Athletes are often unfairly given a certain hero status they just can’t live up to. Everyone has their flaws, whether or not they happen to be physically gifted. The flaws can be massive and personally crippling, or they can be sadder and more understandable. Of course, the fact they are understandable doesn’t necessarily mean the flaws are forgivable.
Professional wrestlers are just like any other athletes in this regard. Some are intensely good at their craft, but simply aren’t the most reliable when it comes to giving their fans what they want. In most cases, the fans just wanted to see their favorite wrestlers put on a good show. The people on this list typically either blatantly and repeatedly lied to their fans, or showed up in no condition to give them that show, either due to their physical limitations or their personal drug intake that particular day. In one case, he's just kind of a d*ck.
To say fans were “disappointed” is a pretty heavy term, and we don’t use it lightly. There are varied reasons for why, and some we understand, but read on to find out which 10 wrestlers have disappointed their fans the most.
10 Jay Briscoe - Homophobic Hillbilly
Jay and Mark Briscoe have never competed for a major wrestling company, but they’ve come pretty close. WWE has shown interest in Dem Boys on multiple occasions, but things always fell through. Perhaps that’s for the better, considering Jay is intensely homophobic. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising from a man who’s familial gimmick sees him and his brother wear Confederate Flags on their ring gear and title belts (picture above), but comments made by Briscoe on Twitter deeply disappointed huge portions of his fans. In 2013, Briscoe tweeted that gay marriage was legal in Delaware, and followed that by tweeting “try and teach my kids that there’s nothing wrong with that and I’ll f***ing shoot you.”
Two years prior, Briscoe tweeted an extremely offensive homophobic slur referring to people he met in New York. Jay has apologized for the comments claiming they were "in character," but that doesn’t really justify it considering he was supposed to be a lovable babyface redneck, not a hate-filled heel redneck. Draping himself in the Confederate Flag proves he and his brother really just don’t get it, and their backwards views continue disappointing wrestling fans every time they show up on TV.
9 Paul Heyman
In a sense, all professional wrestling promoters are con men. You'd be really hard pressed to find one who never lied to or deceived their fans. During the final few years of ECW, though, Paul Heyman basically turned lying into an art form. The history of ECW sees star after star being “stolen” by WWE or WCW, but the reality is, Heyman was barely if ever paying them, and these wrestlers just wanted to earn a living.
Using his television shows to manipulate fans, Heyman made the wrestlers into the bad guys and himself into the hero, trying to give his audience what they deserved. He would make grandiose promises to the talent and the fan, telling his staff they would be well-paid stars, and promising the fans multiple full-length shows that wouldn’t even happen. Near the end of ECW, there were rumors of outside investors saving the company, but Paul refused to listen to any logic and let his company fall into bankruptcy. Granted, sometimes his wrestlers DID just disappoint the fans all on their own…
8 Sabu - The No-Show
Sabu was arguably the first true ECW Superstar. Terry Funk and Shane Douglas were headlining shows before him, but they also earned their fame elsewhere. Sabu was the first homegrown ECW talent fans truly cared about and connected to, and his homicidal, suicidal, genocidal style defined hardcore wrestling for the 90’s. In 1995, before Paul E. started bouncing every check, Sabu was set to be in the main event of the biggest show in ECW up to that point, the Three-Way Dance.
Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko were scheduled to defend the ECW Tag Team titles against the team of Sabu & The Tazmaniac and ECW’s other homegrown talents, The Public Enemy. The match was hyped for months and was the first three-way tag team match in wrestling history. Sabu implicitly promised to appear at the show for a small, but agreed upon fee. Instead of showing up, he went to Japan. There’s no question Sabu made more money in Japan than in ECW, but fans were still absolutely furious at this no-show, chanting “F*** Sabu” for the entire night.
7 Jeff Hardy - Drunk Wrestling
Jeff Hardy has been wowing the wrestling universe since he was a teenager, competing in death defying matches exemplifying his “extreme” nature. He’s also suffered some pretty serious problems with drug addiction, and once pretty much bragged about it on national television. Even worse than telling CM Punk he’s too cool for rehab, Hardy was also directly responsible for quite possibly the lowest moment in TNA history.
As is well known by now, Hardy showed up to the Pay-Per-View event Victory Road 2011 in absolutely no condition to wrestle. He flailed around like a drunken, stoned buffoon, while his opponent Sting looked equal parts furious and deeply embarrassed. Two years earlier, Hardy was under indictment after being caught with hundreds of illegal drugs, which is why he was fired from WWE and working for TNA in the first place. Shortly after the Victory Road match, that trial finally ended and he was sentenced to 10 days in jail. Hardy later admitted the incident was his rock bottom, and hasn’t had any run-ins with the law since.
6 Ric Flair - Just Stay Retired!
Ric Flair is generally considered one of the greatest professional wrestlers ever to live. He ruled the 80’s like no other, having incredible matches night after night and holding the NWA and WCW World titles for multiple full years. He hasn’t wrestled since 2011 and seems to be permanently retired, but for at least the decade prior, Flair kept wrestling while in his late 50’s and 60’s, having increasingly embarrassing matches every night. He had a glorious retirement match against Shawn Michaels in 2008, but many fans felt he should have given up even before then, since most of his matches were based on diminishing returns. Fans were truly upset when he broke that retirement and began competing for TNA and the Hulkamania tour.
Today, Flair continues to disappoint his fans by dragging his family name into the mud with his daughter, Charlotte. The Flair’s are both talented talkers who claim to be focused on Charlotte’s career legacy, but that didn’t stop them from agreeing to a Raw segment, which saw Paige mock Ric’s son Reid, who died of a heroin overdose. We’re thankful he’s out of the ring, but until he starts turning down horrible ideas like that, fans are going to keep begging Ric to just step away from the ring once and for all.
5 Terry Funk - It's Not Okay To Wrestle In Your 70s
Terry Funk is a hardcore legend and WWE Hall of Famer. He wrestled all over the world, and was a huge name in NWA, WCW, ECW, WWE, NJPW, and countless other promotions. With a famous older brother and father who were wrestlers, too, Funk was born into the business, starting his career in 1965. His most recent match we know about was in 2015, and he shows no signs of slowing down, despite fans begging him to do so.
Terry Funk allegedly first retired in 1983. The words “Terry Funk retires” have basically become a punch line in professional wrestling. Especially considering the way Terry wrestles, which to this day includes taking fireballs to the face and hitting people with branding irons, it’s not fun to watch anymore; it’s just dangerous and cringeworthy seeing a man in his 70’s potentially catch on fire. Of course, Terry isn’t the only one who wrestled such a hardcore style he’s now hard to watch…
4 Mick Foley - 12 Years of Repeatedly Coming Out of Retirement
Mick Foley retired from WWE as Cactus Jack for the first time in the year 2000. Though only in his mid-30's, Foley's hardcore style was affecting his well-being, and it was time to step away from the ring, so he retired after No Way Out. He almost immediately returned for one more match, before returning to retirement...for about four years, at which point he came back for two more matches. He retired again only to return the next year, wrestle a few matches, and retire. This pattern continued until 2012, spanning both WWE and TNA.
We love Mick Foley as much as anybody. He’s a true legend in the sport, and he’s put his body on the line in ways no one else has ever dared. However, those 12 years of repeatedly coming out of retirement left many fans feeling jerked around. It’s not that the matches were bad, but they were scary in a way—Foley’s body couldn’t keep taking that kind of damage, and both he and the fans knew it.
3 Scott Hall - Drunk Fighting
Scott Hall’s personal demons were once at such a point his nicknames on the Internet were Scott “Alka” Hall and “Last Call” Scott Hall. In the late 1990’s as a member of the new World order, Hall was one of the biggest stars in the world of wrestling. He used his stardom to get drunk absolutely every single night, whether he had to appear on camera or not. He had been heavily drinking and addicted to painkillers since at least the 1980’s, but the problems really got out of control as his fame grew. Hall regularly missed WCW events because he’d rather get drunk or high. When he did show up, he was obviously drunk, and it happened so often WCW built an absolutely tasteless angle around his drinking problem.
After getting fired from WCW, Hall’s problems followed him wherever he managed to get work. He briefly worked for WWE before a drunken episode on a plane lead to his firing, and there were countless reports of indy shows ruined by his drunken antics. Diamond Dallas Page has since put in an incredible amount of work helping Hall and other former wrestlers stay sober. Some call Scott Hall his biggest success story, but there is a little bit of competition on that front…
2 Jake Roberts - Airing Dirty Laundry
Jake “The Snake” Roberts is a WWE Hall of Famer remembered as both one of the greatest talkers in wrestling history, and as a man who understood ring psychology better than almost anyone else. He’s also been filmed doing some things that make Scott Hall look like a choirboy. Jake was born after his father raped a 13-year old and got her pregnant, and knowing the truth about his existence from a young age caused a downward spiral into drug abuse the wrestling world has possibly never quite seen before or since.
Jake isn’t the only wrestler in history to have admitted to smoking crack. At least The Iron Sheik and Too Cold Scorpio have made similar admissions. Jake’s the only one who did so while cameras were still rolling, though, allegedly wandering off during production of Beyond the Mat to smoke in his hotel room. Jake also headlined possibly the most infamous show in independent wrestling history, the one-off “Heroes of Wrestling” Pay-Per-View. Jake was supposed to wrestle Jim Neidhart, but appeared so drunk he pantomimed his pet snake was his penis for about five minutes instead. He’s finally cleaned up with the help of DDP, but fans will never forget the times Jake burned them in the past.
1 Vince McMahon - Vince Being Vince
Maybe not every wrestling fan is a WWE fan, but deep down inside, it could definitely be argued that every WWE fan is a Vince McMahon fan. Vince and his family (and some helpers) built the company from the ground up, and are still largely in charge of what happens on screen to this day.
Fans buy tickets to scream what they want from Vince every Monday night, but it’s seemingly been years since he’s listened. Chants of CM Punk lead to a long storyline involving a 52-year old semi-retired Kevin Nash. Vince interpreted “Daniel Bryan” chants to mean they wanted him to repeatedly lose to Roman Reigns. Whether “Cena Sucks” or “Let’s Go Cena,” the crowd doesn’t really seem 100% on board with Vince on that one, either, shoving Cena down our throats when we don’t want him, then making him an immature goof when people actually want to see him.