The wrestling business can be fickle even at the best of times. Some talents soar to the main event scene and go on to have hall of fame careers, while others are left toiling in mediocrity, left to wonder what might have been. Sure, some talents have the x-factor required to make it to the top, while others were never meant to ascend past a certain level in the business. Strangely, it’s not always so cut and dry. In some cases, exterior factors can come into play to derail a performers career. A promising talent can see his or her push halted due to reasons such as jealousy, disdain or good old fashioned backstage politics.
The cream rises to the top based on who is the most deserving, not who is abusing their power to hold onto their own spot. With that being said, for all of the talents who have been unjustifiably held back over the years, there have been just as many wrestlers whose actions have led to their own demise. Be it problems with their attitude, substance use problems or simply careless in ring work, these wrestlers have nobody to blame for their downfall but themselves. With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the wrestlers who were unfairly sabotaged, and the ones who imploded all by themselves.
20 IMPLODED: ENZO AMORE
Enzo Amore was a product of the company's developmental system. During his tenure in NXT, he formed a hugely popular tag team with Big Cass. With Enzo as the mouthpiece and Big Cass as the muscle, the duo's popularity continued on the main roster until their eventual split.
However, Enzo was constantly rubbing people the wrong way with his attitude, and at one point was even kicked off a tour bus by Roman Reigns.
He did have two separate runs as cruiserweight champion, however his stint in the company wasn't to last. After sexual assault allegations emerged against Amore, the company terminated his contract, citing the fact that he knew of the allegations and never informed them as the final straw.
19 SABOTAGED: CHYNA
Originally introduced in the late 90s as a bodyguard for DX, Chyna's physically imposing stature made her stand out from the other female wrestlers. Not only had she numerous stints as women's champion, but the ninth wonder of the world also proved she could mix it up with the men by winning the intercontinental title and entering the royal rumble. She had been dating fellow DX member Triple H for a while. Soon rumours started circulating that Triple H had been cheating on her and started a new relationship with the boss's daughter, Stephanie McMahon.
Clearly upset, Chyna approached Vince McMahon with her concerns and was told to take time off where she sat out the remainder of her contract.
Unfortunately this led to Chyna's life spiralling and after a series of problems she passed away in 2016. Hopefully we will get to see her take her rightful place in the hall of fame someday.
18 IMPLODED: ALBERTO DEL RIO
In WWE, Alberto Del Rio is a former world champion. From his debut with the company as a Mexican aristocrat, the company treated him as an upper-card talent. What has happened since his exit from the company is somewhat inexplicable. During his ill fated relationship with Paige, he has recorded numerous drunken outbursts where he verbally attacked WWE COO Triple H and other higher ups in the company. And despite Impact wrestling treating him like a star and making him their world champion, he acted in such an unprofessional manner there that the company were forced to move in a different direction with respect to the face of the company. Lately Del Rio has been saying how he would like to return to WWE although it seems as though he has already burned that bridge.
17 SABOTAGED: MICKIE JAMES
Although she is a current member of the active roster in WWE, Mickie James previous tenure in the company was derailed by an off screen relationship with John Cena. The former 6 time women's champion entered a relationship with Cena after cheating on former fiance and wrestler Kenny Dykstra.
However, when she was unable to cope with Cena breaking up with her, James was transferred from Raw to SmackDown in November 2009.
Here she endured a torrid time where she was saddled with the nickname "Piggy James." Her misery was compounded in April 2010 when the company terminated her contract. After a 6 year hiatus she eventually returned to WWE in 2016.
16 IMPLODED: SID VICIOUS
Within the wrestling industry, Sid Vicious is a classic case of what could have been. After first breaking through as a member of the Four Horsemen, he was quickly snapped up by WWE and destined to become a huge star. Upon main eventing WrestleMania VIII against none other than Hulk Hogan, Sid managed to derail his career by failing a drug test. After a brief absence, Sid resurfaced in WCW where a real life fight with Arn Anderson saw him attack the respected veteran with a scissors, resulting in immediate termination of his contract. Despite returning to company later and having another brief heavyweight championship reign, his actions meant that his career never quite reached the dizzying heights that it could have.
15 SABOTAGED: KENNY DYKSTRA
After spending some time in OVW, Kenny debuted on WWE's main roster in January 2006 as part of the Spirit Squad. Three months later, the faction went on to win tag team gold and enjoyed feuds with the likes of DX and Kane and Big Show. Once the Spirit Squad had run its course, Kenny was seen as the member with the most potential as a breakout star.
While in the midst of a singles run on Monday night raw, Kenny found out that his then fiance Mickie James was cheating on him with upper card talent John Cena.
The pair broke up and Dykstra was drafted to SmackDown where he languished on the blue brand before his contract was terminated in November 2008. Alas, the unfair treatment and eventual termination of Kenny was all down to Cena's position within the company and backstage politics.
14 IMPLODED: MR. KENNEDY
Mr. Kennedy debuted on the main roster on the SmackDown brand in August 2005. He feuded and gained victories over the likes of the Undertaker and Batista and despite various injury setbacks, he went on to win his first singles title in September 2006, capturing the US title in a triple threat match against Finlay and Bobby Lashley. From there he was pushed even further, winning the money in the bank ladder match and a guaranteed world title shot. He subsequently lost the briefcase to Edge and it all went downhill from there. Firstly, Kennedy was named as one of the who violated the wellness policy, resulting in a 30 day suspension. The final straw was when Randy Orton complained that Kennedy was dangerous in the ring. Kennedy was released from his contract in May 2009 and has never returned to the company since.
13 SABOTAGED: ROB VAN DAM
There was a reason that Rob Van Dam became one of the the biggest stars in ECW history. His high flying style and his cool, laid back persona endeared him to the fans. He was so over at the time ECW merged with WWE that at the no mercy pay-per-view he competed in a triple threat match with Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE title. There were even talks of putting the belt on him but the higher ups decided against it.
Then again the following year he feuded with Triple H for the world heavyweight championship, and again the company failed to pull the trigger. It wasn't until 2006 that WWE eventually put the WWE championship on RVD. By the time they did, not only was it far later than a man receiving his reactions deserved, but his reign ended up being cut short after he got suspended for possession.
12 IMPLODED: DANIEL PUDER
In late 2004 Daniel Puder became the winner of season 4 of tough enough. While the prize was advertised as a million dollar contract, the reality was that the contract was for $250,000 per year over 4 years and could be terminated at the end of year one if things were not working out. Puder did not mesh with his co-workers backstage, many of whom found the young upstart disrespectful. An incident where he put Kurt Angle in a kimura during an open challenge did not help his case.
During the royal rumble in '05, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and Hardcore Holly seemed to sent out there to teach Puder a lesson, viciously chopping him over and over again before Holly eliminated him. In September 2005, Puder was released after he declined a new contract offer for significantly less. Despite brief stints in Ring of Honor and New Japan, Puder never made any real noise in the wrestling industry again.
11 SABOTAGED: ALEX RILEY
Wrestlers beware; if John Cena doesn't like you, then you're in trouble. Alex Riley made his main roster debut in 2010 fresh off of his spell on NXT by aligning himself with The Miz. Given that he had the prototypical build that WWE love it seemed as though he was going to be pushed to the moon.
However, numerous wrestlers have gone on record stating that John Cena took a dislike to Riley, recounting several incidents where Cena berated the young talent backstage.
He was moved to commentary in NXT, and eventually started wrestling in NXT. But the damage has already been done and it's clear that despite his look and potential Riley would always be held back. He was released in 2016.
10 IMPLODED: JAKE ROBERTS
Jake "the snake" Roberts is a man heralded as one of the greatest minds in wrestling history. Throughout the 80's and 90's, the inventor of the now famous DDT was breaking ground as one of the best heels in the business. His sadistic promos and character psychology were unrivalled. However, with injuries mounting and his dark past coming back to haunt him, his life spiralled out of control as his dependence on drugs and alcohol grew stronger.
Eventually WWE were left with no choice but to come to terms with his release. For years afterwards it appeared to most that Jake's life sad story could end at any moment. That is until DDP stepped in, and with the help of DDP yoga helped Roberts get sober and in turn get his life back on track. While it was too late to see him return to action, the WWE universe did get to witness his induction into the WWE hall of fame.
9 SABOTAGED: WADE BARRETT
During the summer of 2010, the nexus were the hottest new stable to hit the WWE in quite some time. Under the leadership of Wade Barrett, the stable wreaked havoc on the entire WWE roster. However, the company had Barrett lose his first title feud and then had the seemingly unstoppable group lose at the hands of team Cena far too early into their run and just like that the magic was gone. After an underwhelming run in the Corre, an injury or two and a few intercontinental title runs, Barrett eventually started his bad news Barrett gig. He has since gone on record to say that the company made him stop using his catchphrase and squashed the gimmick because it was too over. After a joke run as King Barrett and a brief stint as the lackey in the league of nations, Barrett's tenure at WWE came to a close.
8 IMPLODED: RYBACK
When Ryback debuted in April 2012, it didn't take long for the audience to start to get behind him. A far cry from his Nexus character Skip Sheffield, Ryback was a no-nonsense powerhouse ready to run through the entire roster. His momentum was so great that he challenged CM Punk for the WWE championship inside hell in a cell in October of that same year. Eventually he lost steam and entered into a heel tag team with Curtis Axel. However, a babyface turn led him to winning the intercontinental title and things were looking up for the big guy.
However, contract disputes saw him walk away from the company.
Since then he has talked openly about the company on his podcast and complained about many wrestlers and aired his grievances about the company's pay structure publicly. With this in mind, we may not be seeing the return of the big guy inside a WWE ring anytime soon.
7 SABOTAGED: DAMIEN SANDOW
From the moment he debuted as the intellectual saviour of the masses in 2012, it was clear that Damien Sandow was very talented on the mic. His heel work saw him win the money in the bank briefcase and along with it a shot at the world heavyweight championship at a time of his choosing. Everything was looking good for Sandow. However, the briefcase proved to be a curse as he became the first ever wrestler to unsuccessfully cash it in for the title. After this, the company moved him way down the card as a comedy relief character. Despite this, the man proved his talent by turning every silly gimmick he was saddled with to gold. His work as the Miz stunt double was both hilarious and entertaining, culminating in a WWE tag title run for the pair. Unfortunately despite the level of talent on display, the company never gave him the push he deserved and he was released in 2016.
6 IMPLODED: SCOTT STEINER
Scott Steiner might be one of the most uniquely interesting case figures in wrestling history. In WCW he was one half of one of one of the most successful tag teams in the company's history in the Steiner brothers and even went on to become WCW champion in singles competition.
Despite his absurdly muscular physique, he is probably best known for is promos that ranged from funny to vicious to downright nonsensical.
When he signed for WWE, he entered a feud with Triple H where they competed in one of the worst matches in Royal Rumble history in 2003. He left the company shortly afterwards and has since publicly slated the company, with Triple H in particular receiving the wrath of Big Poppa Pump.
5 SABOTAGED: MUHAMMAD HASSAN
Debuting in late 2004, the character of Muhammad Hassan portrayed an Arab-American wrestler who was tired of the poor treatment and prejudices against his fellow Arab-Americans in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The character was like lightning in a bottle, with Hassan and manager Diavari getting nuclear heat wherever they went. At one point the company were even going to put make him the youngest world heavyweight champion in the company's history by defeating Batista at SummerSlam. However, while feuding with the Undertaker, WWE ran a segment where men wearing ski masks beat and choked out Taker, carrying him away from the ring. This happened just three days before the London bombings and it aired it garnered national media attention as many believed the men to be portraying terrorists. Due to network pressure, WWE took Hassan's character television and he was sent back to developmental where he was released a few months later.
4 IMPLODED: CM PUNK
While on the main roster, Punk held numerous titles including the ECW championship and the World heavyweight championship, and also won the money in the bank ladder match on two separate occasions. Despite all of this, he was never really treated like a big star until his now infamous promo in June 2011, where he cut a scathing promo on the company. This catapulted him to a 434 day run as WWE champion, the longest in the modern era. However, in January 2014 Punk walked out of the company after an argument with the higher ups, angry with his treatment and annoyed that he was never put in the position to main event a WrestleMania. He was burned out on wrestling, plain and simple. Punk has since gone on record that there was always animosity between Triple H and himself and that he will never return to WWE.
3 SABOTAGED: BIG VAN VADER
A former world champion in both WCW and New Japan, it seemed at though Vader was destined to become a huge hit in WWE. The super-heavyweight was set to win the WWE championship from the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam 96. However, as happened on several occasions throughout the mid 90s, the Kliq got involved. The group of friends consisting of Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Triple H and X-pac were notorious for pulling the strings backstage. So when Michaels decided that he didn't want to drop the title or lose to Vader, neither happened and the big man's momentum was all but lost.
2 IMPLODED: BUFF BAGWELL
Realistically, Buff Bagwell was never going to be a top draw in the wrestling industry. Despite having several tag team title reigns in WCW, his main success came as a part of the infamous NWO faction. He was obnoxious enough to draw heel heat and had a certain charisma, but he just never seemed like a guy that would look at home in a main event picture. When the WWE takeover of WCW happened, Buff jumped to Vince McMahon's company. Very early on in his time there he engaged in a fight backstage with Shane Helms which didn't help his case. As if that wasn't bad enough, his main event match with Booker T in mid 2001 drew a hostile reaction from the fans, with Bagwell taking the blame for the horrible match and subsequently losing his job.
1 SABOTAGED: DYNAMITE KID
In one of the most bizarre entries on the list, Dynamite Kid has his career sabotaged by his own cousin, the British Bulldog. Despite being a largely unlikable guy, one has to feel for Dynamite Kid for the manner in which his career unravelled. The cousins initially walked out of WWE after an incident where the Rougeau jumped Dynamite Kid. However, shortly after this Davey Boy Smith opted to trademark the name "British Bulldog" so he would have exclusive rights to the team name. He even went as far as to threaten other promoters who attempted to use the Bulldog name in reference to Dynamite Kid. With Kid's career ending shortly afterward, it's fair to say that losing the name recognition was a factor in his demise.