I'm sure there are wrestling legends across the world who wish that they could freeze-frame time on a specific moment in their career – whether they would want to relive the best match that they ever had or would rather stop their career at a point when they are at their most popular, there are aspects of their careers that wrestlers would relive forever if it were possible. By the same token, there are surely instances where wrestlers wish that they could erase parts of their career so it would never be in fan’s memories. Unfortunately for the wrestlers below, the aspects of their careers that they would most like to erase are the ones that are most prominent in fans' memories because it's how they left WWE.
Often times a wrestler may have a great first piece of the career which is fondly remembered by long time wrestling fans, but if the end of their WWE career is not up to par or ends in disgraceful fashion, it is unfortunately what must people will remember. Whether the career became a discredit to everything else they had accomplished in the ring, or if some actions outside of the ring tainted their good name, it's unfortunately what many fans are going to remember.
Here are 15 Wrestlers Whose WWE Run Ended In Disgrace:
15 Scott Steiner
When WCW folded in 2001, there were very few wrestlers featured in their main events that directly transitioned over to WWE, as many elected to wait out their large guaranteed contracts from Time-Warner. One of those wrestlers was Scott Steiner, a former WCW World Champion (and former WWE wrestler) who only joined the WWE roster in 2002.
Upon arrival, it was evident Steiner’s wrestling ability was not anywhere close to the caliber of other WWE wrestlers, and his matches in his main event program with Triple H were rather embarrassing. His feud with Triple H featured two matches for the World Heavyweight Championship, with their match at Royal Rumble 2003 ultimately receiving the Wrestling Observer Newsletter award for “Worst Worked Match” due to the numerous blown spots and for Steiner looking incredibly gassed early on in the match.
Steiner finished out his WWE career as a lower-mid card wrestler doing nothing of note, which was a true fall from grace for the former main eventer. Steiner’s career has not been the same since his WWE run, and it's very unlikely we'll ever see him get a HOF induction.
14 Hulk Hogan
Growing up as a wrestling fan many of us were true Hulkamaniacs, even dressing up as The Hulkster for Halloween on multiple occasions. However, given Hogan’s recent scandals that have made world-wide headlines, it is unlikely that WWE will be promoting him as a Halloween costume choice anytime soon.
In quick succession, Hogan went from having his own Hulk Hogan Appreciation Night thrown for him by WWE and being one of the most revered legends in wrestling, to having all mentions of him removed from WWE programming and being blacklisted by WWE after leaked footage of him using racial slurs was released by The National Enquirer. WWE is usually swift with distancing themselves from controversy of this nature, but it was surprising that they would instantly cut ties with a legend like Hogan. While Hogan was not featured on WWE programming at the time, he was someone WWE would always utilize to give their programs a ratings boost, but he has not received a call since this disgraceful incident.
13 Kevin Nash
Is this a trend of former WCW main-eventers having awful careers in WWE post-2001? Kevin Nash has an interesting career when it comes to his involvement in WWE – at one point he will be revered for his accomplishments, and others he is made fun of by fans and ridiculed as an injury-prone jerk.
After leaving WWE for a stint in WCW, Nash would eventually return to WWE in 2002 as a member of the nWo, but would experience a rash of repeated injuries which would make his appearances few and far between, somewhat hilariously tearing his quad by stepping into the ring during a 2002 episode of RAW. While this would be considered a sad end to a great career, Nash would return after recovering, but would be featured in a lackluster program with Triple H before leaving the company. Ultimately, Nash would return one final time in an attempt to redeem himself in 2011, but it was not received well by fans as he was placed opposite CM Punk before rehashing his rivalry with Triple H in a match which received negative reviews.
12 Enzo Amore
The most recent example of WWE wishing that they had a crystal ball to see what would become of their employees – if they had known what Enzo Amore is allegedly capable of, surely they would not have hired him. While there have been numerous reports of Enzo Amore being unpopular backstage due to his outlandish attitude and boisterous personality, the recent allegations made against him paint him in a completely different light other than being annoying to others.
Enzo’s career in WWE was fast and short, but had crowds everywhere chanting along with his entrance rap and catchphrases. While the recent allegations against him only landed him a suspension, WWE released him after learning Enzo had never informed them that there was a police investigation against him. Whether the allegations prove to be true or not, Enzo made a big mistake in not informing his employer and you wonder if that lands him on WWE's blacklist.
11 Road Warrior Animal
Hawk and Animal were larger than life monsters, and watching them toss around other wrestlers like rag dolls with their strength and power was a treat for fans. A few years after Hawk's passing, Animal showed up as a member of the WWE SmackDown roster in 2006, looking in great shape. Even with his partner Hawk passing away in 2003, fans were still excited to see what he could do with members of the roster at the time – however, he was placed into a tag team with Heidenreich, creating a new chapter of the Legion of Doom.
Unfortunately for both men, all it served to do was tarnish the legacy of one of the most dominant tag teams in wrestling history, as the team never meshed well and it hurt the Road Warriors' legacy. Following this, Animal changed his name to The Road Warrior and tried to rehash his singles career, but he was quickly placed on B-Shows like Velocity before quietly being released later that year. Some things in professional wrestling should be left sacred, and the Road Warriors' name should have been one of them.
10 Diamond Dallas Page
Let me be clear that the work Dallas Page is currently doing with the DDP Yoga system and helping the fallen stars in professional wrestling has been tremendous and he deserves all the accolades in the world for providing them with help. The work he is doing now is truly saving lives, and he should be commended for it.
What he should not be commended is how he let his in-ring career end while a member of the WWE roster, as it's not a legacy befitting a man like DDP. DDP was a multi-time WCW World Champion who has a part of the main-event throughout his career, but upon transferring to WWE following WCW’s closure, he did not experience anywhere near the same level of success. His list of gimmicks included a stalker who attempted to abduct The Undertaker’s wife in very cartoonish videos as well as a life-style guru with a permanent smile on his face. Unfortunately for Page, neither of these amounted to any success in WWE, and if had not been for his DDP Yoga venture he surely would have gone down as one of the biggest let-downs in WWE history.
9 Marty Jannetty
Speaking of DDP Yoga, it's about time someone gets him in contact with Marty Jannetty as he has been falling off the deep end for far too long. After never being able to reclaim the level of stardom that he achieved alongside Shawn Michaels as The Rockers, Jannetty has been spiraling downward to the point that he's a shadow of his former self. He's had numerous run-ins with WWE which have not materialized to a full-time role with the company, making appearances and short-term programs in 2005, 2007 and 2009, but has been let go each time as a result of personal and legal issues.
Unfortunately for Jannetty, any time he is making headlines in the world of professional wrestling these days is due to his “bizarre” lifestyle choices, including very publicly asking whether he should hook up with the girl he raised, once he found out she was not his biological daughter. Don’t believe me? Check it out here for yourself, and see just how far this Rocker has fallen off his rocker.
It's difficult to put some legends in the world of professional wrestling on a list that calls part of their career a “disgrace”, but sometimes the proof is in what we saw on the screen and what it did to tarnish what would have been an excellent legacy. While you could point to some of the things that Sting had done in TNA that disgraced his legacy (such as when he was a Joker rip-off), but his WWE run was also an unfortunate piece of his career.
While Sting entering the WWE should have been one of the most exciting pieces of professional wrestling history, circumstances beyond everyone’s control turned it into a disaster. Sting only wrestled four matches in WWE, with none of them befitting of a legend Sting’s stature. His match with Triple H at WrestleMania 31 was an overbooked mess, his two appearances on RAW were lackluster and his final match with Seth Rollins had spots that were far too dangerous for someone Sting’s age. If Sting had taken it easy during what would be his final match, we could have enjoyed much more of him in WWE, but instead we are all left thinking of what might have been.
7 Mae Young
The comedic appearances and segments that Mae Young took place in over her career is what she is most famous for among most wrestling fans – most fans remember her flashing her “puppies” at Armageddon 1999 or giving birth to a hand on RAW, but they forget that Young was a true pioneer in women’s wrestling, however these outrageous segments overshadowed some of those accomplishments. While WWE has begun to recognize Young for her contributions to the “Women’s Revolution” by naming the “Mae Young Classic” tournament in her honor this last year, unfortunately there are fans who will only remember her for these silly segments which do not do her career justice.
Young’s second to last appearance with WWE prior to her death in January 2014 took place close to the New Year’s edition of RAW in 2012 where she began to complain of stomach cramps, and once again gave birth on television to “Baby New Year” who was played by Hornswoggle. Not a very fitting way to show off appreciation for a legend.
6 Mr. Perfect
If you were to ask most professional wrestlers who is on their top 5 list, a performer who usually makes it near the top is “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. His in-ring prowess and charisma made him one of the most gifted performers to work in the business, and he had the uncanny ability to make anyone he worked with look like a superstar. Unfortunately, despite all of these accolades, Hennig did not end his WWE tenure in the best way, but rather by being a negative part of the “Plane Ride from Hell” in 2002, which allegedly had him challenge Brock Lesnar to a very dangerous wrestling match on an airplane. That could have had obvious disastrous consequences if something had gone wrong.
Hennig was allegedly very drunk at the time of the flight (and subsequent fight) which saw him be released from WWE after the plane had landed. Hennig would be dead only eight months following this incident and never got a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of wrestling fans.
5 Scott Hall
Firstly, I'm very glad that Scott Hall is getting the help that he needs after battling his demons for so many years – it's satisfying to see a man crawl out from rock bottom, and we all wish him nothing but the best. However, if we were to only look at the last time Scott Hall was an active wrestler with WWE we would be left with feelings of sadness and regret, as his final WWE appearances are not very enjoyable considering how popular of a wrestler he used to be. During his run as Razor Ramon in the 1990s, Hall was considered one of the top wrestlers in the company and would have been given a shot at the main-event level had he not left the company in 1996.
Hall did return in 2002 as a member of the nWo, but it was not the Scott Hall that WWE fans remembered – Hall was slow in the ring, out of shape and did not have the level of charisma that had made him so popular previously. While we now know this is due to Hall’s constant battle with alcohol abuse, it's unfortunate these are the memories that WWE fans have of him in the ring.
4 Ultimo Dragon
Ask any casual wrestling fan who used to watch WWE in 2004 what they know about Ultimo Dragon – odds are that they will not list his runs as WCW Cruiserweight Champion, or his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship reign, or that he is a record-holding wrestler to hold ten active titles at one time. No, they will likely say “isn’t that the wrestler who tripped at WrestleMania XX during his entrance?”. Ultimo Dragon is one of the best junior-heavyweight wrestlers ever, but his unfortunate mishap during the Cruiserweight Open during WrestleMania is what WWE fans will always remember him for, which is unfortunate for a wrestler of his caliber.
Following this incident (and arguably before), Dragon did not gain any traction during his short WWE run and asked for his own release to return to Japan.
3 Jimmy Snuka
One of the most famous visuals in professional wrestling history is Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka standing on top of a cage at Madison Square Garden moments before he splashes down on top of Don Muraco – it is touted as a moment that inspired so many wrestling fans to become professional wrestlers as a result of witnessing such athleticism.
While this took place in 1983, the final years of Jimmy Snuka’s life would be marked with shame and controversy. Stemming from a domestic abuse incident that same year in 1983, Snuka was a suspect in a murder case of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino, with all evidence pointing to Snuka being guilty of the crime. In 2015, the case was still considered active and Snuka was arrested for murder, but was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. While long-time wrestling fans have always been aware of this incident, new generation fans just learned of it despite always thinking of Snuka as a legend. While Snuka passed away in early 2017, this case haunted him until his final days.
2 British Bulldog
As a wrestling fan from the 1980s, I recognize Davey Boy Smith (or The British Bulldog, if you prefer) as one of the greatest wrestlers in the world and someone who did not get their due as a main-event level player in WWE. His matches with Bret Hart during the mid-90s are things of technical and storytelling beauty and should be studied by any potential wrestlers. Unfortunately, the latter pieces of Smith’s wrestling career in WWE are not something to review as it is disgraceful of the good name that he tried to create over the years.
After a brief run in WCW following the Montreal Screwjob, Bulldog returned to WWE in 1999. His final run with the company was complete with him wrestling in jeans that were far too tight for his frame, being Rock Bottomed into a pile of dog poop and a 90-second run with the Hardcore Championship. Following this disastrous WWE run, he would pass away in 2002 after a heart attack brought on by human-growth hormones. While we would always like to remember Bulldog for his contributions to wrestling, he's unfortunately remembered by recent fans for that terrible run.
1 Chris Benoit
While most of the entries in this list feature a wrestler’s “fall from grace” during a return to WWE, they all pale in comparison to this one. Without rehashing a horrific memory for wrestling fans, it's not hyperbolic to say the Chris Benoit case is the darkest moment in the history of professional wrestling. Ultimately, this incident changed the course of the entire industry, and took one of the most revered technical wrestlers that the world has ever seen, and made him a condemned man as a result of the actions that took place in 2007.
While many of Benoit’s matches are considered to be some of the greatest displays of technical prowess in wrestling, his actions have permanently erased them from WWE programming, and there has not been any mention of him by WWE for over ten years. There is no WWE run that has ended in more disgrace than Chris Benoit, and I hope that there will never be one that surpasses it.