Part two of a five-part series. If you haven't read part 1, or if you want to relive it all over again, go here.
I use the title in sort of a tongue-in-cheek fashion, but if you look around the Internet (including this very site you're looking at) or go to a WWE show (if you've been to one in recent years), you'll no doubt run into a conversation concerning the state of the sports entertainment product of the top sports entertainment company in the world. From management to storylines to talent, the general consensus seems to be that WWE has and continues to ruin quite a lot of stuff. In some people's eyes, they ruin everything. And trust me when I say this: if they haven't ruined it yet, they will. Just give it time.
This is an all-Superstars part, detailing ten careers that through some mishandling got derailed to the point of no return.
11. WWE ruins Brock Lesnar (2012). Before the night after Wrestlemania XXVIII, the last time many people saw Brock Lesnar was at the end of 2011 when he was blocking Alistar Overeem's punches with his face at UFC 141 (not exactly good fighting technique, no matter how tough one is). He announced his retirement following the fight and many assumed that he was content to live out his remaining days with the artist formerly known as Sable on his ranch in Minnesota. But when Lesnar appeared as a surprise in-game character for WWE '12, many people wondered if he had a comeback run in him, much less if he would be welcomed back on their grounds, especially considering how he left in 2004. But Lesnar returned in April 2012 to a rousing ovation and F-5ed John Cena and kicked his hat. Lesnar and Cena was a fresh match, even if we last saw it eight years ago. Cena's this generation's Hulk Hogan, while Brock Lesnar was a lot less green than in his "Next Big Thing" days. With Lesnar signed on to a very expensive deal which limited his appearances, WWE had to make the most of them. So how does WWE book Lesnar in his first match on their lawn since Wrestlemania XX? By having him dominate, then lose to John Cena. Way to ruin the hottest property your company's had in a while. They chased Cena losing at Wrestlemania XXVIII to The Rock with him going over Brock Lesnar. Someone help me out here. Yes, the E smartened up and paired him with longtime manager/BFF Paul Heyman, but facts are facts, my dude: in the year since he's been back, Brock Lesnar's won once in three tries. The Undertaker has more wins in the month of April than Brock Lesnar has since his WWE comeback. Going one for three might get you big bucks in baseball, but that winning percentage in wrestling is going to make people wonder why they invested so much in you, even if you are just a special attraction.
12. WWE ruins John Cena (2012-13). Forget the fact that we're waiting for a heel turn that will never happen. Forget the fact that his gimmick has gone well past its shelf life. If WWE had foresight (and I like to believe they do; after all, a company isn't worth hundreds of millions of dollars without a little bit of foresight), the resurrection of John Cena could have been one of the great storylines of our time. I'm not kidding. We were told that at Wrestlemania XXVIII, his loss to The Rock sent his professional and personal life into a tailspin. I don't really see how one loss could do that, but be that as it may, if we're really supposed to believe such a claim, how is John Cena continuing to main event PPVs when CM Punk, then the WWE Champion, continues to be at best riding shotgun? Yeah, yeah, I know he's the name and face on the marquee, I get it. If that's what you're selling, that's fine. That doesn't mean your fanbase has to buy it. Cena's personal life went into the shitter (in part because of Cena's own doing-allegedly), but his professional life seemed to be just fine. He main evented PPVs with Brock Lesnar (and winning), Big Show (and winning), and John Lauranitis. John...freaking...Lauranitis. The toolbox with a severe case of laryngitis can get a main event on PPV, but not your WWE champion? Really? Had he went on a losing streak following last year's Wrestlemania (it didn't have to last the whole year. Maybe a couple of months, then he goes away for a while or something), it would have made this year's match much more compelling by casting more doubt on the outcome. And maybe that's how WWE ruined the man once known as "The Doctor of Thuganomics". There's no doubt in John Cena anymore. His storyline character hasn't been tested in quite sometime. He hasn't had a breaking point, because quite honestly, we don't know if one exists. He's the surest thing in wrestling by a wide margin. He's this generation's Hulk Hogan. Pretty soon, you'll have an entire roster of wrestlers that have lost to John Cena. Know what he'll also have? Ric Flair's record for most world titles. It's gonna happen. He's sitting on thirteen world titles and he just turned 36. He's not going anywhere for a while.
13. WWE ruins Muhammad Hassan (2005). Truth be told, he wasn't so much as ruined by WWE as he was by UPN, actual world events, and bad timing. But WWE does deserve part of the blame. In late 2004, Hassan (real name Mark Copani) made his television debut as an Arab-American seeking refuge from the stereotypes his people have been saddled with following the 9/11 terrorist attacks (i.e. he's a terrorist since he is obviously of terrorist descent. Side nugget: Copani wasn't an Arab-American. He just played one on TV). The dude (along with his manager/translator Davari) was getting nuclear heat (for proof of this, see the 2005 Royal Rumble when he entered at #13. Everyone and everything in the ring stopped when eight men were all like, you came to the wrong neighborhood, motherfucker and threw him out). On RAW he was a pretty serviceable heel as an angry Arab-American. When he was moved to Smackdown, that's where he got ruined. In their second week there, Hassan's manager Davari was beaten by Undertaker. Shortly afterwards, Hassan prayed on the ramp and out came five masked men with clubs and piano wire and Undertaker was beaten down and choked out. Davari was carried out by the five men as if he were a martyr. Ladies and gentlemen, Muhammad Hassan: terrorist. This in and of itself would ruffle more than a few feathers. Unfortunately, the show, taped on July 4, 2005, aired on July 7, the same day four bombs exploded during morning rush hour in London, killing 52 people and injuring more than 700 others. With little time to edit the show properly, WWE decided to air the segment as is with a parental advisory warning (in the US and Canada. The segment was edited out of international broadcasts). The Hassan character was dumped under network pressure, and following his loss to Undertaker, Copani never wrestled another match. Ever. He was released in September 2005 and retired from the business. He returned to New York where he is now a teacher.
14. WWE ruins Zack Ryder (2012). There are usually one of three avenues a wrestler takes to get noticed in a promotion: (1) management has such high hopes for the talent, he or she is immensely pushed, regardless of whether or not they have the goods, (2) the talent proves over time he or she has the goods and connects with the fans and management, or (3) the talent believes they have the goods, yet management doesn't see it, and puts forth extra effort to get noticed to avoid being lost in the shuffle. In the wrestling business, if you don't stand out in some way, you don't have a chance. After being a part of Edge's La Familia stable and teaming with Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder (aka Matthew Cardona) made some waves as a Jersey Shore-inspired guido. His first two years as the "Long Island Loudmouth" were highlighted by beating Tommy Dreamer out of ECW and getting killed dead in 11 seconds by Sheamus for the WWE Championship. Somewhere in those two years, fans warmed up to Ryder, but Ryder was still lost in the shuffle, so he came up with a unique way to get over: take to the Internet. His Z! True Long Island Story show on Youtube gained worldwide popularity and began a Ryder Revolution, and surely enough, more Ryder. Late in the year, Ryder won his first title, the WWE United States Championship with his family in the front row. And that's where he got ruined. Soon, he was in a love triangle angle with John Cena and Eve, with Kane involved in the periphery. Thanks to Kane, Ryder lost the title to Jack Swagger just a month later. Kane attacked Ryder over and over, even throwing the crippled, wheelchair-bound Ryder off the stage. Ryder was made to look the fool the rest of the way, being the fall guy in the six-on-six match at Wrestlemania XXVIII and Eve's Wrestlemania moment when she kicked him dead in the nuts. He's been sliding down the card ever since. Now he's taken to the Internet (Twitter specifically) to complain about his jobber status. I have a gut feeling they're gonna bring the hammer down on Long Island Iced Z sooner than later. Unfortunately, the ruining of Zack Ryder may have sent a message to the WWE locker room: if you get over, it better be our doing, or we will bury you. Might wanna watch for the shovels, Mr. Curtis.
15. WWE ruins Diamond Dallas Page (2001). Probably the first name that came to mind when you think of people that WWE ruined in recent memory. Picture this: you landed three-time WCW Champion Diamond Dallas Page, called "The People's Champion" over there while The Rock, at the time a five-time WWF Champion, also called "The People's Champion," was on the roster and not quite in his movie phase. It's a feud that practically books itself. Hell, DDP himself wanted it. Here's what he got: to be the stalker of the Undertaker's first wife Sara, he gets a major reaction when he debuts on RAW, and within two months, he's jobbed to oblivion (though somehow lucks into a tag title run with Kanyon), even losing matches to Sara. No, I am not making that up. He recovers slightly with his motivational speaker gimmick and gets a European Championship run out of it, but the damage done to him in the Invasion era was done. He's released in summer 2002 with a shell of the popularity the master of the Diamond Cutter once had. But he made out okay. He's hosted two Best of WCW Nitro DVDs and has a pretty successful yoga program. So he has that going for him, which is nice.
16. WWE ruins Shelton Benjamin (2005-06). Shelton Benjamin rarely moved a crowd on the microphone, but he always left the masses in awe with his in-ring prowess. He was a two-time WWE tag team champion on Smackdown in 2003, and was destined for big things when he scored two wins over Triple H in April 2004. While he had world title talent, he was relegated to the Intercontinental division, but made the most of it and held the title for eight months, the longest reign since The Rock had it in for just under nine months in 1997 and 1998. But once he lost the title, he started losing... quite a bit. Enter "Momma Benjamin" (aka comedienne/actress Thea Vidale). Over the next few months, Benjamin became a "Momma's boy" and won the title back...twice. Post-Momma, he also won the United States Championship. Though he's had a solid, serviceable career both in WWE and in ROH, Benjamin will probably go down as one of the best wrestlers of this generation to never win a world title.
17. WWE ruins Christian (2009-2010). The fact that "Captain Charisma" got ruined more than once in less than two years is pretty sad. Remember back when Jeff Hardy first won the WWE Championship, then in the following weeks, Hardy ran into a bit of bad luck as shitty things kept happening to him (the auto accident, the pyro going all nutty, the fire that burned down everything-actually, that really did happen)? One would assume (and rightly so) that his biggest rival at the time, Edge had something to do with it, and if not him, then someone real close to him, like say...his once upon a time tag team partner, Christian? Many people thought this would have been how Christian returned to the WWE in early 2009. Instead, "Captain Charisma", coming off two runs as NWA World Heavyweight Champion in TNA, returns to WWE as a part of the ECW roster. Seriously, if you were on the ECW roster in the HD era, you might as well not exist. Way to ruin him right out of the gate. But despite not being on either of the main two shows, Christian put in work and won the ECW twice before losing it to Ezekiel Jackson on the brand's last show in February 2010. He languished in the midcard until tearing his pectoral muscle in September 2010. He returned a month before Wrestlemania XXVI to help his BFF/former tag partner Edge against Alberto Del Rio and was in Edge's corner for what ended up being his final match at Wrestlemania XXVI. Christian took Edge's place in the feud, and won the world heavyweight championship at Extreme Rules in May 2011 (this, by the way, made him the first man to hold both an NWA and WWE world heavyweight title since a guy named Ric Flair. I hear he was pretty competent as a wrestler. Probably wouldn't want him doing your taxes though. Or have him around your woman though. Just saying.) So how does WWE chase Christian's career-defining moment? By having him lose the title to Randy Orton just two days later. The Internet went into a collective rage. One of their darlings was once again pushed aside for one of Vinnie Mac's golden boys. Never mind he had another run as world champion (which started with a title switch via disqualification and ended with another defeat to Randy Orton) and a run as Intercontinental Champion since. The thrill of victory and agony of defeat in a span of 48 hours, combined with his increased fragility, may have ruined the former "creepy little bastard" beyond repair.
18. WWE ruins Drew McIntyre (2009-present). When one has the ringing endorsement of Vince McMahon before even wrestling a match, one is expected to do big things. Drew McIntyre (real name Andrew Galloway) got such an endorsement. And as it turned out, he did wrestle a match long before then, as he was briefly on the Smackdown roster in 2007. In 2009, he made his return (or debut, depending on how you look at it) to the roster as a "future world champion", crashing parties and feuding with lower-tier wrestlers such as R-Truth and Finlay. He defeated John Morrison for the Intercontinental Championship in December 2009 and remained unbeaten on television until just before Wrestlemania XXVI, despite losing twice (and having those losses expunged. Ironically, his loss to The Undertaker stuck, because, you know, THE UNDERTAKER.) Tensions would continue between McIntyre and Smackdown general manager Teddy Long until he was stripped of the Intercontinental title and removed from WWE television due to his work visa expiring in June 2011. Combined with McMahon being a victim of Hurricane Nexus, Drew's "chosen one" treatment. But it was a little thing called love that may have ruined Drew. Just before Summerslam 2011, Galloway was involved in a domestic disturbance caused by his then-wife Taryn Terrell (aka Tiffany). Rightfully so, Taryn got released, but Drew's career has never recovered, relegated in recent years to jobber duty. Galloway has found some traction as one-third of the 3MB stable, but he's still a jobber. One gets a feeling that as soon as 3MB flames out, the once-upon-a-time "Chosen One" may be out of a job. For real.
19. WWE ruins Booker T (2003). Long before he became the latest poster child for bad commentary, Booker Huffman was a pretty competent wrestler. In WCW, he ran up a career that most could only dream of: 4-time WCW champion, United States Champion, six-time WCW Television Champion, and ten-time WCW Tag Team Champion, for a total of 21 championship reigns, more than anyone in WCW EVER. He got a fifth run as WCW Champion during the Invasion Era in 2001, as well as an 11th WCW tag title run with Test. And a twelve tag title run with Goldust in 2002. When the Bookdust era ended, Booker targeted Triple H and the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H reigned supreme over RAW in the fall and winter of 2002, dispatching superstars such as Rob Van Dam, Kane, Scott Steiner, and Shawn Michaels. Basically, anyone that came after the "King of Kings" went down in flames. After Booker won a #1 contender's battle royal to earn his title match at Wrestlemania XIX, the buildup turned a bit uncomfortable. Triple H said that "people like" Booker could never be champion, he was a joke of a champion in WCW, and he's only there to entertain and dance and make people laugh and such. Racist much, Hunter? In a perfect world, Booker would give Triple H the comeuppance he desperately needs at Wrestlemania. But as I mentioned in a previous fanpost, a perfect world this is not, and Triple H beats the five-time WCW Champion with one Pedigree. One. He needed three to beat Ric Flair two months later, but only one to beat a man who held the Big Gold Belt five times? (Granted, it was during WCW's dying days and during the Invasion, but it still counts) Booker T, one of the most over superstars on RAW, is just another body in Triple H's mass grave. And ruined. He would languish in the midcard for three years capturing the Intercontinental, United States, and tag team titles before finally winning the world title in 2006 as King Booker. Rightfully so, Booker Huffman's contributions to the industry landed him in the WWE Hall of Fame earlier this month. Still though, you couldn't let him have his big Wrestlemania moment ten years ago?
20. WWE ruins Doink the Clown (1993). Debuting in the WWF in late 1992, Matt Osbourne played wrestling's resident evil clown. He would play cruel pranks on superstars and fans alike, most notably taking an arm cast to Crush's head and "cloning himself" at Wrestlemania IX. On a roster where star power was paper-thin, Osborne stood out quite nicely for himself. Unfortunately, Osborne also had issues with drug abuse, and it caught up to him in the fall of 1993 when the WWF put their foot down and let him go. It should have in theory been the end of the Doink gimmick. It wasn't. And that's where it gets ruined. Actually, it got ruined shortly before then. Doink was turned face when he pranked Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. It's one of those weird things that can't really be explained. An evil clown is compelling, but a nice clown is...well, just a clown. And sometimes creepy. And not in a good way. Ray Apollo took over the Doink gimmick, and within a few months was doing jobber duty. In addition to Apollo and Osborne, no less than ten men have donned the clown suit at one time or another: Men on a Mission, The Bushwhackers, Steve Keirn, Steve "The Brooklyn Brawler" Lombardi, Chris Jericho, Jeff Jarrett, Nick Dinsmore (aka Eugene), and most recently Dusty Wolfe in 2010. That's a lot of Doinks running around. And as Wrestlemania IX taught us, a dozen clowns-even two for that matter-is too many.
Did WWE ruin your favorite superstar? Or someone I didn't list? Discuss! (I may include it in Part 3.)