Pro Wrestling

10 Crazy Stories Behind WWE Suspensions Source:

WWE has had a long and sordid history with disciplinary problems. In probably the most infamous example, stretching from the steroid trials of the early 90s to the current Wellness Policy, drugs of all sorts of varieties have been a significant issue within WWE (and all of pro wrestling). But PEDs and illegal prescriptions aren’t the only reasons why some WWE Superstars have found themselves under suspension for their activities under WWE contract. In fact, many of the stories behind some particularly noteworthy WWE suspensions are incredibly interesting, and in some cases, so ridiculous that we can barely believe that they could possibly be true. So, let’s take a look at the permanent records of some of WWE’s biggest stars and discover the incredible tales that led to them taking some unexpected time off.

10. RVD Smokes Pot, Somehow People Are Surprised

In 2006, it looked like Rob Van Dam was finally going to get his due in WWE. Long one of the company’s most popular stars, RVD had been denied a run with the World title for a variety of reasons. But with WWE attempting to revive ECW as a third televised brand, they decided to start things off by making one of the most recognizable names of the original ECW the first champion. They did so by having RVD cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase against John Cena at the second One Night Stand PPV, becoming WWE Champion and then, simultaneously, being named ECW Champion by Paul Heyman. It was a great start for the new ECW, one that, unfortunately, would not last. Mere weeks after becoming champion, RVD was pulled over by police for speeding, who then investigated his vehicle and ended up arresting him for possession. Van Dam’s supportive attitude towards marijuana was pretty much common knowledge within the industry (and was basically a defining characteristic of his on-screen persona), but after the arrest went public, and was accompanied by the police dash-cam video that became widely circulated on the Internet, WWE was forced to punish RVD, who dropped both the WWE and ECW titles in matches on Raw and ECW’s new show, and was immediately suspended for 30 days. Soon afterwards, WWE amended their Wellness Policy, which had previously only forced Superstars to pay a $1,000 fine for positive marijuana tests, instead making it a strike-worthy violation. Source:

9. Shawn Michaels Makes One Of Many Bad Choices

It’s pretty much no secret that during his initial run in WWE, before his career-ending back injury and subsequent miraculous return, Shawn Michaels was not a very good person. He was abrasive, cocky, and had a significant substance abuse problem to go along with his legendary ability to rub a lot of people the wrong way. And in his early career, before he could at least point to being one of the biggest draws for the company, Michaels often found himself in hot water with the company. However, despite his many issues, Michaels was only ever suspended by WWE a single time, for allegedly testing positive for steroids in the fall of 1993, a charge that Michaels would consistently deny for years. On television, WWE stripped Michaels of the Intercontinental title, claiming that he had violated the occasionally referenced rule that states champions must defend the title at least once every 30 days (which only ever applies when WWE decides that it does). The reason why this ended up being important is that in Michaels’ absence, Razor Ramon was crowned the new Intercontinental champion, and when Michaels returned in possession of the original belt, a match between the two was signed for WrestleMania X. But not just any match, the first televised ladder match in WWE, which would go on to be one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history. Source:

8. R-Truth Ruins Everything

For those who see R-Truth as a bit of a joke these days, it’s important that you know this wasn’t always the case. Several times during his WWE career, Truth has actually been given pushes all the way into the main event scene of WWE, including a heel turn in 2011 which saw him earn a WWE Title opportunity on Pay Per View against John Cena. The new, angrier Truth was actually a fairly good character, and he parlayed that momentum into a tag team with The Miz, which began appearing prominently on WWE programming. Portrayed as a pair of bitter anti-establishment heels, Awesome Truth (as the team became known) fought against Triple H’s authority figure, even getting him removed from the position and replaced by John Laurinaitus. Their stock was so high in the company that the team was selected to face off against the never-before-seen tag team of The Rock and John Cena in a heavily hyped match at Survivor Series. Awesome Truth lost, of course, and then suddenly broke up the next night on Raw, with Miz turning on his partner out of nowhere. After the show, it was revealed that Truth had been suspended 30 days for testing positive for synthetic weed, derailing months of storytelling and a tag team that had been positioned as one of WWE’s top acts. When he returned, Truth was once again a comedic face character, and was relegated back to the lower parts of the card. Source:

7. Evan Bourne Doubles Up

For someone whose position in WWE was a bit of a minor miracle due to his small size, Evan Bourne managed to show some remarkably poor judgment in 2011. While one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions alongside Kofi Kingston, at a time when WWE’s tag division was actually fairly strong, Bourne was suspended 30 days for his first Wellness violation, reportedly involving synthetic weed. However, Bourne was not forced to drop the tag titles, as WWE simply waited out the suspension and attempted to resume things as normal. However, only days after returning, Bourne and Kingston suddenly dropped the titles to the team of Primo and Epico at a house show, after which it was revealed that Bourne had been suspended a second time for yet another positive drug test, making him the first (and so far, only) WWE Superstar to be suspended for Wellness failures in such a short time period. To make matters worse, Bourne suffered a massive foot injury in a car accident while serving his suspension, and was kept out of the ring for two more years, before being released without ever appearing on WWE TV again. Source:

6. The Signature Pharmacy Scandal

In the months following the Chris Benoit murder-suicide, WWE found itself once again under fire by the federal government (alongside all other major North American sports organizations) for their lax attitude towards illegal drug use within the industry. After initially being very stringent about their Wellness Policy, which was created in 2006, WWE was accused of falling back into old habits and ignoring the problem, and were publicly blamed for being complicit in the Benoit incident. Things got even worse for WWE when Sports Illustrated (among others) revealed a list of customers for a pharmaceutical company named Signature Pharmacy, which included notable celebrities, athletes, and over a dozen WWE Superstars. As a direct result of the scandal, WWE would eventually be forced to suspend 10 wrestlers, citing violations of the Wellness Policy. One Superstar, Booker T, who was looking at his second strike under the policy, actually chose to quit WWE rather than serve a suspension he felt was unjust, only returning several years later in a mostly non-wrestling capacity. It was the largest mass suspension in the history of the Wellness Policy, and may have been a factor in WWE’s decision to eventually make it company policy to publicly reveal all Wellness suspensions going forward (initially, WWE never officially announced any Wellness violations). Source:

5. Randy Orton Beats The System

Randy Orton’s suspension history is a curious one, in that he has been officially suspended by WWE three times since the Wellness Policy came into effect, but has received only two strikes against him. This raised several questions from the public, most notably why Orton had not been fired for his actions, which WWE was quick to respond to. Apparently, Orton’s first suspension was for “unprofessional conduct” (during which time he was forced to enter counselling for reported anger issues) and thus, did not count against the Wellness Policy. Orton’s case took an additional odd turn when he was named among the Superstars outed in the previously mentioned Signature Pharmacy scandal, but was not suspended along with the rest of the group. It turned out that one of Orton’s previous suspensions had already been for testing positive for the drugs which he received from the source within Signature Pharmacy, and WWE decided not to suspend him a second time for what they claimed was the same offense. However, this decision was called into question when it was shown that Orton continued to receive drugs from the same source long after his suspension ended, a fact that WWE did not address publicly. Source:

4. Jeff Hardy Quits Before He Gets Fired

Anyone who has followed the career of Jeff Hardy is fairly aware of the fact that he has had a history of problems with substance abuse. When WWE instituted the Wellness Policy, Hardy was widely expected to be both one of its first victims, and the first WWE Superstar to use up his three strikes and end up fired. And indeed, Hardy quickly ran afoul of the policy, earning himself two strikes and costing himself a great many things, including titles, Pay Per View matches, and career opportunities that normally come with being one of the most popular performers in the company. Hardy eventually worked his way back into WWE’s good graces, even getting several runs as World Champion. However, after a feud with CM Punk, who would constantly bring up Hardy’s colorful past when discussing his own Straight Edge lifestyle, Hardy abruptly left WWE in the summer of 2009. Two weeks later, Hardy was arrested during a drug bust at his home, which revealed that Hardy was in possession of a large number of illegal narcotics. Ironically, had Hardy been under contract with WWE at the time, this arrest would have almost certainly constituted his third strike, resulting in immediate termination of his contract. However, due to no longer being under contract, Hardy could not be punished by WWE, which is why years later, an allegedly cleaned-up Hardy continues to be mentioned as someone who could potentially return to WWE (although he would still have two strikes against him). Source:

3. Chris Jericho Gets Run Out Of Brazil

As part of WWE’s attempts to become a truly global brand, they have visited countries all over the world and, occasionally, run afoul of some cultural differences. The most infamous is probably JBL deciding it was a good idea to goose-step while flashing the Nazi salute during a tour of Germany, but also on that list was an unexpected incident involving Chris Jericho during a 2012 show in Brazil, a country that WWE was visiting for the first time. During a live event, as part of a heel promo Jericho grabbed a Brazilian flag from the audience and kicked it, raising the ire of Brazilian authorities. WWE Superstars mocking the flags of other countries for heel heat is nothing new in pro wrestling, but this time, it led to near-disastrous consequences. It turned out that Brazil takes flag desecration laws very seriously, and legitimately attempted to arrest Jericho after the show. As an apology for violating the country’s laws, WWE suspended Jericho for 30 days. Jericho himself later said publicly that Vince McMahon attempted to also fine him $10,000 over the incident, a fine which Jericho claimed that he had not and will never pay. Source:

2. Titus O’Neil Ruins The Moment

In early 2016, Daniel Bryan was forced to retire from professional wrestling. He did so during an emotional speech on Raw, which featured the entire roster coming out on the stage to honor him. And as Raw went off the air and the Superstars began filing backstage, it appeared that Titus O’Neil grabbed Vince McMahon’s arm in a playful manner. The next day, it was announced that O’Neil had been suspended for 90 days as a result of that seemingly insignificant incident. Fan outrage was immediate, with WWE quickly finding itself under fire from claims of racism, due to O’Neil being a black Superstar (many felt that Vince would never have punished a white Superstar so severely, although if they’d said he never would have done so to a main event-level talent they would have been more correct). The fact that the suspension was handed down as Black History Month was drawing to a close likely did not help WWE’s public perception in the matter, and they were forced to issue a statement declaring that O’Neil had been suspended based on his conduct, and not for any other reason. WWE did, however, quietly reduce his suspension to 60 days. In the weeks that followed, it was revealed that O’Neil had been previously reprimanded several times for unprofessional conduct and told that he needed to take things more seriously, and his actions with McMahon were seen as a final straw, especially since they occurred in public during a solemn occasion. Source:

1. Elevated Liver Enzymes For Everyone!

In the months following the official establishment of the WWE Wellness Policy in 2006 (it was announced following the tragic death of Eddie Guerrero in late 2005), WWE clearly attempted to make it look like they actually were cracking down on drug-related issues and protecting the health of their performers, leading to a number of suspensions. In fact, in one fell swoop in June of that year, WWE suspended so many Superstars that they actually massively sabotaged that year’s Great American Bash Pay Per View! The show, a Smackdown-only PPV, was already facing problems when a heavily promoted grudge match between Mark Henry and Batista had to be shelved due to an injury to Henry, but then word came down that Bobby Lashley, The Great Khali, and Super Crazy had all been suspended under the Wellness Policy due to “elevated liver enzymes”, which could be considered an indication of steroid abuse (as well as several other medical conditions that could constitute serious health issues). The problem was, all three had matches at the Great American Bash, including Lashley set to face Finlay for the US Championship, and Khali taking on The Undertaker in the first ever Punjabi Prison Match. All three men were replaced, but the PPV itself ended up as a disjointed mess featuring matches between Superstars who hadn’t actually had personal issues going into the show. Source:

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.