Wrestlers Who Destroyed Their Careers In A Matter Of Seconds

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. Inquisitr 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 20 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."

The blooper that shocked the world

Fred Ottman was an established star in the WWE in the early '90s, with a successful run as one half of the Tag Team Champions, The Natural Disasters. However, it's unfortunate that he's best remembered as the subject of one of the most infamous and undeniably hilarious wrestling bloopers of all time.

Ottman was set to make his debut in World Championship Wrestling as a masked character known as The Shockmaster. In a much-hyped entrance featuring the biggest stars in the company, including Sting, Ric Flair, and Booker T, the stage was set for his epic introduction. As Sting proudly declared, "our partner is going to shock the world," Ottman fell face first through a door and his mask, a Darth Vader helmet that had been sprayed with glitter, rolled off his head. As poor Ottman stumbled to his feet and reclaimed his mask, a collective awkward silence ensued. One of the most epic wrestling fails of all time, The Shockmaster's debut was so disastrous that he was relegated to a bumbling comedy character, per Pro Wrestling Stories.

"I can't see nothing. I'm about 5, 6 inches away from the wall and I hit it as hard as I could hit it... I blew the wall off," he recalled on The Genius Cast. Ultimately, Ottman said, he's happy that his calamitous blooper has generated millions of clicks, conceding that there are worse things in life than being The Shockmaster.

The original screwjob

The Montreal Screwjob of 1997, where Brett Hart was screwed over for real by Vince McMahon, remains one of the most infamous examples of politics being played out in front of a live audience. However, some 12 years earlier, another screwjob occurred in the WWE, one that until recently was seldom discussed. In 1985, Wendi Richter was the reigning WWE Women's Champion and arguably the number one female wrestler in the country. Backstage relations between Richter and WWE management were strained, with ongoing contract negotiations coming to a stall, per Bleacher Report. Unhappy with Richter's resistance to sign a new contract, Vince McMahon orchestrated a secret plan to take the women's title away from her.

In the hallowed grounds of Madison Square Garden, Richter was pit against an unknown masked wrestler called The Spider. Going against the scheduled finish, The Spider defeated her opponent by forcibly pinning her to the mat. Unmasked, she was revealed to be none other than the Fabulous Moolah, Richter's former friend and mentor. Thus spelled the abrupt end of Richter's promising career.

"It was rigged to where the referee gave me a fast count and that was that. ... Nobody has ever hurt me like they hurt me," Richter told Prime Time with Sean Mooney, adding, "I wanted to speak to Vince McMahon and he was nowhere to be found. I gathered up my stuff and left in my wrestling suit to the airport and that's the last I had any communication with the WWF."

Jesse Ventura didn't stay on the right side of Vince McMahon

Navy SEAL turned wrestler turned actor turned Governor, Jesse "The Body" Ventura is a man of many talents. Unafraid to stand up for himself and the rights of workers, it was sadly his principled nature that halted his wrestling career. Problems initially arose between Ventura and Vince McMahon when the outspoken wrestler attempted to form a union. Ventura took issue with the fact that wrestlers are deemed independent contractors despite the fact the WWE mandates their schedule and appearances, per "The Steve Austin Show."

It was Hulk Hogan who tattled to McMahon about Ventura's plans to unionize, the catalyst for his fall from grace in the eyes of the WWE. During an appearance on "In Depth with Graham Bensinger," Ventura said that he was hurt when his onetime pal ratted him out, but said that he understood why Hogan, who was raking in mega-bucks, was averse to the idea of unionization. "Why would he want a union when he's getting taken care of?" he asked. "Imagine that: WrestleMania III, 93,000 people, and he got more than Andre the Giant, and all the rest of us combined."

The final nail fell when Ventura realized that he had been misled by the company into waiving his appearance-based royalties. Thus, he successfully filed litigation against the WWE, per Bleacher Report. Though Ventura's in-ring career ended, he would reach greater heights away from the world of wrestling when he was elected Governor of Minnesota.

Perry Saturn left Mike Bell seeing stars

Being the entertainment form that it is, professional wrestling requires cooperation between opponents, not only to effectively tell a story in the ring but to ensure each other's safety. Failure to do so can result in both serious injury and an end to one's career trajectory, which is exactly what happened to former WWE star Perry Saturn in 2001.

Saturn, an experienced wrestler, was pitted against an enhancement talent, Mike Bell, whose sole purpose was to put him over in what was effectively a squash match. During the short bout, Bell accidentally dropped Saturn on his shoulder when performing a hip-toss. Consequently, Saturn furiously beat Bell for real, throwing him out of the ring where, to the horror of the crowd and announcers, he landed on his neck, a move that could have paralyzed him.

On his eponymous show, fellow wrestler Kurt Angle condemned Saturn's actions. "When you have a less experienced wrestler that's so fired up to wrestle a WWE superstar ... he's going to get a little antsy. ... He might end up losing his mind a little bit," Angle said, lamenting, "what Perry did was just beat him up. It was really sad." As punishment, Saturn was given a character makeover in which he pursued a romantic relationship with a mop named Moppy (yes, really), per "The Complete WWF Video Guide Volume V." Released from the company soon after, he struggled with homelessness and drug use, though he has fortunately since recovered, per 1Wrestling.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Hulk Hogan's foul-mouthed rants

One of the biggest names in the history of professional wrestling, Hulk Hogan has been involved in numerous controversies over the course of four decades, including the steroid scandal and accusations of backstage politicking. In spite of said contentions, his popularity has endured. But in 2015, Hogan was at the center of a controversy that even he couldn't mitigate.

Celebrity news site Gawker published a sex tape of Hogan, leading to the wrestler filing a lawsuit, per The New York Times. During the trial, Radar uncovered incriminating videos of Hogan uttering the n-word in a vicious rant from 2007. According to the outlet, he repeatedly used the slur and admitted to being a racist when lamenting his daughter having a Black boyfriend. Though Hogan had long since retired from wrestling full time, he made sporadic guest appearances. But, as reported by The Guardian, the WWE fired the wrestling superstar following publication of the tirade. The organization also scrubbed any mention of Hogan from its website.

"This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs," he told People following the scandal. Though the heat has somewhat subsided, having made a number of minor appearances with the WWE in recent years (Hogan was reinstated into the Hall of Fame in 2018), his reputation is nonetheless sullied in the eyes of many, per the Daily Beast.

An accident ended Darren Drozdov's career

It has been publicly known for decades that professional wrestling is a predetermined form of entertainment rather than a legitimate sport, unlike, say, football or MMA. However, the reality of the physical risks of competing are very high — and potentially life-threatening. Such was sadly the case for Darren Drozdov.

Drozdov transitioned from the world of college football to the WWE in the late '90s, performing under the name Droz. However, the burgeoning star's career was tragically cut short at the age of 30. In a pre-taped episode of SmackDown in 1999, Droz wrestled seasoned professional D'Lo Brown when the latter executed his trademark power bomb. But the move went horrifically wrong. Per Fox Sports, Drozdov suffered life-changing injuries and was left a quadriplegic, requiring 24-hour care. Brown, who prided himself on working safely in the ring, was devastated and contemplated retirement from wrestling entirely. Speaking with Title Match Wrestling, he called the incident "the worst day of my life." The match was never televised and Brown said that he and Droz have refused to rewatch the footage.

Despite Brown's feelings of immense guilt, Drozdov holds no ill will towards him. "I have no hard feelings toward D'Lo because s*** happens and everyone who gets involved in athletics, including WWE, knows the risks that exist," he told Fox Sports. "It was an accident." Droz declared that he has embraced life as a disabled person, adding, "Just because I'm paralyzed... doesn't mean my life is over. I've learned to live again."

A hug cost Titus O'Neil WrestleMania

There are many ways to incur the wrath of Vince McMahon (as legend has it, he hates sneezing, so keep the Kleenex at bay). And as one WWE Superstar learned the hard way, hugging the chairman on-air is a no go. 

In 2016, Daniel Bryan bid adieu to the WWE. As McMahon left the ring following Bryan's moving speech, Titus O'Neil attempted to give the boss a warm embrace. Enraged by the playful grab, McMahon suspended O'Neil for two whole months, per Pro Wrestling Insider. As reported on The Arn Show, O'Neil was sent home due to "unprofessional conduct," meaning he missed out on lucrative WrestleMania earnings. What's more, McMahon actually wanted to fire O'Neil. A major backlash ensued, with fans accusing McMahon of being racist, per The New York Post. O'Neil's pal Dave Bautista had his back, telling TMZ, "That was bulls***. That should've been a man to man conversation, not a suspension... I think [O'Neil] should leave." When O'Neil did return to the ring following his suspension period, he seemingly suffered the ramifications of his earlier actions. The star wrestler was relaunched as "The Titus Brand," and would rack up a jobber-esque loss rate of "66.66%." 

In a 2022 interview with the "Beckles & Recher" radio show (via Wrestling Inc), O'Neil shared that he was still on the WWE roster but hadn't wrestled in a while due to an injury. Outside of the squared circle, O'Neil was appointed WWE's Global Ambassador and given the 2020 Warrior Award for his philanthropic efforts.

The not so Straight Edge Society

Professional wrestling is renowned for blurring the lines between reality and fiction. A longstanding tradition in the industry, known as kayfabe, is that performers do not overtly break character even away from the ring. By the turn of the millennium, this practice had relaxed somewhat; however, some wrestlers have incurred the wrath of management by not living up to their onscreen personas.

Serena Deeb was one such victim. She debuted on WWE television in 2010 as a convert to CM Punk's fledgling Straight Edge Society stable whose members would loudly and proudly refrain from vices such as drugs and alcohol. As part of her on-air initiation into the group, she had her head shaved, per Pro Wrestling Torch. But when she was caught drinking away from the ring soon after, and not living up to the lifestyle of her character, Deeb was promptly fired, per Bleacher Report.

Speaking with The Washington Post, Deeb revealed that her firing was precipitated by personal tragedy; her father was dying of cancer and she admitted to dealing with the trauma in an unhealthy way. Then came the fateful day when Vince McMahon released her. "It was a devastating call, but I had this sense of relief," she said. "That chapter had to close because I was heading in a really bad direction." Now, Deeb has had a career resurgence thanks to joining All Elite Wrestling, where she says her treatment is far superior to that which she experienced at WWE.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Dan Severn rejected Satanic branding

What happens when a UFC heavy enters the wacky fantasy world of professional wrestling? At a time when the WWE was all about over-the-top characters, a legit tough guy with minimal mic skills was unlikely to work out. Dan "The Beast" Severn remains a much respected mixed martial artist, but backstage politics ended his professional wrestling career when he refused to ago along with the WWE's diabolical ideas for his character.

The late '90s Attitude era tried to create a grittier product, capitalizing on the popularity of MMA, so they brought in one of the biggest UFC stars, Dan Severn. However, in an era when wrestling relied on pageantry, Severn's pure athleticism didn't translate to audiences' thirst for catchphrases and grandiose antics. In 1999, the organization tried to get him to join The Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness, a druid, gothic faction, and to brand "666" on his forehead, which he promptly rejected, per Wrestling Shoot Interviews. "I live in small town U.S.A. I'm not going to have any repercussion against my family," he recalled telling the writers. No longer seeing eye to eye with creative's vision for his character, he soon parted ways with the company.

Reflecting on his brief time with the WWE, Severn mused to The Hannibal TV, "What if I walk into your world of fantasy and turn fantasy into reality?.. How many of your so-called stars am I going to make look pretty darn silly?"