Before we start, I have a shocking revelation to all five people left in the world who find this article and don’t know yet: Professional wrestling is a work. I know, heavy stuff right there. Turns out a leg drop doesn’t actually knock you out so badly that you can’t even lift your shoulders off the ground.
Okay, but in all seriousness, professional wrestling is more entertainment than true legitimate sports competition. And thus it requires a great deal of cooperation between the wrestlers, especially with how dangerous some moves can be if their bodies are not in exactly the right place at the right time. When it doesn’t go correctly, you end up with a little something known as a botch.
Botches can be as innocent as a wrestler missing completely on a move and having to try again, or as serious as someone getting a severe, sometimes life-threatening injury. But one thing they all invariably do is ruin the suspension of disbelief that the art form relies on. The audience seeing a move go incorrectly and having to watch the wrestlers continue on as if it never happened really takes them out of the action and just reminds them that what they’re watching isn’t real competition.
This combination of injury risk and spoiling the art form makes botches a serious matter in the wrestling business. So much, in fact, that wrestlers will often get punished for botching too often or too obviously, or even just once in a key moment that ruins the planned result. Sometimes even their opponents in the match will take it upon themselves to deal out the punishments.
So with all that in mind, here’s 15 times that wrestlers got punished for botching.
15 Randy Orton Gets Mr. Kennedy Fired Over a Botch
There are two things you need to know about Randy Orton before we get started with this list. One, he takes safety in the ring incredibly seriously. And two, he has a bit of a temper. As such, if he feels for even one second that a fellow wrestler isn’t being extremely careful to protect their opponent as they’re supposed to, he is not afraid to go off on them. Mr. Kennedy learned that the hard way.
Mr. Kennedy was already in a tenuous position in the company because of his tendency to get injured and/or suspended at exactly the wrong time. But when he botched a back body drop on Randy Orton in a multi-man tag match on a 2009 episode of RAW, that was the final straw. Orton didn’t suffer a serious injury, but you could instantly tell he was furious. And when the show went off the air, he actively pushed for Kennedy to finally be released. Indeed, Mr. Kennedy didn’t stay with WWE for much longer after that.
14 Sin Cara Botches His Way Straight Out of WWE
Sin Cara is a lucha libre character in WWE that has been portrayed by two different men. The first was Mexican lucha libre superstar Mistico. WWE brought him in basically to see if they could recreate the success of Rey Mysterio. Yeah, that’s been a resounding “no”. Sin Cara has only ever had brief flashes of momentum or anything exciting about him, and the main reason why is because everyone quickly discovered he was a one-man botch reel.
In fairness to Mistico, adapting to the WWE wrestling style from a true lucha libre background wasn’t easy, but part of it also came down to his work ethic. One of the most notable botches in his time was in a match with Alberto Del Rio when he injured his finger, and just gave up. He didn’t stick through the injury to finish the match like we’re conditioned to expect at this point. He just shouted at the referee to call off the match. This incident in particular piling up on his list of obvious botches was pretty much the one that made WWE decide to just release him, though they kept the character Sin Cara, with Hunico portraying him now.
13 The Divas Revolution Nearly Comes Crashing Down After a Botched Finish
In the summer of 2015, WWE finally decided that women’s wrestling was worth the time to properly invest in. They called up from NXT the trio of Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks, three of the greatest female wrestlers in recent WWE memory, to star in the Divas Revolution angle. Their great talent did wonders to increase the legitimacy of women’s wrestling in the fans eyes, but the whole thing damn nearly ended before it really began.
On the August 6th, 2015 episode of SmackDown, Charlotte and Becky Lynch faced Sasha Banks and Naomi in a tag match that was far better for a women’s match than fans were accustomed to at that point. That is, until it ended abruptly with Naomi rolling up Charlotte. Both of the two women looked legitimately pissed off at the end, and indeed, that wasn’t supposed to be the finish. In fact the match was supposed to go an entire other segment. All the women involved got huge backstage heat with management that threatened to cut the resurgence of women’s wrestling short.
Thankfully, WWE stuck with the angle and the landscape of women’s wrestling in WWE is the best it’s been since the height of Trish Stratus and Lita.
12 The Miz Doesn’t Catch R-Truth, Gets a Mouthful from Triple H
The Miz had a career year in 2016 that hopefully will see him rise back up to the main event. But perhaps the reason he never made it back to the main event scene after his WWE Championship reign ended was because he’s been known to get himself in trouble backstage many times. Though the most notable instance was getting kicked out of the locker room for eating chicken over Chris Benoit’s bag, he got himself in trouble again in early 2012 for a particularly bad mistake in the ring.
On the February 6th, 2012 edition of RAW, Miz and R-Truth were two participants in a Six-Pack Challenge, and at one point in the match, R-Truth made a dive to the outside of the ring where Miz was supposed to catch him. He failed, and R-Truth fell on his back, slamming his head against the mat in the process. After the show ended, Miz got a stern talking to backstage, in particular from Triple H who lectured him angrily about protecting your fellow wrestlers.
11 Alex Riley’s Downfall Starts with a Botched Finish
The mistreatment of Alex Riley still irks many fans to this day. Alex Riley had amazing potential and was pushed strongly early in his run, but multiple factors made it come crashing down. While many people point to backstage politicking by John Cena as the major culprit, his de-push reportedly started after botching the finish to a match with The Miz.
On the RAW after Money In The Bank 2011, Miz and Riley had a match in the WWE Championship tournament resulting from CM Punk kayfabe leaving WWE with the title. The match went along fine until the end when it started looking awkward and fans could tell that the two weren’t on the same page about the finish. Riley took a Skull-Crushing Finale for the loss after some confusion with the referee, and this awkward finish coincided too much with Riley’s loss of momentum to not think this had something to do with it.
10 Randy Savage Forgets Royal Rumble Rules
"Macho Man" Randy Savage is arguably one of the greatest WWE superstars never to win the Royal Rumble. But that didn’t stop him from having very famous moments in the specialty match, albeit for all the wrong reasons. In the 1992 Royal Rumble, The Macho Man had a little subplot with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who he famously feuded with the prior year. Macho Man entered the Rumble and quickly eliminated Roberts before leaving the ring to keep attacking him. By jumping over the top rope. You know, eliminating himself. And the worst part? He came back to the ring later, not realizing the mistake he’d made.
The commentary had to justify it by saying that you had to be thrown over the top rope by someone to be eliminated, which is completely false considering how many other people since then we’ve seen eliminate themselves from the Royal Rumble. Because of Savage’s mistake, the creative team booked him to be the runner-up in the next Rumble, but lose because he tried to pin Yokozuna instead of throwing him over the top rope. As far as we know, Savage didn’t lose out on any planned opportunities, so this was less a reprimand as it was just a joke on him by creative.
9 Batista and John Cena Botch the End of Royal Rumble 2005
The ending of the 2005 Royal Rumble Match is arguably the greatest botch ever for one sole reason: It didn’t even look like a botch. At the end of the match, Batista and John Cena were the last two men standing and after some brawling, Batista dumped Cena over the top rope, but Cena pulled The Animal down with him, causing them to hit the floor at the exact same time. The timing was so perfect that for a long time, people didn’t even know that it wasn’t supposed to happen that way.
In fact, the only thing that arguably gave it away was Vince McMahon storming down to the ring, obviously furious. It sort of worked in kayfabe as him not wanting to have one of the most anticipated matches of every year end so indecisively, but Vince was just actually mad. You know that the two biggest upcoming stars in the company got a mouthful from the boss after the show went off the air that night.
8 Lilian Garcia Calls Big Cass “Colin Cassady”, Management Overreacts
Yes, ring announcers are not immune to the occasional mistake either. Though I’m technically cheating by include a non-wrestler, I couldn’t leave this one out for the sheer fact of how ridiculously small of a mistake one got punished for.
Vince McMahon sort of has a thing for tall, muscular men, if you didn’t know. And turns out he expects the audience to share this love, as evidenced by him insisting that NXT wrestler Colin Cassady now be referred to as “Big Cass” after his callup to the main roster. As if the audience needed an extra hint that the guy is freakishly large. For crying out loud, he’s seven feet tall. (And you can’t teach that!)
Lilian Garcia apparently didn’t get the memo, calling him Colin Cassady during one of his entrances. And management let her know what they thought of that. Right then and there at ringside. In front of everyone. Over not calling him “Big Cass”. That’s Titus O’Neil levels of overreacting to something incredibly minor.
7 Cameraman Drops The Undertaker
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV has been called by many the greatest WrestleMania match ever. It’s a classic masterpiece put together by the two wrestlers most known for making great things happen at the grandest stage of them all. The only thing that’s even come close to topping it since then was their rematch the next year. But not even a match as acclaimed as this one is immune from a botch.
One moment in the match saw Undertaker go for a suicide dive only for Shawn to dodge by pulling a “cameraman” (it was actually wrestler Sim Snuka) into his place. That cameraman was supposed to catch The Undertaker, but if you’ve ever seen the match, you probably remember that didn’t happen. 'Taker fell right onto the floor with his head and neck taking the brunt of it. Undertaker got up and finished the classic match, but Snuka’s mistake didn’t go unnoticed, and he was released soon afterwards.
6 Mickie James Gets an Earful After the Gail Kim Match
The title of “Most Botched Match Ever” is obviously a dubious one. A constant contender for it is a very infamous Divas Championship match between Mickie James and Gail Kim. This is surprising considering James and Kim were often considered two of the greatest women’s wrestlers at the time, but the finish of this match went so badly, it became affectionately known as “The Triple Botch”.
It all started with Gail Kim missing a cross body, but landing awkwardly and hurting herself legitimately. As a result, she couldn’t set herself up properly for a DDT from James, and what resulted was quite possibly the worst DDT in wrestling history. And the cherry on top of the hot mess was James completely whiffing on a Mick Kick and having to lazily forearm Kim down to the mat and cover her for the finish. Mickie James got a stern reprimand backstage after the match, mostly for being visibly pissed off about the ruined finish and not trying to sell the match despite the botches.
5 Sandman Forgets He’s Supposed to Lose
ECW was incredibly popular in the 90s as wrestling got edgier and the promotion's extreme style got fans excited. However, it had a bit of a reputation for occasionally just being a huge botchfest. That ultimately comes down to two things, really. First, extreme spots generally require far more precision to be done safely, and second, if someone gets injured early in the match, all spots thereafter get 10 times more difficult. Extreme specialist Sandman experienced that in the worst way possible.
In a Last Man Standing match with hardcore legend Mick Foley as Cactus Jack, Sandman took a frying pan to the head, and suffered a concussion. And apparently, the concussion got Sandman so out of whack that he forgot the finish of the match, namely the fact that he was supposed to lose. So as Mick Foley kept knocking him down for the 10 count, Sandman kept getting back up. Foley assumed Sandman was either drunk or just being a jackass, and it got to a point where Foley thought the only way Sandman would stay down was if he physically couldn’t get back up. Sandman ended up taking a hell of a beating that night before he finally laid down for the count.
4 Jobber Mike Bell Botches Against Perry Saturn, Gets Beat Up For Real
Perry Saturn came to the WWE in 2000 as part of The Radicalz along with Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko. The Radicalz were known for being a tight group of real life friends who all turned out to be very technically gifted wrestlers. However, unlike the others, Saturn tends to be remembered for other things. Namely throwing stiff strikes and anger issues. Nobody knows this better than Mike Bell.
In 2001, Saturn had a short match against the jobber that quickly gained notoriety after Bell botched an arm drag, dropping Saturn to the mat right on his head. Now remember in the intro where I said when botches happen wrestlers are supposed to keep going as if it didn’t happen? Yeah that wasn’t the case here. Saturn immediately got up and started attacking Bell. For real. He punched Bell a number of times before throwing him out of the ring, fittingly dropping him on his head.
If you’ve never seen the match, go watch it. It’s amazing in the worst possible way. You can even see the precise moment Mike Bell knew that he f***ed up. Though be warned, the only footage that seems to exist is of terrible quality.
3 Roman Reigns Gets Heat After a Botched Spot with Randy Orton
I know what you’re thinking: “Roman Reigns getting in trouble backstage? But Vince is mad about him. Surely that can’t be right.” But it’s true.
Back during the days of The Shield, pretty much every member got in trouble for certain things. Part of it had to do with how tight they were with each other and how hard they fought to protect themselves backstage. But other times, it was simply because they were a little too cocky and confident despite being new members of the roster.
Roman Reigns wrestled Randy Orton at a house show in 2013 and there was a botched spot at some point. After the show, Reigns foolishly decided to get into a screaming match with Orton about it backstage. In case you didn’t know, new blood getting into it with veterans of the locker room is a one-way ticket to heat island. Although nobody can really act surprised. Reigns has repeatedly been known to not tread carefully with how he speaks about his fellow wrestlers.
2 WWE Gets Mad at Charlotte for Being Too Stiff
After the brand split came back mid-2016, the Women’s title effectively split into the RAW Women’s Championship and the SmackDown Women’s Championship. The RAW title was dominated by a long feud between Charlotte and Sasha Banks which saw Sasha repeatedly win the title on TV only to lose it back on pay-per-view. One of the reasons for this hot-potatoing of the title was that Sasha Banks was dealing with some injuries. In fact, when Sasha dropped the title to Charlotte at SummerSlam, she was already injured and working through it anyway.
This makes it much more horrifying when you watch back the match and see how many dangerous spots the two performed. The two were apparently determined to still steal the show despite Sasha’s injuries. But as a result, Charlotte got in trouble backstage for seemingly being careless about Sasha’s health concerns, including a few spots that were botched and could easily have taken Sasha out of action for even longer than expected.
That seems a little hypocritical when we remind you one more time that WWE chose to let Sasha wrestle through the injury.
1 Kofi Kingston’s Push Dies to Randy Orton, Stupid
If there is a singular takeaway from this list, it’s this: If you love your job with WWE, then for the love of God, don’t botch against Randy Orton.
Kofi Kingston for the past two years has been making absolute magic happen as a member of The New Day alongside Big E and Xavier Woods. Before that, he was scuffling in the midcard for so long that most people have forgotten that he was initially pushed to be nothing short of an absolute superstar. He had great runs with every midcard title, including a World Tag Team Championship reign with close friend CM Punk. What happened to that push? Randy Orton happened.
In a now infamous moment of wrestlers breaking kayfabe, Kofi and Randy competed on an early 2010 episode of RAW. The end of the match saw Randy Orton setting up for a Punt Kick, but Kofi Kingston got up, ruining the planned finish. Orton tried to push him back down, but Kingston kept getting back up, at which point Orton got visibly frustrated and shouted out loud for all the live audience and TV viewers to hear, calling Kingston “Stupid!” before pinning him after an RKO. Orton didn’t like Kingston much after that, and with his backstage influence, Kingston’s momentum stopped in its tracks and he never reached the main event level he was clearly headed for.