Whether it be the highlights, in game or in match replays, the increased exposure and access to performers on social media, and of course the memorable moments that keep us glued to our screens, professional wrestling, or sports entertainment if you will, is extremely comparable to the world of professional sports.
Besides the various things listed above, another comparison between the two domains are that there are athletes who wrestle, and ones who play baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and hockey among many other sports, that just can’t help but stay out of their own way. Be it injuries, attitude, folding under pressure, or an inability to stay out of trouble, there are some guys and gals who despite getting paid, and in some cases very well, just can’t help themselves.
In the last decade alone, we have seen immensely talented performers like Albert Belle, Aldon Smith, Slava Voynov, Bryce Harper, and the infamous Albert Haynesworth as prime examples of athletes who turned into their own biggest obstacles on the road to individual and even team success. Wrestling is no different as names like Dolph Ziggler, Evan Bourne, Teddy Hart, and countless others are guilty of doing the same.
With that said, we here at TheSportster give you our top 15 wrestlers that can’t stay out of their own way. This will be a combination of wrestlers whose bad attitudes have hurt their career, can’t stay healthy or flat out just do stupid things at the worst possible time.
While the WWE creative team has been guilty of poorly booking him on more than one occasion throughout his career, Ryan Reeves makes an appearance on the list due to the fact that he is injury-prone. After making his debut as Skip Sheffield, a member of the super group Nexus, he would sustain a severely broken ankle that required three surgeries to repair, and kept him out of action for 16 months.
When he returned, Reeves wrestled as Ryback. The self-proclaimed “Big Guy” would often chant “Feed Me More” in vignettes, interviews, as well as before, during, and after matches. It worked, as fans really got behind the character.
Due to his popularity, he was put in matches with the biggest names in the company like Cena, Chris Jericho, Mark Henry, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. Ryback even had the honor of being named a Paul Heyman guy. Unfortunately, the injury bug sill followed Reeves. After a battle royal for the vacant Intercontinental Championship, Ryback underwent surgery for a hernia. After finally winning the IC title at this year’s Elimination Chamber Ryback was to defend it against the Big Show and the Miz at Battleground, but the “Big Guy” sustained a staph infection in his knee that forced him to miss the match. In September upon his return, he dropped the belt to Kevin Owens at the Night of Champions PPV.
14. Matt Korklan
While most wrestling fans might not recognize the name, they will certainly know him from his time in the WWE where he wrestled as Evan Bourne, or even now as he performs for ROH under the name Matt Sydal. A gifted high-flyer, who incorporates the lucha-libre style, Korklan’s matches are usually exciting and full of high-risk moves that leave you at the edge of your seat. The problem is that his high impact style and work rate have taken a toll on his body, as he has suffered multiple injuries including a dislocated right ankle, a torn deltoid ligament, and an injured right shoulder.
Even when he’s not in the ring, the injury bug still seems to follow him. In March of 2012, Kroklan was badly injured in a car accident. He broke his left foot in four places and dislocated it it five. The injuries he sustained in the car wreck caused him to miss over a year of action. A year after making his return and competing solely on NXT, Kroklan was released from his contract.
13. Jack Swagger
At one point, it seemed like Swagger was the next big thing in the WWE. Blessed with size that Vince McMahon loves, along with athleticism and an elite wrestling background, the former Oklahoma Sooner exploded onto the scene in 2008 after getting promoted from Florida Championship Wrestling, winning the ECW Championship four months after making his debut in the WWE’s version of the promotion.
It’s Swagger’s penchant for coming up flat in matches along with a bone-headed mistake that led to his name making an appearance on this list. While losing in big feuds mostly has to do with the WWE decision makers, the fact that his matches are never really all that exciting might have something to do with it too.
Getting arrested and charged with marijuana possession and driving under the influence just over a month away from his World Heavyweight Championship WrestleMania match against Alberto Del Rio didn’t help him at all, and was possibly one of the reasons why Swagger didn’t get the title win.
12. Matt Hardy
It seems like a lifetime ago that Matt Hardy was a big name. Whether teaming with his brother Jeff or even on his own as a solo competitor, Matt was definitely a major player. The real-life feud between he and Edge over Matt’s real-life ex-girlfriend Lita, boosted his popularity to the point that he was rehired by WWE after the company had fired him.
Despite the fans being solidly behind him, he eventually wore out his welcome as he became disenchanted with the WWE and his position. Hardy would even go as far as to post videos on YouTube saying that he wanted his release. The promotion granted his wish, and released him in October of 2010. Hardy’s disruptive behavior continued in his next stop during his first tenure with TNA when he was fired from the company the same day he was arrested on suspicion of DUI. While he was eventually rehired, and even recently won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, it still feels like Hardy left so much more on the table.
11. Teddy Hart
Arguably the least well known of all the wrestlers to wrestle in the the Hart dungeon, Teddy is also one of the most talented. The nephew of the legendary Bret Hart, Teddy made history in 1998 by becoming the youngest wrestler ever to sign a developmental deal with WWE. He was released by the company in 2002 reportedly due to attitude problems.
It is that attitude that has led to Hart making an appearance on this list. This talented has also performed for TNA, Ring of Honor, Jersey All Pro Wrestling, as well as a plethora of organizations on the independent circuit. If you have ever watched him in the ring, he is without question an amazing talent. The fact however that he has been fired or has parted ways with several promotions, speaks to the point that his attitude not only gets in his way, but it has robbed him of adding to the legacy of his name.
10. Ken Anderson
After all these years the former MRRRRRR. KENNEDYYYYYY without a doubt is still magic on the microphone. Unfortunately, his skills in the ring, and his penchant for getting himself and others hurt are what puts him on this list. Serving as the rare example of the WWE creative team actually building somebody up properly, Mr. Kennedy debuted on Smackdown in 2005 after weeks of vignettes that hyped his arrival. He quickly gained popularity and was put into high profile matches.
Despite his move up the card, Kennedy was still a risk in the ring. He injured Hardcore Holly’s ribs at the No Mercy PPV.
He was fired after Randy Orton complained to management that he was too rough and reckless with him in the ring during a match on Raw, when Kennedy caused The Viper to land on the back of his head and neck when he performed a back body drop.
He had a reputation of being dangerous to work with, and sustained multiple injuries during his time in the WWE. The most damming came while feuding with Edge over the Money in the Bank briefcase that he had won at WrestleMania 23.
9. Eva Marie
Without a doubt, Eva Marie is one of, if not the most beautiful Diva on the WWE roster. Her sexy look and red hair make her unique to say the least. Unfortunately for the former model, her skills or lack thereof in the squared circle make her standout just as much. Her frequent botches and awkwardness in the ring, along with the bad acting she exhibits when she is in front of the camera serve as a huge anchor that holds her down. It’s honestly a shame considering how attractive she is.
RVD is well known for his agility and acrobatic-like style in the ring. The master of the 5-Star Frog Splash is also well known as a free spirit and a marijuana enthusiast. In 2006 after being pulled over for speeding, Rob Van Dam and fellow ECW legend Sabu were found to nearly 20 grams of weed in their possession along with Vicodin, Testolactone tablets, and other drugs. The arrest came at the worst possible time, as he had just won the WWE Championship and ECW Championship at ECW One Night Stand. Due to the arrest, RVD was forced to drop the titles to Edge and The Big Show respectively, and was handed a 30-day suspension. While that run-in with the law was obvously a long time ago, it just feels like he could have been so much more.
7. Dolph Ziggler
While he still has the potential to develop into the main event superstar his look and talents suggest he already should be, you can’t help but think of what could have been already. Unfortunately, the self-proclaimed “Show Off” is injury prone, as multiple concussions have somewhat derailed a promising career. Timing wise, the most crucial one he suffered was at the hands of Jack Swagger. Ziggler was scheduled to defend his newly won World Heavyweight Championship against Swagger and Alberto Del Rio at Extreme Rules 2013. Because of the injury, Ziggler was not cleared to wrestle, and the WWE had to change their main event.
Ziggler would go on to suffer another concussion, this time at the hands of Ryback.
6. Wade Barrett
All hail King Barrett! Sorry I couldn’t resist. The current WWE King of the Ring winner has strength, size, athleticism, mic skills, and an impressive physique. Usually when you combine all of those traits together, it screams superstar, and in some cases main-eventer. For Barrett however, it hasn’t translated into main event success. While the way he is booked can be blamed, injuries have definitely played a part as well.
Being injury prone is one thing, but the former Nexus and Corre leader seems to have bad luck on his side as well. In February of 2012, Barrett suffered a partially dislocated left elbow during a battle royal after Big Show literally threw Dolph Ziggler at him from the ring to the floor where Barrett was standing. The injury forced him to miss six months. In June of 2014, one night after he was named as one of the participants in the Money in the Bank briefcase match, he dislocated his shoulder after he was thrown into a barricade by Jack Swagger. The injury also put a hold on his Bad News Barrett gimmick which had really gotten over with the fans.
5. AJ Styles
In the ring the phenomenal AJ Styles is exactly what his name suggests he is – phenomenal. His combination of athleticism, strength, high flying moves, and never say die attitude are part of what make him so good at what he does. While he is no longer with TNA he continues to ply his trade in ROH and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
The only hole on his resume is that he hasn’t achieved success in the biggest pond, which of course is the WWE. Vince McMahon’s notorious love of big wrestlers might be a major reason why Styles hasn’t as of yet gotten a legitimate shot to showcase his talents in the WWE.
Another reason despite all of his talents, could be the fact that the former TNA World Champion is dangerous in the ring. Since 2014, Styles has severely injured three wrestlers (Roderick Strong, Lionheart, and Yoshi Tatsu) along with with his finishing maneuver called The Styles Clash. The move appears easy to pull off, but the fact that if the move is not done correctly it can lead to paralysis, or in the cases of Lionheart and Yoshi Tatsu fractures in their cervical vertebrae. Styles has also botched the move on other occasions causing his opponents to fall on the top of their heads as well, but luckily no one has been hurt as badly as the three aforementioned performers. Despite a plea on social media by Lionheart (real name Adrian McCallum) to stop using the move, the Phenomenal One still uses it today.
4. Jeff Hardy
Blessed with main-event talent, charisma, an arsenal full of exciting and breath-taking moves, what puts Jeff on this list are his personal demons, namely alcohol and drugs.
In 2009, he was arrested on charges of possession of anabolic steroids, and trafficking in controlled prescription pills. Hardy pleaded guilty to both offenses and wound serving 10 days in jail, probation, and had to pay a $100,000 fine. The arrest came less than a year after the superstar was involved in an incident at a Nashville airport where he was refused entry onto a flight because he was allegedly intoxicated. While Jeff has cleaned up his act in recent years, and achieved success during his second stint in TNA, his past suggests that trouble is just a step away.
3. Kurt Angle
Speaking of TNA stars, Angle is yet another example of a WWE-bred wrestler who had success in Vince’s empire, left and found success in TNA. Angle however, has had run ins with the law. Since 2007, the former Olympian Gold Medalist has been arrested a whopping four times for alcohol related offenses while operating a vehicle. In August of 2009, he was arrested in his home state of Pennsylvania and charged with a plethora of offenses including harassment and driving with a suspended license. Even at the age of 46, Angle is still great in the ring. His mistakes outside of it however, could be one of the major reasons why the WWE decision makers have chosen not to bring him back since he last wrestled for them in 2006.
2. Daniel Bryan
Although it feels wrong to include arguably the most talented and popular WWE Superstar in the last decade on the list, the fact remains that Daniel Bryan’s body has betrayed him on his road to becoming the most beloved star in the company. While his chronic neck injury has been the source of concern and time on the shelf for him, a concussion that he suffered in April has not only kept him out of action for seven months and counting, but just like his neck issues, it also threatens to end his career, as he has still not been cleared by WWE to return to the ring.
1. Hulk Hogan
The disturbing and racist comments that Hogan made on the leaked sex tape shocked not only the wrestling community, but a lot of people globally. Since it became public, not only did WWE terminate his contract, they virtually erased almost every connection they had to him. The outrage continued, as stores like Walmart and Target got rid of all his merchandise. The Hulkster has been a role model for countless kids around the world, and immediately was apologetic, as he appeared in an interview with ABC News and vowed to use the experience to better himself as a person.
On the same ABC interview, he said the comments he made on the tape, recorded nearly a decade ago, were a result of his upbringing, and from conversations he had with African American neighbors. One step forward, two steps backwards. Combining those comments with a reputation for being difficult to work with and always looking out for himself in the world of wrestling, makes Hogan the perfect choice for the number one wrestler who is his own worst enemy.
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