Wrestlers have used the world of grappling and jumping off ropes as a bridge to many other things, whether it be acting, modeling, or simply cementing themselves as some of the greatest to ever step into a ring. Names like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and even John Cena come to mind when speaking about those who have cemented their legacy as a few of the legends in the business.
Unfortunately, we won’t be talking about any of those people. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably never even heard of some of the names on this list. That’s because, in one fell swoop, their careers went from being full of promise to complete lost causes. If there’s one thing we’ll see here, it’s how it takes only one decision to seal your fate, especially in the wrestling ring. Let’s take a look at some of the wrestlers who destroyed their careers in a matter of seconds.
Brad Maddox addresses the crowd
You may remember Brad Maddox from his time as Raw’s General Manager on WWE TV. Ironically, he ruined his career off-screen when he called the crowd “cocky pricks” during a house (non-televised) show. Maddox sat down with Rolling Stone in 2015, a week after the incident, and revealed, “I didn’t think it was inappropriate at all, especially for a dark match. I was out there trying to work up the crowd. It’s not for TV. I’m making fun of the hometown and their football team and talking to them directly. I was just trying to warm the crowd up, that was my role. It just didn’t work out.”
When asked if he felt that there was a level of hypocrisy involved since people have said “much worse things,” he explained, “No, just because those things are cleared ahead of time. You could call this ‘going into business for myself.’ Which I really didn’t do. I didn’t think that I’d go out there and call them pricks and get noticed more. That’s not what I was doing at all. My words weren’t cleared ahead of time though. That’s the real difference.”
Robbie McAllister caught on camera
Robbie McAllister (real name Derek Graham-Couch) was one half of The Highlanders, a tag-team in WWE during the noughties. McAlister was caught in attendance at a TNA show while under contract with WWE in 2008, and it goes without saying that that’s a big no-no. In an interview with World Wrestling Insanity’s ClubWWI (via ProWrestling.net), McAllister shed some insight, claiming, “I don’t even understand why I did it. But it could have been a subconscious thing that I did it because [WWE] weren’t using us.”
The trouble didn’t stop there, however. McAllister went on to explain some of the heat he got when he returned to his hotel, where some other WWE stars were staying — most notably The Undertaker and Fit Finlay. “Actually, [The Undertaker] was all over me. At the end, there was Fit Finlay, he was all over me,” the wrestler revealed, adding, “I’m like, ‘Listen, guys. I can’t tell you why. I screwed up. It’s a screw-up on my part. Why do you think I’m standing in front of ya? I need to hear this because I just did the stupidest thing in my life? And I’m going to hear the repercussions.'”
According to WhatCulture, both Robbie and his tag-team partner Rory McAllister paid (quite literally) for his mistake. The outlet claimed the two were “pulled from their planned WrestleMania appearance, and lost a $5,000 paycheck because of it.” The duo was released in August of that year.
Was Daniel Puder better than Kurt Angle?
Daniel Puder is a mixed martial artist who retired from the sport with an impeccable record of 8-0, but his time in pro wrestling could be viewed as the exact opposite. According to Bleacher Report, it all started during a November 2004 episode of SmackDown, when Kurt Angle challenged the contestants of wrestling reality TV show, Tough Enough to a match. Puder, already an accomplished MMA fighter at the time, stepped up to the challenge. As Puder later told WrestleShark (via Wrestling Inc), “I caught him in a key lock, pulled him into a kimura and tried to snap his arm off.”
This spelled the end for Puder. While he lost the match against Angle, he won Tough Enough and “earned him himself a WWE contract” (via Bleacher Report). That being said, the contract was crummy, and “he only lasted with the company briefly.” An embarrassing elimination came at the 2005 Royal Rumble by Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Hardcore Holly, who pummeled him with some serious knife-edge chops. Puder was released from his contract shortly after.
Speaking to Chris Van Vliet in 2020 about his time with the WWE, Puder explained, “It was guaranteed one year, and they let me go after the first year … What’s interesting is that they offered me another deal and because I didn’t take it, then they let me go. So, it was a little shady on that.” We guess if WWE wants to get rid of you, they will.
Nailz puts his hands on the boss
Kevin Wacholz, better known as Nailz, had a brief run in the WWF/E in 1992. Utilizing the gimmick of an ex-con, Nailz entered the WWE and feuded with the Big Boss Man, a wrestler with a prison guard gimmick who Nailz claimed abused him because… ’90s wrestling. The feud went over well and even landed Nailz some matches against the era’s top stars such as Sgt. Slaughter, The Undertaker, and The Ultimate Warrior. However, hopes of top-stardom were thrown down the drain after SummerSlam ’92. As R.D. Reynold’s writes in WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling, Nailz “approached Vince McMahon behind the scenes, upset about his payoff.” He proceeded to pummel the Chairman in his office.
Although there are no comments on the incident from the two involved, those who were there have spoken out, such as Bret Hart. In an interview with Kayfabe Commentaries, Hart recalled, “I was right outside the door. I didn’t see it happen, but I could hear all of it, and [Nailz] was shrieking.” He went on to say, “Clearly, the guy on the other side of the door was losing it and losing it badly.” Meanwhile, Bruce Prichard revealed in his Something to Wrestle podcast that, “it wasn’t a fight; at least from all the witnesses that were there. It was pretty much, you heard the voices raised, you heard the crash, and then everybody was in there.”
Nailz was subsequently terminated for unprofessional conduct.
Bart Gunn meets Butterbean's fists
For those who don’t know, The Brawl for All – often called the stupidest idea in wrestling — was a real-life boxing tournament with professional wrestlers. Bart Gunn, one half of The Smoking Guns tag team, won the tournament that was created to push the winner, who everyone thought would be “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, to main-event level — but that didn’t happen. Instead, Gunn got to face knock-out aficionado Butterbean in a boxing match at Wrestlemania, where Gunn was knocked out in mere seconds.
When reflecting on the event, Butterbean told The Hannibal TV, “Bart went about it the wrong way, he tried to box; [there were] three one minute rounds.” In VICE’s Dark Side of the Ring docuseries, Gunn said, “After Wrestlemania, I knew I was done. There wasn’t a future left there for me at all.”
When speaking on the wrestlers involved with the tournament, Jim Ross summed it best in the docuseries, saying, “They got hurt, they got embarrassed, and they got their careers shortened.”
Mr. Anderson's failed drug test and alleged insult
Ken Anderson has a history with both WWE and TNA. Although he got fired from both companies, with his WWE fate being solidified after a botched backdrop to Randy Orton resulting in a neck injury, it’s how things went down with TNA that really put the nail in the coffin. According to Pro Wrestling Sheet, Anderson had a major push in store with his “Huh” talk show segment before it all came to a screeching halt. Inquistr reported that Anderson “appeared to be sluggish and stumbling around” during a 2016 match with Eric Young, which led to Anderson taking a drug test immediately afterward. They also report that Anderson “ended up testing positive for some medications of which he did not have a prescription.”
Anderson was also caught on video yelling, “F*** TNA!” at an ICW show in Scotland, which he claims was taken out of context. Speaking with The Pancakes and Powerslams podcast (via SE Scoops), Anderson explained, “You can say whatever you want on the mic. Anything goes. So, they started chanting, ‘F TNA!, F TNA!’ I said ‘Okay, I don’t work for them anymore, so yeah, I agree.'”
While it’s never been confirmed what exact drug Anderson was on during his match against Young, the wrestler did admit during a 2017 interview with The Steve Austin Show (via Wrestling Inc) that he was abusing pain pills “a little too much” when he was in the WWE. As he revealed, “Mostly the pain pill, Vicodin, was my vice.”
David Schultz's commitment to character
Back in the 80s to early 90s, pro wrestling’s credibility as a real contact sport was still pretty solid, and “Dr. D” David Schultz was one of — if not the most — feared man at the time. 20/20 reporter John Stossel was working on an exposé in 1984, showing wrestling as a staged event and had an interview with Schultz set up by Vince McMahon himself.
As Schultz later recalled to VICE’s Dark Side of the Ring, “Vince comes walking in, and he said, ‘Listen we got a guy out here making a joke of the business. I want you to go out and interview with him, blast him, tear his a** up, stay in character, Dr. D.'” When reminiscing on the interview in the docuseries, Stossel says, “I was feeling uncomfortable all the way and almost didn’t ask him the question.”
What question, you ask? Well, Stossel proceeds to tell Schultz, “I think this is fake,” and before he could go any further, Dr. D slapped him not once, but twice. Stossel fell to the ground and would claim after the 20/20 segment aired that he now suffered from “probably permanent” ear damage. We may never know if Shultz’s actions were truly at Vince’s behest, but what we do know is that this led to a PR nightmare that subsequently ended with Schultz’s firing.
Amy Zidian didn't know who she was talking to
Amy Zidian was only around for a cup of coffee (as they say). Initially a contestant in 2006’s WWE Diva Search (think America’s Next Top Model for female wrestlers), Zidian was brought on as a valet for SmackDown’s resident cowboy Jimmy Wang Yang. This was done so that Zidian could get first-hand experience of the wrestling business without having to actually wrestle a match.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via Bleacher Report), Zidian “asked Vickie Guerrero how she became a diva when the rest of the women in WWE were in shape.” She also insulted some other former Diva Search contestants, but what really sealed her fate was asking Stephanie McMahon (Vince’s daughter) “who she was to give her advice” when she was just trying to help her with a segment.
WWE’s Vice President of Talent Relations, John Laurinaitis (who you might remember from his “People Power” General Manager gimmick), was a big fan of Zidian’s but couldn’t save her after a mistake that huge. Jimmy Wang Yang, on the other hand, recalls how quick the firing happened in an interview with Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore’s Podcast, stating, “I think the rounds got around that she didn’t know who Stephanie was, didn’t know who Vickie was. Ok, this girl definitely doesn’t belong in this business.” And just like that, Zidian was gone.
Alundra Blayze makes a statement she could never live down
Alundra Blayze was one of WWE’s top female performers in the ’90s. She defected over to WCW while being the WWE Women’s Champion in the midst of a five-year ratings war between the two organizations dubbed “The Monday Night War.” On an episode of Monday Night Nitro, Blayze, now going by Madusa, went on WCW TV with the WWE Women’s title belt and threw it in the trash, a move she says ruined her.
In an interview with the Bischoff on Wrestling podcast, she said, “I went through crap. That was the defining moment for everybody for twenty years. I had to live with that. It ruined me. Basically. I never did an interview for wrestling. I never went to a wrestling signing. In fact, this is the second or third podcast that I’ve ever done since I retired.” Regardless of the event, Blayze was still considered a trailblazer in women’s wrestling and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015.
The Hitman gets hit hard
Bret “The Hitman” Hart was undoubtedly a wrestling superstar. The five-time WWE champion jumped to WCW after the infamous Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series ’97, one of the most shocking events in all of wrestling: Hart not only spits in Vince McMahon’s face but is seen lettering “WCW” in the air. Little did The Hitman know it was the beginning of the end for him.
After one dreadful storyline after another, his career came to a screeching halt when he suffered a career-ending injury in ’99 after a boot to the head by Bill Goldberg. This led to concussion issues that forced him into retirement, a sad end for the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.
In an interview with WWE Backstage, Hart reflected, “If I could do it all over again, I think I’d try to figure out a better way to stay in WWE.”
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