It’s the nature of life that everyone makes mistakes. The higher pressure life a person lives, the more likely it is the public at large will become aware of these mistakes and start judging people for them. Professional wrestlers especially can become infamous for their botches, considering careers and indeed even lives can end when things in the ring go wrong. Microphone mishaps are obviously less severe, and yet at the same time can be even more embarrassing, preventing fans from ever taking a sports entertainer serious as their career continues.
Despite all the downsides, making a single botch or two isn’t necessarily a death knell for a wrestler’s chance at stardom. Like we said, everyone makes mistakes, and people shouldn’t be punished for slips and accidents. Unless, that is, these mistakes become so regular that they can pretty much be expected. Unfortunately, there have also been plenty of wrestlers who fell into this trend, injuring themselves and others so often stepping into the ring against them was hazardous to one’s health.
Oddly enough, showing a penchant towards injuring themselves and others who overcame their negative stigma to achieve great levels of success in the wrestling business. The more they were pushed, the more dangerous they became, and the trail of medical bills left behind generally proved it. As time has gone on and some of these wrestlers have retired, fans tend to remember the good over the bad and forget the botches, injuries, and general flubs that certain so-called legends were notorious for creating throughout their tenure in the sports entertainment business. Keep reading to learn 15 sports entertainers you never knew had the worst reputations for making mistakes.
15. Eva Marie
Inexperience is probably the most regular cause of a sports entertainer making mistakes, and in the modern era of NXT newbies getting pushed to the moon almost at random, certain people are getting primetime attention long before they’re ready to do so. Eva Marie is probably the most glaring example of this trend, made all the worse by the fact she was hired as a cast member on Total Divas first and a wrestler second. The worst of Eva’s mistakes arguably came when she blatantly forgot to kick out of a pin fall during a match she was supposed to win. The referee was forced to freeze and stare at her rather than break the script, and the NXT crowd was anything but appreciative when they realized what was going down. Earlier in her career, she forgot the name of wrestlers she was supposed to introduce to the ring (in her defense, Jinder Mahal is pretty forgettable). Eva’s botches have basically turned into her gimmick, which is a little tasteless considering her coordination problems are still pretty fresh.
14. Sin Cara
Everything about the original Sin Cara’s tenure in WWE is confusing and therefore not necessarily the fault of any individual performer. However, much of that confusion stems from the fact that the original performer of the gimmick, better known as Místico, could never quite get comfortable wrestling for WWE. Speculation has ranged from American wrestling rings being slightly larger than in Mexico, the wild difference in styles between the countries in general, and even the potential that Sin Cara’s mask might have somehow been restricting his vision. Whatever the case was, Sin Cara became a bumbling mess in the ring, messing up as many moves as he successfully pulled off. It wasn’t long before he was constantly hurting himself, too, getting injured at least once a year. His last injury was the death knell for his WWE career, canceling a live match on Raw in the middle due to a relatively minor dislocated finger, which was naturally self-inflicted. Sin Cara has since returned to Mexico, where he’s competed under new gimmick names Myzteziz and Carístico.
13. Sasha Banks
In the days of the women’s revolution, it makes sense to focus on the positives of the new guard in female-driven sports entertainment as the genre slowly explodes. “The Boss” Sasha Banks is no doubt one of the most charismatic and talented in-ring performers of the modern era, and yet it can’t be ignored that she also has a dangerous tendency at trying moves she might not be entirely ready for, putting both herself and her opponents at risk. The worst of the mistakes came at Hell In A Cell 2016, when she and Charlotte Flair became the first two women to main event a major WWE Pay-Per-View event. Given the high profile of the match, Vince McMahon and everyone in the company wanted it to be perfect, and it nearly was—until the very ending, where a table failed to break despite two piledriver attempts by Charlotte. For some reason, Vince decided to place the blame on Sasha, likely because of the reputation she had already been starting to foster during her other matches since getting called up from NXT.
12. Seth Rollins
For all his boasting about being “The Architect” of WWE, Seth Rollins has needed to go back to the blueprints quite a few times as he raises the ranks through the company to becoming one of the top stars of the modern era. He was doing pretty well for himself on the independent scene and things really started kicking off when he became the Shield’s initial breakout member. In the midst of what was looking like a landmark WWE Championship reign throughout 2015, Rollins started injuring a number of his opponents, including Sting and John Cena. The reign of terror came to an end only by Rollins badly injuring himself as well, tearing his knee to shreds and forcing him to vacate the belt that November. He made his return in May of the next year, and for a while his botch-filled days seemed to be behind him, until the night after the 2017 Royal Rumble when he badly re-damaged his knee during Samoa Joe’s debut. Hopefully, this time around the recovery process will include learning how to work safer in the future.
11. Scott Steiner
Fans who started watching wrestling during the Attitude Era onward were always understandably shocked to learn the living billboard for human growth hormone who called himself a “Genetic Freak,” Scott Steiner, was at one point a human suplex machine who could put Brock Lesnar to shame. Especially by the time of his solo run in WWE, however, Steiner’s skills had greatly diminished to the point where he was botching some of the most basic moves imaginable, like axe handles and punches. His series against Triple H in early 2003 is one of the worst main event feuds the company has ever produced, with overhead suplexes seemingly the only move he remembered how to perform correctly at the time. Things didn’t get better as he moved down the card and started teaming with Test. Strangely enough, Steiner slightly pieced himself together during his run in TNA, slightly strengthened by humorous interviews digging into his “dumb jock” persona. The infamous “Steiner math” was filled with an entirely different kind of mistake, albeit the sort that fans would latch onto and enjoy every time he started putting his equations together.
10. Kevin Nash
It isn’t fair to blame any of these wrestlers for making mistakes, and they don’t even necessarily deserve to be condemned when injuries occur. As we’ve been saying again and again, accidents happen, and wrestlers know that going into the game. All that said, most wrestlers, and indeed humans, can pull off simple tasks like jogging with their eyes closed. Kevin Nash, not so much. Not 30 seconds into his return match after taking several weeks off for a biceps injury, Nash tore his quadriceps muscle in 2002 by tripping over Booker T during a leisurely stroll through the ring. While it might be his most embarrassing botch, the trip mocked round the world isn’t actually Nash’s worst faux pas, that being when he dropped The Giant/Big Show during a jackknife powerbomb in 1998, badly injuring his massive neck. It isn’t surprising Nash eventually became a main event level star given his charisma and microphone skills, but given how mediocre he was in the ring before hitting the big time and how weak he continued to be as he rose up the card, it’s amazing Nash kept getting as many chances as he did.
9. The Sandman
More so than anyone else on this list, The Sandman had an excuse for his constant mistakes in the ring, which given the hardcore environment of ECW regularly put his and his opponent’s life at risk. That said, his excuse was pretty horrendous—part of his spectacular entrance involved heavy amounts of drinking real alcohol, and he was usually pretty drunk by the time he actually reached the ring. On more than one occasion, he’s also admitted to adding other drugs to the mix, including marijuana and acid. With all of those chemicals swirling through his brain, it’s really no surprise Sandman managed to mess up things as simple as throwing a ladder at someone, not to mention every single piledriver he attempted. Despite all this, Sandman won the ECW Championship more times than any other athlete, making him more than worthy of the Hardcore Icon title that fans have bestowed upon him. It’s still pretty hard to justify his behavior in modern times, and frankly we don’t understand how he got away with it at the time.
8. Nikki Bella
There are plenty of roads to the top of WWE, and one of them has always been having friends in the right places. Nikki Bella has always been surrounded by the right people, from the moment she was born with an equally gorgeous twin, predestining her towards WWE superstardom through the sheer force of twin magic. In addition to her sister Brie, Nikki has her boyfriend John Cena, the biggest star in the business, and stepfather Johnny Ace, still a high ranking WWE executive. Nikki has used these connections to become one of the most decorated and celebrated female wrestlers of the modern era, in light of the fact she barely compares to her contemporaries. Not only is she generally weak in the ring, Nikki is also constantly making mistakes with even simple moves, blatantly whiffing the majority of kicks she attempts. Her time in the ring is finally slowing down to the extent this probably won’t be an issue anymore, although we’re sure whatever retirement match she has in store for us will be filled with a few last mistakes for the world to remember Nikki by.
Next to The Sandman, no one in ECW was more dangerous than Sabu (well, there was also New Jack, but his worst antics were terrifyingly intentional). Similar to Sandman, the self-alleged “Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal Maniac” was known to abuse pills and certain other illegal substances in the ring as was the style at the time, though he apparently tried to keep it clean until after the show whenever possible. This didn’t stop Sabu from regularly being a sloppy mess, though, with his style so slapdash and based on causing the most chaos as possible in the least amount of time that he barely had the time to think through whatever big moves he tried to make before he started stacking up weapons for the next one. The extreme insanity made Sabu a huge star in ECW, especially during his craziest matches filled with fire and barbed wire, and yet his chaos could never translate to the mainstream in WCW or WWE. While his success wasn’t as grand as it could have been, Sabu was still capable of a solid match when he reigned in his wildest tendencies, and will never be forgotten by his ECW loyalists.
One doesn’t make an omelet without cracking a few eggs. In the case of WCW’s biggest homegrown star, Bill Goldberg, it required 173 consecutive eggs cracked in a row. As the highest profile undefeated streak in wrestling up to that point turned a failed NFL also-ran into one of the biggest stars of the Attitude Era, it was almost inevitable that mistakes would be made. Goldberg was impressive and unique in the ring, although not fully seasoned. Inexperience and mystery were part of the appeal, and Goldberg’s intensity combined with those factors made it easy for him to accidentally hit his opponents harder than he should. WCW made such a phenomenon in Goldberg that they pretty much had to keep pushing him no matter who he hurt, even with two injuries that stood out as particularly damaging. In the span of one week, Goldberg kicked Bret Hart in the head causing a concussion and later stroke that ended his career, and then days later, he ripped the tendons in his wrist to shreds by legitimately punching through the window of a limousine. Goldberg’s been significantly more careful ever since. Then again, his latest run has barely even given him time for accidents to happen.
5. Rick Steiner
Little brother Scott has the higher profile and thus fans have an easier time remembering his gaffes than with Rick Steiner, who was arguably is the more dangerous and reckless performer of the two. Rick’s biggest faux pas was repeatedly attempting a top rope bulldog, even after it broke Buff Bagwell’s neck during an episode of Thunder in 1998. Amazingly, Rick’s biggest solo push came after the botch, and it actually got to a point in WCW where it felt like wrestlers were forced to compete against him as a form of punishment. Rick could always be assured to put on a dangerous and painful match, where he actually hurt his opponent to the point of injury, almost the exact opposite of what pro wrestling is supposed to be. Unlike Scotty, Rick never exactly had much in the way of charisma or a unique personality either, making it a huge mystery to why WCW kept him employed as long as they did. On the other hand, it starts to answer the question of how that company went out of business, and why WWE didn’t bother bringing Rick along with Scott in the early 2000s.
4. Sid Vicious
The other wrestlers on this list might be half the man Sid Vicious is, and he has half the brains they do…whatever that means. And this is in Sid’s own words no less. Though not exactly graceful inside the squared circle, Sid is a little bit different from his wrestling brethren when it comes to his most regular style of flub. While others had trouble with certain moves and exhibited poor communication, Sid’s issue was apparently not thinking before he talked, sometimes not even considering that cameras might be running. Outside of his “half the brains” slip, Sid also suffered an infamous gaffe where he stumbled over some words and asked JR to start an interview over. Unfortunately, all JR could do is inform the Psychotic one they were live. Had Sid’s problems remained vocal, fans probably still wouldn’t laughed, but he might have saved himself from lists like this, as well. Much worse than a few missed lines, though, Sid also managed to botch the simple act of jumping off a turnbuckle, horrifically breaking his leg in the process at Sin 2001.
3. Jeff Hardy
Almost every superstar on this list put their lives and their coworkers lives at risk by making constant mistakes in the ring, and yet only one wrestler in history has shown up to a major Pay-Per-View in such poor shape that his match had to be canceled on the spot. Jeff Hardy was the culprit at TNA Victory Road 2011, so hopped up on undisclosed drugs that Eric Bischoff demanded he lose the main event to Sting in a manner of seconds. The decision was far from unfounded, as Hardy had been sloppy in the ring and making regular botches for well over a decade at that point, with things getting seriously out of hand as his drug habit likewise started to grow out of control. Not that things weren’t already pretty bad in WWE—Hardy made plenty of major, noticeable mistakes in WWE too, once forcing Rico to call him out for it live at Survivor Series 2002. Jeff typically can reign it in under the guidance of his brother Matt, but with the elder Hardy “Broken” these days, it’s unclear if either of them will clear their minds enough to wrestle a good match any time soon.
2. Lilian Garcia
Before you go yelling at us over the technicality, Lilian Garcia actually has wrestled for WWE at least once, defeating Howard Finkel in a Tuxedo/Evening Gown Match on a 2002 episode of Raw. When it comes to her regular botches, however, they’re all of the verbal variety, related to her long term day job as the ring announcer for all major WWE events. She was employed from WWE between 1999 and 2016, with the door apparently open for her to make a comeback in the near future should her life allow for it again. This makes her one of the longest tenured women ever to hold an on-air role in WWE, and yet the past 17 years have been filled from top to bottom with Lilian getting practically everything wrong at one point or another. She’s mixed up first names, last names, announced almost completely random wrestlers, and has rang the ring bell at random points when extending her duties to serve as the timekeeper. Common though Garcia’s flubs were, they rarely caused much of a scene, with only eagle-eared diehards tending to notice.
1. Mike Adamle
All right, so unlike Lilian Garcia, there were never any matches in the WWE Universe or anywhere else featuring football player turned American Gladiators co-host Mike Adamle, and fans should forever thank Vince McMahon and company for saving us from that train wreck. At the same time, however, we may never be able to forgive Vinnie Mac for unleashing Adamle unto the wrestling world to begin with. Adamle proved he was in way over his head as a WWE announcer literally from his very first sentence, when he mispronounced the then currently reigning Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy’s name as “Jeff Harvey.” He made more and more mistakes the higher profile role he earned in the company, bizarrely becoming the General Manager of Raw before the year was through. Fans hated Adamle in the worst way and for the worst reasons, a completely lack of ability to perform the job he was hired to do. The backlash more extreme than even Vince McMahon could play damage control with, Adamle’s reign of terror couldn’t last long before he was ousted from the business entirely.