications?
Pro wrestling promotions are a lot like regular places of employment in this regard. An employer cannot simply put faith in a person who makes bad decisions – whether at the office or in their personal life. That’s why a lot of places will do random drug testing. Failure to cooperate within a company’s set of rules rightfully leads to a loss in job security and/or status.
Even if some of the following mistakes are defended by some, the wrestlers were still knowledgeable since promotions like the WWE usually provide something like an employee handbook upon hiring. Part of a contract usually includes something that states you agree to all of those terms of expectations.
The following are the worst mistakes wrestlers have made that led to the loss of a push and, in some cases, loss of a job.
15 15. Rusev and Lana – Breaking Kayfabe With Engagement
The secret has been out for a while. But fans like to enjoy the illusion of scripted violence similar to people who enjoy watching television shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. It’s a unique type of entertainment where the wrestlers and supporting cast are expected to portray their gimmicks to the public; especially on social media. Both Lana and Rusev made the mistake of allowing their real-life engagement to become public in 2015.
The post announcing their plans took place during a storyline where Lana had left Rusev for Dolph Ziggler and Summer Rae had made a proposal to the Bulgarian Brute. It shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise that Vince McMahon wasn’t too happy about the announcement through Lana’s social media account. Both saw their characters struggle and haven’t really seen the same push they once had.
14 14. Serena Deeb – Alcohol Consumption
CM Punk had something that looked to be special in the Straight Edge Society in 2010. One of the highlights was bringing in Serena Deeb, who was “saved” by Punk and had her head shaved to join the faction. Along with Luke Gallows, the group looked destined for a major push. Unfortunately for the very talented Deeb, her personal choices also led to her not only being dropped from SES, but from the WWE altogether.
Reports about her release in late 2010 stated that she was not “living out” the straight edge gimmick when in public settings. That means she wasn’t supposed to be drinking alcoholic beverages. Deeb later stated in an interview that while never officially said at her release, it was “more or less implied.”
13 13. Adam Rose – Publicly Contested Wellness Test; Domestic Violence
There’s a proper way to dispute an issue in the work place. Adam Rose’s response to being given a 60-day suspension for his second violation of the WWE Wellness Policy in April 2016 was not. He chose to go to social media and write about how he was taking prescribed medication. Funny enough, Rose claimed he had no animosity towards the WWE while calling out how he disagreed with the fact that he failed a drug test. It got worse for Rose.
Less than a month later, Rose (real name Raymond Leppan) was arrested on charges of domestic violence in a dispute with his wife. It was no surprise that WWE’s statement immediately after was that they had zero tolerance for domestic violence. Because Rose was unable to keep himself out of trouble, the WWE terminated his contract less than two weeks later.
12 12. Carltio – Lack of Effort; Refused Rehabilitation
In May 2010, Carltio was released from the WWE. The Puerto Rican superstar was certainly viewed as one of the better mid-card talents who never quite got the main event push some fans expected. However, he had tried for three years to get released from the WWE. His lack of effort likely contributed to being punished back in 2007 during a storyline he had with Ric Flair; showing laziness in the ring.
The final straw broke when he suffered a second violation of the WWE Wellness Policy, which came with a 60-day suspension. But the WWE offered to send Carlito to rehabilitation in an effort to work on himself. He refused and the WWE felt there was no choice but to let him go. Since then, Carlito hasn’t found success outside of his father’s promotion, the World Wrestling Council.
11 11. Mr. Kennedy – Injuring Randy Orton
Mr. Kennedy was someone who could have been the biggest star in the WWE. But Ken Anderson’s run in the WWE saw main event pushes fall victim to bad breaks and injuries. At the same time, he also made some mistakes along the way that affected his standing in the company. After returning from injury in 2009, Mr. Kennedy was part of a 10-man tag team match where he was criticized for a suplex on Randy Orton that nearly re-injured the Viper’s bad shoulder.
Anderson later explained that there were multiple incidents that just piled up to a point where he was let go from the company in 2009. He did spend some time finding success with TNA Wrestling, at least until he failed a drug test in 2016 after he had a match that was so poor, officials thought he was under the influence.
10 10. Juventud Guerrera – Unprofessional Actions
Sometimes, one has to be brought back down to Earth if his or her head is stuck in the clouds. Juventud Guerrera felt that he was one of the greatest to ever enter a WWE ring. His massive ego certainly upset a lot of co-workers. Reports stated that he was often late to WWE events, wasn’t a reliable employee and also had an unbearable ego that followed him around backstage. It was so bad that Psicosis and Super Crazy – the other members of The Mexicools – wanted the group to be split up.
Guerrera felt that he was at the level of The Undertaker and The Rock. But he was released in January 2006 after sandbagging Kid Kash in a match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Kash was planned to win, but acted as dead weight and made it hard for Kash to get a pinfall. Guerrera could have been a staple of the Cruiserweight Division, but his ego cost him his job with WWE.
9 9. Yokozuna – Weighing Too Much
While it is believed that Vince McMahon and his supporting cast have always given preferential treatment to the giant and the massive, the final years of Yokozuna in the WWE showed that there was a limit. Yokozuna and spent the early 1990s as one of the most dominant superstars on the WWE roster. But the WWE wanted Yokozuna to lose weight lose weight since being close to 700 pounds made for someone to struggle moving.
He was able to lose 100 pounds to get down to 600, but the WWE wanted him to get down to about 400 pounds. Yokozuna was unable to make progress in his diet, with stories saying that a single breakfast would include three dozen eggs, one pound of bacon and about two stacks of pancakes. A few years after his release, Yokozuna would pass away from a pulmonary edema in 2000.
8 8. Triple H – The Curtain Call at Madison Square Garden
The best example of how the WWE doesn’t appreciate breaking kayfabe is the infamous Curtain Call incident during a 1996 house show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A backstage group known as The Kliq came together after the main event as a farewell to Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Kevin Nash (Diesel). The ring also had Triple H, and Shawn Michaels; a mixture of faces and heels getting along that upset management.
Hall and Nash were off to WCW and the WWE wasn’t going to punish one of their top stars in Michaels. So Triple H received a lot of the punishment and was buried. Once contending for championships, he was placed on the lower-portion of the match card. However, it was told in the Thy Kingdom Come DVD that he earned a lot of respect in the locker room for taking the punishment without complaining. In the end, he still had a great career as a 14-time world champion.
7 7. Mabel – Viewed As Reckless In The Ring
It might be hard to imagine that the man who was known as Viscera and Big Daddy V was once the recipient of a major push in the WWE. Back in 1995, Mabel was on the rise despite looking cartoonish in purple and gold baggy pants. Then again, this was during a time when the WWE continued to crank out numerous oddball gimmicks. But the WWE saw something in the 500-pound Mabel as they made him the King of the Ring in the mid-1990s.
But Mabel developed a reputation of injuring other wrestlers on the WWE roster, usually with the banzai drop where he pretty much sent all of his weight onto an opponent. One moment that a lot of fans can recall is actually breaking The Undertaker’s face. It was specifically a leg drop that broke an orbital bone that forced The Deadman to wear a mask.
6 6. William Regal – Substance Abuse Problems
William Regal was mostly kept on the mid-card portion of both the WWE and WCW roster. But it looked like a lot of that was going to change when he won the 2008 King of the Ring tournament. This was paired with the fact that he was the acting general manager of Raw. One of the best technical wrestlers in WWE was finally given a big heel push; especially since he took advantage of his power with Vince McMahon’s storyline blessing.
But then it ended in a May 2008 when Regal lost a “loser leaves WWE” match to Mr. Kennedy. Behind the scenes, Regal had failed the WWE Wellness Policy for a second time and was being suspended 60 days. It was a tough break for someone who finally got the push that many fans felt he deserved, which could have made him a contender for the WWE Championship.
5 5. Paige – Comments Made on Social Media; Personal Choices
There was once a time when Paige was viewed as the most exciting female on the WWE roster. Maybe brought into the main roster a little ahead of her time, she still won the WWE Divas Championship on her first night after WrestleMania XXX. But in 2016, her role in the WWE Women’s Championship picture greatly diminished and the losses piled up. Part of her status decline is due to her real-life relationship with Alberto Del Rio.
Both were given a 30-day suspension for failing wellness tests. Del Rio would leave and Paige would suffer another suspension. She hasn’t been seen since June 2016. Paige has made comments on social media that seem to be criticizing how the WWE is retaliating since they did not want her and Del Rio to be in a relationship. Public criticism of an employer usually doesn’t mean a promotion anytime soon. It usually means the opposite will eventually come.
4 4. Teddy Hart – Unnecessary and Dangerous Spots
Teddy Hart has made a career out of upsetting wrestlers and promotions, which is part of the reason why many feel he wasted his athletic gifts by making stupid mistakes. Attitude and ego were a big reason he was fired from WWE and in TNA Wrestling. But it was one moment at a 2003 Ring of Honor show that may have solidified his “legacy.” It was in November 2003 for a scramble cage match where he did numerous spots after the match.
Despite his team losing, Hart did a number of high-risk jumps and flips off of the cages onto unsuspecting wrestlers. Not only were these dangerous risks that were obviously unnecessary, Hart also got himself thrown out of the locker room. He’s made other mistakes as well, including a November 2014 arrest on charges for sexual assault involving two women he claimed tried to retaliate after they invested in his marijuana grow-operation.
3 3. Jack Swagger – DUI and Marijuana Possession
Jack Swagger was actually receiving quite an impressive push as the Real American with Zeb Colter as his mouthpiece. There was even mainstream media coverage about how Swagger and Colter resembled the Tea Party political movement. Things were looking good for Swagger as he was ready to challenge Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXIX in 2013. But similar to Rob Van Dam in 2006, Swagger was guilty of poor judgement.
Swagger was pulled over after leaving SmackDown tapings in Biloxi, Miss., a little more than a month before WrestleMania. He was then charged with driving under the influence and possessing marijuana. Along with a speeding violation, Swagger was charged with misdemeanors. WWE would publicly state that Swagger was “responsible for his own personal decisions.” Swagger would lose to Del Rio at WrestleMania and fell down the card.
2 2. Jeff Hardy – Failed Drug Tests; Went to Ring High
Jeff Hardy’s history of drug use and suspensions in the WWE has been documented extensively. But it wasn’t until Hardy’s time in 2011 with TNA Wrestling when he truly hit rock bottom. Going into the Victory Road pay-per-view, Hardy was still in the main event picture as the central focal point of his own faction in Immortal. Unfortunately, he was still dealing with addictions that bled over from personal to professional life.
Hardy was found lying on a bathroom floor and had to be carried to the gorilla position before a match. He was noticeably stumbling on his way to the ring before challenging Sting for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. The plans had to be changed and the match ended in less than a minute. Fans weren’t happy. Hardy was then sent home and Immortal had cut their ties with Hardy; missing from TNA for five months.
1 1. Rob Van Dam – Marijuana Arrest
After spending years as a mid-card staple in the WWE, Rob Van Dam finally received a push to the top of the mountain. It was set up perfectly when he chose to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase to challenge for the WWE Championship at the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view in 2006. It was the ultimate feel-good moment when RVD defeated John Cena in a sold-out Hammerstein ballroom. It felt better when he was named the ECW Champion as well.
But while traveling between shows in July 2006 with Sabu, RVD was pulled over. While speeding was the reason, the officer smelled pot and did a search; finding 18 grams of marijuana and Vicodin pills. Sabu also had paraphernalia, leading to both being arrested. RVD would drop both championships in back-to-back nights before serving a 30-day suspension.
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