Professional wrestling is hard. We’re not just talking about the risk of injuries and the incredible shape athletes need to keep themselves in to believably perform their roles. Getting in front of tens of thousands of people on a weekly basis simply isn’t something everyone can do, at least not without embarrassing themselves somewhere along the path to glory. Countless WWE superstars learned this lesson the hard way, enacting some sort of faux pas on live television that nearly killed their careers or reputations. The worst offenders did it multiple times.
Perhaps the most common failing amongst bad wrestlers isn’t a lack of skill in the ring but rather, an inability to sound convincing or realistic on the microphone. Granted, some wrestlers have simply been unable to tell a headlock from a wristwatch, but the bigger issue comes in the fact character work is just as important to sports entertainment as actual wrestling. Theoretically, the superstars who can’t quite master the idea are bound to get left in the dust. Well, that’s how it should be anyway. Sometimes, Vince McMahon or some other wrestling promoter takes a shine to newcomers or underdeveloped talents and pushes them to the moon despite their shortcomings.
Naturally, McMahon’s practice in doing so is disastrous on multiple levels. Not only is an unprepared wrestler suddenly in the spotlight, but this also means their constant failures are going to receive incredible attention from the WWE Universe. Ideally, this would inspire wrestlers to get their acts together and learn how to work already, although more practically, not to mention typically, they simply fail even more spectacularly when millions of eyes are watching. Keep reading to learn about 15 terrible wrestlers who made the same mistakes over and over again.
15. Kevin Nash – Thinks He Should Always Be The Center Of Attention
When a wrestler’s biggest issue is falsely believing he belongs in the main event at all times no matter what, there’s a valid question on whether the scenario is his fault or if the blame belongs to the promoter who keeps booking him there. For Kevin Nash, it’s definitely a combination of the two, especially considering he was once the booker who put himself in that top spot undeservedly. This happened in WCW way back during the late ‘90s, when Nash booked himself to end Goldberg’s World Championship reign and undefeated streak pretty much for no reason. That said, it was even worse when Nash made his WWE return and kept earning main-event spotlights despite his advanced age, basically making him immobile. The absolute nadir of this trend was when Nash convinced his buddy, Triple H, to insert him into a feud with CM Punk, ruining the momentum of all parties involved, including the WWE Universe at large. Had Nash simply accepted he didn’t matter anymore, wrestling could be incredibly different today.
14. Roman Reigns – Keeps Doing What WWE Tells Him To Do
From a technical standpoint, Roman Reigns is obviously doing something right. The man has performed in the main event of the last three WrestleManias, winning two of his matches against bona fide WWE legends in Triple H and The Undertaker. One of those bouts made Roman the WWE Champion, already his fourth turn with the belt in his short career. The downside to all this is that the WWE Universe always has and likely always will absolutely despise the guy, no matter how Roman or Vince McMahon tries to rectify this situation. In a manner of speaking, the only thing Roman has failed at is saying no, either to any of the awful ideas Vince has had that made people hate him so much or to the idea he was ready to be a star in the first place. Because Roman simply keeps on trucking and expects good results, this sort of preferred outcome will absolutely never happen.
13. Shane McMahon – Risks His Life For No Reason
In all fairness to the behavior that landed Shane McMahon on this list, virtually every wrestler in the game today has, in some way, risked his life in a manner most rational folks would deem unnecessary. The very nature of pro wrestling is making it look like you got hurt when you didn’t, and there have been countless errors in achieving that goal. What makes Shane-O-Mac different from the rest of his father’s employees is that the man is not a trained sports entertainer, let alone a wrestler in the first place. Shane competes in one, maybe two matches per year, performs some spectacular death-defying stunt and then…kinda forgets about whatever he was getting in the ring for. Back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, this was fine, because the stunts Shane pulled off were big enough to justify them. Now that he’s flying off the Hell-in a-Cell structure just to say he did it, fans are wondering if risking his life is worth the trouble.
12. Hulk Hogan – Refuses To Accept The Glory Days Are Over
Once upon a time, Hulk Hogan was truly the most popular wrestler in the world, and Hulkamania was a trend synonymous with sports entertainment. At this point, however, the idea that Hogan is at all a star in pro wrestling is laughable due to what happened in the 30 years following his rise to fame. The first decade or so went fine until Hogan jumped ship from WWE to WCW and the egomania started kicking in hardcore. From then on, Hogan had an absolute need to be the top star and most talked about name wherever he went, to the extent it killed multiple promotions he worked for. After WCW, NWA/TNA/GFW/etc. went through much the same issue, and Hogan wasn’t even an active performer by then. Nonetheless, once the Hulkster showed up in the Impact Zone, he was the most important name in the company and wouldn’t get out of the way so an actual wrestler could take over the spotlight.
11. Lex Luger – Always Blows The Big One
Because professional wrestling is a scripted facsimile of an actual sport, it isn’t always a WWE superstars’ fault when they repeatedly fail in the same way. Occasionally, promoters will start viewing a worker in a particular way through no fault of their own, something that happened to Lex Luger in both WCW and WWE. Of course, the issue was that Luger severely lacked both in-ring skills and a microphone prowess, two problems no wrestler would be able to overcome. Nonetheless, Luger’s natural good looks and impressive physique brought him to main events wherever he went, forcing promoters to intentionally sabotage his prospects as a top star. To achieve this goal, clever bookers ensured Luger built a reputation as a career “choker.” Sure, he earned lots of WWE and WCW Championship shots over time, yet in the unlikely event he actually won one of them, he’d lose it back almost immediately. In time, this made fans unable to view Luger as an actual threat, knowing no matter how many matches he won until then, he’d always blow the big one in the end.
10. Marty Jannetty – Gets A Chance And Then Gets High
Believe it or not, there was actually a point in wrestling history when most insiders believed Marty Jannetty was far and away the more talented member of The Midnight Rockers. Of course, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone who saw the man fly through the ring in his peak because although not quite the Showstopper that Shawn Michaels would become, Jannetty definitely possessed his share of in-ring talent. Unfortunately, whenever he got a true opportunity to shine either as a solo star or with HBK by his side, Jannetty would almost instantly ruin things by using his big paydays to buy all the drugs he could find. This trend started in a major way from the very beginning, when the Rockers had reputations as party animals few promoters were willing to hire. HBK gradually cleaned up his act enough to become a star, yet Jannetty kept doing copious amounts of drugs even after winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship, which should explain why his reign with that title was so short. It also explains why every comeback attempt thereafter faded away within weeks.
9. The Ultimate Warrior – Demanded More Money Than He Was Worth
When a performer dies, it’s natural for people to immediately forget about any of the bad times and focus entirely on the good memories he left behind. As common as this practice is, however, it’s still a shock how quickly and completely WWE took a 180 on their position regarding The Ultimate Warrior, a man once mocked as perhaps the most legitimately mentally unstable individual ever to wrestle. Warrior earned this reputation by constantly demanding more money than Vince McMahon was willing to pay him, believing he was an equal star to Hulk Hogan and thus deserved the same pay at events like WrestleMania VI and SummerSlam 1990. In reality, Warrior had nowhere near Hogan’s star power at his peak, so McMahon typically fired him rather than deal with his complaints. And now, they named an award after him, presumably in an attempt to forgive and forget.
8. Paul Roma – Believed His Own (Nonexistent) Hype
Compared to some of the other names on this list, Paul Roma is hardly a major name in professional wrestling. Defining the term “also ran,” Roma appeared in the lower midcard of both WWE and WCW without ever achieving much fame, and yet in the man’s own mind, he’s somehow one of the biggest wrestlers of all time. This disconnect is largely because Roma was bizarrely slotted into the Four Horsemen circa the early ‘90s, at which point he apparently began believing he was truly one of wrestling’s elite. During out of character interviews, Roma mocked his partners Ric Flair and Arn Anderson for looking old, calling himself the only true star left in the group. This was the same sort of behavior that got him fired from WWE when he was calling his team with Hercules, Power & Glory, “the greatest tag team in wrestling history,” making him furious they rarely achieved any actual success.
7. Rick Steiner – Carelessly Injured Countless Coworkers
In many cases, fans don’t realize how little one-half of a tag team was bringing to the table until after they break up. This phenomenon definitely occurred in reference to The Steiner Brothers, considered one of the greatest units the 1990s had to offer. Nowadays, only Scott Steiner is truly viewed upon as a legendary wrestler, while his brother Rick is generally cast aside as an oafish bully who terrorized their opponents. Granted, Scott did the exact same thing, but at least he could pull off an impressive suplex and funny interview while doing so. Rick brought absolutely nothing to the table except unwarranted abuse to their opponents, leaving many wrestlers to challenge the Steiners severely injured because of it. WCW being WCW, this in no way stopped them from pushing Rick on the same level as his brother to the very end, allowing him to maim and disfigure plenty of top and rising stars along the way.
6. The Sandman – Got Too Drunk To Wrestle
For all the faults associated with Vince McMahon and his WWE Universe, in the very least, fans can expect that the wrestlers performing inside McMahon-sanctioned rings are free from outside substances when they do so. If a wrestler showed up to Raw or SmackDown high, they’d lose their jobs almost instantly — or barring that, get sent to rehab until they could straighten themselves out. The ECW locker room, however, was almost the exact opposite. We can’t say for sure Paul Heyman or his fans actually wanted the wrestlers to be high during their matches, but based on how much they all seemed to enjoy The Sandman’s spectacular entrance, it can definitely be said they didn’t mind when it happened. Night after night, Sandman would pound dozens of beers en route to the ring, winding up a sloppy mess by the time he was supposed to wrestle. This made it impossible for the guy to perform a simple piledriver let alone a hardcore brawl, and yet he nonetheless won the ECW Championship a record five times.
5. Sabu – Never Thought His Spots Through
It should be obvious the ECW locker room was a pretty messed up place based on this statement: sure, The Sandman was awful in the ring, but he was drunk the whole time. What’s Sabu’s excuse? Alright, so in fairness, there was once a time when Sabu was amongst the greatest and most exciting wrestlers in North America, attempting a move set no one would dare try at the time. On the other hand, there was also a much longer period of time when Sabu would set up a broken chair and attempt to dive headfirst into the audience after jumping off of it without putting a single second of thought into the process. This meant chairs collapsing, audience members getting hurt, and Sabu flying in directions not even he was aware of until the painful landing. Sabu and his opponents have endured countless broken bones because of this behavior, and yet it hasn’t seemed to stop the man even into his 50s.
4. Mr. Kennedy – Can’t Keep His Mouth Shut
Look, we get it — when a person gets fired from a job he believed provided him with some sort of security, he can feel cheesed about the situation and wish to vent in a semi-public forum. Unfortunately, if that forum is public enough, the former employers are going to find out about what was said, possibly blackballing him from the industry for daring to do so. This is what happened to Mr. Kennedy in both WWE and NWA/TNA/GFW/etc., having been fired by the companies for injuring his coworkers and an alleged drug problem, respectively. Regardless of the reasons, in both instances, Kennedy heavily denied the claims against him. The first time around, he did so on the interview circuit, and when TNA let him go, he wouldn’t even wait that long, preferring to air his dirty laundry in an independent company’s ring. Unsurprisingly, neither company has wanted him back since he accused them of wrongful termination, amongst other methods of publicly maligning them.
3. Kane – Accepts Whatever Stupid Idea Vince McMahon Gives Him
Forget about what’s happening in the current era with Roman Reigns. No one athlete has been jerked around and dragged through the mud anywhere near the level this has happened to Kane, with each passing year the Big Red Monster spends in WWE simply offering more opportunities for his boss to embarrass the hell out of the guy. All Kane has ever needed to do in order to stop this has been simply saying, “no.” As in “No, I will not let you imply I sexually assaulted a dead woman.” Or how about “No, I will not imitate another wrestler whom everyone knows isn’t me.” Maybe even “No, I will not electrocute your son’s testicles for fun and then just forget about it the next week.” Let’s not forget “No, I will not do an angle about an imposter version of myself who then disappeared because you got bored with it or something.” Okay, so we’re getting into territory that probably goes contrary to Kane’s personal language, but hopefully, people are getting the idea.
2. Triple H – The Power Went To His Head
At this point, it seems highly unlike Triple H will ever fully accept the fact he’s not a wrestler anymore. No matter how much political power within the industry HHH is able to acquire, he’ll always be the sort of man who needs to have his cake and eat it, too. It isn’t enough for him to simply be one of the most powerful executives in the wrestling world; Triple H also has a desire to make sure everyone realizes he’s also one of the biggest stars the sport ever produced. Granted, he’s not, at best playing fourth or fifth fiddle to much bigger names like Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena, The Undertaker, and a handful of others who were clearly more important to WWE’s success than The Game ever was. Unfortunately, by saying this out loud, we’ve just ensured another five years of Triple H making random appearances to bury his top stars, all to prove some non-existent point about what a big deal in the industry he is or was.
1. Vince McMahon – Doesn’t Care What Fans Think Anymore
Ultimately, no one wrestler alone can be blamed for a match, angle, or segment completely bombing. Even at the tippy-top level, there’s one man they all need to report to before trying their wildest ideas, and naturally, it’s Vince McMahon. Most of the time, the wrestlers have nothing to do with the ideas they get involved with, to begin with, simply listening to whatever crazy stories Vince is spouting out that week and doing their best to please the boss. This was all well and good for decades, when Vince’s unique brand of creativity was in line with what his fans wanted to see. Unfortunately, that element of the deal has been virtually tossed out the window in the modern era. WWE programming is just about what Vince wants to see that week, and how other people react to it is almost entirely irrelevant. Worst of all, while other wrestlers on this list merely hurt their own careers, Vince is murdering an entire industry.
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